The New ‘Bi’???

(2/3/14)  There used to be a time where sex was all about the ooohs and ahhhs.  Sorry to have to break the news, dear friends, but that’s old school.  The new school is increasingly about 1s and 0s–and this binary trend shows no signs of slowing down.  If anything, it’s gaining serious momentum towards the kind of “sex lives” comically foreshadowed in films like the Demolition Man.

It used to be that sex wasn’t rocket science, but those days are apparently gone as well as techo-wizzes, including an actual (albeit former) NASA scientist, are scurrying around at light speed to hatch whatever will be the next big thing (or at least to top whatever the big thing was last week).  Trying to keep up with it all almost seems like a pointless exercise as the pace of sex-tech is snowballing out of control.  It wasn’t really all that long ago that notions of “virtual sex” were limited by how fast a person could type with one hand.  Later, but still not quite ancient history, it became more a matter of improving bandwidth to do away with choppy, pixelated webcams, but even that didn’t satisfy the mad inventors.

The latest generation of sex-tech-gear scoffs and mocks all of what has been before–and barely made it to the marketplace before already being obsolete.  USB gizmos for interactive hanky panky titillated consumers briefly, but have already begun the slide in favor of wireless whoopie with real sensations.  Stick THAT in your port!  Next-generation web platforms, tech products with immersive sexual experiences and virtual environment technologies enabling ‘holodeck-style’ surroundings are not only here now, but quickly positioning to annihilate all previous forms of online social interaction.  With a generation coming up who operate tablets better than they can magazines, it’s really only a matter of time before the lines between physical and virtual experiences are totally obliterated.

Cue Charlton Heston: “You maniaaaacs!

Does this mean that the future of solving STDs could be as simple as religiously updating your anti-virus software?  Will we see an explosion of cyber-adultery prosecutions?  Is it just a matter of gigglebytes and fiberoptics before an actual date with Jessica Rabbit is possible?  Will it be somewhere in between or even more perverse than anyone can currently imagine?  Only time will tell.  While we’re years off from the likes of Woody Allen’s Orgasmatron, it does seem pretty certain that it’s coming.  The question is:  What do YOU think it will look like?

Happy Birthday, Bunny! Playboy at 60

SAAgraphic010614hef(1/6/14)  Of all the things that significantly helped change sexual mores in America for the better, Playboy stands out as an enduring icon that combines beauty, style, class and intelligence.  Now celebrating its 60th anniversary, you can say what you want about its relevance today in the mosh-pit of adult-oriented media, but the fact remains that it is of one of the most recognized brands globally.  It’s not just because they were one of the first.  It’s because they did it right and built it to last.

Born on a Chicago apartment kitchen table for about $8,000, Hugh M. Hefner’s first edition featured Marilyn Monroe and was an instant sensation.  While Playboy quickly became noted for its elegant photography and strict attention to detail, ‘Hef’ insisted that the magazine carve out a  sophisticated niche by including literary works by some of the world’s most renown writers.  Eventually, this also included covering the political, cultural and entertainment shifts of the turbulent times through “The Playboy Interview” which became a celebrated feature rivaling the centerfold as an edition’s most notable component.

SAAgraphic010614jsCourageously persisting in the face of constant pushback throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, Hef continued to build the Playboy brand by expanding into nightclubs, fashion and electronic media, even hosting his own syndicated television program, “Playboy After Dark.”  In the early 80s, he launched Playboy TV (originally, The Playboy Channel), a visionary move that was well ahead of the proliferation of specialty cable/satellite channels.  As the network grew and progressed with original programming, our personal connection to the Playboy saga emerged.  In 1998, they launched what would become the hit series, “Sex Court,” starring the amazing Julie Strain and our very own Alexandra Silk.  Okay, perhaps it’s an itty bitty part of a much more substantial tale, but it’s a very special one here.  Getting to know the legendary and incredibly generous Hef was remarkable in every way and he remains very dear to both of us.

Sixty years have passed since Marilyn graced its first pages and the Chicago apartment has given way to the famous Mansion, but the Playboy phenomenon continues strong into the 21st Century.  Entrenched as a cornerstone in America’s sexual revolution, Playboy’s history of innovation and pushing boundaries is an enduring legacy that we celebrate and hope will be built further upon.  Yes, keeping up with the times presents many challenges, but that’s just part of any business–and likely the basis for many other great discussions.  For now, we just offer a hearty “Happy Anniversary” to the whole Playboy family along with our wishes for many more great years to come.

2013 in Review: SAA’s Top 5

saa12302013(12/30/13)  It’s been a fast and furious year at Sex Across America and our parent company, Fallen Angel.  We’ve really enjoyed bringing you a weekly look at sex trends and breaking news this year and we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the wonderful encouragement we’ve received throughout.

It’s truly a labor of love for us and, since we would like to keep this a free resource for all, the only viable way to grow is through the generosity of readers who take a few moments to pass along our quirky banter and help spread the word throughout their circles.  We deeply appreciate the tremendous support we’ve received in that regard and hope that everyone has gotten something useful from our coverage.

With 2013 drawing to a close and as we plan our editorial calendar for next year, we thought it might be nice to review which topics trended highest during the year so that we can better focus our upcoming coverage.  Since it’s been said that there are, “…three kinds of lies:  Lies, bold-faced lies and statistics,” we really didn’t want to over think this little exercise, but rather have it result in more of a “Hmm.  Maybe I missed something that others thought was interesting” kind of thing for you while helping us to refine our planning.

(Actually, and against our better judgment, we were forced to feed our statmonkeys in order to get them to crunch the numbers for us.  Fortunately we had some cookies left over from the holidays so here’s what the now-happy bunch came up with.)

SAA’s 2013 Top 5 Trending Topics (in reverse order):

# 5:  Kickin’ a Sex Bucket

# 4 (tied):  SAA’s Salute to Nelson Mandela and SAA’s Salute to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

# 3:  The Millenial Generation

# 2:  The Swinger Scene

And (drumroll please)–coming in at # 1:  SAA’s Recommended Reading List

While we try to ensure that all of our topics are as timely and pertinent as those that trended to the top, it’s also extremely important to us that our coverage includes subjects that have a personal connection to you–our readers.  Towards that end, we hope you’ll let us know if there’s something you’d like us to cover or events for your organization that we can help publicize and we’ll do our best to add it to our upcoming schedule.  Just drop us an email and we’ll take it from there.

Once again, thank you for all of the encouragement and support this past year and please accept our best, heartfelt wishes for good health, much happiness and great success in 2014.

Happy New Year, everyone,

Luc & Alexandra

Erotica Across America

saa12232013(12/23/13)  What is erotica?  Is it art?  Is it porn?  Is it neither or both?  Some say the answer lies with the intent of the subject while others opine that it’s whatever the social majority says it is.  If you randomly ask any 10 people, you’ll likely get about 47 different answers.  Defining erotica is very much like firing a floppy rubber band at an ever-zipping target.  The definition not only fluctuates depending on where you happen to be at any given moment, but also when that given moment happens to be.  You would think that something that’s been around since cave dwelling days might be more solidly classified by now, but if anything it’s become fuzzier in the modern era.  Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing though.

Paraphrasing Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart’s famous 1964 statement supporting the Court’s overturning an Ohio obscenity conviction, “…I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced, but I know it when I see it.”  It’s one of those rare, elegant occurrences where intentional ambiguity and sharp precision collide in a way that’s just perfect.  By leaving the “erotica bin” deliberately vague, much more freedom is preserved when it comes to what’s Constitutionally protected as free expression.  That said, the political and legal skirmishes hardly ended there.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in a California obscenity case, resulting in a three step assessment to resolve whether a written or visual artwork was Constitutionally protected or classified as “obscene” and therefore not covered by the First Amendment.  The so-called “Miller Test” offered these guidelines:

1.  Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;

2.  Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and;

3.  Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

While many states still have laws that would apply in defining obscene material, the issue of “contemporary community standards” is both vague and constantly changing.  As they’ve essentially become more liberal over the years, particularly with new and expanded forms of media, the Miller Test has increasingly helped to protect many forms of erotica when challenged in the justice system.  Accordingly, the uberstuffy types had to up their creativity when instigating clashes, but not necessarily achieving the intended results.

In 1989, for example, Robert Mapplethorpe‘s art exhibit, publicly funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, came under attack by conservative special interest groups under the guise of opposing public subsidies for art that they deemed obscene.  Applying powerful lobbying tactics, they managed to influence withdrawal of support for Mapplethorpe’s show along with a subsequent obscenity prosecution of a venue that proceeded with the exhibition.  While their strategy initially appeared to succeed, it ultimately backfired massively when the venue (the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio) was found not guilty in the resulting jury trial and the entire escapade elevated Mapplethorpe to celebrity status, significantly increasing both the exposure and monetary value of his art.

These days, erotic artists are thriving as the mainstream has widened its view of what is considered–and accepted–as art.  This isn’t to say that opposition camps have dissolved completely, of course, but it does seem that a greater degree of tolerance is now in the air.  It’s a positive trend that not only solidifies freedom, but ironically owes itself to the lack of a clear, universal definition.

However, you do know it when you see it.