Through a hole in the wall: Setting and interaction in sex-on-premises venues

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Abstract
Casual and anonymous sex is available at low cost to homosexually active men in venues such as saunas, sex clubs and backrooms. In order to investigate the relationship between setting and sexual practice, transcripts from interviews with 30 gay men in Sydney were analyzed thematically, taking a situational interactionist approach which focused on practice. Men's reasons for going to sex venues, and for their choice of venue (gay/non-gay, saunas/backrooms), are explored. Physical features (such as steps, platforms, dark spaces, steam rooms, cubicles and glory holes) encourage or enable particular practices, such as fellatio or group sex. Interactional patterns include unspoken rules of venue deportment (e.g. silence) and vary with stages of cruising and how crowded the space is. Patrons consider venues in terms of the other men, and are generally unaware of the conscious intentions of the designers. Yet the venues are commercial spaces and share features with airports, supermarkets, railway stations, hotels and fast food restaurants. Venue layout deliberately disrupts patterns of social interaction which prevent sex from happening in other public places. The layout also shapes the sex that occurs.
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Richters, Juliet
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Publication Year
2007
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Journal Article
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