Seats of yearning: A brief look at ‘furniture sex’ and the naming of a new paraphilia

What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you hear the words ‘furniture sex’? Maybe you think about people having sex on particular items of furniture? Maybe you think of specially designed ‘sexy furniture’ such as the items featured on the Pinterest website? Maybe you think about people displayed and used as pieces of human furniture (see my previous blog on forniphilia if you have no idea what I am talking about). There are also those who design bespoke furniture to enhance sexual pleasure. For instance, a recent article in The Frisky examined the ‘sex furniture’ designed by Josh and Jasmine whose entire house is furnished with sex furniture. According to the article “each piece [of furniture] supposedly accommodates multiple positions and enhances orgasm”.

The origin for this blog came when I read a September 2012 story in both the Smoking Gun and The Inquisitor about an American married man (46-year old Gerard Streator) who was accused of having sex with a yellow sofa that had been abandoned on the pavement in Waukesha (Wisconsin, US). At 11pm on September 3rd (2012), Streator had the misfortune to be spotted by an off-duty policeman (Officer Ryan Edwards), who saw Mr. Streator copulating with the sofa while he was out on a late night run. The police officer was quoted as seeing:

“A subject leaning over the couch facing down and it looked like he was having sexual relations with someone on the couch. [I] could see the male’s hips thrusting up and down on the couch [and] could see that the defendant’s penis was erect. [He] had been thrusting his pelvic area against the cushions and trying to sexually gratify himself by rubbing his penis between the two cushions. [He was] thrusting his hips as if he was having sex with a person”

The officer chased Mr. Streator back to the suspect’s apartment and was arrested the following day for the criminal misdemeanor at the County Springs Hotel where Streator worked. The article in The Inquisitor described Streator as a “couch fetishist who engaged in bizarre sexual conduct with the abandoned couch”.

Another strange case involved a man in Hong Kong who late one night attempted to have sex with a local park bench. He penetrated one of the holes in the park bench but disaster struck when his penis got stuck and the emergency services had to be called out to try and cut him free. Unfortunately, there is now a video that was posted on the YouTube website of the emergency services cutting the man free which has already been seen by almost 750,000 viewers. (You can check it out for yourself here, and if you are really curious, there are also other videos on YouTube of sex with furniture such as this one).

In March 2008, the Daily Telegraph here in the UK reported that an American married man (40-year old Art Price, father of three children) had been observed on four separate occasions in Bellevue (Ohio, US) of having sex with a picnic table (the most recent being March 14, 2008 when a neighbour filmed the incident to show the police). The neighbour had observed Mr. Price in his garden turning over a round metal table before performing a sex act upon it”. A spokesman for the local police, Police Captain Matt Johnson said: “He was completely nude. He would use the hole from the umbrella and have sex with the table. Once you think you’ve seen it all, something else comes around”. Mr. Price was charged with four counts of public indecency because his sexual frolics with the picnic table occurred near an elementary school. For others, sex with furniture doesn’t seem to be a problematic issue. Consider this little snippet I came across online”

“Is there anything wrong with having sex with furniture? I mean really? It doesn’t hurt anyone, and it’s a very natural thing too. Just look at animals. They do it all the time! How would you think that it’s wrong? And what if you don’t like falling in love with people? How do you tell me who or what to love?

This quote would probably find a lot of support from objectophiles (that I examined at length in a few previous blogs including those who have had sexual relationships with cars). Object sexuality refers to those individuals who develop deep emotional and/or romantic attachments to (and have relationships with) specific inanimate objects or structures. Such objectophiles express a loving and/or sexual preference and commitment to particular items or structures. Such individuals rarely (if ever) have sex with humans and they develop strong emotional fixations to the object or structure. Unlike sexual fetishism, the object or structure is viewed as an equal partner in the relationship and is not used to enhance or facilitate sexual behaviour. Some objectophiles even believe that their feelings are reciprocated by the object of their desire.

As far as I am aware, there is no specific paraphilia that is associated with getting sexual pleasure and arousal from furniture items so I decided to name a new paraphilia based on this (and other similar cases) I have read about. There are three ways in which paraphilias appear to derive their names.

(1)   The paraphilic word can be derived from two or more Greek words relating to the focus of the sexual desire with the Greek word for ‘love’ (i.e., ’philia’ added). For instance, Professor John Money coined the word ‘acrotomphilia‘ (sexual desire from amputees) from the Greek ‘akron’ (‘extremity’), ‘tome’ (‘a cutting’) and ‘philia’  (‘love’). In ‘stigmatophilia‘ (from the Greek, stigma, “mark”; philia, “love”—Money, 1986)

(2)   The paraphilic word is derived from the opposite of an existing word for some kind of phobia. For instance, the fear of clowns is known as coulrophobia and the love of clowns is coulrophilia,

(3)   The paraphilic word is simply derived from the English word for the focus of sexual desire followed by the greek suffix ‘philia’. For instance, ‘acnephilia’ (sexual pleasure and arousal from those individuals with acne).

Therefore, I could perhaps call this type of sexual behaviour ‘furniturephilia’ (which certainly has an alliterative ring to it) but is not very original. As far as I am aware, there is no named phobia for fear of furniture, so this avenue is closed. Finally, I tried to track down the Greek word for furniture. The word ‘furniture’ is derived from the French word ‘fourniture’ (which means ‘the act of furnishing’) so does not really exist historically in Greek. However, one of my research colleagues (from Greece) informed me that ‘epiplo’ is the singular for furniture and that ‘epipla’ is the plural. I am therefore going to name those with a ‘furniture sex’ paraphilia as engaging in epiplophilia. Additionally, given that some individuals seem to only like seated furniture, I found out that the word ‘throne’ is of Greek origin (from the word ‘thronos’). Therefore, in the absence of any other names for paraphilias involving seated furniture, I hereby name this as ‘thronosphilia’ that I will operationally define not just as the gaining of sexual pleasure and arousal from furniture chairs and seating.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Angelowicz, A. (2012). TLC’s “Strange sex”: Sex furniture and sleep orgasms. The Frisky, Augsut 28. Located at: http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-08-28/tlcs-strange-sex-sex-furniture-sleep-orgasms/

Barton, D. (2009). The 6 strangest objects people were caught having sex with. Cracked.com, February 28. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_17098_the-6-strangest-objects-people-were-caught-having-sex-with.html

El Dorado Furniture (2010). Wordplay: Etymology of Furniture Terms, October 4. Located at: http://eldoradofurniture.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/wordplay-etymology-of-furniture-terms.html

Hazell, B. (2008). American caught having sex with picnic table. Daily Telegraph, March 28. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1583118/American-caught-having-sex-with-picnic-table.html

Jowaheer, R. (2012). Hotel worker could face jail after being caught ‘having sex with sofa’. AOL Travel, September 26. Located at: http://travel.aol.co.uk/2012/09/26/hotel-worker-faces-jail-caught-having-sex-sofa-street/

Marsh, A. (2010). Love among the objectum sexuals. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 13, March 1. Located at: http://www.ejhs.org/volume13/ObjSexuals.htm

Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical concepts of sexual/erotic health and pathology, paraphilia, and gender transposition in childhood, adolescence, and maturity. New York: Irvington.

Money, J. & Simcoe, K.W. (1986). Acrotomophilia, sex and disability: New concepts and case report. Sexuality and Disability, 7, 43-50.

Rigney, T. (2012). Abandoned couch sex: Man arrested for getting busy with furniture. The Inquisitor, September 27. Located at: http://www.inquisitr.com/345157/abandoned-couch-sex-man-arrested-for-getting-busy-with-furniture/

The Smoking Gun (2012). Man busted for curbside sex with old couch. The Smoking Gun, September 24. Located at: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/man-busted-for-couch-sex-684512

Stopera, M. (2010). The 15 hottest objectum-sexual relationships. Buzz Feed. Located at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-15-hottest-objectum-sexual-relationships

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Gambling Studies at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 430 research papers, three books, over 120 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on February 3, 2013, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Well, I am certainly not an “objectophile” (nice word :)) – and have something of an active contempt going on regarding people who regard their cars as anything more than a means of transport – but I honestly don’t see how this hurts anyone. I don’t even find it particularly aberrant. Is it any different than finding pleasure in, say, fruit? (And I don’t mean eating it. : ))

    However, many people seem to find it highly objectionable, and there is shame attached to being exposed while engaged in such an activity, which is why I find it disgusting that the authorities or the media (The Inquisitor – what an aptly chosen name!) would think nothing of revealing the identity of such people, yet they often hide the personal details of killers and other highly dangerous individuals.

    Fun blog. Good work. :- )

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