Hiding the salami

Once upon a time, the United States Supreme Court attempted to define pornography as any reading or viewing material solely designed to arouse “the prurient interest.” Obviously, that definition doesn’t hold in today’s sex-saturated society, but if it did, the newly expanded and revised edition of Anne Hooper’s Ultimate Sex Guide would be no lascivious threat. This coffee table-sized tome, which has purportedly improved the sex lives of millions of readers, is nearly devoid of prurient interest, and that remarkable fact makes it worthy of further review.

In the general scheme of things, it seems that arousing the prurient interest might be something of a necessity in a sexual self-help manual. Isn’t the purpose of such books to aid those whose prurient interest has waned? If such a book failed in this purpose, would it be considered a flop? The answer, as far as Ultimate Sex is concerned, depends upon whose prurient interest we’re talking about.

For instance, this reviewer, who like most American males born after 1960 has been inundated by hardcore sexual images since childhood, failed to get a rise out of Ultimate Sex, despite the large full color photographs of beautiful naked couples in various sexual positions shown throughout the book. The models are fit and healthy, handsome and pretty, perfect specimens with one exception.

Neither male nor female have genitalia.

Now I don’t know which way you swing, but when I think about sex, there’s generally a penis and/or a vagina involved. A penis for sure. It seems like it would be nice to know what a penis looks like, especially for the sexual novice. But the only depictions Ultimate Sex offers of the penis are illustrations, one showing the proper way to put on a condom and the other one a cross-sectioned diagram straight out of a medical text, in the book’s last chapter, “His Sex Organs, Her Sex Organs.”

Two cartoon dicks. One cartoon vagina.

That’s it.

Pass the Viagra.

But hey, that’s just me, so I sought feedback from others on the book. It’s that kind of a book. You’re not embarrassed to pass it around. You wouldn’t be surprised to find a copy in one of the Bush twins’ backpacks. It’s the perfect gift for that legislative intern you’re sweet on. She tears it open, turns the pages and says, “Hey, what do you think of this bondage scene?”

My dominatrix friend thought the bondage scene, depicting a woman dressed in a black latex mini-skirt and stockings beating a naked, blindfolded and handcuffed man supplicated at her feet with a buggy whip, was pretty tame. But it was information she was more concerned about.

“Look up anal sex,” she commanded.

There was no “anal sex” entry per se, but the section on “anal stimulation” began on page 103, in a section Hooper titles, “My program for extending your sexual boundaries.” One element of Hooper’s program involves rimming, which she defines as follows:

“Rimming is where you gently draw the pad of one of your fingers in circles around the outside of your partner’s anal passage.”

Well, the five university-educated, 20-something females I queried in regard to Hooper’s definition all knew that rimming isn’t done with the fingers. Perhaps that’s the way they do it in England, where Hooper hails from, but the book is being sold in the United States.

And sold, no doubt, to people like the aforementioned 20-something college graduates, all of whom expressed interest in borrowing my review copy after I was “finished” with it. Sorry girls. I’ve already promised it to my daughter, age 22, because she doesn’t mind the missing genitalia at all.

But then, she’s a nice girl.