This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
At some point during every season of Love Island, the producers engineer a way to make male contestants reveal how many people they’ve had sex with. They're consistently high and this year was no exception. Twenty-year-old Tommy Fury had slept with 60 people, Jordan (24) claimed 100 and Michael (28; as old as time itself, according to Love Island's warped sense of time) – well, Michael had lost count.
In previous years, this reveal has never shaken me – but this time I was finally able to contextualise it. I'd been embarking on my own semi-Hot Girl Summer, having more sex than I’d ever had before with a rotating cast of partners. At one point, I was even having sex every week! What a proud jezebel I was, especially given surveys that claim the average person in the UK has slept with between two and four people.
Despite the activation of my hoe mode, my number was still incredibly modest, especially compared to the sexual titans gracing ITV2. How did they do it, I wondered? How many people did they have to shag every seven days? Where did they find them? And didn’t they get tired of the revolving door of newbies?
To answer my growing list of questions, I went straight to the source and asked some prolific shaggers just how they scratch their itch – and how it makes them feel.
Current shag total: approx. 70
"Since I was 18, casual sex has been a pretty consistent aspect of my sex life when I’m single. I’ve always liked to keep two or three regular partners around, and might see them at least three times a week. As far as introducing new people goes, one or two a week would probably be my maximum, because you have to go out for a drink and go through the rigamarole of getting familiar. When I ended my two-year relationship last summer, I slept with about 14 people in six months, before my current relationship started. Once, I was on holiday and slept with someone that worked in a bar there… then had a threesome with two other people later that night. But I don’t tend to keep count.
"Most of the time, I really enjoy the amount of sex I have; it’s usually great quality and you meet good people. The only time it’s ever concerned me was after an intense break-up when I was really drunk, and slept with someone who absolutely shouldn’t have – my consent wasn’t valid at all. I took some time off meeting new men after that and only kept around the male partners I trusted and was really comfortable with. But I love sex! It’s fun sleeping with someone new and getting to know what works for them – why wouldn’t you want to experience everything out there?"
Current shag total: 57
"Last year was my most sexually active on record – I moved out of the family home. I have sex a few times a month, probably once a week if you average it out. Most people are ones I’d met through existing social networks; uni friends and so on. I slept with a lot more people I met on nights out while at uni, but since graduating that number’s dwindled (although I’m starting a Masters this year, so here’s hoping)."
"When it comes to actually locking down the hook-up, eye or physical contact is pretty good at establishing interest, as is a friend who lets them know you want to sleep with them. I’ve also slept with a lot of my friends who are interested in women in most of my close friendship groups, and friends of friends too. I prefer going to their house so I can leave when I want – there’s nothing worse than someone loitering in my flat. Once, I left the bed of someone I was semi-regularly sleeping with, went out and had a threesome, then came back and had sex again. Not my best behaviour.
"There have definitely been periods when I’ve pursued frequent casual sex in a way that could be described as self-harm but equally, it goes by a case-by-case basis. I find it pretty easy to cum during sex, so I’m mostly doing it for pleasure, which means I’ve got a largely positive relationship with it."
Current shag total: 70+
"I’ve been single for about three years since I first started having sex but if you average it out, that’s 23 partners a year. In practice though, I was probably having the most sex about two years ago, although I’ve stayed pretty consistent since then. Some partners I would be having sex with every day, some were more like once or twice a week; it all depended on our personal sex drives, logistics and working hours. Glam.
"I can go for weeks without needing sex and get on with other things but other times, I’ll spend hours and hours trawling apps, trying to find a partner. I think the highest amount of different partners I’ve had in 24 hours is probably five or six. Grindr makes it really easy, especially when I’m visiting somewhere like London.
"Occasionally, I fret I might have a sex addiction. When I’m in a monogamous relationship, I often feel bored and fantasise about other partners. Having variety seems to be important to me but the idea of a polygamous relationship doesn’t appeal in the slightest, so multiple casual partners suits me best right now. Often the sex is unfulfilling or leaves me empty, yet there’s still always time to have it – it’s never occurred to me that I’d be better off spending my time doing something else. I don’t watch porn or anything so perhaps this pursuit of sex is my form of masturbation."
Current shag total: Between 300 and 400
"I’ve always been very sexually active. Even when I was in relationships, we’d engage in group stuff. I was in prison for a few years and when I came home, I was playing catch up.
"I used to try and have sex every day. I’ve slowed down a bit now but I still wake up thinking ‘How?’ and ‘Who?’ It’s a hustler mentality. A lot of it’s also about links. I’ve got dead cert links from over 10 years ago who, even now, will put their kids to kip and fuck me in the kitchen. Anywhere will do, there's always hotels and parks, bars and rooftops. Rooftops are a good one. When I was younger, I used to sell a lot of drugs. Cocaine makes you very sexy to people that do cocaine. Now it’s a mix, I much prefer analogue to digital. I was chirpsing a girl off Tinder and it turned out I’d been linking one of her girls, who I’d met on a train. I told the Tinder link this story and she thought I was a creep for chirpsing someone IRL – we’ve got so removed from one another.
"I find it easy to pick up people, I know how to chat. It was beaten into me from young to be quick. I’ve got good teeth and I think a deep voice helps but ultimately, it's down to confidence and knowing how to have a laugh. I don’t use chat up lines. I like to ‘make the eyes’ for a while, let them know I’m feeling them and just say 'hello'. I’ve chatted up girls in front of their parents on several occasions, it’s just about knowing how to speak to people. Only certain people know how to close a deal. Strangely, both my long-term relationships chatted me up – maybe that’s why they lasted? I had one girl that would always bathe me when I went to see her because she knew what I was like. She had all the expensive lotions and one of those baths that sit in the middle of the room. Proper posh totty.
"I suffered bad sexual violence when I was young and I think my behaviour now is partly to do with owning that. I just wanna have fun with it. I never understood why someone would seek to hurt others through sex. Even in the group scenarios, if someone feels just a little bit uncomfortable, then the whole game’s off, and it has to be. Its horrible to think what goes on. I think my liberated libido is my rebellion against wrong-uns and wastemen."
Current shag total: Between 65 and 75
"I've never really had one particular period where I've been sleeping around a lot – I've done it in fits and starts. I'm actually somewhat of a serial monogamist, so I've actually tended to have long relationships punctuated by periods of extreme horniness. I've also never really gone looking for it. Obviously, like most of us, I've trawled Tinder or gone out to a bar, club or party hoping that I might get laid, but it's never really felt like something I've particularly tried to do. Usually, I'd just start chatting to someone and take it from there, no pick-up lines.
"I do think that a lot of the sex I had probably wasn't healthy – there's a lot I would categorise as quite damaging. There were quite a few instances where I didn't say no, but only because I didn't realise I could say no – occasions that in hindsight, I would categorise as having been coercive or simply abusive, or situations that I now know I put myself in because I was being self destructive. I have bipolar and PTSD, and some of the sex I had was definitely part of a self-destructive cycle that also included problems with addiction, eating disorders and self harm. Often I was looking to escape from myself, sort of go into that void state you enter when you're on a bender or shagging someone bad for you or making life choices simply because you want to feel the chaos of it. In those instances, sex left me feeling quite empty and often much worse than I had done to begin with.
"I once heard someone say in AA that you should never be ashamed of your drinking or substance abuse problems because they were the best way you could deal with whatever was going on at the time, before you could find a better way to do so. That really stuck with me and I try to apply it to every part of my life now.
"It also has definite benefits. Firstly, you get really good at shagging. Everyone is different sexually but you basically know where everything is and what everything does, which is a good platform to build from (I've slept with men who literally still don't know where the clitoris is, as a comparison). You also get more confident in knowing what you like and actually asking for it. Me and my current partner have also talked about getting married in the next few years, and I feel pretty confident that I won't feel tempted to stray; I've been there, done that, got the regular STI tests. Casual sex really doesn't appeal to me anymore, and I was over it before I met him, so it (maybe counterintuitively) makes the relationship much more secure in that sense."