There is nothing in life more haunting than the idea of your parents having sex with each other – or, even worse, with other people. Luckily, chances are that they actually did stop doing it after that one functional time you were conceived – as new research shows, a majority of Swedish people has given up on sex.
What happens once children start sharing your bed, and your balls resemble used tea bags? There are some questions that are too horrifying to ask, but luckily, VICE contributors and their parents from all over the world came through.
VICE Australia contributor Jessica O'Reilly interviewed her mum Alison O'Reilly (61) and her stepdad Mark Mulcahy (61)
VICE: How would you grade your sex life and why?
Mark: It's kind of hard to grade it, when it's non-existent. We'd like to, but we're just too fucking tired every day. We're running our own business and renovating the house. We have sex on holiday, because all those worries dissapear. We relax, we swim, we read and suddenly I think – fuck, I'm horny. And your mum's horny, and we have sex, and it's fantastic. We haven't had a holiday in two years, though.
Has having less sex changed your relationship?
Mark: The lack of sex has nothing to do with our attraction to each other, we're just working too hard for our age. We're best friends and we talk about everything. Although we haven't talked about the fact we haven't had sex in over a year, have we darling? I guess it's not an issue. We still feel close to each other.
Alison: Yes, we hold hands!
Do you think you might plan to have more sex now that we've talked about it?
Alison: We'll probably have to workshop it now.
Mark: It's not something that you can just plan, like – dinner at 8PM and sex at 9.15, be ready!
So what if one of you instigated sex tonight?
Alison: I'd say, "Go away, we have guests, Jessica's sleeping across the hall."
I appreciate that, mum.
VICE: How would you rate your sex life and why?
Jürgen: My sex life is fulfilling and satisfying. My wife doesn't even need me to say anything; she just knows what I like. They say [in Germany] that sex is "the most important minor thing in the world," but I say it's no minor thing at all. Our genitals communicate with our brains. Oh god. How has your sex life changed over the years?
Jürgen: For your mum [his first wife] sex was a taboo growing up – she'd never even seen her own mother naked. I lost my virginity to your mum, so naturally, that had an impact on me too. If you've never experienced a lot of tenderness and intimacy between people growing up, it's difficult to have that with a partner. For 15 years, I thought there was nothing more to sex than what I had with her. After the split, my sex life improved and it's at its all-time best in my current relationship.
Do you fantasise about other people?
Jürgen: I don't think about sex with others. What do you mean, exactly?
Claudia: Well, actually, if I may say something here – there was this one situation in the Dominican Republic…
Jürgen: Oh, right. What was her name again?
Jürgen: Ah, right. Petra. Yes, but Claudia and I have a deal, when it comes to this. If we should ever cheat, we'd confess right away. Back then, I told her I found someone else interesting, but I didn't end up doing anything about it. It also makes a difference whether there are children in a relationship or not. Children are the bane of all sex lives. They turn a passionate love story into a joint venture with kids.
Thanks a lot, Dad.
Jürgen: But having children is also the most important experience in life, so it balances out in the end. Your whole world just suddenly revolves around this new, little person, and if you also have a job it just sucks away so much of your strength and energy. Well, something's gotta give. That's how it was back then, at least.
VICE Mexico Staff Writer Diego Urdaneta interviewed his parents Alfredo (55) and Tibisay (54).
VICE: How has your sex life changed over the years?
Alfredo: When you're with the same person for 35 years, it changes. When we were younger, sex was the basis of our relationship. You realise over the years that there are more important things, like starting a family, raising your children right and respecting each other. Your priorities change.
Do you ever fantasise about other people?
Alfredo: I think it's quite common to imagine what sex would be like with someone else. That's not a big deal, but it becomes bad if you try to turn the fantasy into a reality and end up cheating on your partner. When you want to be an example to your children, everything changes and you realise it's much more important to keep your family together rather than satisfying some fleeting desire.
What do you miss most about your sex life?
Tibisay: Our younger bodies, haha! When we were younger we were more dependant on our sex life, but that's not so much the case anymore. There are times when we don't speak much to each other – as you well know – and we sleep in separate rooms. Over the course of a 30 year relationship so many things happen to you that change your life as a couple in some way.
Does desire decline with age?
Alfredo: I think it's only the way I see sex that has changed. As a young man you think more about sex as a competition or a sport, but later it becomes more conscious and enjoyable. You're more confident, there's perhaps more intimacy and you care more about how your partner feels. She's the mother of your children, not someone you just met.
VICE Denmark staff writer Alfred Maddox interviewed his dad Scott Maddox (48), a musician and sound technician. He's been with Alfred's stepmother for 12 years.
VICE: What grade would you give your sex life?
Scott Maddox: An absolute fucking 10. Or 9.5 – "ten" sounds like I'm exaggerating. But there's nobody else, no fantasies. I'm getting everything I want. I think for younger people, the availability of porn has changed the idea of what sex should be like. Porn always starts with dick sucking, then about four or five different positions and then you cum in her face. Well, I'll tell you, I've never "cummed" in a girl's face. If you don't have much experience when it comes to sex and base what you know on porn, you're never going to have what I have. My '9.5/10' sex life.
Has your sex life changed over the course of your relationships – or did you just walk right in to the 9.5?
Sure. [Your stepmother] and I have been married for 11 years. Of course in the beginning, there was a lot of tongue-kissing, strange positions, outdoor fucking – things that we just don't do anymore. You do some porny stuff in the beginning to check your bases, and then it eventually all kind of funnels down into the main act that you do for the rest of your life.
So, what are you the happiest with in your relationship?
I think my wife is beautiful. She turns me on completely. If she's in the shower, I'll always peek at her. Right after we met, we were making out in my apartment, when she suddenly stood up and took her shirt off. I can remember it like it was yesterday. I remember thinking: 'Whaat! Wow.' I was never much about the titties, the pussy or the ass. I'm probably more into the face than anything else.
Do you ever fantasise about other people?
Not about other people. If I'm jerking off at home – that's something all of you kids have to remember, you think you're going to stop jerking off but you never do – when I'm jerking off, I'm thinking about [your stepmother] in weird situations that we would never be in. She's tied up somewhere and I'm coming to save her, or whatever.
Has your sex drive changed over the years?
It's increased. With porn, these guys are getting sucked off for 10 minutes and then they're fucking for 20 – how do they do that? I have no idea. I've had in-house pussy for a long, long time, and I have no idea how it's possible that these people don't cum for hours. If there's pussy on the table, I will cancel anything.
VICE Spain contributor Roser Amills interviewed her divorced parents Catalina (63) and Esteban (67) separately, to make sure they wouldn't start fighting again.
VICE: How would you describe your sex life, overall?
Esteban: My sex life has been very successful and active, I can't complain.
Catalina: When I married your dad, all I knew about sex was that the man went on top and the woman had to lie under him. That's probably why I felt like an old rug during most of my marriage. He didn't show any respect for me, and I had to stay at home whenever he wanted to go out with his pals. How has your sexuality changed over time?
Esteban: When I was younger it was all pretty simple, but it isn't anymore. Age shows no mercy. I've had several partners after my divorce – I don't know whether it's because women are impossible to understand or because I didn't get lucky, but I was never able to work things out with them. But these days I prefer calm and affection.
Catalina: After the divorce, I became more confident. I bought a vibrator so I didn't have to depend on any man anymore, and these days I smile when somebody gives me a compliment on the street. That kind of compliment can make my day. But that's basically it, because I don't feel very comfortable with my body. Do you feel that you may have missed out on something?
Esteban: When I got married, I was young and impetuous, your mother was ignorant and demure. So I was never able to fully satisfy my sexual fantasies, because whenever I tried I felt guilty and it would bring a lot of problems. I didn't want to fight any more than we already did.
Catalina: I was so stupid to allow your father to see me just as the woman who took care of his children. And neglected myself despite having been so beautiful back then. Never let yourself go. I wish I had known better – I would have found a couple of lovers. But I wasted my youth and I'll never get it back.
How has age changed your body?
Esteban: I was never a smoker or a drinker and have always worked out. I think it's important to take care of yourself.
Catalina: Giving birth four times caused me to put on weight and I never got rid of those extra pounds. I went into early menopause at 34, as a result of my hysterectomy. That really spoiled my sex life, because I stopped lubricating and your father wasn't dealing with the issue very subtly. He rejected me and the doctor told me it wasn't worth to start a treatment. I started avoiding your father – though I loved him – so that he wasn't a constant reminder of how old I was getting. What mistake would you not make again?
Esteban: I got married too young. I was unprepared for the burden of taking care of a whole family at my age – I should have lived more intensely when I could.
Catalina: I should have gotten separated a lot earlier. And most importantly: You should never marry someone before you sleep with them.
VICE Netherlands contributor Maxime de Vries interviewed her mum Nancy (47), who was married to her dad for 20 years. She's been in a new relationship for three and a half years now.
VICE: You and I have always been quite open about sex. I've shared some of my most embarrassing stories with you in the past, so now it's your turn. Let's start with how you'd grade your sex life.
Nancy: I think about an 8.5, or a 9 out of 10. It's loving and always good. My boyfriend works nights, so we sometimes miss out on spending the night together. We probably don't sleep in the same bed about 15 nights a month. But the nights we do spend together are very nice – we work out in the bedroom at least once a week.
Have you ever been insecure about your body, when it comes to intimacy?
No, not really. I've always been very aware of my body because I've been a dancer since I was very young. I know every hair and wrinkle on it. Whether or not I'm happy with my body is a different thing, but that doesn't make me insecure during intimate moments. My confidence is also boosted by my partner – you can feel it when someone is actually in love with you and thinks you're attractive from head to toe.
I suspect that your sex drive hasn't really changed over the years. Is that right?
When you grow older things will start to hang, but it doesn't stop me, I'll tell you that. I'm a woman who needs the physical part of a relationship. I don't want to be with someone who, after pregnancy or menopause, says: "Okay, that's it." My boyfriend and I talk about it sometimes and we decided we'll simply keep going – walking sticks and everything, haha!
You were together with dad for 20 years and have had a boyfriend for three and a half years now. What is it like to discover a new person sexually at your age?
It's a lot of fun. I'm older, more confident about my position in life, and I experience sex in a more intense way now – it makes me happy. When you're young, like you, it's always very exciting and new, and sex is mainly lust. It doesn't always make you happy. That doesn't mean it can't be good, but as you get older then it's less about how new it is and more about just 'being', which makes every touch feel more intense than it ever did.
What was the worst sex you've had ?
Oh god, that was a one-night stand in Cannes with an Italian guy. I had certain expectations – Italians are famous for being lovers, after all. We were already under the covers when he undressed, so I hadn't seen him naked yet. After some heavy petting he started to make these loud noises. It turned out that he had already started, but I couldn't feel a thing. His penis was the size of a woman's finger, I guess. I didn't want to make him feel bad so I started moaning a little to humour him and left in the middle of the night.
VICE Brazil photographer Guilherme Santana interviewed his dad (67), who has been together with his girlfriend for seven years.
VICE: Are you content with your sex life?
Guilherme's dad: I would say my sex life is good and pretty normal. I'm very satisfied. I've become calmer over time; I was always chasing girls when I was younger. When you get married the number of partners halts, but not necessarily your sexual activity.
What are you happiest with in your sex life?
I'm happy that I found somebody who satisfies me physically and mentally, my ideal partner. We're monogamous – I feel that that's important in this day and age of AIDS and other diseases. You can fantasise about other people, but the reality is that it's better to be with the person you really love.
So, does your sex drive change as you get older?
I've always had a pretty high sex drive, but obviously your performance and endurance change as you get older.
So what is it like when your body and your partner's body start to sag? Do you mind? Does it make you more self-conscious?
My girlfriend is 30 years younger than I am, so I don't have that problem. She's extremely young and beautiful. I'm the old one. I think my body is still OK, but it could be better. I would mostly like to have the same physical energy that I had when I was younger, but with the experience I have today.
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