Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sex Scenes from the 60's

I tend to get nostalgic in the summer, so today I'm going to take you back some forty years to my childhood...

Needless to say, the 60's was a very interesting time to come of age. My enlightened parents, as you read in a previous blog, were conscientious about my sex education. But of course, part of any child's induction into sexuality includes events influenced by culture and society, and mine certainly was.

One of my earliest sex-related memories is of the dawning of Beatlemania. Among the first 45's I owned was "I Want to Hold Your Hand"/"I Saw Her Standing There," a gift from my dad. I was seven years old. I saw the Ed Sullivan broadcast and reports on the news showing teen girls screaming and literally swooning over Paul, John, George and Ringo. That sort of thing probably started with Elvis, but it was the first I had seen such behavior. I found it fascinating. I could understand it on a certain level, but clearly one needed to be "an older girl" to react to rock 'n' roll that way. Of course this didn't stop my neighborhood friends and I from playing Beatles in the yard, screaming and keeling over in the grass. (Screaming and keeling over in the grass had its own charm for grade schoolers.)

I learned a lot about sex from watching "Star Trek." Interestingly, I was pre-pubescent when the show first aired, and watched the reruns after the Big Change. So as time passed I understood more about sex as it was portrayed on the show. It was, being sci-fi, always exotic. And it seemed like the ongoing theme was that lust never failed to turn your reason upside down and make you do terrible, dangerous, improper things. When Captain Kirk was under the influence of some tribal medicine woman's charms, or the magical tears of an alien woman, he would forget duty and become oblivious to everything but getting some. When the emotionless Vulcan Mr. Spock fell under his biological mating urge, or was hit by aphrodisiacal plant spores, he lost his self-control and became violent and animalistic. It was an interesting lesson to teach an impressionable young thing such as myself. From "Star Trek" I gathered that sex was mystical and dangerous and, yes, quite exciting.

Meanwhile, during my junior high and high school years, the hippie movement kicked into full swing. The most profound way hippies touched my personal life was via the rock musical "Hair," which charmed my dad when he took clients to see the show in Chicago. He thought the music was fantastic, but the lyrics, which focused largely on sex and drugs, might not be the best influence on his 13-year-old daughter. Fortunately, at this time the Moog synthesizer, the first electronic instrument, was invented, and among the first LPs recorded in the Moog was a collection of songs from "Hair." I loved it. This lyric-free record satisfied my dad for only so long though; it wasn't too many months before he bought the soundtrack anyway, with a careful introduction to me and encouragement to ask questions.

I remember sitting with our big Webster's dictionary looking up the words in the song "Sodomy." The book did not include very many of them. I could only guess what "fellatio," "cunnilingus," and "pederasty" might mean. And no, I didn't ask. :-)

I had such mixed emotions about this sort of thing when I was thirteen. I thought the two guys who wrote and starred in the show were "really cute," or as I'd put it today, "hot." I was beginning to understand sexual desire. But the hippie movement scared the crap out of me. While it did seem more in touch with reality and human nature than American society had been i the 50's, I didn't like that "free love" also meant being short-sighted and irresponsible. And the link between sex and drugs also seemed pretty counter-productive to me.

Face it, I was born in the 50's and could identify a lot better with the Cleavers and their good manners, Gidget's wholesomeness, and the happily-ever-after, true-love-wins-the-day themes of the Broadway musicals other than "Hair." Sex in the 60's was to me a fascinating combination of scary, thrilling, mysterious and dangerous.

And I guess, from what I write today, it still is.

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