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Peter Fendi scene erotique

Peter Fendi, 1835

Group sex is sexual behaviour involving more than two participants at the same time. The main focus of this page is group sex among humans; however, group sex also exists with other species in the animal kingdom -- e.g., bighorn sheep and bonobos.

Any and all sexual behaviour performed by two people can be a part of group sex, as well as a number of behaviors only possible with more than two people. Group sex involving one participant being penetrated by multiple people is sometimes termed a gang bang.

The same safe sex considerations that apply to one-on-one sex apply to group sex, for the same reasons. People who have group sex may have higher numbers of sexual partners, and may for this reason be more likely to have sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or to be at risk for STIs than those who have fewer sexual partners.

Group sex occurs amongst people of all sexual orientations and genders.

Group sex in contemporary culture[]

Group sex may involve three or more people of any gender or sexual orientation. The events themselves may be characterized by sex; for example, a straight group sex session would involve only heterosexual sex. Some venues for group sex may be intended for a particular group or groups of people; for example, many sex parties in the United States are restricted to women or couples and its in these parties homosexual contact between women is common[How to reference and link to summary or text]. In the gay male community, there are nightclubs, bath houses, and internet groups that organize and participate in group sex. Different types of group sex may or may not involve switching partners[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Some sex clubs, for example, require entrants to come in pairs and do not typically involve actual physical contact between people in different pairs. Group sex may involve a specific set of sexual activities; for example, some involve BDSM, while "tobylove" and "vanilla" group sex does not.

Main article: swinging

In many cultures, public intercourse is considered taboo and is illegal (see indecent exposure); many groups also frown upon sex that is not monogamous. Group sex often take place in private or clandestine locations, including homes, unpopulated areas like forests, abandoned buildings, or private clubs. Oddly enough, in the original definition of the word, the French origin actually points to a drinking activity between three or more people in which they ritually remove their shoes. Sex clubs are often open to members only, while less formal locations (truck stops, wooded areas, churches) may be semi-secret. Group sex also sometimes takes place in nightclubs, bathhouses, massage parlors, or bars, although such places (particularly those frequented by sexual minorities[How to reference and link to summary or text] such as gays or lesbians in countries intolerant of homosexuality[How to reference and link to summary or text]) are sometimes subject to legal repercussions. Group sex may be a part of other social activities such as parties, although some venues such as gay bathhouses tend to eschew talking.

The possibility for awkwardness among friends, significant others, or strangers at group sex is often cited as a problem with them, particularly in relatively spontaneous incidents of group sex such as drunken group sex among friends. Among heterosexuals, the relative availability of men and women is also a concern for participants, as social stigma or other factors structures the extent to which many men or women feel comfortable being promiscuous.

In spite of (or due to) the stigma against group sex, participation in group sex is a common fantasy, although regular participation in group sex remains uncommon in most cultures.

Sociological not biological factors may severely limit group sex participation. Women may be less likely[How to reference and link to summary or text] to admit an attraction to impersonal sex, multiple sexual partners, and sexual variety for its own sake, whereas men are more likely to admit interest in these sexual possibilities. Accordingly, in most situations, the number of men who want to participate in group sex greatly exceeds[How to reference and link to summary or text] the number of women. Additionally, most men and women are subject to sexual jealousy[How to reference and link to summary or text], an emotion that can be intensely uncomfortable, and sometimes evokes hostility or aggression. Although the fantasy of group sex can be titillating for many couples[How to reference and link to summary or text], it should be noted that enactment can result in irreversible emotional trauma or damage done to the relationship, and for this reason many couples prefer to use sex toys rather than live partners.[How to reference and link to summary or text]


There is little reliable information about group sex-related behavior in the United States in recent times. Information about remote times and places is even more scanty. The Kinsey Reports represent one of the better known data sets. This information, collected between 1948 and 1953, from interviews with about 10,000 people suggests that this kind of sexual activity is uncommon. Many forms of sexual behavior were reported by Kinsey's subjects, but the official Kinsey Reports web site does not mention threesomes, group sex or group sex in the summary of Kinsey's findings. Presumably, such reports were too scanty to mention.


Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, group sex is widely considered a dangerous activity, precipitating crackdowns on venues where it takes place. In response to the threat of sexually transmitted infection, some people have begun to organize safer sex parties in order to give people who enjoy group sex a risk-reduced way to participate in it. Such events typically do not involve intercourse or sex without necessary barrier methods such as condoms, focusing on group masturbation, protected oral sex, the use of sex toys, or other activities involving minimal risk of STI transmission. Many venues where group sex often take place provide condoms, dental dams, latex gloves, lubricant, or other tools for safer sex to participants. However, sex involving potential fluid exchange is considered a major risk factor for HIV or other diseases.

Consent can also be an issue for participants of group sex, because individual participants may not want to perform certain acts (for example they may only want non-penetrative sex) and it can be difficult to establish clearly defined boundaries before group sex begins. Most organized forms of group sex impose restrictions or use customs to ensure that all sex involved is consensual; for example, some groups have specific non-verbal cues (eye contact, hand gestures) used to communicate consent or lack thereof. Furthermore, alcohol and other drugs may be seen as risk factors for unwanted sexual contact during group sex. While the term “orgy” is used to refer to consensual group sex, it (and other terms such as "gangbang" or "pulling a train") can also be used to refer to sexual assault committed by a group.

Sexual positions and combinations possible only in group sex[]

An illustrated list of possible group sex positions is given at list of sex positions for group sex.

Initialism codes[]

A system of initialisms has evolved to describe the variety of group sex arrangements. These codes can appear in erotic literature and film descriptions, member profiles in online communities, and personal ads. These codes consist of arrangements of the letters M (for male) and F (for female). Adjacent letters explicitly signify sexual contact between the participants represented by those letters, though this does not necessarily mean there is no contact between the other participants. For example, MMF would signify a ménage à trois of two men and one woman in which the center male has sexual contact with the other male and the female, and in which it is not specified whether there is contact between the female and the other male. MFM (situation pictured in photo to right), on the other hand, implies no same-sex contact.


Peter Fendi portrayed group sex in lithography, c. 1834

Variations on this system exist that use case to convey more information. Within the BDSM and D/s subcultures, upper and lower case letters can signify dominant (or top) and submissive (or bottom), respectively.


Main article: Bukkake

Bukkake is a group sex practice seen in pornography where a series of men take turns to ejaculate on a kneeling recipient. At the end of the process, the recipient may drink the semen. Supposedly, bukkake has been around for thousands of years, initially invented in Japan as a punishment for sexual misbehavior by women in a town.[How to reference and link to summary or text] However, the credit to its first filming can to adult filmmaker Kazuhiko Matsumoto in 1998. Bukkake originally became a porn trend because of the mandatory porn mosaic in Japan. Since the directors could not show penetration they had to figure out new, visually appealing ways to approach sex acts that would satisfy the audience without violating Japanese law. Bukkake is not and never has been confined to pornography. Some women have gone public regarding their sexual enjoyment of bukkake; one prominent example is Catherine Millet. But women are not the only ones that seem to like bukkake. Some men have testified to the fact that they themselves like bukkake. They say when they feel the hot, creamy, white liquid drip down their faces, a closer bond is formed with their partner.

Group sex in popular culture[]


  • (1932) - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • (1949) - Sexus (The Rosy Crucifixion) by Henry Miller
  • (1961) - Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
  • (1973) - Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • (1975) - Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach
  • (1991) - American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  • (1995) - Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • (1998) - Les Particules Élémentaires by Michel Houellebecq


  • (2002) - The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine Millet


  • (1933) - Design for Living
  • (1970) - Performance
  • (1971) - A Clockwork Orange
  • (1972) - Fritz the Cat
  • (1974) - Flesh Gordon
  • (1976) - Salon Kitty
  • (1979) - Caligula
  • (1983) - Rumble Fish
  • (1990) - Flesh Gordon II
  • (1994) - Threesome
  • (1996) - Primal Fear
  • (1998) - Wild Things
  • (1998) - Requiem for a Dream
  • (1998) - Idioterne
  • (1999) - Eyes Wide Shut
  • (2000) - Almost Famous
  • (2000) - American Psycho
  • (2001) - Rock Star
  • (2001) - Y tu mamá también
  • (2001) - Zoolander
  • (2002) - Swingers
  • (2002) - Laurel Canyon
  • (2002) - Bible Black
  • (2002) - Ken Park
  • (2002) - Senso '45
  • (2002) - Gangs of New York
  • (2005) - Where the Truth Lies
  • (2005) - Cold Showers

Prevalence of group sex[]


A "table" threesome

While group sex is common as a fantasy, the actual prevalence of group sex is unknown. Some dismiss group sex as a phenomenon confined to pornography. This is demonstrably false, as shown by the existence of various private sex clubs that practice various forms of group sex. There are many people who openly recount their group sex experiences. Moreover, many pornographic movies are simply documentary recordings of unscripted sex acts performed as much for fun as for money. For example, a great deal of homemade pornography fits this category. Group sex activity appears in documentary pornography, such as homemade pornography produced by erotic affinity groups.

See also[]

References & Bibliography[]

Key texts[]


  • Partridge, Burgo (1960). A History of Orgies.


Additional material[]



External links[]

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