Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange-- How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos

Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange-- How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos

by Robert Hofler

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After the sexual revolution came the sexual explosion

The six years between 1968 and 1973 saw more sexual taboos challenged than ever before. Film, literature, and theater simultaneously broke through barriers previously unimagined, giving birth to what we still consider to be the height of sexual expression in our pop culture: Portnoy's Complaint, Myra

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After the sexual revolution came the sexual explosion

The six years between 1968 and 1973 saw more sexual taboos challenged than ever before. Film, literature, and theater simultaneously broke through barriers previously unimagined, giving birth to what we still consider to be the height of sexual expression in our pop culture: Portnoy's Complaint, Myra Breckinridge, Hair, The Boys in the Band, Midnight Cowboy, Last Tango in Paris, and Deep Throat.

In Sexplosion, Robert Hofler weaves a lively narrative linking many of the writers, producers, and actors responsible for creating these and other controversial works, placing them within their cultural and social frameworks. During the time the Stonewall Riots were shaking Greenwich Village and Roe v. Wade was making its way to the Supreme Court, a group of daring artists was challenging the status quo and defining the country's concept of sexual liberation. Hofler follows the creation of and reaction to these groundbreaking works, tracing their connections and influences upon one another and the rest of entertainment.

Always colorful and often unexpected, Sexplosion is an illuminating account of a generation of sexual provocateurs and the power their works continue to hold decades later.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/21/2013
Variety senior editor Hofler (Party Animals) weaves an engaging, informative picture of the sex-charged, boundaries-pushing era from 1968 to 1973, when artists across various media changed the face of the entertainment world, shattering long-held taboos regarding sexuality and content. In a lively, unapologetically profane narrative, Hofler looks at how “a number of very talented, risk-taking rebels challenged the world’s prevailing attitudes towards sex, and in the process, changed pop culture forever.” Covering landmark plays and movies such as Myra Breckinridge, Hair, Last Tango in Paris, Deep Throat, and Midnight Cowboy, he shows how these productions, and the people involved, went against the grain like never before, redefining the entertainment landscape. From the genesis of Blaxploitation films to the rising profile of pornography, the complex, paradoxically mature “Sexplosion” era is covered in loving detail. Hofler covers pop-culture figures and their creations with an expert’s depth of knowledge and a passion for the lurid details, of which there are plenty, resulting in a delightful journey through a short-lived but influential period—a crazy time in which anything seemed possible and nothing was forbidden. Agent: Eric Myers, the Spieler Agency (Feb.)
Stephen M. Silverman
So vivid it’s like reliving the times, Robert Hofler’s Sexplosion seamlessly illuminates in fast-paced detail the tumultuous era in which American culture finally lost its virginity. His impressive research and authoritative voice make for a !*&%#@! good read.
Bob Spitz
Sexplosion is a multifaceted gem-a close examination of the intersection of sex, politics, and the arts that is also a thrilling cultural history. It is an original and provocative look at the backstage scenes of America’s theaters, studios, and clubs, where artists were demolishing inhibitions and transforming our lives.
Patricia Bosworth
“Rich, funny, and comprehensive, Sexplosion takes you inside the tumultuous, energizing years of 1968 to 1973, when artists, filmmakers, and writers defied authority and challenged every taboo to create a sexual revolution that reverberates to this day. This is a superb evocation of an era.”
Jeffrey Schwarz
A thoroughly enjoyable romp through a five year explosion of taboo busting, sexually adventurous entertainment. Robert Hofler pays tribute to the trailblazing artists who paved the way for the freedom on screen that we take for granted today.
—Ron Nyswaner
Sexplosion is a witty, insightful ride through the most entertaining period in American pop culture, the late 1960’s, when saying bad words and shedding one’s clothes in public were controversial and, in some circles, heroic acts.
Booklist (starred review)
Dizzying in its magnitude and impact . . . Hofler describes in often strong language and with considerable wit what was unmistakably a new cultural reality and moral perspective in America and Britain . . .
L.A. Weekly
A bona fide page-turner . . . Fascinating, funny, and thorough . . . Sexplosion tells the story of the people who made our current enlightenment possible.
Connecticut Post
Eye-opening . . . a 327-page time machine trip back to a pivotal moment in modern pop history.
That most rare of histories: as fun as it is fascinating.
Wall Street Journal
“…a provocative romp through the culture wars and the transformation in America’s sexual politics…”
Washington Post
Written by a true pop culture connoisseur… a long, three-martini lunch with a chatty acquaintance who knows the studio-lot scuttlebutt and isn’t afraid to share it.
A compelling historical look at the avant-garde art scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the set that broke taboos about what art could and couldn’t say about sex. Hofler doesn’t hold back….And lurid details make for a compelling read.
The Independent
Like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind’s study of the New Hollywood, Sexplosion deftly weaves a path through the friendships and collaborations which created common ground…. Above all, he amasses one unforgettable vignette after another.
Sunday Times (London)
Richly detailed, entertaining study of film and theatre’s sex boom in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Boston Herald
Compulsively readable …Sexplosion, with energetic glee, details how between 1968 and 1973 rebellious artists …proceeded to annihilate the mostly hypocritical censorship standards.
Financial Review (Australia)
Sexplosion stands as an engrossing chronicle of artistic expansion…. If your guilty-pleasure tastes run toward showbiz gossip, note that this book is pretty delicious.
New York Times Book Review
Hofler captures the arc of a generation that got drunk on pop liberation and woke up a little hung over….a parade of scandals.
Micahel Musto
Robert Hofler knows this topic better than anyone. Sexplosion is a well received study of the fiery, liberating culture that seized audiences from 1968 to ‘73….So take off your 3D glasses and let’s dance into the time tunnel of social tumult and other earthly delights.
Library Journal
Owing to a convergence of politics, pop music, drugs, and the antiwar movement, there was an eruption, or pop culture "sexplosion," in the United States in the years between 1968 and 1973. This book examines the forces and personalities that titillated and outraged the public during that period, in ways both profound and trivial. Hofler, a former entertainment editor at Penthouse, covers the porn scene (Deep Throat), artist Andy Warhol's Factory of "superstars," the new frankness in fiction (Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint; John Updike's Couples), Doors lead singer Jim Morrison's obscenity charges, the Stonewall riots and gay themes on stage and in films (The Boys in the Band; Sunday, Bloody Sunday), and even early reality TV (An American Family, the PBS series profiling the Louds, which featured a son's coming out). As the author notes, the revolution declined when "repetition and exploitation diluted the creative pool." However, the era's aftershocks are still felt to this day. VERDICT With personalities such as Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, and Oh! Calcutta! playwright Kenneth Tynan, the "sexplosion" seems more fueled by runaway egos than creative ferment. More background about the 1950s and early 1960s culture that the artists were trying to overturn would have been helpful. However, the volume is a readable review for those who lived through the madness and those who came later.—Stephen Rees, formerly with Levittown Lib., PA
Kirkus Reviews
Fun, fascinating examination of the moment when American and British culture seemed to lose all inhibitions. In the middle of the 20th century, the walls of censorship were battered by courtroom decisions favoring what officials had called "indecent" literature--e.g., James Joyce's Ulysses, Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Allen Ginsberg's Howl. Variety senior editor Hofler (Party Animals: A Hollywood Tale of Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Starring the Fabulous Allan Carr, 2010, etc.) focuses on the period from 1966 to 1973, when those walls seemed to come tumbling down, not only in books, but also in film, theater and TV. Suddenly, authors, directors and producers set their sights quite frankly (albeit often satirically) on formerly taboo subjects like transsexualism (Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge), masturbation (Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint), male prostitution (Midnight Cowboy) and rape (Straw Dogs). Language and subject matter became more explicit in works like the 1966 film of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the smash-hit TV series All in the Family. Actors of both sexes began appearing fully nude on the popular stage in Hair and Oh! Calcutta! and in films like Andy Warhol's Trash and Ken Russell's Women in Love. Hofler's deep research reveals the personal (and personnel) connections among many of these projects. Most astonishing, however, are the author's chronicles of the reactionary attitudes these revolutionary works provoked in mainstream media. Readers will marvel over the ideological distance traveled since those years, particularly by the New York Times, which in 1964 fretted about "overt homosexuality" in Greenwich Village and in whose Sunday magazine in 1973 feminist Anne Roiphe clucked her tongue over "evil flower" Lance Loud, the oldest and openly gay scion of the pioneering reality show An American Family. Sparkling history of an artistically spirited age.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hofler has spent more than forty years as an entertainment journalist, having worked as entertainment editor of Life and executive editor of Us magazine, and most recently at Variety, where he was a theater reporter and senior editor for fifteen years. His nonfiction works include the Henry Willson biography, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson, Variety's "The Movie That Changed My Life," and Party Animals, a biography of Allan Carr. Hofler is the theater critic for The Wrap and lives in New York City.

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