April 13, 2018

What happens when a taboo sex act becomes watercooler chat

In advance of the Comey interview, examining the sexual and pop-culture ramifications of 'watersports'

Newsmakers James Comey
James Comey Jack Gruber/USA Today Network

Former FBI director James Comey testifies in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington in June 2017. On Sunday, April 15, his interview with ABC News will air on 20/20.

As you may have heard, former FBI director James Comey wrote a book in which he mentioned that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, “brought up what he called the ‘golden showers thing’" during a conversation they had in January 2017. 

The “golden showers thing” is a reference to allegations, made in an infamous “dossier of claims,” that the Russians had evidence of the germophobic Trump watching prostitutes urinate in a hotel suite.

These claims have become widely known as “the pee tape,” and Trump allegedly wanted Comey to publicly dismiss them to reassure the First Lady. That's so very kind of him.

The interview that ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos conducted with Comey will air at 10 p.m. Sunday. 

Per early leaks, Comey is said to say, “I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know.”

What a time to be alive.

Yes, this will be a topic of frequent discussion at the watercooler on Monday morning. Let this story serve as a primer on the term so you’re ahead of the curve.

A golden shower is slang for the practice of urinating on another person for pleasure, as part of urolagnia. (Urolagnia, or urophilia, is the term to describe “a tendency to derive sexual pleasure from the sight or thought of urination.”)

If you’re interested in a deeper dive on the topic, here’s a helpful blog post from Dr. Mark Griffiths, a chartered psychologist and professor of behavioural addiction at Nottingham Trent University. Its title: “Urine demand: A beginner’s guide to urophilia.”

"Clearly, there is still much to learn in this area but there are certainly some interesting speculations as to the origins and initiation of urophilic behaviour," he concluded.

OTHER VARIATIONS

The phrase itself is not confined to the sexual connotations, though!

A Brazilian band called itself Golden Shower. Embedded below is their 1996 song “Rumpelstielzchen.


The cassia fistula tree is also referred to as the “golden shower” tree. It is most commonly found on the Indian subcontinent and in regions of Southeast Asia. As you can see below, it is a beautiful, perennial tree.


While it’s not family-friendly, or work-safe, to include videos of the action itself, a golden shower was a focal point of a 2012 episode of the HBO program “Girls.” It seems that a character named Adam peed on his girlfriend Hannah as she took a shower. You can read about that via this link.

There was also a 1997 episode of “Friends” in which Chandler peed on Monica, who’d been stung by a jellyfish. This one is safer to share:


The late Frank Zappa references them in his 1978 song “Bobby Brown Goes Down.”

There were also “golden shower” references in “Sex and the City," the Nicole Kidman film “The Paperboy,” and pop star Ricky Martin shared his penchant for the act in a 2006 interview.

SEXUALLY SPEAKING

Alex Robboy, of Philadelphia's Center For Growth, dedicates an entire page to urine play on her "Sex Therapy in Philadelphia" site. It includes information about "the appeal" of it, safety and when one should be concerned about certain related behaviors.

"It's taboo to begin, even without this circus aspect that would be up on top of it." – Alex Robboy, Philadelphia sex therapist

"Although culturally, urine play may be considered abnormal, the only ‘normal’ element in the realm of human desire is variation — every human being will express their needs and desires in different forms," she wrote. "If the play is being done in a consensual and non-coercive manner, then it is simply another variation in human desire, regardless of how it fits in with societal taboos or expectations of normalcy."

On Friday, we asked her whether the political interest in the practice could have a negative impact on couples who engage in watersports.

She said the way people discuss it (read: snarkily on Twitter or dismissively in conversations) will "reinforce stereotypes in not a particularly thoughtful manner."

"It could push consenting adults a little more into the closet," she said. "It won't be seen as a fun behavior between consenting adults because there's so much controversy about who Trump is and what he stands for."

She explained that power dynamics are implicit in the activity, and that those are different between "a married couple or friends who are hooking up" than it would be with a married man engaged in the  activity with prostitutes.

"There are too many layers happening to have a thoughtful, illuminating discussion to help couples find that safe space to express themselves," she concluded. "It's taboo to begin, even without this circus aspect that would be up on top of it.

"People like to think the position of president commands respect, but this is not exactly presidential."