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This ain't your grandparents' birds and bees

By kevin dicus
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 4, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

by kevin dicus

We've come a long way from the missionary position. And procreative sex has become so passé that if it weren't for those little mishaps and unthinkingly passionate rendezvous, we may have had a population crisis of an entirely different sort. Yes, we are a stimulus-addicted species, constantly searching for experiences to arouse the senses, constantly seeking the greatest rush to stir up our rather monotonous and lonely lives. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in our most instinctual desire for sex. Getting our rocks off in new and often dangerous ways just may be the new grail quest.

Satyricon USA (Scribner, $22.00), written by the mysteriously-named Eurydice, takes us on an exploration of fetishes, introducing us to many of the bizarre, erotic and sometimes disturbing sexual practices transpiring in the United States. She opens the locked doors and lets us look beyond the pale at these sub-cultures that in so many ways resemble ancient mystery schools in their ritual and secrecy.

"At best," Eurydice writes, "this book aspires to capture our psychic anatomy in a textual snapshot of our moment in history and to illustrate part of the sexual nerve pulsing across America."

Satyricon USA is a book of observation and confession. Each chapter focuses on a different practice in which she immerses herself, gleaning every minute detail and obtaining extremely intimate testimonies from those involved. Thus, it becomes a far more personal, immediate study than so many of those academic texts replete with references and lengthy bibliographies. The people and their motivations are real and believable.

With our own conceptions of "normality" and "morality" in the fore, we are required to contend with people like Electra and her "bottom," Esther, dedicated sexual bloodletters who find their erotic satisfaction through cutting. "When we do it, Electra gets my blood all over her face and looks like a complete savage." This chapter is particularly graphic, in which straight-edge razors and knives slice through the air and through the skin of a completely dominated woman.

Zach is an alien abductee with the blood and soul of an alien. Regularly, he enters their craft where "this superior, refined being is milking my ejaculate." Rob is a married father of two and part-time necrophiliac. "Necroplay requires only one consenting adult. The dead are dead, it's no harm to them; it's safe, painless sex." (This chapter is particularly interesting in that Eurydice's normally objective observations give way to her own moral convictions.) Buck Mulligan and Jackie are classic sex addicts, seeking sheer numbers to satisfy their cravings.

Throughout these scenes, Eurydice treats us to her own interpretations of the deep-seated reasons that motivate these people. Some of these are right on, intelligent and sometimes biting. Others seem to be for her own benefit and come with the distracting sound of "hand of Eurydice patting back of Eurydice." An example: In the company of the bloodletting lesbians, with women on leashes, blindfolded and bleeding, she informs us that "I feel as if I have fallen in with a league of amateur ideological commissars that bring to my mind Mao's child soldiers of the Cultural Revolution." My thoughts exactly. Admittedly it is an intelligible and grammatically perfect sentence, but what this and so many others like it succeed in doing is to draw the reader away for a moment, to separate us from the world she is trying so hard to illustrate. I find it harder to trust the opinions of one whom I suspect of pretentious impulses.

Regardless, Satyricon USA is a fascinating glimpse into extremely creative sexplay. It can leave you outraged or shaking your head in wonder. And maybe, for some, it will be inspirational.