No, these did NOT happen to a guy you know.
Sometimes, when you’re out at the bar with your friends, someone, at the end of the night, will start telling you about the craziest sex story they’ve ever heard. They SWEAR it happened to their friend’s cousin and, as you laugh and cringe at the details, a part of your brain thinks, “This sounds familiar.”
And it should sound familiar. Because it’s an urban legend.
It did NOT actually happen to your friend’s cousin.
It’s just a well-known legend about shame and sexual scandal that has been co-opted, re-mixed, and reinterpreted again and again. Yes, the teller of the tales might add some original details to their mythical sex stories, but there are researchers and folklorists who can track the origins of these stories throughout the ages.
One of the best-known urban legend scholars is Jan Harold Brunvand and his fantastic books — like The Encyclopedia of Urban Legends and The Big Book of Urban Legends — are filled with examples of hilarious and heartbreaking sex stories that people have been trying to pass off as real for decades.
So, the story of the couple who had sex in their car, got stuck, and had to honk the horn until someone found them? NOT TRUE. The story about the woman who performed oral sex on her husband while he was working under his car, only to realize later that the man was the mechanic? NOT TRUE. The story of the older married couple who got pregnant because their sexually-active daughter was replacing Mom’s birth-control pills with baby aspirin? NOT TRUE.
But they’re the kinds of stories that we WISH were true, right?
Maybe that’s why these urban legends have persisted so long. Because they’re just perfect little campfire stories and cautionary tales that reflect every weird anxiety we have about sex.
With that in mind, here are FIVE of our all-time favorite sexual urban legends, stories that you might swear happened to the friend-of-a-friend, but, trust us, they probably didn’t.
There are MANY different versions of this one (including a few that have been fictionalized for TV). Broadly, the story involves a man who thinks that his family has forgotten his birthday. Feeling neglected, he goes to work and finds that his beautiful secretary has remembered. She takes him out to lunch and then invites him back to her apartment for a birthday drink. He agrees and, when they get there, his secretary tells him to “make himself comfortable” while she gets the drinks.
So, while she’s gone, he strips naked, expecting sex as his ultimate birthday gift. But, she calls him into the next room and…
It’s really a surprise party. His co-workers, wife, and kids are all there, as he stands naked and ashamed.
[Here’s a very cheesy reenactment from the TV series Mostly True Stories: Urban Legends Revealed.]
This one is super creepy and has a strange sense of realness when you hear stories like Gay Talese’s New Yorker article “The Voyeur’s Motel,” all about a man who bought a motel and spent decades spying on his guests having sex.
In the “Filmed in the Act” legend, a married couple check into a romantic-themed motel for their anniversary and have passionate sex. A few years later, they return to the same motel and decide to get in the mood by watching some X-rated movies. They turn on the motel’s porno channel and begin watching a movie, quickly realizing that the room in the video looks VERY familiar.
Suddenly it hits them. The porno is a hidden camera video of them having sex on their anniversary night years ago.
The set-up is simple. A young man, nervous about a blind date, heads to a pharmacy to buy some condoms. At first, he’s too shy to ask, but a friendly pharmacist quickly realizes want he wants. The pharmacist gets the condoms, joking that he hopes the kid scores tonight and becomes a regular customer. So, later that night, the kid arrives at his date’s house, knocks in the door, and…
… the pharmacist is the girl’s father. (Uh-oh.)
This tale is sometimes referred to as “The Halloween Party” or “Sex in Disguise,” but researchers can date the story back to, at the very least, a 1965 joke book.
It is the ultimate Halloween sex mix-up. A husband and wife are getting ready to go to a Halloween party, but the wife feels ill and decides not to go. An hour later, she feels better and heads to the party. (There are variations of the story where she purposely plays sick so she can show up later and make sure that her husband isn’t cheating on her.)
When she gets to the party, she sees her masked husband flirting and dancing with other women. NOW she wants to get even. Her husband never saw her costume, so she pretends to be another woman and tries to seduce him. It works and they head into a back-room and have passionate sex with their masks on.
The wife heads home, planning to angrily confront her husband about his cheating. When he eventually gets home, she asks “How was the party?” He tells her that the party was boring and he quickly abandoned it to go play cards with his friends, giving his costume to another man.
As the wife realizes what she’s done, the husband comments, “But the guy who had my costume told me he had a HELL of a good time.”
This is a sex urban legend that started out as a myth, but, unfortunately, became a reality over the past two decades.
There are unverifiable media reports of this story as early as 1980, but the tale itself is pretty simple.
Basically, a woman catches her husband or boyfriend cheating on her, so, while he’s sleeping, she super-glues his penis to his leg, resulting in a lot of pain and a VERY awkward emergency room visit.
One of the more famous versions of this story involved the claim that actress Sean Young pulled the super-glue penis trick on James Woods while they were going out. (Woods denies it.)
It was a pure legend… until 2000. After that, there have been verifiable accounts of the super-glue trick actually happening, probably inspired by the urban legend.
For example, in May 2000, Gail O'Toole of Murrysville, PA not only super-glued her ex-boyfriend's penis to his stomach, but she also glued his butt-checks together, wrote all over his body with nail polish, and forced him to walk a mile to a gas station to call for help. (She ended up having to pay him over $40,000.)
If these sexual urban legends sound horrific to you, just remember — there ARE people out there who sometimes try to turn these myths into reality.
So, be careful or else you’ll become the cautionary sex story that people tell each other at last call on a Friday night.