Illustration by Ryan Berkley

Are YOU sexily ethical?

Hello, I'm Wm. Steven Humphrey, Mercury senior staff sexologist and ethician. As you know, every year we conduct the Mercury Sex Survey asking Portlanders to tell us excruciating details about their sexual lives. And every year, you shock us with vivid descriptions chronicling the depths of your depravity. HOWEVER! This year we're flipping the script a bit: While we still want to know your masturbation schedule, how many handjobs you deliver on a quarterly basis, and if you prefer "scissoring" or "bagpiping," this year we've decided to delve even deeper. This year, after diving headlong into your genitalia, we'll burrow up, up, up into the darkest corners of your conscience, where you make your sexy ethical decisions.

For example? Let's imagine for a moment you're a highly ranked city official who recently got busted for diddling a barely legal legislative intern of the same sex. THIS IS A HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION, OF COURSE. Ethically speaking, there are a LOT of issues to cover here: age, gender, sexual preference, dishonesty, power dynamics, and whether or not tongue kissing in a public toilet is gross.

That's where the Mercury Sex Survey comes in. It's time to find out where Portlanders stand on topics such as sex, love, ethics, and of course, bagpiping. (I'll explain later.) So what are we waiting for? Let's lube up, and dive in!

[IMPORTANT NOTE: While this poll is one of the most scientifically accurate pieces of data on the planet, our respondents aren't. Some answered the questions twice, some not at all, some passed out stinking drunk. This means that our percentages may not always add up to 100 percent. In other words, science—like sex with your first cousin—is often awkward and a little bit ugly.]


This year you filled out a record-breaking number of surveys (3,077)—that's almost 1,000 more than last year!

Most of you are 21-30 years old (61%), straight (80%), and live in North Portland (40%) or Southeast (32%). Fifty percent of our respondents were females with vaginas, while 48% were dudes with wieners. And here's something interesting: A LOT of you are SINGLE (44%)—that's 13% more singles living in Portland than last year! The way I see it, my chances of "doing you" just shot up 13%! (Along with other parts of my body. Rrrrowr, rrrowr.)

As for the 39% of you currently in relationships, you're safe... for the moment. However, if you want me to "do you," you might want to consider being somewhat less "monogamous" (an annoying 80% of you steadfastly have sex with just one person). However, there is one statistic in my favor: While 44% of you claim your current sexual relationship is either "ahhh... just right" or "so hot it burns," there's a whopping 53% who think their sexing "needs more spice" or is a downright "SNORE!" As my sexing consistently falls under the "so hot it burns" category, I would like to offer my sexing to anyone who is being under-serviced by his or her current provider. (Note: "So hot it burns" is not meant in a syphilitic way.)

After all, you and I have a lot in common! Like you, I enjoy having sexual coitus three times a week (25%) or once a week (21%) if there are some really good TV shows on. I'm also like you in that I would enjoy more "frequency" in my sexing (65%) as well as "variation" (63%). Example: Sexing with me rather than your current partner counts as "variation."

We're also alike in that we both lost our virginity when we were either 16 (17%), 17 (18%), or 18 years old (16%), and occasionally use "mood enhancers" while sexing to "grease the wheels" as it were. (Alcohol 70%, marijuana 46%, chocolate 26%. Mmmm... chocolate.) Like me, you consider yourself anywhere from "good lookin'" (42%), to "hot as a hot fudge sundae" (20%), to "the hottest piece of ass in town" (4%). Sorry, but "uggos" (5%) need not apply. If this hurts your feelings, think about it logically: When a hot person and an uggo have sex, their babies turn out all weird. It's genetics.

Oh, and do you like to masturbate? ME TOO!! Wow... it says here that you masturbate a lot. Fifty-one percent of you masturbate at least once a week—that's up from last year's 47%! (Hey, when you're single, you gotta do something besides watch Battlestar Galactica.) Not only that, 58% of you say that masturbation is something you like to share with your partner. Ooh-la-la! I'm liking the way this relationship is going!


Now let's play a little game I like to call, "What are my chances?" As in, "What are my chances of getting you to do something freaky with me?" Though I'm not the type of guy who requests a first-date handjob on the way to the restaurant—I'm no prude, either! I'm expecting a little ha-cha-cha by the third date... you feeling me? Luckily my chances are pretty good with you in the picture! If these statistics are correct (and why wouldn't they be?), on the third date I have an excellent chance of having vaginal/anal intercourse with you (55%), a better than excellent chance of receiving oral sex (58%), and at the very least I can expect some deep kissing (86%) or the aforementioned handjob (64%).

(And while 60% of you confess to having masturbated in public... I'm thinking that may be more of a "fifth date" sort of thing.)

However! As we all know, just because a person is willing do something freaky, it doesn't mean they have the required expertise. Luckily for me, you have the basics down pat. A whopping 80% of you consider yourselves "very good" at oral sex. (Nothing personal, but if my past experience is any indication, around 45 percent of you are overestimating yourselves.)

Oh! Here's a hypothetical: Let's say we've been dating awhile... oh, I don't know... maybe a week and a half? And I float the idea of doing something freaky in the sack. HOW WILL YOU RESPOND? According to the Mercury Sex Survey, you are more than willing to do something freaky with me (90%!) "as long as I'm not too pushy about it." Hey, I'm not pushing! Just let me get some Jergens lotion, a Hot Pocket sandwich, and an issue of Cat Fancy and we'll get started.


Getting back to this hypothetical "city politician diddling an intern" scandal, one of the great debates surrounding this hypothetical incident is the question, "What exactly counts as sex?" Let's say the two were tickling each other's tonsils in a city hall bathroom, and the intern was only 17 at the time. Does that count as "sexual behavior"? I'm not so sure I'd trust an attorney general to answer that question—but I sure trust YOU! In our survey, we asked you to vote on which of the following counts as "sex." Here are your answers:


Vaginal/anal intercourse = 98%

Oral sex = 68%

Scissoring (vulva-to-vulva rubbing) = 59%

Fisting = 52%

(The following answers got less than 50% of the vote, so we'll label them as...)


Titty fucking = 48%

Handjobs/fingerings = 44%

Bagpiping (penis in armpit) = 40%

Intercrural sex (penis between thighs) = 38%

Bondage and discipline = 28%

Footjobs = 26%

Nipple stimulation = 17%

Deep kissing = 9%

Okay. You people are delusional—but... okay. Just tell me this: Let's say you're a lady, and some guy is frantically rubbing his penis in between your breasts. Can you truthfully look in a mirror while this is happening and say, "I AM NOT HAVING SEX"? If so, then I respect your opinion, and would now like to address the teenagers of Portland.

Dear Teenagers of Portland: See all those things listed under "IS NOT SEX"? The adults of Portland think it's okay for you to do those—because those things aren't sex. Sincerely yours, Wm. Steven Humphrey.

Oh, and here's a confidential message to a certain Portland public official that sits in the mayor's chair in the mayor's office: Unless you fisted that kid in the city hall bathroom, you're Ohhhhh-KAY! (Because according to our survey participants, "fisting" is just barely sex.)


The following questions and your responses have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with any hypothetical scandal about any hypothetical mayor tapping a hypothetical legislative intern.

Who would you rather have sex with:

A Sam supporter = 78%

Someone from = 16%

(Today's lesson: "Moral outrage is never sexy.")

Is it okay to lie about sex?

No, honesty is the best policy = 27%

Yes, because they shouldn't be asking = 16%

Sometimes... especially to mom = 55%

(As it turns out, you occasionally lie your ass off just like politicians! 39% of you have lied to lovers about how many past partners you've had, 35% fibbed about cheating on former partners, and 26% told blatant untruths about crazy sexual acts from another lifetime. However, only 6% of you are lying about STDs—and that's the important truth, yes?)

Should the media ask questions about a politician's sex life?

Yes, the public has a right to know = 4%

No, politicians have a right to privacy = 22%

Only under extreme circumstances = 72%

(C'mon, people... that's all the Willamette Week has left!!)

People in positions of power should choose partners more carefully than the rest of us.

False = 41%

True = 56%

(Sam would check the box that says, "No shit, Sherlock.")

Is kissing a sexual act?

No, it's a romantic act = 47%

Yes, when used to initiate sex = 15%

Yes, when partners become sexually aroused = 22%

No, because bagpiping is a sexual act = 10%

(I admit it—I wrote this question just so I could include the word "bagpiping.")

Which would you prefer to imagine...

Mayor Sam Adams tapping a hot 18-year-old = 43%

Mayor Vera Katz tapping a hot 18-year-old = 12%

Mayor Tom Potter tapping a hot 18-year-old = 4%

Mayor McCheese tapping a hot 18-year-old = 28%

(How about Mayor Tom Potter bagpiping Mayor McCheese?)

Have you ever had sex in a public bathroom?

"Of course! Nature called!" = 37%

"Eww! Pee-pee and poo-poo are in there!" = 55%

[Other fun "potty sex facts": When you have sex in bathrooms, you usually do it at home (27%), in a bar (17%) or at work (12%). And you prefer your bathroom sex in a stall (19%) or sitting on or bent over a sink (24%). Am I the only one who voted for "by myself with a hand dryer"?]

You look out your window and see your neighbors in their place having sex. Do you...

Ask to join in = 2%

Scream, "Close your blinds, fatties!" = 6%

Run away giggling = 27%

Watch and diddle a bit = 59%

(We forgot the fifth choice: YouTube it! Is that ethical?)


For Portlanders, a romance between older and younger people can either be way hot or way gross—depending upon the number of years between the partners... and if you're a guy or a gal. For example, when we asked what age group you preferred to have sex with, 52% prefer to stick with your own age, 28% like older folks, while 14% dig the younger generation. BUT IN A TOTALLY UNSURPRISING TWIST: Women were in the majority of those who prefer older partners (22% vs. men's 6%), while men shockingly seem to want younger lovers (12% vs. women's 2%). Portland, in 2009, I beg you to DEFY this cultural trap! Older ladies, go snag yourself one of those PSU lacrosse players. Younger men, visit any bar in the Pearl and pick yourself up a cougar. You'll enjoy their experience in the sack, and the ladies will make good use of your disposable exuberance. EVERYBODY'S HAPPY.


The Mercury has a long, proud history of doing it with anything that moves—and yes, that includes each other. One can barely navigate our office without slipping on a discarded condom or that lubey wet spot in front of the copier. And it sounds like your workplace isn't so different: When asked if you've done it with any of your coworkers, 43% of you gasped, "NEVER!" while 49% of you have plugged anywhere from one to four workmates. However, should your office sexual shenanigans include interns? Following this latest hypothetical sex scandal, has the time-honored and very sexy practice of boning interns become... well... ethically icky?

Here's what you think: When asked if having a sexual relationship with an intern is always a no-no, 39% said it was generally okay, 29% thought it was NEVER cool, and 25% wasn't sure what to think. These numbers seem to demonstrate a general feeling of indecision on whether or not we, as a business community, should be boning our interns.

Hey... I know! Let the interns decide! We asked the Mercury editorial intern team whether or not interns should be on the receiving end of a good workplace boning. Here's what they said:

Intern Andrew: "I wasn't aware such an option was available. I really need to start attending the pitch meetings."

Intern Kamala: "Unpaid interns are there to get experience. And I'd bet that interns sleeping with an employee would be getting all kinds of experience. Probably TONS more than those who don't. Is this fair? Maybe not, but life isn't fair. If there is a full-time employee who really wants to do an intern, it's not my position to judge."

Intern Matt: "I don't think any kind of sexual relations between consenting adults should be completely off limits—though I do think intern/employee relations are a horrible idea. Sex outside the office rarely results in a positive outcome, but an intern/employer relationships seems almost guaranteed to end up in flames."

Intern Molly: "I vote that this type of relationship is NOT a no-no. I'm not a 'true' employee, so even if there were any rules against inner-office coitus (...are there?) I would be exempt. However, I'm currently not having a torrid affair with a Mercury person because I heard about the massive crabs outbreak among veteran employees, and don't want to end up with a merkin."

Wise choice, Molly! Interestingly, while the majority of our readers have not boned an intern or work subordinate and are glad about it (48%), a large enough number would still like to do it (23%), and those who did do it thought it was super hot (18%) as opposed to those who did it and then regretted it (3%)! So it sounds like we should all take Molly's advice: When preparing to make sweet sexing with an intern (or anyone for that matter), check first for a crab outbreak—then go for it!


Checking off boxes is fun, but here's our fave part of the Mercury sex survey: the write-in section where our readers really let their freak flags fly! Here are some of the best (and filthiest) answers to the following questions.

Before you die, what's something you'd like to get accomplished sexually?

"A threesome... probably the most popular response."

"I'd like to accomplish Christopher Walken. I would've preferred him 20 years ago, but I was barely alive."

"Multiple scream-inducing orgasms from a super hot, super femme lesbian."

"Orally copulating with a male dog, cat, or farm animal."

"Sex with a ghost or Bigfoot... preferably a Bigfoot ghost."

"Smallish gangbang for my wife—no more than five guys, counting me."

"Triple penetration: a penis in my mouth, pussy, and ass all at the same time and they all cum inside me."

"Threeway with Sam Adams and Beau Breedlove (duh)."

"To have sex with my boss. Whoever and wherever that may be."

"Sex in space."

"Receive oral sex while driving the Batmobile."

"Mile High Club!"

"I've already done it all."

"I'd like to have sex in a hot tub filled with Moët."

"I want to give Paula Poundstone the shocker."

"I really want to fuck two hot redheads at the same time."

"Have a friggin' fetishy S&M fuck fest with two or more babes."

"Do it with a dwarf on a deer."

"Do a guy in the butt with my strap-on."

"Die during sex."

"Being gangbanged by hot daddies."

"Being fisted."

"Bagpiping a hot Scottish woman overlooking a loch."

"A sexy she-male."

"Have a baby with someone who has good teeth and wants to stay involved."

"Banana sandwich!"

What local musicians (or bands) would you most like to boink?

"All the hotties of Menomena—but especially Brent Knopf."

"Colin Meloy, et al."

"Ew, none."

"Isaac Brock, if he lost some weight."

"Janet Weiss—chicks playing drums are SEXY!"

"Chelsea Morrisey of Dirty Mittens."

"COLIN MELOY in a skinny minute!!!"

"Every member of Starfucker."

"Glass Candy!"

"I might turn bi for Storm Large!"

"Storm LARGE. Oh my god, she makes me want to go gay just to lick all her pretty sweaty parts."

"Loch Lomond all at once."

"Malcolm Rollick!!! She's fucking hot."

"That cute gal from Reporter sure would be nice."

"The Atomic Butter Babes!"

"The Old Believers."


"Portland Christian Junior/Senior High School Girls Choir."

The sexiest thing I did in 2008 was...

"Blow a dildo on the sexiest stripper in town, while getting fucked from behind in a steam room."

"Got eaten out behind the curtain on the balcony of the Crystal Ballroom, at a MarchFourth show."

"It involved me, your mom, and a tube of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough."

"Santa-on-Santa oral sex in the parking lot during SantaCon... homeless guy kinda watched and yelled while we were doing it, but neither of us minded."

"2008 was not a sexy year."

"A cheesemongress. In the basement of work... covered in honey."

"A father and his son."

"Anal sex at the Country Fair."

"Braided my chest hair."

"Cher costume."

"Came out of the closet."

"Did it in the city hall bathroom."

"Fantasized about a coworker."

"Fucked a milf."

"Got a vasectomy."

"Got married to the most awesome sexbot on the planet."

"Had intercourse with a toaster."

"Had sex in the back of the arresting officer's patrol car."

"Naked bike ride."

"Peed on someone."

"Set the gay seed in a frat boy."

"Sex on a trampoline."

"Sat in a strawberry cheesecake and let my boyfriend go down on me."

"Slammed an eight-ball, popped two Viagra, and watched Obama's inauguration."

"Slept with the secretary for the College Republicans. It was so morally unsound... and amazing."

"Titty fucked a 36 DD."

"Watched the first season of The O.C. with my clothes off."

Where is your favorite place in Portland to have public sex?

"Forest Park (Dogwood Trail has the least amount of foot traffic)."

"Keller Fountain, filled with soapsuds."

"Pittock Mansion for its killer view and potentially echoing scream! (I'm horny now, thanks.)"

"Voodoo Doughnut, with the doughnuts."

"Ace Hotel photo booth."

"Angels, AKA Ace of Hearts."

"At the Holocene."

"City hall restroom (second floor)."

"Dressing rooms anywhere!"

"Haven't gotten there yet (sob), but I'd kinda like to screw in a parked car on Mt. Tabor."

"Historical Society! Or any farmers market. Whichever."

"I like doing it in other people's places while house sitting."


"In Laurelhurst Park's pond. Love how the toxic algae feels on my genitals."

"In the walk-in cooler at work."

"Japanese Gardens."

"Laurelhurst Park, cha-ching."


"Washington Park or the zoo."

"Mount Tabor. Get it?"

"OHSU hospital room."

"On the MAX at night."

"Overlook Park bathroom."

"Pitcher's mound at PGE Park."

"Powell's rare book room."

"The Mercury's bathroom."

"The rollercoaster at Oaks Park."