On the subway last week, the man sitting opposite was ranting about his groin. “See this?” he asked me, pointing at himself. “Think I don’t have anything? Well, you’re wrong. This is mine.” As he continued to spout I got out my book (Anais Nin’s Fire, since you ask) and walked to the other end of the train, before I heard him move on to the next poor soul. He was right, of course. He does own his groin. But how sad that he had to announce it.

Like it or not, there’s often a sexual vibe on the subway. Of course, sex on the train is a classic fantasy, which, during rush hour, can give rise to as many furtive looks as you’d find in a busy bar. I suppose being sealed into a compressed space and traveling superfast is a recipe for lust, particularly when you find yourself face-to-crotch with a stranger. (Depends on the stranger! Depends on the crotch!). And perhaps being in the underbelly of the city releases all those urges we attempt to suppress. In London the subway is called the Underground, a word that also connotes spycraft – rather fitting, considering the amount of watching going on.

As it happens, I’m all about sex on the subway, but there’s a context. I use my commutes to catch up on my reading, which is often about sex and sexuality. The written word offers us a wonderful way of revitalizing and nurturing our sexual imagination, broadening our erotic focus and challenging our assumptions.  As an activity that can be solo, reading is also a great reminder that our sex lives lie within ourselves – we can still experience rich sexual worlds when we’re alone, and beautifully at that.  So, seeing as I love book recommendations, here are some quotes from great sex books/stories I’ve been reading on the train:

From “Dumbrowski’s Advice” by Steve Almond, in This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey:

“At the hospital, you told Dumbrowski: I met a girl, which might have been the truth from time to time, though really you dreamed of the waitress, your waitress, sweet greasy onion rings on her fingers as you lay in a pool of your own heat.”

Riki Wilchins in Genderqueer, ed. Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, and Riki Wilchins:

“…I am speaking, of course, of intersexed infants. Such children, who are not clearly male or female, occur in about one in every 2000 births. Because anything that is not male or female is not a true sex, we pronounce them ‘abnormal,’ fit them legally into male or female, and fit them physically into boy or girl by cutting them up at a rate of about five a day. Thus are ‘natural’ males and females maintained…”

From “Lina” in Little Birds by Anais Nin:

“She bought herself a black lace nightgown like mine. She came to my apartment to spend a few nights with me. She said she had bought the nightgown for a lover, but I saw the price tag still fastened on it. She was ravishing to look at because she was plump and her breasts showed where her white blouse opened. I saw her wild mouth parted, her curly hair in a wild aureole around her head. Every gesture was one of disorder and violence, as if a lioness had come into the room.”

It turns out that 2011 may be a good time for us bookish types to bask in the limelight. Sex expert Petra Boynton predicts this will be a year of sexual introspection: “…I think we’ll see the idea of self reflection and sexual diary keeping become more of a mainstream phenomena.” Self-help, philosophy, guided explorations…these may well be the kind of texts we’ll see reflected in print and online. In fact, Susie Bright recently brought out a 2011 sex journal, entitled Love & Lust, which provides prompts and guides for exploring your sexual self – my copy’s on its way and I’m excited to get started. So we don’t have to shag in public to be sexual while we commute…though maybe a few of us will get to do both! But as sex-positive readers with a mischievous streak, we can always tell our friends, “I had sex on the train today…” before pausing for effect, and adding, “vicariously, of course.”

The photo on the main page is by By Étienne ANDRÉ

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LANA FOX became a sex writer when she realized she couldn't shut up about the subject. Her erotic stories appear in collections by Harlequin, Cleis Press and Xcite, including Best Women's Erotica 2011. A graduate in Psychology, English and Education, she is a regular featured blogger at the Good Vibrations magazine. Lana is also at work on a novel. Find her online at: www.lanafox.com.

8 responses to “The Hot Topic, vol. 3 – Sex on the Subway: A User’s Guide”

  1. Darian Arky says:

    I’ve never gotten past trying to look up someone’s skirt on the way up the escalator…

  2. Lana Fox says:

    Oh, but that counts! That definitely counts…

  3. kristen says:

    “He was right, of course. He does own his groin.”

    Aw–what a fellow!

  4. Jessica Blau says:

    Do you think he showed his groin to you because you were holding Anais Nin?? Or do you think it was random?

    There was a period of time when it seemed that a lot of men I didn’t really know were showing me their penises. I wondered then if all women went through periods where a lot of dicks were flashed their way or was it something I did, some way I sat, or something I wore in my hair?

    • Lana Fox says:

      Hey Jessica. Hmm, good question. No, I don’t think it was random. I do often find myself in situations like this, but I think it might be because I give off a vibe. (I’m also the person that gets asked for street directions. Is that the same for you?). As for the book, I only got it out after he’d started on at me, so I don’t think it was that either. But you make an important point – it might well be something about how we’re wearing our hair, or maybe we remind a guy of his sister, ex-wife, mother, or maybe we seem comfortable in ourselves and some folks find that threatening… I think when we’re sexually open and at ease, folks pick up on that. Hard to think of it as a compliment though, isn’t it?!

      Sorry to hear about the flashing. Holy cow. May the penises retreat unless invited.

      • Lana Fox says:

        Oh and by the way, I’m sure you know this already, but I should add that it isn’t our fault when this stuff happens. Blonde, brunette, tall, girly, burly, butch, smily…we can never tell who’s going to attach to what, or how!

  5. dildo says:


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