Scientists have called human beings "the sexiest primates". The reasoning may appear obvious: namely, it's not hard for even the most excitably insecure of Emo kids to top the chimpanzees' eight-second sex act. The result: Emo bands being mobbed by bands of female chimpanzees, then having their glasses chewed by irate alpha males. Such are the perks of stardom.
But the reasoning is actually more complicated and controversial. More than for any other primate, rodent or reptile, sex is the ideal inducement for humans to navigate complex mazes under laboratory conditions. In their groundbreaking paper Sex: Is It Sexy And If So Why? Masters and Johnson reported that sex was the perfect lure for humans to master any cerebral task. Examples range from chess to insider trading to heavy-metal "shredding".
Indeed, chess master Gary Kasparov claims that IMB's Deep Blue only managed to defeat him by withholding fellatio. Claims Kasparov's agent: "Computers are supposed to go down, right? That's all they're good for, usually." Bobby Fischer proved unwilling to spot Kasparov during this emergency, and Deep Blue showed more staying power than our erstwhile John Henry. However, Kasparov did succeed in flying his girlfriend over on the Paris Concorde for a midnight consolation snack, a skill she'd taught him after negatively reinforcing the Hot Pockets out of his freezer.
Paradoxically, sex is poorly suited for conditioning humans to perform tasks handled by the midbrain, or "emotional brain". Reported Masters and Johnson: "One subject, a Morticia Addams, claimed that she withheld sex whenever her husband (Gomez Addams) did not adequately anticipate her needs. Her aim was to encourage her husband to display love in a nonsexual way, thus solidifying their relationship. However, Mr. Addams simply explored other avenues of satisfaction, and was seriously injured after attempting gratification with his wife's carnivorous plant Cleopatra." Clearly, sex follows the path of least resistance -- regardless of our conscious desires.
Perhaps the real explanation for humanity's sexiness is simple. No other form of life spends so much time and energy in an activity at which it is so inadequate. "My boyfriend keeps fumbling away at me without a condom, despite my dream to star one day in Baywatch Dusks," says teenager Staci Merk in a typical display of female ardor. "But he must know what he's doing, 'cause he says he loves me. And if we have a baby I'll know for sure." You gotta admire the chutzpah: they keep trying to make it good, even though the conception is always better than the execution.
Maybe sex is the dream from which all other dreams arise. If even the women in my dreams ignore me, I'm sure to sublimate my desires -- and become a better worker, citizen and consumer. More electronics! More space exploration! More morality! Apollo rockets garbed in black cone-to-tail burqa to ensure they inspire no lust!
But what are the forces behind the dream? What shapes our sexuality in modern times, other than Wonderbras and liposuction? What Jail Is Like now gives you the scoop -- and we'll throw in the décolletage for free.
Marriage. An inducement to sex? Or the other way around? To find out, our crack team of sociologists hitchhiked to Vegas.
What they found is that, compared to sex, marriage is certainly inexpensive. Drive-thru marriage licenses cost as little as fifty dollars, while sex starts at five hundred per half hour. Further -- matrimony offers generous purchase plans ("Lifetime Commitment at Zero Percent Financing! No In-Laws Til 2001!"). Sex, meanwhile, offers little inducement to consumers ("Strip, bend at the waist, and cough. No spitting or loitering.") Clearly, marriage offers a low-cost, user-friendly alternative to sex.
Unfortunately, our researchers were not in the price bracket of either marriage or sex. However, they report hearing that, thrust for pelvic thrust, Wayne Newton outdoes sex by two to one.
Which brings us to old men and sex. Has there ever been a more explosive combination?
Before you wrinkle your face in disgust, think. Use that wrinkly little cerebrum of yours. Here are some points to make you reconsider your position (and hopefully accept the horizontal one).
We can all agree that, no matter what their age, naked men are revolting. Why do you think they're in such a hurry during sex that they only remove the bare minimum of clothing necessary to complete the act? It's not because they love zipper rash. It's because men don't want to see their own bodies -- let alone give you a gander!
Unfortunately, the young ones sooner or later fall under the spell of nuptial bliss. They hear the priest say "two shall become of one flesh", and before you know it they get you mixed up with themselves. Then off fly the boxers, in the charming but misguided belief that the groom is now as pretty as you.
Ladies -- when this happens to you: disillusion your hubby as soon as possible. You might think your silence is merciful, that a subtle smirk will communicate all you need to say. You might even think that since you newlyweds are "in love", he'll anticipate your every need -- especially your need not to see him nude. But it won't work. To make your relationship last, it's imperative that your spouse not waltz through life believing he's sexy. And don't feel bad! It's not your fault truth is harsh.
Fortunately, older men already know they're not sexy. Life has brought them experience. They've traded make-believe animal magnetism for dignity, in a bonanza two-for-one deal with hemorrhoids thrown in.
Remember, ladies: the clothes make the man. Sampson's problem wasn't lack of hair -- it was his lack of clothes. In fact -- the more clothes a man has on, the more a man he is. And since the aged have trouble retaining body heat, they're likely to wear five or more layers.
We repeat: the clothes make the man. It's debatable whether porn stars are masculine at all. Sure, they try to cover themselves with hair, but hair doth not a shirt make. So the next time you see Johnny Wadd, ask yourself: does he even exist?
So, ladies -- sleep with an elderly curmudgeon. You'll be glad you did. You'll have to work hard to find one, though, since men have shorter average lifespans than womenfolk. So unstintingly woo your boss, or if possible his grandfather. If you try hard enough, you'll soon find out what a great thing 13-year-old Abishag was onto with King David.
This one is self-evident. Why else would the chicks swoon over Uncle Fester? Because only he can give 100 watts, baby!
A number of mysteries are explained by the raw allure of steam turbines. Godzilla, for instance. Why his tendency to go after nuclear reactors? Simple. He's just looking for a little personal meltdown.
But wait, you say. Godzilla has no genitalia. Is that why he's so mad all the time? Is it some unfulfillable Oedipal thing for the nuclear fission that gave him birth? The hypothesis is intriguing, but the truth is far less complex. Godzilla is composed, in his entirety, of erectile tissue. How do you think he got so big in the first place?
Yet another enigma untangled -- the Power Station and their 1985 hit "Bang a Gong". Over the years, many have fallen for the allure of this song -- specifically its use of electronic percussion. What use, the Power Station croons, could the world possibly have for human drummers, no matter how few or many arms they have? One hundred twenty beats per minute is all the satisfaction you need.
The Horseless Carriage
Never has there been a greater barrier to sexual fulfillment than the horse. This animal is directly traceable as the cause, through most of history, of the world's miniscule human population. Cowboys spent all their time on horseback cultivating individualism and watching their horses eat oats -- instead of sowing them. And, after Spaniards introduced the horse to the New World's indigenous population, said population dropped from fifteen million to eight as warriors spent all their time in steeplechases.
Clearly, the horse is responsible for all evil in the world. Only the measure of doing away with horse-drawn transportation has brought the human population to its current level of six billion, in accordance with God's wishes.
The Victorians, with typical paranoia, thought that gazing upon a horse's hindquarters would inspire carriage travelers with lascivious thoughts. So they invented the closed carriage and hired only pimps as drivers. But there was no reason to fear. They only demographic with positive feelings about the open-carriage arrangement was the jockey subculture. As everyone knows, the Victorian age experienced a sharp downturn in off-track betting as jockeys grew too depressed about closed carriages to reproduce themselves.
Historians are divided over why the closed carriage failed to transform Victorian propriety into mass hedonism. One possible answer is that humans require technological advance to feel cool, and therefore sexy. The closed carriage did not represent the breakthrough in low-resistance transmission that, say, Uncle Fester was to later.
The other, more likely, answer is that sex requires a willingness to waste energy. Social values such as quiet respectability and reinvestment of capital are inherently opposed to such an inclination. Only the development of consumer culture and unprecedented levels of personal debt ushered in the godless materialism necessary for sex to take root.
And there was no greater emblem of conspicuous consumption than the Model-T Ford. The automobile ushered in a new arena of sexual experience in America. Previously confined to the traditional venues of lush meadows and thrilling bunk beds, sex could now go anywhere. The sight of couples fumbling behind windshields became so commonplace, in fact, that America grew accustomed to the notion that sex is whatever happens on the other side of a glass screen.
The idea of carpools and copulation threw industry captains into a panic. How, they asked, would Americans guzzle petroleum if they were parked somewhere on Lookout Point or Lover's Laptop? Feverishly they planned and plotted, so that sex might not cause the boom economy of the Twenties to peak prematurely.
Manual transmission was considered as a way to make the front seat impractical for ravishing -- but was discarded as too suggestive of the very act it sought to prevent. Besides, it was more fuel-efficient than automatic transmission. That would never do.
The next solution was to make cars small. How could anyone feel romantic in a Renault, or for that matter an Alfa Romeo? But teens, being the cunning little beasts they are, simply started sexual activity at a younger age -- when they were still small enough to fit into the trunk of a Porsche.
Other factors contributed to the failure of this plan, among them pressure from Mafia dons for automobiles that were both luxurious and practical for the transport of whacked opponents. The auto industry arrived at a compromise with the Mob and allowed them to infiltrate trucking unions. The auto industry won big because semis are both less fuel-efficient and less suggestive than rail transport. And the Mob, inspired by its hero Henry Ford, began the mass production of whacks that would keep America's eighteen-wheelers busy day and night.
But automakers were still left to solve their original problem. How could cars be both big and unsexy? The answer came with a two-pronged attack on commuter copulation. First, new vehicles were made egg-shaped. This approach met with success -- because, whatever goes on inside an egg, it has nothing to do with sex. Second, companies dropped older, more daring auto names like "Mustang" and "Pinto". In their place, names such as "Acura", "Lexus" and "Aleve" were coined. This shift away from coolness dropped the dry-humping rate almost to nil. Only a few die-hards remain, most of them solitary addicts of cybernetic porn. Once in a while you can hear them cry out, alone in their Infinitis: "To infinity and...someplace I don't have to clean this up!"
Dough. Clams. Dead Presidents. Except for the horse, money is the foremost deterrent to sexual intercourse. This is the major reason that money is so prevalent in politics -- its assistance in bolstering moral unflappability is priceless -- and why idioms such as "Al Gore is in bed with Big Oil" are so hilariously misplaced.
But conventional wisdom is way off the mark -- and the yen. If all you read is the Liberal Media, you might think that speculators on the Exchange floor make fortunes trading shares of Playboy centerfolds. You might even believe (with touching though misplaced trust in society's watchdogs) that recent NASDAQ fluctuations result from overvaluation of certain dot-com startups. Their supposed product? "Amazing scents that really attract women". "Sex is the New Economy," The Wall Street Journal quotes e-mogul Steve B. Jobs, "and we at Amazonwomen.com invented it."
Hold your horses there, mister. Have you ever paid close attention to what money actually does? Turn on your favorite Pay-Per-View channel and take a good hard look.
The first thing you'll notice is: the more money, the faker the sex. If you pay close attention to Emmanuelle In Space, for example, you might glimpse a crewman's arm holding a plant mister intruding into the shot -- "to shrivel the male lead's genitalia into invisibility," claim the producers, "as would actually occur in the harsh vacuum of space." The starlets' lips and chests, on the other hand, are made to swell to the bursting point -- again, to simulate the rigors faced by interstellar travelers. "We at Skinemax work hard on these realistic touches," runs the official line, "and our audience appreciates it. Cost is no object when it comes to satisfying our viewers."
The problem is: these same "realistic touches" appear everywhere else. For instance, take 1997's Emmanuelle In The Society For Promotion Of Objectivism. "Here," claim the producers, "bodies assume freakish dimensions to realistically simulate the effects of life within the vacuum of Objectivist philosophy." Yeah -- next you'll tell us that human beings are just big chemical reactions, and our existence is not teleological. Shut up and let us watch Emmanuelle In Men In Black -- we've had a hard week.
Here's the real story behind all that swelling and shrinkage. Prior to the Great Depression, the country witnessed the greatest economic boom it had ever seen. And accompanying this boom was a drastic shift in social mores. Farmers left their ploughshares to rot and bundled into their Model T's, off to the city to "play marbles" on the stock market. (The cars, feeling left out, invented the curb market). And their wives said goodbye to their days of hard labor at the nation's mass-baby-production lines, traded their aprons for "jammies", and dubbed themselves "jazz babies".
An entire nation regressed to a presexual state -- induced by fascination with shiny stuff. Abandonment of the gold standard didn't help -- the nation just transferred its obsession to robots and Tesla coils.
Soon lawmakers were forced to outlaw alcohol -- the nation was just too young to drink responsibly. Some citizens attempted to get around this restriction by going to their big brother's friend Al Capone, who would sneak them a snort of whiskey, and maybe even a "toke" if they claimed to be "hip". Punishment for these infractions was harsh: the guilty were perched on top of flagpoles, and told not to come down til they'd broke the Guiness record.
But in 1929 the nation's finances went the way of all things. When America's children asked what happened, surly stockbrokers grumbled "Daddy traded on margin because you cry. Now shut up and make me a dirtburger." Childhood was over. A destitute America had to grow up.
And grow up it did. Swelling and bursting from its cotton hand-me-downs, America soon found itself on the threshold of a new experience. It needed new things to satisfy its mysterious, un-money-related desires. And one of those things was the circus.
Yes, the circus. Its riches gone, its prize agricultural land turned to dust, America turned to freakshows for solace. For two bits any Tom, Dick or Hebidiah could witness ladies riding elephants around the ring. Men whipping lions. Ladies with beards and hermaphrodites without beards. Men squeezing into Metropolitans and geeks eating prize fighting cocks.
These sights fired the imagination of a continent -- indeed, drove it wild with desire. Left alone in the freaktent, among the formaldehyde jars of three-headed monsters and sixteen-bosomed pigs, America fumbled with the garters of a new consciousness. Penniless, America found it nevertheless had stuff to strut. America steamed up the windows of its old childhood bedroom, and feverishly embarked on a quest for cheap thrills.
This is in dramatic contrast with modern times. Infused with wealth from its new prosperity, middle America has kept its style but lost its substance. Though much of the new electronic commerce is nominally driven by men who can fit Metropolitans into themselves and women who can ride their own chests around their nipple rings, the spirit of the old days is gone. The excitement of discovering one's inner freakishness has degenerated into the tame e-sport of staring at the freaks behind the glass. Only one question remains -- is the consumer-cum-voyeur outside the bell jar, or inside? Thank you.
A Word From Our Sponsor
This article has been brought to you by ABM, Superfly to the World. ABM -- because someone has to take charge when family farmers all go to New York City to get rich on day trading. ABM -- because the genes are greener on the other side.