After divorcing a musician, the writer swore off her rock lifestyle. But a week on the decadent Gumball road trip made her realize that having a good time isn’t always so black and white.
I thought I left my sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll life of debauchery behind when I broke up with my ex-husband, a member of the notorious band, Marilyn Manson. The only way to get away from that was to go cold turkey: Don’t do drugs. Don’t be friends with anyone who does drugs. Don’t use “party” as a verb. Don’t hang out with people who use “party” as verb. Drink responsibly. Don’t have one-night stands. Go to bed early. Get up early. Grow up. Rinse and repeat.
I went from one extreme to another—black to white—not emotionally able, six years after a traumatic divorce, to live in the gray space that lies between.
So, when Anthony Volpe, chief marketing officer for the high-end international dating sites AnastasiaDate.com and AsianDate.com, which matches men with women from Europe and with women from Asia, invited me to join their team on the 17th annual Gumball 3000, an international road trip infamous for reaching beyond the height of debauchery, I thought, Shit. I can’t go down this road again. “It’s going to be wild,” Volpe warned. “There’s a 14-hour party plane from Amsterdam to the U.S. No one sleeps!”
This wasn’t helping my dilemma.
But, then I realized I was invited to the experience of a lifetime. Not a race, but a road rally that ran from Stockholm to Oslo, Copenhagen to Amsterdam before heading to Reno, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Death Valley, and ultimately landing us in Las Vegas. Everyone from the Saudi Prince Sultan Al Saudi to Tommy Lee to deadmau5 came along for the ride. We stopped at castles and five-star restaurants, and were treated to Champagne parties every night.
This was the bucket list I never dreamed of wanting. I was “all in” to experience everything. I dared myself to cop a “Just Say Yes” attitude. No holds barred. Game on.
Registration Day, Stockholm: “Just Call Me Steve*”
At first I feared covering a car event, having no previous interest or knowledge of cars, but I soon found out Gumball 3000 is about something more familiar: sex, drugs, and, well, not rock and roll, but the equally sexually charged world of hip-hop. My first pre-rally interview with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk cemented that sentiment, when he explained, “We have a group text going, and Clint Walker, on my team, has named it ‘Cumball 3000,’” (For the record, Hawk was not saying HE is indulging in “Cumball” behavior.)
Later that night after having drinks with other Gumballers, I spotted a guy smoking a cigarette outside a club who was just my type: a six-foot-three, scrappy-looking blond Swede. Tall is novel. Novelty gives you a wicked dopamine high. I instantly lit up. “That one!” I declared pointing straight at the guy. Instead of suppressing my sexual power like I sometimes do to be a “good girl,” I decided to unleash it. In less than four minutes, the 23-year-old was on my arm and on the way to my hotel bar. But between my tipsy state and his thick Swedish accent, I couldn’t decipher his name. After I failed to get it when he patiently sounded it out phonetically for me, three times—even spelling it out s-l-o-w-l-y—he finally gave up and said, “Just call me Steve.”
You never know what you’re going to get with a one-night stand. Hand to God, I’ve only had three in my life, so it’s still quite foreign and a bit scary for me. At first, “Just Call Me Steve” couldn’t get me on the bed and stripped naked fast enough. But then …
“Wait, what just happened?” I asked, staring at his suddenly limp penis. “Oh my God. What’s wrong?”
His ice-blue eyes start to well up. “I’m sorry. This keeps happening. I just broke up with my girlfriend and I wanted to marry her, but she wasn’t ready. All I want to be is married,” he said, tears streaming down his perfectly chiseled face.
“Listen, you are only 23. I believe the Universe gives you want you need when you need it. She’s not your wife because someone else is meant to be,” I assured him, now kissing the tears from his perfect face and running my pointy, long fingernails through his shaggy, dirty blond hair.
I don’t know if it was the my expert relationship advice, the face licking, or my magic fingers, but “Just Call Me Steve” finally rose to the occasion not once, but twice. It was worth the wait. But, great sex aside, I never expected to share such a profound moment with a stranger. I actually think I helped him. Maybe one-night stands are more about connecting with someone when you or they need it most.
I bragged about my conquest the next morning at breakfast—not in an egomaniacal way, but more as a feminist statement. Gumballer men are bragging about their hookups. Why aren’t women? Or if and when we do, why are we slut-shamed? I don’t feel slutty. I feel empowered. I feel equal. I feel free.
Day 2, Oslo: A Lesson in Sexuality Abroad
The “Cumballers” were quick to entertain me with their sexual escapades, complete with Snapchat videos and photos. The Gumballers’ stories usually played out like this tale: “Last night three of us brought seven girls back to the room after the party and one girl asked, ‘What are we going to do?’ I told her, ‘We’re going to drink Champagne, have a lot of fun, we’re all going to have sex with you, and we are going to film you. Are you okay with that?’ One by one, they all said yes,” he said.
“Why would a woman do this?” I asked the guy.
“Because she likes it,” he said.
“I don’t get it. It’s degrading,” I pressed.
“Says who, society? European women are different than American women,” he said. “There is less shame or taboos. They are more open-minded. You’re judgmental.”
“Okay, I’ll let that marinate for a bit.”
I kept grilling people about this. A few days later at a stop in Death Valley, I caught up with actor/model Tyson Beckford to chat about sexy stuff. “Yeah, there really is a cultural difference,” he told me. “I normally date outside the U.S. because they are less jealous and more sexually open.”
I’m starting to “get it.”
Day 3, Copenhagen: “Clint Crazy”
Since my first one-night stand of Gumball wasn’t as great as it could’ve been, I was excited to run into skateboarder Clint. “I want you to come home with me tonight,” he declared at the bar. “Maybe, I will,” I replied, trying to play hard to get. I’m sure he saw right through it.
Sex with strangers is hotter. They treat you with a primal force that a guy who really cares about you would never dare. Clint had this down—the perfect pressure of his hand on my throat, just the right amount of yank when he grabbed a fistful of my hair from behind, just hard enough to pull me up off the bed. And the perfect amount of thrust …
Men need to understand that sometimes a woman wants to have sex with a guy who isn’t overly sensitive to her feelings. Sometimes, we want you to overpower us. Sometimes I want that. In fact, 62 percent of women admitted to wanting to be “overpowered by a man,” in a study published in the Journal of Sex Research in 2009.
Day 4, Gumball Air: Debauchery at 37,000 Miles High
My head is tilted back and my mouth is opened wide like a baby bird waiting for her mother to spew nutritious goo in its mouth. The goo here was tequila. At nine a.m. It was my idea to hit the duty-free shop at the Amsterdam airport to stock up on liquor just in case the plane ran out of booze. Which has happened on a past Gumball Air flight—we couldn’t chance that.
As I bounced up and down to the sounds of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” someone passed me a vape; I took a hit. I turned down two Mile-High Club invitations because, well, I’m already a member and I was just too drunk and high.
It was a little too perfect that our flight landed at exactly 4:20 p.m.
Day 5, Buttonwillow, CA: Camaros Are Great Foreplay
I got to check off another bucket-list item: Riding super fast in a $100,000 sports car, a sexy new Dodge Viper, and a vintage muscle car (Team AnastasiaDate and Team AsianDate, major sponsors of the rally, had two 1969 Camaro Z/28s). In the backseat of this vintage beauty, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the car vibrates, very intensely, hitting every part of my body that counts. I got out of the car, declaring, “I need to have sex now! That was 2.5 hours of foreplay.”
The Final Night, Las Vegas: “Exhibitionist? Check!”
This time I didn’t just stand in the VIP booth pumping my fist in the air, I actually hit the dance floor with the ladies to “dance” to Diplo’s amazing set at club XS for our final night of partying. I’m not a dancer, but decided, “The heck with it. I wasn’t a one-night stander either.” I also wanted one final tryst and before I went home.
Men need to read non-verbal cues from a woman like the young media executive I just met. My devilish smile gave him the green light to put his hand on my knee as we chatted about work. We walked through the crowd into the club, and he put his arm around the small of my back, which was met with a sexy side-glance smirk from me. As we walked up the stairs to yet another Champagne-filled VIP suite, he slipped his hand up my short mini-dress and copped a feel of my ass. Three simple moves, and it was game on.
At the end of the night, we stumbled out of the club a little drunk and pretty worked up for each other. The second we got into the taxi, we started going at it. I looked up and saw the bright lights of the Vegas strip shining a virtual spotlight into our taxi, and we were stopped at a red light with dozens of tourists peering in. I like public sex, but I’ve never been caught in the act before. I can now check of “Be an exhibitionist” from my bucket list.
In the end, I figured out that life doesn’t have to be lived as black or white, this or that, wild or tame. Visit the world of debauchery occasionally, but don’t live there. I also have a broader understanding of how other cultures live, love, and fuck. I feel less judgmental.
Try it. I dare you. No, I double-dog dare you.
Main photo courtesy of Another Brother
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