Austin: Weird but not freaky

The Safe Word
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photo / John Cohen 

Last time I wrote about taking naked pictures, and now I’ll get down to my skivvies. The Safe Word is a column about sex, eroticism, and sex culture in Austin.

It’s also about me. I’m just a boy with some very interesting friends, an adventurous long-time partner, and a deep reservoir of curiosity about all things hot and wonderful. And I’m good at sharing. I have a lot to learn; this path is pretty new for me. One thing I know is it’s a strange time to be an aroused grown-up in America. Porn is practically free, hook-up culture is everywhere, sex sells everything, and rates of STDs are rising. Privacy and sex education are under constant attack. There’s a lot of bad sex out there.

Now consider Austin, trying to keep it weird. Well, is this a city with its freak on? Sure, it’s gay friendly, relatively speaking, but where are the flamboyant and fabulous, the fetish folk, the poly-people, and someone to write them down, photograph them, turn them from life into art? It seems like one of weirdest things you can do these days is get naked in creative ways with other consenting people in real life. That is outrageous behavior. It’s practically seditious – unless you’re talking about bad hookups you get after pre-loading up on West Campus or before the after-party down on SoCo. There are artists in this town working the borderland between erotica, art, and porn, but there aren’t many venues willing to claim them. There are people living outlaw lives, but they are way, way underground.

One thing is for sure: Austin lacks a safe house for its sex-positive types, places for education and activism like the Center for Sex and Culture or The Wet Spot. A person needs help to edge out from the herd of the horny and frustrated, and they find it at groups like CSC or The Wet Spot, where orientations aren’t important, but open minds are. Believe it or not, there are people who think good sex is an end in itself. There are people for whom sex is a safe word.

I am going in search of sex culture like that; sex culture that isn’t lame and doesn’t rely on greasy cold cash for lubrication. In this space in the coming weeks, look for my dispatches from the gullies and hilltop of Austin’s erogenous zones. I’ll be looking for outlaws and artists and the people that fuck them silly. I think Austin throws off its own peculiar scent for modern lovers. It’s less militant than the left coast and less careerist than the right. I’m pretty sure we’re good in the sack. Yet here we are in a town with just one decent sex columnist and no way to compare notes. So who knows how hot we are, really? I’m going to find out, and yes, hot tips are welcome.

About the author The Safe Word columnist RC McCloud welcomes your feedback, tips, love letters, and comments. Send mail to rc.mccloud at thatotherpaper dot com.

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