According to our previous research, the use of glory holes in public venues such as saunas and bathhouses is very popular. The popularity of glory holes is due in part to the anonymous sex that these architectural elements allow. This post-structuralist theoretical reflection seeks to understand the specific nature of anonymous public sex among bathhouse patrons, focusing on the links between desire-architecture-place-sexual practices. Drawing on interviews with glory hole users gathered during an ethnographic research project in bathhouses, this essay goes beyond traditional public health discourse to offer an original perspective on anonymous public sex. Utilizing the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari's concepts of assemblages and machines, we re-theorize glory hole sex - what we call 'faceless sex' - and rethink the ways that desire is imbricated with our understanding of architecture, place, and public. Finally, we reflect upon the particular ethical challenges that are posed by these particular sexual practices, and ask whether a post-structuralist ethic might be possible.

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Nursing Philosophy
Department of English Language and Literature

Holmes, D. (Dave), O'Byrne, P. (Patrick), & Murray, S.J. (2010). Faceless sex: Glory holes and sexual assemblages. Nursing Philosophy, 11(4), 250–259. doi:10.1111/j.1466-769X.2010.00452.x