CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
WHEN LIONS ROAR is 'Brilliant' says Washington Post, Buy Now on Amazon

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
"What I like most in Maier's giant work is the spine of this saga, the all-important record of influence the great soldier-statesman-historian's life exerted on the future American president." -- Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, review in Chartwell Bulletin, The Churchill Centre

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Honorary Degree for Virginia Johnson? Petition Drive at Washington University

Well, well, well, look at how things have finally changed! Looks like Washington University may be warming up to the idea of presenting an honorary degree to Virginia Johnson, who, with Dr. William Masters, conducted much of her landmark sex research at that university.

Arguably, Masters and Johnson's work -- which first documented the basic physiology of human sexuality and then came up with a remarkably successful therapy that toppled Freud and pioneered our current age of the medicalization of sex -- was probably the most well-known research ever conducted at Washington University. Yet for some 40 years -- ever since the conservatives in the medical school found out what Bill and Gini were really up to! -- their name has been essentially taboo at that university. Now several students and faculty members are determined to change that view and are pushing through a petition drive for an honorary degree to be awarded to Virginia. At age 84, Johnson lives in an assisted-living home near the university. Here's the story on the petition drive at Washington and the link to the petition itself.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

MSNBC Video and CNN.com Commentary: Kennedy opened door for Obama

Story Highlights
Thomas Maier: Kennedy's heritage was of an immigrant family that broke barriers
Maier says the Kennedy brothers pushed wider opening of U.S. borders in 1960s
He says resulting demographic change helped usher in President Obama's election
Maier: Like JFK, Obama's background is much different than other presidents
By Thomas Maier
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Thomas Maier is the author of "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings," (Basic Books), which was the basis of a Warner Bros. video documentary released in November. He is a reporter for Newsday.

(CNN) -- With a sign from Dunganstown, Ireland, hanging in his U.S. Capitol office, a reminder of the famine-ravished farm where his ancestors began, Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy always seemed to understand that the Kennedys were perhaps America's greatest immigrant story -- overcoming religious, ethnic and cultural barriers to reach once unimaginable heights.

"My brother Jack wrote 'A Nation of Immigrants' in 1958, and his words ring true as clearly today as they did half a century ago," said Ted early last year, a few months before he was struck with a malignant brain tumor that claimed his life Tuesday. "I'm constantly reminded of my immigrant heritage."

Indeed, the Kennedys' vision of "A Nation of Immigrants" -- which Ted championed throughout his public career -- dramatically transformed today's America, opening the door for millions of new citizens and paving the way for Barack Obama's presidency. It is the Kennedys' most lasting legacy.

John F. Kennedy's idealistic belief in America's dream of opportunity for all was clearly stated in "A Nation of Immigrants," which reflected so much of his family's story as Irish Catholic immigrants.

The essence of this little known, little-studied book became the 1965 Immigration Reform Act, which ended the discriminatory preference given to white Europeans and opened the door to millions from Latin America, Asia, Africa and around the world.

First proposed by President Kennedy in July 1963, a few months before his assassination, the bill was passed in his memory, pushed by his two brothers in the U.S. Senate and signed by President Lyndon Johnson beneath the Statue of Liberty. Ted was particularly proud of its passage and referred to it often in public. No law in our lifetime has done more to change the demographics of modern America.

Many historians routinely ignore, or give only a passing nod, to the underlying forces of ethnicity and religion that so often influenced the Kennedy family's actions and outlook. Often their years in power were lionized as "Camelot" by the press. But as Ted Kennedy realized, a comparison to British royalty hardly seemed proper for the great-grandson of an Irish migrant worker who fled from a Dunganstown, County Wexford, farm during the Great Famine.

That Dunganstown sign in Ted's office was a reminder of the Kennedys' sense of their own immigrant heritage, their epic encounters with religious bigotry, and how the complex dynamics of their family life reflected the Irish Catholic experience in America.

From his grandfather, former Boston Mayor John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, young Ted heard of the great wave of Irish immigrants to America that included their family. And in the 1990s, the efforts of Ted and his sister, U.S. Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, to bring peace to their ancestral homeland seemed to reflect their deeper sense of being Irish, of being Catholic and of being members of a family coming from an often oppressed immigrant minority. Ted went back to Ireland many times, including to the old Kennedy homestead in Dunganstown.

The culmination of this Kennedy's immigrant legacy was most apparent by the 2008 presidential campaign, which offered many reminders for Ted Kennedy of the barriers his brother faced in 1960, becoming the first U.S. president from a minority background. Most notably, Obama, the U.S. senator from Illinois, possessed a style and dignity particularly reminiscent of the Kennedy era.

At a key moment in the primary campaign, Ted Kennedy publicly supported Obama who, in turn, said the Kennedy family always stood for "what is best about America." Obama's campaign faced many tests similar to those that John Kennedy endured in 1960 as the first and only Roman Catholic elected to the presidency.

As a minority, born to black and white parents, Obama had to overcome code words and subtle biases historically applied to African-Americans. Like Catholic hard-liners who complained that Kennedy wasn't "Catholic enough" in 1960, Obama was sometimes criticized within the black community for not seeming "black enough" in 2008.

And yet when the media made it seem Obama had been attacked for his minority status, African-Americans rallied to his support, just as Catholics did in 1960 for Kennedy. Ted Kennedy's dramatic embrace of Obama's candidacy carried a powerful symbolism, one of the last significant acts of his distinguished career before he fell ill.

From the broadest vantage, the Kennedy story reminds us of the glories and the limits of America's melting pot and those histories that paint people from minority groups in familiar "just like us" tones. We gain a better grasp of the Kennedys' appeal beyond Irish Catholics -- to countless other immigrant and minority groups who share a dream of ascendancy in America.

In this context, our understanding of the Kennedys becomes richer, more complex and of greater historical significance to what John Kennedy called a nation of immigrants. It recalls how far we've progressed as a country since the 1960 election, and yet how many barriers still remain today. No one understood that better than Ted Kennedy.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Thomas Maier.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy Dies at Age 77, Remembering the Kennedy Legacy As An Era Passes


Sen. Ted Kennedy's passing at age 77 brings the end of an era in America politics, the remarkable legacy of the Kennedys and their sense of public service and their embodiment of many American ideals. My history of the Kennedys -- "The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings" (Basic Books) -- was updated in 2008 for the Warner Bros documentary based on the book and is available at Amazon and at the bookstore of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Sen. Kennedy was very gracious to me personally, granting an interview for my book, allowing private family photos to be used, and in his comments about my investigative work at Newsday.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Silicon Valley Weighs In with 'Fresh Look' -- NYTimes Review Appears in Mercury News


Author Thomas Maier takes a fresh look at sex researchers Masters and Johnson

By Dwight Garner
New York Times
Posted: 07/16/2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Updated: 07/17/2009 04:35:07 PM PDT

By Dwight Garner
New York Times
It's hard to believe, but the word "clitoris" did not appear in Playboy magazine until 1968, in an interview with Masters and Johnson, the famous sex researchers.
Two years earlier, the pair had published "Human Sexual Response," their first book, based on more than 10 years of clinical research. It was a bestseller, and it rattled the culture in much the same way the first Kinsey Report had in 1948.
Alfred Kinsey compiled his information from surveys. His work was sociology. William Masters and Virginia Johnson actually watched people — a lot of people — have sex, with heart monitors and other gizmos attached to their subjects' bodies. Here was science. Here was raw data that steamed America's frozen peas.
"Human Sexual Response" wasn't easy or especially titillating reading, Thomas Maier points out in his new book, "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love." Masters and Johnson wanted their work to be taken seriously, and wanted to stay a step ahead of the morality police, so they tended to write in almost comically dense medicalese.
Their books speak of "mounting episodes," of "stimulative approach opportunities" and "vocalized performance concerns." Barry White this was not.
Still, the big news in "Human Sexual Response" jumped off the page. Women, compared to men, were veritable sexual athletes,
Advertisement

capable of multiple orgasms. More shockingly, women reported more intense orgasms when they masturbated. Who needed men? (Before long, an office sign at Gloria Steinem's Ms. Magazine would read, ''It's 10 o'clock at night — do you know where your clitoris is?")
Male readers took some solace in the fact that Masters and Johnson dismissed the "widespread concept that ejaculation, whether accomplished through masturbation or coition, is detrimental to the physical condition of men in athletic training programs." They also noted that men with larger penises are not necessarily more effective lovers.
Masters and Johnson became famous. Other books followed, including "Human Sexual Inadequacy" and "The Pleasure Bond." In 1970 they appeared on the cover of Time magazine and came off as avuncular and funny. "The greatest form of sex education," Masters told Time, "is Pop walking past Mom in the kitchen and patting her on the fanny, and Mom obviously liking it. The kids take a look at this action and think, 'Boy, that's for me.' "
They opened a clinic to treat sexual dysfunction, among the first in the country, and celebrities, among others, flocked to it. Their clients included the actress Barbara Eden, Maier writes, as well as Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, after he had been shot in an assassination attempt.
Behind Masters and Johnson's success, however, is a long and frequently disquieting story, one that is told with patience and care by Maier. Masters met Johnson in 1956. He was 41, a married professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis and a distinguished surgeon. She was a twice-divorced 31-year-old former singer without a college degree, who had simply applied to be his assistant.
"Why me? I still don't quite know," Johnson said later. "I just became the princess."
It was a professional marriage that worked. At the time, Masters was shifting from gynecology to sex research, a nearly empty field. He knew he needed a female perspective, especially after a woman told him she sometimes faked her orgasms, a claim that utterly baffled him. "You really need an interpreter," she told him.
Johnson was not aware of Masters' sex studies when she was hired but proved to be a perfect partner. She humanized the famously aloof Masters, was a quick learner and had a gift for putting people at ease while asking the most intimate questions.
It was a different world in the late 1950s. There was an aversion to speaking about sex in public, much less studying it in private. Their research became the subject of rumors on the Washington University campus, and they soon left to open their own nonprofit research center. Some of the rumors were true. Bill Masters made it clear to Virginia Johnson — or Gini, as many people called her — that having sex with him was part of her job. They would study their own human sexual responses.
In 1971, after being married for 29 years, Masters left his wife and married Johnson. The pair entered a relationship that seemed charmed on the outside — Shana Alexander, writing in Newsweek, called them "the Ma and Pa Kettle of sex therapists" — but was essentially loveless.
In 1993, Masters divorced Johnson to marry his high-school sweetheart. He died in 2001, at 85, after suffering for many years from Parkinson's disease. Johnson tried to open a new clinic in the late 1990s, but it failed. She is now in her 80s.
"Masters of Sex" can be, at times, depressing reading. Neither Masters nor Johnson, it seems, led particularly happy or well-adjusted lives. But there's no denying that they added greatly to the enjoyment of many other people's time on this planet.
Maier writes well, and with good humor, about their struggles and frequent successes. They got very good at what they did. One former colleague, only slightly exaggerating, says of Masters: "Bill could look at somebody and say 'Have an erection!' and they would."
MASTERS OF SEX:
The Life and Times
of William Masters
and Virginia Johnson,
the Couple
Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier
Basic Books,
411 pp., $27.50

Thursday, July 9, 2009

National Academy of Science - Beckman Center lecture in Irvine, California "The Science of Masters and Johnson"


National Academy of Science, Beckman Center lecture.
Wednesday, May 20, 7:00 pm
"Science of Masters & Johnson"

Critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier offers an unprecedented look at Masters and Johnson and their pioneering work together based on laboratory observation of sexual behavior. Masters and Johnson explained the physiology of human sexual response and revolutionized treatment methods for impotency, premature ejaculation, and other “dysfunctions”—a term they coined. The talk will highlight interviews with the notoriously private William Masters and Virginia Johnson and show how this unusual team changed the way we all thought about, talked about, and engaged in sex. A book signing will follow the event.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In China, it's "Love Guru" instead of "Masters of Sex." Is this Another Example of Communist Censorship? Mr. Publisher, Tear down That Wall!



Here's the Chinese translation from a review in ChinaTimes.com about my bio "Masters of Sex" which has been renamed "Love Guru" for the Chinese. I hope the local phrase sounds better than it does to these ears here in New York. Thanks for the Google translation, here's what the story says...


After Kinsey's sexology By Master hippie movement just to the beginning of 1966, the United States appeared in a book "of human sexual response" (Human Sexual Response). Report this sex accumulated more than 10 years of observational study, immediately after the introduction of which caused a sensation comparable to a 1948 article, "The Kinsey Report," released at the event. "Human sexual response," the author is William obstetricians.麦斯特斯(William Masters) and his assistant维吉妮亚.Johnson (Virginia Johnson), a diploma is not even the first singer. Just published by the end of June in "Love Guru" (Masters of Sex) to say that these two "how to teach Americans to love the partner," the life and legacy. Thomas by the reporter of this.Mel (Thomas Maier) biography authored, in addition to research and explain their love life, but also expose a lot of sex related anecdotes. For example, Kinsey is the use of questionnaires to obtain information, but Johnson麦斯特斯and field observations have sex, who were covered in a variety of sensors, but also make sexual intercourse in the first internal photos of women. In order for works to be taken seriously, who blocked the mouth Wei Road, "the human sexual response" in terms of academic science was almost a bit ridiculous, but this classic is the most revolutionary discovery is: sex is more like women than men athletes, not only able to climax several times, but when masturbationWill enjoy a stronger pleasure. Poor men had no choice but to get some make up from this point: as in the past, that masturbation is not as unhealthy. Johnson麦斯特斯and become famous overnight, and then a book is also a 1970, also boarded the "Time" magazine cover. However, later research by the client from bad to worse: in 1979 the "homosexual observation" (Homosexuality in Perspective) that homosexuality can be treated; in 1988 the "crisis" (Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS) is also that the Government has successfully prevent AIDS, was approved critics as "the classic book of terror

UK Spectator: NYT's "fascinating" review of Masters of Sex


Documenting It
FRIDAY, 3RD JULY 2009
Everything you ever wanted to know about sex researchers, but were afraid to ask... The NYT has a fascinating review of a biography of Masters & Johnson. I always used to think they were a kind of baby lotion:
Can the life of a man who spent most of the waking hours of his adult life either having sex, watching sex or talking sex be sad? The answer, as we see in Thomas Maier’s eye-opening “Masters of Sex” is a resounding yes.
Their most detailed experiments were conducted in their own bed:
Having stripped to the skin, Masters “instructed Gini to remain as professional as possible,” and told her that “these encounters should not venture beyond the scope of scientific inquiry,” Maier writes... They would be married for 20 years, pretending to the American public that they were an ideal pair of lovebirds. Meanwhile they never used the word “love,” which Masters considered imprecise and inappropriate. Both knew what their relationship was about: the success of their product... They were as famous as Kleenex, Johnson boasted.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New York Times Book Review: Sunday June 28, 2009 - "Eye-Opening" and "Bombshell" is This New Bio of Masters and Johnson, Says Reviewer



June 28, 2009
Practice, Practice, Practice
By CRISTINA NEHRING

MASTERS OF SEX
The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier

Illustrated. 411 pp. Basic Books. $27.50

“I  can’t imagine anything that would make for more dull reading,” the sex researcher William Masters declared when asked, in his 60s, if he wished to write an account of his life. Now that account exists — and it’s a bombshell. It is also anything but envy-inducing or seductive. And therein, perhaps, lies its crucial importance.

Can the life of a man who spent most of the waking hours of his adult life either having sex, watching sex or talking sex be sad? The answer, as we see in Thomas Maier’s eye-opening “Masters of Sex” is a resounding yes.

Born in Cleveland in 1915 and banished 15 years later to boarding school by an abusive father who told him to expect no further support, Masters worked hard despite academic limitations. It was in medical school that he conceived the idea of becoming a great sex researcher. Doctors knew nothing of human sexuality except what Alfred Kinsey was recording in the 1940s and early ’50s, about a decade before Masters and Johnson got started. But the Kinsey Report was mainly hearsay — interviews with patients. William Masters didn’t want to talk; he wanted to watch, measure, film, touch.

Not only did he secure a plum position on the obstetrics-gynecology faculty at Washington University in St. Louis but in 1955 he got the blessing of that city’s police commissioner and archbishop for a groundbreaking study of female sexuality conducted in brothels. In the name of science, Maier writes, Masters crouched against peepholes and two-way mirrors observing “the amount of time in a sexual encounter, the points of entry and departure, and even the degree of bouncing around on the bed.”

The problem with this method was not just the discomfort (try wearing a lab coat and bow tie, as Masters always did, while huddling in the steamy corners of a bordello) but the fact that the sexual reactions of prostitutes were hardly representative of all women. Masters himself realized this, but didn’t change course until the day a confident young college student who dabbled in the sex industry (and delivered the startling news that women sometimes faked orgasms) told him he didn’t understand squat about female sexuality. He needed a female research partner.

Virginia Johnson was a secretary in the ob-gyn clinic, twice divorced, with two children and no degree. She was comely, sexually experienced and, more important, licentious. She cared nothing for the hullaballoo over love and romance. Sex had always been a pleasurable activity she engaged in serially with many partners, some of whom fell in love with her and most of whom she unceremoniously abandoned. “Dear heavens, was I really that insensitive?” she said when reminded of the offhand way she jilted her high school lover. She jilted her two husbands just as coolly. But then again, she once told a reporter, she had “never married anybody I really cared about,” possibly a reaction to a handsome Army captain she romanced in her youth who left her for his fiancée. “I had an active interest in sex,” she admitted, “but never particularly to the men I was involved with.”

For Masters this woman was a godsend. She freely agreed first to watch — and soon to have — sex with him. Intercourse became a part of their work contract: had she “opted out of that,” attested Masters’s aide, Dr. Robert Kolodny, she “would have been replaced.”

Masters was married at the time, and Johnson was dating a judge. But so what? Their near-nightly sex was part of their work ethic. Having stripped to the skin, Masters “instructed Gini to remain as professional as possible,” and told her that “these encounters should not venture beyond the scope of scientific inquiry,” Maier writes. And indeed, Johnson recalled, “I didn’t want him at all and had no interest in him.” This did not keep them from being “sexual athletes” for the next 13 years — until Johnson met a perfume millionaire who wanted to marry her. Masters feared the dissolution of their by then world-famous medical partnership, hastily divorced his wife and wed Johnson — and their sex life tapered off.

They would be married for 20 years, pretending to the American public that they were an ideal pair of lovebirds. Meanwhile they never used the word “love,” which Masters considered imprecise and inappropriate. Both knew what their relationship was about: the success of their product, which, by this point, was the revolutionary sexual science of the Masters and Johnson brand. They were as famous as Kleenex, Johnson boasted.

But for what? What did the more than 10,000 orgasms they observed in a laboratory reveal? Admirers, like Maier, point to the fact that they debunked Freud by revealing that there was no qualitative difference between a vaginal and clitoral orgasm, and that they made significant discoveries about vaginal lubrication and contraction during arousal.

But I would wager that for every myth they debunked, they introduced another, equally damaging. Example: If women were previously believed to be less sex-driven than men, Masters and Johnson claimed that, to the contrary, women are far more sexually superpowered, proceeding effortlessly from orgasm to orgasm. Needless to say, such an idea can cause a lot of trouble. Unless a woman is positively flying out the window like a witch on a broomstick — and staying there for hours — her partner these days is prone to turn glum and wonder if it is he who is a bad lover or she who has a (scary drumroll) “sexual dysfunction.”

Maier, the author of an earlier biography of Benjamin Spock, thinks the world of his subjects’ attainments. He passes lightly over the gaffes of their career, like their dubious research on “gay conversion.” He plays down their personal dishonesty, self-mythologizing and myriad contradictions. His pen is not probing but platitudinous: Couples “lose their innocence” when they make love, and on the night a teenage Virginia has sex for the first time, he tells us it feels “pleasant enough for her, though far from familiar.” It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that he makes little of Masters and Johnson’s own awkward and incomprehensible prose style.

Perhaps the lives of Masters and Johnson, and not their research, are the true revelation. At the end of their marital charade and their medical circus, Masters left Johnson the way he had left his first wife (and Johnson her previous husbands): in cold blood. A four-word announcement, and he was off.

Was he ever happy with her? In his unpublished memoir, Masters, who died in 2001, spends more time on his Doberman pinschers. Today, Johnson lives alone in an apartment near her erstwhile sex lab: she has destroyed the research tapes from her days with Masters, regrets the degree he blocked her from getting and the more advantageous men she never wed. Maier, who interviewed her extensively, and who has publicly enjoined Washington University to give her an honorary doctorate, sympathizes.

Masters himself went off to marry a woman he had first met as a young man and to whom he once delivered two dozen roses and a love note that were never acknowledged. When he learned, at age 79, that she never received those roses, he proposed. After their wedding, Masters looked happier than he ever had in his life and told the press that his findings about sexual vitality among the elderly held up: “But what’s romantic to me is to sit across the breakfast table and look at her — she’s a beautiful woman.” The technician of sex had turned romantic. Perhaps it’s time we follow suit.

Cristina Nehring is the author of “A Vindication of Love: Reclaiming Romance for the Twenty-First Century.”

New York Times: Excerpt from "Masters of Sex" -Daily Review of June 26, 2009


"It often begins in the back seat of a parked car. It's hurry up and get the job done. The back seat of a car hardly provides an opportunity for the expression of personality." — William H. Masters

Into the dark, two beams of light showed the way. The piercing headlights from a Plymouth automobile cut a path through the unrelenting blackness of the Missouri countryside. Slowly the car carrying Mary Virginia Eshelman and her high school boyfriend, Gordon Garrett, rumbled down Route 160, a vast asphalt stretch without street lamps, where only the stars and moon lit the evening sky.

For his date with Mary Virginia, Gordon borrowed the brand new Garrett family car — a green 1941 sedan with a shiny chrome grill, protruding hood ornament, muscular fenders, and an ample backseat. They motored past rows of homesteads and crops, carved from the tall grass prairie. That evening, they joined friends at The Palace, the town's only theater, where the melodies and dancing of Hollywood musicals let them escape Golden City's dullness. Newsreels made them aware of another larger world outside their tiny hometown of eight hundred people. Bordering the Ozark Mountains, Golden City seemed closer to rural Oklahoma than big-city St. Louis — both in dirt miles and in Bible-thumping spirit. Before heading home, Gordon turned the Plymouth off the road and dimmed its lights. Noise from the tires, pressing loudly against the gravel stones, suddenly came to a halt, followed by a palpable hush. Snuggled beside each other, Mary Virginia and her boyfriend parked in a secluded area where they would not be spotted.

In the front seat of the car, Gordon opened her blouse, loosened her skirt, and pressed himself against her skin. She didn't move or resist, just stared at him in wonderment. Mary Virginia never had seen a penis before except, as she later remembered it, when her mother changed her baby brother's diaper. On that night, shortly after her fifteenth birthday, Mary Virginia Eshelman — later known to the world as Virginia E. Johnson — was introduced to the mysteries of human intimacy. "I didn't know anything about anything," confessed the woman whose landmark partnership with Dr. William H. Masters would someday become synonymous with sex and love in America.

In her puritanical Midwest home, Mary Virginia learned sex was sinful, something far removed from the breathless tales of storybook romance she imbibed at the movies before World War II. Like many women of her generation, she learned that sex, at best, was a thankless chore, better left for the confines of marriage and bearing a family. Years afterward, she'd refer to Gordon Garrett anonymously as the "boy with fiery red hair." She masked his identity just as she concealed any unpleasant truth about her life, any memory of love that eluded her. As she admitted decades later, "I never married the men I really cared about." But she would never forget Gordon Garrett, or that night outside of Golden City, when the two teens lost their innocence.

Along the roadside, the young couple huddled in shadows, necking in the front seat until they slid into the back. Heavy breathing fogged the windows. Automobiles, still new to a place like Golden City, provided a relatively private place to be alone. Gordon pulled the clutch brake to make sure the family's parked car didn't roll away while their attention wandered elsewhere. Throughout high school, Mary Virginia shared many moments growing up with Gordon. About six feet tall with a farm boy's physique, he was rugged enough to play on the school's football team but sensitive to Mary Virginia's finer interest in music. They were a steady couple during senior year, constantly seen together. Gordon was her beau.


After skipping two grades, Mary Virginia found herself considerably younger than the rest of her Golden City High School class, including the redheaded Garrett boy, already turned seventeen. Eager to please, she possessed light-brown hair bundled in corkscrew curls, empathetic gray-blue eyes, and demure, slightly pursed lips. She usually wore an enigmatic Mona Lisa–like grin, which could easily burst into an engaging smile. Like other Eshelmans, she had the distinctive bone structure of high cheekbones, an upright posture, and perfectly poised shoulders. Mary Virginia's willowy frame suggested enough of a bosom to make her seem mature, though in their assessment some boys could be downright mean. "She was a tall, slim, flat-chested girl," remembered Phil Lollar, then a slightly younger fellow who lived near her farm. "Just an average-looking girl." But most teenagers in Golden City admired Mary Virginia's sense of style in a place sorely in need of it. In this small-town world, she talked, dressed, and acted like a young lady, enough so that even friends in Golden City's class of 1941 didn't guess her true age. Her most memorable attribute was her voice — a captivating, finely nuanced instrument she developed as a singer. Gordon's older sister, Isabel, said Mary Virginia's clothes never seemed ragged or disheveled, the sorry way some farm kids appeared during the throes of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Her brother's girlfriend "always kept herself clean and neat and feminine-looking," Isabel recalled. "She was pretty."

Driving in Daddy Garrett's brand-new Plymouth seemed right and proper, as close to a royal carriage as Gordon could muster for his prairie princess. Unlike other Depression-era youth, Mary Virginia always acted confident in her tomorrows, perhaps because her mother, Edna Eshelman, wouldn't have it any other way. "I think Gordon liked her a lot," recalled his other sister, Carolyn. "Her mother was 'the best is none too good' and Mary Virginia was like that too." The Garrett sisters perceived Mary Virginia as a good girl, the kind a boy like Gordon could proudly escort to the graduation dance and might someday contemplate marrying. Certainly, they assumed, she wouldn't be found frolicking in the backseat of the Garrett family car.

At this tender age, Mary Virginia already understood the duplicities of modern life for young American girls like herself. She knew the right words to say, the customs to observe, the dishonesty among the moral zealots and fundamentalists insistent on a woman's lot in life. Yet she resolved never to lose that independent part of herself. She would embrace life on her own terms, regardless of what her mother or anyone else said. Earnestly, she played the part of a "good girl" — both in school and at home — though in her heart she knew she was not. "I always lived the facade of mother's little lady but I always did exactly what I wanted to do," she explained. "I just never let it be known."

On the night she lost her virginity, Mary Virginia's experience wasn't forced, sweaty, or profane. The simple act finished within minutes. Sex felt pleasant enough for her, though far from familiar. Any thoughts of orgasm, sexual performance, or mutual satisfaction — the stuff of her intense, lifelong scientific studies with Masters — were then the furthest thing from her mind. Instead she trusted her boyfriend to know what he was doing. Only later in life did she realize it was probably Gordon's first time too.

"It just evolved and was very natural," she said, both wistfully and amused, of their backseat encounter. "It would have shocked my mother to death."

From the book "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love" by Thomas Maier. Excerpted by arrangement with Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2009.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

VIDEO: "Masters of Sex" Reviewed TWICE This Weekend, Called "Eye-Opening" and a "Bombshell" In Sunday's NYTBR, Daily Gives a Stellar Review Too

New York Times Praises "Masters of Sex" -Daily Review of June 26, 2009


June 26, 2009
BOOKS OF THE TIMES
Out of the Bedroom, Into the Clinic

By DWIGHT GARNER

MASTERS OF SEX
The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier
Illustrated. 411 pages. Basic Books. $27.50.

It’s hard to believe, but the word clitoris did not appear in Playboy magazine until 1968, in an interview with Masters and Johnson, the famous sex researchers.

Two years earlier, the pair had published “Human Sexual Response,” their first book, based on more than 10 years of clinical research. It was a best seller, and it rattled the culture in much the same way the first Kinsey Report had in 1948.

Alfred Kinsey compiled his information from surveys. His work was sociology. William Masters and Virginia Johnson actually watched people — a lot of people — have sex, with heart monitors and other gizmos attached to their subjects’ bodies. Here was science. Here was raw data that steamed America’s frozen peas.

“Human Sexual Response” wasn’t easy or especially titillating reading, Thomas Maier points out in his new book, “Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love.” Masters and Johnson wanted their work to be taken seriously, and wanted to stay a step ahead of the morality police, so they tended to write in almost comically dense medicalese.

Their books speak of “mounting episodes,” of “stimulative approach opportunities” and “vocalized performance concerns.” A sex flush on the stomach was a “maculopapular type of erythematous rash.” Barry White this was not.

Still, the big news in “Human Sexual Response” jumped off the page. Women, compared to men, were veritable sexual athletes, capable of multiple orgasms. More shockingly, women reported more intense orgasms when they masturbated. Who needed men? (Before long, an office sign at Gloria Steinem’s Ms. Magazine would read, “It’s 10 o’clock at night — do you know where your clitoris is?”)

Male readers took some solace in the fact that Masters and Johnson dismissed the “wide-spread concept that ejaculation, whether accomplished through masturbation or coition, is detrimental to the physical condition of men in athletic training programs.” They also noted that men with larger penises are not necessarily more effective lovers.

Masters and Johnson became famous. Other books followed, including “Human Sexual Inadequacy” and “The Pleasure Bond.” In 1970 they appeared on the cover of Time magazine and came off as avuncular and funny. “The greatest form of sex education,” Dr. Masters told Time, “is Pop walking past Mom in the kitchen and patting her on the fanny, and Mom obviously liking it. The kids take a look at this action and think, ‘Boy, that’s for me.’ ”

They opened a clinic to treat sexual dysfunction, among the first in the country, and celebrities, among others, flocked to it. Their clients included the actress Barbara Eden, Mr. Maier writes, as well as Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, after he had been shot in an assassination attempt.

Behind Masters and Johnson’s success, however, is a long and frequently disquieting story, one that is told with patience and care by Mr. Maier in “Masters of Sex.”

Dr. Masters met Ms. Johnson in 1956. He was 41, a married professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis and a distinguished surgeon. She was a twice-divorced 31-year-old former singer without even a college degree who had simply applied to be his assistant.

“Why me? I still don’t quite know,” Ms. Johnson said later. “I just became the princess.”

It was a professional marriage that worked. At the time, Dr. Masters was shifting from gynecology to sex research, a nearly empty field. He knew he needed a female perspective, especially after a woman told him she sometimes faked her orgasms, a claim that utterly baffled him. “You really need an interpreter,” she told him.

Ms. Johnson was not aware of Dr. Masters’s sex studies when she was hired but proved to be a perfect partner. She humanized the famously aloof Masters, was a quick learner and had a gift for putting people at ease while asking the most intimate questions.

Dr. Masters had begun his early research by studying prostitutes. But he came to realize they did not lead representative sex lives. The pair put signs up on the Washington University campus looking for volunteers to participate in their sex research and soon had more than they could handle.

It was a different world in the late 1950s. There was an aversion to speaking about sex in public, much less studying it in private. Before Masters and Johnson, for example, no one had photographed the inside of a woman during intercourse. (They employed a clear Plexiglas dildo nicknamed Ulysses for the task.) “Before they could fix things sexually,” Mr. Maier writes, “they had to know how it worked.”

Their research became the subject of rumors on the Washington University campus, and they soon left to open their own nonprofit research center. Some of the rumors were true. Bill Masters made it clear to Virginia Johnson — or Gini, as many people called her — that having sex with him was part of her job. They would study their own human sexual responses.

There are other details that, to some, were unsavory, including that the pair often paid sexual surrogates — a practice bordering on prostitution — to help men with premature ejaculation and other sexual problems.

In 1971, after being married for 29 years, Dr. Masters left his wife and married Ms. Johnson. The pair entered a relationship that seemed charmed on the outside — Shana Alexander, writing in Newsweek, called them “the Ma and Pa Kettle of sex therapists” — but was essentially loveless.

The couple’s later books were increasingly ridiculed. In “Homosexuality in Perspective” (1979), they claimed homosexuality could be cured — a claim that, with their names attached, is still trotted out by some social conservatives. In 1988 they published “Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of AIDS,” a book that said the government was covering up the true extent of the AIDS problem. One critic called it “a classic of the terror genre.”

In 1993, Dr. Masters divorced Ms. Johnson to marry his high-school sweetheart. He died in 2001, at 85, after suffering for many years from Parkinson’s disease. Ms. Johnson tried to open a new clinic in the late 1990s, but it failed. She is now in her 80s.

“Masters of Sex” can be, at times, depressing reading. Neither Masters nor Johnson, it seems, led particularly happy or well-adjusted lives. But there’s no denying that they added greatly to the enjoyment of many other people’s time on this planet.

Mr. Maier writes well, and with good humor, about their struggles and frequent successes. They got very good at what they did. One former colleague, only slightly exaggerating, says of Dr. Masters: “Bill could look at somebody and say ‘Have an erection!’ and they would.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

End of Culture As We Know It - Mainstream Media Is Quoting This Blog! NY Mag Ups the Ante In Exchange of Pleasantries

There's a first time for everything -- and this is the first time this blog has made news! Well, sort of. NEW YORK MAGAZINE not only called "Newhouse" an "excellent" biography two weeks ago in its profile of Si Newhouse, but it went on this week to quote this blog in its comments page. Can The New York Times and Foreign Affairs be far behind?


Comments: Week of June 15, 2009

1. “Terrifically insightful”—that’s how the blogger and biographer Thomas Maier
described Steve Fishman’s profile of Si Newhouse, the patriarch of Condé Nast (“Si Newhouse’s Dream Factory,” June 8). Such positive sentiments were echoed throughout the blogosphere, where there was much praise for the poignancy of the portrait. Some also took the Condé Nast impresario to task for living in the past. On nymag.com, one commenter wrote, “As someone who works in print media, I wish Si & Co. would put their creative zest to work embracing digital media rather than clinging to the tired and broken model of print publishing. Just imagine if he committed $150 million or whatever he lost on Portfolio to a new online-only enterprise. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna be this dinosaur. Great portrait of a dying breed of mogul, though.” Two members of the Florio family wrote in to counter what they believed to be Fishman’s negative portrayal of the late Steve Florio. “My father told stories that people wanted to listen to. He embellished because he lived in a world that demanded it,” wrote Kelly Florio Kasouf. “My father created an aura of appeal that attracted the best of the best in media. If he wasn’t as over-the-top as he was, or as passionate for Condé Nast, the appeal would have been lost in the pages.” His brother Tom Florio, the publishing director of Vogue Group, wrote, “I was saddened to see Mr. Fishman’s harsh portrayal of Steve Florio’s career at Condé Nast. Steve helped build an organization that thrived under his leadership and continues to thrive after his departure. He was proud of Condé Nast then and would be equally proud of the imprint he made on the company today.”

Hot Books, Cool Review

by Drew Coffey
Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William
Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who
Taught America How To Love by Thomas Maier,
Basic Books, 2009.
This history of William
Masters and Virginia Johnson ran the risk of
falling between two schools: tawdry descriptions
of the sex volunteers, the couple’s
therapy, the electrodes connected to this or
that... or a dry description of the researchers
themselves. Surprisingly and admirably,
both sides of the story are given their due
here. The research, while rigorous and fairly
objective, is quite racy; the researchers, while
prim in their lab coats, are quite passionate.
Temperature rating: hot and dry—think Arizona.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vote for Virginia? St. Louis Mag Polls on Whether to Give Johnson an Honorary Degree for Her Landmark Research at Washington University



ANALYSIS: In its current June issue online, St. Louis Magazine is taking a poll of its readers as to whether Virginia Johnson should be given an honorary degree for her landmark work with Dr. William Masters at Washington University's Medical School. For a decade, Masters and Johnson, with the approval of University Chancellor Ethan Shepley, conducted the largest sex experiment in U.S. history, blazing the trail for medicine involvement today in helping patients with sexual problems. This research and their resulting sexual therapy -- repeated by medical schools and therapist around the world -- made Masters and Johnson famous. Undoubtedly it's one of the most significant -- if not, THE most significant and impactful scientific research -- ever conducted at Washington University in St. Louis. Unlike Indiana University, where the Kinsey Institute remains today, the politics of Washington University essentially pushed Masters and Johnson out of the university in the 1960s, compelling them to set up their own institute literally across the street. Some doctors were appalled by their work, with many feeling today that Masters and Johnson's sex research was an embarrassment for their medical school.In doing my research, I was quite surprised to learn of Washington University's rather odd and strangely anti-intellectual stance regarding Masters and Johnson even today. On their website, there is virtually no mention of them in recalling the school's history. Several people at Washington University told me of the school's antipathy towards Masters and Johnson. I was never able to figure out why this is so, but I was convinced by several people -- including Masters' family and friends -- that this was so. Virginia is rather prosiac about the school's reaction but she's been more than familiar with it for years. I think she's flattered that some friends and former colleagues of her think that Washington University should consider an honorary degree for her.
For my own part, I did contact three separate organizations at Washington University about appearing there to talk about my new biography of Masters and Johnson and their legacy, but they all took a pass after some apparent debate. It was too strange for me to decipher, so I instead talked about my bio at Left Bank Books, the city's premier independent bookstore.
Of course, when I was asked in several media interviews about it, I said I firmly support those who believe that Virginia Johnson, now at age 84, should be given an honorary degree at Washington University. As my book makes clear, Virginia is arguably the most significant figure in medicine's understanding of female sexuality because of her ability to help Dr. Masters succeed in convincing some 700 people to be observed and studied having sex in their medical lab at Washington University. Perhaps equally significant, Virginia was the key figure in coming up with Masters and Johnson's extraordinarily effective sexual therapy that was adopted by doctors, psychiatrists and other therapists around the world. Virginia's story is like a modern-day Pygmalion story, of a twice-divorced mother of two who went back to college seeking a degree and instead got swept up in the extraordinary research with Masters that changed our culture and medicine's understanding of human sexuality. It seems only right that Washington University -- which last year gave an honorary degree to conservative gadfly Phyllis Schafly -- should award recognition to one of America's most remarkable women in medicine ever.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Washington Post -- "Intelligent and Well-Conceived" Bio of Masters and Johnson



Love -- The Scientific Way
By Louis Bayard
Sunday, June 7, 2009


MASTERS OF SEX
The Life and Times of William Masters And Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
By Thomas Maier
Basic. 411 pp. $27.50


How suggestively their names intertwined from the start: Masters, with its echoes of bondage and onanism, and Johnson, that venerable euphemism for penis. If they hadn't been the most famous sexologists of their day, they might have opened an S&M club in Tribeca. Gini, with her purring smile, would have greeted the customers; Bill would have stayed in the back room, testing the hoists and chains.
Which was only a couple of degrees removed from what they did in real life. Their partnership began in St. Louis in the mid-1950s, when William Masters, an ob-gyn and fertility specialist at Washington University, decided to launch a scientific inquiry into human sexuality. Unlike his predecessor, Alfred Kinsey, Masters proposed something far more immersive than questionnaires: direct observation of the body's procreative functions, with each pulse and quiver painstakingly recorded.
He began in a small way by spying on prostitutes (conscripted with the local vice squad's help and the Catholic archbishop's blessing). When one of his subjects suggested he find a female partner, Masters settled on an unlikely candidate: an unemployed, twice-divorced mother with two small kids and no degree. Initially hired as Masters's secretary, Virginia Johnson quickly proved her worth in the lab, efficiently gathering personal histories and sounding the notes of empathy that were absent from Masters's cool register.
With the help of tools like "a motor-powered Plexiglas phallus," the white-coated team observed approximately 10,000 orgasms over 11 years. The fruits of their labor were gathered in a volume called "Human Sexual Response," which managed to sell 300,000 copies in just a few months. Was it the plain brown paper wrapping? Was it the ribald prose? ("This maculopapular type of erythematous rash first appears over the epigastrium.") Or was something more tectonic going on?
Thomas Maier's intelligent and well-conceived biography reminds us that, as recently as the mid-1960s, "the word 'pregnant' could be bleeped from any television show. Sex education was kept out of the classroom." Copulation itself was "the private domain of the marital bed." Masters and Johnson, with their pharmaceutical calm and their vast edifices of data, made sex an over-the-counter commodity -- and, along the way, demolished some entrenched myths.
Intercourse during pregnancy endangers the fetus? Nope. Vaginal orgasms beat clitoral orgasms? Sorry, Dr. Freud. As for females being the delicate sex, the research showed that women could achieve five or six orgasms in as many minutes while men had to quit the field for at least an hour after every climax. Women suddenly had a green light for sex, and the news was welcome not just to hedonists -- Hugh Hefner was one of the study's biggest funders -- but to feminists, who glimpsed a new dawn of erotic self-determination. "It's 10 o'clock at night," read the sign at Ms. magazine headquarters. "Do you know where your clitoris is?" The answer, according to the St. Louis researchers, was a decided yes. Large numbers of women had already confessed that they enjoyed their best sex alone.
Kinsey died at the height of his notoriety, but Masters and Johnson were able to parlay their fame into a second career of sexual healing. For a then-whopping fee of $3,000 (actually, it's still whopping), movie stars, senators and the just plain dysfunctional could spruce up their sex lives with the help of male-female therapy teams, achieving results in a couple of weeks that might have required many years of traditional psychoanalysis. By the time Masters and Johnson came out with a second volume in 1970, their names were as wedded in the public mind as Romeo and Juliet.
Before long, they were wedded in the eyes of the law, too. Their union, so appealing on the surface, had one slight problem: They didn't love each other. Much of the problem lay with Masters, who admitted to being "sort of a bastard" and a stranger to the ways of the heart. He carried on an extramarital affair with Johnson for many years before divorcing his wife and, in the twilight of his life, abruptly ditched Johnson for an old sweetheart.
He was also the driving force behind the team's controversial embrace of conversion therapy for gays. In "Homosexuality in Perspective" (1979), he and Johnson claimed they could straighten out gay men or women in a matter of weeks, with a "failure rate" of only one-third. Buttressed with phony case studies, the book's findings were quickly denounced by the medical establishment and seized upon just as quickly by the religious right as evidence that gay lifestyles were a choice, not an orientation.
So Masters and Johnson bear some of the blame for the "ex-gay" ministries that currently litter our cultural landscape, but who is to blame for the dissolution of the Masters-and-Johnson brand? Their names are now largely unknown, I'd wager, to anyone under the age of 40, in part because the mainstreaming of sex they advocated and embodied has taken hold with such a vengeance. We are not, to put it mildly, as shockable as we were. Cosmopolitan magazine weighs in each month with primers on the female orgasm; sex columnists like Dan Savage and Susie Bright embrace every kink and fetish of the human comedy; grown men fill the airwaves with choruses of "Viva Viagra!" The culture that Masters and Johnson helped to create has swallowed them whole.
Louis Bayard is a novelist and reviewer whose most recent book is "The Black Tower."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Reaction to "Masters of Sex" and the Allegations of Phony "Gay Conversion" Cases



My biography of Masters and Johnson, "Masters of Sex", deals in one chapter with their 1979 book about homosexuality in which they claimed that their therapy had "converted" homosexual patients into heterosexuals. The research from my book indicated that these case studies were apparently fabricated by Masters and that there were no records of such "conversion" cases. Since my book's appearance, Newsweek, The New York Times and Scientific American have reported on my findings and they have stirred a great debate within in the gay community. Here's a sample from a recent interview:
"For decades, anti-gay organizations have gleefully pointed to a Masters & Johnson study that claimed to cure homosexuality. It has also been used by the so-called "ex-gay" industry to "prove" gays could go straight, if they just tried hard enough.
In a groundbreaking book, "Masters of Sex", author Thomas Maier discovered through investigative reporting that the results of Masters & Johnson's study were fabricated.
One can not overstate the importance of his findings. They undo the very underpinnings of the so-called "ex-gay" therapy movement, further showing that there is no scientific evidence to support the outdated idea that gay people can become heterosexual through therapy.
Indeed, many people who have undergone such "treatment" claim the experience was harmful and that they were psychologically damaged. The American Psychiatric Association says that attempts to change sexual orientation can lead to "anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior."

Gelf Magazine - Talking About "Masters of Sex" in Brooklyn

Thomas Maier at Gelf Magazine's Geeking Out - May 2009 (1 of 2) from Gelf Magazine on Vimeo.

Thomas Maier at Gelf Magazine's Geeking Out - May 2009 (2 of 2) from Gelf Magazine on Vimeo.

NY Mag: Si Newhouse as Old Hollywood-Style Chief, Praises "Newhouse" Bio as "Excellent"



In the current issue of New York mag, Steve Fishman wrote a terrifically insightful profile of Si Newhouse and his media empire, and he also managed to say some kind words about my biography of the Conde Nast chieftain. Here's what Fishman said.
Both of Sam’s sons were college dropouts who worked in the business from the age of 21. Sam tapped Donald, his younger son, to run the newspapers. Si was installed at Condé Nast—he finally became chairman in 1975. “Those who knew him well seem to think he trusted the judgment of his younger son, Donald, more than Si,” writes Thomas Maier in his excellent biography Newhouse.
It was clear what Newhouse’s father thought of magazines; they were baubles, suitable for socially ambitious middle-aged ladies. Si, though, would ultimately prove his father wrong about the value of the magazines and about his talents.

St. Louis Mag: Masters of Sex is a "Smart, Absorbing Book" ... "Restrained but Evocative."


Staff Shelf: Masters of Sex

I’m reading galleys of Tom Maier’s restrained but evocative new book--Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love--and thinking about how quickly the social kaleidoscope shifts. Decades ago, in grad school at Saint Louis University, I wrote a paper about the response of St. Louis Catholics to the opening of the Masters & Johnson research clinic in the early 1960s. The quotes near seared a hole in my IBM-Selectric, correction-key-corrected pages. Now, Masters and Johnson's findings seem so obviously important, and so much more biological than prurient, that it’s hard for me to remember just how outraged St. Louis was--and how brazen I felt even tackling the topic.
On the other hand, even those two cool clinicians found the forbidden territory so steamy, they left the lab at night and headed straight for a hotel (Masters was determined they should relieve any tensions with each other to avoid any sort of projection or entanglement with their patients and volunteers).
Now, as I write about this smart, absorbing book for our June issue, I realize just how funny it is, in parts, and how poignant or tragic, depending on whether you're taking Masters' or Johnson's point of view. What strange, intense lives; what groundbreaking work. And reviewing it's not as simple as it should be, in our supposedly enlightened times. Questions fly up and hit me: Is the word “orgasm” too graphic? Should I describe how the...er...machine worked? Do I dare use the funny quote about men being rendered irrelevant? How to handle the medieval notion of homosexuality the clinicians advanced, toward the end when everything fell apart? Do I need to define "sexual surrogate"--and if so, how?!
Everything gets said these days—yet against all odds, we've retained a certain sensitivity. Masters and Johnson could open their clinic today and provoke only the barest lift of an eyebrow, yet the language they chose to describe their findings would be as politically inflammatory as ever. And there would be far more ways to offend people, because there are more options open.
You can walk out into the middle of the mine field now—but you still don’t want to detonate any live explosives. And there’s no longer any way to know what’s safe.
In short, writing about sex is as tricky as ever.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
--Jeannette Cooperman, staff writer

Monday, June 1, 2009

KMOX - John Carney Interview



Can listen to the June 1 podcast of a half-hour interview with host John Carney.

Inquiry:WICN, 90.5FM -- Interview on "Masters of Sex"

William Masters and Virginia Johnson revolutionized our medical and personal understanding of human sexuality by studying real couples and individuals having sex in a laboratory environment. Their best-selling book of their research, HUMAN SEXUAL RESPONSE, catapulted them into celebrity status in the 1960s and redefined everything people thought they knew about female sexuality. In their private counseling sessions they had nationally known politicians and movie and TV stars as their patients. But the personal relationship between Masters and Johnson was complex and controversial. Tonight on Inquiry, we speak with writer THOMAS MAIER about his revealing new biography MASTERS OF SEX: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM MASTERS AND VIRGINIA JOHNSON-THE COUPLE WHO TAUGHT AMERICA HOW TO LOVE.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Women, Sex, and Masters and Johnson" -- Reaction to Book and Podcast


Women, Sex, and Masters and Johnson
May 17, 2009 by Michelle Smith

I found an interview withThomas Maier, the author of Masters of Sex, a book about legendary sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Masters, a gynecologist, and Johnson, a psychologist, observed an estimated 10,000 live sex acts in there Washington University research lab. In the process they discovered valuable insight into the “sexual response cycle” and sexual dysfunction.
After talking to my female friends, I’ve come to the conclusion that women and their sexual selves are not always well understood. Apparently, that opinion is shared by many and I found this part of the interview interesting:
“…the biggest revolution of Masters and Johnson’s work has to do with discovering and underlining the power of female sexuality. Rather than being the weaker sex, their studies showed conclusively that women could be multi-orgasmic and possessed a greater sexual capacity than men. Their clinical proof shattered Freud’s theories about women and sex, and replaced Freudian psychoanalysis with a far more practical and effective sex therapy that was adopted around the world and created the modern sex therapy field.”
Even in my forties I’ve heard people voice opinions that made it sound as if they felt a woman with a good sexual appetite was in some way wrong or slutty. I’ve never held with that idea.
I make jokes about my past, jokes I’m not sharing here, but the point is that sex is a celebration of life, in my opinion.
Sex between two consenting adults, with nobody getting hurt, where’s the bad in that?
This sounds like a very interesting book. If I get a chance to read it, I’ll review it here.

The Buffalo News: Editor's Choice -- "Masters of Sex" Review



Editor’s Choice
MASTERS OF SEX: The Life and Times of William Masters andVirginia Johnson by Thomas Maier(Basic Books, 412 pages, $27.50). Among the many and various troubles with sex is that you can seldom trust anyone’s stories about it. No human activity is more subject to ridiculous locker room braggadoccio; nor, by the same token, is there any topic more given to post-facto score-settling (when you consider the tales of exes that have been taken as truth by contemporaries and posterity alike, it’s enough to make you wonder if history—at least of the glandular variety—has EVER been valid.)
Alfred G. Kinsey could only search for truth in anecdotes and culture. That’s why the world so desperately needed William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the researchers and therapists who investigated what happens during sex as scientists, wrote about their findings and treated what went wrong as “dysfunctions” (their word, bless them) to be set right. To make a science out of prurience and therapy out of what was usually assumed part of the oldest illicit profession obviously took very unusual people.
Masters once confessed “I’m sort of a bastard. I’m no good with people. Never have been and never will be. By choice and by design, I’m not a people person” which provided exactly the sort of clinicality that people could trust when he and his partner Virginia Johnson started telling the world about the subject that is responsible, at the very least, for all of us being here.
Writing a readable but serious biography of Masters and Johnson was no easy task. The natural impulse is to drain such passionate clinicality of personality and leave a hollow crusade in its place. Maier’s book resists it constantly. It’s about heroes and flaws and a couple of people whose lives underlay a good half of what we know for sure about what we all think we know so much.
—Jeff Simon

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reviews and Blurbs So Far

Masters of Sex "offers a wonderfully written and totally absorbing look at an amazing couple." – Booklist, *starred review*

“Maier’s sedulously researched and deeply absorbing biography suggests that love is far more elusive than an orgasm … Set against a larger cultural landscape that spans the domesticated ‘50s and liberated ‘60s on up to the present, stopping on the way to evaluate the effect of Masters and Johnson’s work on everything from feminism to perfumes, Masters of Sex is a richly informed and elegantly organized account of the two people behind the logo that stood for new sexual horizons”. – Daphne Merkin in Tina Brown’s website “The Daily Beast.”

“The strangely chilling story of two sexual pioneers… Perhaps influenced by its steamy subject matter, Masters of Sex, Thomas Maier's new book about the couple's career, may strike some readers as unusually graphic for a biography, but this unsettling story of sex and science in theory and practice is ultimately more cautionary than titillating.” O – The Oprah Magazine.

“Absorbing …Masters of Sex is this spring's true must-read book for those looking to revisit the heady, early days of the sexual revolution.” – The American Prospect.

“As the story of Masters and Johnson makes clear, rescuing sex from the ancient mists of myth, mystery and religiosity left America a happier and healthier place. And yet Maier's book also suggests that our subsequent attempts to liberate sexual pleasure from the grip of fusty, old-fashioned love had much the opposite effect.” – Newsweek.

“There are plenty of fireworks here... An excellent writer and a top-notch reporter, Maier excels at providing intriguing details without veering into titillation, and the reader comes away with a great appreciation for the pioneering forthrightness of Masters and Johnson—especially considering it’s a field of study that still makes some uneasy.” – Penthouse.

“If there is a moral to this tale, it is perhaps that the human heart remains as much of a mystery as the sex organs once used to be.” – The Economist.

“Award-winning biographer Maier (Dr. Spock: An American Life) delivers the first in-depth look at a complex couple who helped revolutionize the study of human sexual response. Academics and amateur sexperts alike will rejoice.” – Library Journal.

Masters of Sex is a terrific book about the unlikely couple who touched off the sexual revolution. More than a biography, this is an intimate history of sex in the twentieth-century.” -- Debby Applegate, Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher.

"The subject of this book--sex and love--should interest just about everyone. As a bonus, Thomas Maier is a very fine writer, an accomplished biographer, and an astute reporter. If you read only one biography this year, it should be this first-ever look at the secretive lives of Masters and Johnson." -- Nelson DeMille, bestselling author of "The Gold Coast "and "The Gate House"


"A well-written and insightful account of Masters and Johnson, who, in a clinical sense, probably knew more about sex and marital love than any other couple in America." -- Gay Talese, author of "Thy Neighbor's Wife "and "A Writer's Life"

“It’s hard to imagine any sex researcher or serious student of sexuality who wouldn’t profit from reading this book. The information revealed in Masters of Sex has never surfaced before—and besides being a real contribution to the history of science, it’s a totally captivating read!”—Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., Past President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and author of Prime: Adventures and Advice About Sex, Love and the Sensual Years

“As recounted in Masters of Sex, a new biography of the pair by Thomas Maier (Basic Books), Masters' and Johnson's approach - and their willingness to risk social and professional stigma by doing such work - gave the world its first frank, authoritative portrait of human sexual behavior.” – The Boston Globe.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Penthouse Review



Masters of Sex
May 14th, 2009 By Penthouse Magazine
Tags: Full Frontal, Reads

Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love
-By Thomas Maier
(Basic Books)

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Masters and Johnson, a pair of researchers who started out at Washington University in St. Louis, are responsible for much of our modern thinking about sex. Maier’s history provides an in-depth look at the twin paths of their professional research and personal relationship (they were married from 1971 to 1992), while dishing about the duo’s work as sex therapists for Hollywood stars, such as the incredibly sexy Barbara Eden of I Dream of Jeannie fame, and Senator Jacob Javits. There are plenty of fireworks here, from the pair’s controversial prescriptions of sex surrogates to the revelation that Masters developed his “squeeze method” of delaying ejaculation from observing the action in whorehouses. An excellent writer and a top-notch reporter, Maier excels at providing intriguing details without veering into titillation, and the reader comes away with a great appreciation for the pioneering forthrightness of Masters and Johnson—especially considering it’s a field of study that still makes some uneasy.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Oprah's Book Club: Recommends "Masters of Sex" by Thomas Maier

Masters of Sex
By Thomas Maier
432 pages; Basic Books

It's shocking to realize how little we knew about the physiology of sex—female sexuality, in particular—until the 1950s, when gynecological surgeon William Masters set up a semiclandestine laboratory at a university in St. Louis and, together with his assistant, Virginia Johnson, employed the latest technology (a plastic penis equipped with a camera!) and volunteer subjects to record what happens during the act. Illuminating the previously misunderstood and underestimated female orgasm, their findings (published in the 1966 best-seller Human Sexual Response) were an important factor in heating up the sexual climate of the 1960s. The increasingly successful researchers helped many grateful couples, who flocked to their clinic with their most intimate problems. But science failed to do much for Masters and Johnson themselves. Sex with her boss was understood to be part of the job description for Virginia Johnson, an attractive divorced single mother, yet when Masters finally left his wife for her, their marriage was a chilly professional partnership, sadly devoid of love—a mystery their experiments had left unexplored. Perhaps influenced by its steamy subject matter, Masters of Sex, Thomas Maier's new book about the couple's career, may strike some readers as unusually graphic for a biography, but this unsettling story of sex and science in theory and practice is ultimately more cautionary than titillating.
— Francine Prose

Friday, May 22, 2009

Masters and Johnson Treated Presidential Candidate, Gov. George Wallace, After 1972 Assassination Attempt



Excerpt from "Masters of Sex" by Thomas Maier

Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama wanted the White House in the worst way. In 1963, Wallace became the face of the Old South when he attempted to prevent de-segregation at the University of Alabama. “I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” Wallace promised in his inaugural, after having sworn privately to “outnigger” any political opponent. Like a proud little rooster with slick, black hair, Wallace stood in front of the school, as nationwide television cameras rolled, defiantly blocking the entrance of two black students into the all-white public institution until federal marshals finally intervened. The publicity allowed the one-time boxer to launch a 1964 brief bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, appealing to the prejudices of a nation. When Alabama law prevented him from running for another gubernatorial term, he prompted his wife, Lurleen, to succeed him but she died in 1968 of cancer while in office. That same year, Wallace ran for President as a “law and order” candidate on an independent party ticket, winning five states and 14 percent of the total vote. By 1970, Wallace was preparing for another presidential run when he fell in love with Cornelia Ellis Snively, the young, shapely niece of former Alabama Gov. James E. “Big Jim” Folsom. Although aides warned him to keep the romance under wraps, Wallace married his raven-haired Cornelia in January 1971. At the time, a Gallup poll listed Wallace as one of America's most admired men, placing seventh just ahead of the Pope. “There was a lot of physical attraction, very passionate kind of love between us,” Cornelia later explained. “I had known him all my life.”
Wallace’s presidential ambitions were cut down by a bullet, however. In May 1972, as Wallace campaigned in the Maryland primary, a would-be assassin named Arthur Bremer pumped five 38-caliber bullets into his body, covering Cornelia in blood as she tended to her husband’s wounds. One shot severed Wallace’s spinal chord, leaving him paralyzed. Meanwhile, Wallace had won both the Maryland and Michigan primaries. Some wondered if his presidential quest could continue as a cripple, just like Franklin D. Roosevelt after suffering a polio attack. But Wallace’s body never fully recovered. His presidential dreams were dashed and his personal life in tatters. By the time he contacted Masters & Johnson, Wallace worried if he could perform sexually ever again.
“Cornelia was trying so hard to do anything she could do to help him,” Virginia recalled. “He was a good old boy, but he was a sweet man. I liked him. He wouldn’t have been good to be married to, though -- a downhome Alabama boy who was very difficult. Cornelia had a hell of time with him because he was not dealing terribly well with his condition.”
George Wallace’s sad case was exactly the kind that Bill Masters wanted to study as his next scientific mission – the neurophysiology of human sexual response -- if only he could somehow find the money. With the advent of computers and other high-tech medical equipment in the 1970s, Masters felt such medical research would be a worthy successor to their previous published work with heterosexuals as well their upcoming book on homosexuality. Understanding the brain’s role in sex -- the symposia of nerve endings and synapses in reaching physical fulfillment and the accompanying mental functioning behind it – seemed a natural next step. “He felt that it would have great applicability in terms of stroke victims, neurologic disease and spinal chord injured patients,” recalled Kolodny, who often heard Masters mention it. “ I’m sure he was quite right, if we had been able to get the funding, we would have been able to do very important work there. We never did get that funding. It was constantly a struggle to come up with money.”
After the call came from Wallace’s personal physician in Montgomery, both Masters and Johnson agreed to visit the Governor’s mansion, offering their assistance. The sense of desperation with the Wallaces was great enough that they wanted only the best known sex therapists in the land. “Wallace sent a state plane for us and we went to Alabama – he wasn’t traveling at the time,” Johnson recalled. “We went down there twice and then Cornelia came up once by herself” to the St. Louis clinic.
Bill later explained to Kolodny the severity of Gov. Wallace’s spinal chord damage and concluded there was little he could do as a physician. Masters said the Governor was impotent, with the bullet having claimed his sense of manhood. “The rates of sexual dysfunction are way high with spinal chord injuries,” Kolodny explained. “It was clear that there was no magic wand that was going to rescue the situation. It was a case of helping them cope, to do the best they could.” Even Gini’s therapeutic touch didn’t seem to help the Governor and his First Lady. “He was willing to do anything,” she recalled, who instructed them on the most basic “sensate” movements designed to stimulate. “There was just no possibility – it was physiologically impossible. But she [Cornelia] was willing to do anything for him. She was a superb human being and she was just lovely, one of the best.”
Despite their braveness in seeking medical help, the Wallaces became increasingly frustrated with each other. “He began to accuse her of having affairs with state troopers,” recalled Alabama journalist Wayne Greenhaw, in a PBB television documentary later made about the Governor’s troubled life. “She accused him of talking to his old girlfriends on the phone all the time, uh, and trying to lure them over to the mansion. They, uh, tapped each other’s phones. And then sooner or later, you know, it just turned so nasty.” In 1978, the Wallaces filed for divorce. Cornelia moved his belongings out of the Governor’s manson and told the press that she’d done everything she could to save her marriage.
In St. Louis, Masters and Johnson reminded their staff to keep quiet about this special case involving the wounded presidential candidate. While sometimes the tape-recordings and files about celebrity couples from Hollywood, television or local politics were given discreetly to Kolodny to compile in the statistical profile of their patients, it wasn’t so in this case. “Whatever was done with the Wallaces, a file was never compiled,” Koldony recalled. “It didn’t fall into any of the ordinary categories.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Early Word: Librarians Don't Be Shy


Masters of Sex
On the Daily Beast, Daphne Merkin writes about the cleverly titled Masters of Sex, a biography of Masters and Johnson, the pioneers of sex research, Masters and Johnson, calling it

…a richly informed and elegantly organized account of the two people behind the logo that stood for new sexual horizons.

The review is as fascinating as the book sounds.

Several libraries have not yet ordered it.

American Prospect: "Masters of Sex is this spring's true must-read book for those looking to revisit the heady, early days of the sexual revolution."


Sex Work
Two new biographies -- one of Helen Gurley Brown and the other of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson -- offer cautionary tales about mixing sex and the workplace.

DANA GOLDSTEIN | May 14, 2009 | web only
Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown by Jennifer Scanlon, Oxford University Press, 288 pages, $27.95
Masters of Sex by Thomas Maier, Basic Books, 432 pages, $27.50

"I've never worked anywhere without being sexually involved with somebody in the office."
So said Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for over 30 years, in a 1982 interview. When the reporter asked Gurley Brown if she had any ethical or feminist compunction about sleeping with a boss, she replied, "Why discriminate against him?"
This kind of glib, manufactured-to-shock statement was typical from Gurley Brown, who had nearly two decades of experience in advertising by the time she wrote her 1962 best-seller, Sex and the Single Girl. Gurley Brown knew how to market herself. One of three female copywriters at Los Angeles advertising firm Kenyon and Eckhart, Gurley Brown worked for a string of unsuccessful male bosses, yet never earned a promotion herself. At one point, management decided that despite her high-quality work, she was "overpaid," and cut her salary in half.
Frustrated, Gurley Brown focused on dating and began to pen vignettes about her personal life. At 31 and already considered an old maid by the standards of the 1950s, she wrote, almost proudly, that "every last one" of her boyfriends and lovers was married. Her response to the indignities of the glass ceiling wasn't to make a fuss demanding equality but to convince her male companions (often co-workers turned lovers) to buy each and every dinner, pay in full for every vacation, and shower her with luxurious gifts. In Sex and the Single Girl, Gurley Brown, by then 40 years old and married to super-rich movie producer David Brown, warned young women not to sell themselves short by going Dutch on dates. "Don't you dare!" she admonished.
In an adoring new biography, Bad Girls Go Everywhere, Jennifer Scanlon reopens the old debate about whether Gurley Brown can really be considered a feminist. That, of course, depends on one's definition of feminism. Undoubtedly, through her books and in the pages of Cosmopolitan, Gurley Brown encouraged young women to enjoy sex and to embrace, at least during their 20s, the single life. Her frank discussion of sexually active dating was offensive to many early-1960s readers and certainly pushed the culture toward accepting that even "good girls" engage in premarital sex. Considering Gurley Brown's influence, Scanlon, who previously wrote a cultural history of Ladies Home Journal, the staid magazine for housewives, goes to great lengths to portray Gurley Brown as a proto-second-wave feminist -- a sort of libertarian Betty Friedan, more concerned with fun than with whining about women's "victimization."
But it is only after immersing oneself in the back catalog of Ladies Home Journal that one could really mistake Cosmopolitan as radically feminist. Like Hugh Hefner, Gurley Brown was not just a magazine editor but the purveyor of a fantasy-lifestyle brand. The product Gurley Brown sold didn't purport to fix, or even address, the real economic and career anxieties facing midcentury American women. Rather, Cosmo proffered an escapist alternate reality in which every woman could distract herself with a work-related dating life as glamorous as the one Gurley Brown experienced in the Hollywood of the 1940s and 1950s. For Gurley Brown, Scanlon writes, the office was "a decidedly sexy environment," not the site of daily humiliations for women relegated to serving as "office wives," making coffee and picking up laundry for frequently lewd, condescending male bosses. Knowing that Gurley Brown experienced these privations in her own career only makes her wildly optimistic view of the intersection of sex and work seem more peculiar.
A far more sophisticated take on the complications of mixing sex and work can be found in Thomas Maier's absorbing new joint biography of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex. Masters and Johnson were the first scientists to monitor the workings of the human body during actual copulation -- yes, they watched volunteer subjects, hooked up to heart-rate and blood-flow monitors, have sex on lab tables. The team revealed Freud's sex theories as the misogynist bunk they were: The clitoral orgasm isn't less "sophisticated" than the vaginal one; both types of orgasms involve the same nerve endings, and clitoral orgasms prove far stronger. As Maier writes, Masters and Johnson, in their groundbreaking works Human Sexual Response (1966) and Human Sexual Inadequacy (1970), portrayed human females as veritable "sexual Olympians," capable of hours of multi-orgasmic masturbation and sex.
The details of how Masters and Johnson conducted and funded their research are as fascinating as one would expect, given the subject matter. Masters, already a celebrated OB-GYN and fertility expert, began his mid-career transition to sex research in the 1950s, watching through peepholes as prostitutes entertained their customers. In exchange for their cooperation, he provided the women with free medical examinations and negotiated with local police to hold off on vice arrests for a week.
It was Johnson, however, originally hired by Masters as a lowly research assistant, who realized that "ordinary" women could be cajoled into having sex for the sake of science, not least because they were eager to strike a blow against male misconceptions of how the female body works. Much of Masters and Johnson's later data on the female orgasm came from watching women masturbate with the assistance of a mechanical, thrusting dildo with a camera on its tip, nicknamed "Ulysses" by the clinic's staff. Johnson, thoughtfully, would warm the phallus with a damp washcloth before experiments began. And in addition to watching married couples have sex, the duo convinced subjects to mate in the lab with complete strangers, wearing nothing but silk face masks designed and sewed by Johnson's elderly mother.

Masters, known as cold and businesslike, relied almost totally on the attractive, effervescent Johnson to interact with volunteers. When he divorced his wife in 1971 to marry his longtime business partner, the media portrayed the pairing as a real romance, proof that there could be no sex without love. The truth of the Masters-Johnson partnership, however, was far more sordid. By Johnson's own account, and that of friends and colleagues, Masters hired the divorced mother of two under the implicit understanding that she would become his sexual partner -- for the purposes of research, Masters claimed. "Sex for Virginia Johnson would become part of her job," Maier writes matter-of-factly. And indeed, Johnson told Maier herself in an interview, "No -- I was not comfortable with it, particularly. I didn't want him at all, and had no interest in him." Johnson engaged in sex with Masters, she claimed decades later, because as a single-mother, "I had a job and I wanted it."

The couple's marriage was precipitated by Johnson receiving a marriage proposal from Hank Walter, a fragrance company executive who worked with the pair on pheromone research. (Like Helen Gurley Brown, Johnson had a history of getting involved with men at work. Her second husband and the father of her two children was a band leader in whose group she sang.) Realizing this relationship would take Johnson away from their profitable sex-therapy clinic, Masters persuaded her to marry him instead, as an investment in the Masters-Johnson brand.

Throughout Masters of Sex, it is difficult to discern exactly what Masters and Johnson meant to each other. Johnson's recent statements on the matter may not be completely trustworthy; after 20 years of marriage, Masters, suffering from Parkinson's disease, left Johnson to reunite with the sweetheart of his adolescence. What's more, Johnson, by all accounts, including her own, was enthusiastically committed to Masters' research, which became her own life's work.

Though she didn't even hold a bachelor's degree, Johnson is credited with developing the innovative therapy technique, "dual therapy," that Masters and Johnson used to counsel married couples suffering from sexual dysfunction. Inspired by the work of behaviorialists such as Albert Ellis, Ivan Pavlov, and B.F. Skinner, Johnson posited that instead of engaging in years of often ineffective Freudian analysis, much sexual inadequacy could be "cured" by simple sex-education. Masters and Johnson charged up to $10,000 for a two-week course of dual therapy. They each took the sexual history of each member of the couple, comparing notes to identify sexual hang-ups and arrive at the truth of what was -- or wasn't -- going on in the marriage bed. Couples were then taught specific sexual techniques for overcoming problems such as premature ejaculation and vaginismus, a condition in which a woman's vagina tenses up, physically preventing penetration. Masters and Johnson claimed an 80 percent success rate.

Though Masters, late in life, said, "There's no question I was a male chauvinist," he went to great lengths to ensure that Johnson was credited for her contributions to their work. Perhaps he was motivated by a desire to show there was nothing professionally untoward in promoting his un-credentialed assistant to the level of full-fledged clinic co-director. Regardless, he removed the M.D. designation after his own name on the cover of the couple's second book, making the team appear even more egalitarian.

If something is missing in Maier's psychologically astute depiction of the Masters-Johnson relationship, it is a lack of depth in his portrayal of the sexual revolution in which Masters and Johnson played key roles. Maier often makes pre-Masters and Johnson America seem like a sexual backwater, ignoring the publication, years earlier, of popular books such as Sex and the Single Girl. And he gives little context with which readers can evaluate whether Masters and Johnson were correct in their supposition that about half of all postwar married couples experienced inadequate sex, especially wives. Indeed, given that recent research shows 95 percent of all Americans have had premarital sex, ever since the 1950s, one wonders if sexual ignorance was quite as widespread as people pretended it was.

Masters and Johnson's reputation was sullied by their publication, in 1979, of a book that claimed, without evidence, that homosexuality was a lifestyle choice that could be reversed through therapy. Countless Christian fundamentalists continue to cite Masters and Johnson to lend their sexual "conversion" narratives a scientific sheen. Still, the couple's positive legacy of legitimizing the study of sex -- and, most radically, reclaiming female sexuality from the Freudians -- cannot be overstated. They are assured a place in the history of sex and feminism. Alas, despite Jennifer Scanlon's protestations, Helen Gurley Brown carries not half their weight in cultural significance. Masters of Sex is this spring's true must-read book for those looking to revisit the heady, early days of the sexual revolution.