Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, July 18

Gapers Block

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Joy of Sex Updated, Still Dated

The original�Joy of Sex, first published in 1972, has often been credited with inventing the modern sex manual. Its plain white cover and cheeky cookbook-style organization would eventually grace the coffee tables, bedside tables, and bookshelves of more than 8 million homes. Written by British MD Alex Comfort and illustrated with line-drawings and watercolors of a surprisingly hairy couple, The Joy of Sex rapidly became the sex manual of choice for suburban, married couples. Not to mention the surreptitious late-night reading of choice for many children and teenagers raised in the 1970s and '80s.

Continually revised and republished during Dr. Comfort's lifetime under such titles as The New Joy of Sex and More Joy of Sex,�the original�Joy of Sex series enjoyed unprecedented success world-wide.�Following the Dr. Comfort's death in 2000 at age 80, his son Nick Comfort chose to revise the book again and publish it under the title The Joy of Sex: Fully Revised and Updated For The 21st Century. This new, 2002 edition features new sections on sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, one mention of Viagra, one mention of vibrators ("No substitute for a penis.") and all-new drawings and photographs featuring a (thankfully) much less hairy couple than the original.�The new, "completely updated" design features a purple cover and purple pages with pink font throughout.


Fig1. The Viagra was still affecting the designer's eyes when he color-corrected the cover.

However, claiming the book is "fully revised and updated for the 21st Century" might be overstating the case a bit. The drawings may be new, but the woman still displays copious amounts of underarm hair (in accordance with Dr. Comfort's assertion that "shaving is simply ignorant vandalism.") Gay sex doesn't receive so much as a single mention, nor does lubricant, the anus, or any of the more "far out" sexual practices which comprise a hearty section of more modern sex manuals on bookshelves these days

While the original Joy of Sex may have been a revolutionary document when it was published in 1972, the new edition, despite some revisions and additions,�is more kitchy than cutting edge.�Some people may appreciate the simple, bland, accepting attitude of the book, but many will likely find the outdated tone and back-to-basics philosophy more entertaining than informative. It's hard to take serious advice from a book which categorizes oral sex into a chapter entitled "Sauces and Pickles" instead of in with the "Appetizers" and "Main Courses" that comprise the rest of the book.

Granted, it can be difficult to abide by the ever-multiplying prescriptions of political correctness, but the new 2002 edition makes several gaffes so glaring one wonders whether the editors even read some of the chapters. The chapter on sexual positions includes a rear-entry position offensively titled "The Negress." The "girls" of the original edition have become "women" in the revised edition, but that's as far as the revisions go to equalize men and women in the book. What was considered progressive in 1972 now feels stale, cheesy, and occasionally offensive.

If the purple pages and pink font of the revised edition are meant to imbue a sensual feel, they only add to the 1970's, breathy, ultimately creepy feel of the book.�This is the kind of sex manual that Grandma and Grandpa might find enlightening and enjoyable.�Anyone younger would be better off with any one of the truly up-to-date, enlightened sex books lining bookstore shelves today.


EMO Rubs the Wrong Way

If you can believe in the existence of a PhD in sensuality, you can probably believe in the possibility of a 60-minute orgasm. Drs. Steve and Vera Bodansky both hold doctorates in sensuality from More University in Northern California. Their new book, The Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive Orgasm, promises to teach couples how to turn mediocre sex into a teeth-gnashing, ceiling-splattering, life-altering experience.

The book opens with the declaration, "All orgasm begins in the mind, so that is where we will begin our journey," and proceeds to outline a plan for embracing sensation in every form. Several meandering, philosophical chapters later, the book finally gets down to business with a section entitled "How Do You Do?" -- further subdivided into "Doing a Woman" and "Doing a Man." �

So how does one, er, "do?"�In a word: Rubbing. Lots and lots of rubbing.


Fig2. The only full-on action in this book is on the cover.

The Bodanskys' plan for achieving Extended Massive Orgasm (or EMO, as they call it) basically consists of deep relaxation, followed by extended manual stimulation. When they say extended, they mean extended -- according to the book, manual stimulation ought to last between one and three hours.

After the dismal first half of the book, I thought it couldn't get worse. Sadly, things don't improve.�Topics ranging from wet dreams to Jesus Christ receive thoughtful and thorough treatment. There's even a chapter on the sexual habits of Bonobo monkeys.�But where's the sex?�The Bodanskys dismiss sexual mainstays such as intercourse and oral sex as ineffective and unnecessary. Sure, regular old sex is nice once in a while for feeling intimate, but if you're really serious about having orgasms, extended MASSIVE hour-long orgasms, it's time to let your fingers to the walking.

The Bodanskys are traveling the country to bring minds around to their concepts, teaching workshops and staging public demonstrations of their techniques. I think this book is a joke, but I'd pay ten dollars to see Steve Bodansky give Vera Bodansky an EMO in an arena setting.�Wait, after checking out their picture on the back of the book, I think I'd rather not. This book lacks any real substance behind its sensationalist title.

The wishy-washy philosophy of acknowledging pleasure in everyday life might resonate with the Bodansky's peer group of aging hippies, and the chapters on manual stimulation might enlighten someone who hasn't realized that rubbing one's genitals produces pleasant sensations, but for everyone else, this book is a condescending, longwinded, unintentionally humorous load of crap. Don't buy it. �Unless, of course, you want my copy -- it's worth a couple of dollars just to see the looks on people's faces when they see The Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive Orgasm on your bookshelf or bedside table, right?


About the Author(s)

Ruthie Hansen doesn't write about sex in her Top Secret Diary.

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