“Sex and art are the same thing.” – Pablo Picasso
Last week, I wrote a piece that required me to conjure up descriptions of previous sexual experiences with my partner. Though talking about sexuality is a normal for me as a sex writer and phone sex operator, this was more sexually explicit and more personal than what I typically write. It was also a bit unusual in being so directly about my personal love life—moments special to me—as opposed to more abstract reflections on sexuality itself. But there was something more, something that it took me a little while to put my finger on.
As I wrote about skinny dipping with my lover under the stars, and having him caress my body when we made our way back inside, I started to feel an intense longing. It wasn’t exactly a longing to relive that particular night, but, rather, a longing for any sexual adventure. The act of writing about past experiences reminded me what sexual exploration and intense desire felt like, at a moment when I hadn’t even realized I missed it.
I began to realize that four months of COVID lockdown had dulled that desire. COVID hadn’t completely killed my sex life, but it did change it. The change happened gradually though—so gradually that I hadn’t even noticed it.
While the whole world has changed dramatically since early March, there are also ways in which (particularly for those of us who are fortunate enough to safely work from home) this period has been marked by an intense sameness. Days run into weeks with no change in scenery, and our exposure to the energy of people outside of our family units is remarkably low. It is no wonder that maintaining sexual energy in the face of a dearth of external stimulation is difficult.
Then a funny thing happened. I gave an early draft of my essay to my partner so that he could help me edit it. I expected him to smooth over some of the clunkiness of my writing and give me ideas on how to better structure my ideas. And, of course, he did that. But, after reading it, he also told me, with a sly smile, that he wanted to help to inspire me, which was followed by the hottest sex that we have had since lockdown started.
Sitting down and creating a narrative about our previous sexual experiences infused the monotony of our present situation with new energy. While the content was sexually explicit (and nostalgic for us), I do not think that it was the content alone that did this. Instead, the very act of being creative generated its own arousal. It didn’t change anything about our circumstances: we still can’t see our friends, go out on dates, or even have stimulating interactions with the outside world. But what it did change was how it felt to be at home: it felt hot again.
I don’t expect everyone to experience writing as the same sort of aphrodisiac it turned out to be for us. I am, however, suggesting that the energy that comes from doing something artistic, whatever that looks like for you, may also stimulate your sex life (regardless of whether you are alone or partnered). Write, paint, dance, garden, redecorate, sing. Remind yourself what it feels like to create and to be alive, and it might just inspire you in other ways too.
Jessie Sage is a sex worker and writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. She’s also the co-founder of Peepshow Magazine and the co-host of the Peepshow Podcast. Her words can be found in the Washington Post, VICE’s Motherboard, Hustler Magazine, Men’s Health, BuzzFeed, and more. She’s currently writing a book on sex work, motherhood, and illness called An Unexpected Place (forthcoming on West Virginia University Press).
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