Will this sex makeover hit the spot?

A much-loved man­ual has been up­dated for the 21st cen­tury. Tam­sin Kelly finds out what’s in and what’s out

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Wellbeing -

I’m in pur­suit of The Joy of Sex. The book, that is. But it’s not there on the shelves — not un­der Health and Well­be­ing, nor in the Mind, Body, Spirit sec­tion — and I am get­ting in­creas­ingly des­per­ate. So much for be­ing be­yond em­bar­rass­ment at my age. I am go­ing to have to ask for a sex book in a full but alarm­ingly quiet book­shop.

Cue a bizarre and slightly too loud con­ver­sa­tion with the rather too jolly book­seller about: 1) how he should have one, but of­ten peo­ple take them off for a sneaky read, then pop them back in the wrong sec­tion; and 2) the at­trac­tive­ness, or not, of bearded men.

There’s a rea­son for my mis­sion, be­sides chalk­ing up an­other rite of pas­sage to proper adult­hood. The Joy of Sex is be­ing re­vamped for a 21stcen­tury read­er­ship, but un­til its pub­li­ca­tion in Septem­ber, the pub­lisher, Mitchell Bea­z­ley, is be­ing coy about what will stand the test of time and what won’t.

It seems that the beard won’t be mak­ing a reap­pear­ance (it was dis­missed in the Nineties in favour of a chisel-jawed man) but “the Vi­en­nese oys­ter”, “bird­song at morn­ing” and the “flan­quette” are set to stay. Mod­ern lovers will be in­tro­duced to the de­lights of the Venus But­ter­fly, paint­ing eroge­nous zones and the chal­lenge of find­ing the A and U spots, as well as the more fa­mous G spot. I’m still be­mused by the orig­i­nal “cas­so­lette”, which turns out to be “the nat­u­ral per­fume of a clean wo­man: her great­est nat­u­ral as­set af­ter her beauty”, and def­i­nitely not to be con­fused with a small hot­pot.

The New Joy of Sex is be­ing de­scribed as a mod­ern take on the orig­i­nal ground­break­ing man­ual writ­ten by Dr Alex Com­fort in 1972. The book’s fac­tual, non-judge­men­tal cel­e­bra­tion of sex­u­al­ity in a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship was an in­stant hit and it has since sold more than eight mil­lion copies. The au­thor, an aca­demic, died in 2000, but Susan Quil­liam, a re­la­tion­ships psy­chol­o­gist and agony aunt, and Com­fort’s son, the po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist Ni­cholas Com­fort, are over­see­ing the re­vi­sion. It is hoped that Quil­liam will give the man­ual a more fem­i­nine touch, but that read­ers won’t see the joins be­tween the “frank and funny” orig­i­nal and the new ver­sion.

So the book will re­tain its “Cor­don bleu sex menu” theme un­der the head­ings “in­gre­di­ents, ap­pe­tis­ers, main cour­ses, sauces and pickles”. But read­ers will also be en­light­ened on Vi­a­gra, ther­apy for sex­ual prob­lems and how to in­cor­po­rate phone sex and tech­nol­ogy into a lov­ing re­la­tion­ship. There will be sec­tions on sex shops, striptease and fan­tasy.

“It has been com­pletely up­dated,’’ says Jane Smith, head of mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­ity at Mitchell Bea­z­ley. ‘‘It is tak­ing in new ma­te­rial to re­flect how sex and sex­ual re­la­tion­ships have evolved in the last 35 years. But we wanted to en­sure the book does not lose its roots. It is, at core, a fam­ily ref­er­ence book. So this new ver­sion still in­cludes all the fac­tual in­for­ma­tion, but many new sub­jects have been added.’’

This edi­tion aims to repli­cate the orig­i­nal cover of a wo­man in the em­brace of a hir­sute Sev­en­ties man, only this time he’ll be beard­less. The pre­vi­ous edi­tion, now on my book­shelf, fea­tured a pur­ple-tinted soft­fo­cus photo, but the pub­lish­ers hope that cun­ning po­si­tion­ing of text on the new and more graphic cover will en­sure it re­tains its place on fam­ily shelves, while giv­ing it a more mod­ern feel.

The latest edi­tion will con­tain 120 new pho­tos and il­lus­tra­tions to in­spire a mod­ern gen­er­a­tion. ‘‘It is a mix­ture of pho­to­graphs and il­lus­tra­tions, be­cause you can­not show a pho­to­graph of pen­e­tra­tive sex,’’ Smith says. ‘‘So read­ers will see the pho­to­graph of a sen­sual mo­ment, but the ac­tual po­si­tions will be il­lus­trated.’’ And, in a very 21stcen­tury move, plans are afoot to cap­i­talise on The Joy of Sex brand with spin-off books, in­clud­ing The Joy of Sex Fore­play. Only take my ad­vice:

or­der it on Ama­zon.

Em­brac­ing change: the hir­sute lover from 1972 has be­come a 21st-cen­tury smoothie

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