A relatable, timely analysis of pornography’s history and its effect on the mindset of the gay community.

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THE PARADOX OF PORN

NOTES ON GAY MALE SEXUAL CULTURE

A New York writer and sex therapist’s treatise on pornography and gay men portrays the genre as a double-edged sword.

Long before the days of internet porn and smartphone hookup apps, Times Square grind houses were teeming with adult films that catered to the curious, the horny, and the ubiquitous men in old raincoats. To Shewey (Sam Shepard, 1997, etc.), the 1970s gay porn films helped the audience connect with their erotic selves and filled a void in representation, showing a fledgling gay audience “a world where everyone is enthusiastically, unapologetically gay.” As porn theaters gave way to home video, and the classified ads gave way to online dating, people’s mindsets changed along with the innovations in technology. Solitary and repetitive home viewing of porn began weakening relationships while the impossible male porn standards of everlasting strength and massive endowment were altering ideas of what was normal. As a sex therapist, Shewey is able to recount many complaints from people who grapple with feelings of inadequacy and performance problems, and he writes about how pornographic images have exacerbated his clients’ unrealistic expectations. Though he is clearly a lifelong fan of adult films and credits them with teaching him and others a great deal, he also blames porn for “liberating some inhibitions but installing others in their place, enslaving us to libidinal impulses at the expense of our health and mental well-being.” He concludes with results from a study he conducted that included 50 men who were interviewed about their habits and feelings about porn. The author’s effort to dive into the gay male psyche effectively touches on many significant topics, including the challenge of enjoying sex in times of great fear and calamity, such as during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Gay community history is skillfully told here, especially as it relates to the erotic side of things, and his warnings about subscribing to porn norms in everyday life sound important in an era of muscle clones and smartphone app players. Stories from his clients are told somewhat rapid-fire, but the intent is to remind people they aren’t alone in their struggles and that intimacy can be rediscovered. There are many intriguing excerpts from other writers, including heavyweights in and outside of the gay community.

A relatable, timely analysis of pornography’s history and its effect on the mindset of the gay community.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-73213-440-9

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Joybody Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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