I’m lying in the bathtub, water pooling around me, in her candlelit bathroom. Electronic music playing over speakers, from the sex playlist that Max says she’s been putting together all week, for us to share. Max and I have been dating for a few months. It’s 2015, we’re both teetering towards being 30. Max is an unapologetic wild woman: tall, slender, freakishly physically strong, and always wearing floral dresses and knee-high combat boots, no matter the weather. She’s constantly in the process of quitting cigarettes. She’s got a face like Kylie Minogue. She’s got a set of chains and wrist-restraints permanently attached to her bed posts.
Max likes drugs, alcohol, partying, vampire erotica, wearing a strap-on, and, luckily, she likes me.
She’s straddling me in her bathtub, leaned over me, her pupils wide and alive in the dim candlelight. Her small breasts hang off her ribcage and whisper deep comfort to my brain, the way certain breasts just feel like home and let you know who you are. Hers are the kind of breasts you want to stare at and suck on until this life is over and you’re a baby again. There’s a vein in her forehead pulsating. Her eyes are pulled taut by her smile.
She hovers above me, my mouth full of filthy words and pleas: “Yes, please, I want it on me, make me yours, please, yes.” Her eyes are full of pure, Devil’s Food Cake delight. Eighties synth pop bounces against our teeth and the bathroom tiles. Both of us are open to each other, physically and emotionally. We don’t name it yet, but we’re in love.
That’s when she pees on me. This is the first time anyone pees on me.
Her piss pours down on my cunt and pools in the bathtub water. I can feel her warm piss on my clit. I can feel her piss cascading over the lips of my cunt. I can smell her piss in the water around me.
I growl and lean back into the tub and know there’s piss against the back of my neck. Piss in my hair. I look up at her smile and am in such awe that she would give me something so intimate, because I asked for it.
I’ve never watched or read any piss play porn. My relationship to my own piss is fraught with negative associations. I’m incredibly prone to urinary tract infections (UTI). I get a UTI nearly any time I start having sex with a new lover who has a penis — don’t ask me what the medical explanation is for this because I can’t tell you, but it is what it is. Much like the number of people I’ve had sex with, I’ve lost track of the number of UTI’s I’ve had.
Another relationship I have to urine has to do with nerves. I’m a theatre performer and have been for years now, but I never get used to performing. The moment before I walk on stage I always feel like I’m going to piss myself. I do not mean that as a metaphor. Before I perform, a stage manager usually finds me hiding, crouched atop a toilet, like a nervous, fluid-filled gremlin.
My third relationship with urine is more profound, and has to do with a period of months where I was constantly and aggressively bullied by the popular group of young women at my Montreal high school.
I am usually the physically smallest person in any room, and that’s been true my whole life. Growing up, my family was on welfare, so I was the shrimp kid with the deeply unfortunate done-at-home haircuts and the second-hand church rummage sale clothes. Around the age of 13 I started to have the acne that dogged me throughout my teens and 20s. Add to that, I was one of those kids who got extraordinary grades without trying, which is part of the pervasive arrogance that was, and is, part of my personality.
As a teenager, I leaned into that arrogance as a way to overcompensate for all the shit I had going against me. Arrogance is not a habit I’ve outgrown. The coping strategies that kept us going in our youth are hard strategies to let go of.
Around age 13 is also when I became aware that I am bisexual. While my sexual orientation wasn’t a thing I named out loud, kids can always tell when there’s a queer in their midst. The popular young women in my school decided to make my day-to-day existence very difficult. For about six months I had to endure constant verbal jabs, having my stuff stolen, getting pelted with food in the cafeteria, getting followed into and cornered in bathrooms — things like that.
I stopped eating lunch and spent my lunch breaks hiding in the library, sometimes reading and sometimes using the library computers to talk to adult men online, whose interest in me made me feel like at least I was desirable to someone. I avoided going to the bathroom because they were the school spaces in which I was most likely to get attacked. Which meant I was constantly holding in piss. Hungry, scared, hiding in libraries, holding in pee and flirting with creeps on the internet. It was a pretty undignified chapter in my existence.
One day in my 13-year-old life, the women picking on me had gotten under my skin in a particular way: I lost control of my body for a moment and pissed myself in art class.
I was wearing dark pants, so as far as I know, nobody knew — if anyone had noticed, I don’t know how I would have weathered that social disaster. I spent the rest of the school day making myself as invisible as possible, hoping like crazy no one would notice, and at the end of the day I walked home rather than risk someone seeing and smelling me on cramped public transit.
Those are some of my associations with piss: pain, anxiety, isolation and humiliation.
Piss play is still one of those practices that’s taboo among folks who describe themselves as kinky. I’ve talked to many BDSM practitioners who think piss play is disgusting, and only a thing one does for money (piss-play-for-pay).
At public BDSM play parties, piss play and its sister, scat play, are often some of the only activities that are not allowed. An argument is often made that vetoing piss and scat play is a health and safety consideration, but those same public play events often allow needle play, and blood is a much more dangerous bodily fluid than piss or shit.
Those same events will also often allow rope suspension and, in terms of safety, rope suspension is very dangerous: it is very easy to sustain nerve injury or damage when hanging in rope. Being peed on, in contrast, is a very physically safe practice.
As an adult, piss play is now probably the form of intimacy most important to me, both peeing on lovers, and having them pee on me, although to date I only have had two lovers with whom I’ve explored this.
Part of my interest in piss play is the stigma surrounding it. I’m still as arrogant as I was as a teenager: if I’m going to be a sexual deviant, I want to be the most sexually deviant person in the room. I am not actually the most extreme BDSM player at all — but I like doing things that lie outside of the comfort zones of most of the people I know. Piss play makes me feel like I am the best at being repugnant.
But a larger part of my interest in piss play has to do with directly addressing that which terrifies me, rather than running away from it. I’m terrified of my bladder. I’m terrified of the next time a natural bodily reaction might turn me into a social pariah.
Beyond the general associations that piss is dirty, piss is waste product — for me, piss is the manifestation of my sense of shame. The first time a lover described being peed on as a sexy experience, it suddenly made me realize piss play might be a practice that would allow me to transform my association with piss from shame to something kinder.
I believe kink is a practice akin to alchemy, in which we risk enough for the opportunity to transform that which threatens us into an expression of ecstasy.
When I met Max and she told me she used to pee on a former partner, I asked her if she would also pee on me.
Piss play usually isn’t a whole sexual encounter: being peed on is usually a prelude to fucking, or age play, or having my ass and the backs of my thighs spanked — and preferably all of the above. Piss play turns up the volume on all the physical things that come after it, while simultaneously turning down the volume on any self-consciousness.
When your lover is holding your piss in their palm, you know that lover accepts you exactly as you are. There’s no thinking that you’re not hot enough. There’s no internalized bullshit about being queer tugging at the corners of your brain. There’s no idea of yourself left that you’re trying to perform.
A time when all of us were comfortable pissing in another human’s arms was when we were babies. When we were creatures without apology, in a time before humiliation or dread.
I lean back into the piss and bathwater in the tub. Max looks down at me, and I feel like a baby in a tiny plastic basin. I feel the delight and freedom of movement in my pudgy thighs and toothless mouth. We look at each other as we hang in this timeless moment.
The energy in me sends shockwaves off my body like techno beats, but I don’t speak, and Max doesn’t ask me to. She scoops up my head, sits me forward in the bathtub, pulls out the bathtub plug and lets the bath water drain out behind me. I splash in the water with my palms as it drains.
Max turns the bathtub faucet on, runs her wrist under the faucet to make sure the water’s not too hot or too cold. She gets a washcloth, soaps it, gently washes my head, my neck, runs the cloth up and down my arms while I hold onto her with little fingers.
She stands me in the shower with her and rinses me. I watch her soap and rinse her own cunt. It feels like that first time, as a child, that you’re in a public pool changing room, and you realize you just became too old to stare openly at other women’s bodies. Her body is a beautiful mystery in this moment, and I want her and I don’t know what I’d do with her if I had her, and I wonder when I grow up, if my cunt will have hair.
She steps out of the tub and dries me — I keep feeling like a young, new creature because she lets me stay in that place. She wraps me in terry cloth and tells me to run to her room. I do as I’m told with the glee of someone who’s just learned what feet are for.
She unwraps me on her bed. I am all eyes and quiet. She asks me to roll onto my stomach. I do. She holds a butt plug out in front of my face, our consent code — that she shows me the toy she has in mind, and it’s for me to object if I don’t want it. I want it.
She slowly stuffs my ass. She tells me to loosen and squeeze the muscles in my ass around the butt plug. I tell her I’m not good at knowing how to do that. It’s part me acting young and part me telling the truth: I am very bad at localizing and controlling the muscles in my ass and cunt during sex, which usually embarrasses me, but right now I’m not too embarrassed to just be honest. I accidentally squeeze the butt plug out of my ass. She smiles. She’s not annoyed or angry. Everything I am is allowed.
She slowly pushes the butt plug back in. I stay on my stomach, my fingers swirl around the nub of the plug still protruding from me, while, out of sight, Max pulls on her strap-on.
She lies down beside me, and like in the pool change room, I’m looking at another person’s naked body for the first time. Her thin black silicone cock sticks straight up at the ceiling.
“Ride daddy,” she says. “Daddy’s going to fill all your holes.”
I ride my girlfriend’s cock and am reborn, over and over, in the tension in her squeezed-shut eyes, the stretch of her long neck against the bed, and in the corners of her wide open, cigarette-stained mouth. I live for any fluids she wants to give me. I watch her come from my piss-stained cunt grinding her dick.
The next morning I sit in my cubicle, completely unharmed but miles away from any semblance of okay. I don’t want to go back to being an adult in an office in North York. I want to stay in the temporal place our piss play created: a place simpler than adulthood, better than maturity, and purer than responsibility. To ricochet from a place of such grace back into corporate initiative deadlines and polite, banal conversation is heartbreaking.
I don’t want to negotiate or abide by societal expectations anymore because I know how exquisite it feels to live on the outskirts of what’s tasteful. I don’t want to find myself leaning back into arrogance again, as a way to hide how alone I feel.
I’m grateful for a night of raw intimacy and innocence and I’m gutted that the night is over. I want to cry as I look at the Tupperware containing the lunch Max packed for me.
So I pretend to work, and blast Electric Youth in my ears, and scrawl mediocre poetry:
She the river that wears down stone and makes new caves in my body
For me to crawl into and laugh and splash in
In the warm and wet and small places where there is no shame.
Katie Sly’s column Rougher With Feeling explores public sex, BDSM and questions of identity in the queer community.