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Hot, Casual Sex Around the World: The Truth About "Hooking-Up"

The creators of the Casual Sex Project collected hookup stories from around the world. Here's what they learned.

Guess what! Hookups are not just for college students. In other news: Young people didn’t invent sex. You wouldn’t know any of that from the media coverage of casual sex, which invariably focuses on the carnal aerobics of hot young keg-standing coeds. Nor could you tell it from scientific papers on the topic, which, like so much research, rely on collegiate samples. Zhana Vrangalova, herself a sex researcher, is changing that perception with the  Casual Sex Project, a website that solicits true hookup stories from people of all ages and from around the world.

These flings are not set in dorm rooms, frat houses or university libraries. Among the responses Vrangalova has collected thus far, there’s a threesome outdoors in the countryside, impromptu sex next to a headless stuffed sheep, a tryst at a swinger’s club in Manhattan and a “happy ending” at a massage parlor. There are also more prosaic flings in bed and, of course, in the back of a car. There is awful sex, glorious multiple orgasming, and one experience that sounds like sexual assault (and yet the woman writes that “it was so hot”). Sex is had sober, drunk, stoned and high on coke. There is BDSM, infidelity and bittersweet ex-sex (“He felt his way around my body, and I let my hands remember all that they once loved to hold”).

Some descriptions are erotic: “Rubbing my neck, holding my hand, slipping his fingers in and out of the sleeves and neckline of my shirt. Dipping a few times into the edges of my bra.” Some are schoolgirl gushy: “He grabbed me and kissed me and my head exploded. BEST. KISS. EVER.” And of course, this being sex, there is plenty of humor, too: “I’m panting and looking at her smiling while she out of nowhere grabs some moisture off her vagina and brings it up and anoints it across my forehead while saying ‘siiimmmba,’” writes one man. (The “Lion King” reference was apropos of nothing, making it all the better.)

Vrangalova, who has conducted plenty of for-reals scientific research on hookup culture, spoke with Salon about what makes a casual sex seeker, why women regret hookups more than men, and who benefits most from hookups.

Why launch the Casual Sex project?

Because there is no other outlet out there for people to share their hookup stories specifically — unless they start their own sex blogs, which many people have no desire to — and I feel the world needs to hear more about what casual sex looks like and feels like.

Casual sex seems to play a role in many people’s lives and there is so much talk of the hookup culture, yet we have very little first-person information about what that entails for a variety of people. I am fascinated by the fact that we as a society have a priori decided that sex is only acceptable and healthy if it’s within the confines of a long-term relationship; that if it’s done purely for fun and pleasure it’s somehow a bad thing.

So I wanted to create a communal space that is anonymous, nonjudgmental and welcoming of everyone with a hookup story where the good, the bad and the mediocre can all come out. Given my experience with researching casual sex, I also wanted to make that space somewhat structured, by having people answering a specific set of questions, rather then let it be completely free-form. I feel that makes it easier for people to write their stories and easier for people to read others’ stories — they get a consistent set of information about each hookup.

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