It's almost Valentine's Day, and, as usual, I have mixed feelings about it. You would think I'd like VD better, since it is a holiday that can be celebrated with both chocolate and lingerie. However, I disagree with some of the sexual myths it propagates. Valentine's Day is supposed to be a special day for lovers, but if one wants to create a sexually intense experience, then those stuffed animals, lacy paper hearts, and sweet poetry are the wrong way to go. No, a sense of tension, uncertainty, even some risk is what is called for. Trust me on this, ladies: The intersection of pleasure and danger is something on which I'm an expert.
If you're skeptical, consider a now-famous study conducted by psychologists Arthur Aron and Donald Dutton in 1974. Aron and Dutton had a female interviewer conduct interviews on two bridges that span the Capilano River in British Columbia. One of them was a low, solid bridge, and the other was the famous Capilano Suspension Bridge, a narrow footbridge that sways 230 feet above the river below.
On day one of the study, the woman stood at the middle of the sturdy bridge, asking men who crossed to fill out a short psychology survey. She then gave the men her phone number, asking them to call if they were interested in finding out the results. The second day, she repeated the routine—except she did it on the more dangerous suspension bridge. The result? Men who were interviewed on the suspension bridge called the female interviewer and asked her out on a date far more often than the men who were interviewed on the sturdy bridge. The nonsexual arousal the men experienced from walking on the bridge—increased muscle tension, faster heartbeat, more rapid breathing—was often translated into feelings of sexual arousal when the men interacted with an attractive woman. The study was repeated with a male interviewer and female bridge-crossers, with a similar result.
The Shaky Bridge Study indicates that people are more prone to sexual attraction and romantic attachment when exposed to higher-than-usual amounts of adrenaline and stress. I'm not suggesting you try to scare your lover into a heart attack, but if you want a sexually memorable occasion, ditch the saccharine-sweet stuff and go for something unpredictable and with a little more bite.
In the spirit of that recommendation, I am celebrating Valentine's Day by appearing as the guest expert for a theater piece about women fucking men up the ass. Pegging may be a scary subject to some men, but Peg-Ass-Us bills itself as "the silliest, most heartfelt romantic comedy about anal sex imaginable." I can't think of a better bridge between a bit of extra adrenaline with a touch of apprehensive excitement and some hot sex.
Peg-Ass-Us, Feb 14–17, Annex Theatre, 8 pm, $15, www.annextheatre.org.