Sex + Love

Absolute Beginners

Some of our favorite grown women on the first time they had sex—with a couple of first-kiss stories for good measure.

Collage by Sonja

Featuring

Lena Dunham
Creator, writer, director, and star of Girls, premiering on HBO on April 15.

Liz Phair
Singer, songwriter, writer, and Twitterer.

Bethany Cosentino
Frontwoman and songwriter for Best Coast.

Sarah Silverman
Comedian, writer, and actor.


Miranda July
Filmmaker, artist, and writer.

Shannon Woodward
Writer and actor.

Krista Burton
Blogger and Rookie staff writer.

Pamela Des Barres
Writer, designer, and legendary groupie.

Lena Dunham

When I was about nine I wrote a vow of celibacy on a piece of paper and ate it. I promised myself, in orange magic marker, that I would remain a virgin until I graduated from high school. This seemed important because I knew my mother had waited until the summer after she graduated and also Angela Chase seemed pretty messed up by her experience at that flophouse where high school kids went to copulate. If my relationship to liver paté was any indication, and I had recently eaten so much that I barfed, then my willpower was very bad, and I needed something stronger than resolve to prevent me from having intercourse too early in life.

Turns out, this was an unnecessary precaution. The opportunity never arose in high school, nor even during the first year of college, save for a near-miss with a stocky kid I knew who was home visiting New York City from the Air Force Academy—that encounter went far enough that I had to fish a mint-colored, never-used condom out from behind my dormitory bunk bed the next day. I transferred to Oberlin my sophomore year, a small liberal arts school in Ohio that was known for having been the first college to admit both women and men, as well as for its polyamorous, bi-curious student body. I was neither, but it did seem like a good environment in which to finally get the ball rolling. I really felt like the oldest virgin in town, save for a busty riot grrrl from Olympia, Washington, who was equally frustrated; she and I would often meet up in our nightgowns to discuss.

I was pretty sure I had already broken my hymen in high school, crawling over a fence in Brooklyn in hot pursuit of a cat that clearly didn’t want to be rescued. So the event would only be psychologically painful.

I met Jonah* in the cafeteria. He was roommates with an emo kid who worked at the video store and had a crush on my best friend, Audrey. Jonah didn’t have a very specific style beyond dressing vaguely like a middle-aged lesbian. He was small but strong, with floppy hair and warm eyes. He reminded me a little bit of that Air Force kid, who had rejected me in a saga too long to recount here. Something primal kicked in, like an Alfred Hitchcock character hell-bent on replacing his dead wife with a lookalike, and I resolved to make him mine.

The best way was obviously to throw a wine-and-cheese party, which I did, in my 8×10-foot room on the quiet floor of East Hall. Procuring wine entailed a sub-zero bike ride, so it ended up being beer and cheese and a big box of Carr’s assorted party crackers. Jonah was “casually” invited in a group email that made me sound a lot more relaxed than I actually was. And he came, and he stayed, even after the entire gang had packed up and gone. We talked, at first animatedly and then in the nervous generalizations that substitute for kissing when everyone is too shy. Finally, I told him that my dad painted huge pictures of penises for a job. When he asked if we could see them online, I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and just went for it. I removed my shirt almost immediately, and he seemed fairly impressed. Wearing just a too-tight slip-skirt from the local Goodwill, I hopped up to get the condom from the “freshman survival pack” we had been given (even though I was a sophomore).

Meanwhile, across campus, Audrey was in a private hell of her own. She had been waging a cold war with her roommate all semester: the busty, ren-faire loving Philadelphian was the lust object of every LARPer and black-metal aficionado on campus. Audrey just wanted some quiet time to read political texts and iChat with her boyfriend in Virginia. Audrey’s roommate was now dating a kid who had tried to bake meth in the dorm kitchen, warranting an emergency visit from men in what looked to be space suits. Before going out for the night, Audrey had left her roommate a note: “If you could please have quieter sex as we approach our midterms, I’d really appreciate it.” Her roommate’s response was to burn Audrey’s note, scatter the ashes across the bed and floor, and leave her own note: “U R a frigid bitch. Get the sand out of UR vagina.”

Justifiably distressed, Audrey headed back to my room hopeful for a sleepover. She was sobbing, and disoriented, and also pretty sure I was alone finishing the cheese, so she flung my door open without knocking. There she found Jonah on top of me doing what grownups do. She understood the magnitude of the occasion and through her tears shouted, “Mazel tov!”

I didn’t tell him I was a virgin, just that I hadn’t done it “that much.” It hurt a little more than I’d expected but in a different way, and he was nervous too and he never came. Afterwards we lay there and talked, and I could tell he was a really nice person. I commended myself for making a healthy, albeit hasty, partner choice. I really couldn’t wait to tell my mom.

Jonah wanted to date, and I figured out pretty quickly that I did not. I went over to his dorm and broke up with him in the laundry room, sitting on top of a running washer. He seemed genuinely hurt and perplexed, and I told him I’d been a virgin because I thought it made me seem like less of a she-devil. Later that year, Audrey saw him in the student post office picking up a package with a pair of used Merrills to replace his really used Tevas, and we laughed about it like mean girls.

Jonah and I only had sex once, but it was enough to convince me that it wasn’t that hard to make it happen. I had, for the past few years, set my sights quite purposefully on boys who weren’t interested, because I simply wasn’t ready (despite all the movies about wayward prep-school girls I liked to watch). I had been waiting because I wanted to, and then suddenly I was ready for the change in identity I was sure would come with no longer being a virgin. But afterwards I still felt very much like myself. Although it’s amazing how permanent virginity feels, and then how suddenly inconsequential. I barely remembered the sensation, the embarrassment, and the urgency. I passed the riot grrrl arm-in-arm with her boyfriend senior year and we didn’t even exchange a nod of understanding.

Later, I wrote that virginity-loss scene almost word for word in my first feature film, Creative Nonfiction, minus the part where Audrey busted the door down. When I performed that sex scene, my first, I felt more changed than I had by the actual experience of having sex with Jonah. Like, that was just sex, but this was my work.

* Name changed to protect the truly innocent.


Liz Phair

Here’s a story for you: I was terrified to have sex. When I was young, some pediatrician had told me that I was very small “down there” and that “intercourse might be difficult.” Though this turned out to be completely untrue, it stuck with me for most of my adolescence, like a chastity belt locked around my brain. It wasn’t just the fear of feeling pain that held me back; it was also the fear of a boy discovering something wrong with me at my most vulnerable moment. It didn’t help that my physician father happened to be working at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic during my teenage years and I had a front-row seat to the early ravages of a poorly understood and, at the time, deadly STD.

Romance, for me, became all about creativity. How could I keep my boyfriends happy, but not die, and not be labeled a freak? One solution that worked amazingly well was to date a boy who was grounded for the duration of our relationship. I worked on the yearbook committee my junior year, and we would meet in deserted corridors and unlocked classrooms after school and fumble around until he came in his jeans. I have very fond memories of that ;) .

Not so fun was the weekend I tried to break my own hymen. I had become ashamed and desperate to fix this (nonexistent) problem and wound up in the emergency room with a serious infection whose origin I was too embarrassed to explain to the nurses or my mother, who had to cancel a trip to stay home and take care of me.

I had a lot of experience with the other three bases by the time I finally lost my virginity in the fall of my freshman year of college. I was the last one of all my friends to do it, and I tried to pick a really good guy. He was a senior and captain of the soccer team as well as sitting chair of the Student Honor Committee. I had ceased to think there was anything anatomically wrong with me, but I was so nervous that I actually said these words to him: “If you’re not nice to me, my ex-boyfriend said he would beat you up.” I actually said this. I cringe to this day. Luckily, he saw through my Lisbeth Salander routine and was very sweet and gentle with me. When the deed was done, I felt tremendous relief.

Even with my newfound freedom, it still took me a long time to learn to have sex without hang-ups and WITH orgasms. A few tips: you have to feel safe, you have to enjoy your own body, and you have to have the time to experiment with each other. You want the kind of trust that leads to lots of playful, spontaneous opportunities with a guy or girl who really turns you on. Obvious, I know, but somehow it’s still rare to find.

The good news is—and truer words were never spoken—you were born to do this.


Bethany Cosentino

I was a pretty awkward teenager. I grew up in a suburb outside of L.A. called La Crescenta, where all the girls were skinny and tan and played soccer. I was chubby, wore braces, and had no talent at playing sports (well, I did play softball for a few years, but quickly realized I hated organized sports, so I quit just before ninth grade). I had this friend: Sara Stone. She was like the epitome of perfect in the eyes of every guy in La Crescenta. Tall, thin, blonde; played soccer, softball, and water polo. She lived in a big house with a pool and a hot tub, and had those kinds of parents that let her do whatever she wanted, including having coed birthday parties.

I was the last of my friends to ever kiss a boy. I was so embarrassed about this that I would make up stories that I had kissed a guy at Christian summer camp—I made sure to lie that he lived in Palmdale, which was far enough away that no one would ever find out he didn’t exist. I continued to make up story after story of all the boys I kissed. I don’t think any of my friends believed me, seeing as how every kissing partner was always some mysterious boy I met at church or at an airport or somewhere totally unbelievable.

Sara had this birthday party in the summer after seventh grade at her parents’ perfect house in the mountains. It was coed, and everyone was swimming and eating hot dogs and drinking soda and having so much fun. My friend Jessica and I sat awkwardly by the side of the pool watching, but not joining in, the fun. Jessica, who is still to this day my best friend, had kissed a boy—but she wasn’t like Sara and didn’t have every guy pining over her. We were sarcastic and cool for seventh graders—much cooler, we believed, than everyone else we knew. We sat there and watched and wondered when something cool was actually going to happen.

Suddenly Sara suggested we all get into the hot tub together and play a game. I had no idea what she was talking about. About 10 of us piled into this tub and started to play truth or dare. Since truth or dare with a bunch of hormonal teenagers pretty much always becomes dare or dare, there was a lot of kissing going on in this hot tub. I was so nervous that someone was going to tell me I had to kiss someone, and I was scared they’d be able to tell it was my first time, but I kept telling myself, It’s now or never.

Finally it was my turn, and I was dared to kiss Michael Humami. A really short boy who was mildly popular and always wore this gaudy gold watch. I was so mortified that my first kiss was about to take place in front of a group of my friends in a lukewarm hot tub, but I went for it. I had always imagined my first kiss would be something truly special. I closed my eyes and moved toward Michael, and we kissed, and before I knew it, it was over. I was glad to have finally gotten it done, but still sort of let down that it wasn’t as magical as I’d expected.

A few turns later, someone dared me to kiss Justin. I can’t remember his last name, but I remember he had red hair and freckles. I kissed Justin and then felt like a pro. Two boys in one day, I was on a roll! I think we eventually got caught playing truth or dare in the hot tub and Sara’s parents got upset and made all the boys leave and then the girls had a slumber party. We all talked about the kissing we’d done in the hot tub, and everyone was asking me, “What was it like to kiss Michael? He’s so cute.” I’m pretty sure my response was, “It was pretty whatever. I’ve kissed tons of guys, and he wasn’t the best.”


Sarah Silverman

Kevin Brennan was the emcee on open-mike nights, Mondays, at the Boston Comedy Club in the West Village of Manhattan. I had a job passing out flyers for the club every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 4 PM to 2 AM, and besides my 10-dollars-an-hour payment, I could go up on open-mike night without bringing two friends (a prerequisite for open-mikers was that they had to bring two paying customers).

Kevin was tall, with dark brown hair and a white-and-red blotchy Irish face. He wore a long army-green trench coat and carried a briefcase, which, at 19, I found very impressive. And he was 30—a grown man. He stood outside the club smoking a Merit Light. I went outside and bummed one.

KEVIN: So, you go to school?

ME: Yeah. NYU.

KEVIN: What—are you a freshman?

ME: Mm-hm.

KEVIN: What—are you, like, in a sorority?

ME: Yeah, but you can only be in it if you’re really cool.

KEVIN: Yeah? Who else is in it?

ME: Just me.

He laughs.

Let me take a moment to describe myself here: big curly perm, black polyester shirt with long sheer sleeves, black miniskirt, and Doc Martens with thick black soles. It was 1990.

I did my five minutes and stayed for the rest of the night until the show was over and Kevin was going home.

“You wanna see my apartment?” He chuckled, I assume at his paper-thinly veiled offer. “It’s in Queens.”

“Sure. Yeah.”

And off we cabbed to Astoria, Queens. We walked up a stairwell and through a hallway to his apartment. It smelled good to me. It smelled like first grade for some reason. Something industrial but sweet, like old paint and licorice. Inside there was a small living room, a bathroom, and two bedrooms—one his and one his roommate’s. On the coffee table was a Best of Chicago tape. He also had a stack of records, with the Go-Go’s Vacation on top.

“Wanna see my bedroom?”

“OK.”

He led me to his bedroom—a bed, a dresser, and an ashtray. He kissed me while he laid me back in his bed.

“Have you ever had sex before?”

“Yes, I’ve had sex before,” I said, insulted.

Here’s the thing. I thought I had had sex. My senior year of high school I visited my sister Laura at Boston University, and she fixed me up with a friend who was from all accounts very good-looking. I knew he was the kind of guy girls in my school would think was really hot. He was in college; he was tall and lean and had long hair and a long beard—like a sexy Jesus. We sat on my sister’s tiny living room couch and watched Dead Ringers, a creepy Jeremy-Irons-as-twin-gynecologists thriller, and fell asleep before anything really serious happened. The next morning my sister and her roommate left early for the AIDS Walk, and this guy and I—yipes, I can’t remember his name, maybe Brooks or something like that—moved into my sister’s bedroom. He put on a condom and pushed against me, but there was honestly no hole there. I figured that was it. The guy just pokes hard between your legs for a while. Sex. When he finally gave up, he said, “It’s not like it is in the movies, Sarah. Is that what you thought?” Which was as weird thing to say right after watching Dead Ringers.

“No,” I said defensively.

So when Kevin asked me if I was a virgin, I answered honestly: no. Somehow I think he knew better than me, because he pretty much instructed me through the whole process. He talked me through my first blowjob (that, I admitted I had never done before), what to do with my tongue, what not to do with my teeth, and so on. And then, slowly at first, he pushed inside me. All the way inside. And all I could think was,

Holy shit, THIS is sex, dummy.

He sat up on the side of the bed to smoke another Merit Light, carefully ridding the end of any excess ash, molding the red tip of it into a constant point. He put out his cigarette and pulled back the sheets to get up, revealing a Rorschach-like pattern of blood. Like a red butterfly stamp, getting lighter and lighter with each imprint.

There was a long moment of silence before I worked up the moxie to say, “That came out of you.”

“Um. No it didn’t.”

Another long pause, broken by him: “It’s OK. Just buy me new sheets.”

***

Kevin didn’t have much time for me, but I took whatever I could get. I couldn’t wait to have sex again and again and again. It was awesome. I was in love.

The feeling wasn’t mutual. As it turned out, there’s a reason 30-year-olds sleep with 19-year-olds, and it’s not because they’re looking for something real. I beautified myself in my dorm room, checking the time and myself alternately all night for a date with him that never happened, and when I saw him next and accused him of sleeping with someone else that night, he just said, “It wasn’t my fault she tricked me,” with an I don’t give a fuck half-smile.

After six months of being his if-he-couldn’t-find-anyone-better fallback sex, I gave him a letter with the ultimatum that he had to be nicer to me or it was over. He opened it immediately and read it in front of me, and said, laughing, “Then I guess it’s over.”

Not long after that my friend Kerry came to visit me from Washington. She asked me how I was and I told her that I lost my virginity but the guy dumped me and I was devastated.

“Fuck that shit,” she said. “I’m a female chauvinist.”

“Um…huh?”

“I’m a female chauvinist. I tell a guy, ‘When I’m with you I’m with you, and when I’m not with you, you don’t worry about where I am.’”

I was inspired. Kerry changed my perspective—changed the way I saw men and changed the way I saw myself, transforming me from prey to predator in one weekend visit. For the next two years I was on a rampage. I was a monkey swinging from vine to vine. I kept Noxzema in my bag because I never knew where I’d end up sleeping or with whom. (Another rule from the Book of Kerry: never go to sleep with a dirty face.)

Excerpted from The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman. Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Silverman. Used by permission of Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


Miranda July

I was 17, a senior in high school. He was 27, a grad student at UC Berkeley, the local college. He was actually my friend’s boyfriend before he was mine—I guess he just really loved girls from this one particular prep school, and the feeling was mutual. My friend was somehow not really mad. I remember her describing birth control to me, which was “the sponge,” a chemical-soaked sponge that you stuffed up your vagina. He was from Detroit, kind of a big guy, looked a little like a boy from The Brady Bunch gone bad. He was so poor that he did not even have a bed, just a blanket neatly laid out on the carpet of his friend’s living room. So that’s where we did it.

I visualized outer space to block out the pain, a fact I only remember because I included it in a story I wrote afterwards. I typed it up on the family computer and stupidly named the file The First Time. Later that week my mom took me out to a special lunch where she asked me if I’d had sex. I think she was surprised it had taken me so long. A few years later, she casually suggested that I had a lover I was visiting on my “long walks.” But they really were just long walks. We went out for a few months. It was an intense, formative time for me. I was thinking very hard about everything, including, but not only, feminism. One night I suggested we drive up to the hills overlooking the city. We parked and stood together on the edge of a cliff. I asked him to go down on me while I looked at the view. When he stood up again, I broke up with him.

A version of this piece originally ran in Dossier.


Shannon Woodward

I’m not quite sure how I missed the boat, but the boat was missed. By boat, I mean the kissing boat. The seven-minutes-in-heaven canoe. The spin-the-bottle pontoon. The makeout-party ocean liner. While all of the teenagers I knew were out honing their kissing skills, I was most likely home watching reruns of I Love Lucy and trying to figure out how to effectively blow-dry my terrifyingly wooly hair. In hindsight, this hair quagmire might have genuinely contributed to my late-blooming debacle. I digress. Suddenly, more people were making out in the hallways during passing periods than I believe actually went to my school. I was desperately behind the learning curve of love. I was doomed.

After giving my predicament a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that the only acceptable thing to do to ensure the stability of my reputation as a relatively cool human being would be to somehow kiss a boy who was separated from my school life by at least 500 degrees. That way, if our make-out ended in some kind of terrible explosion, death, or hostage situation, I could easily pretend it never happened. Enter Trent.

Trent from my high school. Trent from almost every single class I was enrolled in. Trent who was surely my soul mate. Trent with his Johnny Depp hair, his ability to play nearly every Goo Goo Dolls song on his guitar, and his keen instincts as to exactly what methods of ignoring me were sure to make me swoon. Oh, yes, Trent. We were destined to be in love. Because, above all else, Trent was in a BAND. My ingenious plan for learning how to kiss in secret was immediately abandoned. I had a target.

After weeks of shameless flirting on my part (asking sporadically to borrow notebook paper and saying hello at a volume audible only to baby cats), Trent finally asked me to hang out with him outside of school. His band was playing at the community center at the local park. Please keep in mind that at this point, playing the community center was, to me, the equivalent of gigging at Madison Square Garden. This guy was my Mick Jagger. But, shorter.

I dressed up in my coolest outfit: a pair of leather pants from the Gap, and some kind of ratty lace tank top that I was convinced made me look like Courtney Love, and certainly not like some kind of sad homeless child (it made me look a little bit like a sad homeless child). I spent the entire day studying Rayanne Graff from My So-Called Life and methodically ripping off her “cool girl” expressions (these mostly consisted of raccoon-like stares with the occasional ironic eyebrow raise sprinkled in). With my newly acquired repertoire of faces, I set upon my mission to persuade my future husband to love me.

Everything happened like in a dream. Trent and his band performed: they were transcendent. I was convinced he was the next John Lennon. He glanced at me while he sang, and I practiced my unaffected “this happens to me all the time” half-smile, while in reality I think I blacked out for a sliver of a second more than once. He even played my favorite song, and dedicated it to me (“If You Could Only See” by Tonic—don’t judge me). When it was over, I went backstage (aka the bathroom area of the community center) to find him. He was putting away his Yamaha and running his fingers through his glorious teen-heartthrob hair when he noticed me.

“Hey Shan, what’d you think?” he said.

“You were all right,” I replied, praying that he understood my sarcasm.

“Yeah?” He stood up and moved very, very close to me. I’m dead. Paralyzed. Surely not capable of speaking English at this point. I remembered the advice that my earth-science teacher, Mr. Finney, gave me should I ever find myself in a confrontation with a T-rex: don’t move. They can’t see you if you don’t move.

Trent put his hands on my hips.

“Wanna be my girlfriend?”

He said that. He really said that. Things like that NEVER happened to me.

“Sure.”

That was it. It was going to happen.

It happened.

He kissed me.

IT WAS TERRIBLE. Terrible isn’t even the right word. It was completely disastrous. My moves were all over the place. Imagine someone blasting the “The Hokey Pokey” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at the same time in a very tiny, claustrophobic space. Like, say, a doghouse. That is what this kiss felt like to me—all wrong, and rhythmically a mess. Except, throw in wet and spitty. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. Humiliated and panicked, I tried to come up with something to say that would save me from being awarded the title of Most Likely to Never Be Kissed Again in the yearbook. I opened my eyes. Trent looked at me, obviously a little confused by what had just happened, if not rightfully concerned about my mental health.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “You’ll get better.” I patted him on the face, and I walked away.

This stunt may the most insane thing that I have ever done (aside from sleeping in my parents’ backyard for a week and ordering pizza to “tent guest house”). I had tried to make this poor boy believe that HE was the terrible kisser because I couldn’t live with the idea that I might not inherently be God’s gift to every teenage boy’s lips. After all, I was wearing my ultra-cool leather pants and using my brand new as-seen-on-TV facial expressions! How could it possibly have gone wrong?!

I’ll tell you how: I was so caught up in the anxiety of never having been kissed that I forgot to pay attention to my partner in this kissing escapade. He actually wanted to kiss ME, not my newfound neuroses that had become a monster of their own! See, kissing is kind of like a…conversation. It takes two human beings, and it can be an incredibly engaging and memorable experience, or awful and terrible and something you never want to mention again. Kissing is an exchange of spit and tongues and lips that is different with every person you encounter (romantically!) based on their very own human-ishness (look it up). You’ve gotta feel it out to figure it out. I was a crappy, self-involved conversationalist, metaphorically. That realization in itself enabled me to slowly but surely improve upon my make-out instincts out as my angst-ridden teenage years went on. I assure you, plenty of those other moments weren’t pretty either, but, a few of them were incredible. Movie-like, even.

In case you’re wondering, the following morning at school, Trent and I couldn’t make eye contact. I couldn’t bear to face the shame of my own kiss-tastrophe. Our beautiful relationship ended sometime before the third or fourth passing period, through a game of human telephone. He also eventually found out through one friend or another that our community-center rendezvous was my first kiss. To be honest, it wasn’t so bad when he found out. He never mentioned it to anyone. I think he had a little sympathy for me. Not enough to kiss me again, but enough to keep my secret safe.

I’d be willing to bet that Trent had had a first kiss of his own once, too, and most likely his wasn’t so great, either. In fact, I bet nearly everyone at my high school had a similar story. That “learning curve of love” that I was so panicked about? It never really existed. Unfortunately, the hopeless war with my wooly hair does. It’s an uphill battle.


Krista Burton

I wish this was going to be a wonderful first-time-having-girlsex story about trust and softness and exploration and naked boobies, but my first time sleeping with a girl was…awful. And it was all my fault.

I was so ready to have sex with a girl that I would have done anything to finally do it.

You know when King Arthur pulls the sword from the stone and realizes he’s the boy king and that his whole life has been gearing up to that exact moment? That’s what my first time with a girl could have been like. A sudden realization that FROM NOW ON, LIFE WOULD BE DIFFERENT. But instead, it was dreadful— I couldn’t enjoy a minute of it. Couldn’t relax for even a second.

Because I lied. I lied to my first girlfriend. I told her I had “done it before.”

I told her this because I was so, so, so ready to sleep with her (dying for it) and I knew she was nervous to have sex with another girl and she wanted someone to “show her the ropes” so she didn’t “do it wrong.” I was terrified that she would change her mind and not sleep with me if she found out I was a virgin, so…I lied. I said I had experience.

And I did have experience!…with my own hand. How different could it be? I reasoned. She’s got what I’ve got. I know my way around MY stuff.

My girlfriend believed me, and trusted me, and…it could have been beautiful. It could have been two girls being a little nervous together and learning from each other and sharing each other’s first time.

Instead, I was in a cold sweat and panicking because I couldn’t get her bra undone and her down-there parts, mysteriously, seemed to work differently from mine.

I hate to even say this, but I don’t really even remember the actual-sex-having. All I remember is worrying about whether or not my girlfriend was buying my act, and concentrating very hard on whether or not she was having a good time. I know it didn’t last very long. It was panicked groping, it was utterly unromantic and awful, and it was all my fault for being a lying asshole.

I think your first time is important, and I would do it all over—start from scratch—if I could. You guys, don’t be like me. Don’t lie about having experience when you don’t. It’s OK to be nervous about having sex. It’s OK to admit you don’t really know what you’re doing. Having sex with a girl is lovely, and I promise, it’s not really that mysterious. Enjoy it.


Pamela Des Barres

(as told to Anaheed)

The first man I ever had sex with was Nick St. Nicholas. But before that I performed many oral favors. My first boyfriend, Bobby Martini, had introduced me to the joys of oral when we were still in high school. At that point I was saving my virginity to marry him. Then I went to Hollywood and got all wrapped up in the crazy world of rock music, and musicians. I was a very sensuous girl, and I fooled around with a lot of boys, including Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Keith Moon, Captain Beefheart, Noel Redding from Jimi Hendrix’s band, and all the members of Iron Butterfly.

It was a very free-spirited time—there wasn’t a lot of pressure to go all the way. Guys were content to just hang with you, make out, give head, all of that. Like with Jim Morrison—I just made out with him for hours. But I was saving the big moment for someone I really believed I loved. Nick was the bass player for a band called T.I.M.E.—Trust in Men Everywhere. He later became the bass player for Steppenwolf. He was this gorgeous blond German beauty, and a real cuckoo bird—he had his own language.

He tried to get me several times before I finally let it happen. I waited for a long time, because he was engaged to one of my best friends, Randee. She was waiting for their marriage day to give it up to Nick, but she approved of my being with him in the interim. It’s such a ’60s flower-child kind of story; it probably couldn’t happen now.

I was 19 when we finally did it. I was in love, and I decided that it was time. It was at my friend Sparky’s parents’ house—I hope they’re not reading this. Her parents were away for the weekend, and we invited Nick over to hang out, and that’s when it happened. It wasn’t what I imagined it would be, with all of the explosions that you hear about. The whole time, all I could think was Oh my god, I’m doing this. I could hardly believe it.

It was kind of like the first time I had sex with Mick Jagger. I just couldn’t get over the fact that it was Mick Jagger. He’s an incredible lover, by the way. Amazing at oral—he loved it. What a mouth! The first few times we were together I just made out with him, and he gave me huge purple hickeys up and down my thighs.

The day after my first time, Nick and I went to the beach. I remember lying in the sun thinking, Oh my god, I did it. I did it. I did it. I felt changed, like I had become a woman—all those corny feelings.

Luckily, after that underwhelming first encounter, I gave sex another chance. The second, third, fourth, fifth times were amazing. And then I became addicted to it.

Nick didn’t fall in love with me, which is what I had hoped would happen, but we kept seeing each other, and then he married Randee, and I was at the wedding. We’re all very good friends now.

I think a lot of girls rush into sex, just wanting to get it over with. That’s not the way to do it, though. I think you really need to feel luscious about somebody, and want them, and know that they feel the same way about you. And that they respect you. ♦

54 Comments

  • MissKnowItAll March 30th, 2012 3:30 PM

    This is too amazing for words. I haven’t had my first kiss yet and sometimes I feel like there’s something wrong with me. Some of my friends have already lost their virginity and I feel like I’m just really not attractive to guys. Reading this reassures me that there’s nothing wrong with not having your first kiss yet

  • Nishat March 30th, 2012 3:54 PM

    Oh… So I thought this was totally normal and was written by practically anonymous rad teenagers. And then I see Sarah Silverman’s name and proceed to freak out for 5 minutes. This is so cool. I love Sarah Silverman, and this whole article.

  • katieeleanor March 30th, 2012 4:01 PM

    i just want to say thank you to everyone who told their stories. i am eighteen and always feel like the oldest virgin in the world (especially when my friends can all discuss ‘the strangest places you’ve ever done it’) i feel happy, and reassured, and am ready to wait until the right time for me.

  • ghostlightshow March 30th, 2012 4:19 PM

    This article is absolutely fabulous. I love that all these people waited until relatively late ages–that makes me feel less weird about not having any experiences with guys until college. I actually had a similar experience to Sarah Silverman, where I thought I had sex but I really didn’t. It happens, evidently, and it’s pretty weird. It’s great to get stories like these out there when it seems like everyone is losing their virginity at young ages.

  • weetzie March 30th, 2012 4:23 PM

    thanks for this! articles like this are the reason i love rookie.

  • RockHatesMiriam March 30th, 2012 4:38 PM

    This is just too brilliant… And MIRANDA JULY!!

    http://www.pompandceremony.blogspot.com

  • havefun March 30th, 2012 4:46 PM

    I looove bethany cosentino.

  • KinuKinu March 30th, 2012 4:52 PM

    I love this……Now I know what to do and what not to do.This was super funny.I laughed so much :)I really really really really loved this ♥ ♥ ♥

  • Laia March 30th, 2012 4:57 PM

    i love all these stories so much.

  • go.outside March 30th, 2012 5:15 PM

    Ahaha I had my first kiss in a hot tub during a game of truth or dare too!

  • deemary March 30th, 2012 5:57 PM

    these stories are great! makes me think of my first year in college! what a great time to wait for. every guy is a new opportunity to channel rayanne graff!!!!!

  • Sophie10 March 30th, 2012 6:04 PM

    I’m 24 and still a virgin – never had a consensual kiss either. Not even close. There are times it bothers me (am I just too ugly, unloveable?) , and many times where it never even crosses my mind. What does bug me is when people assume I must be a lesbian, which I think is pretty offensive to women who actually are, since there are rather a lot women who like women having a lot of sex! I think maybe the lack of sex is partially to do with a subconscious reaction to a fairly unstable upbringing, but also probably just me not having a sex drive or something. I have felt passionately attracted to guys, but they’ve never liked me back!

  • meghang March 30th, 2012 6:05 PM

    bethany cosentino! i love rookie so much.

  • missblack March 30th, 2012 6:42 PM

    “Like a sexy Jesus.” Well, if that isn’t the Ideal Man, I don’t know what is. (<—- NON-SARCASM)

    This whole article is just the best. Just what I needed.

    Little&Trivial

  • FrillsAndThrills March 30th, 2012 6:48 PM

    I wish I had had this to read when I was considering having sex for the first time – it would’ve helped me out soooo much!!

  • Aubrey March 30th, 2012 7:10 PM

    Articles like these are exactly why I love Rookie so much. These girls are all absolutely amazing and articulate. Just perfect!

  • cherryblossomgirl3122 March 30th, 2012 9:51 PM

    How did you manage to recruit such legendary women to write for Rookie?????? I’m totally amazed!!!!

  • TessAnnesley March 30th, 2012 9:53 PM

    omg. pamela des barres is the BEST, I mean: “I just couldn’t get over the fact that it was Mick Jagger. He’s an incredible lover, by the way. Amazing at oral—he loved it. What a mouth!”

    OMG HOW LEGENDARY CAN ONE WOMAN BE

  • burn-your-flesh March 30th, 2012 9:57 PM

    OH MY GOD PAMELA I CAN’T . JIMMY PAGE?????????? GUH.ghjvjhk

  • LyndseyK March 30th, 2012 10:40 PM

    Oh my god, thank you! Lena Dunham is a hero, and these make me feel like my experience wasn’t as weird as I thought– let’s just say it was scheduled 2 weeks earlier, with a good friend who perhaps used me for my crush on him, and was so unsexily professional it was all but sealed with a handshake. Egg rolls were eaten and the pros/cons of Jack Nicholson’s Joker were discussed in detail afterwards. Thanks for making me feel closer to normal.

  • artobsessed March 30th, 2012 11:03 PM

    as much as i loved all the prior stores… “the FIRST time i had sex with Mick Jagger”… like, oh. that’s not INCREDIBLE?!?!

  • Antionette March 30th, 2012 11:08 PM

    This is seriously brilliant. It makes me feel so much better about being a virgin myself and it was pretty freaking hilarious.

  • pendulous-threads March 30th, 2012 11:57 PM

    Pamela Des Barres I hope to one day have as many BEAUTIFUL lovers as you one day. But for now, I’m still a virgin. A very impatient, sexually frustrated one at that. You’re so awesome I can’t take it xD

  • whodatgal March 31st, 2012 5:06 AM

    I love ROOKIE cos It’s so damn FREE <3

    http://www.opheliahorton.wordpress.com

  • Tigerlily March 31st, 2012 6:40 AM

    This was so helpful for me! I’m seventeen and my boyfriend of 15 months just broke up with me… we didn’t have sex because I wanted to wait until the end of school and i’ve been worrying about not having done it in case I don’t find anyone caring soon enough… it sounds stupid but i’m scared of going out into the world a virgin :S But this really helped :) Thanks Rookie

  • meghanj March 31st, 2012 12:53 PM

    Yesterday I was reading the purity myth (great book, everyone read it) and feeling super bummed out about being 100% a virgin but YOU KNOW it’s alright THANK YOU ROOKIE you’re the best!

  • Tyknos93 March 31st, 2012 3:34 PM

    I screamed “OH MY GAWD THATS…” for nearly every woman on this article. Jus so ya know. Thank you for this somewhat cringe-worthy and beautiful tales.

  • AprilC March 31st, 2012 4:55 PM

    I loooooove the article. Completely !!!! Rookie rules <3

  • liz890 March 31st, 2012 6:44 PM

    Thank you all for sharing. No matter how old you are and how much experience you have, these kinds of stories will always be heart-warming (and addicting). Especially coming from such inspirational people, it makes me feel more… human :)

  • isadora March 31st, 2012 8:11 PM

    Anaheed, you’re so lucky! I guess I could talk to Pamela about her sex life for the rest of my life

    • Anaheed April 1st, 2012 1:12 PM

      I could have talked to her all day.

  • Cruicked March 31st, 2012 9:05 PM

    Sarah Silverman’s description of what she wore sounds like something I would wear nowadays.

  • Brit April 1st, 2012 1:51 AM

    I would totally have had sex with Mick Jagger too.
    This is so perfect. Oh my lord.

  • irl.lizlemon April 1st, 2012 1:56 AM

    This is so refreshing to read! Definitely wish I had this to read when I was young.

  • emine April 1st, 2012 6:30 AM

    PAMELA WORDS CANNOT EXPRESS MY ENVY.

    WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE FOR MICK JAGGER TO GIVE ME HICKEYS.
    WHAT I WOULDN’T GIVE.

  • caro nation April 1st, 2012 9:07 AM

    That is the BEST ROOKIE COLLAGE I HAVE EVER SEEN.

    Sonja, I ask your permission to make that my background on every electronic device I possess.

  • Gerlin April 1st, 2012 9:46 AM

    This is perhaps the best thing Rookie’s ever done. I think this is so so so helpful for all the ladies out there! Not just the teenagers or the virgins but just, every lady ever. THANKS ONCE AGAIN ROOKIE YOU RULE

  • Olivia April 1st, 2012 3:19 PM

    J Christ this is such a good article. I read it aloud to two teen boiz in the car, SOOO many fucking lolz.

  • neon_rattail April 1st, 2012 4:54 PM

    Great article! I love so many of these women so it was great to read their personal accounts. So real, so funny, so amazing!

    http://neonrattail.blogspot.com

  • unefillecommetoi April 2nd, 2012 12:21 AM

    “like a sexy jesus” hahah
    sarah is the best.
    it’s great to see that i’m not the only one who didn’t lose her virginity ideally, but still has a good story to tell about it.

  • insteadofanelephant April 2nd, 2012 3:14 AM

    this is an awesome awesome piece. my first time was something like marshall and lily in the empire state building episode of how i met your mother. poor guy in the upper bunk…oops. no one’s first (or even second, third, so on…) is going to be perfect, i’m glad i understood that at the time. well, i’m off to have wild sex!

    instead of an elephant

  • VictoryBelle April 2nd, 2012 1:51 PM

    ummm . . . “It didn’t help that my physician father happened to be working at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic during my teenage years and I had a front-row seat to the early ravages of a poorly understood and, at the time, deadly STD.” . . . it’s still pretty deadly!?

  • Franny Glass April 2nd, 2012 4:40 PM

    Pamela Des Barres. So Jealous. No words even for it. Love this.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Caulfield-Photography/192813440729432

  • CariStereo April 5th, 2012 3:34 AM

    When I was fourteen I met Pamela Des Barres at a concert. She was such a lovely sweetheart and I’ve always thought she radiates kindness and love. Her advice in the last paragraph is perfect. Love her.

  • Catherine M April 9th, 2012 10:51 PM

    my first kiss was with a death metal roadie. he was from finland and looked a bit like legolas. i never saw him again but i wouldn’t change a thing about it.

  • soybrain April 21st, 2012 1:35 PM

    “Like with Jim Morrison—I just made out with him for hours.”

    TELL ME YOU’RE KIDDING

  • Kate M April 22nd, 2012 6:18 AM

    I have a blog called The Virginity Project that contains virginity loss stories from people from all over the world. When it came to turning it into a book, people often asked if I had any famous people’s stories. My answer has always been that it couldn’t be done. Who would want to have their name attached to their story butit seems I was wrong! This is a fabulous collection of stories Rookie and I am uber impressed. I particularly love Miranda July’s. The last line is absolutely killer. I am inspired.

    If you’d like to add your own story to my blog, please visit here: http://www.virginityproject.typepad.com

    All names are, of course, changed!

  • Marian K April 26th, 2012 8:14 AM

    This is really interesting. It really makes you think!

  • Heatheryikes May 2nd, 2012 10:15 PM

    I liked Lena Dunham’s essay the most. Very real and very funny! I also remember being scared about not knowing how to kiss!

    Making out for the first time?

  • unefillecommetoi May 11th, 2012 9:01 PM

    I relate so much to Lena! I lost my virginity three years ago, but for a while I only put my hopes on guys that weren’t intresting and now I’m thinking that it probably was because I wasn’t ready. I’m still kind of non-ready but more ready than before and I’ve realized how easy it is to find cute guys that want to sleep with me.

  • CocoLennon May 25th, 2012 9:08 PM

    Make love with Mick Jagger? I would do anything for that <3

  • ellamccartney July 28th, 2012 1:17 AM

    jimmy page? mick jagger? wow, she got around!