Best and Worst of Sex 2004

From Hollywood to the Ballet, the Year In Sex Gets Mixed Reviews

BEST SEX MOVIE: Kinsey, a great portrait of a man who changed the way we think about sexuality in this country. It generated the Worst Protest of a Sex Movie, during which right-wing fanatics resorted to taking cheap shots (Concerned Women for America's Bob Knight called Kinsey a "promiscuous sado-masochistic bisexual") and spreading blatant lies about the man, his work, and the film.

DUMBEST FILM-RATINGS SYSTEM: Producers had to cut a sex scene between puppets in Team America for it to receive an R rating, while John Waters's A Dirty Shame garnered an NC-17 for—well, I'm still not sure.

BEST LEGAL VICTORY: In a case against adult-bookstore manager Sergio Acosta, a Texas judge ruled that the state's ban on the sale of sex toys was unconstitutional. Similar charges against fellow Texan Joann Webb, a woman who was arrested for selling undercover officers two dildos in a sting operation (a dildo sting!), were also dismissed. A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law has been filed by eight women, including Webb, who are consultants for Passion Parties.

WORST GOVERNMENT TREND: In 2001, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received 350 complaints of radio and television obscenity and levied $90,000 in fines. In 2004, over 1 million complaints resulted in fines of nearly 8 million dollars—half of which were against Clear Channel Communications and Viacom (owner of CBS, boob broadcaster extraordinaire). Conservative groups want Congress to pass a law extending obscenity regulations to cable and satellite broadcasts that are currently not subject to decency rules.

HOTTEST GOSSIP WE HOPE IS TRUE: Rumor has it that Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have dumped their respective girlfriends to be with each other. While the breakup of long-term relationships can be devastating and we don't want to rub salt in the wounds of Alexandra Hedison and Francesca Gregorini, if Ellen and Portia are really a couple, their children are going to be funny andhot.

WORST SEX JOURNALISM: First it was the one-sided, preachy "exposé" on the porn industry where Diane Sawyer made starlet Belladonna cry; then Primetime Live did a multi-episode special on the results of its American Sex Survey. During the latter, Diane and company were stiff, uncomfortable, and downright prudish, and the results were more boring than reading the ingredients off a bottle of vanilla extract.

BEST BOOK FOR INSPIRING REVIEWERS TO WRITE WITTY PUNS ABOUT THE RECTUM: The Surrender, by former prima ballerina Toni Bentley, had book critics grabbing for their erotic thesauruses to come up with clever ways to discuss a subject rarely dissected in The New York Times Book Review: ass fucking.

WORST BOOK PROMOTION-CENSORSHIP COMBO: The Today show welcomed author-sex therapist Ian Kerner, then would not say the name of his book—She Comes First—out loud. A cover shot of the bestseller obscured the title of the tome about the joys of cunnilingus. What's the matter, Katie and Matt, cat got your tongue?

BEST NON-MONOGAMY VISIBILITY: In the sharp HBO series Six Feet Under, Keith and David spent the year negotiating their non-monogamous relationship. Whether it was a blowjob from the plumber, sex with a woman, or the rules when one went on the road, this couple struggled with setting boundaries and showing each other love and respect. They continue to be the most nuanced queer pairing on television.

WORST CASE OF BYE-BYE BI: From Alexander the Great to Achilles, it was a year when the bisexuality of famous Greeks was either erased or diluted by Hollywood. We're still wishing for a sex scene as explicit as Rosario Dawson's, but this one featuring Colin Farrell and Jared Leto.

BEST WEBSITE: Hands down (or hands on crotches), fleshbot.com is the smartest, most useful site on the Internet. Necessary reading for anyone remotely connected to or interested in porn, Fleshbot covers the newest, hottest, most bizarre shit with clever write-ups by editor John d'Addario. It can also be laugh-out-loud funny, as in the case of the Guilty Pleasure of the Year, "Porn Star Plastic Surgery," where readers are treated to a star's, um, evolution, in photos.

WORST NEWS FOR PORN STARS: Speaking of surgical enhancement, a study by the International Epidemiology Institute found that women with breast implants have a higher rate of suicide and are more likely to be hospitalized for mental illness. Just one more reason to stick with what you've got, ladies.

MOST FASCINATING STORY LINE: On Nip/Tuck, plastic surgeons give a patient from Africa a reconstructed clitoris; then she learns that she herself is the key to her sexual pleasure. While I'm not sure the technology depicted has been perfected (or that any woman could have a raging orgasm just hours after vaginal surgery), the topic is timely and the message sex-positive.

BONEHEAD AWARD: To the sexually harassing hypocrite I'm betting doesn't even know where the clitoris is: Bill O'Reilly.

WORST EXAMPLE OF GENDER INEQUALITY IN RESEARCH: Men with sexual dysfunction got a drug with near-instant results and a low risk of side effects that leaves the system in a few hours. For women, Proctor & Gamble gives us the testosterone patch, which we have to use for weeks or months before seeing an effect and about which many have serious concerns involving long-term safety. Well, at least the FDA didn't approve it, then recall it.

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