Saturday, 4 September 2010


ISBN-10: 0-8467-0567-2
Writer: Bradley Smith
Title: The American Way Of Sex
Subtitle: An Informal Illustrated History
Language: English
Place of Publication: New York
Publisher: A. Gemini Smith Inc. Book
Year of Publication: 1978
Format: 218x282mm
Pages: 254
Illustrations: 121 single and full colour plates, pictures and sketches
Binding: Boards in duotone dust jacket
Weight: 1,168gr.
Entry No.: 2010021
Entry Date: 3rd September 2010
From the naked Indians of the past to today’s next-door neighbors, what has been the sexual behavior of the American people? How and why are Americans different from Europeans and Asians in their sexual attitudes? The books is the culmination of a vast search for documentation of sexual customs in relation to American history and environment.

To show the changing sex scene from pre-Columbian America to the present, the author brings to life Indian maidens and conquistadors, Negro mistresses and plantation owners, politicians and clergymen, pimps and priests, celibates and profligates. Giving a fresh and inquisitive, yet amused, look at the journals of the Spanish explorers, church archives of the Pilgrim Fathers, letters of political leaders and diaries of whorehouse madams of New Orleans, New York and San Francisco, Bradley Smith tracks down and interprets pertinent myths, legends, anecdotes and tall tales.

For example, with a few blue glass beads and a twist of tobacco, a trapper buys and Indian girl from her father. In Puritan New England, a man is hanged for bestiality, along with a cow, two heifers, three sheep and two sows found equally guilty of the crime. How to Choose a Mistress by Benjamin Franklin is published while he is postmaster general; later, the post office declares the book obscene. In New Orleans’ licensed “Storyville,” circa 1910, whorehouse madams publish booklets describing their sumptuous furnishings and extolling the talents of their “entertainers.” In the late 1920s Judge Ben B. Lindsey advocates trial marriage. Also during this period, lesbianism becomes relatively respectable.

The ritual sexual hospitality of the Indians and the “bundling” of the Puritans are just as much a part of the American sexual experience as “getting off” with pot in the ‘60s and the use of a mechanical phallus by Masters and Johnson to photograph the female orgasm from within the vagina. All have had a definite effect on social and sexual customs in the USA.

Many never-before published paintings, lithographs and photographs illustrate the changing sexual mores. From the thirty-two pages printed in full color and more than a hundred black-and-white illustrations, a new view of sexuality in America emerges. On a Broadway theatrical poster of 1889, a sinister Chinese “King of the Opium Ring” seduces a drugged young girl. A Kentucky whiskey advertisement displays “zaftig” nude girls cavorting in a harem. In a lithograph, circa 1900, a butler drops his tray as he sees the master making passes at the maid (his wife). A sketch made in 1920 shows an emancipated woman on one of the first divorce trips ever made to Reno, Nevada. The “first” unretouched female American nude is republished.

This book, then, is a review of Americans’ reaction to their sexual environment. Not a sociological study, it is rather a tale-teller’s sketchbook, revealing a pattern that allows the reader relevant glimpses into the joyful, rewarding, disappointing, happy and unhappy –and always interesting– sex life of the American people.

No comments:

Post a Comment