MSNBC.com’s sex columnist travels America to find out who’s doing who, and how.
He’s no freakier than the next person, asserts Alexander, assuming the time-honored, I’m-really-a-square stance of writers on sex. (Indeed, he’s probably way less freaky than most of the people he meets on this trip.) E-mail responses to his columns (he does one for Glamour too), the author noticed, contained a lot of very well-informed queries about “what we used to think of as deviant sex” from all parts of the country. The ensuing narrative describes his trips to a fetish convention, sex-toy conventions, suburban sex-toy house parties and one of the growing number of big-box adult chain stores. (He goes a little further than some of his compatriots, actually working a few shifts at the store hand-selling vibrators to soccer moms.) It should come as no surprise to anybody who’s been awake in the past few decades that acceptance of and discussion about sex practices has exploded into mainstream American culture. Alexander, once upon a time a good Catholic boy from Ohio, discovers on his trips through the heartland that for all the talk of conservative religion sweeping the nation, people in the red states seem “pretty live-and-let-live” when it comes to sex. He saves his (mild) scorn for some of the more extreme BDSM types on the coast—they come off as desperately narcissistic wannabe outsiders, defining themselves completely in opposition to the “vanilla” society they imagine surrounds them. Although bordering on redundant, the book does its level best to shed some light on subjects that it seems most of our countrymen are just fine talking about, no matter what you’ve heard about American sexual hypocrisy.
A clearheaded and open-minded look at the sexual revolution’s final stage.