First time up the bum for art’s sake


Just how artful will it be when 19-year-old Clayton Pettet loses his virginity with another man, live, in front of an audience at The Orange Dot in London on April 2nd at his one-off performance of Art School Stole My Virginity.

Clayton studies fine art at Central Saint Martin where he has remained a virgin amidst sexually active peers. As far as I can tell from all the press, this event is not connected to any class that he is taking. No professors will be judging his performance. Can you imagine receiving a grade? How artful was your first time?

At the age of 19, Clayton is of age to do just about anything he likes that is legal and consensual. He could choose to live amongst gorillas in Rwanda, or he could become a Moonie in the Unification Church, or he could star in an adult film. This kid wants to get it on for the first time in front of a lot of people in the name of art and exploration of virginity. I actually don’t think it’s that newsworthy.

As a mother, however, I couldn’t help consider how I would feel if one of our kids decided to do the same thing.

These days, everything is fodder for YouTube. We have become the directors and producers and stars of our own Truman Shows. Mostly, we find all the videos entertaining and harmless. We can’t get enough of the flash mobs and surprise proposals and recordings of our teenaged kids right after they’ve had their wisdom teeth removed and they’re still a little stoned. But what of something so intimate and personal and potentially emotional as having sex for the first time?

Clayton admits that the subject of virginity has been a very sensitive topic for him. So, why would he risk playing something out for the first time in front of hundreds of spectators that could potentially be emotionally painful? Imagine opening yourself up like that… It may be physically painful, too. And what of the man friend? Will he be losing his virginity, too? Was there a casting couch for his role as sex partner? We don’t know. We also don’t know whether there will be dimmed lights or Beyoncé or tubes of pjur BACK DOOR. Will they get in the mood first over a couple of cocktails or is this more like lose-your-virginity-in-a-dark-back-room-with-an-anonymous-sex-partner kind of virginity losing? We are woefully uninformed.

Why not nanny-cam his first time at bat? He’d have the benefit of the first look not to mention the option to keep it private should he decide that he wants his experience to remain private in the end – especially if it’s in the end.

According to an interview with Dazed Digital, his parents are aware of his up-coming show and “are fine with it.” I wonder what “fine with it” means. Does it mean “We love you no matter what foolish things you do” kind of fine with it or does it mean, “Here are some poppers, Son. Knock yourself out!” kind of fine with it?

Maybe someone should tell his parents that the prefrontal cortex in our brains is not completely developed until the age of 25. Teenagers and young adults cannot help but make stupid, impetuous decisions because they’re not working with a fully formed brain! You didn’t have to select the link, did you? You were there once. You know.

In addition to being impulsive and unable to organize behavior, young adults behave more dangerously when they have an audience. Dr. Sandra Aamodt, co-author of the book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College, told Tony Cox of NPR that “a 20-year-old is 50% more likely to do something risky if two friends are watching than if he’s alone.” Think of the acrobatics Clayton may perform in front of hundreds! No, don’t. I think I just pulled something imagining it. Point is, there’s no unvirginizing himself. On the other hand, at least no one will ask him with whom he had to sleep to get his first art show.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be locking the boys in the attic until they’re 25.

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