Mercedes with Benefits
Women need a reason to have sex. Men just need a place. -Billy Crystal
What better place to have sex than a luxury car when you think about it. It helps you in the effort two fold- by attracting a partner and by being a sort of mobile bedroom for the two (or more1) of you to enjoy each other’s company. It’s hard to know the exact effect a nice car has on a prospective mate. A good guess though is that it doesn’t hurt your chances. In China the car is revered as the single visual totem of individual success or lack thereof. And so, this exhibition focuses on this idea: the varying and intriguing ways we see our cars (especially as they relate to love and sex). Mercedes with benefits is a visual inquiry of sorts. This text however, will focus on some intriguing stories regarding the mysterious link between sex and cars.
The word “car” probably comes from the Latin word carrus or carrum meaning “wheeled vehicle”. Since it’s creation (largely credited to Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot who built the first full scale working automobile in 17692) the car has mystified and enthralled. Its cultural significance looms large in the psyche of almost every person on earth. What it means to own a car, as well as how you see other people based on what type of car they have (and how they drive it). Ever since the car originated, people have had sex in them.
Before we explore people having sex in cars maybe you should know about someone having sex with them. It’s hard to argue that any automotive-related story is stranger than that of 57 year-old American Edward Smith who claims to have had sex with over 1000 cars1. That’s right, not sex in, sex with. He claims he knew something was different around the age of 12 or 13 when he would look at cars and feel sexual urges that he didn’t fully understand. These urges we finally acted up at age 15 when Smith, who says he’s never been attracted to women or men, made love to his first vehicle. Far from being alone, Smith is now involved in a group of 500 fellow “car lovers” that he has connected with via the internet.
When it comes to having sex with people in cars (but still staying well on the strange side of things) the 1996 David Cronnenberg film Crash certainly comes to many peoples minds. The premise of this film is that there exists a group of people who sexually fetishize car crashes4. They like to have sex in cars…but only after they wreck. The characters involved spend their time obsessively watching car safety test videos and photographing traffic accident sites, the eventuality of their experience is crashing cars and having sex in the wreckage, often with rather negative consequences.
For most of the rest of the world that enjoys having sex with actual humans (in a car that isn’t wrecked) there are some logistical issues involved with car sex. As most people who have done the deed note, the small space can be a bit confining. Cosmopolitan magazine has a guide to help out those in need though5. Their inspiring tips include such lines as “have some fun with him by blasting the AC for a couple of minutes, then switching to heat.” And “if you crank the volume enough the whole car will start to thump and vibrate, which can supercharge sensations.” No mater how you go about the act, one thing you should always be sure of is that you’re not disturbing the peace. A couple near Springfield, Oregon were arrested recently for causing a traffic jam as motorists slowed down to watch them have sex in their parked car as they passed by6. Similarly, a parking ban was recently enacted in a posh Manhattan neighborhood after a slew of complaints about people having sex in parked cars in the area7. Many high-class nightclubs are close-by and it seems as though lust-filled couples just couldn’t wait.
China’s rising tide of wealth over the last decade has cause an atomic explosion of car culture and, thusly, a boom in car sex8. China is now the world largest new car market, averaging 18m sales per year (The US is 14.5 m by comparison). The way Chinese view their cars (and themselves by association) is as an extension of their being. The car is like the tangible avatar of wealth, success and happiness. While classic American books and film have depicted the car as an escape vehicle and a means for individual freedom, the car in China is a must; something required in order to move forward as a legitimate adult and viable partner.
Maybe the car is the oblivious person’s Rorschach test. What a person sees or feels about a car: its aesthetic, purpose and treatment, are all a tangle of indicators about that person and their beliefs. Views on cars at the cultural level can, similarly, indicate a lot about that culture. One thing is universal though, there’s nothing more exhilarating or liberating than having a great looking car and driving it on a nice day with the windows down…or fucking in the backseat of it. It’s safe to say that these exist on some higher level of satisfaction and happiness. We don’t know if there is any other intelligent life in the universe, and we certainly don’t know if there’s intelligent life that has something similar to the automobile. If there is though, it’s a safe bet they fuck in the backseat.