Party and play (PnP), also called chemsex or wired play, is the consumption of drugs to facilitate or enhance sexual activity. Sociologically, it refers to a subculture of recreational drug users who engage in high-risk sexual activities under the influence of drugs within sub-groups. This can include unprotected sex during sessions with multiple sexual partners that may continue for days.
The drug of choice is typically methamphetamine, known as crystal meth, tina or T, but other drugs are also used, such as mephedrone, GHB, GBL, and alkyl nitrites (known as poppers). The term slamsex is associated with users who inject the drugs.
Some studies have found that people participating in such sex parties have a higher probability of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, by having unprotectedsex with large numbers of sexual partners. For this reason, it is considered “a public health priority”.
The practice is nicknamed “party ‘n’ play” (“PNP” or “PnP”) by some participants. Others refer to it as “high ‘n’ horny” (“HnH”). One academic study calls the practice “sexualized drug use” or SDU.
The term PnP is commonly used by gay men[failed verification] and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in North America and Australia, while the term chemsex is more associated with the gay scene in Europe.
Methamphetamine is often used recreationally for its effects as a potent aphrodisiac, euphoriant, and stimulant. It has been further described that “an entire subculture known as party and play is based around methamphetamine use.” Gay men belonging to this subculture will typically meet up through internet dating sites to have sex. On such sites, men often include notations such as “chems” or “PnP”. Since stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine drastically delay the need for sleep, increase sexual arousal, and tend to inhibit ejaculation, PNP sexual encounters can continue for many hours or even days.
Methamphetamine taken in excess of amounts prescribed or recommended will prolong symptoms of intoxication for up to eight hours. In some cases, these sexual encounters will sometimes occur continuously for several days along with repeated methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine is used to create euphoria, “heighten sexual appetite”, and increase sexual stamina. The crash following the use of methamphetamine in this manner is very often severe, with marked hypersomnia.
Ketamine is very different from the main chemsex drugs, as it is a dissociative hallucinogen that distorts perceptions and creates a sense of detachment. Ketamine is used in chemsex encounters to “improve the experience of receptive anal intercourse or fisting”.
A study of sauna participants in Barcelona, Spain, in 2016, found that the most commonly used drugs in chemsex are “GHB/GBL, cocaine, ecstasy, silver bars (MDMA), poppers and Viagra”.
A 2014 study on chemsex in London, UK, indicated that the drugs associated with chemsex include mephedrone, GHB/GBL, crystal meth, ketamine, and cocaine.
Internet posts by men seeking PNP experiences often resort to slang to identify what drug they are partying with. These drugs tend to inhibit penileerection, a phenomenon known by the slang term crystal penis or tweaker dick. Consequently, many men who engage in PNP use erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil, vardenafil, and tadalafil.Imodium is often taken by participants in passive anal sex in order to be clean for longer.
For some PNP participants, substance use may facilitate a process of “cognitive disengagement” from the fears and stipulations associated with sex in the time of HIV/AIDS. Popular discourses of “disinhibition” provide a commonly accepted alibi for activities engaged in when under the influence of stimulants.