1978's The Shikse's Guide to Jewish Men: Here's the Awful Highlights
Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.
The Shikse's Guide to Jewish Men
Author:Marisa Richman and Katie O'Donnell Date: 1978 Publisher: Bantam Discovered at: Sunnyside Thrift Shop, Queens
The Back Cover Promises: "The Jewish Man is in. He is here and he is now. He is the new sexual hero."
"The Jewish man protests most about that which he wants the most: mothering."
"When he comes out of the bathroom you will see a great look of satisfaction on his face. You might be mistaken, but it often looks like he expects you to praise him for what he's done."
"He is sure he is too small and you will laugh when you see IT."
Published the year after Annie Hall beat out Star Wars for best picture, thus ushering in a golden age of smart, personal filmmaking for grown-ups, the singularly distasteful The Shikse's Guide to Jewish Men capitalizes on the of-the-moment notoriety of brainy but sexual fictional characters like Alvy Singer, Nathan Zuckerman, and Henry Kissinger.
Doing so, it mashed together two prevalent publishing trends: the frank sex advice book, and Larry Wilde's "official" ethnic joke books, which right up until 1986 or so taught Americans that the Russians took Warsaw by marching backwards and insisting to then Poles that they were actually retreating.
Such a mix seems nasty and confounding today, and the resulting book is obsessed with the penis, complexes, and allegedly not infrequent impotence of Jewish men, who here are continually both the butt of jokes and the target of lusty fascination. It's not exactly The Protocols of Scoring With the Elders of Zion, but it's also not something you would leave laying around for bubbe to see.
Here's a key page:
My favorite thing in there is the way the all-caps "it" now looks like I.T. as in your office's tech people. Do gentiles truly do that better?
It's tough to tell what's a joke and what's hard-won advice. The illustrations suggest the book is more the former:
Couldn't they have gone with something more of a young Elliott Gould type?
And sometimes, whether it's meant to be funny or helpful, the authors are cruelly dismissive. From their chapter "The Jewish Man Who's Never Been Married":
"He looks right, sounds right, everything about him is done with smoke and mirrors.
To accept a second date with him is to sail on the Titanic or ride in the Hindenburg.
He will tell you change is what he wants the most. HE CANNOT CHANGE."
Instead, the authors prefer that non-Jewish women chase after divorced Jewish men, which is most of them, the book insists.
Much of the authors' attention is dedicated to interfaith coupling. From the chapter "The Jewish Man and the Bedroom":
"You need to help him. Let him know it's okay.
He holds out little hope for the first time.
The first time, the Jewish man is not a gracious guest inside.
He has a morbid fear of premature ejaculation.
As much as he would love to have his mouth on it, that's dirty, dirty, dirty and he's guilty, guilty, guilty."
They also insist that Jewish men will always lock the bathroom door, will often use hand lotion, and will worry over whether you wear a coat outside.
And just like the writers over at Stormfront.com, they devote pages to a character they call "The Rich Jewish Man." He is something of a money ninja:
"The check is paid, but you never see him do it.
Your cab ride home is paid, but you never see him do it.
His ideal shikse is Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story."
Okay, that last one is actually kind of funny. But is it a joke? Is it elsewhere when they state "A nice Jewish boy's sexual experiences begin after his first marriage"?
Shocking Detail: The book has not aged well, and to our more sensitive time much of it sounds mean spirited, especially its assumptions that the Jewish man is inevitably divorced, mother-fixated, anxiety driven, and hard to talk to about money. There is, however, one chapter that truly celebrates one aspect of the authors' subject: "The Jewish Man and the Kiss."
"Unlike other men, a Jewish man is content to stay at the kissing stage as long as you wish.
A part of him lusts for the virginal part of you.
He is the master of the art of kissing.
With it he gives you a whole new sexual experience. With pressure on the mouth comes soft pressure on the neck, fingers through the hair, stroking of the face, pressure under the arms. A lot of touching where it doesn't count, but it works."
Highlight: The following was approved by a major publishing house.
King Kong? If they're being charitable, that might mean "Do IT on top of buildings." If they're not, it's probably "To make him feel bigger, sacrifice some natives." --
Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap on the Twitter thing.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.