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How To Have #sexatsite

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Sex at site. Seems like a pretty straight-forward activity, right? You might be surprised at what an undertaking it really is. But before we go on, let me make clear that I’m not talking about having sex-at-site. Anybody can do that. In fact, many people do. Honestly, I hear about the tarsand tango, the mine mambo, or the camp can-can all the time. Believe me, there is no shortage of orgasms out here in the oilsands. However, what I’m talking about is #sexatsite, a campaign from HIV North Society that aims to remind the hardworking folks of Fort McMurray to keep safety in mind both on and off the worksite.

Months ago I was contacted by a community leader with an invite to a brainstorming session. When the date came, I sat down in a room with a handful of wonderful media types as well as representatives from HIV North Society. We were informed of some alarming facts and figures, and learned more than a few scary statistics that put “STIs” and “Fort McMurray” in the same sentence over and over. To put it lightly, I almost swore off ever having sex in this town again. Almost.

Luckily I didn’t have to, because the solution to catching an unwanted case of celibacy is the same solution to those high local percentages of frightening and sometimes incurable diagnoses: More people are having more safe sex. I should probably remind you right now that the only way to protect yourself completely from STIs (transmitted via sexual intercourse, not by other means) as well as unwanted pregnancy is total abstinence. Sounds fun, right? It’s your call, but the statistics say that most of you would much rather get down. And power to you, you deserve it. You just don’t have to take your life and health in your hands when you do.

That’s what the brainstorm was all about -finding a way to remind people how important it is to take care of yourself. And likewise the importance of unselfishly taking care of others when they are kind enough to let you have sex with them. Most of us know how to have safe sex, and there are many trusted resources and experts available to those who aren’t quite sure. HIV North Society is a fantastic place to start.

But then why are the statistics so high when we all know better? Is it simply habit? Denial? Can we just blame it on severely lowered inhibitions in the ‘heat of the moment’? Or maybe it’s all the alcohol and questionable substances that you were forced to use against your own will on the last shortchange. Whatever the excuse, it’s clear that the part of your brain in charge of thinking about safety and self-preservation doesn’t get much oxygen when the blood is rushing elsewhere.. But that’s ok, because you don’t exactly have to fill out an FLRA every time you’re ready to ride to stay safe. Besides, that would totally kill the mood.

By the end of the think-tank session we all agreed that the campaign should be called “#sexatsite”. More importantly, we agreed that on top of consent, all you really need to have a good sexy time is a simple way to remember just how easy safe sex is: Just remember your PPE. How often do you hear that at work? Safety is a HUGE focus in the oil patch. Watch for risks, assess your hazards, keep the safety of you and your co-workers top of mind at all times, and always always always remember your PPE. It’s drilled into your brain on a regular basis, repeated at every meeting, crackled through every radio. You can’t even get inside most places at site without your PPE gear on. That sentence should be true of the carnal activities going on after the whistle blows and shift ends as well.

So all you need to do is add one more piece of gear to your Personal Protective Equipment line-up. The amazing, the incredible, the lubricated / non-lubricated / ribbed / studded / numbing / tingling / warming / cooling / spermicidal / ultra-thin / ultra-thick / coloured / glow-in-the-dark / multi-flavoured / multi-sized / makes a decent water-balloon in a pinch / magnificent condom. It’s going to do a great job of protecting your personal equipment, I can promise you.

I mentioned earlier that having #sexatsite was quite an undertaking. It was after that initial meeting that the real work began. The planning split into two main focuses: print media and viral visuals. Artists and designers were scouted to bring the campaign to life on the printed page, meanwhile the Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association set to work shooting and producing a series of four PSA videos to share online. While I don’t have the inside scoop on the former, I worked directly on the latter, and it’s time to go behind the scenes.

Tito Guillen of the YMMFMA, who directed and edited the PSAs, drafted several scripts based on that first big brainstorm. Three of which made the final cut. The fourth concept came from a contest which called for people to submit their best pitch to promote the #sexatsite message. Cecily Perry won the contest, along with fame, glory, and a cool $1,000. A person could buy a lot of condoms with that moolah. If you’re in need, though, HIV North Society can provide you with some. That’s in addition to other safe-sex supplies and information as needed.

Cecily’s pitch, “Welcome to Health Class”, saw many members of the YMMFMA volunteer their time to play up a Ferris-Buellerian classroom scene. A sassy teacher, played by Jennie Spinney, wakes a sleepy class up with a session of sexy show and tell.

Brodie Dransutavicius is a complete crack-up in “The Check List”, making sure he has all the gear and supplies to get through a long work shift. Not to mention what he needs to punch the clock for some bedroom overtime afterwards.

“Seat’s Taken” was another shoot chock-full of YMMFMA members, this time on the long bus ride to site. I doubt many people are getting busy on the busses, but I guarantee those who aren’t being safe could be sitting with an STI without even knowing it. In this case the STI is Ashley Laurenson’s creepy creation. She’s behind the mask in the scene as well!

Saving the steamiest for last, “Did You Remember Your PPE?” pairs Dustin Young and Kim Broten as a duo about to hook up after a date. The closed-set shoot doesn’t short-change you on the comedy, with a ton of tease in there too.

The #sexatsite campaign has begun. Keep your eyes for the shorts premiering on the HIV North Society YouTube channel (, and watch for cartoons and stories in local publications throughout early 2014. A huge thank you goes out to everyone involved in the campaign from beginning to end.

I know it’s cold out there, and the best way to warm up is with some body heat. Whether you’re with the one you love, or you’re lovin’ the one you’re with, stay safe out there. Not just for you, but for all of us.



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