KINK by Susan Crain Bakos

KINK

The Hidden Sex Lives of Americans

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Penthouse's former ``Superlady of Sex'' Bakos (Female Superior Position, p. 492) travels to midwestern bedrooms, California sex clubs, and New York S&M dungeons to report on America's kinky side. Bakos says that perversions are becoming more popular: If oral sex was kinky 20 years ago, then, she predicts, anal sex, playful ``tie and tease'' bondage, and spanking will be bedroom basics in the year 2000. Bakos's voyeuristic tour focuses mainly on S&M, though fetishes, cross-dressing, and other behaviors are also covered. The Scene, as S&M devotees refer to their life's passion, has no room for ``vanilla''--anyone who is not a ``heavy player.'' In the Scene, masters tie, torture, whip, brand, pierce, and humiliate slaves. Dominatrixes get paid handsomely for trussing businessmen with straps on their lunch hour. Rigid codes and rules, such as ``safe, sane, and consensual,'' dictate acceptable S&M behavior. Surprisingly, most people's idea of sex--involving penetration and orgasm--has little or nothing to do with S&M, in which participants remain physically removed from each other. Foot fetishists, swingers, and cross-dressers may only be able to sustain an erection in the presence of painted toes, other men's wives, or women's clothing, but their obsessions do lead to orgasmic release. While Bakos is a trustworthy guide as she interviews denizens of America's hidden sexual realms and she buttresses her findings with statistics (which she admits are inconclusive; interestingly the recent survey Sex in America, not reviewed, doesn't address S&M) and psychologists' opinions, her subjects eventually all sound unpleasant in the same way, and one kinky person seems more interesting than a roomful of them. In spite of Madonna's popularity and the current vogue for bondage fashion, S&M does not seem destined for the masses. Despite Bakos's thorough research, Kink neither titillates nor educates.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-312-11845-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994




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