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Kink: The Hidden Sex Lives of Americans Hardcover – March 1, 1995

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1st edition (March 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312118457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312118457
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 1.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,500,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If the most recent sex surveys suggest Americans are conservative in bed, Bakos (Sexual Pleasures) describes a busy subculture-fueled by changing mores among the avant-garde, fear of disease and boredom and our historical sexual repression-pushing sexual boundaries. Researching her breezily anecdotal report, the author confesses, infrequently turned her on; indeed, her book is intriguing but troubling. Bakos begins with the mildly adventurous-those involved in anal sex and spanking-then moves on to S&M, both straight and gay, paid domination, fetishes, body piercing (which she sees as linked to S&M) and swing clubs. While her interviewees defend their practices, many seem to be working through traumatic childhood experiences. Bakos is skeptical of nonjudgmental therapists who can't condemn the cruelties of "destructive consensual behaviors"; she thinks light kink is sexy, heavy kink is not. Those involved in heavy kink have trouble with intimacy, she notes; and these oft-geeky types do not resemble the fantasies purveyed on MTV. But be on guard: "These are not expert conclusions" but just the author's. For interested readers unmotivated to do their own surveys.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

As evidenced by its title, this purported exploration of various sexual subcultures is as much titillation as education. Bakos, Penthouse magazine's former "Dear Superlady of Sex," barely disguises her subjective stance as she interviews (chiefly heterosexual) men and women from around the country to learn about sexual behaviors arranged "in order of ascending kinkiness, beginning with behaviors common to many of us, such as anal sex, light spanking, and bondage, progressing through heavier forms of kink, such as the master-slave relationship and the sort of masochism that sends its practioners to the hospital, even the grave." Written in the breezy style of a magazine article, the book also includes cross-dressing, amateur adult videos, group sex, and body piercing, but ultimately this prurient, judgmental exercise offers little that can't better be found elsewhere.
James E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Susan Crain Bakos, dubbed "our most peripatetic sex journalist" by Publishers Weekly, has interviewed thousands of men and women about their sexual behavior and attitudes. She is the author of The Sex Bible, and has also written numerous magazine articles for publications such as Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Men's Health, and Penthouse. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

1.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From the causal look at the back cover one already has to ask one self how open minded and a professional the research has been , when you read this:
""Internationally renowned sex author Susan Crain Bakos has traveled far into the American psyche and has returned with a provocative survey of sexual adventures. From fetishists to bondage fans, from piercers to disciplinarians, she reveals the kinky secrets of seemingly "normal" people....."
I've tried to disregard that and read it first, than make my conclusions. Now, they are absolutely clear. If you want to know something about BDSM and kink, than skip reading this book, it is a waste of money and your time. There are many books on the market, which can help you more in your research and personal education.
If you want a low-level gossip reading, than you are in for some entertainment.
Susan Crain Bakos's comments are purely annoying, because she appears to be well informed about the lifestyle and doesn't really seem to have grasped even the edges of any educated clue.
The author constantly returns attention to her own close-minded self and her very limited sexual fantasies. She is not able to keep the interviewing parties in a front of the happenings.
If she wanted to write autobiography that would be fine, but in this case it is very distracting from a reader.
I would LOVE to interview that author and find out how much she researched before writing that book. It seems she did not spend any quality time to even TRY to understand the BDSM lifestyle.
Her own interpretations are not based on quality research and forgive me for saying; they are laughable to anyone who is familiar with BDSM and different kinks.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Deme on July 7, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first got this book, I flipped through and scanned random bits. Upon reading it straight through, I realized that I'd managed to read all the decent content in the random scans.
The author does present valid warnings about the dangers of having intimate and trusting relationships without full communication and without knowing and accepting all of one's own wants and needs. I do not, however, think she did that intentionally. By concentrating her venom on the unnaturalness of the acts and her own personal opinions of them, she clearly highlights that it is communication, respect, and trust that make up healthy relationships and healthy people. Knowing or not, she methodicly illustrates the dangers of practicing socially unacceptable acts while ignorant of the dangers and responsiblities involved.
So, take my word for it, you need to be educated and self-aware before entering into any meaningfull relationship. Skip this book and interview real people yourself, and don't spend the entire interview writing down what they're wearing, listen to what they're saying, and try to understand that someone might be different than you and not crazy.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
According to the author, any alternative sexual activity beyond what she terms 'tie and tease' is, in her educated (?) opinion, sick and disturbing and she makes no bones about it. As the self proclaimed 'superlady of sex' and sex advice columnist for Penthouse Forum, Ms. Bakos's views confirm that she is not the least bit knowledgeable about alternative sexuality, nor is she interested in learning the truth about it. While she may be good at answering letters regarding 'normal' sex, she is completely unqualified to write about the alternative community and its unique forms of sexual expression.
While interviewing members of the alternative lifestyle community, Bakos ridicules their comments and seems not to be listening as they explain, in detail, the joys, rules, and safety involved in alternative 'lovemaking.' She specializes in making casual, snide, and demeaning judgements about her subjects.
Also, during her interviews, as the important questions are being asked and we are starting to get into the psyches of 'kinky' individuals, she interlaces the interviews with her own private thoughts. I AM interested in hearing how John Doe discovered his S/m proclivities...I AM NOT interested in Bakos's comment, while staring at John Doe's hands, that "I can imagine them caressing my breasts, parting my thighs."
The author is annoyingly obsessed with her subject's hair, dress, and number of sexual partners...but not their insight into their own sexuality.
The only person's sexuality we learn about in this book is Crain Bakos's...who cannot stop talking about her past conquests, her own sexual appetite, and what she would like her interview subjects to do to her.
If you are interested in the psychological aspects of alternative sexuality, skip this book.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is very telling how the author not only dismisses sexual styles different from her own as either out-of-place or near-sick; she also seems to find considerable delight in casting an air of ridicule over her interview partners if they fail to meet her expectations.
A typical example is her description of a certain female's looks: Bakos considers the woman's exterior worth five lines, three of which are dedicated to the notion that the poor bunny is blonde and uses too much hair setting lotion. Needless to say, the woman's mate is also a dumb nobody, and both form a painfully mediocre couple that seems an insult to Ms. Bakos' mundane moods.
Bakos is not an ambitious researcher, but a gossipy society socialite, and that shows throughout the book. Real-Life reports on exotic sexual preferences are flooding into the market by the dozens these days. It should be easy to get better information for your money.
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