I Had a Body Paint Sex Party With a Perfect Stranger

naked paint party illustration
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

I was two months deep into a celibacy stint, the cause of which was absolutely counter to anything honorable or enlightening. The hiatus was instead sparked by utter boredom: from repetitive first date Q&A sessions with Seattle's bearded, plaided Amazon software developers and their millennial text-messaged seduction tactics.

The disenchantment pushed me into a comfortable courtship... with Pornhub.

Then, the January issue of V Magazine came out. Splayed across its cover were Lady Gaga and her husband-to-be, enjoying a post-coital spoon, covered head to toe in body paint. The moment captured the couple trying out Love and Paint, a DIY kit from a company by the same name designed to help capture the art of lovemaking. Love and Paint offers all the necessary accoutrements (body paint, brushes, and canvas) to create your own body paint-based, sexy masterpiece with your partner. It's modern art at its very friskiest.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for unique decor.

So I called up Love and Paint's co-founder, Tyler Peters, who along with artist Alexander Esguerra, started the company in 2008. "It’s not about painting a canvas," Tyler said, before sending me a kit to try. "It’s about an experience.” He had a couple practical pointers for using the kit; like setting the canvas over something soft and ending the session after 30 minutes so the paint doesn't smear or blob. Our conversation ended with him encouraging me to be creative and spontaneous.

Luckily for me, I couldn’t avoid the latter. Love and Paint's website paints a portrait of a beautiful way to dive deeper into an existing romantic bond -- I, however, was single as fuck. I formed a simple strategy to counteract this: hunt down a man I find superficially attractive, have several cocktails, get naked, and create a colorful shit show.

How to find a date... for body paint

Like any good, nature-loving, hybrid-driving vegan, I first tried to recycle. I reached out to old dates, flings, and dick-pic senders. One polyamorous friend even offered up her partner. But with dicks like gas stations (everywhere until you really need one!), one candidate after another fell away due to scheduling conflicts, travel, an STI, and a range of emotional crises. The kit arrived to my doorstep with nary a date in sight. I considered doing it alone, but the sad scene of myself buttered in paint and rolling around with my vibrator inspired me to immediately reactivate my Tinder account.

"Swipe right if you want to get naked, body paint me, and hook up on canvas!" I wrote on my profile.

Suddenly, every right swipe was a match. Go figure.

I settled on Charlie, a stunt comedian whose career moves him around the world spearing vegetables on spikes, escaping handcuffs, juggling sharp objects, and catching bowling balls with his face... all while telling jokes. I found YouTube videos of him playing paddle ball with his mouth and flipping mouse traps on his hand. My laughter disrupted the quiet coffee shop I had forgotten I was in. I realized I was blushing.

Getting down to (body-painting) business

Charlie had a show scheduled on the date in question, so he came over at bright, sunny 11am. Luckily for us, we had tons of chemistry -- so it only took three mimosas of liquid courage and a short, surprisingly not-awkward conversation, before I felt comfortable breaking out the kit. It was large and sleek, with two pairs of slippers to prevent tracking paint on the carpet, three jars of paint, a small paintbrush, and a 5x4ft black canvas to be laid across a (also-included) large plastic tarp. If the scene described reminds you of Dexter, you're not alone -- Charlie and I felt the same, in a funny and, surprisingly, not totally creepy way.

The process was erotic, messy, clumsy, and hilarious.

It helped that I was attracted to Charlie. I didn’t have to mentally smudge, blur, or make compromises on this rush toward intimacy. It was easy to forget that we were stripping and groping each other atop what appeared to be a crime scene... until we opened the paint jars. Our colors were red, pink, and white. Stalled only for a moment by the obvious color relation to blood, Charlie and I forgot about the paintbrush and began pouring Cupid vomit on our backs, faces, and chests. I splashed some on his dick and laughed. Charlie went down on me. I struggled not to let all that red -- in his mouth, on his face, his neck, and hands -- sabotage my now-inevitable orgasm.

The glorious mess of naked art

We took our time. Charlie and I fooled around, took breaks, talked, and fooled around again. I got to know the guy who can take his clothes off while juggling. We shared a similar upbringing, had related coming-of-age stories... he's even a feminist, a vegetarian, and unapologetically honest. In other words, I'd hit the proverbial jackpot.

On a blood-red canvas, with a guy from Tinder.

The process was erotic, messy, clumsy, and hilarious. We couldn’t keep the canvas still and eventually rubbed it all over our bodies like a towel. We took funny photos. I smeared paint on my desk while reaching for my condom drawer. Later, I laid naked atop plastic in globs of blood-colored paint with a man I’d known for less than 24 hours. We showered together, scrubbing the gore off each other’s backs. And I realized: I'd accidentally fallen for this paint-covered man. I smiled.

It was time for Charlie to go. I watched him walk out of my front door with a smudge of color still stuck on his ear. I, still leaking pastel pink like a Care Bear on her period, gave myself the pep talk I reserve for the end of those rare great dates: about surrendering to the possibility that I might not be able to hold on to this strange, sweet man -- and that I might lose him to that familiar abyss of the Tinder date-turned-slow fade. But if he goes through that revolving door, I'm left with a brilliant canvas. And this: there are unique, outlandish, fun, open, and fearless men in this world. But it will take doing unique, outlandish, fun, open, and fearless things to find them.

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Maggie Young is a Navy veteran, Berkeley graduate, author of Just Another Number, and sex-positive feminist who will never again snub the idea of body paint. Keep up with her at The Maggie Young.