Author of "MAFIA SPIES" - New Spy Thriller about How the CIA Recruited Two Gangsters to Kill Castro During the Kennedy Era. Also author of "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Kennedys and Churchills" and author/producer of "MASTERS OF SEX", the book which is the basis for the Showtime series. I can be reached at:
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Terms of Endearment: What were the Conditions Between Masters and Johnson? Read the Book Excerpt and Listen to the Actors Playing Them
What were the terms and conditions when the sexual relationship between Masters and Johnson began? Read the excerpt from "Masters of Sex" about the real-life Bill and Gini, and then listen to what Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen say about their roles in last week's episode.
Here's a short excerpt from the book on this issue:
One night, after the last research subjects departed, Dr. Masters and his female associate disrobed and, atop the single bed with green hospital sheets, acted out the physiology responses they were seeking to comprehend. Not yet thirty-five, Virginia Johnson could not have been more appealing to her boss—a sensuous woman full of verve and emancipation, yet attentive to every detail and eager to please at the office. With his little bow tie unraveled and his starched white shirt undone, Bill possessed the stout body of a former athlete who had kept himself in shape over the years. In this moment, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and did it with authority. With their clothes off, he instructed Gini to remain as professional as possible. These encounters should not venture beyond the scope of their scientific inquiry, not into the messy realms of emotion. By cooperating as his assistant, by having sex with him for purely clinical reasons, Gini once again confirmed her commitment to their approach. Or so Bill contended. “We weren’t emotionally tied at all,” she recalled. “He was building
me into this ‘team’ person, into this research person. That’s essentially what he presented.”
At Maternity Hospital, colleagues suspected Masters might be having an affair with his aide, just as other doctors did with their nurses, but no one uttered such provocations within earshot. Some assumed Gini to be the instigator, as a divorced woman scheming to lasso a hotshot doctor. Others who knew them well said the nature of their work—observing hundreds of sexual intercourses in the lab—overwhelmed them and any pretense of objectivity. Dr. Roger Crenshaw, a psychiatrist who later teamed with his therapist wife at the clinic, heard what happened from his private conversations with Bill. “As a therapist, the only time I saw a patient nude was during the physical examination, but the circumstances that surrounded Bill and Virginia’s beginning relationship involved fairly explicit sex, and I can see where a lot of libidinal energy may have gotten released,” he explained. Dr. Mike Freiman, as friendly with Gini as he was with Bill, said the sexual energy from their experiments drove them together. “It was like watching a stallion and a mare—it gets everybody excited,” he stated. “They were dealing with very exciting things. There was no question that they were emotionally and sexually involved early on.” If Freiman needed any confirmation, he discovered it on his own wedding day in early 1961. After the ceremony, Mike and his bride stayed at a motel near the hospital before they left for their honeymoon. The Freimans went to dinner in an upstairs restaurant and after a couple
of drinks made their way to their room on the first floor. As he fiddled with his key, Mike heard a noise nearby—and Bill and Gini suddenly emerged from the room next door. But these assumptions and sightings didn’t explain the half of it. In the beginning, there wasn’t mutual consent between them,
and certainly not the provocateur role to Gini’s involvement that some male colleagues presumed. Instead there was a forced agreement that both were reluctant to admit. Their closest aide, Dr.
Robert C. Kolodny, who worked for two decades with them and coauthored several books and medical articles, considered writing a biography of them and asked extensively about the origins of
their partnership. Only after hours of conversation with Bill, whom he considered his mentor and friend—and after comparing it to Gini’s version—did Kolodny gain an understanding of what transpired.
“Bill made it plain to her, fairly soon after she took the job, that being sexual partners was a requirement,” Kolodny said. “Bill saw it as a consensual involvement. He indicated that he had been the instigator and Gini agreed with that. But Gini perceived it, as she put it, as a matter-of-fact, expected part of the job. And my suspicion is that had she not gone along with this, she might not have been employed too much later. I bet she knew that and sensed that.”
Bill envisioned a “blueprint,” as Kolodny called it, in which his female associate would engage in sex with him, as a way of further comprehending all that they were learning through observation. He exacted this demand early in their working relationship, when Gini was still essentially a nondescript figure hired off the street. For all of her insights, she was still no more than a friendly paper-pusher with some typing skills, with whom he treaded lightly until he was sure she would go along with his plans. If Gini “opted out of that,” Kolodny realized she “would have been replaced.” In the late 1950s, “that early in their work together, she had made no significant contributions,” Kolodny explained. The sense of Gini’s invaluableness to their work arrived only after this private pact was reached. Bill believed, naively and erroneously, that his concupiscence could be contained to the lab. Despite their working dinners, Bill offered no pretense at romance. He seemed oblivious to his own wedding vows with Libby, and to Gini’s courtship with Judge Noah Weinstein. No one would ever find out, he urged, if
they kept this secret between themselves. “I don’t think either one of them felt it was a romance,” Kolodny said of their beginning. “It was pretty pure sex.”
Decades later, Gini paused for a moment when told of Kolodny’s recollection, as if she’d heard an unpleasant truth. Because this version varied so much from the official version Masters and Johnson portrayed to the world, because it revealed so much more than she’d ever said before to friendly questioners, or to the version she had told her children and her parents, or tried to convince
herself, Gini seemed taken aback. Kolodny was Bill’s friend, someone with whom she didn’t always agree and often argued. The emotion in her voice revealed a longtime hurt. “Bill did it all—I didn’t want him,” she insisted about his subtle depredation, her normally modulated voice tinged with anger about the origins of their sexual relations. “I had a job and I wanted it.”