By James Casey
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 17, 1998

Just say no to 'Smart Sex'


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Shagtastic, baby. Smart Sex is the latest book from MTV networks.

What's that? MTV? MTV as in Music Television?

Yes, after many years of telling us what to listen to, MTV Networks is now trying to tell us how to sleep around. Danny-DeVito-looking executives in the corporate office are trying to impose their views on the youth of today yet again.

What is truly suspicious is that there are no mentions of the true publishers on the cover of the book or on the inside, really - just a line of tiny print on the inside copyright page gives it away. Maybe it's a conspiracy; maybe MTV is actually in charge of everything from breakfast cereals to video games. We're all being brainwashed!

Smart Sex was written by Jessica Vitkus and Marjorie Ingall, who both wrote for the girl's magazine Sassy. Vitkus was involved in MTV's "Sex in the '90s" programs and is also "an Aries who hates people who chew their food loudly," according to her bio.

Little additions such as "Cute Guy Alert," "Creepy Guy Alert" and "Same Sex Sex" are fair evidence that this book is far too juvenile for anyone over 14.

However, the sickly-sweet correctness of the book is probably the biggest problem. The book suggests purchasing a dental dam so that one can orally satisfy one's female partner.

Studies have shown that 93 percent of all people who participate in oral sex refuse to use protection whilst in downward action. A dental dam just seems far too clumsy and awkward.

Another bizarre suggestion is to use surgical gloves when involved in digital contact. Wouldn't that be a little intimidating? Your partner breaks out a ready-pac of doctors' gloves and starts playing around with your nether regions. OK.

Interviews concerning sex and relationships are strewn throughout the book's 340 pages. Interviewees include Janeane Garofalo, Billie Joe Armstrong, Steven Tyler, Idalis, Bill Bellamy and Dave Navarro, who are all, of course, great role models for the younger readers - Bellamy recently appeared in the flick "How to be a Player," which offers great insight into equal relationships. Tyler can be quoted as saying that "certain drugs make you feel like a horse, like a stallion in a field" when having sex. Good one, MTV.

The "Most Annoying Layout" award also goes to Smart Sex for its magazine like spreads and changing fonts. The text constantly switches from horizontal to vertical making the reader feel somewhat akin to an illiterate dyslexic.

Random "bonus" facts are also included, such as "sometimes it's best to talk about the nuts and bolts of sex in a neutral, non-sexual environment, like when you're taking a walk or having a quiet brunch."

Over brunch? Who would suggest sexual maneuvers over brunch? "These eggs benedict are really good, honey, and so is your pelvic thrust."

The information in Smart Sex also often veers away from the subject at hand by falling back on kitschy names and terminology. Condoms "seal in the juices" whereas oral sex is commonly referred to as "going south."

It seems almost as if the authors are trying to parody something that they claim to take seriously.

The thesaurus section offers many terms for intercourse which seem somewhat misplaced in "an honest guide to answer all your questions." The section on intercourse is called "doing it" and we are given humorous terms such as "bone," "screw," "hide the salami" and "dip the wick." How enlightening.

The only real place a book like this would provide information or entertainment is in a middle school library, where the kids can sit and laugh like Beavis and Butthead at the juvenile terminology, because 90 percent of all the information within is common knowledge to anyone older than 14. Instead of answering all the difficult questions, Smart Sex achieves no more than the level of a Where Did I Come From book and is far less captivating.

Perhaps they should have called the book Naive Sex instead.

In order to have a more balanced product, Ms. Vitkus and Ms. Ingall should probably have consulted a few men to offer their perspectives in the editorial content. As it stands, Smart Sex simply deals with two rather vapid women's views, with a random bunch of quotes from various 17- to 25-year-olds around the country thrown in for good measure.

Not very smart at all.

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