Two years ago, like so many of us lost New York City souls, Abby Hertz was disappointed with her sex life. She’d been married for almost a decade, and as a divorcee reentering the dating scene in her early 30s, she started to notice something. Excuse her language, but there was “a lot of fucking without intimacy going on.” Startled, she decided to do something about it. Something that involved a lot of dessert… smothered all over a model’s naked, supine body. She created LUST, “a night of intense intimacy without fucking.”
The erotic event features “a sumptuous feast served off of naked bodies” (dessert included), body painting, pussy painting (we’ll come back to this one), an LED shower, rope bondage and shibari, an “interactive human candelabra” hot-wax sculpture by the artist Flambeaux, floggings, glass walking, fire, aerialism, burlesque, a gender-bending rock concert and cuddle puddle. It debuted at House of Yes on Valentine’s Day, and was such “an amazing night,” says Hertz, that she has a second installment planned for June 16.
Dinner will be served from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm on top of low-lying, human platters, and due to an intentional scarcity of silverware or plates, everybody will have to eat with their hands. Each “table” will serve a separate course, from oysters to steaks (both meat and mushroom) to skewers to sweeter treats. “Lascivious lady servants and man slaves” will encourage guests to circulate. Then, the man slaves will part the tables and cushions in preparation for the art installations and a gender-bending live performance by the all-male band Missyou (formerly Ionia). All of it will officially begin with a “sex magic ritual” performed by Hertz and three other women on stage.
To attendees, the night will feel “really intuitive and organic,” Hertz told us, but behind the scenes, it’s quite structured. Hertz, aka Lady C, is a professional event planner (she has produced the art and entertainment for Allison Sarofim’s legendary Halloween parties for eight years), and visual and performance artist who has long been involved in the fetish scene (though she was disappointed with the “in your face, sex everywhere” events she was attending in New York when she first arrived here, too).
She studied art history as an undergraduate in Florida, and at a salon in Orlando met a group of women who did fetish performance art. She started appearing with them on a regular basis, moved to New York to attend the School of Visual Arts for a master’s in critical theory, met her now ex-husband (the aforementioned artist Flambeaux; they’re still friends), and helped form Flambeaux Fire, a fire entertainment company. Together they performed around the city, country and across the world for nine years.
“My other act that I’m well-known for is actually painting my vulva and pressing it on paper,” Hertz is quick to add (told you we’d come back to it). “I’m going to do a special run of 12, because there’s only 12 VIP seats available, and then I’ll have them at each place heading at the table.” That’s right, for the center-stage VIP tables some of the oysters will be of the bearded variety, courtesy of Hertz’ “personal printing press.”
Despite the overt eroticism of the event, Hertz told us that everyone was well-behaved on Valentine’s. “I answered a lot of questions beforehand through both Facebook and the Eventbrite. People were asking, ‘Is it a toy party? Can I bring my toys? Can I get naked?’ And I’m like, ‘No, it’s not that kind of thing.’ It’s almost, but not. It’s not a sex party. It’s not really a fetish toy party. It’s a sensual event with a pretty erotic current going through it, but it’s not like everybody goes crazy.”
For this reason, Hertz said LUST is accessible even for fetish club virgins. Last time, a sanitation worker from Staten Island and his wife were in attendance along with a busboy from Bushwick and “a really diverse crowd socioeconomically, ethnically, and by age group… It was pretty amazing.” She’s already sold 75 tickets for the June 16 event, and says that it’s about a 50/50 mix of couples and singles so far.
With requests from venues in Manhattan, Los Angeles and Amsterdam for LUST already coming in, Hertz says she’s hoping to curate at least two of the events a year going forward.
LUST will take place at House of Yes, located at 2 Wyckoff Avenue, on June 16. The event starts at 7:00 pm. Ticket prices range from $75 to $185.