Puttenham, about an hour’s drive from London, has fewer than 2,500 residents and is famous for its ancient church; its friendly pub, the Good Intent; and its proud inclusion in both the Domesday Book an 11th-century survey of English lands and “Brave New World.” Unhappily for many people here, it is also famous for being featured on lists of good places to go “dogging” that is, to have sex in public, sometimes with partners you have just met online, so that others can watch. So popular is the woodsy field below the ridge as a spot for gay sex (mostly during the day) and heterosexual sex (mostly at night) that the police have designated it a “public sex environment.”
Public sex is a popular and quasi-legal activity in Britain, according to the authorities and to the large number of Web sites that promote it. (It is treated as a crime only if someone witnesses it, is offended and is willing to make a formal complaint.) And the police tend to tread lightly in public sex environments, in part because of the bitter legacy of the time when gay sex was illegal and closeted men having anonymous sex in places like public bathrooms were routinely arrested and humiliated.
There are more than 100 dogging spots in Surrey alone. Somehow, I have a feeling it isn't Mykonos.
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