Sometimes it's not the four-letter words that cause a commotion. Sometimes it only takes three: r-a-w.
That's the word that rankled some local sensibilities when used in announcing a private gay men's sex party in Northwest last week. The explicit language touted a ''raw fuck fest'' in D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood, for a $5 admission that included an open bar.
While the event's host, who identifies himself as ''Mike Mike,'' insists the announcement was e-mailed only to a select group of people for whom he has hosted parties in the past, word circulated further, making its way to the Parkview-Petworth neighborhood listserv on Yahoo.com. The announcement went from there -- complete with the event's street address, as initially listed by the host -- on the neighborhood listserv under the subject heading ''Not in Our Backyard.''
At that point, Us Helping Us (UHU), the local non-profit organization leading the fight against HIV/AIDS in the black, gay community, and which sits across from the Petworth Metro station, got involved. That's not surprising, in that the party announcement seemed to indicate that the party was an event featuring high-risk sex specifically for black men. UHU Executive Director Ron Simmons says with more notice, he would've been able to arrange for safer-sex outreach workers to engage party attendees outside the event, perhaps offering them condoms as well as safer-sex information.
Mike Mike insists, however, it was all a misunderstanding.
''It's not what they're making it out to be,'' he says, pointing to anyone interpreting his use of ''raw'' to mean sex without condoms, often referred to as ''bareback'' or ''raw'' sex. ''There were condoms and lube put out at the party. ... I already work with Us Helping Us. I speak with them. They provide condoms. They've been a big help. They just didn't know it was me.''
Without offering his full name, nor unable to identify anyone he works with at UHU, it's a difficult claim to confirm, but Mike Mike says he was simply using ''raw'' as an adjective more along the lines of ''hot'' or ''sexy,'' similar to the Pussycat Dolls and gay porn director Chi Chi LaRue employing the same word -- in a song, or to describe an online pornography offering, respectively -- with an implication of sex, but not of sex without condoms. LaRue, for example, while using the phrase ''raw'' for one line in his pornographic empire, has publicly stated -- in a June 2005 Metro Weekly interview, among other places -- he will not direct films showing men having anal sex without condoms.
Regardless of what neighbors may think of private sex parties in the neighborhood, today it's Mike Mike who is feeling put out, particularly by the party address being disseminated beyond his intended audience. ''What if some hater comes up and cuts my throat? We're talking about my safety and privacy.''