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Friday, November 21, 2008

The Best of Sexology

Posted By on Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 10:51 PM

click to enlarge sexologycoverlr.jpg

If you know someone who likes sex or whom you think might like sex, here’s the perfect gift — sure to give them many hours of enjoyment.


The Best of Sexology: The Illustrated Magazine of Sex Science is just that. The best articles from the 30+ year publication span of Sexology magazine. Maybe not all of it is scientific, but its writers earnestly addressed the burning issues of the day: Can animals and humans be crossed (January, 1955)? Why do women become prostitutes (November, 1960)? How many types of French prostitutes are there (July, 1956)? What about Adolf Hitler’s secret sex life (March, 1958)? How do chastity belts work (October, 1955)? Is wife swapping dangerous (May, 1961)? What’s the difference between a “wayward” girl and a “wandering” girl (April, 1939)? What happens when midgets marry regular sized people (October, 1953)? And in March 1953, the magazine boldly predicted that in the future, computers will improve on divorce rates by determining successful couples.


As funny as the book can be, its information isn’t often terribly suspect (given a limited, selective reading). It features fun euphemisms and archaic language, but not much seems to have changed — about people or sex.


Prurient curiosity seems to be a constant, and so do the subjects. Back through the ’40s, people were fascinated by fetishism (the tome includes articles on odor, shoes, rubber, sadism, masochism, etc.), by tattooing and its sexual implications, by deformity (from elephantitis to dwarfism), and a host of marital issues. There also are some sideshow oddities, like the problem of humans with tails.


The magazine was founded by an inventor named Hugo Gernsback (1884-1967). He patented a form of battery and invented the “Telimco Wireless Telegraph.” In his life he collected 80 patents, and with his money, he launched approximately 50 magazines. The first was Modern Electronics. He also is considered by some to be one of the first science fiction writers. In 1933, he launched Sexology, earnestly setting out to provide scientific knowledge about sex. It took a while to catch on, but it eventually did. By the end of the 1950s though, it became dated in its approach when compared to other more modern magazines, like Playboy, which launched in 1953, and Cosmopolitan (launched in 1886 as a family magazine, redirected into a woman’s magazine in the late 1960s under Helen Gurley Brown).


Editor Craig Yoe obviously enjoyed culling the magazine for this collection of articles (480 pages worth). It also contains fun advertisements, sex quizzes (again, nothing’s new) and questions from readers. The illustrations are generally not sexy, but they are priceless.




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