Learning about Sex and Love in the ’70s–Chapter 1

I guess this story really begins when we had a puzzle at home featuring Connie Kreski, Playboy magazine’s Miss January 1968.  I’m not sure how it ended up under the Christmas tree (it was a gift to my Dad from one of his friends, I’m guessing), but as a 6-year-old boy I loved puzzles, and one with an image of a “naked lady” was an extra special treat!  I saw it in the round can and I’m sure I didn’t know ahead of time that it was a beautiful topless Playboy centerfold, but as you will see below, things were pretty tame back in those days. 

A few days after Christmas I dumped it out onto the formal dining room table (where we did all our puzzles) and got to work.  About halfway through, I realized it was a “naked lady” puzzle, and I was wondering how my parents would react.  Not that this stopped me from continuing—I really wanted to see what a beautiful semi-nude woman looked like.  Just about then my Mom came in and saw me working away and was starting to scold me for taking out a puzzle that wasn’t mine.  My Dad overheard the conversation and stepped in to say that it was fine with him if I did his gift puzzle—I think he kind of gave my Mom a look as if to say: “Don’t worry—He’s supposed to like “naked ladies”—It’s perfectly normal!”  I think my Mom realized the truth of this sentiment, and after all this was the “sexually liberated” 1960s.  Of course, that was nothing compared to what kids see today in the age of the internet!

In that same vein, I rather suspect that both my Dad and my next door neighbor’s dad made it relatively easy for their sons to find the current issues of Playboy and Penthouse magazines that came out every month.  From ages 8-12 or so, my neighbor Chris and I would sneak peeks at the current issues in our Dads’ nightstands and get our first shot at a sexual education.  Although we technically grew up in the era of “sexual liberation,” our parents were a little too old to be fully invested in it.  But I think it did influence them to at least be open minded enough to expose their kids to nudity and sexuality without having to address the subject directly.  Hey—If Hugh Hefner and Bob Guccione could do the uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing work for them, why not take advantage of it! 

Besides the obvious idea of Dads of that era wanting their boys to grow up to become straight dudes who liked girls, there was also an interesting facet to Penthouse that was advantageous to women as well.  They had a column we read every month titled “Call Me Madam” by Xaviera Hollander, a Dutch call girl and madam who had written a book called “The Happy Hooker” before she was hired by Penthouse to write their column.  Xaviera’s column was great in several ways—First, it focused on the idea that men needed to know how to please women sexually.  Until that time, I’m guessing the prevailing attitude was that a woman’s satisfaction was irrelevant and sexuality was all about the man getting laid. 

Second, it was an advice column that taught men specific aspects and techniques about how to please women sexually.  Those of you that know me know I’m an avid reader who loves to learn, and I am eternally grateful to Xaviera for wiring my young mind correctly and teaching me enough “how to” stuff to at least get me started off on “the right foot” (so to speak—Hahaha!) once I became a teenage boy.  We didn’t have the internet in those days eons ago, and our parents weren’t going to teach us much about sex even if they knew it!  Who better than a hot Dutch woman who had sex for a living for decades?  Thanks so much, Xaviera!  (And the women in my life thank you too…) 

In addition to our fathers’ monthly stream of Playboy and Penthouse, we were fortunate enough to have a family of slightly crazy people who lived in a Victorian mansion in the woods about a half mile away from us.  They were part of the original farming family who owned the land and built our idyllic neighborhood one house at a time.  Aunt Sylvia was a complete wacko (think “crazy old spinster” right out of Central Casting) who lived with her parents at age 50, and she enjoyed having the neighborhood kids in to hang out, play pool, do whatever else, and basically roam their giant “Munsters Mansion” at will.  Well, one of the things Chris, Tom and I discovered while roaming the mansion was grandpa’s gigantic stash of Playboy, Penthouse, and a few other more extreme mags that he had virtually filled an entire cabinet with.  Unlike our fathers who read and tossed the current issues, (and I will admit to finding a few in the trash and hiding them under my bed–Wink!) Gramps (or maybe even Aunt Sylvia—It’s not like we asked whose mags they were, and in hindsight Aunt Sylvia may have liked girls) saved everything, so we had a virtual sex “library” at our disposal anytime we were there.  I do remember Gramps catching and scolding us once, but we all agreed not to tell our parents and the library stayed open—Woohoo!!!

Thanks Dads, thanks Aunt Sylvia, and thanks Gramps for giving the young boys the knowledge to keep their future women as happy as possible!

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