Casual Kink: Sooner, Faster, Weirder

Ever wondered what it takes to make two seasoned sex writers stammer and blush? Try mentioning casual rimming.

We’ve devoted hundreds of words over the years to the fine art of analingus: the intimacy it both requires and engenders, the thrill of busting a taboo together, the importance of showering first… but we always, always assumed we were talking to long-term, committed couples.

But then at an Upper West Side house party overlooking Central Park a while back, a friend cornered us to extol the pleasures of near-anonymous ass-kissing. “I’ve never had a woman say no, even on a one-night stand,” said this definitely-keep-me-anonymous friend.

“So, like, you guys stumble home from a bar together and head straight for the shower?” one of us asked, reporter’s notebook at the ready.

“Shower?” he replied, dumbfounded.

He’s hardly in a kinky minority: In the most forward poll we’ve ever conducted, we found that kinky play—from rimming to spanking, dirty talk to bondage—is increasingly the norm early in relationships, in casual hookups, and even on one-night stands. And we’re just not just talking about the kind of hookups that spring from the CrazyKinky.com dating site.

“If I’m out on the town and looking for kink, I’ll mention kinky little remarks to someone who’s caught my eye and wait for a response,” says Anita, a 32-year-old fitness model in Manhattan who has engaged in a litany of kink-lite with casual hookups, from public sex to spanking to bondage with a bathrobe belt (and, oh yes, rimming). “Like, I might tell a guy I’ve just met, ‘That’s a very nice belt, did you ever use it for anything besides holding up your pants?’ If his facial expression goes blank: oops. But if he winks: jackpot!”

Traditionally, kink has been reserved for rubber-wearing lifestylers on the board of The Eulenspiegel Society (the oldest BDSM org in the US based in New York City) and couples in long-term relationships looking to “spice things up.” So is there a sexual let-down if you burn through the sexual repertoire before you’ve even seen each other in daylight?

Not necessarily, says Anita. In fact, she brings out the kink early to prevent a sexual let-down. “I once dated a guy for a year and tried to get him into stuff like handcuffs and vibrators, but I just ended up with a dusty toy collection,” she says. “You can’t force what ain’t there, and if you don’t put your sexual favorites out there early, you’ll end up with a lifetime of boring sex.”

And then, of course, there’s the suspension-of-disbelief aspect of kink: Perhaps it’s easier to bark like a dog in front of someone you haven’t day-tripped to IKEA with. “There are certainly things I would more readily try with a stranger,” says Scott, a student who can just barely drink alcohol legally but who’s already a veteran of casual threeways, fourways, spanking, BDSM, anal sex, and, yes, rimming. “I tried watersports with a guy, found out I didn’t love it, and now I don’t have to see him again. I’m less willing to mess with the chemistry of something that is emotionally satisfying for the sake of kink.”

Caroline, 27, agrees that some experiments are best conducted when there’s not a relationship at stake. “I’d be more likely to engage in a threesome or more aggressive sex in a casual relationship, because that sex tends to be based purely on lust and animal urges,” she says. In other words, you’re less likely to hurt a partner’s feelings or rouse the green monster if the relationship has the shelf life of an egg-salad sandwich sitting in the summer sun.

“I don’t think kinkiness and comfort are necessarily linked in the early stages of a relationship,” says Joe, a mild-mannered 42-year-old online producer who you’d be surprised checks off spanking, anal sex, vibrators, porn-watching, dirty talk, and rimming as one-night stand and casual hookup experiences. “I try to pick up on a woman’s energy and appetites, and I don’t expect anything kinky until we’ve established a certain comfort level—but sometimes that can happen immediately.” But Joe doesn’t think it’s all happy-go-kinky: “The mystery and romance of sex is harder to come by with so much porn and broken taboos in the mainstream, and I think women especially feel men will be disappointed if they’re not kinky.”

While one can certainly feel encouraged, even pressured, to be sexually daring, especially if you live in a cosmopolitan city where pushing boundaries is more the rule than the exception, reinventing oneself is easy as pie, and setting yourself apart is more difficult than ever, saving something for later might not just be novel—it’s safer, too. Lela, a 30-year-old reporter who is no stranger to casual spanking and was once pleasantly surprised by a bout of rimming during a first hookup (“I was impressed by his forwardness, and the novelty of it was fun”), keeps a few things off the menu at first. “Pain is interesting, but I’d need to feel like I trusted my partner to try out hardcore S&M,” she says. “It’s less about saving these things for someone special and more about my physical well-being.”

And while we were shocked by the number of people we found willing to be tied up on a first date by a near stranger (hello, serial killers?), not one of the kinksters we surveyed would risk taking naked pics or videos with a newbie. “I’ve only done this with boyfriends who I knew would respect that these were our private moments together,” says Lela. (Not that there’s any guarantee that your spurned fiancee won’t take to Instagram with your DIY porn, but such are the gambles that long-term monogamy drives us to.)

Though we can’t say that the upcoming generation will proceed with the same caution, what with their blatant indifference to such concepts as “permanent record” and “incriminating evidence.” Parents, lock up your iPhones.

This article originally appeared in New York Magazine and has been updated. 

Want some tips to get kinky?
10 Simple Steps to “Fifty-ize” Your Love Life


  1. I’ve engaged in casual, one-off butt play. I really don’t need any kind of warm-up period in order to pull out all the stops. My full repertoire is available during all encounters.

  2. Interesting how lines get drawn. If you’re willing to go home with a stranger from a bar, does it really matter if you’re licking his/her/its ear, elbow, big toe, penis, vulva, or anus? Everyone has their own view as to what is acceptable, and at what point you’re willing to cross certain lines. The only difficult part on a one night stand or hookup is making sure your partner is amenable to your kink.

Comments are closed.