OBJECTIFY: My kind of porn.
If you like watching porn, don't listen to me. But "Objectify," above, was the only one I liked. HUMP!

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I’ve spent a good part of my life avoiding sex. Not avoiding having sex—that, I have no problem with—but avoiding other people having it. The rhythmic slapslapslap of a neighbor getting pounded; the squeaking of a housemate’s bed: Just hearing these things from a distance makes my blood run cold.

My reaction to other people's sex is physical, visceral, and I will do anything in my power to avoid it, which is why I sleep in a sort of do-it-yourself isolation chamber complete with earplugs, an eye mask, a bottle of melatonin, and a pillow or six over my head. Your sex sounds will not wake me up, at least if I have anything to do with it.

This aversion puts me in a unique position. I, perhaps alone among adults with internet access, have never, in my entire life, watched porn. Not to buy into the the stereotype of lesbians as sexless, cat-loving prudes, but, well, I do love cats. And though I don’t have any moral or religious objections to pornography—if you want to get filmed looking like a chimpanzee in heat, go for it—at 34 years of age, I am a total porno novice.

Or at least I was until Saturday, when I attended Dan Savage’s HUMP! Festival and watched two hours of pornography. In public.

I knew beforehand that getting through this would require medical assistance. My Xanax prescription ran out and I thought booze might increase the likelihood that I’d need a barf bag, so I settled on roughly 80 milligrams of pot butter, mixed in with a cup of dark coffee to help me stay awake. The caffeine, it turned out, was unnecessary: Pure discomfort was enough.

The evening started, as apparently HUMP! always does, with Savage commanding the crowd to the stage for shots of whiskey. Glued to my seat and gripping the earplugs in my pocket (just in case), I declined the whiskey and settled in, hoping it wouldn't be a repeat of the last movie I saw in a theatre, LEGO: Batman, which, yes, I left in tears.

The festival started out with Objectify, a funny little short in which everyday objects are turned into sex objects. There was no moaning, no groaning, no sweating, and definitely no cumming: There weren’t even any people. I loved it. Clearly, Objectify won my vote for best-in-show (as well as best sex, best humor, and best kink). But things quickly took a turn.

In the next short, Desert Pussy, a real life couple had sex in Utah’s Monument Valley for what seemed to be a very long time, at least from the rising bile in my throat. They seemed like the type of people who use the term “making love"—a suspicion that was confirmed when, in a rare moment of dialog, the man sang out, “Maaaaking loooove on ecstaaaasy,” which explained a lot. The film was horribly, shockingly heterosexual, with a very erect penis and a fully shaved vagina that seemed to be suffering from a bit of razor burn, but at least now I know what it looked like when Adam and Eve had sex.

The straight sex may have made me uncomfortable, but at least it didn’t make my asshole retract into my body like the fisting scene in another short did. Since we’ve already established that I’m a grade A prude, it likely won’t surprise you that anal fisting isn’t in my usual sexual repertoire, and I had never before seen a post-fisted butthole. After the fist (arm, really) was removed, the man’s anus was an angry, pulsing maw, although by the look on his face he seemed pretty happy about it.

As wild is it was, that wasn’t the wildest or kinkiest of the films. That honor belonged to Prey, which HUMP! describes thus: “Set in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, a man tries to outrun sexually charged hunters in this dark, kinky fantasy. Very Cormac McCarthy, but with more whipping.” I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but if The Road was too violent for you, maybe shut your eyes for this one. I certainly did.

There was much, much more. From flying dildos to queefing vaginas to a medium-sized eggplant in a pretty narrow ass, HUMP! had something for everyone. Well, everyone but me, an uncomfortable, prudish killjoy who would rather listen to Car Talk for ten hours straight than overhear my neighbor getting laid.

Watching pornography in public, it turns out, is not for me, but I’m still glad HUMP! exists. It brings people together to watch all sorts of bodies and genders getting down, and because HUMP! lives in a theatre instead of online, it gives the actors a fun release that won't permanently damage anyone's reputation when their boss stumbles across it on XTube. Judging by the 4.5 billion hours of porn the rest of you watched last year, HUMP! just may be your perfect night out. But I don't think it will ever be mine.