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Dr. David Reuben's 1969 classic "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex" has been updated for a new generation
'Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex'

Sex doctor David Reuben is back with some new advice

Web posted on: Thursday, February 11, 1999 3:12:19 PM

By CNN Interactive Senior Writer
Jamie Allen

ATLANTA (CNN) -- For those who don't know, sex ain't what it used to be.

Just ask Dr. David Reuben, a physician, noted sex expert and author of the highly popular "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)." He has seen sweeping changes take his favorite topic to new horizons and beyond.

Reuben's first edition of "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex" was published in 1969, when copulation was coming out of dark bedrooms and into the forefront of American minds, when the sexual revolution was in full swing.

Reuben's book reflected this new spirit, and taught people not only how to have sex, but how to shag the right way. And it received an amazing response -- a No. 1 best-seller in 51 countries, read by more than 100 million people, according to publisher HarperCollins.

"I get email from people who say, 'We read your book 20 years ago and it really helped us," Reuben says.

That was then; this is now. Reuben has released, in time for Valentine's Day, a new edition to "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex," and like his first book, it is a reflection of our times and how we view the art of making love.

What's different?

So, in the last three decades, what has changed about sex, an activity that has been around for as long as we have? Everything, according to Reuben.

First of all, it's much more dangerous to get extremely comfortable with someone else between the sheets.

"I generally try to avoid having sex more than once a day." Why? "I'd never get any writing done."
-- Dr. David Reuben

"Now there are more venereal diseases than there are signs of the zodiac," Reuben says.

That's not to mention AIDS, which single-handedly turned sex, in some instances, into a death-defying, or deadly, act. Reuben says in his latest book that having sex with the wrong person these days can even increase your possibility of getting cancer (something about a virus traveling from males to females during the act of coitus, which in turns causes an infection, which in turn increases cancer risk; read the book!).

In the last 30 years, there has also been the shifting of the sands on hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality.

So yes, sex is a much different now. In response to the changing times, Reuben kept pace by writing several sex books ("Any Woman Can!", "How to Get More out of Sex"), and he is a regular contributor to magazines.

Romantically linked:
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'Safe sex isn't that safe'

In his new "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex," he says he has altered "96 percent" of his first edition. Today, he's walking a fine between "sex is dangerous," and "sex is fun."

"What is being presented to the masses as safe sex isn't that safe," he says. "If you can calculate that condoms fail 33 percent of the time, that isn't that safe. Put a gun to your head and say the bullet goes off one in three times. That isn't safe."

But, Reuben doesn't want to scare people into not having sex, either.

"Pick your partner wisely, as if you weren't going to use a condom," he says, "and then use a condom."

And if you do have the right partner, you can flip forward to sections titled, "How Do You Do That?" and chapters like, "Aphrodisiacs." Reuben explains in no uncertain terms what everyone wants to know, but at times are afraid to ask.

September sex

Reuben also addresses touchy subjects like frigidity, impotence, perversion and menopause, filtering the latest information on each subject through his years of experience.

One chapter titled "September Sex" considers lovemaking for folks in the September of their years, and beyond.

Reuben has particular insight on this subject: he's 65, has been married to the same woman for 37 years and has five children. And he and his wife are still active in the bedroom.

"I generally try to avoid having sex more than once a day," he says. When asked why he would avoid sex, he replies, "I'd never get any writing done."

And then what would the thousands of people who read his books do with themselves, and others? Fumble in the dark? Pick the wrong mates? Subject themselves to bad, dangerous sex?

Reuben doesn't want that to happen.

"Sex is the most fun anyone can have," he says. "You can't have more fun than you have with sex. But you should do everything you can to enjoy it without being at risk."

Other choices

This Valentine's Day, there are plenty of other new titles available, dealing with sex, relationships, and even the lack thereof.

"The Best American Erotica 1999" (Simon and Schuster) heats up bookshelves with a collection of tales that delve into the, er, adventurous side of sex. Edited by Susie Bright, this edition of the annual series contains 21 stories running the gamut from heterosexual and homosexual sex, from real sex to cyber-sex. As Bright claims in her introduction, "You better believe this is sex in America -- and if we weren't so pruney from our own long soak in censorship and shaming, that fact would be perfectly obvious."

"The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient Teachings in the Ways of Relationships" (William Morrow & Company, Inc.), by Sobonfu Somé, investigates how couples can become closer and more deeply connected. Somé, originally from West Africa, uses ancient teachings and wisdom from her native village to reveal the role of spirit marriage, friendship, relationship and community.

And for those who are anti-Valentine's Day, St. Martin's Press offers the perfect tonic: "Bleeding Hearts: Love Poems for the Nervous & Highly Strung." While the title suggests shy sweet nothings, the book features poems that delve into the truth about love -- including heartbreak, sadness and false hopes. Michelle Lovric has compiled the poetry of acclaimed writers like Maya Angelou, e.e. cummings, and Charles Bukowski for this edition. An example of the book's spirit, from D.H. Lawrence: "The moment I swear to love a woman, a certain woman/ all my life/ That moment I begin to hate her."

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