Communal Erotic Spaces

Red Light District

The issue, really, is the absence of the erotic city. It forces us to ask: what do our spaces reflect about our treatment of sexuality? Where are the public city brothels? Why aren’t we holding drunken orgy celebrations open to all? Post-‘Sins of the flesh’ West creates a public suppression of sexuality and eroticism. There is barely open talk of eroticism, let alone (public) spaces of eroticism. Our lack of public erotic spaces reflects our general maltreatment of eroticism. The only exceptions for publicly accessible erotic-spaces are ones where sexuality is commoditized. Brothels, strip clubs, several brothels (red light districts) are the few examples. It seems moral issues over eroticism can be put aside if there are financial incentives.

The real ‘space’ where eroticism thrives is a virtual one. The online pornographic industry is unsurprisingly enormous. Once again, however, we see that the existence of an online erotic ‘space’ is only due to a capitalist motivation. It should be mentioned however, that recently, there has been an emergence of democratized pornography. “Porn by the people for the people.” Sites where homemade, (or not) pornography is uploaded and viewed by its users. This is a good step in the right direction; however, the progress is still constrained to virtual spaces.

I do not argue for public erotic spaces, I argue for communal erotic spaces. A public space is still within authoritative control. It is not so much a problem that there aren’t civic orgies, but it is a problem that there aren’t San Franciscan type bathhouses where strangers can engage in kinky sex with each other. There is value in that erotic spaces are not civic spaces. The value of even a private erotic space is partly due to its ability to be beyond formal control. The semi-autonomous and communal aspects of San Franciscan bathhouses make it a prime example. We need to keep the semi-autonomous part of the current state of eroticism and make it communal. The opportunity still exists for the creation of semi-autonomous communal erotic spaces. The pop-up orgy? The instant bathhouse? Hieros Gamus night?

This article is chapter 2 of the Erotic City series