I didn’t know what a chillout was until a friend, J, told me about them. When you’re in the know, you realise they’re everywhere. Literally everywhere.
In Central London, you’re never more than 500 metres way from a chemsex party. Fuelled by ‘the unholy trinity’ - Crystal Meth, Methadone and GHB - most go on for days, some go on for weeks. And nobody’s talking about it!
As a theatre maker, I was fascinated. I set out to interview people involved on the scene, on Grindr, and began the process of piecing together their words into a cohesive play. All of the men I spoke to have remained anonymous, and I took care to interview them when they weren’t high.
5 Guys Chillin’ is constructed entirely from their words. It reflects a chemsex party as it really is. The good and the bad. The buzz, the sex, the laughter and the tragedy.
When we first tried it out at the Brighton Fringe, I can honestly say that I’ve never been so frightened in my life, I wondered if I had taken it too far. In Brighton, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and now New York, the audience reception has been exceptional (I had a message the other day from an 85 year old gay man to tell me what a great time he’d had) but we do sometimes have people walking out. For some, it’s a little too close to the bone.
Sometimes people think that there are good gays, who conform to a heteronormative lifestyle, and bad gays, who give us a bad name by having reckless sex and taking too many drugs. I disagree. I think we have a collective responsibility to each other. No-one sets out in life to become a drug addict. Some people dip in and out of the scene and have a great time, for others it takes more of a hold. They need our love, understanding and help.
Since we started doing the play, my friend, J’s house has become a 24/7 sex party. He doesn’t sleep, he’s lost his job and has spiralling debts. It’s vital that we talk about this, not to scare people or to tell them what to do but so that they can make informed decisions from a position of power. Come see 5 Guys Chillin’ and make up your own mind.
The conversation continues at the King’s Head Theatre from 15th October to 5th November. Visit kingsheadtheatre.com for tickets
Words by - Peter Darney