So what if it's old, it's good for the circulation

No 194: NEWS OF THE WORLD
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The Independent Culture
In One of his Seventies essays Tom Wolfe took issue with Freud about sex. He said Freud's notion of repression and the explosive build- up of thwarted sexual energy - Wolfe called it "steam" - was really fanciful period tosh. Freud's conclusion that if the energy had an "outlet" people wouldn't be so bothered about the whole subject was, according to Wolfe, about as realistic as bleeding them to drain off evil humours. In his view the reverse was demonstrably true - more openness about sex, more experience, more pornography all just raised the ante; the more people got, the more they wanted.

With this in mind I've watched the Sunday tabloids' commercials for cut- out-and-keep "How to Do Sex" features steadily raising the ante too. They've all produced these amazing ads over the last five years (they really are indistinguishable), which have ready-made cult status for their white- bikini-and-white-stilettos Essexy qualities. They're quite beyond parody, but the point is that the People, Sunday Mirror and the News of the World wouldn't go on churning them out if their research didn't show they shifted newsprint.

The News of the World is now on to what might be called its Mark II sex guides, or the "Convenience Kinky Collection". There's Sporty Sex, one way of describing tough love, and it's illustrated by a couple rolling over rather fast. You don't see anyone getting really roughed up. Then there's Ravenous Sex - it's the way they tell them! - which is about eating melted ice-cream off taut tummies. Playful Sex - not exactly what they call it in King's Cross - means a man in bed looking playfully at a girl in riding clothes holding a whip. Then there's Sensual Sex and Raunchy Sex (you'll have to work out what these could mean). Anyway the NoW's taken a variety pack of once "sophisticated" sex antics and renamed the contents to satisfy readers' rising expectations. What will Mark III look like?

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