Is sex dead?
There may be the naughty bit or two here, but the collection is surprisingly—perhaps distressingly—chaste: This isn’t really “sex writing,” but “writing about sex,” a kissing cousin of dancing about architecture. Syndicated columnist Savage performs one unthinkable, or at least deeply unseemly, act: He includes a 40-page hunk of his Skipping Towards Gomorrah (2002) in violation of nearly every word in this book’s title. (It’s not great, though that isn’t to say the piece is without its merits; we can forgive anyone who writes, “I didn’t go to New York City simply to sin and to defy Osama bin Laden and his Islamo-fascist pals. I was also in New York because Jerry Falwell pisses me off.”) Elsewhere, two dozen writers and journalists, from stalwarts like Erica Jong to newcomers like Cole Kazdin, weigh in on the sociology of sex. Naomi Wolf sagely examines what pornography does to women, which seems less to dehumanize them than to make them uninteresting: “By the new millennium, a vagina—which, by the way, used to have a pretty high ‘exchange value,’ as Marxist economists would say—wasn’t enough; it barely registered on the thrill scale.” It does the same to men, too; Christopher O’Brien’s Wired article on would-be cyberporn king Gary Kremen is a masterwork of reportage on the evil of banality, while Alessandro Camon, writing in Salon.com, ponders the influence of imagination-stifling smut on the twisted puppies who committed the atrocities in Iraq’s most infamous prison: “The president and his inner circle said, ‘This is not the America that we know,’ ” Camon observes. “But it is. The pictures from Abu Ghraib are American ‘gonzo porn.’ They reek of frat-house hazing and gang initiation rituals.”
Technology-enslaved, boring, all-American: this is pretty dispiriting stuff. Thank goodness Erica Jong is there to remind readers, in closing, that “wild passionate sex exists.” Even without a credit card and a mouse.