Companion Links to Ariel Levy’s Article on The Joy of Sex


“If you are a child of the seventies and were raised on The Joy of Sex, you are not likely to have forgotten the illustrations.” Thank you,, for this slide show that compares the illustrations in the 1972 edition (by British “scientist” and physician Alex Comfort) to the latest revised edition.

There are only seven slides, which did not appear in the print magazine, but it’s enough. Check out views from the “Quickie,” “Vulva,” and “Rear-entry” sections.

And the difference between then and now? “The hairiness has been eliminated, and the attractiveness gap between the man and the woman has been bridged.” However (or in addition, depending on your preference), you might still be disappointed with the revision: “What you are left with is something that bears little resemblance to the subversive, explosive original.” Hair = explosive.

While working on the slide show, Web producers e-mailed the editorial department requesting the 1972 original. Look here for the best replies (all of which are reasons why editors at the New Yorker didn’t have a copy to lend), including: “I have the Jewish (The Oy of Sex), Mormon (The Joy of Sects), and Hawaiian Jazz (The Poi of Sax) editions, but not that one.”

Elissa Bassist edits the Funny Women column. She teaches humor writing at The New School and Catapult. Follow her on Twitter, and visit for more literary, feminist, and personal criticism. More from this author →