Illustration by Dave van Patten

The Sex Appeal of Cigarettes

And everything else we learned about sex this year

In 2016, we began our sex coverage with a cigarette. So you can only imagine how excited we were about what we had planned for the rest of the year. (Or maybe it was over before it started?)

Either way, we spent a lot of time trying to make sense of the male libido and its outer reaches, where turn-ons included everything from twerking into sheet cakes to fully clothed women helplessly watching their cars get stuck in mud. We also spent a considerable amount of time profiling an L.A. commune where everyone on the premises was expected to have hot monkey sex — or at least, sex in the spirit of the monkey’s close cousin, the bonobo.

For romance, we turned to Reddit; it was as unsettling as expected—though the earnestness of the men of r/doppelbangher, a collection of dudes helping each other find the porn-star equivalent of their crush, unrequited love or the one who got away, could easily be turned into a demented romcom. That said, we felt the pain of the guys with post-orgasmic illness syndrome far more. These guys can’t cum without experiencing a laundry list of side effects that rivaled the disclaimer of a prescription drug commercial: Having an orgasm may result in brain fog, fatigue, a shortened attention span, muscle aches, diarrhea, constipation, cold spells and/or restlessness.

Finally, we found that sex continues to pay, just not in the ways you’d necessarily expect. Sure, cash is still traded for sex acts — whether that’s as a top escort in San Francisco, a gay-for-pay camboy or a sugar baby whose daddy covers the rent (bare minimum). But these days, there are more novel means of making money from sex. This guy, for example, has invented a condom that looks like a space helmet that maximizes skin-to-skin content while keeping semen in its rightful place. Meanwhile, this Irish security consultant made 16 grand for hacking Pornhub — at Pornhub’s invitation. Although arguably no one has made more cash policing porn than this Bulgarian woman, who spends her workdays trawling the tube sites for pirated content (which she then has taken down).

So if you end up having to #payforyourporn, blame her.

The Best of Our 2016 Sex Coverage: