As an adolescent in suburban Cupertino California in the 1970s, I had to keep on my toes if I wanted any shot at finding vice of any kind. Oh sure, drugs could be had at the high school, but I never liked the folks who used – if I wanted to sit in a corner and babble, I could do it without external influences. The vice I was most interested in was SEX.
But smut was hard to find.
Keep in mind: back then “Adult Content” was available only through “Adult Stores”. And those kinds of places did not exist on Cupertino’s leafy streets.
But then one day I was snooping, and I came across my dad’s stash of Playboy magazines.
It was a revelation. I know, I know, objectification of woman, yada yada yada. I get that. As an adult I can see that the women featured in these magazines were made out to be acted upon, rather than as independent actors in their own sexuality. But at the time all I could think was: these women appeared to be having fun. They seemed to like sex. They were smiling, sunny and happy in their nakedness.
I spent many delectable hours poring over these publications. And I didn’t just check out the magazines for the pictures. Oh no, I was there for the articles. Okay, not all the articles…but some of them were highly informative. For someone with almost no sex education at school, and very little on the homefront --my dear mother tried, but women from her background simply did not talk about such things-- this was all incredible information, ripe to be shared with friends. I especially liked the jokes at the back. They carried with them a wealth of cultural as well as sexual information.
Soon I realized that every home I babysat in was a potential gold mine. I don’t mean to disillusion anyone about a) what a nosy kid I was and b) what babysitters in your house might be up to, but I looked around. Usually you didn't have to go any further than a bedside table. And it wasn't just Playboy or Penthouse. I found The Kama Sutra. The Joy of Sex. Our Bodies, Ourselves. Wow. My young mind was blown.
Granted, now that so much more is available on the internet, I'm sure much of the motivation for snooping has been leached from our young. And it's worthy of note that much of vintage Playboy's "art" would be too tame for the likes of many fashion and gossip magazines, today.
As far as introductions to smut go, this was much gentler than what the average adolescent finds today when she Googles "sex" or anything of the ilk. Some of that stuff shocks the hell out of me, so I can only imagine what an innocent young mind might make of it all.
And no, 1970s "men's magazines" were not the best introduction a young woman could have to the world of sex and sexuality. But as far as smut goes...it was exciting, fun, and so, so naughty.
Oooh, the wonderful vice of it all.