by D.K. Holm
PORNOGRAPHY: Private Right or Public Menace?
edited by Robert Baird and Stuart Rosenbaum (Prometheus Books)
Sex on the internet has propelled the porno debate into uncharted territory. This book opens with a variety of views and commentary on the Communications Decency Act. The other essays explore porno from feminist, libertarian and religious perspectives.
Contributors include high flown academics, journalists and bible bangers. The essays cut across the main spectrum of the controversy. Out-on-the-edge Robert Bork, the Yale Law prof who almost made it to the Supreme Court, lays it on the line; "I'm just advocating censorhip," he says. "The original meaning of the (free) speech clause was the protection of ideas and the circulation of ideas, not the protection of self-gratification through pornography and other stuff."
On the flip side, Peter Johnson offers a head-on case for smut itself: "Pornography, far from being an evil that the First Amendment must endure, is a positive good that encourages experimentation with new media."
Around the Exotica office, we like the way Johnson circulates ideas.
SEX TOY TALES
edited by Anne Semans and Cathy Winks (Down There Press)
While Lisa Palac managed to crank out an entire book after the flying dildo bonked her on the head, this book contains close to 40 pieces, mostly fiction, where the sex toy lands in the appointed spot. Sex toys, according to the editors, are still taboo, gadgets talked about in whispers and thought to be used among those with sexual problems. Sex toys must break out of the house of mechanical engineering and drive into the house of lust. Think metamorphosis of plastic. The dildo smashes through the forces of repression, the vibrator beats like a heart in a heartless world, the butt plug soothes the soul in a soulless society. Long live the sex toy. Thanks to the Good Vibrations crew, the toys' days of internment are over.
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES
by Eve Ensler (Villard)
Originally written as a performance piece, Eve Ensler's one-woman show snagged an Obie award last year. Just as Lenny Bruce wanted to de-mystify the word "fuck" by repeated usage, Ensler gives it a go with the word "vagina." She points out that when her show was advertised in newspapers
and on box-office phone machines it frequently turned up as "V. Monologues."
It does seem strange that this word would stir up such anxiety, but it's a good take-off point for her sometimes hilarious and sometimes tragic look at sexual politics and the female body. At a time when a semen-stained dress is discussed on network news, a peek at the vagina would hardly seem disturbing. Too much secrecy surrounding the vagina, she says. "It's like the Bermuda triangle. Nobody ever reports back from there." But she does, in an engaging short riff.