“True sluts have to plan”: an interview with Zachary Zane
September 21st, 2023
The author of Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto talks to Vera Blossom about his adventures in bisexuality.
Zachary Zane is one of the premier sexperts when it comes to the experiences of polyamorous, slutty, bisexual men. He serves as the resident “ethical manwhore” and author of the advice column Sexplain It at Men’s Health and now offers his expertise as a veteran polyamorist in Navigating Non-Monogamy at Cosmopolitan. His writing is approachable, funny, and refreshingly frank when it comes to sex. Zane’s new book, Boyslut: A Memoir and Manifesto, tells the story of his sexual and romantic life as a bisexual man, coming to understand his identity, and the fact that it is, indeed, possible to be attracted to multiple genders. That bisexuality is real—and yes, it is also steamy and erotic.
Boyslut deliberately centers Zane’s bisexual experience to combat the sex-negative culture that inflicted so much confusion and turmoil onto his early life, despite Zane’s upbringing in a liberal, sex-positive, Jewish family in Los Angeles. In the opening chapter, a young Zane talks to his therapist about intrusive visions of naked people around him—his therapist’s big hairy testicles included—,and how his OCD triggers feelings of guilt and impurity whenever these visions occur. The therapist (whose testicles Zane cannot stop envisioning) helps him let go of the guilt, and in doing so, the obsessive thoughts and visions stop. Other chapters read like parables on the dangers of bi-erasure, how a collective lack of understanding can lead to confusion, self-harm, and substance abuse—years of denial about Zane’s attraction to men as well as women resulted in many nights of binge drinking in college. While he is obviously unafraid to explore darker topics, Zane’s comedic timing and raunchy descriptions of sex make the book genuinely fun to read, too. Boyslut is a manifesto for a sexually positive and liberated future, intertwined with his personal adventures in polyamory and self-discovery.
One evening in June, amongst the vintage typewriters and posters of literary icons of the American Writers Museum in Chicago, Zane discussed his craft and coming to terms with his OCD and sexuality. He read from the first chapter of his book, which includes the aforementioned fantasies about his naked therapist, as well as mentions of his dad’s legendarily grapefruit-sized balls. While Zane’s focus is on his experience as a bisexual man, his audience at the Chicago reading reveals his work’s wide appeal. I sat in the audience next to an interracial couple bound together by a leather leash and collar, an array of people spread beautifully across the spectrum of gender expression, a 75-year-old man who asked Zane a question about the sustainability of print media, and so many others.
Just before his reading, Zane and I spoke over the phone when I called him in the middle of this frantic book tour. Pride Month was just amping up and his life promised to get even more jet-setting, hectic, and all the sluttier. We discussed his favorite cities to have sex in, how to plan a threesome, and whether he plans to bring back his iconic sex party Bislut.
One of my favorite questions to ask fellow sluts is whether or not they keep a sex calendar. Do you love planning and organizing, or do you prefer something more spontaneous?
True sluts have to plan. If you're trying to get as many dicks, bussies, vaginas and everything as humanly possible, you can't do it spontaneously. If you have a free moment and can spontaneously hop on Feeld or a hookup app to find someone else who happens to be feeling spontaneous and free, sure, that works. But if you always play it by ear and don’t plan in advance, there's a lot of missed opportunities there.
Do you have any advice for planning threesomes? Is it usually a couple plus a singleton, or three singletons coming together?
For me, it tends to be a couple looking for a third or my partner and I adding a third, so usually a dynamic where one person is joining a preexisting couple. When I’m combining three single people, those threesomes tend to evolve into more. It’s like, might as well make it four, five, get a whole orgy going at this point. But when it’s a closed circuit, a couple plus a third, it usually stays within the reigns of a threesome.
How do you meet people looking for a threesome?
They’re relatively easy to find online, depending on what app you use. I also go to sex parties and sometimes I’ll have sex with a couple or just meet two people who I vibe with and exchange contacts. Then we’ll meet up again, just the three of us, to have sex.
You’ve previously written about ethical ways to approach a unicorn for Feeld. Do you have any dos and don'ts for approaching a bisexual guy on the apps?
Unicorns are used to being fetishized on the regular, and I think being a bisexual man is slightly different. We're not fetishized the same way. When people say, “Oh my God, I love bisexual men,” or “I'm obsessed with bisexual men,” I find it so hot. So many people actually don't want to date me because I'm a bi man. For someone to actually be turned on because of that is kind of a cool thing.
But basically, be tremendously respectful. Treat them with dignity, like you would anyone else. If you're bi or pan or queer yourself, put it in your bio so you can connect with other people over that shared identity. I love it when guys list that they are bi in their profiles or bios because I would like to date another bi guy. That's who I see myself settling down with for the long term.
Do different cities have different flavors of sex encounters?
Oh, absolutely. L.A. has the most bottoms. You go to WeHo, and everyone and their mother is a bottom, it’s pretty funny. San Francisco has the legacy of the Folsom Street Fair and that type of like, older kinky, leather community. In the Castro district you see a lot more gay men in their 50s, 60s, 70s out in the bars and clubs getting dressed up in a way that you don't see as often in New York.
In foreign countries the culture really depends on whether or not it’s illegal to be gay or to engage in same-sex behavior in that country. That gets a very different vibe than when you can be openly out. So you potentially meet a lot more closeted or discreet people. In those countries, I’m engaging more in hookups because you can’t really go out. So obviously that creates a different sexual vibe. And then places like Fire Island or Chicago during Market Days, those are places I went to and I was like, “Oh, everyone here is just kind of like down to fuck.”
What’s your favorite city for sexual adventure?
I had a ton of fun in Medellín, Colombia. The clubs I went out to there were very bisexual-inclusive. I find that in the United States it's a lot of gay spaces for gay men and straight spaces for straight people. There's very few that have the overlap between the two where bi people can feel comfortable in the space or women can feel comfortable in the space. In Medellín, the gay clubs felt more bi and queer and inclusive. So there, I had sex with just like a ton of men and a ton of women. I loved it. It was really fun.
In your book, you talk about the dearth of truly bisexual spaces. You describe one meet-up for bisexual men in Boston that was set up like an A.A. meeting with sad folding chairs set up in a circle. Then, you take matters into your own hands and throw an absolutely amazing party called Bislut, complete with food and performances and lots of bisexual joy. Will Bislut come back anytime soon?
It’s absolutely coming back, and especially after the book, people are like, “when are you going to do the next one?” It is a lot of work to throw a sex party, especially for 170 people. There’s getting security, finding volunteer consent guardians, doing the ticketing, the advertising, setting up a safe space, finding the performers. Like, it’s a lot. But after throwing that first one, I think the next one will be easier. I was super excited to throw another one, but then I was in the middle of writing and promoting Boyslut and I realized, when in the world would I have time to throw a sex party? But things will slow down after Pride Month and hopefully I’ll have done enough promo where people are just buying the book and I can focus on the sex party.
- Sex Positivity