‘Party and Play’ (PNP), or as its better-known chemsex, is a subculture of recreational drug users who use drugs to enhance sexual activity. Normally associated with gay men, which places them in a high-risk situation of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by having unprotected group sex with large numbers of sexual partners. The drug of choice is normally methamphetamine known as ‘Tina’ which is used to increase sexual desire and allows users to engage in non stop sexual activity for several days, unfortunately is very addictive and can have severe side effects! Drugs can also include mephedrone, a mild sexual stimulant that has effects similar to cocaine but longer lasting, GBH, known to the general public as the ‘date rape drug’ or liquid ecstasy and GBL which has similar effects to alcohol.
William Fairman and Max Gogarty have directed and produced a full on documentary about this rising phenomenon called Chemsex (2015). This very powerful film follows the life of a group of vulnerable men who become trapped in a vicious circle of sex, drug addiction and dependence and how their lives have been affected by this modern trend. With the help of modern technology and various ‘hook-up” apps and dedicated websites, like grindr and Bareback Real Time, these group sex activities are able to be arranged and would not just involve traditional sex but erotic play and experimentation. An increase in HIV rates has been blamed on the growth of PNP activities.
The idea for the film came from a Vice.com article in 2013 and what started as a look at a health care emergency soon evolved into investigation into PNP and sadly as the directors have stated ‘It wasn’t the sex or the drugs that shocked. Neither was it the danger or the consequences. It was the realisation that, for the majority of people, it was intimacy and not lust nor hedonism that was the driving force behind their behaviour’.
Never an easy viewing experience Fairman and Gogarty’s brave documentary does give a very interesting insight into the dark and sad side of the modern urban gay scene. Those of you with an open mind should increase your awareness and watch this thought provoking movie