S-E-X

Plugging the empty soul of America's Venice with the wisdom of the ages

The sages of pop culture past, Salt 'n Pepa, once said, "Let's talk about sex, baby/Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be." Notice the comprehensive scope of their entreaty, which encompasses both the "good" things and the "bad" things that sexin' may bring. The lyrics in today's dance music -- such as the chorus in Akinyele's "C**chie", "My coochie is soo juicy, yeah/My coochie is soo juicy" -- give us less to ponder. There's no side of "fries with that shake-shake booty," if you catch my drift. The sex comes à la carte. And that's probably a good thing, 'cause it kills the appetite.

One decade separates us from the relatively expansive sex talk that Salt 'n Pepa served up in the mid-'90s. With each passing year, dance-music lyrics have become smuttier, shedding the power they once had to titillate. So I recently decided that it was time to rewind far beyond the sexual knowledge of the past decade, to pluck the wisdom of the ancients.

And then I wondered what kind of sex people have when they take somebody home from today's nightclubs. With a stash of Fourth-century secrets from the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, I set out to discuss the ins and outs of bumping uglies with partygoers on Himmarshee, near downtown Fort Lauderdale. Because a girl who plans on talking about sex in public should never set out alone, I phoned a friend who said she was "fittin' to get her imbibe on with some raspberry kamikazes" and set off.

Around 11 p.m. last Saturday night, we arrived at the Porterhouse, where we downed a round of her choice drink and then started scanning the singles.

A tight-black-pantsed trio in belly-exposing half-shirts approached the club, looking as if they were on the prowl for one thing and one thing only. I approached them and asked whether they had ever hooked up down here at Himmarshee. Two said they didn't live here, and the third, who hangs here regularly, looked appalled by my question and responded, "No, I don't hook up."

Yeah, sure, OK.

Moving on.

Nearby, in front of Rush Street, was a young Puerto Rican man sitting at a high-top table, holding a drink, and looking up and down the street. I asked whether he wanted to talk about hooking up, and he held up a hand with a shiny gold ring on it. No, I mean talk about hooking up.

"Oh."

As it turned out, Chip had a lot of information to offer about his premarital late-night escapades: "Actually, the best places to hook up are inside the clubs." I mentioned that we'd just come from Porterhouse, and he remarked, "Porterhouse is the easiest place to hook up. Once you're in there, you're drinking, the girls are drinking... it's just a matter of making that eye-connection thing, you know?" When I mentioned the Voodoo Lounge, another Himmarshee joint, he said that was the easiest place to hook up too.

I asked, "But you can't have sex inside the clubs, can you?"

He responded, "In the [now closed] Chili Pepper, you could. In a dark corner. But you don't have sex out here. You take that to a hotel."

I asked him, "Is it good, is it good times?"

"Oh yeah," Chip said. "It's like spring break down here every weekend. It's not that hard to hook up and take that girl home. It's not hard at all."

I asked, "When you get home, do you have good sex?"

"Yeah... The whole one-night-stand thing, really, is about yourself. It's not about the other person. It's really about, uh, I did it. I hooked it up." Charming.

Chip's friend, Bernard, walked up, and I asked the boys if they'd ever read the Kama Sutra. Both said they had.

I asked, "Do you remember the categories it lays out for vagina sizes?"

Chip confessed: "I haven't read it. I've actually performed it."

I harbored doubts.

I laid out the categories for them: "They have animal equivalents for genitalia: A small woman is a deer, a medium-sized woman is a mare, and a large woman is an elephant."

They both laughed at the last category. How amusing: an elephant vagina.

I interrupted them. "Do you guys really think that the size of women's vaginas vary?"

"Oh yeah," Chip said.

"So, if you guys could choose what size woman you would sleep with tonight, what would you choose?"

Chip said, "I would choose a mare. Sometimes that whole small thing doesn't work out."

Subtly turning the conversation to their own equipage, I asked, "Would you feel compatible with a mare?"

The more modest Bernard said, "Yes."

"Would you feel compatible with an elephant?"

"Probably not," Bernard said, admitting, "I might get lost all up in there."

Moving on from size, I tell the men about the categories of sexual intensity. The Kama Sutra describes a man of low passion as one "whose desire at the time of sexual union is not great, whose semen is scanty, and who cannot bear the warm embrace of the female. Those who differ from this temperament are called men of middling passion, while those of intense passion are full of desire."

Chip placed himself in the last category: "I got supersperm. Spermwise, I'll tell you a story. My wife was on birth control, and I still got her pregnant." Lucky her.

Bernard said that, compared to the females he brings home, his intensity is low: "I'm between low and middle."

Chip: "It's the other way around for me. I'm more intense."

I asked them about the sexual temperament of the women they've hooked up with.

Bernard responded, "We know some girls that are straight-up like us, who will just go out and drink, hook up, and take 'em home."

Chip said, "Some girls are just like hos."

Bernard said, "Those are the best ones." Then, he espoused this theory that I didn't quite get: "I don't think there's a difference between men and women out here. That's why you always see them in pairs. You ever see the girls around here, in pairs?" According to this logic, my friend and I were hos.

Chip affirmed, "This is one block of evil. This is Sodom and Gomorrah all in 300 feet or whatever. You just got to look around at all these people's faces to know what they're trying to do out here."

So, I asked the single Bernard, "Do you think you're going to hook up tonight?"

He responded: "I don't know. You never can tell. What are you doing tonight?" I thought that the tape recorder in my hand had made it pretty obvious.

We thanked our subjects, drank another kamikaze at Capones -- where it was too loud to interview anyone -- and did a couple of jello shots outside of Tavern 213. Then, around 12:30 p.m., we staggered over to the Voodoo, where more subjects stood in line just waiting to be interviewed.

We talked to two black men, one tall with a spongy high top and one short with cornrows pulled back into a little ponytail.

I tried to warm them up to some Kama Sutra talk by asking, "Is this a good place to hook up?"

Sam, the shorter man, replied, "Yeah. The whole streee-yup. "

Elliot agreed but said, "I want to settle down soon." Then he said to my friend, "I could see my future with you."

Sam started trying to pick me up, saying maybe we could watch a movie together some time.

I told him that I wasn't available, and he said, "This interview is over."

When Elliot asked my friend for her number, I turned to him and asked, "How many numbers do you get a night?"

Elliot responded, "About four."

"How many of them do you call?"

"None."

I asked why.

"If I call 'em, all they do is be drunk." Then he turned to my friend and repeated, "I could see my future with you."

She didn't see her future with him, so we grabbed a girl who was walking toward the line at Voodoo and put the spotlight on her sex life.

Beatrice had curly light-brown hair that spiraled around her penetrating eyes. From the intensity of her gaze and the way she pawed at her thighs and shrugged her shoulders, I gathered that she was either high or some kind of free-spirited nymphomaniac.

When I asked her about hooking up at Himmarshee, she said, "I don't think you'll get any valuable information out of me."

"Why?" I asked, "because you haven't hooked up here?"

"I have done it here. Yeah, within a space of, like, five hours. I think everybody does here, but it's not that interesting."

"It's not?"

"'Cause I don't think hookups like that are interesting. I've had like some pretty racy experiences coming from here. But they weren't anything momentous. They were just something to do coming from a club. They're not as interesting to me as having really good sex with people that, like, I didn't meet yesterday. I mean, I ended up getting talked into two people at the same time once."

Finding Beatrice's self-proclaimed uninteresting escapades pretty interesting, I asked, "Two guys?"

"Yeah," she said.

I asked, "Was that fun?"

Beatrice responded, "Yeah, it was fun, but, like I said, it wasn't anything that I'm going to remember or write home to my mom about." Well, I would hope not.

"And my first time having sex with two guys here was not my first time having sex with two guys. I've had much more fun having sex with one guy that I like than having sex with two guys that I was..." She thought for a second and said "fond of," then smiled.

I asked, "So the sex here is not that great?"

Beatrice said, "It has the potential to be, but it's not. No."

Then she contradicted herself. "I always have good sex, right. Always. Always. I'm always having good sex with a guy."

As if I were compelling her to take someone home that night, she said: "No, I'm sorry. I can't do it. This is like the meat market. It's just not -- it's not my game." Why is everyone contemptuous of their own stomping ground, I wondered.

I asked Beatrice, "Have you ever read the Kama Sutra?"

She said "No, I have not" and added: "I don't think I need the Kama Sutra. I'm sorry, dude. I am, like, totally experimental all the time." A guy walked over to her from the line and said to her, "Hey, booty-call connoisseur, it's time to go inside."

"Aww, man. I'm having so much fun," she replied.

I brought up the Kama Sutra, and she cut me short again, "I'm not familiar. You have to be with the person that you're with to figure out what position is going to be better for the both of you. Every experience that I have with a guy is so fundamentally different in so many ways."

I tried to tell Beatrice about size compatibility and the elephant vaginas and the bull penises and the wisdom of the ancients, but she wasn't having any of it: "I'm always having good sex. I don't need a guy to be that big."

Her date came over and pulled her toward the club.

"One more thing," I said, forsaking all those dog-eared pages of hard-learned categories and postures and seducing techniques. "Do you teach a seminar?"

Beatrice looked back and said: "I should. I should. I swear to God."

Then she was swallowed up by the maws of Voodoo.

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