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For a Good Time, Skip the Pizza and Avoid Rain

November 14, 1994|CAROL TAVRIS and LEONORE TIEFER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

S hortly after the publication of "Sex in America," the University of Chicago sex study that cast new light on modern sexuality, the authors obtained an exclusive interview with Dr. Frieda Tingle, who, they claim, is the world's leading expert on sex. The following conversation is an excerpt from that interview.

Question: Dr. Tingle, what do you think of "Sex in America"?

Answer: I think it would be a good idea.

Q: Do you think Americans are too concerned about orgasms?

A: Whose? Their own or their neighbors'?

Q: We mean in general.

A: Orgasm is very important for many Americans because it tells them when the sexual encounter is over. Most of these people enjoy competitive sports, where some official is forever blowing a whistle or waving a little flag to let them know the event has ended. Without orgasm, they would be fumbling around, never knowing when it was time to suggest a game of Scrabble or a corned-beef sandwich.

Q: Dr. Tingle, if you are the world's most renowned sex expert, how come no one has heard of you?

A: It's my own fault. A talk-show host asked me a perfectly normal question--something like, "What is your preferred sexual position, Dr. Tingle?" or "Please give us a description of your partner's pleasure probe"--when something came over me. I said, without thinking, "It's none of your business." So now no one in the news media is talking to me.

Q: Dr. Tingle, since issues of sexual orientation are so much in the news these days, will you tell us your own sexual preference?

A: Certainly. Strawberry.

Q: Tell us some of the most important findings from your work.

A: We now know that a man's most important sex organ is his fingers, and a woman's most important sex organ is her mouth. With his fingers, he feeds her chocolate eclairs. With her mouth, she tells him how wonderful he is.

Q: With all we keep hearing about the precise latitude and longitude of the female orgasm, where, exactly, does it occur?

A: According to our psychoemotophysioneurohormonological studies, orgasm occurs in the head, heart, toes, nose, genitals, shoulders, stomach and Louise's apartment.

Q: Louise's apartment?

A: She's my next-door neighbor. Believe me, a lot of orgasms go on there.

Q: What kinds of things affect a person's ability to have an orgasm?

A: One important factor is diet. Many times I have been told that it is impossible to have an orgasm after eating an entire pizza. I assume this has something to do with the Italian religious taboo against sexual abandon. Another factor is the weather. Many patients have told me that if the window is open and they are being rained on, it is particularly difficult to have the orgasmic experience. Obviously, since rain signifies the waters of the womb, thoughts of the birth experience are interfering with their sexual concentration.

Q: Anything else?

A: There is no correlation between orgasm and age, love, lust, body shape, mental shape, income, education, location or occupation. So far, the rain and the pizza are the only things I have found that play a consistent role.

Q: Is it rude to ask whether your partner has had an orgasm, or is it rude not to ask?

A: I'm always glad to answer a question on etiquette, because it shows that my interviewer has been well brought up. In my new book, "Doing It With Decorum," I devote a whole chapter to orgasmic obligations. My opinion is that asking, "Darling, did you have the ultimate orgasmic experience?" is too little, too late. The correct question to ask is, "Would you like to have the ultimate orgasmic experience?" before beginning.

Q: What, then, is a proper standard of sexual etiquette in this modern age?

A: Too many people keep trying to apply the golden rule, which works wonderfully everywhere else but in bed. Do not treat your partner as you would have your partner do unto you. This makes partners confused and irritable. She wants her back rubbed and he wants his ears nuzzled, so she rubs his back and he nuzzles her ears. The moral is to do unto your partners as they would be done unto. I'm not anti-biblical, though. It's very nice to turn the other cheek.

Q: If the Bible is not the appropriate guide, what is?

A: "Robert's Rules of Order." You could look them up, and you'll see they suit perfectly: "one proposal at a time," "the right of free and full debate," "second the motion," "the principle of equality" and "courtesy."

Q: Do men and women have different orgasms, Doctor?

A: Well, when you ask men and women to write down what orgasm feels like, you can't tell which description was written by whom. This means either that orgasm is the same for both sexes or that nobody can write clearly anymore.

Q: Dr. Tingle, in your many years as an expert on sexuality, what is the most common question you have been asked?

A: That one.

Q: Well then, what is the most unusual question?

A: A woman once asked me how she could tell the difference between multiple orgasms and hiccups.

Q: What did you tell her?

A: I told her it was six of one, half a dozen of the other.

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