Love & Sex

I Did It For Science: Sex on Drugs

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Five substances, one girlfriend, three days.

In honor of Burning Man, an event where sex, drugs, and sex on drugs are all pretty commonplace things, we're taking a look at an old favorite: how a few of the more popular intoxicants on the market affect the oldest drug in the book.

Hypothesis

I've never really had sex on drugs, but they've always been linked in my mind. Maybe that's because the guys who did drugs in high school were also getting sucked off by girls. Even today, I'm convinced that a boring, homely acquaintance of mine can truthfully claim an Elle cover model is his girlfriend only because he has an endless supply of Bolivian marching powder on hand.

But this experiment is about sex on drugs, not sex for drugs. Therefore, I plan to conduct the sexual act in its purest, most apolitical form — while being totally off my head. My goal is to find a dependable accessory to sex.

In other words, I want to find My Drug. It's like when you're sixteen, and you rummage around in your parents' liquor cabinet trying to determine which drink will be Your Drink. (Embarrassingly, mine's still Malibu and Coke.) The question I intend to answer: is sex on drugs even better than the real thing, or, like the inclusion of "Hotter Than Hell (Demo Version)" on the reissue of Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil, just an unnecessary augmentation of the sublime?

Materials

Viagra (1, 50 mg)
Ecstasy (1, type: "Ninja Star")
Mushrooms
Cocaine ($40 worth)
Marijuana (1 nugget, strain: "Juicy Fruit")
Girlfriend (1)

Method

I was an impressionable kid, and I was made leery of drugs at a young age. My fourth-grade teacher was an unkempt hippie who wore shirts with yellow pit stains and stored bits of lunch in his formidable beard. Once he told our class how two of his friends tried some magic mushrooms and keeled over right there, in some English meadow. Now, imagine your teacher telling you that when you're nine years old. It was some cold shit, I assure you. I was scared straight before my time. (Note of context: I saw Dark Crystal that same year and soiled my pants right in the theater.)

Adolescence brought me neither sex nor drugs. Since then, I've taken full advantage of everything I missed out on during a little period I like to call "the 1990s," but a move to New York only compounded my drug-based anxiety. Namely, I started to equate an old girlfriend's casual cocaine use with infidelity. I resented the way she'd disappear into a tiny scuzz-bar bathroom with her shady hook-up guy, then return to my side with a sly grin and sparkly eyes. Who knows what they were doing in there? Why was some other dude being drafted to make her feel good?

My current girlfriend went through what she calls her "drug phase" a long time ago. Let me put it this way: if drugs were crayons, Erica started with the sixty-four pack. By the age of twenty-one, she'd done ketamine, meth, opium, whip-its — a maelstrom of substances that'd render her dangerous to cremate. When I requested her assistance with this experiment, she launched into an excruciating monologue about the finer details of being in a K-hole. It left us both slightly nauseated. Reluctantly, she agreed to participate, but only if she could stay clean and serve as a witness.

My editor decreed that the study would involve five substances. Crank, crack, inhalants, and the big H were ruled out at an early stage. We settled on ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, mushrooms, and Viagra. Each would be evaluated by six criteria: immediate physical effect, tactile response, duration of sex, mental images produced, lab assistant's reaction, and comparison to usage outside the sexual realm.

Getting the drugs wasn't a problem. I had a pretty good idea which friends and co-workers could hook me up with what. I put out the call, and during the next week, nondescript envelopes appeared in discreet areas of my desk like four visits from the drug fairy. Only Bob Dole's little blue friend proved elusive. Online Viagra vendors were too expensive, and borrowing from someone's prescription wasn't an option: because my co-workers are women in the twenty-five to thirty age bracket, they aren't exactly in the prime demographic for erectile dysfunction. I finally turned to Craigslist, an infamous online bulletin board where one can obtain "a slippery hand job, no questions asked," from a bored stay-at-home mom as easily as one can acquire a used Thighmaster.

Sure enough, some guy had posted a "Viagra Available" ad. He had a few pills left at $30 a pop. After a quick email volley, I met "Mac," a buff Latino dude, outside his gym in an upscale Brooklyn neighborhood. He invited me to "take a little walk" with him. As we strolled down a tree-lined residential avenue, every apple-cheeked, stroller-toting family looked like a team of undercover narcs. "You've done this shit before, right?" Mac asked. I nervously replied that I had not. He assured me that I was going to have "a real good time." It was then that I became acutely embarrassed: here I was, talking to a stranger — a drug dealer of sorts — about the award-winning, four-hour erection he was going to help me achieve. "Half of one of these will be plenty," Mac said, handing over a little envelope containing the goods. "You've got four great nights there!" We shook hands, and he asked if I needed anything else. I wasn't sure what he meant. Some Preparation-H, some tough-actin' Tinactin, perchance? The man was like a walking Rite-Aid.

Back in Manhattan, Erica and I were determined to get right down to business. We wanted to keep the experiment pure, minding two very important guidelines:

1. Have sex while as high as possible.
2. Cleanse the palate between drugs. It would be scientifically irresponsible to hoof a baggie of blow while in the throes of a "moody Tuesday" brought on by Sunday's ecstasy.

Of course, everything went pear-shaped. Typically, Erica and I will get it on wherever, whenever, but for the next several weeks, whenever we were together and horny with a couple of hours to spare, the gear would be sitting in the other person's apartment across town. I started carrying everything with me at all times. For a week, I walked the streets of New York like a living sampler plate of narcotic treats. Still, we couldn't get our shit together: whenever I was free, Erica had to work, and vice versa.

All told, I had two months to plan, execute and deliver the assignment.

I ended up doing all five drugs within seventy-two hours.

Next: What's Viagra do to someone who's not Bob Dole?

Observations

Viagra

As instructed by my dealer-cum-pharmacist, I cut the dime-sized 100mg tablet in half and knocked one back with a glass of water. I knew that Viagra takes twenty-five to forty-five minutes to kick in, so Erica and I sat down to watch American Idol.

Immediate physical reaction
After twenty minutes, I began to feel queasy and flushed, but I attributed this as much to syrupy renditions of '70s ballads as anything else. Glancing in the mirror, I saw that my ears and cheeks were rosy. According to the "literature" I'd downloaded from Pfizer's website, Viagra's intended effects are noticeable only once you get an erection. Because I live in a state of perma-arousal, within a minute or two I had a woody so hard that a cat couldn't scratch it.

A little background info: a man experiences different types of erections, from "The Barfly" to "The Thumper." Viagra had given me a pulsing, monster Thumper. To say it plain, my dick felt like it was going to explode. Instantly, I was in that sublime zone between being ridiculously aroused and having to think about Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis on the crapper to keep from shooting my bolt.

Tactile effect
Other than the, uh, physical changes, the main difference was mental. The inherent disconnect between my genitalia and brain widened exponentially. Penises are often referred to as tools, and that's exactly what mine felt like: a woodlike, dildonic prosthesis that was being ridden with little emotional or physical input from me. The experience was strangely feminizing: for the first time, I was a passive partner during sex, able to fuck without necessarily being turned on or even having my head in the game.

Duration of sex
As expected, intercourse went on for ages. I could have lasted all night, but at just over two-and-a-quarter hours, a chafed, tired and slightly dazed Erica called time. I pulled out and she jerked me off over her boobs. The orgasm was amazing and powerful. I came a lot. A whole lot. Like, something reminiscent of Peter "Two Quarts" North. Erica and I looked at each other, aghast as a bovine volume of come showered the general vicinity. We started cracking up before I was done. I stopped laughing when the usual refractory period didn't follow — my erection simply wouldn't go away. After twenty minutes, I became concerned. I needed to pee. Badly. Ten minutes later, my erection deflated just enough to allow a painful, wildly imprecise squirt. After that, I returned to a semi-dormant state.

Sensory/mental images
For ten minutes while we were screwing, every time I blinked I'd see large blue dots, about the size of a dinner plate as viewed from three feet away. I would've been alarmed, but I had read about this side effect on the Pfizer website earlier. Apparently, some men have blue-tinted vision for the better part of their experience. On one hand, that's alarming. The upside, I guess, is that you can pretend you're banging Smurfette.

Assistant's reaction
Erica didn't note major differences in my technique or presentation, other than a red complexion and a slight emotional distance.

Comparison to drug use without sex
N/A

Next: It's time to get laid while getting infinite — magic mushrooms are up next.

Mushrooms

I'd never actually seen 'shrooms before a small baggie of them appeared on my desk. Everyone told me that they were "fun" but "tasted like ass." Around two o' clock on a Wednesday afternoon, Erica sliced several into a peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwich, which I tried to eat without chewing and almost choked to death. At her behest, we went outside to wait for things to kick in. I was told that's how 'shrooms are best enjoyed — other than at a Dave Matthews gig, of course.

Immediate physical reaction
We walked down Avenue A and looked in some stores. I began to feel queasy and in need of air, so we sat down on a bench in Tompkins Square Park. The nausea subsided, and I began to feel super-chilled-out. Whenever Erica said something, I thought about it hard, mulled my response carefully and delivered it several seconds afterward.

Sensory/mental images
Aside from a couple of trees in the foreground, the park looked like a piece of stage scenery. People looked like moving Colorforms that had been stuck on. It was like somebody turned up the color-and-silly-grin dial on the TV set in my mind. I watched a bunch of kids run over to a big, jolly man with a shaved head and an entirely tattooed face. They tried to climb him as if he were a stout oak tree. His laughter and general charisma were Santa-esque. He sat down, and his magnetic effect seemed to work on squirrels and birds. Over his shoulder, a toothless old Latina woman let forth a bloodcurdling, wheezy laugh. She straddled a much younger man on a bench, and they started making out and dry humping. A slow-moving police car would idle past, and the woman would temper her movements accordingly. Shortly thereafter, a pigeon flew into my head and flapped its wings on the side of my face. I began to understand that weird shit happens in Tompkins Square Park on a Wednesday afternoon, whether you're on psychedelic drugs or not. Erica and I retrenched to my apartment.

Tactile effect
We undressed and got into bed, and Erica invited me to watch the room breathe. I stared at the walls but couldn't see it, and wondered aloud why the fuck you would want to do that anyway. Erica and I began to kiss and writhe around, but strangely enough, sex was the furthest thing from my mind. The mushrooms I had taken were supposed to be magic, but my penis was looking decidedly shiitake-like.

Duration of sex
Erica and I kissed and held each other for fifteen minutes, but I simply had no hydraulic action. Bah! Spooning followed.

Assistant's reaction
In a phrase: shock and awe. For the first time Erica, witnessed my completely disinterested member. It didn't bother her too much; she found it kind of novel to be spooned without getting the "hot dog in the bun."

Comparison to drug use without sex
N/A

Next: Will this experiment go up in smoke as our intrepid scientist tackles weed?

Marijuana

First, know this: I can't smoke anything. A mere drag on a cigarette makes me gag. The only time I really got stoned was when I was eighteen and ingested an insane amount of Moroccan hashish via a cup of "special hot chocolate." After I drank one cup and noticed no difference, the chef cooked me up a more potent brew. I spent the next four hours alone, vomiting, shivering and firmly under the assumption that I was a piece of black paper cut into a silhouette of a person with red and yellow LEDs running around the perimeter.

Immediate physical reaction
Because of my general ineptitude with pot, I made this a big production number. Weed: check. Bowl: check. Lighter: check. Condoms: check. I guess if smoking were more natural to me, things would have gone more smoothly, but Erica even had to coach me in how to toke. It was embarrassing. As she prepped the bowl and fired up a lighter, I prepared to inhale. I tried to tell myself that I was just being a pussy all those years ago, that I could handle it now. But even the tang of the residue on the glass pipe caused my mouth to water and my lower lip to droop in that special, just-about-to-barf way. I closed my eyes and took a huge drag. Then I started coughing and couldn't stop. Two minutes later, the hacking subsided and I took another hit. I did this four times over an eight-minute period. Erica rolled her eyes and said that with all the huffing and puffing she'd just witnessed, she'd guesstimate I was a six or seven on the Harrelson scale of highness. I relaxed, and a tingly feeling swept over me. I started screaming, "I feel high, I feel high! Quick, get undressed!" and shoved her into the bedroom.

Tactile effect
Bear in mind that this is only the second time I've been stoned. Ever. I felt heavy, like somebody had turned up Earth's gravitational pull a few notches. Erica's skin felt like a soft, warm down comforter, the coziest thing you could imagine. I wanted to wrap her around myself completely. She held me as if I were a small child, and we started making out. The next part is kind of hazy. From what I can remember, as soon as I entered her and we hit a rhythm, my penis felt like a metal rod, pointed north like a compass. Previously, whenever I'd heard the phrase "time lost its meaning," I'd laughed at the cliché. But that's exactly how I'd describe the sex we had. Luckily, Erica prompted me to change positions whenever she got bored and/or sore; otherwise I would have kept banging away, blissed-out and stiff as a board, until the break of dawn.

Sensory/mental images
About two minutes after taking a hit, I experienced visions similar to the ones I had in Morocco, i.e. images of mid-'70s children's furniture with Muppets' heads stuck on them. These appeared like a slide show in my mind, each item scrolling from right to left. Between the images was infinite darkness. Occasionally, I'd see British TV personalities from my early childhood, decked out in mid-to-late-'70s fashions and hairdos. Strangely, the size of the hair didn't seem to match the size of the wearer, as if he or she were quivering under the weight of it all. Maybe that's what the '70s were like. I can't really remember.

Duration of sex
I'll say it again: time lost its meaning. Erica told me she called time after ninety minutes. My orgasm took a lot of concentration and arrived with a firework finale of obscure memories I'd been unwittingly harboring since I was a toddler. At one point I said to Erica, "My mind is massive."

Assistant's reaction
Erica was already sleepy when we started. We had crammed a lot of drugs and sex into the previous twenty-four hours. If I hadn't known better, I'd have guessed she was stoned too. Instead, she was taking a rare opportunity to relax — without me pulling her around, trying to induce dirty talk or folding her in half at the waist, she just chilled out while I embarked on my bizarro sex trip to the Carter Administration. Afterward, she told me that I had seemed "somewhere else" during the whole thing, my eyes screwed tight, a bemused expression on my face. Although she initially found this amusing, she said that after a while it was like being schtupped by a zombie or Tom Ridge.

Comparison to drug use without sex
Even though it was much milder, the experience was similar to the last time I got stoned some seven-and-a-half years earlier. The same mental imagery and heavy feeling were accompanied by — get this! — a different way of understanding time. I guess I'm just really susceptible to pot. I enjoyed the intensity of the experience, though. If I could take a hit without coughing up my pelvis, I'd do it a whole lot more often.

Next: Will our hero be able to perform on ecstasy, or will he be preoccupied with the softness of… everything?

Ecstasy

I've never felt horny when taking E. Like everyone else, I just want to hug, talk utter shit to complete strangers, tell them that I love them and then suck their faces. This time was going to be different: I had an agenda, I wasn't at a party, and I was getting paid to do it. Around three in the afternoon, I popped a pill. Erica and I drew a bath, climbed into the tub facing each other, and waited for me to get all touchy-feely.

Immediate physical reaction
About twenty minutes into our soak, I started rolling really hard. I took a huge sigh, and it felt like my first breath. I've never started tripping in the tub before, and part of me ardently believes that, from a health-and-safety perspective, it's a wholly inadvisable thing to do. (Ecstasy tends to make your body temperature fluctuate wildly, and, well, there's the whole drowning thing to consider.) In truth, however, it felt great. So great, in fact, that I forgot about that whole time thing again. I spent the next two hours being more chatty and grindy than I ever have. The batch of E I bought must have had truth serum and a good amount of speed in it, because I spent much time spewing inner feelings Erica had not been a party to. Unfortunately, we had tickets for a play in Midtown and had to leave for the theater by seven. When I stopped yakking for a second and looked at the clock, I was horrified to see that we only had fifty minutes to complete the experiment.

Sensory/mental images
As expected, I didn't really feel much like having sex and just wanted to hug. But being the consummate professional that I am, we dived on the bed and, with Erica watching the clock, started going at it. Or tried to. Even though the idea of sex on E was appealing, the simple act of putting skin on skin was more so.

Tactile effect
I was having so much fun kissing Erica, I figured I'd smooch her down below too. While going down on her, I maneuvered her legs so they were propped over my shoulders and I could feel them running down the length of my back. My little soldier was somewhat out of the game although a little happier than when I was on the mushrooms. Forty minutes later, my wang was being wholly uncooperative. Even a helping hand wasn't actually . . . helping.

Assistant's reaction
"Hurry up; we're going to be late. By the way, did I tell you it's actually a three-person musical and not really a play?" If you're going to take ecstasy, please have the werewithal not to come down in an overly air-conditioned repertory theatre watching three drama kids sing songs about popcorn at cranium-splitting pitches. It really sucks. That said, it's an effective antidote to feeling lovey-dovey. I came out of there feeling as mean as cat shit.

Next: It's the drug that made Miami famous: cocaine.

Cocaine

I'd heard conflicting reports about sex on coke. Some of my friends who tried it ended up with wieners as stiff as a sock full of porridge. That said, I once read about this German guy who would snort coke to maintain an erection for long periods of time. He then decided to inject his penis with a cocaine solution that would give him an all-day erection. Three days later, his member turned purple, then black, then had to be amputated along with his testicles and all of his fingers and toes.

Other than that, I'd never really thought about what sex on cocaine could entail. I mean, I know what I'm like when I'm on coke: chatty and teeth grind-y. I guess I'd always thought that, in theory at least, doing a line off a girl's ass might be hot.

Immediate physical reaction
Feeling a bit James Spaderesque, I chopped out a big line on Erica's tanned, flat stomach, rolled up a dollar bill and snorted away. I was immediately familiar with the drug's bitter taste and subsequent tingle. I did another line and was pleased not to notice the wilting effect that my friends had experienced.

Tactile effect
I'd never really done anything remotely physical while on coke, aside from some light dancing and animated chatting with anyone who'd listen. (Incidentally, an ex once told me that she found a line or two handy while motivating herself to go to the gym.) After a little while, I became acutely aware that my heart was pounding fiercely. I did another line off the small of Erica's back and got behind her. I was stiffer than a roll of quarters, and I wanted to fuck hard. My heart pounded faster. I imagined news of my "pulling an Entwhistle" being delivered to my editor, and his face … oh, the horror! Hyper-awareness turned to fear. After a few minutes of imagining my heart exploding, I decided to let Erica get on top.

Sensory/mental images
My eyes were as wide open as they would go. A mild tremor ran through my body. I felt the need to anchor myself to Erica. I gripped her waist as tightly as I could and dug my fingertips so far into her ass cheeks I'm surprised I didn't leave permanent indents. I felt kind of nasty, like some awful Wall Street archetype. I tried to push the image of Gordon Gekko out of my mind, to no avail. I barked orders, ground my teeth and spoke with my jaw clamped tight, sounding like Miss Hathaway from Beverly Hillbillies.

Assistant's reaction
Envy and contempt. This was the drug Erica had the most reservations about. Of the potpourri of substances she'd done in the past, coke was her favorite. In fact, she had a little habit. Doing blow in front of her was like handcuffing Betty Ford to a case of Crown Royal.

Duration of sex
About twenty minutes. With cardiac arrest imminent and Erica licking her lips ravenously, I decided to quit while I was ahead.

Comparison to drug use without sex
When there are no strangers around to tell you how wonderful your shitty little life is, half of cocaine's appeal goes right out the window. Coke jibes well with me in a social setting, but shagging on it was alarming. I felt disgusted with myself and sorry for putting Erica through it.

Next: What have we learned from this experiment?

Conclusion

On a purely visceral level, many of the sensations I experienced on these substances were amazing — some of them even made me oblivious to the presence of my girl. Sex on weed was really quite mind-expanding. By far, it was the best experience and the one I'd most like to try again. It was infinitely more intense than anything else, which came as a surprise, because it seems less demonized by the media and therefore more benign than coke or ecstasy. The only problem is that doing any drug has the potential to make sex a staged experience. (This is where Erica's ex-boyfriend had the advantage over me. He was a career stoner, so when they got down, chances were he was already baked.)

This experiment made me wonder just what the fuck I was doing all those years, while the other kids were smoking everything but their socks and popping E like Tylenol. At the grand age of twenty-six, I can't help feeling a bit suburban and long-in-the-tooth. My peers are either still using drugs occasionally, or else they got over junk the same summer they got over leather jackets with an eight-ball on the back.

Point being, drugs are something almost all of us have dabbled with, used or abused at some time. In the past, I've done drugs just for the sake of being on something, and that's been enough. But using five different substances to enhance a single activity produced the same result: a heightened sense of self-awareness. When you strip away your preconceptions of a drug is "for" (i.e. weed for sex, Ecstasy for dancing), you realize that they way they affect our minds and bodies is, to a large extent, contextual. Ultimately, this experiment made me think of drugs not as a "thrill," a "habit" or an "addiction," but as a condiment. Like applesauce with pork or, say, the Captain with Tennille, sex and drugs can be ideal companions, or simply a nightmare compounded.