Photos by Nate Miller
Last week I was asked to cover Glory Hole 2013, the 42nd birthday party for Hollywood's famous sex shop, The Pleasure Chest.
Like most people, I like sex and I like parties. This sounded great.
My photographer Nate and I were greeted with this sign, letting us know that "Sex Is Back"! I’m not sure where it went—certainly not my apartment—but it’s back.
We walked to the bar for a drink as I listened to guests make boring small talk that sounded like the pedestrian dialogue in Grand Theft Auto 5.
There was very little talk about sex or the store or anything related to the event or any substance at all. Instead people talked about what people in Los Angeles usually talk about: Themselves. Their careers. Their agents. Their significant others. The weather. It felt pretty much like any shallow Hollywood tradeshow/party, complete with gourmet food trucks and twinkle lights but with the added element of a sex store.
I don’t know why I expected to see some bohemian group of naked avant-garde artists creating an alternative to capitalism based on free love and expression. I’m trying to teach myself to keep my expectations in check more often. I’m happier when I do.
Once I got over the people, I visited a bunch of exhibits that were decently fun and goofy. I met a guy who makes vibrating rubber ducks for a living. I’m not sure if it’s marketed as a discreet sex toy or for really devout fans of Bert and Ernie, but I appreciated his entrepreneurial spirit. I hope a biopic is made about him one day and that it's better than Ashton Kutcher’s Jobs.
For the record, the duck wasn't vibrating. I think (hope) that the actual product is a little smaller than this, too.
I took part in a thing called “lapdance roulette,” where two dancers gave guests lapdances. This was taken while I was having an awkward conversation with a dancer named Sin Fisted.
“Sin as in S-I-N?” I yelled over a Rihanna song in the background. “Yeah! Most people spell it wrong!” I think (hope) she was making fun of me.
Then we discussed Keynesian economics and the long-term consequences of the government shutdown. Just kidding.
Next, the gimp-masked "Danimal" danced in my face on the lapdance roulette. He had a pretty sweet tattoo of a rhino on his stomach, but I still thought he was gross. Danimals were my favorite yogurt brand as a kid, therefore I did not approve of his appropriation of the name. (Just like my parents, who used to buy me said yogurt, won't approve of this article.)
I tuned him out and used the time to evaluate my spending habits: I need to eat at home more often and go to fewer restaurants. Being mindful of your budget is important. Also, why do I sometimes not go to the gym even though I KNOW it makes me feel better about myself? These are the thoughts I had when a guy in spandex tights and a harness decided to thrust his pelvis toward my face.
Glory Hole '13, the cleverly titled main event, was inside the shop itself.
Crowds massed and gathered and lightly shoved each other to get their opportunity to to peek inside the peepholes carved into a wall, to watch the live sex acts, including straight couples, gay dudes in clown makeup, and a heavyset woman with bright red hair doing a solo act.
They oohed and ahhed and giggled, but the whole thing was very off-putting to me, as it all felt so mechanical and cold. The performers didn’t seem to be really enjoying themselves at all, and how could they when hundreds of people are watching them while a meathead in a Tapout T-shirt drunkenly hollers through the wall?
I arrived at the spanking station, and getting spanked really hurts. It doesn't turn me on; it's just painful. Here's me and professional dominatrix Justine Cross. This is the only photo of me and the professional dominatrix, Justine Cross, that I'm comfortable publishing. Thanks for the welts, lady.
The final exhibit was a Japanese rope bondage booth. I'm not including any photos, because rope is rope, and rope is boring, regardless of whether it's made for sex or not. It all got pretty old after a while.
After that, there wasn't much for me to look at besides the hundreds of different kinds of dildos for sale. The crowd grew larger and the business-card exchanges and "add me on Facebooks" surrounded me in every direction until I could no longer avoid it.
Imagine getting sandwiched between people at a concert. It's the same thing but sprinkle in some leather daddies and women covered in glitter and body oil and the occasional greasy guy with a mullet. I had to get the fuck out of there. The end.