New 'Joy of Sex' to Hit U.S. Shelves in January

It's a little late for the holidays, but some might say the gift of good sex is always worth giving, no matter what the time of year.

The updated "Joy of Sex," a modern take on Alex Comfort's 1972 tome, will finally be available in the United States in January after hitting bookshelves in Britain in September.

Reviving Decades-Old Legacy

To understand what's in store for American audiences, flashback a few decades to when the book first came out:

The "make love, not war" youth culture of the 1960s left mores in flux by 1972, when the titillating book, filled with a smorgasbord of illustrations of sexual positions, made a sensational splash in bookstores across the country.

"The Joy of Sex" -- its name evoking the best-selling cookbook with gastronomical subtitles like "appetizers" and "main courses" and "sauces and pickles" -- moved sex out of the porn shop and onto the bedside table. The book sold 8 million copies, according to the publishers, helping to fuel America's "sexual revolution."

The iconic cover featured a naked, bearded man pressing against his flower-child lover. And in the tone of the times, Comfort -- a British gerontologist with anarchist leanings -- offered tips on the art of lovemaking to a mostly male, heterosexual audience.

Thirty-six years later, the bearded lothario cover boy is gone, and a female writer has completely rewritten the book in the style of Comfort, who died in 2000, an update intended to keep pace with scientific advances and new cultural attitudes.

"Readers don't want just fluffy and romantic or just downgraded sex," Susan Quilliam, the writer and relationship psychologist who was selected by Comfort's son Nicholas to "reinvent" the book, told "They realize it is joyful but also know it is powerful. People kill and die for sex, and it should be taken seriously because it's a powerful thing."

So far, its market is the same as the original -- a single person older than 25 who wants a "more advanced technique or deeper view," according to Quilliam.

The new 288-page book -- dubbed "The Timeless Guide to Lovemaking" -- targets the couple, rather than just men, and includes new topics on Internet and phone sex, pornography and intercourse during pregnancy.

Some of the older tips, such as sex on horseback or on a moving motorcycle, were removed, though the new version includes guidelines for sex on a stationary bike.

It also has a resources section with research on the female orgasm, use of sex toys and practices that were, according to Crown Publishing Group, "considered too outrageous to admit to."

More modern topics include the pressure to have sex, regret at not having it, problems with self-esteem and sexually transmitted diseases.

'Joy of Sex' Update More Politically Correct

Though some of Comfort's book has sustained the test of time, much has not. Modern critics charged that the original 1972 version was offensive, heterosexist, misogynistic. They say it gave a nod to some violence in sex, and lesbians were dismissed as "simply women who have given up on men after a lifetime spent kissing frogs who failed to turn into princes."

Quilliam did away with those politically incorrect transgressions but kept the theme, at least for now, heterosexual. "It was a deliberate decision to mention and honor gay sex, but not to cover it in the main book," said Quilliam.

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