Retro delights: The Joy of Sex

The Joy of Sex brought hairy, naked people into homes around the country. Catherine Townsend muses on its unselfconscious attitude and celebration of pubic hair
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The Independent Culture

I remember the first time I stumbled on a copy of the original Joy of Sex, at my Aunt Candy's house when I was 10 years old.

I hid under the kitchen table, trying to ignore the tingling in my loins. Who were these hairy naked people writhing with absolute abandon? They looked like the Cro-Magnons from the evolution timeline at school in some sort of weird wrestling position.

Thirty-five years on, The New Joy of Sex is described as a modern take on the original, with sections on striptease, phone sex and technology. The bearded man has been blurred, but I'm hoping that this new version doesn't stray too far from the author's roots.

When I got a bit older and could actually understand the text, the thing I loved most about The Joy of Sex was Dr Alex Comfort's unselfconscious and joyful attitude toward his subject.

In an era where one of our most iconic images of sexuality in recent memory was Paris Hilton taking calls on her mobile while getting pounded from behind, maybe we need some dreamy hippies with witty advice on love and fidelity to bring us back to basics.

Some of the retro trends from the book are also making a comeback. Hirsute men are back in vogue, which is great because I like to feel that the man I'm dating has more testosterone than me, and much prefer furry chests to waxed metrosexuals.

Some of my male friends have privately admitted to me that while they wouldn't go so far as to date a girl "rocking a full-on Seventies-style bush", they preferred a bit of hair down below to the plucked-chicken, porn-star look that has been ubiquitous in recent years.

These days, even posh girls are daring to hit the town without a Brazilian. When Jemima Khan was photographed knickerless recently, the biggest shock of the evening was that she actually had tufts of pubic hair.

But Dr Comfort wasn't perfect: he focused exclusively on heterosexual relationships, and his focus on hair at times bordered on the obsessive. Somehow, I don't think I would be doing my sex life any favours if I took his advice and stopped shaving my legs and armpits.

Still, I love The Joy of Sex most for its core message. Sex can range from merely average to toe-curlingly fantastic in the orgasm department, but gets even hotter in the context of a loving relationship.

Even if my bikini line isn't perfect.