Let’s Hear it for Eargasms


(10/14/13)  Music can have a tremendous impact on any sexual experience.  As a sensual prompt, some songs can soothe or calm while others can arouse or excite.  The basic physiology of this has to do with the natural release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in response to hearing music, causing an increased feeling of enjoyment.  There have also been studies that suggest music with a range of beats-per-minute that mimic a natural heartbeat produces elevated enjoyment levels in physical activities.  A sense of malaise or boredom may occur with beats in a lower range while someone may feel agitated or tense in response to songs with a higher range.

That said, while the physical part is pretty straightforward, factoring in the emotional is where it gets a little muddled.  For many people, music represents a firm psychological trigger–positively for some songs and negatively for others.  Advertisers capitalize on this significant detail all the time through their use of jingles (you know–those pesky little earworms that you cannot expunge no matter how many times you spit and spin around).  Perhaps it’s emotional manipulation, but it’s also a clear example of how using certain types of music can provoke a specific response.  It works with sex the same as it does with Big Macs.  (C’mon–you know you know all the ingredients.)

Beyond the obvious need to coordinate musical tastes (since, let’s face it: Not everyone gets off on polkas), it’s often important to consider music that helps synchronize specific moods as well.  If one person is feeling mellow while the other is coming off a day-long caffeine binge, this may not be a simple task but it’s pretty obvious that a type of music that normally works well with one mood extreme will likely not have the same effect on a disparate one.  Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to think about the lyrics of a potential selection.  Many songs have wonderfully sexy melodies but do you really think it’ll be a major turn-on if it features passages with violent or misogynistic fare?  All we’re saying is a little preparation goes a long way on this point.

No doubt, it’s an exceptionally individual thing, as it should be with all sexual things, but if you’re looking for suggestions for putting together a “sexy” playlist, there are many places that feature surveys of the “sexiest songs ever” and so forth.  The thing is, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any that have a true consensus though many do feature some pretty comical–and occasionally inane–debates about songs that were included/excluded.  However, and mostly because we’re so committed to going the extra mile for our beloved readers, we dug deeper just for you and managed to uncover one source that actually had a (somewhat) scientific system for ranking the most popular songs about sex:  The American wallet!

Using historical performance (i.e., commercial popularity) data of songs having “something to do with sex” from Billboard Hot 100 lists which have been around since the late 1950s, they came up with the songs listed below.  So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, we present Billboard’s top 10 sexy songs :

10.  “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” – Rod Stewart (1979)

9.  “Kiss You All Over” – Exile (1978)

8.  “Like A Virgin” – Madonna (1984)

7.  “Do That To Me One More Time” – Captain & Tennille (1980)

6.  “Hot Stuff” – Donna Summer (1979)

5.  “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye (1973)

4.  “Too Close” – Next (1998)

3.  “I’ll Make Love To You” – Boyz II Men (1994)

2.  “Tonight’s The Night” – Rod Stewart (1976)

And, drum roll—–

1.  “Physical” – Olivia Newton-John (1981)

(Incidentally, an irony of the above date pattern is that the data dump used for it is actually fairly recent–compiled after the 2010 stat collection period.  While we intended to present the information to illustrate a point somewhat humorously, it does make us wonder–well, a little.  How about you?)

R.I.P.’n The Kama Sutra

(9/30/13)  As sex-positive educators and activists, we tend to aim for the cutting edge when it comes to strategies for improving sex lives, but we try not to rule out ways to update classical approaches when it’s viable to do so.  In this vein, one of the earliest and most comprehensive works on the subject for its time, the Kama Sutra (K.S.) certainly qualifies as a classic, but looking at how it might be modernized made us wonder:  Are approaches that have roots in exceptionally outdated social mores better boxed up and left in the dust rather than tweaked for today’s use?

Keeping in mind that it was created as religion-based lifestyle advice for a specific, male-oriented culture existing in ancient times, it’s pretty easy to see how much of its approach could be viewed as sexist (and perhaps even racist) by modern standards.  Interpretations of it over the years, including the later addition of artwork depicting a variety of positions, may have diffused some of culture-specific effect and attempted to broaden its appeal as an aid for improving sex lives, but even those efforts were still a product of their times and difficult to relate to today.  None of this is to suggest the K.S. is completely worthless, mind you.  As an ancient literary work, it does have some intrinsic value today if one is interested in exploring historical cultures.  If that’s the goal (or you just happen to be a rabid fan of Sanskrit), one might easily find it fascinating.  Beyond that, however, updating the concepts in order to keep it as a proverbial go-to-guide for practical erotica is a bit like trying to strap a jet engine on a Model-T.  Yeah, it’ll probably work to some extent, but…well, you get the idea.

Here’s the rub:  Without doubt, the basic premise is a good one–Sex is an amazing part of the human experience, so learn how to enjoy your sex life.  Okay.  No sweat there.  By all means, bring that little nugget forward.  However, it’s not the “what” but rather the “how” that’s at issue.  Style-wise, it’s wonky at best and incredibly pompous at worst, but more to the point, it’s hardly a panacea for improving sex simply because “it’s the original recipe” so to speak.  That recipe may have worked well in a time of clay ovens, but it has no place in the microwave age.

It’s actually a validation of our modern sensibilities that the K.S. has gone the way of the Dodo and lost its place in the hierarchy of sex manuals.  Today’s interpretations of it are really more of a marketing ploy to take advantage of a well-known name associated to erotic education–and some of these, actually, are quite useful.  For example, our good friends at Adam & Eve have a wonderful take on the K.S. that’s perfectly great today.  But that’s where the comparisons should end.  As a tool for positive sex education, let’s just say it had its day and leave it for a dignified burial.  Sure, in many cases, what’s old is new again and indeed, sometimes that’s a “good” thing (hint: lava lamps).  More often than not, however, what’s old is old for a reason–and is better left in the rear view mirror.

The Kama Sutra fits in that bin.  R.I.P.