Mission Sex: The Confessional

The Sex Confessional, at Lost Weekend Video.

A new column about sex in the Mission. 

Do you know Post Secret? It’s that website where people mail in their secrets on homemade postcards. Anonymously. Everybody loves it. How could you not feel for the people sharing secrets with the world? How could you not relate to those embarrassing feelings that you can only tell a piece of paper?

That’s mostly what I thought about on my way to check out the “mobile sex confessional,” a new project by Salon.com’s sex writer, Tracy Clark-Flory, that invites people to share their stories. There is, however, one substantial difference. This is not anonymous.

The idea is simple: confessions are filmed to become part of an upcoming video series. That means you will be seen online talking about your sex life. Yikes!

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The first shoot took place at the Mission Bowling Club on April 16. On my way to the second location, at Lost Weekend Video on April 20, I keep wondering what people will reveal. And more important — will I confess anything?

I can’t help but remember the international students’ information sessions I had to go to when I first arrived in California. We were told to go to counseling if we felt the need to be heard.

“In your countries you may be used to turning to your family or friends, but don’t feel awkward — professional advice is common here,” they said. At the time, it sounded strange to me, as if I would be confessing to Big Brother.

I assume that at Lost Weekend people will talk about their crazy, kinky experiences. Those that make you think, what an interesting and intense sexual life that person has had.

I’m lucky to arrive at Lost Weekend Video when Tracy, along with executive producers Joe Talbot and Jenn Crandall, are taking a break. They tell me they have been filming nonstop for the last hour.

They are happy. They have heard some great stories.

They tell me about a transgender woman who talked about the difficulties of dating as a woman when you have a penis. “She feels people fetishize that,” Tracy explains. “She doesn’t know if she should be open about it or not.”

“We also had this woman whose man was masturbating all the time. She preferred him rather than the one she’s with now, who doesn’t masturbate at all.”

Joe encourages me to go in the booth. “It would be good for your story,” he says.

I know I should, but I feel shy. What am I going to talk about? Am I going to say I sometimes think of so and so when I am with others? Am I going to talk about the fantasy I eventually hope to fulfill?

About 10 people inspect the shelves at the video store, looking for something to watch for the weekend, unaware of or indifferent to what is going on behind the window. Some approach and ask.

“Does it have to be something you feel guilty about?” No, it doesn’t. “When is it going to be online?” In a month or so, we hope. “Are you going to different places?” Yes, we are looking for locations.

The confessional can be seen from the outside.

It’s dark wood and dark red velvet. Hey, I’m from Spain, and while not a believer, the Catholic paraphernalia looks familiar.

This one is not tucked away in a dark corner of a church, however. It is less discreet. Anyone can see Joe on one side and Jenn on another, shooting the inside of the box where Tracy is listening to the confessions and sometimes offering advice.

I sit on the video store’s red seats and observe. On the wall, almost touching the ceiling, hangs a line of movie posters. The one in the middle, just on top of the confessional, features Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation.” “Harry Caul is an invader of privacy,” the text reads. “The best in the business. He can record any conversation between two people anywhere…”

A guy steps inside the confessional, and I approach the cameras to watch. He’s sweating but he doesn’t look uncomfortable.

“It’s been a long time since I have had sex,” he says. He’s not whining, just explaining. They talk about how hard it is to find the right person.

Once he goes out, I ask him if he’s happy he confessed. He thinks before replying.

“I do have an increased sense of lightheartedness,” he says. He smiles and tells me he’ll just go home now.

The next ones to go in are a couple. They look excited. I hear them laughing from the outside. She comes out before him and tells me cheerfully that they have been talking about their 10th anniversary and all the drama that goes with the big number. They’re over it now, and he’s talking, all by himself in the box, about some gift he has for her.

I guess it’s my turn. I have known all along that I would go inside, but I have no idea what I’m going to tell them. Something funny and superficial, I plan. Something that doesn’t really matter.

I hold the mic and go into the confessional. The artificial lighting makes the space hot, and I understand why everybody was sweating. Jenn asks me to raise my seat, and I see Tracy looking at me and smiling.

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” she asks.

It must be the velvet, the fake intimacy of the tiny cubicle, or that I do, after all, just feel like sharing. I open my mouth and start chatting about relationships where the timing is off, about 15-year-old girls hiding in the bodies of women who have just turned 30, and about doubts about how utopian it may be to want the one who makes love to you the best to also be the one you fall in love with.

I realize I may be getting too intense, and wonder why I’m not telling that hilarious story about the guy my friend and I involuntary shared. I must have been talking for ages, because Tracy tries to end the conversation instead of encouraging me to continue. When I come out, Joe asks me if it was it too painful. No, it wasn’t, I tell him. It was easier than I had thought it would be.

A couple of girls go in next. They talk about the year when they decided to sleep with a different guy every month. I reflect on how I feel about my private thoughts being shared on a website, and decide that I don’t care.

It was fun, after all. If you want to try it yourself, you can suggest locations to tracy(at)salon(dot)com or her Twitter. Or check back here at Mission Loc@l. We’ll keep you posted.

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4 Comments

  1. Tico

    I’ve got to say, your “do a marketing study for Google before we let you read our blog” is the most IRRITATING thing I’ve seen in a long time. And you just lost a reader.

    • Tico: Don’t give up on us yet! Thank you for the feedback. Doing these one-question surveys allows us to earn more revenue from Google. We’ve been trying to figure out a way to make Mission Loc@l sustainable and have yet to succeed. We’ve tried ads, selling t-shirts, zines and regular appeals, but so far nothing has built enough to make a substantial difference. We thought we would try this because one question seemed easy enough, but I can totally understand it being irritating and we may drop it. If you have any ideas, please pass them on. We would like to think that our regular readers would simply sign on for $10 a month – a move that would make us solvent and get rid of efforts like the surveys. https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1002970
      Thank you, Lydia

  2. jorge

    Nothing in life is free, mission local gives you great info that you don’t find in other news outlet, so if they need some clicks to stay running I will click away.

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