Booty Call: "Friends with benefits"
July 7, 2002

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, c'est soir?

Oh sure, the colorfully hot film "Moulin Rouge" brought that  phrase back into vogue. Mais oui, the French aren't the only ones  taking sex casually. Europeans may have started easing our  attitudes about sex, but thanks to a term coined from the hip-hop  lexicon, American singles now are vocal about partaking in an old  pasttime.

Ring, ring. "Hello, it's Booty Call."'

That may have been the name of a forgettable Hollywood film  in 1997, but it does draw attention to the concept. Sex on call.  Literally. No demands. No relationship. Just two consenting adults  with no further expectations or emotional involvement. Hormonal?  Yes. Attachment? Big no.

Booty Call is a pop-culture term, jokingly thrown around by  those in the know. It's often devalued, maligned and  misunderstood. It's also making a serious comeback among modern  singles.

What exactly is "Booty Call," you may wonder? "Booty" itself  is a slang term for a person's derriere. "Booty call" as a verb is  used to describe the action of calling a person by phone for a  "sex-only" get-together. It's hormonally, not emotionally. Often  the call is made late at night, spontaneously and sometimes under  the influence of alcohol.

Booty Call also can be used as a noun, describing the  receiver of such a call.

Yes, Booty Call is casual. It's a la carte sex. It may be  thought of as promiscuous, meaningless or even morally wrong. But  it also contains a universally understood undercurrent of decorum.

The words "trust" and "mutual respect" often come up in the  context of Booty Call protocol. Among the other ingredients are  the use of condoms for safe sex and the designation of only one  person as a Booty Call partner. "If you have more than one person  (selected as your B.C.)," jokes my friend Trevor, "you are missing  the point."

Why would somebody willingly engage in this practice, from  either the position of initiator or fulfiller? As Trevor explains,  "It's the simplest way to sexually interact without the B.S. of  relationship expectations."

Or as my friend "Kat" recounts, "After my divorce, I had a  resurgence of a new self, free to explore a new sexuality rather  than just being a mother and a wife."

"Anita," another friend, has a less traditional arrangement.  A younger, attractive man is willing to satisfy the bedroom needs  not met by her "otherwise fulfilling in every way" relationship.  While not a "swinging" situation (two people who swap or partner  up with other people), everyone involved is aware of the agreement.

No matter what the specifics are of Booty Call situations,  they're still like eating a Twinkie. They're a momentary sugar  rush wedged in between the real nutrition of a fulfilling  relationship.

"Maybe because we're not available to each other all of the  time, there's more excitement," explains Kat. "Because of the  anticipation of the moment, we bring our best to the table."

Most often the Booty Call partner comes from a past  relationship that didn't work out. The sex was there, but the  emotions weren't.

"It's good sex that I want to hang on to," admits "Anna,"  "from someone who already knows how to please me." It's also more  practical than a one-night stand.

Adds 19-year-old Brandy, "A friend who is a Booty Call is  safer than sleeping with strangers." Some even describe the setup  as "friends with benefits."

That is, unless the intimacy dynamics change.

Problems surface when emotions get involved. When attraction  turns into affection, the rules have changed. "There can be no  infatuation. Booty Call is pretty clear on that," Kat emphasizes.  When the dynamics shift, it's clear the arrangement needs to be  renegotiated. If not, one person's heart will get hurt.

"Booty Call is an American trend because taboos are  crumbling," Trevor reports. "It's also a trend because everybody  thinks they can do it." But, like belly-flopping off a high dive,  in the end, few do it successfully, without pain.

"As long as you are upfront and honest in your  communication, there should be no regrets or remorse," confirms  "Bev." "The trouble comes when you thought you communicated  something, but the other person didn't get that clue."

Trevor acknowledges that "Booty Call is very convenient for  living a shallow existence." If the opportunity for a real  relationship presents itself and has any chance at growing into  something of "depth and significance, then you've got to let the  Booty Call go, because it will sabotage a good relationship," he  says.