Can You Have Sex With a Ghost? And Other Odd Questions for the Playboy Advisor

The first in a series of the most unusual questions ever sent to the Playboy Advisor (est. September 1960). In this edition the Advisor answers questions about the afterlife, revenge porn and one man's obsession with lipstick on the rim of a beer glass.

Q: Can you have sex with a ghost? I have a friend who insists the spirit of her dead husband visited her in the night.—K.T., Indianapolis, Indiana

Advisor: There are many possible explanations for what your friend experienced, including a waking dream. The least likely is a visit from her deceased spouse. The notion that the dead can satisfy the living dates at least to the Middle Ages, when virtuous women reported being brought to climax while alone at night by incubi (demons who attack men are succubi). One priest sent to rescue a 20-year-old maiden noted she "seemed rather to be afraid of being delivered," and Chaucer observed that the incidents became less common after visits by wandering friars who specialized in assisting lonely wives. Besides religious guilt, chicanery also may be involved. In 1976 a medium from Florida, M. Lamar Keene, co-wrote a confessional in which he explained the deceit behind instances of "astral necrophilia." He recalled a colleague who boasted of being "a whore in the séance room if the occasion arises" and noted some clients who were led to believe a spirit could draw ectoplasm from the medium to produce—always in pitch-darkness—the body of a dead spouse or lover. The client would have intercourse with this body and find it satisfyingly solid and responsive. Keene said he was filling in for a female colleague when a customer asked him to produce her late husband for sex. It turned out the other medium had been penetrating the woman in the dark with a dildo. Keene also recalled a psychic who would masturbate while his "spirit guide" extracted from female clients lurid details of their sex lives.

Q: After the girl I dated in college became a widow, we got together again. On the two occasions we had sex, my penis went limp after two thrusts. She dumped me for another man. Several years later the same thing happened with another widow. I'd never met the husband of the first woman; the husband of the second was an acquaintance. I've slept with two other women (nonwidows) without problems. Do men leave some sort of phallus-repelling substance inside their wives' vaginas? If so, what's the antidote?—W.K., Los Angeles, California

Advisor: You don't give your age, but we suppose some men do well with this demographic. (Nearly 60 percent of women 65 and older are widowed, divorced or otherwise single, versus 29 percent of men.) Because you perform okay with women who aren't widows, we suspect your anxiety was caused by the feeling that you were being watched. Let's hope there are more entertaining things to do in the afterlife than that.

Q: My girlfriend of many years passed away six months ago. I have many explicit photos of her, and they still turn me on. Is it morally, emotionally or ethically wrong to masturbate to them? Sometimes it seems ghoulish.—T.H., St. Louis, Missouri

Advisor: Not at all. You own your fantasies. And you can't help remembering her fondly in a number of ways, including as a lover.

Q: What are the legalities of "revenge-porn" sites, on which nude photos submitted by ex-lovers are posted alongside screenshots of the person's Facebook profile? What rights do you have in this situation?—E.F., Las Vegas, Nevada

Advisor: A word to the wise in the digital age: If you snap nude photos of yourself, make sure you're holding the camera. That's because the only chance you have to get images taken down quickly is to claim you own them and that the site is violating your copyright. Beyond that, notes the advocacy group Without My Consent, which provides resources for victims, there is "no clear path to justice." To see how this works practically, consider Hunter Moore, the founder of Is Anyone Up?, a site he once filled with nudes of men and women, with names and personal data attached. His site elicited hate mail and legal threats (which Moore also posted). One woman who had been exposed stabbed him in the shoulder as he walked to his mailbox. Moore has argued that he posted only images that others submitted to the site and never claimed to own them. That, he maintained, made him a publisher, and under federal law online publishers aren't liable for material posted by others unless it infringes on a copyright. Because he sometimes edited the content and matched photos to online profiles (which one could argue made the posts something more than user-submitted content), Moore could have been sued for invasion of privacy or harassment. But that takes time and money, and a plaintiff risks triggering "the Streisand effect," a phenomenon named for Barbra Streisand, who by suing to get an aerial shot of her home taken off-line only drew more attention to it.

One revenge-porn site includes a ditty suggesting its victims look on the bright side ("Call off your counsel / Don't waste your money! / With thousands of downloads / You must be a honey!"). But identifying nude pictures ensures they will show up when a person's name is searched, which may be embarrassing but also financially damaging by affecting a person's ability to get or keep a job. If you own the photos, you can address this by sending a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice to the search engines, which compels them to remove links to the images from the results for your name.

Q: I had a party at my house, and one of my friends brought his new girlfriend, who is gorgeous. I served her a beer in a pint glass. When she finished, I noticed her lipstick had left an outline of her lower lip on the glass. As soon as everyone left, I began to masturbate while fantasizing about her. When I put her lip mark against the head of my penis, I immediately came into the glass. In my mind her lips made contact with my cock. I repeated this routine over the next month and sometimes got hard just staring at the glass. Is this behavior abnormal, and if so, what should I do?—N.G., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Your reaction doesn't surprise us, and we'd guess it doesn't surprise many male readers either. Just talking to an attractive woman can bring on a fantasy that demands release, so imagine what her lips pressed against something you can later press against might do. We are concerned, however, that you are returning so often to this well. It's last call. Wash the glass before someone finds it under your bed. And remind us to drink beer from the bottle at your house.

Q: An attractive woman lives down the hall from me in my apartment building. We've exchanged small talk, but that's it. I often fantasize about her while masturbating. A few weeks ago the couple who live next door to me invited the woman to a barbecue. They asked her to bring me along. Puzzled, she asked why. The couple said they could hear us on some nights and assumed we were dating. When she told them we weren't, it dawned on all of them that what they had been hearing was my moaning this woman's name. A few days ago my neighbor—nice guy that he is—told me everything. I was speechless. He said the woman had seemed amused. I had wanted to ask her out, but now that seems comical. What should I do?—J.W., San Diego, California

Advisor: The only way to find out if the object of your affection was horrified, mildly amused or totally turned on is to ask her out for coffee. You'll have your answer in a nanosecond. For the record, the women in our office—an open-minded group, to be sure—universally agreed that this revelation would creep them out. You may have the balls to fess up, but a better strategy might be misdirection. That is, say hello, apologize for not introducing yourself earlier, ask her name as if you didn't know it, then lie: That's funny. My ex has the same name. She may not believe you, but it could plant a reasonable doubt, and that's all you need for acquittal.

Q: Last night when my husband and I were opening responses to our swingers' ad, he went pale. One letter included a photo of a nude woman, and it was his sister. We had no idea she and her new husband were swingers, and we don't think she knows we are (we use a pseudonym in our ads). My husband says we should return the letter and photo marked "not interested" and say nothing more. I argue that we should discuss the situation with them, because our paths are sure to cross. I'm not suggesting that we swing with them, but perhaps they could benefit from our experience. What do you think?—M.J., New York, New York

Advisor: Small world, eh? Acknowledge the letter for exactly the reason you state. Rather than send a written reply, invite your sister-in-law and her husband to dinner. Don't reveal your shared lifestyle with the idea that they might benefit from your experience—who says they're beginners? Simply explain that you wanted to acknowledge the unusual situation in a comfortable, familiar setting rather than after rounding the corner at a party. Then have a good laugh.

Q: One of my turn-ons is to be bound and gagged. With my husband due home from work in half an hour and my teenage daughters at a sleepover, I had a girlfriend tie me up (fully clothed) and leave me in a kitchen chair. My husband was late, but after 45 minutes my daughters appeared. Their sleepover had been canceled. After they untied me I told them their father and I were playing a game. They seemed to accept that but could they now think I'm weird? Should I attempt a better explanation?—L.L., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Advisor: All teenagers think their parents are weird; you just confirmed it for your daughters. We like your explanation, and it's none of their business beyond what you offered anyway. But take a lesson from your misadventure: It's never a good idea to be tied up and left alone. Bondage requires safeguards, including supervision and safe words or signals. Your girlfriend should have hung around until your husband returned, even if she had one foot out the door.

Q: I just started dating a guy, and he's already driving me crazy. He's into setting the mood whenever we have sex: candles, incense, music, the works. Sometimes I want to be ravaged, or ravage him, but if I start grabbing at his clothes or kissing him hard to get things going, he says, "Hold that thought," and scurries around to get things just right. Most guys I've dated have no interest in any of this stuff—they're ready to go whenever. Should I be concerned?—R.T., Duluth, Minnesota

Advisor: Your boyfriend sounds like what one of our favorite cultural observers, Lisa Carver, would call a sensualist. You, on the other hand, are a sexualist. "Sexualists are into sex," explains Carver, who edits a fanzine called Rollerderby. "Sensualists are into eroticism—things that aren't sex but that involve the thought of sex. Sensualists are romantics; they like to set the mood. Sexualists aren't waiting around for someone to light some candles." Foot fetishists are sensualists, as is anyone who experiments with tantric sex, writes erotic e-mail or fusses over dimming the lights. Henry Miller and Marilyn Monroe were sensualists; Jack Nicholson and Xena the Warrior Princess are sexualists. Like you, Carver is a sexualist. "I had sex with a sensualist once. He hung his hair around my face like a tent, cutting off all light, and said, 'How does that look and feel?' I realized he was waiting for me to compliment him on his eroticism, and until I did, he was withholding his thrusts. So I lied and said, 'That's so cool.'" The issue isn't your different approaches to sex, but the lack of variety. Unless your new boyfriend is willing to set aside his sensualism once in a while and let you take charge, this relationship may be a challenge.

Q: My wife has developed an annoying habit. She calls me honey. It sounds like a term of endearment, but for some reason it makes me cringe. It's never "Honey, let's have sex." It's always a variation of "Honey, why did you do that?" or "Honey, can you please take care of that already?"What can I do? It feels weird to ask her to stop.—L.R., New Orleans, Louisiana

Advisor: And yet you must. The most intimate way to address your partner is by his or her first name, but many couples do so only when they're having a fight or after they've broken up. In their book Stop Calling Him Honey...and Start Having Sex!, Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis argue that the use of "honey," "sweetie" and other nicknames is the "first step down the slippery slope toward a bland or nonexistent sex life." That's because a vital part of sexual attraction is viewing your partner as a separate, independent entity, not half of a whole, and the most important way to acknowledge a person as an individual is to use his or her name. Using pet names for a grown man desexualizes him, say Arana and Davis, turning him into a cuddly teddy bear. Where's the harm? "'Honey' will bring you a warm cup of cocoa," they point out, "but 'honey' is not going to fuck you." Couples who hope to avoid turning into roommates must also banish baby talk and stop calling each other Mommy and Daddy.


Illustration by Tuesday Bassen, who you can also find on Twitter and Instagram

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