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Alfresco sex is essentially making love (or the closest equivalent) in the open. Whether it's a pastoral location such as a secluded field that takes your fancy or a skyscraper roof garden, is irrelevant. The important thing is to be away from the comforts of home and in the open.
Drawing on the trendy term for 'doing it outdoors', alfresco sex shares a couple of its advantages and disadvantages with alfresco dining. More the disadvantages than the advantages, though, for any but the most enthusiastic alfresco diner.
The primitive urge to get back to your roots and feel the wind in your hair is as good a reason as any to eschew the comforts of home. There's something appealing about doing the wild thing in the wild, especially when it's spontaneous. However, alfresco sex need not be animalistic... it can be slow and romantic, with the added advantage of a view that includes a glorious sunset, a clear night sky, or beautiful waterfall. Nice.
The fact that you might get caught (disadvantageous - see below) is what turns many people on about outdoor sex and is probably one of the reasons it has been such an enduring fantasy.
Don't underestimate just being able to say you've done it, and get one extra point in the purity test. Just as there's a certain Je ne sais quoi about dining al fresco on the Champs Elysées, so, in certain circles, 'I did it on a topless London bus' is bound to impress1.
Nature isn't always as romantic as maybe it should be. As with a picnic, you need to be careful where you sit/lie/stand and mosquitos can really be a nuisance in summer. This equally applies to other wildlife, known examples being beetles, snakes, spiders, wasps and bears, depending on location. Dogs are also best avoided, especially the bouncy, slobbery, enthusiastic type which might attempt to join in. Not one to be tried on the Serengeti plains. There are also cowpats, thistles and sand to contend with in some situations, which could well dampen the mood if encountered accidentally.
The dangers of getting caught are also worth considering, especially if you are in a country where public displays of affection are frowned upon. In the UK, open-air sex may be illegal, depending upon circumstance. In less densely populated areas, such as much of the US or Australia, where it's easier to find a secluded spot, the risk of getting caught is minimal, but may be illegal.
The weather can also be somewhat unpredictable, although occasionally this can add to the experience.
Famous Moments in the Great Outdoors
Alfresco sex has always had a rather risqué reputation, mostly because of the dangers of being caught and/or arrested, depending on one's location at the time of the event. This has made it a rather popular subject for a number of films, books and other media, if not as a central theme, then as a pivotal moment in the action. Sometimes, though, it's just gratuitous, and should be enjoyed as such. Here are a few examples:
Douglas Adams: So Long and Thanks for all the Fish has gravity-defying antics in the air between Arthur and Fenchurch.
Douglas Coupland: Girlfriend in a Coma is an apocalyptic mix of ghosts, catatonia, and sex on a ski slope.
DH Lawrence: Lady Chatterley's Lover has wet and steamy moments in the rain and includes an inspired use of wild flowers.
Black and White begins with a three-way mixed race alfresco sex scene.
Cocktail has the classic fantasy outdoor scene - on a tropical beach, as the sun goes down...
Crash has some less than tasteful lovin' on a motorway verge.
Point Break when Keanu Reeves strips out of his wetsuit and slips into the arms of Lori Petty.
The Beach has Leonardo diCaprio getting his loving with someone else's girlfriend, on the most beautiful beach in Thailand.
TV and Video
Beyond the Fatal Shore (BBC2, September 2000); Robert Hughes's portrait of Australia starts with a bang... including the filming of a porn film out in the Australian bush.
George Michael's video for the song 'Outside' (Released October 1998) is self-explanatory.
Red Dwarf (BBC) mentions but does not perform, as it were, Lister's first sexual experience on a golf course.
Washington Opera's production of Pagliacci (PBS December 1998) has skateboarding and alfresco sex, courtesy of director Franco Zeffirelli.
Essentially, that is all you need to know to have great alfresco sex, partner permitting, though it's worth finishing with a classic piece of advice from the still popular (despite the beards) Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort (1972):
If you do take risks... cultivate the quick getaway and the weather-eye open; danger turns some people on, and others, of both sexes, right off. Enthusiastic larks one gets lost in, like stripping right off or tying each other to trees, call for very remote areas or a walled garden. Ultimately there will be scheduled areas - we give it another five or six years.