The art of losing virginity. Seriously?!

Meet Clayton Pettett, a young aspiring artist. This cute guy is going to publicly lose his virginity to a man at a London art gallery.

Previously, public sex has been criminally prosecuted or at least frowned upon. In most instances the police could not help themselves from becoming involved.

In Redditch, an electrician was jailed for having sex with cracks in cobbled pavements, in 1993. Having lived in a town that was named after a gutter, the guy was destined to get shortcircuted. A few years later another gentleman was sentenced for sexually abusing his own bicycle in his own hotel room.

In 2008, Mr Daniel French, (have you noticed that whenever a scandal occurs of a sexual nature the French have to be mentioned, a clear definition of one upmanship you might say), was arrested for having sex with fence railings on Leicester Square in London. As one newspaper commented in the stiff-upper-lip English, “At court, Mr French angrily denied making romantic overtures towards the fence”. This indignant denial didn’t help Mr French to mollify the English court though.

The US has not been immune to this kind of eccentricity. Four years ago a father of three was prosecuted for having sex with his own plastic garden table (you know, they have that hole in the middle for inserting a parasol), in the yard of his own home, when he thought he was alone. Of course his neighbours called the police. I mean, you know these archetype American next-door characters. They always watch you from the attic. The local police captain (yeah, that’s the guy in the picture) said, “Once you think you’ve seen it all, something else comes around”.

I’ve not checked out Catholic societies, but I assume a Swiss Guard in Vatican may react on autopilot with his halberd to such an offence, changing the offender’s sex without the obligatory psychotherapy course. Or maybe his bright harlequin costume and the way that he provocatively holds his mighty staff alludes to more a tolerant empathetic behaviour.

Having sex with inanimate objects (man + object), publicly, is not far from a public loss of virginity (man + wo/man), especially if you look at it from the plastic table’s point of view. The table, as well as the cobbled pavement in Redditch did have the flower of its innocence withered (pardon my Shakespearean).

The guy who announced his loss of virginity will be parting with it within a gallery space during five days, in the presence of 100 spectators. He believes these circumstances make it art, with the message on the social importance of virginity or the lack of it, or the loss of it.

I’d say, having sex for five days is more a medical, rather than artistic achievement. I urge any medical professionals who happen to read this blog and be in London when the event will be taking place, to attend. A defibrillator may come in handy. Perhaps Kleenex or Pfizer (Viagra) could sponsor the event.

On the artistic side of it, is losing virginity really a problem today, I mean, in London? This event has nothing whatsoever to do with loss and everything to do with gaining! Gaining experience, fame, and sexually transmitted diseases that have got fancy long names to them. The latter is an important step to realise that STDs with simple abbreviated names are better be avoided. Tracy Emin said it all. She’s got her Turner prize for it, for saying it out loud.

There are many more subtle and interesting ways to talk about virginity than having sex in public.

If I wanted to say something new about virginity, I’d think of parents’ collective letter to the makers of the WoW (World of Warcraft) that would consist of a single sentence. “Thank you, the makers of WoW for preserving the virginity of our nerdy sons!” Guess how many signatures that open letter would be collecting!

I could provoke public debate with the topic, “A girl who preserves her virginity until her wedding day risks preserving it until she’s put in a nursing home. Or not?”

I guess I could have the U.N co-sponsoring the conference, “Fighting for Peace. Isn’t it the same as having sex for virginity?”. Oh wait we did that before in the 1960’s under the banner ‘Make Love Not War’, and look where it got us, more war and H.I.V. Hmmmm, maybe not !

Performance arts could benefit from a march through Piccadilly (5th Ave/the Red Square) with the banner “Remember, those who die virgins get to the paradise of islamic extremists!” There would be a helluvalot of fight about virginity, sexuality, and religious beliefs from this one act alone.

Public sex with another human being as artistic method is plain dumb, commercially. You can’t take it to the Venice Biennale. You can’t sell it to the Qatar Foundation. Roman Abramovich won’t be interested. No American billionaire regardless of his or her eccentricity would want to come close. It can’t even help future sales. First, there would be no more virginity to peddle around, second, who would want to have an artwork whose author is best described by “that’s the guy who was publicly shagged by another guy”?

As Khrushchev used to say to Kennedy during the Caribbean crisis, “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine”. I don’t think art should have any boundaries, except if it comes anywhere close to injury or murder, including self-inflicted wounds and suicide.

I am OK with artists poking at public notions of what is moral and what is not.

Unless the poking is done by the artist’s genitals.

That’s too nakedly obvious.

Expressive art is by nature intended to arouse an emotional response, anger, fury, disgust, but does simple disdain qualify?

I think not.

I might have missed some subtext here, though. I might have overlooked a profound thought buried deep down there, in the act.

Is this public loss of virginity Art, for you personally? You don’t have to justify yourself to view if you don’t want to. Just let me know if it is or is not. Please.


  1. I really like your discussion on the commercial viability of public sex. It’s good to know other people put ‘art’ through a similar analytic prism.

    1. Vasari believed ambition (i.e.desire for fame) is just one of four factors that can make up a great artist. I am afraid this guy’s talent stops at ambition. Short-term attention? Yes, he got it )

  2. They have these ‘art’ shows in South America, but they use a wo/man and a donkey.
    They don’t call it art though; they call them shows. I’ve never been to one, and I never will.
    The man in your article is selling sex. It can be displayed and/or performed, but it isn’t art.
    If we are to redefine pornography i.e. the act of watching people have sex as art, then we lose both definitions; and it cheapens what true art is.
    I can dress a pig up in a costume and call it art, but it is still a pig wearing a dress.
    I guess I just made my point.


    1. Thank you – you didn’t just make your point, you drove the nail in the coffin of porno parading as art )

      And, oh my god, I’ve never heard of the donkey-woman shows.

  3. great blog post! if we are talking about it….expressing our oppinion’s, and the act is already soliciting emotion in our response to the piece, then surely he has met his objective? Whether it is or is not Art almost becomes incidental when a gallery donates space to this provocative public act…….and we as fools look on….?

    1. Whether something is art depends on each one’s personal definition of what is art ))
      That’s why I asked the personalised question: Is it art for you or not. For me, it is not. It is a shocking event (regardless of where it takes place) that doesn’t resonate with me. I was curious if someone would find it personally relevant. I don’t think the fact that we talk about it makes it art: we discuss miliions of things, like what to cook for dinner. It doesn’t make dead chicken art.

      Thank you for your reblog: you made a wonderful typo there, actually, that made your comment a very sophisticated pun. It is really impossible to be losing virginity during 5 days, but it is possible to have it LOOSENED in the first four.

      Was it a typo or intended? ))

      Thanks again for your thoughts!

  4. No, it’s not art. It’s a dumb and pathetic attempt to gain publicity in the hope of becoming “a name” like the most appropriately mentioned Tracey Emin for example. In addition to what djgarcia94 said, and which is spot on, I keep wondering why “performances” take place in visual art spaces and not in theaters, bars etc? You can have a little virginity-loss show during the intermission for example. As long as it is in the theatre building, it should be art, right? Notably, none of the other art forms – theatre, music, ballet etc. has prostituted itself the way visual art has done. Maybe the point of this performance is not about a human being losing his/her virginity, but rather how much more buggering visual art can take.

    1. We seems to be in sync…

      “I keep wondering why “performances” take place in visual art spaces and not in theaters, bars etc?”

      They have these kind of theatres in Thailand, I hear.

      Thank you!

  5. to me – he’d better nail his scrotum, I would at least say he was an idiot )) Now he even didn’t spoil my late lunch, will forget about him right after a soup. I wish one day he found some better way to a- deliver his ideas if he has any and b- to use his ability to have sex, i mean just body+soul satisfaction to be clear )

  6. Its not art. can relate to that police officer. Just when I think performance art couldn’t stoop to any lower depths, it does. He should go a step further and eat a human testicle or allow the audience to cut him with shards of glass. Oh wait, been done. The problem with this young man’s little project is painfully obvious, but you state it very eloquently as always. Personally the fact that ANYONE would voluntarily go to see such a “performance” let alone pay to see it is most disturbing. And if its done over five days, wouldn’t he only be losing it on the first performance?

    1. “And if its done over five days, wouldn’t he only be losing it on the first performance?”

      You might be spot on. Perhaps, the issue of men having no physical aspects of losing virginity is the key idea of this performance? )) I don’t know if this simple truth is in need of any proof or “exploration” though.

It would be grand to hear from you now!

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