Does Public Sex Matter?

Public sex[*] happens. The simplicity, brevity, honesty and candor of this proposition, is, I contend, one of the most principal ways in which public sex matters. It matters because it happens, and it happens because it matters. This is no small thing. It still happens and matters, even now, after so many attempts to insure that it no longer does. Public sex is resilient and persistent, and its temporal-historical stamina lies—in large part—in its geo-spatial anonymity, itinerancy, imperceptibility and illegality.  In contemplating my response to the editors’ query, I considered the possibility of simply supplying them with a list of all of the places where I have had public sex (necessarily non-exhaustive due to the innumerable number of places over the years, as well as the limits of memory and the evanescent residuality of the encounters that it would retrace).

But as I thought back to these remembered incidents, I found it easy to recollect and draw out images of these scenes, yet nearly impossible in most instances to locate with any kind of cartographic accuracy the exact name or address of these particular spots—less punctuated locations than elliptical lines—easily returned to in memory or in actuality, yet difficult to nominally cite in a list. Herein lies the other principal way in which public sex matters: where it happens is without adequate or appropriate address. Less a place per se, than it is a non-appropriating taking place, public sex is the erotic/libidinal/desirous and pleasure-filled happening and coming together of two or more bodies in the pure exhilaration of this singular shared encounter with the space of their separation.

This text will appear in, Petite Mort: Recollections of a Queer Public, edited by Carlos Motta and Joshua Lubin-Levy, forthcoming, September 2011. The project will also include an exhibition and series of public programs at Forever & Today, Inc. ( in September 2011. For more information on the project, go to:

[*] Or is it to be written: Public Sex (the difference being a matter of erring on the side of the adjectival or the eidetic)?

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