Orgasms, sexual inventions, spirituality, hightech porn, genderblending, hustling, masturbation, politics, airplane sex, disabilities, sex magick, biblical erotica, advertising, first times, sex in space, asexuality, group sex . . . are you ready for Disinformation's look at the world of sex?
Master anthologizer Russ Kick has immersed himself in the many and varied worlds of sex writing, producing a definitive collection exposing reality that's way, way stranger than XXX fiction. Profiled in The New York Times as an "information archaeologist," Russ digs where others would not think to look for delicious details on the present, past, and future of sex, including:
- The firstever look at the FBI's porn collection (the Obscene Reference File), complete with reproduced documents
- FAA reports about people having sex on commercial flights--the socalled "milehigh club"
- A look at brilliant, kinky, and scarce sexzines, such as Frighten the Horses, Taste of Latex, Future Sex, and Pucker Up, as well as Sexology, published by Hugo Gernsback, the father of science fiction
- The forgotten sex books of Charles Atlas ("Hey, quit kicking sand in our faces, you bully!")
- This massive, oversized anthology features a panoply of sexperts, everyone from prostitutes to professors, legends to newcomers, sexual revolutionaries to sexologists and beyond, providing a varied and unexpected look at sex, challenging our notions of what is possible and in turn exciting, enervating, frightening, and freaking us out.
About the Author
Russ Kick is the editor of the wildly successful three-volume anthology The Graphic Canon: The World's Great Literature as Comics and Visuals and the bestselling anthologies You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know is Wrong, and 50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know . His books have sold over half a million copies. The New York Times has dubbed him "an information archaeologist," Details magazine described him as "a Renaissance man," and Utne Reader named him one of its "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World." He is creator of the popular website www.thememoryhole.com.
Read an Excerpt
EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT SEX IS WRONG
By Russ Kick
The Disinformation Company Ltd.Copyright © 2005 The Disinformation Company Ltd.
All rights reserved.
When More Than the Earth Moves
Jenny Wade, PhD
A funny thing happened on the way to orgasm. The bedroom I was in began dissolving. Without having imbibed even a glass of wine at lunch, I watched in amazement as the white walls of the familiar room transformed into those of a round pink chamber with a silver Greek key border near the ceiling. Was this just some weird fantasy or daydream? My eyes were open, and I knew intellectually that I was in the same room, but visually I was seeing another place entirely.
I was suddenly no longer in any room with my lover at all, no longer sheltered in his house from the snow blanketing the wintry Northeast, but standing on the sun-bright shores of a sandy beach, squinting at the glittering waves. I was surrounded by vivid sea creatures, fish and octopi. Bemused, I wondered if I had somehow been swept into the water from the beach, but gradually I realized the sea creatures were not real, but images. Images painted in the unmistakable style of frescoes from the ancient civilization of Crete, a culture about which I knew practically nothing. It didn't matter. I was filled with the most exquisite rapture and bliss I had ever experienced.
Eventually, I found myself back in the familiar bedroom, still making love. My lover had apparently noticed nothing. Had I lost my mind? How long had I been "away"? I had never inadvertently slipped out of reality before. I didn't say anything about it, rather ashamed to let my lover know I had strayed so far from his attentions and feeling pretty crazy about it, to boot. But I never forgot it, either.
Later, on other occasions during sex, more strange things happened. I was filled with ecstasies a thousand times larger and more compelling than even the most intense orgasm. One day, I couldn't contain it anymore and began laughing; I embraced my lover and excitedly told him what had happened.
He looked at me oddly, then confessed that he, too, after a lifetime of sex, had been having some strange things happen when he was in bed with me. His experiences were nothing like mine. We both had been afraid we were crazy, but if so, it was the most glorious experience in all the world, one that opened each of us to ecstatic realms we had never dreamed existed, experiences beyond those offered by psychedelics or a meditation practice.
Both of us were experienced in other types of altered states, and, in fact, we're professional researchers of unusual states of consciousness. I decided to investigate what was going on in a more serious way, so I conducted a research study of 91 people who have had such experiences to learn more about them (the results have been published as academic articles and a popular book called Transcendent Sex: When Lovemaking Opens the Veil).
The fact is, the ordinary act of lovemaking can be the most widely available path to higher consciousness for most people. People who have experienced a transcendent episode during sex usually believe they have tapped into divine forces, even if they are atheists or agnostics. These experiences are so extreme, they change people's views of sex and spirituality. They have literally changed people's lives.
This research provides an explanation for the sexual-spiritual basis of most ancient religions by showing that mystical experiences happen every day in the bedroom to a significant portion of the population. Sacred sex is still going on. In fact, it seems to be irrepressible. Most large studies of sex turn up spiritual experiences, and most large studies of spirituality turn up sex. But this linkage has been hidden from the public eye, just as near-death experiences happened but were not talked about until they were recently "discovered."
It seems likely that one in every eight to twelve people will have at least one transcendent experience during sex in a lifetime, but most people are reluctant to talk about them for the same reasons my partner and I were. Most of the people I interviewed said they had never told anyone else about what happened to them in the bedroom—not even their lovers—because they were afraid of being called crazy or of having a deeply meaningful spiritual experience mocked or made fun of by others. That was what kept a lot of people from talking about near-death experiences, too, before they became part of the public conversation.
The act of lovemaking can trigger intense episodes that feature the identical characteristics found in the highest spiritual states documented in such diverse religions as Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as those cited in the annals of yoga and recent research on shamanism. The controversy surrounding the combination of sex and spirit has kept one of the most powerful forces for ecstasy and personal transformation in the closet for centuries.
What about Tantric Yoga and Taoism, spiritual traditions that have been adapted to Western culture as a way of working with sexual energy? Those paths have always acknowledged the sacredness and transformational power of sex, but they usually involve special techniques and training, and the modern versions often focus just on more and better orgasms or relating to your partner better.
In reality, you don't need to believe or practice anything special to have a mystical experience during sex. You certainly don't have to be a sex god or goddess. It can happen to anyone at any time, and the experiences aren't necessarily what you'd think. They don't have anything to do with your conscious beliefs about religion, sex, or anything else!
Regular folks, the kind we pass on the street every day—hairdressers, lawyers, sales clerks, shop owners, who had grown up in average American homes, most of them with some kind of fairly traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs—report being transported to other realms during lovemaking. Some were very conflicted about sex, and a lot of them didn't believe in God any more. And then, boom! One day they got ambushed in the bedroom by something they never expected. Baptists had Zen experiences of nirvana during sex. Catholics went on shamanic journeys to other worlds. Jews felt the presence of the Holy Ghost. Atheists were possessed by ancient fertility gods or sucked into past lives. You never know what's going to happen, but it can change your life and change your attitude about sex and spirituality for good.
Transcendent sex is distinguishable from ordinary sex because people's normal sense of reality changes: They no longer feel like themselves, or their lovers may no longer be recognizable; the "rules" of how the world works may be changed, or they are no longer in the here and now but in another time and place. Sometimes all of these categories break down. Transcendent episodes during sex resemble the altered states associated with high levels of attainment in various spiritual traditions, including:
Feeling transported to other locations
Experiencing waves of heat, energy, and light
Participating directly in the animal and plant life of the earth or in other natural forces
Reliving past lives
Being visited by gods and other avatars
Being possessed by spirits
Embodying spiritual forces, such as speaking in tongues
Dissolving into the primordial Void, such as nirvana or Samadhi
Dissolving into God or the great I AM
A good example is Chester, a student who had taken a graduate class on my research into sex, gender, and spirituality, and who called me up one day demanding to talk. I was afraid he wanted to dispute his grade, because he hadn't seemed particularly receptive to the material in class, but he wanted me to talk with his girlfriend, Alice, who needed help. She'd had a frightening transcendent episode while they were making love, which he was able to recognize and facilitate, although he had never experienced such a thing himself.
Alice had begun trembling violently in his arms as her soul seemed to leave her body, accelerating faster and faster the farther away it went. She had never had an out-of-body experience, and she thought she was dying.
Chester, unaware of exactly what she was experiencing, remembered what he'd learned from the class and had the presence of mind to encourage her to relax within the safety of his arms and to trust herself to the experience rather than to fight it. He watched her trembling subside, then saw her go into a "superdreaming" state in which her eyes were moving extremely rapidly behind her closed lids. As he stroked her soothingly, Chester felt what he described as waves of energy radiating from her body, discernible even when his hand was suspended a few inches above her skin.
Once she had calmed down, Alice said that she had permitted herself to go back into the experience, as if she had been willing to "go through a doorway." This time, instead of rushing through space away from her body, she found herself surrounded by the presence of God. At once she could feel throughout her entire being how totally precious and beloved she is—and everyone is—and that all the things she regretted in her life made absolutely no difference in this flood of unconditional love and light. God was nothing like she expected. Instead of learning how she didn't measure up or being given an assignment for what she was to accomplish in life, she realized that she was perfectly loved just as she was, regardless of what she had done or would do.
When she came back to the ordinary world, Alice was euphoric—and violently ill for some hours. The terrible nausea did nothing to dampen her ecstasy. She and Chester had eaten exactly the same meal, so they knew there was no physical reason for her sickness, and that was part of why they were frightened and sought my counsel.
Alice and Chester wanted to know if anyone else had ever gotten sick after a transcendent episode during sex, but this was a first. However, Alice gave me some important clues when she was telling me her story. The expressions she used for feeling remorse and shame was that she always "swallowed her guilt" and "pushed the guilt down into her stomach." Recently that guilt had become overwhelming, since Alice felt she had failed in a God-given mission to work with orphaned refugees overseas and had had to come back to the United States.
Now with her new understanding, there was no reason to retain the guilt. Alice said she recovered completely in a few hours and was still ecstatic when I met her weeks later. Of course, I had no expertise she needed beyond the truth of her own experience, but I could tell her that her experience was not unique. Chester's knowing what to do had provided the ground for her transformative episode to occur, and it deepened their love and faith so that both of them were changed.
* * *
Alice and Chester's story illustrates another point: Since otherworldly sexual experiences can come upon people unawares, lovers may be far more vulnerable than meditators or others who are deliberately cultivating altered states. People who are unprepared—especially whose worldviews don't include spiritual or supernatural events—can be frightened and even destabilized by such a "break" in their normal reality. Some underwent several years of psychotherapy or other professional intervention to come to terms with their experiences.
It's important to understand how powerful these sexual events can be. Their dark side can lead to an addictive need to be in a relationship, delusions concerning the partner and "rightness" of the relationship, and have a negative effect on the person's ability to function.
In a mild example, a young man I'll call Cameron came to me. He was in almost suicidal despair, which had lasted for several months. He worked in a high-tech industry and had no religious beliefs at all. In fact, he didn't believe in the supernatural. As he was making love with his girlfriend of over a year, he was suddenly swept into an ecstasy he could only describe as spiritual. The experience was so powerful and profound, it completely changed his understanding of the world, and it also seemed to convey to him that his relationship with this woman was "meant to be." The net result was that Cameron felt he was "a thousand times more in love with her" than ever and that there must be a meaning and purpose to his life of which he previously had been unaware. Unfortunately, Cameron's girlfriend, who had not had the experience and was not inclined to a spiritual point of view, couldn't come to terms with the change in him, and she broke off the relationship. He was devastated. He searched vainly for support from therapists and even joined several religious groups to see if anyone could help him understand what had happened—and help restore his relationship.
The fact is, the ordinary act of lovemaking can be the most widely available path to higher consciousness for most people.
Eventually, Cameron did receive help and understanding, but he is still afraid that he'll never fall as deeply in love again as he did with the woman he now believes must be his "soul-mate," even though she quickly became involved with a series of other partners. He is afraid he'll never be able to enjoy sex again or even desire to have it with another.
Cameron's case is hardly an isolated one, and it serves to point out the difficulties people can have coming to terms with these experiences and what they mean, just as people who have had other nonordinary "openings" involuntarily (such as near-death experiences or "alien abduction" experiences) are often seriously destabilized. There are steps people can take to prepare themselves for this eventuality and to avoid putting themselves in harm's way in potentially dangerous liaisons with powerful partners, such as exploitative gurus or sexual predators who may use their capacity to induce paranormal states to influence the unsuspecting.
* * *
For the most part, though, people reported very positive impacts from these sexual episodes, like those of other spiritual openings. Two stories, one from a woman and the other from a man, show how powerfully ecstatic they can be and how they come about. The woman describes a state similar to the experience of the Void in Buddhism or Hinduism. Similar descriptions are found in much of the Zen literature. She says:
The sense of him and my connectedness with him fills my awareness as the physical pleasure of my body begins to shade from foreground into background. What we are doing physically maintains and sustains this state, but awareness of our bodies, of my orgasm is no longer a focus. It becomes the ground, almost subliminal, for a more transcendent state. Our merged selves, our we-ness drops away into nothingness. It is the purest bliss without content, without the flow of time, without even desire because in that moment everything both is and is not. Nothing is there, just a void that has a feeling of whiteness.
On some occasions, this whiteness or void has then disappeared like a flood receding from the landscape to reveal what was always there, say, the furniture in the bedroom, the light coming through the window, the shadows on the walls, my lover's transfigured face. But when this happens, all relationships among these objects and me are changed. The objects seem no more whole or solid than the space around them, so everything seems part of a single web, a continuum in which everything is the same, either three-dimensional or not.
Excerpted from EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT SEX IS WRONG by Russ Kick. Copyright © 2005 The Disinformation Company Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of The Disinformation Company Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Transcendent Sex - When More Than the Earth Moves,
Gala's Divine Beauty Mark,
My First Fist-a-Thon,
The Truth About Sex,
Love Without Limits - Excerpts from Polyamory,
A Baby Dyke Learns to Score,
A Middle-Age Manifesto - How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Lube,
Teaching Rose - Jill Morley,
Inviting Elder Sex Out of the Closet,
Everybody's Sin Is Nobody's Sin - Alfred Kinsey and the Breaking of Sexual Silence,
Key to the Fields - Gershon Legman, Folklorist of the Unspeakable,
Betty Dodson's Revolutionary Open Relationship,
Inside the Cave - The Rise and Fall of Plato's Retreat,
The House of Secret Treasures - Japan's Sex Museums and Festivals,
Cunt Candy Factory,
The Circle Game - Playing With Yourself Together,
First Person Sexual,
Orgies - A Brief Paean and a Few Practical Thoughts,
Bed Knobs and Broomsticks,
Sex and ... Drugs,
Making Moves - Erotic Chess,
Cat-fighting, Eye licking, Head sitting, and Statue-screwing,
Necrophilia - Nick Adams,
My First Fetish - Or, How I Fought Mediocrity,
Profile of a Zoophile - Bill Brent Interviews Clive Grace,
Margins to Mainstream - Pornography Refreshes American Culture,
American Sex Ed - Porn as Sexual Disinformation,
Black and Blue - New York's Roughie Grindhouses and the Films That Played at Them,
Girls Gone Wild,
Fire, Brick, Sand, Concrete - An Unlicensed Sex Shop in Britain,
The Daily Schedule of a Porno Copywriter,
Violence as the New Porn,
Some of My Best Friends Are Naked - Interviews With Seven Erotic Dancers,
Astonishing Tales of a Peep Show Girl,
A San Francisco Whore in a Nevada Brothel,
How to Write Sex Scenes - The 12-Step Program,
The Virgin Diaries,
Beat Off 101,
The Man Who Screwed Things Up,
On Being a Sexmonger,
The Love Hotel Diaries,
The Sex Lit You Probably Haven't Read - Obscure and Expunged Material Dealing ...,
Vaginas, les Cons, Weather makers, and Palaces of Delight - Excerpts from The ...,
John Thomas, Lady Jane, and Little Elvis - Genital Pet Names,
Circumcision and Sex,
Hooray for Sodomy - Is the Rectum an Easter Basket?,
Horniness Begets Health,
"Two! Four! Six! Eight! Let Alabama Masturbate!",
There Has Been No Sexual Revolution,
A Perverted Utopia - It's the End of Queer as We Know It, and I Feel Fine,
Queer Freaks - Why Legalized Sodomy Is Just Political Foreplay,
Thumping in the Bible - A Brief Introduction to Sex in the Old Testament,
Burchard's Medieval Sexual Menu - From History Laid Bare,
The Sex Life of the Buddha,
Sex by the Numbers - Excerpts from The Book of Sex Lists,
About the Editor,