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What Wild Ecstasy: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution Hardcover – April 8, 1997

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

John Heidenry, a former editor at Penthouse Forum, has lived on the frontlines of the sexual revolution and knows whereof he writes in What Wild Ecstasy: The Rise and Fall of the Sexual Revolution.. Despite its bodice-ripper title, the book is a serious look at modern sexual mores and issues. Heidenry is unabashedly pro-sex, but responsibly so. As he chronicles the coming of age of sexology, the growth of pop-culture pornography in Screw magazine or the film Deep Throat, and the legal battles fought by gays and lesbians, he is as forthcoming about the idiocies his subjects often fall into as he is about their heroics. He gives equally scathing treatment to people he views as crass opportunists (the porn-star John Holmes, for example) and anti-sex moralists on the right.

Heidenry is particularly sympathetic toward those who occupy the margins of mainstream sexuality--the bisexuals, transsexuals, and homosexuals, the prostitutes and pornographers. In these cases, he focuses on shared qualities: a need for love, for pleasure, for intimacy. What Wild Ecstasy is a frank, humane, and open-minded discussion of a subject that many people still find it difficult to talk about. Readers who approach Heidenry's book in the same spirit in which he writes will find, perhaps to their surprise, that underneath all the hoopla surrounding the sexual revolution, sex is still just one part of life, not the whole enchilada.

From Library Journal

This is an interesting, well-written account of an aspect of popular culture that still generates controversy?the so-called sexual revolution that began in the Sixties. Heidenry, former editor of Penthouse Forum, writes an entertaining account of the developments in the field of human sexuality from 1965 to the present. He discusses sex research, pornography, sexual minority groups, and contemporary sexual movements and their adherents and opponents. Readers will learn about the pill, abortion, Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, and Ted McIlvenna, as well as Annie Sprinkle, Bob Guccione, Hugh Hefner, Al Goldstein, and Larry Flynt. The author strives for balance in presenting the views of religious fundamentalists and both liberal and radical feminists, along with those who favor total sexual freedom. He also provides an extensive list of sources. At a time when the First Amendment and personal civil liberties are threatened, this timely book is highly recommended for all collections.?Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L., Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (April 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684810379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684810379
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,452,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
They said that the birth control pill would change everything. It almost did, for a decade or two, until STDs, libidinal burnout, and the Meese Commission put a stop to the fun. This book is a historical overview of those years, with elements of sociology and sexology. A history of the changes, good and bad, during “the giddy decade” when sex came out of the closet. Changes in sexual mores. Changes in hemlines and permissiveness. The growth of the pornography industry. The evolution of porn from artful erotica to “full-frontal” and hard core. Women’s liberation, LGBT liberation. Free-love cults, swinging clubs, wife swapping, orgies and group sex. Reactions to the changes from the Religious Right and radical feminists.

Here are discussions of censorship, adultery, abortion, AIDS, prostitution, bizarre sex practices, and many other topics. Sex researchers such as Masters and Johnson. Pornographers and porn actors. Is pornography demeaning to women? Does it incite to rape? Does the Mafia control the porn business? Is sex therapy legitimate or a scam? Can sexual orientation be changed by therapy? How prevalent is homosexuality? These are only a few of the issues discussed. Are sex surveys such as the Kinsey Report to be believed?

Some interesting stats from various surveys:
One in three or four women had had an abortion. (page 125)
Three out of ten pregnancies ended in abortions. (122)
Two thirds of white males had had sex with prostitutes. (21)
Median number of sex partners over a lifetime: 7.3. (354)
Median frequency of intercourse: once per week. (354)

The author calls for sexual freedom, a permanent sexual revolution emancipated from false inhibitions, guilt, and hang-ups.
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Format: Paperback
What Wild Ecstasy; the rise and fall of the sexual revolution is a vast social survey covering the myriad ways in which sexuality was influenced by scientific, commercial, legal, creative and spiritual changes between the years 1965 and 1996. Author John Heidenry attempts to lead readers to "read more broadly and less cynically in the field of sexual literature, to see sexual issues not merely in terms of sexual politics or the inanities of pop-sex manuals, to judge sensationalist media treatment of AIDS, child pornography, and sexual abuse in a clearer light, and to regard human sexuality on all its misery and grandeur as every bit as important as foreign policy, celebrity scandals, or professional sports". Heidenry accomplishes what he attempts to, despite some prejudices and strong opinions.

The book, written in slick magazine style, gives glossy summations of the era's most notorious characters and events, interweaving longer life stories into a loose chronological structure based on the Human Sexual response Cycle. Sections are, in turn, called: desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. This format insinuates that the revolution chronicled is perhaps one of a larger set of social "orgasms", a crest of one wave before the next begins. In fact, Heidenry believes that the sexual revolution beginning in the 1960s is the third sexual revolution, the first occurring in Germany and Austria in the beginning of the century and the second overlapped and occurred in America with women breaking from traditional roles, Margaret Sanger, and culminating in the Kinsey reports. The fourth sexual revolution, the one we are a part of now, he predicts as a global transition based on technology whereby Western ideals of sexual equality are inducted into even the most remote of societies.
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Format: Hardcover
I found that once I picked this book up, I could not put it down. I'm 51, graduated from high school in 1967, and lived through all of the time period this book covers. I remember Linda Lovelace and Deep Throat, but not until I read this book did I have a sense of what it meant. I remember Hustler and Larry Flynt, I remember much of this stuff. What I don't remember, and never knew, was the Hellfire Club, Marco Vassi, and even Annie Sprinkle. ......When I was finished I asked myself, "Where WAS I during all of this."
A great book on a great but terribly misunderstood subject. From the ridiculous (and almost repugnant) to the sublime...a really interesting survey of the creative force in life as it was unleashed in the recent past. Recommended.
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