Sex & Love: Take it outside

SN&R’s guide to summertime sex in the great outdoors

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Birds do it. Bees do it. Sacramentans are definitely doing it. And by “it,” we mean getting their naked freak on in the great outdoors. Or sometimes, as our research shows, the not-so-great outdoors. In a Midtown alley, say, behind a Dumpster redolent of hobo urine.

If there’s one thing interviewing locals about alfresco sex reveals, it’s that everyone’s got their own ideas about how to do it right. If there are two things, it’s the counterintuitive fact that people who bang in public really value their privacy. Our sources unanimously insisted on anonymity.

After talking to couples and singles throughout the Sacramento area, scrutinizing indecent exposure laws and placing an awkward call to the Sacramento Police Department, we think we’ve got a handle on the ins and outs of outdoor sex in Sacramento. (Pun most definitely intended.) Read on for everything you need to know—and plenty you probably never wanted to—about getting sexy in the summertime scenery.

For everything, there is a season

Outdoor sex season officially begins on May 1. This fact was revealed by a couple waiting outside Midtown restaurant Azul Mexican Food and Tequila Bar on a recent Friday night. As evidence, they cited New York singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton’s springtime anthem, “First of May.” The NSFW chorus goes, “It’s the first of May, first of May / outdoor fucking starts today / so bring your favorite lady / or at least your favorite lay.”

The couple swore a pact to get sweaty in the sunshine after she introduced him to the song a year ago, but somehow never got around to it. “My compromise was to do it at home with the windows open,” she said.

Her boyfriend promised this will be the summer they finally do the deed outdoors. “I want to hear birds chirping, children crying! I want the full experience!” he said, before they started kissing and it became clear our interview was over.

Caught or not?

When choosing a location for outdoor nooky, it helps if you and your partner agree on priorities. Is your primary goal to do it in a risky public setting for the thrill of possibly getting caught? If so, you’re not alone. An SN&R Facebook survey revealed dozens of popular public make-out spots including the Capitol World Peace Rose Garden, the park around Sutter’s Fort, the alley behind Midikat Boutique, Alumni Grove at Sacramento State and under the Fair Oaks Bridge.

If you want to experience roofless sex without fear of public observation or police intervention, try the rooftop of your apartment building or your own backyard. Do a little off-trail exploration on your next hiking trip. Entertain the flora and fauna on a secluded riverbank or a boat in the middle of a lake. (Bonus points for singing the Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat!” upon completion. “I Just Had Sex” is also acceptable.)

Plan now, bone later

Successful outdoor encounters require spontaneity, but a little planning makes things go a lot more smoothly. Carry condoms in your wallet. Make sure you can identify poison oak. Pack a “sex aid kit” for your trunk with sunblock, bug spray, bottled water, a blanket, tissues and (more) condoms. At the very least, bring an extra hoodie to cushion your knees when you’re crouched in a thicket playing “Bambi loves Thumper.”

Clothing is key

It’s hard to find any specific mention of outdoor sexual activity in Sacramento city codes, but the rules on indecent exposure are almost perversely thorough. City code 9.04.060 states that it is illegal to be in a public space within city limits with any of the following bodily regions visible: “the genitals, vulva, pubis, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus, anal region, or pubic hair region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the upper edge of the areola thereof on any female person.” (We’re not entirely sure of the defining line between “pubis,” “pubic hair” and “pubic hair region,” but it’s clear the city government does not want to see yours.)

On outdoor escapades, wear clothing that grants access and just as quickly hides it. As one 37-year-old state worker told us, the right dress covers a multitude of sins. She once had sex in the McKinley Park Rose Garden in broad daylight, sitting on her boyfriend’s lap in an ankle-length sundress. “I’m sure people knew,” she said, “but what were they going to do?”

The right outfit can also act as a mood enhancer, as one 33-year-old medical-cannabis dispensary employee explained. “I had sex at The Press Club,” he said, “outside behind the building during a Halloween party. What was my costume? Ron Jeremy!”

Paranoia is not an aphrodisiac

Too much stress can ruin the mood, as one recent college graduate attested. “I did it under the Fair Oaks Bridge,” she said. “Someone walked across the bridge with a flashlight, and my boyfriend kept saying, ‘It’s the cops!’ I was like, ‘It is not the cops. Get back to business!’”

While public sex can be considered illegal lewd behavior, being caught by a police officer won’t necessarily result in penalty. “If nobody notices but the police officer, it’s at their discretion,” explained Sacramento Police Department Public Information Officer Laura Peck. “If it’s two consenting adults and there are no other crimes and no calls from citizens witnessing the event, the officer would likely send them on their way.”

Just make sure you’re both of legal age and you’re not ruining anyone’s picnic with unwanted flashing or moans worthy of a 911 call. Be a good (invisible) neighbor, and you should be fine.

Outdoor sex is never a secret

During weeks of reporting, the only regrets we heard were from people who had no stories to share. Half the appeal of doing it outside is bragging rights. So remember, if you have sex with someone in an unconventional location, they will tell their friends about it—not to mention strangers with notebooks who write for alternative weekly newspapers.