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The Joy of Sex Substitutes

Lube jobs, hot wax, warm fluids, exotic rituals--it's like we never gave up sex

By Rebecca Patt

Love is the answer. But while you're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions. For example: can anything really substitute for sex?

Or, to put it another way, is there another way to achieve deep connection, stimulation, ecstasy, release and tousled hair without being in a relationship, without staggering emotional drama, without the awkwardness of being awakened, in a drunken haze, from the nudging of someone whose name you can't remember?

Thinking of anything to replicate the blissful toe-sucking glory of sex is a challenging task, especially extending beyond the obvious realm of chocolate, drugs or certain battery-powered plastic toys.

Still, in an effort to explore the sex alternatives that can still give you a weird and maybe even uncomfortable thrill, here are four diverse substitutions selected from the wide gamut of Things to Do When Not Getting Action. These can all be done solo and without a date.

1. Oil Change at Oil Can Henry's

Upon pulling into the garage of Oil Can Henry's on Main Street in Watsonville on a warm sunny day, I slipped down my driver-side window and was handed a newspaper as five tattooed Latino guys in uniform descended upon my car. With the aid of greasy rags, wrenches and a variety of hoses, they worked from behind the hood and from underneath to check and change every single fluid, performing what they call a "20-point, full-service oil change" which includes an "under-chassis inspection." Whew!

At some point, they yanked out my air filter, showed me how gnarly it was and easily coaxed me into buying a new one. The entire time I sat in the car, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper, feeling a tingly sensation. In under 10 minutes, I drove out of there feeling so thoroughly serviced (long fluttery sigh).

2. Tootsie Tuneups and Pink Poodles at Tonic

When you show up with a healthy glow, tousled hair and an intoxicated grin, you can fool everyone into thinking you've been on a wild bedroom romp when in fact you've just visited Tonic on Cedar Street. This new downtown salon and spa offers pampering for your hair and skin as well as a bar serving cocktails and wine. Drinks are free on Fridays after 3:30pm; the current featured cocktail is the Pink Poodle (grapefruit juice and vodka). The candles and fresh flowers around the bar provide a romantic atmosphere in which to sip your Poodle.

Every haircut includes a head massage from one of the friendly, stylish and tousle-haired staff people. One special room is reserved for "tootsie tuneups." (These pedicures sound almost as good as the 20-point service at Oil Can Henry's!) A variety of facial treatments are available, and you can purchase goodies such as fruit body wash and sherbet wax spray for your hair. And here's the kicker: while lying in a heated bed, you can have professionals wax and tint your pubic hair into various shapes and colors.

3. The Tsunami Jet at Kiva Retreat House

Users of the Tsunami Jet are known to make loud moaning and groaning noises as the warm pressure blasts against tense muscles. The Jet--it's actually two large jets of streaming water--is located in the group hot tub at Kiva Retreat House, a spa facility also featuring gardens, a sauna, private tubs and a relaxation room.

Unlike most relationships, you have to cling tightly onto the handles beside the Tsunami Jet to keep its powerful waters from pushing you away. Keep in mind, using the Tsunami Jet for actual sexual stimulation would be inappropriate, and it would also be a failure to heed the dictum of the sign posted nearby stating "use common sense." My housemate Scott likes to Tsunami his forehead, but that's another story.

4. LunaSea Festival

To create a community celebration of the ocean, Greg Cotten has been passionately leading the efforts behind the LunaSea Festival, an event happening every full moon for the last several months at Lighthouse Beach (a.k.a. Its Beach or Doggy Beach). The next one is Sunday, Feb. 16, at 6pm.

"The LunaSea Festival is a series of events where people can come together and celebrate the freedom of being that we find when we're with the ocean," says Cotten. "One of the reasons I entitled it LunaSea is because it plays with being wild and free and letting go."

That doesn't mean swilling cans of beer in front of a bonfire. What Cotten has in mind is a highly artful, playful and spiritually uplifting shindig. He says the celebration can take the form of however one's spirit is called, whether it be through singing, drumming, costumes, fire spinning, hula dancing, rituals, art installations ... the possibilities are as limitless as the sea.

"A large portion of this community is here because of the ocean. We play in it as individuals and we get a lot of enjoyment from it, but what isn't happening is sharing in that freedom and vitality together," says Cotten.

He says he envisions the festival as an opportunity for all of the dance classes and martial artists and musicians to bring their art out of the classroom and onto the beaches, and he would like to expand the festival to other beaches along West Cliff and have the boaters come out of the harbor to celebrate.

"It's an opportunity to really play in this awesome, totally phenomenal spot that we have," he says. "It's basically a celebration of the spirit, and I say the ocean is our direct link to it, to the goods."

Wow--did anyone else just feel a bolt of kundalini charge up their spine?

Metro Santa Cruz's No Sex Issue

More insights into abstinence from Metro writers

Sex Dwarfed: Valentine's Day is the Halloween of the Sex Machine. But hold on there, tiger--have you considered celibacy? Yes, indeed, there's a fine tradition of folk who claim we've all got something to gain from keeping it in our pants. And no, Gandhi was not just jealous because he couldn't get any. (Mike Connor)

Valentine's What Now?: The road to double happiness lies in forgetting all about that Valentine's crap and partaking of an alternate holiday. One billion Chinese can't be wrong. (Rebecca Patt)

Are You Being Served?: When it comes to sexual repression, nobody does It like the British. Or at least that's what supposedly groovy Californians like to think. Now, an exile from the Empire sets the record straight. (Sarah Phelan)

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From the February 12-19, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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