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How Cookies, Lube, and Human Immolation Fuel San Francisco's Best All-Female Orgy

Girlpile teaches us how to throw a girls-only sex party nonpareil.

 To my right, a woman wearing a raccoon tail butt plug and insanely high heels is being flogged by a lady with short-cropped hair in a leopard print bodysuit. To my left, a group of writhing bodies snake their way down a couch, legs and arms akimbo. And I'm standing a few feet away from a woman who shrieks as she's lit on fire (consensually! And sensually!), the flames licking her skin in a trail along her back before another woman extinguishes them with the palm of her hand.

This is a tiny glimpse of the goings (and comings) of girlpile, the Bay Area's most popular all-girl orgy, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this November with—what else?—a pile of girls.

Girlpile has an air of lore and mystery to it, like Fight Club with more orgasms. The founder (who was 22 when she threw the first party and wishes to remain anonymous) wants it that way. About 60 to 70 women attend; it's an underground affair in the sense that to come, you must either hit on an organizer in person or be invited by a prior attendee. Girlpiles always take place in private homes, and the location changes from party to party. At prior gatherings, the founder has said that she started girlpile because she wanted "more hot girls to put out without drama." If you look at the party's FAQ, you'll find a different explanation: "Why did you start girlpile? Really. Why did you really start it?" Answer: "boobies."

Unlike lesbian bars, which have largely gone the way of the dodo, girlpile is a decade deep and more popular than ever. "Even the walk-in closet was full of fucking girls," Kate Sassoon, one of the party's stewards, said of the anniversary pile. How do they manage to grow and adapt at a time when queer spaces are diminishing, even digitally (RIP Afterellen)?

As it turns out, a LOT of pre-production is required to make an all-girl orgy successful, as Sassoon (a.k.a. Sassy), who's been helping organize the party since 2007, told me during a recent chat in Berkeley.

Surprisingly, fresh-baked cookies are vital to the success of a girlpile. "It's a fun and rewarding way to include all the shy and not-ready-to-get-naked-or-fuck girls in the party, at their own comfort level," said Sassoon. Such girls are offered a chance to socialize at their own pace by preparing cookies in the kitchen; finished cookies are then taken around the party to be offered to other girls, which encourages attendees to mingle (and provides an easy source of fuel for those who've worked up an appetite). Sassy also said that she sometimes purposefully omits key cookie recipe ingredients, which forces problem solving and creative cooperation to be, forgive me, baked into the experience.

A scene from last month's tenth anniversary girlpile, sketched by Kelsey Beyer

While Sassy and the founder use tricks like this to run the show at girlpile, "we hold it very much in service to the girls who attend the party," she said. "We solicit and incorporate feedback to make the space relevant and welcoming—for example, on trans and gender-non-normative inclusion."

Even when she's engaging in sexy times herself, Sassy always keeps one eye on the party, administering subtle behavioral or course correction to participants when (rarely) needed. In all her years of pilin', Sassoon said that such correction has become necessary only a handful of times; girlpile parties provide a safer atmosphere than possible at other similarly sized sexy functions, in part because participants are vetted by association. "I know many other girls find the sexual freedom and safety of girlpile to be a deeply therapeutic—some have even said sacred—experience," Sassoon noted. "And that shit carries over into our daily lives, in a big way."

Sassy helps set the mood in other ways, too—dropping toys into laps of people who need a boost, and, as mentioned earlier, lighting girls on fire.

Fire massage is one of the pile's most beloved rituals. It functions as a visual focal point for the party, a nudity instigator ("for fire safety, girls must be naked," Sassoon notes with a wink) and a sexual appetizer, giving participants something to watch, discuss, and try out if they wish.

Then there's the Cherry Book, which encourages folks to do things they've never done before, a few of whom are rewarded with prizes, usually sex toys, at the end of the night. "We don't define 'cherry,' which empowers participants to honor any new experience," Sassy said. "When reading out the cherries near the end of the evening—which is also a sneaky tactic to get girls to finish fucking and go home—I deliberately choose a 'biggest little cherry' as well as a 'most esoteric cherry' to award prizes. 'First time I kissed a girl ever!' is just as honored in our space as 'first time getting fisted while being flogged and spanked by eight girls.' And everyone feels celebrated for being brave in the ways that they are."

Girlpile attendees get down at last month's tenth anniversary party. Illustration by Kelsey Beyer

Because girlpile parties are held in homes, rather than commercial spaces, they feel intimate, which helps make the whole group sex thing a more comfortable affair, especially for first-timers. It also keeps costs low, ensuring that girlpile remains volunteer-run and donations-based—no attendee is ever turned away from a party for lack of funds. This "keeps it accessible to a demographic that, statistically speaking, has less money to spend on leisure (especially sexual leisure)," Sassoon noted. Unlike Skirt Club, an expanding sex party for bicurious ladies that can charge upward of $180 for admission, the suggested donation for girilpile parties is $10, which includes lube, latex gloves, dental dams, a Hitatchi vibrator plugged into every wall outlet, and, of course, copious amounts of sugar.

Last month's ten-year pile was especially decadent, held at a two-story Berkeley home outfitted with a hot tub, stripper pole, and fire pit; hors d'oeuvres included grilled oysters, a chocolate fountain, individually decorated vulva cookies, and a dutch brownie cake decorated in the shape of the girlpile logo. More than 90 came—"and came, and came..." Sassy joked. "And the house was spotless and empty by 12:30 AM. Turns out, a decade of this makes us pros."

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Illustration by Kelsey Beyer