Should You Really Take Off Your Panties At A Restaurant?

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Pictures.
In a short trailer for Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, Anastasia and her dominant boyfriend Christian are on a date at an upscale restaurant. “Take them off,” Christian orders, and then we see Ana slipping her black lacy underwear down her leg and around her strappy stilettos. As a former professional dominatrix, the first time I saw this video, I reflexively snorted and rolled my eyes. Years into the Fifty Shades phenomenon, I still couldn’t believe that corny tricks like this pass for BDSM in TV and movies.

I did, however, try to be self-critical about my scorn. Cheesy “spice up your sex life” techniques, like answering the door wearing nothing but a trench coat or busting out the whipped cream, are probably ubiquitous for a reason. Any adult sex game that elicits the thrill of danger, or the novelty of doing something out of the ordinary, has the potential to bring happiness into someone’s sex life. I had to endorse that happiness, even if that particular act was seemingly not for me.

I haven’t seen the movie yet (it comes out on Valentine’s Day), but I heroically returned to this passage in the source material, nauseating prose be damned! In the E.L. James book, Christian actually sends Ana to the bathroom to “divest” herself of her intimates.

“Go and take your panties off,” he whispers.

Oh? A delicious tingle runs down my spine.

“Go,” he commands quietly.

Whoa, what? I blink up at him. He’s not smiling — he’s dead serious. Every muscle below my waistline tightens. I hand him my glass of champagne, turn sharply on my heel, and head for the restroom.

In the privacy of the stall, I smirk as I divest myself of my underwear.

I am excited already. Why does he affect me so? I slightly resent how easily I fall under his spell. Checking my appearance in the mirror, I am bright-eyed and flushed with excitement.

I take a deep breath and head back out into the club. I mean, it’s not as if I haven’t gone pantyless before.


As I read this more introspective telling of the events, I felt a sense of déjà vu: I’ve actually done this before — and loved it.

I was 25, beginning a years-long affair with an elegant and much older gentleman. My attraction to this man had everything to do with his experience as a BDSM top (which meant that he was the dominant one). I was very curious about exploring my masochistic side and the eroticism of relinquishing control. I was also keen to be pampered by someone who could take me to hotels and restaurants I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford. I was used to playing the dominant role in my sex life, and I thought I knew every trick in the book. I craved having the tables turned on me, and I needed to be surprised.
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This infinitesimal amount of mesh had been all that stood between my vagina and the world, but without it, I felt incredibly vulnerable.

On our very first date, this gentleman took me to a fancy restaurant in downtown San Francisco. I wore bright red pumps, sheer black thigh-high stockings, and a black and white party dress. We sipped wine, I ordered anything I wanted, we laughed and flirted. Then, suddenly, he turned to me with an intense stare.

“I want you to go to the bathroom, remove your panties, and bring them back to me.”

I smirked. Aww, that’s cute, I thought. He’s trying to embarrass me.

I pushed my chair back and walked to the bathroom, throwing him a look over my shoulder and swishing my skirt with more than a little bit of bratty confidence.

After peeing, I instinctively went to pull my underwear up, and remembered his request. As I pulled my panties down around one heel, I suddenly felt extremely aware of my labia. Yanking the underwear around the other ankle and completely off, I stood staring at the little ball of crumpled black material peppered with tiny gold stars. This infinitesimal amount of mesh had been all that stood between my vagina and the world, but without it, I felt incredibly vulnerable.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I became increasingly, pleasantly flustered. Most importantly, I felt watched, even in a private toilet stall.

My date and I would go on to do much, much more depraved things that night, and for many years — I’m talking about activities that could teach the average Fifty Shades movie-goer a thing or two about power and pain. In retrospect, though, I realize why this was the right note to begin on, and why this simple directive (“Remove your panties for me in public”) makes a fun game for couples to play.

First of all, it’s a great way to experience the frisson of exhibitionism without non-consensually involving anyone else. You and your partner are sharing a secret: the transgression of the taboo of nudity. You can give each other knowing looks and perform for one another without anyone being bothered by what specifically you’re up to. You’re aware of everyone in the room, but they never have to know you’re being indecent. And even if your game were somehow completely exposed, the people around you would be more likely to clutch their pearls than call the cops.

There’s also so much potential to explore the dynamics of control between partners. If you’re the submissive partner, you might feel embarrassed or shy. But you don’t have to feel guilty, because it’s no longer up to you: You’re just following orders, after all. If you’re the dominant partner, you experience the thrill of commanding your partner to violate a taboo. You can see their embarrassment in a flushed face or squirming seat. Your intimacy grows because you’re collaborating on a transformation: A simple order from dominant to submissive changes your underwear from a mundane object into a charged sex symbol.

And of course, going commando facilitates easy access (as we also see in the Fifty Shades Darker trailer).

So what did I eventually decide to do in that San Francisco bathroom? My nerve returned to me. I balled the panties up in my fist and calmly walked back to the table. I handed my black and gold fluffy underwear to my smirking silver fox and sat down very carefully. He placed them on his lap under the table, folded them up, and slid them into the front of his coat like a pocket square.

While we're arguably more in control of and confident about our sexuality than ever, there's still so much we don't know about female arousal. So this month, we're exploring everything you want and need to know about how women get turned on now. Check out more here.
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