Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of hookups and romances kindling in public places mid-pandemic. So those who prefer to look for sex and love in non-digital ways may finally find themselves shifting to a greater reliance on phone and computer screens.
But this crisis is bringing change to everyone’s life, including those who live and love most digitally. The global upheaval will have multiple social and cultural repercussions. And with regard to sex and dating, the shockwaves may impact certain groups more intensely than others. Those who were the most sexually active pre-pandemic might be one group. Another might be people who are generally more anxious about germs and disease, whether or not coronavirus is raging.
People who adapt quickly to this uncharted world will help set the new trends and identify opportunities. And while scientists search for a vaccine, we can anticipate that in this high-risk period, fantasy, fetish, and flirting will assume larger roles.
By necessity, our sexual behavior will become even more visually oriented—a change well underway. In April, for example, the New York Times ran a piece on the sharp rise in people sending nude selfies to each other. The reporter interviewed a couple of guys who were receiving nude selfies from multiple people. A young woman in the article suggested delivering a little pleasure to someone via nude pictures of herself was, in a sense, one way she could do her part to help others get through this tough time.
Brittany Andrews reminds us that even during a pandemic, the human sex drive can’t be stopped. Consequently, there will be a broad range of sexual responses and behaviors manifested.
“People are horny and some are going to fuck, no matter what,” Andrews says. Then with a chuckle, she adds, “There are a lot of guys out there who will be like, ‘I’ll get some Covid-19 to bust a nut.’ We all know it.”
Interest in medical fetish gear has gotten a bump, according to Andrews. (A shrink might say that’s a way of sublimating or taming the anxiety we have about medical matters these days—sexualizing what’s scary). Fantasy scenarios involving face and full-head latex masks, latex gloves and aprons, and even more extreme applications like full rubber “gimp” regalia are having their day.
“It’s all about the memes of the gimp outfit at the grocery store,” Andrews says, laughing. “I mean, if we’re gonna do it, let’s just go there. I’ve been seeing a lot of my girlfriends capitalizing on the latex masks.”
Natalie Mars and her girlfriend Mistress Damazonia—one of Andrews’ favorite porn couples—have been exploring more medical fetishes. “I love them so much!” says Andrews. “Natalie won best trans performer for both AVN and Pornhub Awards. Her girlfriend has been playing the latex nurse with the mask and gloves and it’s so fucking hot.”
Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, and the Kardashian Kult are all fans of latex fashions. Can it be long before Miley is posing in an N95 mask and matching monokini? Will we see PPE streetwear designs from Kanye West’s clothing company? And don’t be surprised if full-face shields, disposable industrial HAZMAT coveralls, balaclavas, opera gloves, and goggles are all featured on Fall Fashion Week’s runways. (Though whether any celebrities will be spectating in-person remains to be seen.)
“The other day,” says Andrews, “I picked up stuff from a girl I know who makes designer face masks. I’ve now got a Chanel one and a Louis Vuitton one, so it’s become its own fashion statement—like medical fetish goes mainstream.”
Along with this shift to online visual communication via Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, and the surge in sex-industry cam sites and platforms like OnlyFans, brick-and-mortar adult retailers and their customers are also capitalizing on online modes of commerce.
One such retailer is Chi Chi LaRue’s Circus, located in West Hollywood, a store which had the rotten luck of opening for business just a few weeks before the pandemic hit.
Formerly called Circus of Books, this landmark location on Santa Monica Boulevard was the area’s first LGBT adult store. Such was its iconic status, the store is now the subject of a new, critically acclaimed Netflix documentary, Circus of Books. The film was directed by artist Rachel Mason, daughter of longtime owners Barry and Karen Mason.