The Joy of Sex
With uncensored topics and illustrations that leave nothing to the imagination, see why the Joy of Sex made it to the New York Times bestseller list eleven weeks in a row, despite the fact that it received harsh criticism for being the most provocative sex guide ever released in North America. Written with unabashed, “practical and unruffled detail”, the book explores the spectrum of “staple dishes” and “culinary fantasies” in a way that upholds biologist/writer’s sense of fun, directness and honesty.
- Full Title: The Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Love Making
- Type: Soft Cover; Pages: 288; Publisher: Simon and Schuster; Year Published: 1972
- Author: Alex Comfort, M.B., Ph.D.
- Categories: sex instruction, human sexuality, sexual positions
The Short Version
The aim of The Joy of Sex is to present a “range and variety of human sexual behaviors” using the same approach that a cookbook would - hence the title and style being synonymous with the famous American cookbook, ‘The Joy of Cooking’. The sections of the Joy of Sex are divided alphabetically into culinary categories just as you would see in a recipe book, and are complemented by beautiful line drawings by artist Chris Foss and color paintings by artist Charles Raymond. Interestingly, the models that posed for the photos (taken by Foss) that later inspired the classic Indian and Japanese erotica shown in this guide were Charles Raymond and his wife. Here’s what’s on the menu:
- The Art of Making Love - replete with full page illustrations of a couple in passionate poses and quotes by Comfort in the sidebar.
- Starters - these are, in the author’s personal opinion, the basic ingredients of sex: bedding, sensual clothing, and his thoughts on love, mutual pleasure, nakedness, genitalia, and tenderness during lovemaking.
- Main Courses - includes tips on sensual acts like ‘handwork’, i.e. Mutual Masturbation, hair play and Kissing, together with discussion on types of Sex Positions (e.g. standing, rear entry and missionary).
- Sauces & Pickles – more Exotic sexual positions are explored.' Sex acts that are a little more taboo, such as Anal Sex, discipline, and something called ‘femoral intercourse’, are also ‘toyed’ with.
- Problems – common, and not so common, sexual issues are discussed, such as: Excessive Sexuality , frigidity, Impotence, obesity and Venereal Diseases/Infections .
The style and spirit of the book is refreshing, mainly because the author’s attitude toward sex isn’t centered on appealing to popular culture. It is one of pushing boundaries; not to be some sexual revolutionary, but to stop catering to existing limiting norms and instead encouraging whimsy, humor, and (most importantly) hard information. And when you consider Comfort’s literary predecessors - whose works were bland, uninformative, and clinical - his approach, one of simple candor, was groundbreaking.
The Joy of Sex has been updated numerous times, both to reflect the changes in sexual attitudes (over thirty years after the first printing) and to relate the importance of Safer Sex in disease prevention, Multi-partner Lifestyles and S&M practices. The newer editions present a perspective that is more female friendly, contain updated illustrations, and include many newly added subjects (HRT, Viagra, therapies for sexual issues, sex as it relates to technology, and fantasy). However, the later publications stay true to their roots by maintaining the cookbook layout and menu items. The writers of the New Joy of Sex 2008 were Comfort’s son, political journalist Nicholas Comfort and psychologist Susan Quilliam.
The author’s style is witty, un-anxious and unpretentious; his work is appealing to professional counselors, as well as any ordinary couple interested in enjoying sexuality while still being responsible about it. A note about the artwork; it is both timeless and incredible - a tribute to the talent of the artists - but the models’ looks are fairly dated (mostly because of the hairstyles, namely the hirsute man’s!) As well, the book did not include any representation of persons of other ethnicities or sexual orientations.
Alex Comfort, MB BChir, PhD, D.Sc, (10 February 1920 - 26 March 2000) was an academic, medical professional, poet, anarchist and author of other books on a number of subjects. He came to worldwide attention after the release of The Joy of Sex; however, not wanting his name to be known only for sex, Comfort was displeased with the amount of acclaim this work received compared to all his others.
The joy of reading The Joy of Sex is the fact that it is neither preachy nor pitchy; Comfort’s theories and personal (though highly enlightened) views are practical, non-judgmental and pleasantly informative. You’d be hard pressed to find this kind of candor and intuitiveness in many other sex manuals, even the ones that are published today. Yes, this edition is out of date and far from ‘politically correct’, but the quirks and unconventionality ought to be taken with a grain of salt, and enjoyed right to the last morsel of advice. We rate this classic sex book an excellent read.
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