Notable and Quotable

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Peter] SAGAL: A swingers club is in this particular case - and this, I think, is typical of a certain segment of what is called the lifestyle - is a private home that is opened up to carefully vetted couples - couples only - that's capital C, capital O - for people to come.

This particular place, again, typical, is set up as a kind of private social club. There's drinks, there's dancing, there's conversation. There's gaming. You want to play poker, a strip poker, anything else. There was a backgammon set. You can hang out. You can be socially. You can be convivial(ph). You can drink your own liquor, of course, because there's no liquor license. It's a private accommodation. And...

[Scott] SIMON: And you bring your own bottle...

SAGAL: You bring your own bottle.

SIMON: Like it's a paint party or something.

SAGAL: Exactly, which you mark with a (unintelligible). And then, if everybody is off a mind, you and anybody who can sense can go off into rooms reserved for the purpose and pursue what everything, anything you want to pursue. It is always understood that this happens with the consent and often participation or at least witnessing of your partner. It is very straightforward.

SIMON: They seem to make a point of separating sex and love.

SAGAL: That is...

SIMON: At least the kind of sex...

SAGAL: explicit point. I mean...

SIMON: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...this has nothing to do with intimacy. You're confusing sex with intimacy, said the owner of the club to me, and I - to which my response should have been, well, doesn't everybody? I mean, isn't sex intimacy? I mean, isn't it in fact almost a synonym? And to them it is not.

In a weird way, emotional attachment must be the kind of social disease that can ruin all the good times going on. That would be my supposition.
Nina Hartley, the world's most articulate porn star, who I also talked about in the book...

SIMON: Yeah.

SAGAL: She maintains that the idea of sexual orientation is far, far more complicated than the way we usually mean it - straight or gay. She thinks that it applies to all kinds of different interests, abilities, lack of abilities, enthusiasms, immunities, and I certainly think that this is true of this particular scene, that you have to be of a particular mind. You have to be the kind of person who not only thinks of sex in a particular way but feels it in a particular way, or rather maybe more to the point it doesn't feel in a particular way to enjoy the scene.

--NPR's Peter Sagal during an interview about his new book The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchSexuality

Posted October 27, 2007 at 9:47 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Kendall Harmon wrote:

I get a lot of emails from time to time saying in essence: “Where do you find all this stuff?”  This entry is a good example of how much the answer to that question varies.  I am always on the lookout, but things come from all sorts of unexepected places.

A couple of weeks back I was travelling and did my standard routine of getting up early and going on the elliptical for exercize.  I had recently added NPR’s weekend edition to my ipod subscription list and that morning I listened to the audio while running on the elliptical.

I was stunned by the Peter Sagal interview in a number of ways, but by nothing more than what a great example it is of the present cultural pressing to separate sex from intimacy and commitment and indeed any fleshed out context.

After that happened I made a mental note about the show, but I had been so busy it was only last night that I finally got a chance to research and go find the transcript.

Bottom line: This was quoted in my sermon almost two weeks ago, but it only goes on the blog today.

Just one story of one blog entry of possible interest.

October 27, 10:04 am | [comment link]
2. Chris wrote:

I don’t have much to add to what Kendall writes (i.e. I agree with it), I would say though that I’m glad to see you allowing comments on this.  My first reaction when reading it was, it’s gonna be a “Comments Closed” thread.

I will say though that I don’t believe I’ve ever had first hand exposure to people who do these sorts of things, and I’ve lived some in some pretty liberal cities (San Francisco, Boston, Munich).  Therefore I’m skeptical that is has some sort of overarching influence on our culture.

October 27, 10:34 am | [comment link]
3. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Good morning, Chris.  As you know there are three kinds of comment threads, open and watched, comment by email only, and comments closed.

I do not tend to put very many in the last category but sometimes feel it is necessary to keep a civil atmosphere.  As always if you disagree with me you can email and tell me why you think I am in error and I may shift my decision.

October 27, 10:49 am | [comment link]
4. Harvey wrote:

Sometimes, very often I might add, history will repeat itself.  I can’t help but think of Pompei.  Some of the painted images on the walls of the remaining buildings were as graphic as what I read in this blog.  I have not been there but some of my Naval buddies have and I can’t repeat the language they used in describing the murals.  Some things just don’t change.

October 27, 11:35 am | [comment link]
5. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Peter Sagal’s closing comments in the interview addressed his observation that people seem to patronize swingers’ clubs, strip joints, etc., in an effort to escape themselves. He said that from what he saw, this might work for a short time, but “wherever you go, you bring yourself with you.”

(Which brings to mind Chevy Chase’s homily to his kids, in one of the National Lampoon Vacation films — something like: “Just remember, kids: In this life, wherever you go, there you are.”)

October 27, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
6. okifan18 wrote:

I certainly appreciate the many items I find on this blog that I do not see elsewhere.

October 27, 12:52 pm | [comment link]
7. Cousin Vinnie wrote:

The guy’s pimping his book on NPR.  Like I need this book to teach me how to sin?  I bet it’s in the gift shop at Johnnie D.  But I did like the probably unintended humor:  “And then, if everybody is off a mind . . .”

October 27, 1:34 pm | [comment link]
8. robroy wrote:

William Mattox in an article published originally in the Washington Post on the the secret to a good sex life: faithful, monogamous relationships.

In particular,

The poll, commissioned by the Family Research Council, found that 72% of all married “traditionalists” (those who “strongly” believe that sex outside marriage is wrong) report high sexual satisfaction. This is roughly 31 percentage points higher than the level registered by unmarried “nontraditionalists” (those who have no or only some objection to sex outside marriage) and 13 points higher than that registered by married nontraditionalists.


...major survey commissioned by Redbook magazine during the mid-1970s. That survey, which included responses from approximately 100,000 women, found that women who were sexually active at age 15 were more likely to express dissatisfaction with their current sex lives than those who had refrained from early sexual involvement. It also found that strictly monogamous women (women who had sex with only one man) experienced orgasm during sex more than twice as often as women who had several sex partners.

So shhh. Don’t let it be known that gratuitous sex is unfulfilling. Don’t want to upset the cultural trendies.

October 27, 1:38 pm | [comment link]
9. Bill Matz wrote:

Exactly, robroy. Gratuitous sex is like a diet of dessert only - initially very appealing, an appeal that fades quickly, with little long-term nutritional value.

October 27, 1:51 pm | [comment link]
10. MJD_NV wrote:

She maintains that the idea of sexual orientation is far, far more complicated than the way we usually mean it - straight or gay. She thinks that it applies to all kinds of different interests, abilities, lack of abilities, enthusiasms, immunities

Exactly. This, in fact, is where more recent studies are leading us. In other words, the creature homo sapien is omnisexual, not “gay” or “straight” and talking about “sexual orientation” as though it only refers to these is somewhat ridiculous.

Hmm, never thought I’d dins myself in utter agreement with a porn star, but there you are.

October 27, 4:00 pm | [comment link]
11. John Wilkins wrote:

Perhaps, then, we should allow people of different orientations to experience the joy of faithful, monogamous relationships rather than restricting it to heterosexuality.

October 27, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
12. Dave B wrote:

D.C. #5, I thought the quote was from the movie “Buckaroo Bonsai and the Forbidden Zone”.  I am also reminded that during the Victorian era there was an illicit sexual underground that produced a lot of pornography and sexual perversions etc.  Human nature really doesn’t change that much.

October 27, 8:24 pm | [comment link]
13. MJD_NV wrote:

#11, and if your “orientation” is non-monogamous…?

Perhaps, then, we should invite all people to give up their “orientations” which are not in God’s created order to Him, to be made new in Him, so that their relationships may be joy-filled and faithful.

Oh, wait, wasn’t the Church already instructed to do that by St. Paul @ 1950 years ago?

October 28, 10:24 am | [comment link]
14. Dave B wrote:

# 11 John Wilkins said “Perhaps, then, we should allow people of different orientations to experience the joy of faithful, monogamous relationships rather than restricting it to heterosexuality.”  Who is restricting it.  Everybody can choose any sexual life style they wish, monogamous, or other wise, what stops them?

October 28, 12:32 pm | [comment link]
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