Illustrations in The Joy of Sex


“The images were graphic – they showed genitals and countless sex positions – but they were also artistic, and tasteful.”

BBC takes a closer look at The Joy of Sex forty years after its publication. The piece examines how publishers sought to avoid obscenity charges by using hand-drawn illustrations rather than photographs, focusing on creating quality artwork, and including ancient pictures as “foils” to offset the explicitness of the illustrations. We also get a glimpse of the couple who ended up serving as the main models for the many positions.

Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →