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Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange-- How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos [Kindle Edition]

Robert Hofler
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

After the sexual revolution came the sexual explosion

The six years between 1968 and 1973 saw more sexual taboos challenged than ever before. Film, literature, and theater simultaneously broke through barriers previously unimagined, giving birth to what we still consider to be the height of sexual expression in our pop culture: Portnoy's Complaint, Myra Breckinridge, Hair, The Boys in the Band, Midnight Cowboy, Last Tango in Paris, and Deep Throat.

In Sexplosion, Robert Hofler weaves a lively narrative linking many of the writers, producers, and actors responsible for creating these and other controversial works, placing them within their cultural and social frameworks. During the time the Stonewall Riots were shaking Greenwich Village and Roe v. Wade was making its way to the Supreme Court, a group of daring artists was challenging the status quo and defining the country's concept of sexual liberation. Hofler follows the creation of and reaction to these groundbreaking works, tracing their connections and influences upon one another and the rest of entertainment.

Always colorful and often unexpected, Sexplosion is an illuminating account of a generation of sexual provocateurs and the power their works continue to hold decades later.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The author, senior editor at Variety and former entertainment editor at Penthouse, sets out to show how a number of very talented, risk-taking rebels challenged the world’s prevailing attitudes toward sex and, in the process, changed pop culture forever. Thus, we have a compendium of period sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, much of it familiar, but which, in aggregate, demonstrates Hofler’s thesis abundantly. Focusing on the brief period of 1968–73, the text presents a deluge of barrier-breaking books, films, and theater that is dizzying in its magnitude and impact. Hofler’s appropriately breezy style allows his journalistic strengths to shine; it all rings true. Arranged chronologically, beginning with Hair and the movies of Andy Warhol and quickly taking in Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, John Schlesinger’s film Midnight Cowboy, Kenneth Tynan’s Oh! Calcutta! (the title explained), Mart Crowley’s gay-themed The Boys in the Band, and much more, with convincingly detailed context, Hofler describes in often strong language and with considerable wit what was unmistakably a new cultural reality and moral perspective in America and Britain. Although his epilogue seems superfluous, he otherwise makes his case compellingly. This is readable and enjoyable popular history for younger adult readers and deeply resonant nostalgia for the boomers who came of age during this heady half decade. --Mark Levine


Dizzying in its magnitude and impact . . . Hofler describes in often strong language and with considerable wit what was unmistakably a new cultural reality and moral perspective in America and Britain . . . (Booklist (starred review))

Lively [and] unapologetically profane . . . Hofler covers pop-culture figures and their creations with an expert’s depth of knowledge . . . resulting in a delightful journey through a short-lived but influential period (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

Fun, fascinating examination of the moment when American and British culture seemed to lose all inhibitions . . . Readers will marvel over the ideological distance traveled since those years . . . Sparkling history of an artistically spirited age. (Kirkus Reviews)

So vivid it’s like reliving the times, Robert Hofler’s Sexplosion seamlessly illuminates in fast-paced detail the tumultuous era in which American culture finally lost its virginity. His impressive research and authoritative voice make for a !*&%#@! good read. (Stephen M. Silverman, author Dancing on the Ceiling: Stanley Donen and His Movies)

Sexplosion is a multifaceted gem-a close examination of the intersection of sex, politics, and the arts that is also a thrilling cultural history. It is an original and provocative look at the backstage scenes of America’s theaters, studios, and clubs, where artists were demolishing inhibitions and transforming our lives. (Bob Spitz, author of Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child)

“Rich, funny, and comprehensive, Sexplosion takes you inside the tumultuous, energizing years of 1968 to 1973, when artists, filmmakers, and writers defied authority and challenged every taboo to create a sexual revolution that reverberates to this day. This is a superb evocation of an era.” (Patricia Bosworth, author of Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman)

Sexplosion is a witty, insightful ride through the most entertaining period in American pop culture, the late 1960’s, when saying bad words and shedding one’s clothes in public were controversial and, in some circles, heroic acts. (—Ron Nyswaner, screenwriter of Philadelphia and The Painted Veil)

A thoroughly enjoyable romp through a five year explosion of taboo busting, sexually adventurous entertainment. Robert Hofler pays tribute to the trailblazing artists who paved the way for the freedom on screen that we take for granted today. (Jeffrey Schwarz, director of I AM DIVINE and VITO)

Fascinating. (L.A. Weekly)

A bona fide page-turner . . . Fascinating, funny, and thorough . . . Sexplosion tells the story of the people who made our current enlightenment possible. (LitReactor)

Eye-opening . . . a 327-page time machine trip back to a pivotal moment in modern pop history. (Connecticut Post)

That most rare of histories: as fun as it is fascinating. (Bookgasm)

“…a provocative romp through the culture wars and the transformation in America’s sexual politics…” (Wall Street Journal)

Written by a true pop culture connoisseur… a long, three-martini lunch with a chatty acquaintance who knows the studio-lot scuttlebutt and isn’t afraid to share it. (Washington Post)

A compelling historical look at the avant-garde art scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the set that broke taboos about what art could and couldn’t say about sex. Hofler doesn’t hold back….And lurid details make for a compelling read. (GQ)

Like Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind’s study of the New Hollywood, Sexplosion deftly weaves a path through the friendships and collaborations which created common ground…. Above all, he amasses one unforgettable vignette after another. (The Independent)

Richly detailed, entertaining study of film and theatre’s sex boom in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (Sunday Times (London))

Compulsively readable …Sexplosion, with energetic glee, details how between 1968 and 1973 rebellious artists …proceeded to annihilate the mostly hypocritical censorship standards. (Boston Herald)

Sexplosion stands as an engrossing chronicle of artistic expansion…. If your guilty-pleasure tastes run toward showbiz gossip, note that this book is pretty delicious. (Financial Review (Australia))

Hofler captures the arc of a generation that got drunk on pop liberation and woke up a little hung over….a parade of scandals. (New York Times Book Review)

Robert Hofler knows this topic better than anyone. Sexplosion is a well received study of the fiery, liberating culture that seized audiences from 1968 to ‘73….So take off your 3D glasses and let’s dance into the time tunnel of social tumult and other earthly delights. (Micahel Musto, Out)

Product Details

  • File Size: 4439 KB
  • Print Length: 387 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062088343
  • Publisher: It Books (February 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DKZ6J5C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #673,149 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
“I really enjoyed this one. This is a very entertaining read, even more fun that Hofler’s last book The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson. Especially provocative are the stories about Carnal Knowledge, Last Tango in Paris and Deep Throat, three films that appeared to lead the way to triple-x fare in mainstream movies. But court cases involving those films stopped that trend dead in its tracks. We’ve had to wait almost half a century to see that trend play out with films like Nymphomaniac, Interior Leather Bar and Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Howard Rosenman
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun! March 13, 2014
The stories in this book about Gore Vidal, Jane Fonda, Natalie Wood, Stanley Kubrick and many other well-known people in movies, theater and publishing are lots of fun to read. And very lurid in their gossipy detail.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
SEXPLOSION recounts the story of the turbulent years between 1967 and 1973, when many of the sexual taboos preventing the free expression of ideas in film, theater, television and literature came crashing down. Author Hoffer constructs the book as a series of parallel narratives, including the first performances of THE BOYS IN THE BAND, HAIR! and O! CALCUTTA! on Broadway; the filming and reaction to groundbreaking movies such as MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, WOMEN IN LOVE, THE DEVILS, DEEP THROAT and A CLOCKWORK ORANGE; the furor surrounding the public television series AN AMERICAN FAMILY, with its real-life portrayal of an openly gay character; and the reaction to sexually explicit books such as COUPLES.

Some of the stories are especially entertaining. I enjoyed reading about the docu-soap AMERICAN FAMILY, that focused on the real-life exploits of the Loud family; its struggles to stay together; and the way in which it viewed the fact that the eldest son Lance was openly gay. The family themselves had no problem with this; but the media at the time reacted in an hysterical manner, prompting the Loud family to appear on THE DICK CAVETT SHOW in order to defend themselves. As Hoffer tells it, they were the victims of a deliberate campaign of distortion by the mainstream media, as well as the show's producers.

The book describes the lives of some larger-than-life characters, notably the British actor Oliver Reed, who tried to film the famous nude wrestling scene with Alan Bates in WOMEN IN LIVE while drunk. Eventually director Ken Russell had his way, and Reed was forced to do it sober.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Setting the record straight March 9, 2014
I purchased “Sexplosion” after reading John Heilpern’s review in the Wall Street Journal. Despite the very upbeat review, Heilpern did note a couple of “lapses” on the author’s part. Having read the book, I think that the author, Robert Hofler, got it right and it is Heilpern who made a couple of lapses. First off, Hofler did not “overestimate” the impact of “The Boys in the Band.” That play remained the most prominent work about gays in the pop culture for decades! Heilpern points out that Edward Albee considered the play “homophobic.” What Heilpern fails to mention in his review is that Hofler makes that very point, and the book tells the story of how Albee let the play be produced by his theater company, which he ran with Richard Barr, even though he didn’t like “Boys in the Band.” Barr went on to produce the play commercially. Heilpern’s other mistake is to fault Hofler’s inclusion of “I Am Curious (Yellow),” which Heilpern says is only of interest because Jackie Onassis went to see it one day. Hofler spends maybe five paragraphs on “I Am Curious (Yellow)” and it is all about Jackie Onassis going to see the film! And as Hofler points out, “I Am Curious (Yellow”) was held by U.S. Customs for almost two years before it was allowed to be screened in America. If that’s not about breaking taboos, Heilpern should look up the definition of the word “taboo.”
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How They Broke Media Toboos April 8, 2014
For better or worse, we are not surprised to see nudity or sexual activity on the screen or even in the theater now. Such things had been forbidden, and then in the 1960s, when there was tumult about so much else, things changed. I was growing up at the time and was crazy about movies, and I found _Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange - How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos_ (It Books), by Robert Hofler, full of memories of how the screen got liberated. For those who are younger, this will seem like a history from some distant time and some bizarre culture. Hofler is a senior editor at _Variety_, and so plenty of his stories involve Hollywood, but Broadway and Off-Broadway are here, as well as liberating blows from England; he has also covered the books with sexual themes that were bestsellers, and even has a little to say about television. For those who can get all the porn they want by pressing a few buttons, or can join with millions of readers in _Fifty Shades of Gray_ or are more offended by the way capitalism is corrupted in _The Wolf of Wall Street_ than in the orgy scenes, _Sexplosion_ will provide an entertaining chronicle of the years around 1968 to 1973 when the walls got busted down. The leaders in the movement, in Hofler’s view, may have been motivated by artistic expression, but there was also a strong motivation of rebellion. Gore Vidal remembered about writing his transsexual extravaganza _Myra Breckinridge_, “I hadn’t even made up my mind about the sex change at that point. I heard this voice in my head. Absolutely like Joan of Arc, telling me to liberate my native land.”

Other leaders included Gerome Ragni and James Rado, lovers who wrote the musical _Hair_ that got its premiere off Broadway in 1967.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Read With With Great Anecdotes
This book does a great job of putting you back in time, a time where even brief nudity on stage or screen or gosh forbid suggestions of gay relationships were so explosive they... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Todd and In Charge
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing If Slight
This is a compendium of everything that was culturally/sexually controversial in the late 60s and early 70s. Movies, books, plays-- if it ruffled prudish feathers, it's here. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Chris Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars Scintillating!
Having lived through the flowering of the Sexual Revolution, I thought I had an understanding of the subject. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Vicor Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific read!
We live in an age now where seemingly anything goes, and Hofler lets us know how we got here. What impressed me most is how he took seemingly disparate events and wove them into a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Joe DIPietro
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Very interesting and fun! Loved reading about celebrities (Kubrick, Natalie Wood, Jane Fonda, Gore Vidal) and all the scandalous stories of the rebels of yesteryear.
Published 8 months ago by DBHaze
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read - Intriguing Saga
I enjoyed Robert Hofler’s previous books “The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson” and “Party Animals,” so was looking forward to his next one, “Sexplosion. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Hollywood Hills
5.0 out of 5 stars LIKE A NOVEL
This nonfiction book about risqué, groundbreaking movie titles and stage shows of the late Sixties reads like a novel. A great pulp novel.
Published 8 months ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STORIES
This book really took me back to my days and all those films, plays and novels that my parents forbid me to see and read. It’s loaded with great stories. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Suzanne E. Goddard
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantactic
Sexplosion is loaded with great stories not only about movies, but plays and TV as well. I strongly recommend Hofler's latest book as a great read.
Published 8 months ago by Barbara A Ware
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More About the Author

I'm the theater critic for The Wrap, and now live in New York City. I've previously worked as an editor at Life, Us, Variety and other publications. My latest book is "Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange, How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos" (It Books/HarperCollins). My previously published books include the Allan Carr biography "Party Animals" and the Henry Willson biography "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson."


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