A worker at this university’s food co-op
“You talking about the action?”
“Okay, so it’s a human action, right? And it is both for procreation and … for exercise to some extent. Basically those are the two things that I look at, and so it depends on what one wants to use it for. Because you can use sexual energy not just for procreation, but for exercising. That’s a normal thing. Just you know a natural thing that we as humans go to, even though nowadays, people do it more than that. Most people don’t even think it should be done for exercise, it should just be done for procreation, you know, I’m talking like with religious people, but that is not necessarily true. Sexual energy needs to be released.”
“Provided you find someone you are compatible with. It’s the same thing with procreation.”
“You want to do it with somebody you share the ideas or you have some things in common so that it does not become regretful, you know what I’m saying? So you don’t want to have child by somebody and then say ‘Oh I didn’t know I was gonna have a child, it wasn’t that serious.’ It should be something consensual for whatever it’s used for, for procreation or for exercise.”
Owner of Comfort Zone, a sex shop on Route 1
How has sex culture changed since you were in your twenties?
“People are more open. Things where you may have an individual that was interested in something, and they thought they were unusual, now, due to the internet and media, realize that there are others who share their interests. And they’re not unique, which allows them to feel a better self worth. I would say that’s the primary difference.”
“There is a certain amount of the general public becoming more accepting of the different flavors of sex. I use this analogy all the time, ‘Sex is like ice cream – there’s a thousand-and-one flavors. What’s one person’s favorite flavor may not be your favorite flavor. That doesn’t make us right or wrong, it just makes us different.” Most everyone’s favorite flavor of ice cream will change in their lifetime – most of the time, during the course of a day.”
What do you consider yourself?
“I consider myself someone who is sexual. I don’t like the labels. Labeling becomes a means to differentiate you from other people. Once you start differentiating, once you a group and there’s others, then there becomes hostility toward someone other than you. Even if you don’t think there is, as soon as you label someone as an other, they’re not you or equivalent to you. I just don’t like the labeling.”
What are some of the sexual changes that happen as you get older?
“What changes is your internal comfort with yourself. When you are a younger person, you’re generally trying to figure out who you are more. As you age you become, “I’m who I am.” So you should develop a comfort with yourself.”
How did you come to be involved in selling sex toys?
“There wasn’t a place where I thought people could feel comfortable buying supplies. That’s one of the reasons why I got into this. If me and my wife can’t find things in shops that we feel comfortable shopping in, then other people can’t find them.”
What would you pass on to the younger generation?
“Number one, if you’re not involved with something don’t judge other people who are. If you’re in it, then you can back out of it and what they’re involved with is up to them. And don’t say this is who I am – it will change. If you box yourself into a corner, it becomes harder to go where you should be in life. You always say, this is where I’m comfortable right now.”
What’s your favorite part about sex?
“For me it’s the experience with the person. To me it’s getting to know the other person better. For it’s more of a connectionality. A lot of people don’t view it like that. I’m not saying my way is right – I’m just saying that’s how I feel. I like that connection with someone else.”
A worker at the sex shop Comfort Zone on Route 1
He’s been politically active in gay rights activism since he was a teenager
“In Washington, the only place you could meet people in those days was in the streets around DuPont Circle – basically ‘cruising’ – and that’s where I met my first partner. I was just coming back from seeing Cabaret … so I was really hugely depressed right after that. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t care whether I live or die, I’m going to meet somebody tonight.’”
“So, I drove around DuPont Circle and I saw someone walking down the street, working, and his name was Don. He looked into my car and I said, ‘I’m lost … I’m looking for … ’ and I don’t remember what landmark I said. So, he said, ‘Well wait a minute, I’ll get in the car and I’ll show you how to get there.’ He gets in my car and he says, ‘Why don’t we go to my place and forget about this.’”
“Well, he lived in this huge house in DuPont circle, and he was older than myself. He rings the doorbell, and I’m thinking, ‘This is very odd for somebody to ring the doorbell at their own house.’ This woman answers the door. And I thought, for my first experience with a man, this is the shock of my life. What’s going on here? I thought the fates are against me.”
“So, I went in, his wife answered the door – she was very attractive, very cordial – and Don said, ‘Why don’t we go upstairs to my room?’ His wife just stayed down stairs. And he tells me upstairs what it’s all about. His wife is a big executive with IBM, which was just really getting off the ground back in those days. She needed – since she attended a lot of functions – a partner. She needed a husband. And he was a really well-known, successful hair dresser in Washington. And that was a partnership of convenience.”
Was Don the first man you had sex with?
“Yes, and nothing was the same after that. In a good way.”
Editor’s Note:“Cruising” was a term used by the gay community in the 1960s and 1970s. It meant to drive around aimlessly, yet purposefully, until one found another homosexual interested in having some form of relations.
Albert and Lourdes Eskalis
Albert works in immigration for the Department of Homeland Security and Lourdes works as an accountant at the Naval Exchange in Annapolis
Albert: “I think it’s a loaded word a lot of times, but within the context of our relationship, I would say it’s the ultimate expression of love between two people, and it’s because you become the most vulnerable that you could possibly be with someone by allowing them into a physical and spiritual space that you only reserve for those you have the most trust for, that you have the most desire for. So it’s a special event. It’s just an amazing thing that you share between two people.”
Has the conception of “sex” changed over the years?
Albert:“I think it has and it hasn’t, meaning that sex has been around since man has been around. And our feelings of desire and our perceptions of it I don’t think have changed at all. Man has always wanted woman, and woman man, or man man, or woman woman, I mean that’s been around since the dawn of man. But for me, the change of experience is the openness with which we are able to talk about it. I grew up in a generation and in a culture where I, to this day, have not had a conversation about sex with my parents, ever. And it was something that just wasn’t spoken of. Well now, I think we both have been able to have very substantive discussions and openness about sex with our kids, and that’s healthy.”
How has the conception of “sex” changed for you over the years?
Albert:“I think being a parent changes your perspective on sex more than anything.”
Lourdes: “And also, we help them make the right choice. What is sex? Or understanding what is sex is all about.”
Albert:“You know we had a lot of discussions about it being beyond the physical. If you’re ignoring the spiritual bond that sex brings with it then you’re missing the point about what sex is.”
Ryan Eskalis is a senior broadcast journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.
Aiyah Sibay is a sophomore English literature major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.