Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Losing my voice...

...thank heavens, literally not metaphorically. I've done an average of three interviews a day for the past ten days - some of them, for the press, lasting over an hour. Add this to the normal communication of the day - and a touch of chest infection - and it's no wonder I'm suffering from slight loss of volume.

But heavens, no loss of interest in what I'm being asked. The thing that amazes me, every time, is how the same topic, Joy of Sex, elicits such very different responses from different journalists. The nice lady from Men's Health US wanted eight tips for modern male lovers - and a blow by blow account of how those tips might differ from what Alex Comfort would have said in 1972 (answer: radically, because not a lot was known about the clitoris then). The charming woman from the Mumbai Daily News wanted to know what I thought of the Kama Sutra (answer: deep respect). The Kiwi Radio reporter was delightfully informal and did, true to the stereotype, sign off with "no worries mate". Bless.

The Irish are the most surprising. Despite their reputation for inhibition, they unfailingly take the most upfront attitude. At 11am in the morning, they're reading graphic accounts direct from the "Venus Butterfly" section or asking me to explain, in detail, the difference between the vulva and the vagina. (Truly. That was yesterday on the Gerry Ryan show, complete with double entendres...)

So now, I'm just off to do the midnight show on ABC 702 Sydney. I presume that given the timing, they'll be pretty up front too. I just hope that they don't mistake my chest-infection triggered spluttering for shock or inhibition...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Post coital wind-down...

The launch on Wednesday evening was absolutely fabulous - a canape and drinks do at our local Borders with speeches, flowers and lots of what one attendee described as 'loving energy'. I did my speech (albeit tearfully) and so did publisher David Lamb and Alex Comfort's son Nick.

I was particularly thrilled that so many representatives of organisations managed to make the trip up from London; thank you in particular to Peter Roach from Durex, Cath Allen from Relate, Natalia and David from Greatvine, Jhanne and Debbie from Sense, and Mishelle and Victoria from the Terence Higgins Trust.

And now, continuing the metaphor of my last blog post on Wednesday morning, following the orgasm, my team and I are in full-blown refractory mode - well at least until Monday morning when all sorts of lovely work arising out of Joy of Sex will begin again.

Watch this space...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Today's the day!

At last, at last... in a flurry of media (Ireland, Scotland, Germany and yes the Australians) the book is launched.

Two years of effort - on my part but just as importantly on the part of my team and the publishers - has at last come to fruition. So... thank you to everyone, absolutely everyone who has been involved in the making, the development and more recently the publicity. I am truly grateful!

It's been occasionally stressful, sometimes frustrating, but largely a pure and increasing pleasure. Bit like sex itself, really...

... therefore I suppose you could say that today is the climax, the peak. The orgasm, so to speak. It certainly feels amazing!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why Joy of Sex?

Perhaps the most interesting - and at the same time frustrating - question I'm being asked right now is the "why" question. Why, in short, did I bother writing the book?

Don't get me wrong - everyone is being hugely excited and supportive. (That is, apart from the Alan Titchmarsh Show where he and his two guests just giggled like embarrassed schoolkids for five minutes - which was rather endearing seeing as their combined ages were probably more than the number of pages in the book).

But despite their enthusiasm, at some point absolutely everyone asks the 'why' question. Why does the book need a rewrite? And, why does the world need another sex book?

The answer to the first question is that it's a matter of timing. The Joy of Sex itself hasn't lost its essential appeal - telling people that they can take sex further and more pleasurably than they thought they could. But in the 36 years since publication, the science has developed enormously and the presuppositions have shifted completely. We now know about hormones, pheromones, the importance of the clitoris; we now have internet sex, teen pregnancy and the Venus Butterfly. The original was groundbreaking - but even cultural icons occasionally need a makeover.

The answer to the second question, however, is that it's a matter of common sense. My interviewers may have got sex totally sorted, but the majority of the rest of us haven't. With my agony hat on, I still get letters from thirty-something men who don't know where the clitoris is, and thirty-something women who don't realise that they need one. Plus, we have never been under more pressure to achieve in the bedroom: - to have good sex, to have more sex, to have better sex than the Joneses - despite the fact that the Joneses themselves, due to all the pressure, probably aren't having sex at all.

I passionately believe that there is still a need for a good sex book. There is still a need for a book that doesn't trivialise sex, regard it as junk food, see it in fluffy pink - a book that takes sex seriously, as a powerful and important force in our lives.

There is still a need, above all, for a book that encourages us to relax and take pleasure and show love when we make love.

There is still a need for a book that reinspires us with the joy in sex.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Still bubbling...

The big news on Joy of sex for today is that the antipodean campaign has kicked off. The nice lady from Hodder in Australia has started lining up interviews already for the October 1st launch: so Sydney Morning Herald yesterday, today and an increasing number of radio interviews lined up for the near future.

Yesterday, I also did an interview for the Times on the latest piece of research suggesting that men might be genetically programmed to be unfaithful. I have no problem with the research - very respectably done by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

What I got a little heated about was the suggestion put forward in some quarters that a genetic tendency equals an excuse. There may be sound reasons for men (and women, let's not forget) to spread their genes around, but actioning that in today's society is dictated far more by upbringing, personality and personal ethics than by a genetic imperative.

Parallel to this, you may have noticed, has been launched a book by one Gary Neuman who claims that if a man strays, it's the woman's fault. Again, excuse me? Yes, women need to work hard to make sure that relationships are healthy and happy - but so do men. And once again, however miserable a partnership, infidelity is an option not an inevitability. You do have a choice here.

As Alex Comfort originally said in Joy of Sex, and I retained in the update, "we have to find our own fidelities."