Priapus Weeps: Two Ways Not to Get Off

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Priapus Weeps: Two Ways Not To Get Off  by Sam Lipsyte

The Multi-Orgasmic Man
The Multi-Orgasmic Man: Sexual Secrets Every Man Should Know
by Mantak Chia and
Douglas Abrams Arava
(HarperCollins, 1996; 236 pages)
 His Secret Life
His Secret Life:
Male Sexual Fantasies

by Bob Berkowitz
(Simon & Schuster, 1997; 272 pages)

What is hidden in every self-help book, especially one about sex, is a certain kind — a shameful kind — of heartbreak. The book’s very existence implies there are some who don’t need it. The writers, for example. They just want to help you help your

pathetic self. Nor do the people lined up behind you at the bookstore register appear to require such tracts. They snigger all along the twelve stations of the Barnes & Noble queue, the latest Thomas Pynchon novel lashed to their self-righteous backs. The clerk who rings you up, she has seen one too many of your type, edging up to the counter with Cunnilingus for Dummies, to even bother smirking anymore.


Still, the seeker of sexual truth must, if not abandon all hope, at least forsake some dignity. And much more than simple priapic praxis is at stake. In Die Funktion des Orgasmus, Wilhelm Reich concluded that sanity depended on a healthy sex life. We may take this notion for granted now, but he was vilified for it at the time, and it remained, in the words of his student, Ola Raknes, “a scandal to all who have neither a knowledge of deep psychotherapy nor themselves a satisfactory sex life.”


Long before the golden age of Vienna sausages, however, Taoist monks were charging exorbitant prices for their secret verities of flesh, pleasure and the life force called chi. The Multi-Orgasmic Man, by Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava, published last year, aims to deliver these “Sexual Secrets Every Man Should Know” to us sad sacs over-sold on the money shot. The idea here is to separate the orgasm from the ejaculation, to acquire a sort of jismatic cunctatorship and thereby experience many pleasurable “crescendos” instead of a single soporific one. “Every time you ejaculate,” the authors write, “your body assumes that it is getting ready to create a new life.” This is quite a biochemical burden, the authors argue, the reason for the squirt-n-snooze, one-show-only performances of so many men. It may also be why, the book suggests, we die younger than women. As in much patriarchal mythos, the hero spooges his life away.


Chia, a Taoist teacher, and Arava, a writer and editor, are pictured with their wives on the back flap of the book. They look to be warm, sensual and learned men. They know where the Million Dollar Spot is (I’m not telling), what the Scrotal Tug will buy you (if you have to ask you can’t afford it), how to come without coming (is this what Nietzsche really meant?). Spilleth not the seed, they teach, and you might learn the way of

the perfect peaceful sexual warrior. So here I am practicing The Cool Draw, The Big Draw and the Finger Lock. It’s yoga with a reason. Tantra without a religious catch. I am concentrating on the bioelectric circuits that run from tongue to crotch. I am studying the illustrations of my anal canal. And I am touching, always touching. In my thwarted, agonizing way, I see I have been grappling with what the authors term sexual kung-fu my whole damn life. Somewhere are the ruined boyhood bedsheets to prove it.


His Secret Life: Male Sexual Fantasies, a new book by Bob Berkowitz, the former CNBC call-in sex show host, might have been a welcome discovery during those early quilt-splotched days. Fact is, the relentless self-caresses of my pubescence evolved out of textual relations with a few key sources, among them a tattered copy of De Sade’s Juliette and Nancy Friday’s collection of women’s fantasies, My Secret Garden, which I had to pilfer from my mother’s bedroom bookshelf and return after each use. Berkowitz’s book is clearly based on the Friday model, and he moderates these pseudonymous fantasy numbers with a schizophrenic stance that includes wonder-struck group therapy leader, sociology thesis advisor, and occasionally, barstool erotitician.


Even before “Connor” imagines how “she would come and sit on my face while my friend would sit on my penis and let me penetrate his anus,” Berkowitz opines: “That a guy attends the opera every now and then doesn’t mean that he desires to be Luciano Pavarotti.” If ya get my drift. The book is broken down into categories — older women, group sex, sex in public — and there is an odd muteness and monotony to most of them. There is a section on prostitutes, wherein, like clockwork, the jaded professionals get off and gratefully waive their fees. One man washes his escort “like a baby” before taking to her to bed and bestowing his doting tongue.


The last chapter, “Secrets of Cybersex: From the Condom to the Modem,” promises a new vision of sex (the primal want filtered through asynchronous transfer modes?), but it is really

just more of the same, downloaded from the Net, or e-mailed straight to Smiling Bob. Berkowitz exhorts us to revel in our fantasies and “share our secret lives,” which he thinks men in particular have buried in the closet. If male fantasies are stuck in the closet, then the rest of Western culture is jammed in there, too, with the varsity jackets and nine irons. The majority of these fantasies retain that particular must.


Better maybe to stick with the popular mechanics of The Multi-Orgasmic Man. The Scrotal Tug, for instance (okay, it’s a gimme), is darned effective at staving off an orgasm. Grasp the nuts lightly, pull down, pull away. This technique turned a few minutes of desperate get-my-rocks-off-before-the-phone-rings-again onanism into hours of speculative bliss. My room seemed less adult motel and more Xanadu, as in Coleridge’s “stately pleasure dome decree’d.” It is a solution, too, far superior to the oft-cited American custom of flashing on baseball stats and grandma, or in the perverse spirit of one Harry Crews character, a death camp.


Much of The Multi-Orgasmic Man, however, is dedicated to pleasing a partner. There is a good deal about thrusting patterns, energy exchange and the benefits of soft entry. As an honest reviewer I must confess that I haven’t been laid in months and I found these sections too painful for close analysis. Nor have I read all of Gravity’s Rainbow, either, though I tell everyone I have. Does this make me less of a man? Probably. But I will continue my apprenticeship with Master Chia and the trusty Arava. The ancient philosopher/soldier Sun Tzu once wrote that if you wait by the river long enough you will see the body of your enemy float by. I don’t ever expect to see that, but what I am hoping for is my ex-girlfriend, alone, alive, on a raft.


I’ll rotate my sacrum once for good luck, dive into the river and swim to her.

Sam Lipsyte is the author of a story collection, Venus Drive, and a novel,The Subject Steve. His fiction has been published in The Quarterly and Open City.

©1997 Sam Lipsyte and Nerve.com