Mask Kissing: Pent up During the Pandemic of 2020

Article by Dorothy Darker

With Covid-19 wreaking havoc around the planet, things feel apocalyptic these days, including on the sex and dating fronts. Given the daily deluge of bad news, it’s a welcome development when even the smallest bit of good news appears.

Now That We Can’t Touch, What Are We Gonna Do?

For those of us worried about the transmission of the virus in semen (one of the dangers, you’ll recall, of the AIDS virus), it brought a modicum of relief to learn a recent study by a team of international researchers found a group of Chinese men showed no trace of Covid-19 virus in their semen when examined eight days to three months post-diagnosis.

The relief was short-lived, though, because a subsequent study by a Chinese research team detected the virus in a small subset of 38 infected men. American researchers cautioned against reading too much into this very limited study, however, with the Society for Reproductive Medicine saying the findings are not cause for alarm.

But that’s how it’s been during this crisis: up and down. Shifts in the medical science, weird new symptoms established (Covid toe, anyone?), alterations of epidemiological models—the very definition of a fluid situation, with thousands of lives at stake.

Along with big-picture grimness, there are those stressful hygiene protocols we’re trying to practice so we can avoid our own personal encounter with the “Invisible Enemy.” For the most germ-wary people, opening tricky packages and transferring food from just-bought containers can feel as delicate as defusing a bomb.

Physical distancing. Surface decontamination. Face masks. Sanitizing groceries. The list goes on. Suddenly, many of us are spending hours socializing or conferencing on Zoom at home, re-binge-watching cable shows, and checking out TikTok influencers.

You can’t hook up from six feet away. And the fact that people can be infectious without showing symptoms just adds to the risk of bodily contact with another. To make matters worse, the bars, coffee shops, restaurants, and clubs where we used to be able to meet someone new or take someone on a date might be closed, out of business, or operating with limited hours, smaller patron numbers, and physical distancing inside.

So what are our options when it comes to sex and romance during Covid-19?

We checked in with retired porn star Brittany Andrews, an AVN Hall of Famer, dancer, dominatrix, and an all-around glamorous blonde with a wealth of sex expertise.

“I’ve always been a safe-sex person,” Andrews tells Penthouse via the safety of Skype. “I was one of the longest-running condoms-only performers. And one of my favorite fetishes, being a natural-born germaphobe, was always foot-fetish stuff. A lot of that is pretty safe—I just show you my toes and feet. I think with this Covid-19 thing, sex will be activities that aren’t as intimate, and that don’t include a lot of saliva.”

Of course our new pandemic-altered reality comes at a time when hooking up was already pretty complicated, given our culture’s changed rules of sexual etiquette.

“Even before Covid-19,” Andrews points out, “we had the #MeToo movement. I feel like that made it difficult for men, in person, to hit on a girl. I think the way human beings connect today is a lot different from when you and I were younger.”

Though dating technology has moved a lot of the business of meeting and flirting online, Tinder and other apps are not to everyone’s taste, Andrews says.

“I have frequent conversations about sex and dating,” says the sex-industry veteran, “and there are still a lot of people who don’t believe in hooking up using apps. They prefer meeting people out in the world and seeing if there’s any chemistry in person.”