Friday, August 29, 2008

What a good week...

I truly don't want to turn this blog into a celebration fest - but this has been such a fun week.

Regular readers will recall that it was The Times last Saturday, then The Sun on Monday. Then I was asked to write a piece for The Express for Wednesday. Then I was on Woman's Hour this morning doing a twohander with Brett Kahr, a lovely therapist from the Tavistock Centre. And that's not counting the Australian interviews and the Indian interviews.

Woman's Hour, unsurprisingly, was eager to look at the issues posed when a woman rewrote JOY. Did I feel that it was necessary to realign the book a female viewpoint (answer: absolutely and according to his son Nick, in 2008 Alex Comfort would have agreed). Did I get irritated at Alex for his lack of feminism (answer: for his time he was actually very pro-feminist).

The Times of India, meanwhile, wanted to know whether I'd included the Kama Sutra in the New Joy of Sex (answer: yes) and whether the western sexual tradition had a manual as old and as explicit as the KS. (answer: no of course not, did you really think we would!).

Next week, the Brazilians are ringing. I wonder what they'll ask about - sex on the beach at Ipanema? Watch this space.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A tale of two features

Interesting how two very different features can reflect such very different, and yet similar views of the same topic. Or to put it another way, The Times and The Sun both do a good job.

The Times coverage of The New Joy of Sex came out on Saturday morning. It majored hugely on the social significance of the project, delved into my own background, and happily reflected the key point about the whole book: that despite the fact that sex is all around - I would argue *because* of the fact that sex is all around - we need an informed sex manual as much now as we did in 1972 when JOY was first published. (I also hugely liked the big picture of me in a punt!)

The Sun coverage came out this morning and on the surface looked utterly different. Screaming headlines, capitalised key words, lots of sexy pictures, and boxouts comparing what is "in" the new book and "out" of the first one. One might think that the points made were going to be both less subtle and less accurate. Actually no. The same message about the necessity for sexual information and resources came across just as strongly.

Aside from being a potentially useful "compare and contrast" lesson for media students, these two articles made me reflect. It's fashionable to accuse the redtops of scandal-mongering. It's almost as fashionable to sneer at the broadsheets as being merely vehicles for the chattering classes. And either paper, when writing up the material they had to work with - research, the book itself, the interview with me - could have dramatised, patronised or generally let themselves be hi-jacked by the temptation to write The Joy of Sex in an irresponsible way. It's a sex book, after all - and could have easily been fair game.

But neither paper into that trap. At the heart of each - expressed very differently but making their point just as accurately - was an extremely effective treatment of the messages I am trying to get across. So thank you to both journalists involved. You've just made a huge contribution to sex education in Britain today.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Check out Body and Soul tomorrow!

Just a quick post to tell you about the very first piece of coverage of The New Joy of Sex - by the London Times.

I had great fun doing it - they sent a very accomplished interviewer up from London to spend an afternoon with me. But even more enjoyably than that, they also got a photographer to take some snaps.

Said photographer decided that it would be a great idea to shoot the whole thing on a punt, so imagine me, the photographer and a rather bemused punt chauffeur taking us round and round in circles on the River Cam just in front of King's College Chapel while the tourists floated by gawping.... Embarrassed? You could say that.

The results will be the lead interview in the Times Body and Soul supplement tomorrow Saturday 23rd August; so please do check it out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yes!!!! The big day is approaching!

I admit it. For the past six months I have been a positive tease on this blog.

I have been hinting - more than broadly - that I have been involved in a big sexuality project, which I haven't been at liberty to talk about. Now, I can spill the beans.

You may remember, or have heard of, the seminal book Joy of Sex, written by Dr Alex Comfort in 1972. It's been a huge success, selling 8 million copies worldwide, but sadly Alex died in 2000, though his son Nick did a great job of updating in 2002.

Since then, the publishers have been searching for a female sexologist to "reinvent" the book for the twenty-first century. In 2006 they chose me - and for the past two years I've been working on the project. Now, it's all come to fruition - the UK launch date is September 8th, with a US launch in 2009.

I'm very proud of the New Joy of Sex. All of it has been revised and brought up to date. About half of it has been completely rewritten. There are forty three new sections covering everything from the clitoris through to internet sexuality. And there's a total reorientation of approach - from the mores of 1972 through to the new hedonism (and the new puritanism) of 2008.

As you can imagine, I am getting very excited - not just for myself, but because this is such an important book. What I realised in (re)writing it is that Alex Comfort was one of the first people to emphasise not only the joy but also the power of sex; we tend these days to treat the whole thing as a game, but it's an extremely potent force in life. The New Joy of Sex book, hopefully, makes that statement.

So...for the next few weeks, watch out for regular updates on this blog - of what's happening with Joy of Sex, the launch, and all the interesting work that seems to be coming in on the back of it.

Watch this space...