ex research is a little like sex in that most people who engage in it are more comfortable without an audience. The researchers who invited me into their labs did so at the peril of their funding, their privacy, their academic standing, their sanity. For saying “yes” when “no” was the sensible answer, I am deeply grateful to Jing Deng, Anne Marie Hedeboe, Geng-Long Hsu, Barry Komisaruk, Roy Levin, Ken Maravilla, Ahmed Shafik, Marcalee Sipski, and Margot Yehia. I am extravagantly indebted to Kim Wallen for his contributions to not one, but two, chapters, and to Cindy Meston, my sex research swami, for all the help, hospitality, and hilarity.
For graciously enduring my demands on their time, I thank Kim Airs, Jennifer Bass, Irwin Goldstein, Stephanie Mann, Robert Nachtigall, Michael Perelman, Anne Pigue, Carol Queen, Harold Reed, Arlene Shaner, Ira Sharlip, Marty Tucker, and Alice Wen.
This is my third book with W. W. Norton, and there is good reason for that. The list of Norton folks to whom I’m indebted is practically their phone directory. Boldface must be applied to a few of those names: Jill Bialosky, whose editing pencil should be bronzed should she ever retire (an event I will do everything in my power to prevent); Erin Lovett and Winfrida Mbewe, who make me feel bad for every author whose book is launched by someone else; and Bill Rusin, a man born to sell books. I thank you all for your commitment, creativity, and enthusiasm.
Beyond the halls of Norton, praises must ring for photo curator Deirdre O’Dwyer. My agent, Jay Mandel, deserves another 15 percent, and my husband, Ed, deserves a medal.
They don’t mean to tidy up afterward. See p. 208.
FYI, it’s the newest use for Botox. Because what paralyzes your browknitting muscles will just as effectively paralyze your clamping vagina muscles.
Six hundred forty-two members and counting.
For example, the pedophile who dabbled in incest (seventeen relatives, including Grandma) and bestiality. Kinsey’s inclusion in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female of this man’s observations of preadolescent orgasms—and his tacit acceptance of the man’s behavior—got him into a pot of hot water that he never really got out of.
Watson married Rayner and spent the remainder of his career in advertising. Cohen describes a market research assignment early on in Watson’s career at the J. Walter Thompson agency The mighty John B. Watson was going door-to-door in towns along the Mississippi River, interviewing people about their feelings about rubber boots. Which is not, I suppose, all that far off from a career in psychology.
It may comfort you to know that the autopsy data on fatal heart attacks during sex suggest that they are rare. In 1999, a team of German researchers reviewed 21,000 autopsy reports and found only 39 cases. It may or may not comfort you to know that “in most cases sudden death occurred during the sexual act with a prostitute.”
Sex researcher Leonard Derogatis cautions that autopsy statistics are misleading. When men die during sex with their mate (as opposed to in a motel room with a stranger), there usually is no reason to do an autopsy If conjugal sex is taking place, say, three times as often as illicit sex, posits Derogatis in “The Coital Coronary: A Reassessment of the Concept,” then those 39 deaths would reflect a truer figure of 156. Derogatis estimates 11,250 sex-related sudden deaths in the United States each year, putting it on a par with hepatitis C, brain cancer, and food poisoning.
A trick question! Fillmore had no vice president and he never ran for office. He came into power when Zachary Taylor died, and failed, despite repeated efforts, to win a second term. Random quotes suggest his oratory skills might have been the problem. Fillmore’s last words (upon tasting a soup): “The nourishment is palatable.”
More famously, Kinsey employed a toothbrush (bristle end first) for this purpose. This, among other things, caused Jones to describe Kinsey as a masochist, driven by the demons of his repressive upbringing. A past director of the Kinsey Institute told Kinsey’s other biographer, Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, that he viewed the urethral insertions simply as an idiosyncratic form of self-stimulation and that everything else was conjecture. Gathorne-Hardy was invited to the Kinsey Institute fiftieth – anniversary bash, and Jones was not.
A toothbrush, by the way, is alarming but not all that unusual. Urological Oddities, a 1948 compendium of memorable cases, includes an “elderly fellow” with a corsage pin that got away from him, a man who died from infection after inserting a twig from the family Christmas tree, and a farmer who “lost a rat’s tail.” There is always an explanation. The man toting three sets of three-inch surgical steel forceps, for example, insisted that Nos. 2 and 3 had gone in in an effort to remove Nos. 1 and 2, a story that collapsed upon examination, when all three turned out to be in there handle-first. As embarrassing as these hospital visits must have been, they pale in comparison to the Houston man who was taken away, on his back in an ambulance, with a large water tank from a public commode stuck on his penis. “The patient had attempted intercourse with the water-tank hole,” reports В. H. Bayer, M. D., in one of those rare, shining moments when urology approaches high comedy
The able-bodied, as well, Kinsey observed, enjoy expanded physical prowess under the influence of sexual arousal: “The doubling of the body which is necessary in self-fellation. . . may become possible for some males as they approach orgasm.” Or, according to a 2001 Hustler article, as they master the yoga pose “the plow” (on one’s back, legs flipped up and over the head). Further tips can be gleaned by renting Blown Alone or other videos starring superlimber porn star A1 Eingang. Wikipedia says that the god Horus was said to engage in autofellatio “every night because ingesting his own semen kept the stars in their places.” Only gods get away with excuses like that.
How did he know this? It’s not what you think. He and a colleague would on occasion hide—with the women’s permission—in brothel bedrooms, jotting down observations. At least I think they hid. It’s possible they drilled a hole in the wall or rigged up something more high – tech, but I enjoy picturing the two of them peering from behind a set of lurid velour draperies. Because that’s the kind of sicko I am.
You need a floor plan to keep track of the vaginas in Human Sexual Response. There are vaginal floors, vestibules, platforms, barrels, and outlets. Are people having sex, or are they just visiting Crate and Barrel?
You can’t buy a penis-camera like M & J used, but you can buy a Personal Pelvic Viewer. The PPV is described in the patent as an insert – able video camera that enables a “lone female in a room” to watch realtime images of her cervix or her sexual responses on a TV or computer screen. The phrase “lone female in a room” or “lone female at home” is repeated nineteen times, lending a melancholy cast to the typical technicalities of a patent paper. The PPV, at the time I inquired, was being sold by an organization called School of One—no doubt the alma mater of the lone female.
 Alzate insisted these encounters were “ethically acceptable as long as the examiner keeps from being erotically involved with the subject.” Only in the mutant universe of sexology could a man with his fingers in a woman who is exhibiting “hyperventilation, . . . rhythmic pelvic movements, vocalizations, and perspiration” not be considered erotically involved.
Pyrex’s first visit to the human body cavity, but not its last. Because of its strength and refusal to shatter or splinter when broken, Pyrex is popular among safety-conscious dildo and butt-plug manufacturers. Ovenware is the mere tip of the Pyrex iceberg. Beakers and test tubes are often made of Pyrex, as are bongs, water pipes, and the Mount Palo – mar telescope mirror. Pyrex was originally invented as a lantern glass for trains; regular glass overheated and then cracked when snow hit it. It wasn’t until Bessie Littleton, the wife of a Corning Glass scientist, baked a cake in a sawed-off Pyrex battery jar that the baking dish application got rolling. The Pyrex Web site includes a 1965 photograph of Bessie and husband Jesse “re-creating the kitchen discovery scene” for a Pyrex fiftieth-anniversary celebration. The company has no plans to re-create the Pyrex anal-plug discovery scene for future anniversary events.
In addition to book events and art exhibits, CSC sponsors sexuality workshops and “practical skills-building events” (e. g., “Sex Club Etiquette,” “Safer Sex,” “G Spot Stimulation,” “Positions and Toys for PlusSized Partners”) and holds an annual fund-raiser called the Masturbate – a-Thon.
In 1998, a woman in Saline, Michigan, received a patent for a Decorative Penile Wrap intended to “heighten sexual arousal of a male and female prior to intercourse.” The patent includes three pages of drawings, including a penis wearing a ghost outfit, another in the robes of the Grim Reaper, and one dressed up to look like a snowman. I tried to call the examiner listed on the patent, Michael A. Brown, but he has left the U. S. Patent and Trade Office. And who can blame him.
Marie was unaware of her prince’s proclivities when they married. Her suspicions were roused by the drawings of Greek athletes that George hung on his dressing room walls and, later, by his decision to serve as the gymnastics examiner at the Panhellenic Games. Marie had just given birth to their first son and complained in her diary that while she was home all day “suckling Peter,” George was off, well, suckling peter.
The width of a single inner labium, for instance, ranged from just under a third of an inch to two full inches. Gynecologist and early sex researcher Robert Latou Dickinson mentions a patient whose paired labia minora, in “fullest stretch,” covered a nine-inch span.
In parts of Africa, Haiti, and Indonesia, the wet, welcoming vagina is a turnoff. Men describe it as tasteless or diseased, and women insert all manner of drying agents to deliver the “dry sex” preferred by their men. “All manner” meaning: shredded newspaper, cotton, rock salt, detergent, bark, dried animal excreta. I was aghast until I read Levin’s paragraph about superabsorbent tampons, which, one study claimed, can cause the outer layer of vaginal cells to dry out so severely that it peels away.
Max von Frey was an Austrian physiologist who invented a heart-lung machine some time before an American named John Gibbon did. Dr. Gibbon ultimately became known as the machine’s inventor, while von Frey’s name was linked to calibrated pig hairs. Life is unkind.
A trick also employed to lengthen penises. Though an organ thus freed tends, when erect, to veer off sideways and/or hang down dispiritedly Anyone considering this should know that an Italian study done in 2002 found that absolutely everyone in a group of 67 men seeking surgical penis lengthening had penises within the normal range (from 1.6 to 4.7 inches, flaccid). “Normal” was determined, rather dauntingly, by measuring 3,300 Italian military recruits. The authors blame abnormally endowed porn stars for the growing epidemic of penile insecurity.
tFar easier to move a neoclitoris, which is the technical term for a trans – gendered woman’s clitoris, typically fashioned from a stitched-in-place nub of penile glans tissue. Do transgendered women ever request a closer placement? No, says Harold Reed of the Reed Centre for Genital Surgery in Miami. “They are going for looks.” As in, trying to look normal. To that end, Reed places them one inch above the urethra, right smack at average.
Which does not necessarily include semen breath. Van de Velde claims that a “slight seminal odor” can be detected on a woman’s breath within an hour after intercourse, and that the effect can be very arousing for the man. Or anyway, the man who enjoys smelling semen. Van de Velde’s semen connoisseurship must surely have raised some eyebrows: “The semen of the healthy youths of Western European races has a fresh, exhilarating smell; in the mature man it is more penetrating. In type and degree this very characteristic seminal odour is remarkably like that of the flowers of the Spanish chestnut, which. . . are sometimes quite freshly floral, and then, again, extremely pungent. . . .” Perhaps Van de Velde’s bitter outlook on the typical marriage (“that morass of disillusion and depression”) was traceable to something deeper than his distaste for his first wife.
No one in Israel titters over the seeming irony of a sex therapy center in a hospital called Rambam. Rambam is short for the Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (a. k.a Maimonides). Though I now associate him with rear – entry intercourse, the Rambam, as he is known there, was an important medieval Jewish philosopher.
tThe “G ” in G-spot stands for Grafenberg. The term was coined by G-spot popularizer and researcher Beverly Whipple. Whipple contemplated calling it the Whipple Spot, but refrained for the sake of her children and other innocent Whipples.
As an alternative, one culture cuts the nipples off boys, to masculinize them. Bonaparte gives a quote obtained from a nipple-less Janjero tribesman by an anthropologist named Cerulli. “We do this because we do not wish to resemble women in any way” A journal search turned up no mention of this practice; however, the Janjero were described as fierce hunters rumored to dally in human sacrifice, so presumably nipple-hacking would have been mere fluff to them.
A fistula is an unwanted passageway that develops between two normally separate body cavities. Like tenors, there are three well-known vaginal fistulas. The Pavarotti of vaginal fistulas is the vesicovagino, linking bladder to vagina and allowing urine to dribble out where it oughtn’t. Ditto the urethral one. Most odiously, there is the rectovaginal fistula (an occasional complication of childbirth), which allows flatus and feces to leak out of the vagina. Nothing to sing about.
I’m too polite to ask, but Alfred Kinsey wasn’t. In Kinsey’s landmark 1940s survey of American men, 26 to 28 percent of college-age rural males copped to having had “some animal experience to the point of orgasm.” In a few farm communities “where social restraints on this matter are less stringent,” the figure jumps to 65 percent. Calves, burros, and sheep are the preferred partners, probably because they’re the right height. There is no specific mention of pigs, except to say that “practically every other mammal that has ever been kept on the farm enters into the record, and a few of the larger birds, like chickens, ducks, and geese.”
Or, if you lack a sense of fun, just a can of Boarmate. One two- second spritz at the snout does the trick if the gal’s in heat. Until very recently, you could go on the Web and download a Boarmate Audio File, where you could hear a British man talking very seriously, in an Alistair Cooke sort of way, about “boar odor spray.”
Upon whom one may, if money is no object, use a Nasco Master Artificial Vagina, the “finest artificial vagina ever offered,” featuring “just right stiffness.” Or, for a stallion, the Nasco Missouri-Style Equine Artificial Vagina. (“The leather case permits the vagina to be carried easily. . . .”) Men, of course, are simply handed a magazine and a cup. There is a synthetic human vagina—called a syngina—but it is used in tampon R&D. Adman Jerry Della Femina, who once worked on a tampon account, joked in his book that if your campaign went especially well, you got to take the syngina to dinner.
One of the less prominently known similarities between pigs and men: They both fondle breasts. No other males on the planet regularly do this.
1 love eighteenth-century science writing, because the humanity of it— the exhilaration of discovery and triumph—had not yet been stripped away. Check out Spallanzani’s next line: “Thus did I succeed in fecundating this quadruped; and I can truly say that I have never received greater pleasure upon any occasion since I have cultivated experimental philosophy.” You can practically hear the champagne corks popping, the whelps yipping underfoot.
Since a male rat will mount and dismount many times before he ejaculates, this experiment required intimate knowledge of rodent sexuality. An unnamed junior staffer trained himself to “infallibly” recognize what he called the Sign of Ejaculation. Bearing no relation to the Sign of the Cross and only a passing similarity to the Mark of Zorro, the Sign of Ejaculation is a “deep final thrust.” This is followed by “a period of inertia” during which the male lies collapsed on the back of the female, provided, that is, that she hasn’t been plucked out from under him in the name of scientific inquiry.
tl find it hard not to project a sliver of sadism upon the scientists. The hamster guys are especially easy to mistrust, having stated in their paper that “the mated female was killed by a blow on the back of the head.” Who dubs a hamster? What would you even use to deliver “a blow” to a head that small?
For anyone who doubts that bisexuality exists among farm animals, allow me to quote from p. 100 of The Artificial Insemination of Farm Animals. Under item 4 of the section on using teaser cows to arouse a bull before taking his seed, we read that “males are just as effective as females for providing sexual stimulation and are more effective for some bulls.” Also arousing for bulls: the idea of the threesome. “Even two teasers which are ineffective when used singly may bring about stimulation when placed together.”
Not to be trusted. Talmey also makes the claim that a woman deprived of semen—either because she’s not having sex or her man is using a condom—will suffer a “veritable thirst for sperma” and “eventually become a nervous wreck.” Ridiculous. Or is it? In 2002, a team of SUNY Albany psychologists published a paper called “Does Semen Have Antidepressant Properties?” Of 293 female college students who took a survey, those having sex without condoms were less depressed than condom users and women not having any sex. How depressed the women were was not linked to whether or not they were in a relationship or whether they were on the pill. Reactions to the paper, principal investigator Gordon Gallup, Jr., told me, have been “largely skeptical.”
If s especially sensitive when you’re an infertility patient who works as a professional inseminator. Anne Marie Hedeboe related the story of one of her colleagues who was traveling overseas to adopt a child. “You can imagine, he gets a lot of teasing.”
It’s possible they also revealed Leonardo’s distaste for intercourse. Anatomist A. G. Morris describes one of the coition figures as a “quickly scrawled illustration… on the corner of a page filled with mechanical drawings of cranes, pulleys and levers.” It was as though Leonardo had set out to work on sex but got distracted by engineering—a scenario that no doubt plays itself out in reverse in the notebooks of countless college engineering students. “Copulation,” Leonardo wrote, “is awkward and disgusting.” He is said to have never bedded a woman.
^Scholars (and rubes like me) use Leonardo rather than da Vinci as a shortened print reference because da Vinci isn’t his surname. Da Vinci refers to where he was from: “of Vinci,” a town in Tuscany. Somewhere along the line, these place references began to be treated as regular surnames, sparing us from having to similarly exalt Leonardo DiCaprio.
The indefatigable Arlene Shaner, at the New York Academy of Medicine, tracked down a portion of this collection for me. Photos arrived in my email box (“I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. I am attaching some Dickinson vaginas for you”) and knocked me flat. The castings are presented in beautiful arched alcoves, like bas-reliefs of saints on the walls of a chapel. Next time you’re in Brooklyn, stop by the SUNY Downstate archives and ask to see the Dickinson vulvas. Or, you know, don’t.
^Something of a theme for Marie Carmichael Stopes. Her popular and controversial sex manual Married Love was written while she was still a virgin. Either she got some things wrong, or she failed to follow her own advice: Stopes’s 1911 marriage was annulled, unconsummated, three years later.
You are perhaps envisioning, as I did, a woman with her knees pulled up to her chest. It wasn’t until I reached Dickinson’s Figure 155 that I realized this wasn’t what he meant. The drawing shows a woman on her knees in a modified doggy-style posture, her chest and one ear pressed to the floor, as though listening for hoofbeats.
A business anthropologist is someone who, among other things, helps corporations avoid cross-cultural misunderstandings. For example, the one that led PepsiCo to run an ad in the Chinese Reader’s Digest that said, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave!”—rather than the intended “Come alive with Pepsi!”
The earliest orgasm on scientific record is that of a three-year-old girl whose mother spied on her and reported her behavior to Alfred Kinsey. Kinsey duly and unwisely—this was 1953—included a detailed description of it in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Though he had no dealings with this child or others described in his book, he was accused of pederasty, a taint that dogged him for years.
The California Exotic Novelties Web site features five pages of simulated vaginas, many of them crafted from molds of actual porn star orifices. Meaning that it’s altogether possible that, say, Alexis Amore made an appearance in the pages of Evolution and Human Behavior.
The world record belongs to Grandmaster Tu Jin-Sheng, who, along with two fellow practitioners, pulled a flatbed delivery truck across a Taipei parking lot with their penises in October 2000. For those interested in learning the art, or perhaps starting their own penile delivery service, MartialArtsMart. com sells Tu’s video Iron Crotch.
I’m a little confused because the Taipei Times referred to this technique by the name yin diao gung, or “genitals hanging kung fu”—the fifth of the Nine Mysterious Kung Fus. Mysterious Kung Fu No. Six entails “drawing water back through the urinary tract and into the bladder by use of a drinking straw,” which does not ease my confusion.
A comforting word about the crooked penis. Dr. Hsu says it is rare to see one that stands perfectly straight. Actually, what he said was: “Most men are communists! Lean to the left! Second most common: bow down, like Japanese gentleman! Number three, to the right. Four, up! Like elephant!”
Of course, you can use any old ring as a cock ring. In China, I saw rings of animal tail skin being sold for this purpose. Robert Latou Dickinson has a note in one of his files about the eyelids of a sheep, the lashes intended as a sort of ovine French tickler. Also on record: the handle hole in the head of a sledgehammer.
Trouble is, without a release latch, you might not get it back off again. In San Francisco, cock-ring emergencies are so common that they have their own shorthand (“С-Ring”) on the Fire Department teletype. The department’s Heavy Rescue Squad has modified a small circular saw especially for this purpose and occasionally stages practice drills. The latter prove challenging owing to the absence of manipulable genitalia on Resusci – Andy dolls and the refusal of male staff to volunteer as mock victims.
This footnote dedicated to former HR squadder Caroline Paul, who personally liberated four penises, including that of the sledgehammer guy, who did not say thank you.
Lue was the 1988 recipient of the Gold Cystoscope Award, which Dr. Hsu remembered as the “Golden Bladder Award.” The ensuing trip to Google for verification revealed a veritable medical supply catalogue of gold-plated statuary: there is the Golden Speculum Award and the Golden Forceps Award. The American Rhinologic Society bestows a Golden Head Mirror Award. There are at least three different Golden Stethoscope Awards. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, not getting into the spirit of it at all, bestows an annual Mentor’s Award.
The U. S. Postal Service was aware of this practice, and even endorses it. USPS spokesman Mark Saunders points out that it was a nice, if modest, source of additional revenue for the beleaguered Postal Service. “Because I bet these people didn’t use the stamps after that, for mail.” Saunders urges care in choosing the stamps. “For instance, we recently introduced a Distinguished Marines stamp and a Muppets stamp,” both of which would seem, well, just plain wrong. Saunders also felt that some stamps, like the Greta Garbo, might be considered cheating. I asked Saunders if the Postal Service even sells perforated stamps anymore. “Yeah,” he deadpanned. “We’ve got a new dog stamp. It licks itself.”
The semen-as-life-force concept dates all the way back to Pharaonic Egypt. When the creator, Atum, needed to create a pair of helper gods, he masturbated. His seed spawned Shu, the god of air and—surely something of a letdown—Tefnut, the goddess of humidity. This and other tales are detailed in a group of illustrated erotic papyruses, which I read about in a paper by urologist A. A. Shokeir (“Sexual Life in Pharaonic Egypt: Towards a Urological View”). Shokeir’s paper includes a drawing of Atum masturbating, which he did by mouth and, as always back then, in profile.
The best-known erotic papyrus is the Turin Erotic Papyrus, housed just down the road from the Shroud of Turin. To avoid confusion, the papyrus is the one that shows people having sex in a chariot and, also, in “the Geb and Nut Position.” Shokeir includes the latter in his paper, noting in his caption that “the man carries a sack over his shoulder and takes her from behind.”
More often, the Patent Office opted for euphemism in the category headings for antimasturbation contraptions. “Surgical Appliance” was by far the most common. Also “Sanitary Appliance,” as though a sneeze guard or a mop could somehow keep wanton sexual impulses in check.
The scrotum enjoys a natural expandability that makes it a good candidate for use in skin grafts. Researchers at the Shriners Burn Institute in Galveston, Texas, have gone so far as to call the hairy sac “lifesaving.” There are images on the Internet of men with scrotums the size of those inflatable hop-along balls of my youth, but this strays well beyond normal expandability. These men have elephantiasis, and if you know what’s good for you, you will not do a Google search of “scrotum” and “elephantiasis.”
They can also, if they’re the sort who likes to invite comment, order a Neuticles baseball cap or bathrobe, the latter suggesting a disconcerting scenario wherein the proud Neuticle owner suddenly throws open his robe for inspection.
The latest addition to the Neuticles promotional merchandise line is a Neuticles BBQ apron. It has been a sluggish seller.
Rhino poachers of yore were more resourceful than their modern-day counterparts, if no less evil. Li describes them “rigging up a rotten wood fence which the animals like to lean against.” When the animals fall over “they cannot rise quickly and are easily killed.” For sheer originality, though, nothing tops the tactics of hunters of the Moupin langur, an animal that grins “when it sees people” and “when it grins it draws its upper lip up over its eyes.” Whereupon the hunter runs over and nails its lip to its forehead and smothers the creature. Don’t worry, though; it’s probably not true. Li also writes that the animal is ten feet tall and its feet are backward. The more you read Li, the more you wonder about his trustworthiness as a naturalist. One of his longest entries is Clear Liquid Feces of a Man, prepared by burying it in ajar underground to ferment. “The longer the time it is in the ground the better.” Like, say, forever?
But not if you step on one: A sea cucumber under assault expels the organs of its digestive tract through its anus (and then grows another set). Given that the sea cucumber’s greatest threat is Asian cuisine, this “autoevisceration”—essentially gutting yourself and saving the chef the bother—probably needs to be rethought as a self-defense.
A fact that has spread well beyond the confines of panda reserves. The Urban Dictionary includes an entry for “panda penis” (meaning a small one) submitted by a contributor named Lew. Lew’s usage example reads: “That girl said Matthew Reed had a panda penis.” It is Urban Dictionary policy to reject definitions that include the full names of non-celebrities, leading one to assume that the panda slur was directed at some sports or entertainment figure named Matthew Reed, and not Matthew Reed the wedding photographer, or Matthew Reed the assistant professor with the research interest in the interaction of quinoid compounds with cellular macromolecules, or any of the thousands of other “Matthew Reeds” on Google.
1 always assumed that Priapus was a god of something manly—war or shouting or chariot customizing—but in fact he was a god of fertility and gardens. One mythology Web site calls him the “the protector of all garden produce.” Clearly troubled by the girly job title, he took to wearing robes slit high enough to display his enormous cucumber. Those caught robbing his garden were promptly sodomized. “If I do seize you. . . reads an epigram in Smithers and Burton’s Priapeia, “you shall be so stretched that you will think your anus never had any wrinkles.” Encyclopedia Mythica reports that outside of Rome, Priapus was “never very popular.”
Kegeling has since been taken a step further, in the form of vaginal weightlifting. The idea being: You don’t just flex your muscles if you want to build them up; you train with weights. I once tried the Feminine Personal Trainer for a story. It came with a slip of paper telling me not to be overwhelmed by its weight. I wasn’t. I was overwhelmed by its size. Suffice to say, this is the only workout on Earth that calls for vaginal lubricant. The directions tell you to insert and contract, causing the FPT to rise up inside you until all that can be seen protruding is a doorknobshaped piece of steel, as though you are giving birth to a hardware store. I use mine as a paperweight.
To those who would say this is unnatural, I direct you to consider the male shark, whose sexual apparati are also erected with saltwater. Shark “claspers” fill with seawater before the predator mates.
In 1989, a team of psychiatrists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center interviewed twenty-one men who did so regularly Some had always been able, and some had come upon the ability later in life. The latter group combined those who had taught themselves, using a variety of techniques generously covered on the Internet, and those who stumbled upon it accidently, such as the fifty-nine-year-old skeet shooter who had continued thrusting on behalf of his wife and surprised himself with a second orgasm. Whereupon he exclaimed, “Doublee!”—described by the paper’s authors as a term for shooting two clay pigeons with a double-barreled gun, an event even rarer than male multiple orgasm.
Medical dilators have been around since the early 1800s, mostly under the name bougie. There is a bougie for widening most every tube in the body There are cervical bougies, urethral bougies, esophageal bougies, vaginal bougies. There is even, yes, a sinus bougie. Not only is there an anal bougie, there is a neoanus bougie, used for dilating a new asshole. Hegar refers to the man who invented this particular dilator. More specifically it refers to Ernst Ludwig Alfred Hegar, and if ever a name called out for anal dilation, it’s that one.
A word of apology to the male reader. There is no way for me to adequately appreciate how uncomfortable this may be making you. As a consolation, I promise never to witness and describe the insertion of a Disposable Internally Applied Penile Erector. (Yet one more way to stiffen an unstiff penis.) U. S. Patent 4,869,241 describes a stiff, hollow (so semen can come out) plastic tube designed to be “slidably placed” in the urethra. By the urethra’s owner. Writes patent holder John Friedmann—clearly of tougher stuff than my husband, Ed, who actually crossed his legs as I read this to him—“One merely slides the support tubing down the urethra.”
Close to but not quite the world’s most embarrassing underthing. First prize must go to the Deodorizing and Sound-Muffling Anal Pad. The patent’s background material details the sad decline of the human anal sphincter muscle, whose gripping capacity fades as we age. The absorbing layer is said to “trap the sound of a flatus,” as though one might later drive it to a less populated area and release it.
The Anal Pad should not be confused with a prior invention called the Anal Napkin, which, in turn, should not be confused with the dinner napkin.
Not entirely an exaggeration. The collagen fibers surrounding the corpus cavernosum of an erect penis are as stiff, by weight, as steel. I learned this in 1999, while interviewing Diane Kelly, then at Cornell University, the planet’s lone expert on the biomechanics of the mammalian penis. The fibers are arranged in two layers, one perpendicular to the other, which keeps erections from bending or ballooning out of shape when they’re squeezed. If you use enough force, however, a penis will buckle. “Penile fracture” is the preferred term. It refers to a ruptured corpus cavernosum rather than a broken bone. Humans don’t have penis bones. Dogs do, and chipmunks and muskrats and various other mammals, all of them represented in the fabulous Smithsonian Institution penis bone collection that languishes, tragically, in an off-site storage facility. The largest penis bone is that of the walrus. The Inuit call it an oosik and used it as a war club.
Not her real name.
And from HAFD, hyperactive acronym formation disorder. The condition has reached epidemic proportions in the sex research community. Cindy Meston staged a quiet parody in her days as a postdoc at the University of Washington. She had the task of composing a questionnaire to screen patients to see if they were promising candidates for surgical correction of a crooked penis (due to Peyronie’s disease). The surgery repairs the crook but takes as much as an inch off the length. Meston called the questionnaire the Washington Examination of Expected Negative Identity Post-Peyronie’s: the WEENI PR
Other things enter MRI tubes less slowly. Anything magnetic is subject to the projectile effect and, if brought too close, will abruptly lift off the ground and hurtle through the air toward the giant magnet at up to 40 mph. This has, in the past, included ladders, floor buffers, laundry carts, IV poles, and, in July 2001, an oxygen canister that fatally beaned a six- year-old boy as he lay in the tube.
Lef s get used to this word, because there are few likable substitutes. In a study of male and female genital slang carried out at five British universities, respondents came up with 351 ways to say penis (e. g., veiny bang stick, custard chucker, one-eyed milkman, bishop) and only three for clitoris: bean, button, and the little man in the boat. The authors felt this reflected society’s disregard of female pleasure, which is probably true, but I simply bemoan the lack of useful synonyms. The third one is well-nigh unusable, as anyone from this side of the Atlantic would assume the reference was to the Ty-D-Bol Man.
A clitoris does not, of course, ejaculate semen. But some women—40 percent according to a 1990 survey of 1,292 women—do, like men, expel a substance from their urethra during orgasm, especially orgasms from stimulating the G-spot region. The nature of this “ejaculate” has been the source of extended debate—urine or not urine?—and diverse scientific inquiry. One woman devised a home experiment in which she swallowed a tablet that dyes urine bright blue. She then “inspected her wet spots,” which she reports were either colorless or faint blue. One research team collected specimens of “the expulsion” and asked outsiders to characterize it. It is a testimony to the generosity of the human spirit that these volunteers both smelled and tasted the specimens. (Several specified that it “had no urine taste” without further specifying how they would recognize this taste. One likened it to watered-down fat-free milk.)
Women get them too. It took science a while to figure this out. You couldn’t simply hire a grad student to sit and watch all night, as was done in 1944, when science first confirmed that men were dependably getting erect as they slept (three to five times per night). And the average clitoris was too small for early-model strain gauges. What you needed were some congenitally enlarged clitorises, a fancy strain gauge, and a powerful need to know. In 1970, a trio of University of Florida researchers pulled together all these things and assembled them in a sleep lab. The women in the study were found to have a similar number of erections as did a control group of men, and, as with the men, they usually happened during REM sleep.
We have three Houston researchers to thank for this statistic. In 1985, the trio attached a pressure gauge to the tip of a penis-shaped Plexiglas rod and penetrated a small group of female volunteers. It seems to me that if they wanted to approximate the surface friction that exists in real intercourse, slippery-smooth Plexiglas was a poor stand-in for penis skin. Though I suppose that when you are doing an experiment that involves penetrating coeds in your lab, surface friction is less of a concern than, say, human subjects review board friction.
What is it with pathology journals and autoerotic deaths? Every other issue seems to have a case report of some heedless, autoasphyxiated corpse with ill-fitting briefs and a black bar across his eyes. Occasionally, they seem to be in there for sheer color, as in the case of the young Australian who perished from “inhalation of a zucchini.” This one raises more questions than it answers. Was he trying to intensify his climax by vegetally choking himself, or was it a case of overexuberant mock fellatio? (We do learn that the zucchini was from his wife’s garden, admittedly a nice touch.)
The nerve-dense bit of tissue on the underside of the penis, where shaft meets glans. “Along with the tip and the testicles, these are the sensitive parts,” says Marty. “The whole rest of the penis, you could throw away.”
Merriam-Webster OnLine’s preferred pronunciation is CLIT-oris. If you click on the little speaker icon, you can hear a nice lady saying “CLIT-oris” out loud for you, over and over, as many times as you click. The nice lady will also say “cervix” and “nipple,” but it is the nice man who gets to say “vagina,” “vulva,” and “orgasm,” plus all the male genital words. Smelling sexism, I entered “housewife,” which was read aloud by the woman, as was “maid,” “stewardess,” and “flower.” However, it is also the woman who pronounces “linebacker,” “doctor,” “president,” and “fireman.” So never mind. Can you say “waste of half an hour”?
Or, if they are followers of sixteenth-century naturalist Li Shih-chen, sun-dried, powdered wolf epiglottis. Li’s hiccup remedy, found in the Chinese Materia Medica, is probably quite effective, for in the time it takes to track a wolf and sun-dry its epiglottis, even the most stubborn case of hiccups will invariably have passed.
1 can’t speak for Butt, but Dorcus was once a popular and desirable name. There was a magazine for “embroiderers and needle artisans,” popular in the early twentieth century, titled Dorcus.
Far from the worse thing that ends up in rectums. “Rectal Foreign Bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the World’s Literature” includes a list of objects doctors have removed from rectums over the years. Highlights: a frozen pig tail (one of the 7 female cases in the total caseload of202), a bottle of Impulse Body Spray (“incarcerated” in a thirty-seven-year-old lawyer), a parsnip, a plantain (with condom), a dull knife, a cattle horn, a salami, a jeweler’s saw, and a plastic spatula. Multiple holdings in the same rectum are listed under the heading “Collections.” These include several that could pass as still-life titles (“oil can with potato,” “2 apples,” “402 stones”), several that probably couldn’t (“umbrella handle and enema tubing,” “lemon and cold cream jar”) and one that suggests a quiet evening in the Biltmore (“spectacles, suitcase key, tobacco pouch, and magazine”).
^“Obtained” being a handy euphemism. Paralysis disables the sphincter that normally closes to keep semen from heading off into the bladder. Thus, electrically prompted ejaculations are often “retrograde,” disappearing into the manly recesses unless someone “milks” the semen out into the light of day.
ІА Brindley tradition. At a 1983 urology conference, Brindley delivered a lecture about a new impotency drug, papaverine, that produced robust erections when injected directly into the penis. He began by showing his audience, a group of around eighty urologists and their wives—many en route to the conference cocktail party and dressed in formal attire—a series of slides of his own penis, after various dosages. He then revealed that, five minutes earlier, he had injected himself with papaverine. He pulled the fabric of his track suit tightly against his hips to reveal the outline of his medicated member. Not satisfied, he then pulled down his pants, revealing, in the words of eyewitness Laurence Klotz, “a long, thin, clearly erect penis. ” Klotz’s account of the event was published in
Vereen came in for rehabilitation after he was struck by a car (though not paralyzed) while walking on the Pacific Coast Highway some years back. Sipski recruited Vereen to do the introduction on Sexuality Reborn, which he undertook with admirable dignity and no dancing.
For years, Dr. Woog had been aware that women were using his invention as a vibrator. Every now and then, returned toothbrushes that passed through quality control “clearly seemed to have been used in that way,” said his son Lionel Woog, who oversees marketing for the vibrator company Advance Response. At a certain point, a lightbulb went on in the elder Woog’s head, and he set to work on a vibrator. “It’s the same idea,” said Lionel. “You want to stimulate the tissue without damaging it.” Lionel told me the story of the Eskimos, and how their gums deteriorated when they moved to settlements and began eating processed foods instead of raw animal parts. Vigorous chewing, he explained, stimulates bone growth and keeps gums healthy. Woog’s Broxodent electric toothbrush used to be given to marines on nuclear submarines. “They ate a lot of canned foods,” said Woog, and the toothbrush helped keep their gums in shape. It was a popular item with the men, maybe even for that reason. As Lionel Woog says, ‘You have to masticate.”
The most interesting being the woman in Taiwan who, once or twice a week, would have an orgasm (followed by a mild nonconvulsive seizure) when she brushed her teeth. The smell of toothpaste alone wouldn’t trigger it, nor was it limited to any specific brand. It didn’t happen when she poked at her gums with a chopstick or when she moved her empty fist back and forth in a tooth-brushing motion. Curious neurologists at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital gave her a toothbrush and toothpaste and hooked her up to an EEG. Sure enough, after thirty-eight seconds of the “highly specific somatosensory stimulus” we call toothbrushing, it happened. The woman, whose case report appears in a 2003 issue of Seizure, was neither delighted nor amused by the situation. She believed she was possessed by demons, and soon switched to mouthwash for her oral hygiene.
Highly decorated in both pursuits, Sprinkle holds a Ph. D. in human sexuality as well as a spot on the Adult Star Path of Fame in Edison, New Jersey The Path of Fame was the brainchild of Mike Drake, manager of the Edison porn emporium Playtime. Drake also oversaw the contents of Playtime’s Adult Time Capsule, which include an autographed CyberSkin replica of Sprinkle’s vagina. Other items bound to confuse the earthlings of 2069 include nipple clamps, a Decadent Indulgence Vibrator with rotating pleasure beads and “clitoral hummingbird vibrator,” and a set of “starter anal beads.”
tShe figured this out by borrowing a perineometer, a contractionmeasuring device first built by Arnold Kegel to document the vaginal strength gains of Kegeling women. To this same end, Kegel made Before and After plaster casts of women’s vaginas, to show that their Kegeling regime had rendered them firmer and less “gaping,” to use the terminology of Kegel’s colleague Marilyn Fithian. “You had to get the plaster out before it got too hard,” Fithian told me in an interview years ago. Otherwise, it would get stuck, and no amount of pelvic floor muscle strength was going to help you. “You had to break it inside the vagina,” said Fithian, who was in her seventies then and still Kegeling.
If you think there’s no link between sex and sewing machines, think again. Early sewing machines were treadle-powered, and medical complaints among seamstresses common. Somehow, the men of Victorian medicine decided that the rhythmic pumping of the treadles was arousing women and leading them down the scarlet path to wanton masturbation—and that this “self-abuse” was the cause of their complaints. Wrote J. Langdon Down in the British Medical Journal in 1867, “I was struck with the similarity of some of the effects presented to those which my observations at Earlswood had taught me to connect with habits of masturbation.” Earlswood meaning the Royal Earlswood Asylum for Idiots. (Where Down was a physician, not a patient. I think.)
You just never know what you’re going to see when you sign up for a sexual arousal study. At a sex conference I attended last month, a researcher gave a presentation about an arousal assessment technique called thermography To make sure that nonsexual reactions like laughter weren’t causing the increase in temperature, the subjects’ genitals were also thermographically filmed while they watched clips from a Mr. Bean movie.
 Artistic representations of vaginal lubrication tend, historically, toward hyperbole. Old Japanese woodcuts show it sloshing forth as though from a garden hose. Dickinson writes in his Atlas that men who played the roles of women in classical Greek comedies would be shown during love scenes with “bags of fluid” hanging between their legs.
t Films by the porn-star-turned-director Candida Royalle are a sex-lab favorite. Meston likes the one about the guy who had the meaning of life tattooed on his erect penis. Alas, he can’t get it up (and won’t just tell anyone what it says), and so a cavalcade of existentially inquiring hotties tries to make big the writing tablet.
For instance, who else would have funded a study of “the passage of flatus at coitus”? Flaturia, as Shafik has musically named it, is distinct from embarrassing vaginal fart sounds caused by air getting trapped behind the penis during sex. In flaturia, intestinal gas “leaks loudly” from the rectum during sex. Blessedly, it is rare: an affliction of women with a weak internal anal sphincter.
While reflexes like the vaginocavernosus may serve to heighten a woman’s passion, they cannot stand in place of it. Eight of the ten Frenchwomen “were indifferent” to the overtures of the ballooning pressure probe.
The female earwig is renowned for her maternal fastidiousness. She cleans her eggs obsessively with her saliva, which contains an antifungal. If someone—and it is unclear to me who this might be—enters her den and scatters her eggs, she will dutifully gather and repile them. However, if this happens once too often, she will eat them. Even earwigs have their limits.
Ditto humans. In 1973, researchers put a group of students (who’d never met) in a pitch-dark room for an hour, after telling them each would leave alone and never see the others. In other words, no judgment, no consequences. Meanwhile, infrared cameras were rolling. Ninety percent touched a stranger, 50 percent hugged one, and an unspecified number “necked.” When the experiment was repeated in a lighted room, no one made physical contact.
A boy who admitted to necking with a stranger named Beth said: “We expressed it as showing ‘love’ to each other. Before I was taken out, we decided to pass our ‘love’ on. So. . . Laurie took her place.”
“People share strong yearnings to be close to each other,” concluded the authors. “However, social norms make it too costly to express these feelings. Perhaps these traditions have outlived their usefulness.” Oh, probably not.
A visit to Yerkes will forever after distort your image of corporate America. On my flight home, the woman behind me was talking about the presentation she was planning for a man named Mark. Her seatmate had just finished up a series of displays at the regional sales conference.
Ladies, do not get involved with a chimp. Not only are they fast ejacula – tors, they want to perform this minor irritation constantly. (Highest copu – latory frequency of all primates.) And here’s how they let you know: “the male invitation posture,” in which the male sits on the ground, knees up and legs wide open to, quoting Reproductive Biology of the Great Apes, “reveal his erect penis.” As an alternate wooing strategy, the male chimpanzee will shake a branch at you.
A category defined by PE expert Marcel Waldinger as one to one and a half minutes Intravaginal Ejaculation Latency Time (IELT)—a high – octane way of saying How Long He’s in Before He’s Done. “Definite” premature ejaculation is defined as consistently less than one minute. (Certain antidepressants are being used these days to treat PE—including some that can be taken a couple hours before sex.)
You never hear much about the opposite condition, delayed ejaculation. Possibly, this is because for years it was called “retarded ejaculation,” and who wants to admit they’ve got that?
Shortly after his discovery, Michael patented the chemical makeup of the copulins as a sex attractant. George Preti, a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, says a major fragrance company in the seventies was said to be adding synthesized monkey copulins to its perfumes. Which seems disgusting, until you learn that another ersatz sex attractant fragrance, called Realm, was made from skin compounds derived from scrapings off of, quoting Preti, “the inside of casts worn by injured skiers.”
Preti and gang were clearly not speaking for the millions of soiled- panty enthusiasts in our midst. A Google search on “soiled panties” produced 78,000 hits, most of them directing you to freelance sellers, women who throw up a Web site with a couple of photos and a PayPal link. Wikipedia says some Japanese sex shops operate panty exchanges for girls, who wear a pair overnight and then exchange them for a new pair on their way to school. “The more soiled they are, the more they will fetch at sale,” says Wikipedia, yet further distancing itself from stuffy rival Britannica.
Hirsch speculated that the effect could be Pavlovian: “The smell of cucumber or Good ’n’ Plenty. . . may bring back fond memories of Grandma’s backyard.” But why would the women be sexually aroused? And why use candy-coated Good ’n’ Plenty instead of straight licorice? Has Dr. Hirsch gone Good ’n’ Fruity?
But not rectally. Anal sex—which Masters and Johnson dubbed “rectal coition”—was shunted off to its own little investigation. Twelve couples were observed: five gay and seven straight (three of the latter being strangers). The researchers studied anal sphincter contractions (conclusion: it mainlyjust hurts at first) and looked to see if arousal causes rectal lubrication (it doesn’t).