Sex, drugs and disease: The deadly mix (Part 1: Party and play)

Diana G. Mendoza, VERA Files

Posted at Dec 11 2017 12:47 AM | Updated as of Dec 13 2017 02:58 PM

Five naked, unconscious young men sprawled in different positions on two couches and on a carpet were captured in a series of photos on Kenjo's mobile phone. He was the first to wake up the morning after an all-night party so he took pictures before heading home.

He said one of the naked men is a celebrity, hence, the photos are on his phone for “a few-minute-keepsake” that he promised to delete. “I’m not gonna show them or post them somewhere," he said. “We have a sworn oath not to do that. Guys who violate this oath are cut off.”

Kenjo (not his real name) was the sixth in that night’s “party and play,” also called P&P or PnP that is commonly associated with men who meet up to have casual, nonstop sex aided by a mixture of narcotics, party or recreational drugs, and liquor or energy drinks. 

To males who engage in group sex, PnP has many names including “partee’ and play,” “chemsex session,” “fly high,” "rave," “slam,” “chill” and “circuit party,” all with the use of drinks and drugs that lower inhibitions, boost physical activity and prolong penile erections for sustained sex with multiple partners, which means everyone participating in the party. These are often done without protection (condoms), when they engage in what they call "bareback," during fellatio or blowjob (oral sex) and penetrative anal sex, hence, the term "bareback orgy."

Kenjo, 20, was introduced to PnP last year during a high-profile party of celebrities where a friend invited him to a smaller, more intimate bash held in another guy’s condominium unit. His initiation was quick for a newbie in the orgy circle and for someone who just had his first sex with a female at 19. He called his sexual experience "liberating, life-changing" as he had sex with the five or so other guys.

"I felt a rush that I wanted to consume, but it never stopped so I had forever to exhaust it until I think I passed out," he said in an interview. "But what I can recall is that I had sex with every guy in the group and it felt really great." 

A screen shot of a group safe invite on Grindr, a location-based mobile application for gay men.

It was through these parties that Kenjo met Migo (not his real name), 28, already a party veteran, a gatekeeper as he not only participates but organizes PnPs, which start through social media sites, apps and porn hubs that are venues for chatting, dating and hookups. Grindr is the most frequented by gay and bisexual males. There's also Planet Romeo, Lifeout, Fridae, Manhunt, Manjam, Scruff and even Twitter, Facebook Messenger and SMS or text messages. 

"Looks are premium into being invited to PnPs," said Migo. Organizers like him send invitations through chats, icons or symbols such as a capsule, code words and shout-outs like "Wanna fly?" As the moderator, he verifies the backgrounds of interested participants who send feelers by checking their online accounts, their photos (to see if they look good and have "straight features," which are preferred over effeminate looks), and their phone numbers to facilitate calls to ascertain that they "sound masculine."

While others gather in groups of 10 to 12, Migo prefers a maximum of six persons. "The smaller the group, the more intimate, more secure and safer," he said in an interview. The usual meeting place is the organizer's apartment or condominium unit. Others rent hotel or motel rooms. While many prefer a night party, there is no strict time preference. Along with coordinating the time, venue and sharing of costs, the participants talk about the drugs they want to bring, but often, the organizers have already sourced them. 

The drugs of choice are methamphetamine, also called by their slang names as meth, speed, shabu, tina, crystal or ice, along with Ecstasy or MDMA (Methylenedioxymetamphetamine), also called "mean green" or "red demon" depending on their colors. Medical experts identify both meth and Ecstasy as stimulants and euphoriants. 

Another must-bring is Viagra, a treatment for erectile dysfunction but is used for prolonged erection. The other drugs are GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate), a liquid Ecstacy that has the same effect as the pill, weed (marijuana) and amyl or alkyl nitrites called poppers. Although rare, partiers also use cocaine and heroin.

Migo said the drugs are either swallowed, smoked or inhaled. Some partiers prefer to inject meth, called "slamming," to acquire a faster high. The meth is powdered in sterile water and injected from a syringe on a vein on the bend of the elbow. They also prefer to take in the drugs with energy drinks such as Cobra or Red Bull instead of alcohol, as wine or beer interferes with and does not enhance the effects of the drugs. 

At the venue, the participants gauge each other not just to see whom they like but to determine if the group is secure. "We can't avoid appraising each other to sense if the activity is a setup or maybe, one of us is a ratter," said Migo. "Secrecy is crucial. Once you're in, you are bound by the unwritten rules." 

The group sets the atmosphere through subtle lights, music and a "blue film," a porn film usually showing fetishes, or dare games while they do the drugs and drinks. Once two males undress, couple up and start giving each other oral sex, the party is on. 

Kenjo, the newcomer, said he continues to enjoy "extreme and bizarre sex" in these parties. Migo said more partiers are getting creative, but he recognizes the danger of drug use and unprotected sex even if he indulges in it. "There were parties where some guys negotiated for condom use, but they were overruled. Dedma kami sa condoms. They're handy but we forget about them." He also recalled one instance when they rushed a guy to the hospital for overdose.

Agbulos study

There is a dearth of studies on all-male group sex in the Philippines. Behavioral experts in the US and Europe have noted and documented this phenomenon occurring in a subculture of men who prefer to have sex with other men especially in groups. In Asia, studies have been done in Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. All studies attest that this practice has been happening for decades.

In the Philippines, an academic who teaches behavioral science said in an interview, "There is nothing psychological about PnP as men who have sex with men (MSM) have individual mindsets on why they do it. It’s an invisible subculture, often with its own language, a closed secretive group that they find non-threatening and a safe environment for sexual expression."

The academic, who requested anonymity, said MSM is a term that medical experts have referred to as the "behavior, not sexual orientation" of males who practice oral and anal sex with other males but may be homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual, as some men who do not identify as gay or homosexual also engage in the activity. 

Karl Reiner Agbulos, a health social science masteral student of De La Salle University who interviewed 20 Metro Manila-based MSM for his thesis, "Chemsex: The Episodic Influence of Drug Use on Sexual Behavior among MSM (men who have sex with men) in Metro Manila" learned that drug use during PnP is a result of curiosity because sex and drugs are "socially visible and accessible." 

Also because of the "added benefits during sexual activities – they intensify sex, provide longevity and enable sexual adventurism," Agbulos said.

(To be continued)

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

(Editor's note: The author of the syndicated article, Diana Mendoza for VERA Files, and as one of the publishers of the report, decided to take down the photo with blurred images in response to complaints from some readers.)