FEATURE

Sex talk
Speaking of Cleanliness


Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

It may be next to godliness, but cleanliness is controversial when it comes to sex. For some it's a prerequisite; for others a buzz kill.

"Nothing's more of a turn-off to me than body odor," says one fastidious fellow. "If a man can't be bothered to bathe and brush his teeth before we have sex, then he's not going to get in my pants."

Routine washing – and good grooming in general – is generally seen as a sign of self-respect as well as concern for others. Certainly, freshly scrubbed flesh has a clean-cut appeal, and many a date has said, "I'll be over as soon as I've showered." But can a guy be too clean? Too deodorized?

Lots of gay guys agree that men should smell like men. Despite high-powered marketing campaigns, colognes and body sprays have limited appeal for many queer men; some sex parties, particularly of the leather sort, ban scent-wearing altogether. "I don't mind a man wearing Calvin Klein jeans," says one guy, "but I'd rather he not smell like something that Calvin cooked up in the lab." In fact, recent research indicates that gay men's brains, unlike those of our straight brethren, are turned on by pheromone-rich male sweat. Those of us who love ripe armpits will no doubt be comforted in knowing there's a scientific reason for it.

Of course, tastes and tolerance vary. "There's a difference between pleasing funk and offensive dirt, I think," says a fellow who's not too fussy. "Recently, a fuck buddy of mine came over after a long day at work. He was sweaty, which was cool, and his uncut dick was, well, faintly tangy, which I like. But when it was time to play with his butt, I suggested we head for the bathroom for a little scrub."

When it comes to ass, most men feel it's a matter of "the cleaner, the better," and that includes internal tidiness. Though it's not always necessary, douching's often the prelude to penetration. Just be gentle, use plain water, and allow some pre-date time for drainage.

One need not fetishize filth to feel that some guys take the scrubbing routine way too far. One fairly tidy man recalls, "I made a date on the phone-sex line with a man who asked me repeatedly whether I was clean, if I'd showered. Well, I had showered at the gym that morning, but I washed up again, anyway. But when he came over, his behavior was so dirt-phobic that it was creepy. I mean, he was hot-looking, but...hey, it's just a little precum on your leg, OK?"

Good manners should trump fastidiousness. While few of us like our date's place to be a serious mess, reeking of cat piss and unwashed dishes, don't volunteer housecleaning tips; you're not Martha Stewart. Neither is it polite to treat a trick like he's an intrusion into one's perfectly kept home. Do what you can to prevent messiness, but if a sheet or two gets stained, chalk it up to the consequences of a hot fuck.

Face it, good sex can get messy. While some men fetishize unwashed clothes and others keep their homes so clean you could perform surgery in the kitchen, for most of us, a modicum of cleanliness strikes the right note. As one fellow says, "I like a man who's relaxed with his own body. I'd just rather that he not make me gag. Unless it's when I'm going down on him."

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion



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