'Joy of Sex' Reinvented for Today's Lovers

The year was 1972. Mores were in flux as youth cried, "Make love, not war," and a 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" -- took sex out of the porn shop and onto the bedside table, 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, author Dr. Alex Comfort -- a British gerontologist with anarchist leanings -- offered tips on the art of lovemaking to a mostly male, heterosexual audience.

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But today, 36 years later, the bearded lothario is gone and, for the first time, a woman has completely rewritten the book in the style of Comfort, who died in 2000, keeping pace with scientific advances and new cultural attitudes.

Updated Version Due 2009

The updated "Joy of Sex" was released last week in Britain and will be available in January in the United States.

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 writer Susan Quilliam, a relationship psychologist who was selected by Comfort's son Nicholas to "reinvent" the book.

"Readers don't want just fluffy and romantic or just down-graded sex," Quilliam told ABCNews.com. "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."

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 were removed -- having sex on horseback or on a moving motorcycle, although it includes guidelines for sex on a stationary one.

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 in not having it, self-esteem issues and sexually transmitted diseases.

Though some of Comfort's book has sustained the test of time, much has not. Modern critics have charged that the 1972 version was offensive, heterosexist, misogynistic. They say it gave a nod to some violence in sex. 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.

She looks forward to writing more books in the series that would specifically address homosexuality, diversity issues and topics for a younger age group. Still, she admits Comfort needed a rewrite.

Comfort: No Misogynist for His Day

"It was written by a man for a man, completely in keeping with the times," said Quilliam, 58. "He wasn't a misogynist for his day. He was actually forward thinking and mentioned the clitoris and was in favor of women taking the lead. He was very much for equality."

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