Sex talk
Speaking of Raunch

Simon Sheppard,

In this age of multiday deodorants, antibacterial soap, and spotless homes, some of us have a hunger to – at least every once in a while – act like the smelly little piggies we truly are. And that's where raunch comes in.

"In my day-to-day life, I'm a neat, clean, executive type," one raunchy player confesses, "but when it comes to sex, I like to get down and dirty. Filthy, in fact."

"Raunch" comprises a range of delightfully dirty doings. Some raunch fans like sweaty armpits, others stinking feet. Lots of guys get hard-ons when they bury their noses in crotches that smell like they haven't been washed in weeks. And at its most extreme, raunch celebrates stuff that's commonly left in the bathroom. That includes "water sports" – or "w.s." – which involves playing with piss, and "scat," which is playing with shit. (Both come in "external" and "internal" variants, which are pretty much what they sound like.) They're decidedly minority tastes, way beyond the limits of most people. And while piss-play is generally pretty safe, scat is a germ-laden risk, though one some hard-core piggies are willing to take.

Raunch, especially in its extreme variants, is a pleasantly perverted paradox. At one level, it's very adult, very transgressive. Most raunch players get off on just how nasty they can be. Even milder play, like armpit worship and crotch sniffing, celebrates very adult smells and – often – body hair. To many, raunch says "man" rather than "boy" – small wonder that many hypermasculine leather scenes are tinged with at least a touch of raunchiness.

On the other hand, there's something intrinsically infantile about messing around with the body and what it can produce. That's where raunch becomes the province of men who crave diaper play and the like.

Either way, when it comes to the sort of sex we're supposed to have, raunch play steps over the line. In an odor-free, germ-phobic society, there can be something refreshingly liberating about erasing the boundaries between "nice" and "not." Says one guy who's way into foul-smelling feet and stinky bodies, "We're animals, and I really like that."

There's also the power-based nature of much raunch play, the submissive voice that says, "I worship you so thoroughly I'll even sniff your filthy underwear." Or the dominant's command: "Drink this!" It may not be pretty, it may not be polite, but to some of us, it sure is fucking hot.

Other men just don't get it at all. "I'm pretty vanilla," says an attractive, experienced guy in his 30s, "and anything that's dirty or smelly gets me soft fast. I'd like to keep an open mind, but..."

Certainly, raunch play isn't just a pleasant walk in the park. It takes a certain amount of self-acceptance to act like a slavering bottom or bestial top, and then cheerily go back to day-to-day life. And then there are those very serious health issues around some raunch play, especially for men who are immuno-compromised. As a result, many guys decide to leave their dirty desires in the realm of fantasy. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, as long as you're clear on your real-world limits. One self-described "toilet bottom" complains, "I keep meeting men online who aren't nearly as twisted as they've said they are. It's frustrating."

It can get frustrating, too, when homophobes use some gays' involvement in raunch as an antigay weapon, as though some straight folks weren't into pretty much exactly the same stuff. But the desire to get down and dirty endures, because there will always be those who want their fucks to be as fabulously funky as can be.

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

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