Remember This? The Joy Of Sex – The Iconic 70’s Sex Manual

Remember This? The Joy Of Sex - The Iconic 70's Sex Manual
Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team


Oct 25, 2023

Famous for teaching the art of ‘love making’, The Joy of Sex, was the first real adult sex information book ever published – a manual that described sexual technique and the intimate details of lovemaking, with beautiful illustrative line drawings in a light-hearted, non-medical way. It encouraged couples to experiment, be imaginative, open, offer feedback, and to be creative together. There was nothing like it at the time – and still isn’t. In this updated edition, the philosophy remains the same – that the whole joy of sex-with-love is that there are no rules, so long as you enjoy, and the choice is practically unlimited – but it’s been expanded to cover more topics and explanation where required.

And in true form, it retains its quirky ‘cookbook style layout’ for lovers, with the contents sectioned into Starters (foreskin, frequency, playtime, pubic hair, tenderness), Main Courses (breasts, buttocks, earlobes, food, equipment, tongue bath), Sauces & Pickles (anal intercourse, armpit, blowing, bondage, dancing) and Problems (children, excesses, fighting, fetishes, frigidity, vasectomy). So are you ready for your Advanced Lovemaking class? Or at least, to enjoy sex more? In this special extract of latest edition of The Joy of Sex, we give you a taste of this iconic lovemaking bible to show you what all the fuss is about….

All of us who are not disabled or dumb are able to dance and sing after a fashion. This, if you think about it, summarises the justification for learning to make love. Love, like singing, is something to be taken spontaneously. On the other hand, the difference between Pavlova and the Palais de Danse, or opera and barber-shop singing, is much less than the difference between sex as the last generation came to accept it and sex as it can be.

At least we recognise this now (so that instead of worrying if sex is sinful, most people now worry whether they are ‘getting satisfaction’ – one can only worry about anything, given the determination). There are now enough books about the basics: the main use of these is to get rid of worries over the normality, possibly, and variety of sexual experience. The people who go to Masters and Johnson are getting over hangups so basic that in past generations the folk tradition would have taken care of them. At least the ‘permissive’ scene in publishing removed some of this over-up. Our book is slightly different, in that there are now enough people who have the basics and really need hard information (not simply reassurance).

Chef-grade doesn’t happen naturally: it starts at the point where people know how to prepare and enjoy food, are curious about it and willing to take trouble preparing it, read recipe hints, and find they are helped by one or two detailed techniques. It’s hard to make mayonnaise by trial and error, for instance. Cordon Bleu sex, as we define it id exactly the same situation – the extra one can get from comparing notes, using some imagination, trying way-out or new experiences, when one already is making satisfying love and wants to go on from there.

It is always sad when a love relationship runs aground through non-communication (fear of rejection over some fantasy need, inability to come to terms with aggressive needs through a misplaced ides of tenderness, inability to accept sexuality as play). These hangups, plus monotony, are a large part of all five – or seven-year itched, and, between loving and tolerant people, avoidable.

We shall have four sorts of readers; those who don’t fancy it, find it disturbing and would rather stay the way they are, with Reuben sandwiches – these should put it down, accept our apologies, and stay the way they are: those who are with the idea, but don’t like our choice of techniques – these should remember it’s a menu, not a rulebook. We have tried to stay wide open, but it is always difficult to write about things one doesn’t enjoy, and we have left out long discussion of the very specialised – one legged ladies, mackintoshes – and things like S and M, which aren’t really love or even sex in quite our sense of the word.

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People who like these know already what they want to try. One aim of this book is to cure the notion, born of non-discussion, that common sex needs are odd or weird. As to the general repertoire, the whole joy of sex-with-love is that were are no rules, so long as you enjoy, and the choice is practically unlimited. This is the way most people will use our notes – as a personal one-couple notebook from which they might get ideas. Then there are the hardy experimentalists, bent on trying absolutely everything. They too will do best to read this exactly like a cookbook – except that sex is safer in this respect, between lovers, in that you can’t get obese or atherosclerotic on it, or give yourself ulcers. The worst you can get is sore, anxious or disappointed.

Sex must be physically the safest of all human activities (leaving out social repercussions). You can have infinite variety to taste. But one needs a steady basic diet of quiet, night-and-morning matrimonial intercourse to stand this experimentation on, simply because, contrary to popular ideas, the more regular sex a couple had the higher the deliberately contrived peaks – just as the more you cook routinely, the better and the more reliable banquets you can stage.

Finally the people e are addressing are the adventurous and uninhabited lovers who want to find the limits of their ability to enjoy sex. That means we take some things for granted – having intercourse naked and spending time over it; being able and willing to make it last; up to a whole afternoon on some occasion; having privacy and washing facilities; not being scared of things like genital kisses; not being obsessed with one sexual trick to the exclusion of all others, and, of course, loving each other.

This book is about love as well as sex as the title implies: you don’t get high-quality sex on any other basis – either you love each other before you come to want it, or, if you happen to get it, you love each other because of it, or both. No point in arguing this, but just as you can’t cook without heat you can’t make love without feedback (which may be the reason we say ‘make love’ rather than ‘make sex’). Sex is the one place where we today can learn to treat people as people. Feedback means the right mixture of stop and go, though and tender, exertion and affection. This come by empathy and long mutual knowledge. Anyone who expects to get this in a first attempt with a stranger is an optimist, or a neurotic – if he does, it is what used to be called love at first sight, and isn’t expendable: ‘skill’, or variety, is no substitute. Also one can’t teach tenderness.

This is a book about valid sexual behaviours, plus a certain amount about how and why they work. It isn’t a dictionary: in particular we’ve avoided a lot of the name-entries attached to particular sorts of performance at the start of the century – the reason is that they are largely out of date. Rather than sticking on labels like narcissism or sadomaschism, biologists and psychiatrists now tend to start looking at actual behaviours and seeing what use they are or what or what they signify. Lump names are a handy shorthand, but they tend to be off putting,  especially when very general human behaviours get a label which makes them sound like an illness; and they tend to trigger pointless collectors’ – piece arguments, for example whether ‘women are naturally masochistic’ because they get penetrated rather than doing the penetrating.

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We haven’t started with a short lecture on the biology and psychology of human sex: instead we’ve put a little about it into the various entries. Most people now know that man’s ‘sexuality’ starts at birth and runs continuously from mother-child to man-women relations, that it involves some periods of programmed anxiety about the genitals (‘castration fears’) which probably served originally to stop young apes from falling foul of their fathers, but which, in man, are building stones for a lot of other adult behaviours; and that the wide range of human sex needs of all kinds controlled by this unique developmental background – long childhood, close mother-child contact but a taboo on mother-child or father-child sex, close pair-bonding which centres in sexual play, the way bird pair-information centres in nest-building and display (this phenomenon more often described as love), and so on. Without going into details we’ve mentions throughout the book how parts of this human background fit into the patter of what humans enjoy sexually. Most human sex behaviours ‘mean’ a whole range of different things (the in-word is that they are ‘overdetermined’ – for examples of what this means in practice see what we’ve written about Clothes, for instance).

A little theory makes sex more interesting , more comprehensible, and less scary – too much is a put down, especially as you’re likely to get it out of perspective and become a spectator of your own performance. If you have really troublesome hangups you need an expert to hold the mirror for you and go personally into what they mean – self-adhesive labels are actively unhelpful. All humans are sadistic, narcissistic, masochistic, bisexual and what have you – if you stuck on all the labels you would look like a cabin trunk. What matters is whether any of the behaviours in which you engage are bothering you or other people – if so, they are a useful pointer to what the problem is, but no more than that.

The starting point of all lovemaking is close bodily contact. love has been defined as the harmony of two souls and the contact of two epidermis. It is also, from our infancy, the starting point of human relationships and needs. Our culture (‘Anglo-Saxon’), after several centuries of intense taboos on many such contacts – between friends, between males- which are used by other cultures, has cut down ‘intimacy’ based on bodily contact to parent – child and lover – lover situations. We’re getting over this taboo, or at least the part which has been spilled over into baby- raising and explicit lovemaking, but coupled with our other cultural reservation, which says that play and fantasy are only safe for children, it has dealt us a bad hand for really full and personal sex. Our idea of sex wouldn’t be recognisable to some other cultures, though our range of choice is the widest ever. For a start its over-genital: ‘sex’ for our culture means putting the penis in the vagina. Man’s whole skin is a genital organ. As to touching, proximity and so on, see Desmon Morris’s brilliant account in Intimate Behaviour, which catalogues our hangups. Good sex is about the only adult remedy for these.

There isn’t too much point in crying over cultural spilt milk. Our sex repertoire has to be geared to us as we are, not to Trobriand Islanders (who have their own different hangups) . We need to extensive sex play which is centred  in intercourse and in doing things. As the same time we might as well play our menu so that we learn to use the rest of our equipment. That includes out whole skin surface, our feelings of identity, aggression and so on, and all of our fantasy needs. Luckily, sex behaviour in humans is enormously elastic (it has had to be, or we wouldn’t be here), and also nicely geared to help us express most of the needs which society or our upbringing have corked up. Elaboration in sex is something we need rather specially (though it isn’t confined to our sort of society) and it has the advantage that if we really make it work it makes us more, not less, receptive to each other as people. This is the answer to anyone who thinks that conscious effort to increase our sex range is ‘mechanical’ or substitute for treating each other as people – we may start that way, but its an excellent entry to learning that we are people – probably the only one who our sort of society can really use at the moment. There may be other places we can learn to express all of ourselves, and do it mutually, but there aren’t many.

Those are our assumptions. Granted this feedback and mutual exploration, there are two modes of sex, the duet and the solo, and a good concert alternates between them. The duet is a cooperative effort aiming at simultaneous orgasm, or at least one orgasm each, and complete, untechnically planned let- go. This in fact needs skill, and can be built up from more calculated ‘love-play’ until doing the right thing for both of you becomes fully automatic. This is the basic sexual meal. The solo, by contrast, is when one partner is the player and the other the instrument; the aim of the player is to produce results on the other’s pleasure experience as extensive, unexpected and generally wild as his or her skill allows – to blow them out of themselves. The player doesn’t lose control, though he or she can get wildly excited by what is happening to the other. The instrument does lose control – in fact, with a responsive instrument and a skilful performer, this is the concerto situation – if it ends in an uncontrollable ensemble, so much the better. All elements of music and the dance get into this scene – rhythm, mounting tension, tantalization, even actual aggression: ‘I’m like the executioner’, said the lady in the Persian poem’, ‘but where he inflicts intolerable pain I will only make you die of pleasure’. There is indeed an element of aggression or infliction in the solo mode, which is why some lovers dislike it and others overdo it, but no major lovemaking is complete without some solo passages.

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The antique idea of the woman as passive and the man as the performer used to ensure that he would show off playing solos on her, and some marriage manuals perpetuate this idea. In a more liberated scene she is herself the soloist par excellence, whether in getting him excited to start with, or in controlling him and showing off all her skills. In fact there is only one really unmusical situation, and that is is the reverse of a real solo, where one uses the other to obtain satisfaction, without any attempt at mutuality. True, one may say, ‘Do it yourself this time’, as a quick finish, but it is no more than that.

In the old world extended solo techniques have never quite died as a male skill: in Europe at one time calculated solo skill among women was supposed to be limited to prostitutes (most of whom conspicuously lack it, for lack of empathy). Now it is on the way back, starting half-heartedly with ‘petting to climax’, but getting today to be a polite accomplishment: we shall probably have extension courses soon. This, as usual, will likely go too far, and become a substitute for full, let-go intercourse – whereas in fact its a preparation, supplement, overture, bridging operation, tailpiece, interlude. The solo-given orgasm is unique, however – neither bigger nor smaller in either sex than in a full duet, but different. WE’ve heard both sexes call it ‘sharper but not so round,’ and most people who have experienced both like to alternate them; it is also quite different from self-stimulation, which most people like occasionally too. Trying to say how they differ is a little like describing wines. Differ they do, however, and much depends on cultivating and alternating them.

Solo devices are not, of course, necessarily separate from intercourse. Apart from leading into it there are many coital solos – for the woman astride, for example – while mutual masturbation or genital kisses can be fully fledged duets. Nor is it anything to do with ‘clitoral’ versus ‘vaginal’ orgasm (this is only a crass anatomical way of trying to verbalise a real difference), since the man feels the same distinction, and you can get a roaring solo orgasm from the skin of the fingertips, the breasts, the soles of the feet, or the earlobes of a receptive woman (less commonly extra-genitally in the man). Coition which ought to be mutual but gives a solo feeling (to her) is what people who talk about ‘clitoral orgasm’ are trying as a rule to verbalise. Solo-response can be electrifyingly extreme in the quietest people. Skilfully handled by someone who doesn’t stop of yells of murder, but does know when to stop, a woman can get orgasm after orgasm, and a man can be kept hanging just shot of climax to the limit of human endurance.

Top level enjoyment doesn’t have to be varied, it just often is. In fact being stuck rigidly with one sex technique usually means anxiety. In this book we have not, for example, gone heavily on things like coital postures, The non-freak one are now familiar to most people from writing and pictures if not from trial – the freak ones, as a rule, one could think of spontaneously, but few of them have marked advantages except as a spectator sport. Moreover, the technique of straight intercourse, which needs  a suspension of self-observation, doesn’t lend itself to treatment in writing, except for elementary students. This explains the apparent emphasis in our book for extras – the sauces and pickles. Most of these are psychologically and biologically geared to cover specific human needs, often left over from a ‘civilised’ childhood. Individuals who, though a knot in their psyche, are obliged to live on sauce and pickle only are unfortunate in missing the most sustaining part of the meal – kinks and exclusive obsessions in sex are very like living exclusively on horseradish sauce through allergy to beef; fear of horseradish sauce as a indigestible, unnecessary and immature is another hangup, namely puritanism. As to our choice of needs and/or problems, we’ve based it on a good many years of listening to people.

In writing descriptively about sex it is hard to not be solemn, however unsolemnly we play in bed. In fact, one of the things still missing from the ‘new sexual freedom’ is the unashamed ability to use sex as play – in this, psychoanalytic ideas of maturity are nearly as much to blame as oldstyle moralisms about what is normal or perverse. We are all immature, and have anxieties and aggressions. Coital play, like dreaming, is probably man’s programmed way of dealing acceptably with these, just as children express their fears and aggressions in games. If they play at Indian tortures, out of jealously of their little brother or the opposite sex, we don’t call that sadism: adults are unfortunately afraid of playing games, of dressing up, or acting scenes. It makes them self-concious: something horrid might get out.

Bed is the place to play all the games you have ever wanted to play, at the play-level – if adults could become less self-concious about such ‘immature’ needs we should have fewer deeply anxious and committed fetishists creating a sense of community to enable them to do their thing without feeling isolated. We heard of a frogman who used to make his wife sleep in rubber bedsheets; he had to become a frogman for real, because dressing in a diving-suit for kicks was embarrassing and make him look odd. If we were able to transmit the sense of play which is essential to a full, enterprising and healthily immature view of sex between committed people, we would be performing a mitzvah: people who play flagellation games and are excited by them bother nobody, provided they don’t turn off a partner who finds the scenario frightening. People who enact similar aggressions outside the bed-room are apt to end up at My Lai or Belsen. The aim of this book is pleasure, not psychiatry, but we suspect that the two coincide. Play is one function of sexual elaboration – playfulness is apart of love which could well be the major contribution of the Aquarian revolution to human happiness. Hence the association with pregenital and immature sauces and pickles.

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But still the main dish is loving, unsell-concious intercourse – long, frequent, varied, ending with both parties satisfied but not so full they cant face another light course, and another meal in a few hours. The piece de resistance is the good old face-to-face matrimonial, the finishing- off position, with mutual orgasm, and starting with a full day or night of ordinary tenderness. Other ways of making love are special in various ways, and the changes of timbre are infinitely varied – complicated ones are for special occasions, or special uses like holding off an over-quick male orgasm, or are things which, like pepper steak, are stunning once a year but not dietary.

If you don’t like our repertoire or if it doesn’t square with yours, never mind. The aim of The Joy of Sex is to stimulate your creative imagination. You can preface your own ideas with ‘this is how we play it,’ and play it your way. But by that time, when you have tried all your own creative sexual fantasies, you won’t need books. Sex books can only suggest techniques to encourage you to experiment.

There are after all only two ‘rules’ on good sex, apart from the obvious one of not doing things which are silly, antisocial or dangerous. One is ‘Don’t do anything you don’t really enjoy,’ and the other is ‘Find your partner’s needs and don’t balk them if you can help it.” In other words, a good giving and taking relationship depends on a compromise (so does going to a show – if you both want the same thing, fine: if not take turns and don’t let one partner always dictate).  This can be easier than it sounds, because unless your partner wants something you find actively off-putting, real lovers get a reward not only from their own satisfactions but from seeing the other respond and become satisfied. Most wives who don’t like Chinese food will eat it occasionally for the pleasure of seeing a Sinophile husband enjoy it and vice versa. Partners who won’t do this over specific sex needs are usually balking, not because they’ve tried it and it’s a turn-off (many experimental dishes turn out nicer than you expected), but simply through ignorance of the range of human needs, plus being scared if these include things like aggression cultivating extragenital sensation, or play-acting, which the last half-centuries social mythology pretended weren’t there. Reading a full list of the unscheduled accessory sex behaviours which some normal people find helpful might be though  thought a necessary preliminary to any extended sex relationship, particularly marriage if you really intend to stay with it, but so far the books haven’t helped much in this respect. If any thing they’ve scared people rather than instructed them.

Couples should match their needs and preferences (though people don’t find these out at once). You won’t get to some of our suggestions or understand them until you’ve learned to respond. It’s a mistake to run so long as walking is such an enchanting and new experience, and you may be happy pedestrians who match automatically. Most people who marry rightly prefer to try themselves out and play themselves in. Where a rethink really helps is at the point where you’ve got used to each other socially (sex needs aren’t the only ones which need matching up between people who live together) and feel that the surface needs repolishing. If you think that sexual relations are overrated, it does need repolishing, and you haven’t paid enough attention to the wider use of your sexual equipment as a way of communicating totally. The traditional American expedient at the point of where the surface gets dull is to trade in the relationship and start all over in an equally uninstructed attempt with someone else, on the offchance of getting a better match-up by random choice. This is emotionally wasteful and you usually repeat the same mistakes. It would be worth trying either to map each other’s sex tastes before starting, or to try to learn them if you haven’t done so intuitively so far. If you’re planting a long term garden it’s at least sensible to know a little about the biology of plants. Long-term love expressed in active sex means you have to know something about the biology of people. Don’t go in for mutual do-it-yourself psychoanalysis, or you’ll bring down the roof on each other. We all have pregential needs, however we were weaned, potted or reared, just as we all have fingerprints and navel. Finding out some-ones else’ needs and your own, and how to express them in bed, is not only interesting and educative but rewarding, and what sexual love is about.

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Read through or dip into this book together and separately. These are all techniques which some straight people need and use to fill out their sex lives, or simply enjoy as play and relaxation. Don’t waste time on things which aren’t for you. All the ideas in the book work as a turn-on for some people, virtually none for everyone. Go by your own needs and your partner’s. Do note anything which turns one or both of you on to the point of saying ‘Id like to try that.’ If you’re shy of talking about sexual needs, make a list of the page numbers you’d like your partner to read, and exchange lists (this isn’t a plug to make you buy two copies – you can take turns). Then take it mutually from there. You will find out things about each other you didn’t know, and all of them will be rewarding.

This is an extract from The Joy Of Sex – A Gourmet Guide To Love Making. Octopus Publishing Group Limited 1972 & 2014. 


By Robyn Foyster Robyn Foyster has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team


Robyn Foyster is the owner and publisher of the lifestyle websites, and She is the only person to edit and publish Australia's three biggest flagship magazines - The Australian Women's Weekly, Woman's Day and New Idea. Robyn was Group Publisher of Bauer Media's most successful and prestigious magazines including Woman's Day, Good Health, Grazia and ran Hearst in Australia including Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan and madison. Voted one of B&T's 30 Most Powerful Women In Media at the Women in Media Awards Robyn was a keynote speaker at Pause 2021, Cebit & J&J Women In Leadership. Robyn was also the winner of the prestigious Magazine Publisher Association’s Editor of the Year award.



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