America Unzipped by journalist provocateur Brian Alexander! PODCAST INTERVIEW

Today’s Guest: Brian Alexander, author, America Unzipped : In Search of Sex and Satisfaction


Sex, sex, sex.

Seems like that’s all there is on the Internet some days. Well, this is one of those days, my friends. My guest today is Brian Alexander, author of America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction.

Brian also writes the “Sexploration” column on

Brian Alexander Website •  Twitter • Goodreads

America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction by Brian Alexander, Mr. Media Interviews
America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction by Brian Alexander. Order your copy today by clicking on the book cover above!

BOB ANDELMAN/Mr. MEDIA: We’re delighted to have you here. Any day we can talk about sex and get away with it is a good day.

ALEXANDER: It’s a career choice.

ANDELMAN: For one of us it seems to be. Now, you’re probably sick and tired of talking about sex, but since you’ve written a book called America Unzipped, that’s just going to be too bad today.

ALEXANDER: That just goes with the territory.

ANDELMAN: I’m afraid so. I’m afraid so. One of my revelations from reading your book is that you’re an odd choice for a guy to write about sex.

ALEXANDER: Well, I do have it.

ANDELMAN: Not to say that you don’t, of course.

ALEXANDER: Look, I think people everywhere are extremely curious about sexuality, but I don’t think you have to be sort of a fringy, edgy, sexual explorer in order to be curious about all kinds of different sexual practices. In fact, I think if you’re going to be addressing a mainstream audience, it may help if you come as a form of ambassador to be able to explore worlds that some people may have fantasized about but may not have experienced firsthand. And as the book goes into, many, many more Americans like me, average folks, are out there experimenting.

ANDELMAN: I want to explain to folks listening why I would say that you’re an unlikely choice. I don’t know what you look like. You could be a very attractive man. You could be an unattractive guy. I have no idea. I say that because, from reading the book, I get the distinct feeling that there’s still a lot of Catholic guilt at work on you.

ALEXANDER: I was raised Catholic, and though I don’t consider myself a church-going Catholic any longer, there’s no escaping. I don’t think any person raised Catholic would tell you they ever escape their upbringing.

ANDELMAN: I’m Jewish so I’ve certainly heard a lot about Catholic guilt and certainly I have a mother so I have plenty of Jewish guilt, but how does Catholic guilt apply to the arena of sexuality?

ALEXANDER: It’s basically per its teaching. From the very beginning, we are taught the story of the Virgin Mary, who died pure, theoretically, who never knew man, as the saying goes. The church fathers, and I actually discuss a little bit of this in America Unzipped, the church fathers had a very disjointed view of human sexuality. They did not really approve of it. In fact, they thought that sex, at best, was a necessary evil and only to be done within the context of marriage and only to be done for the act of procreation, although some said that it would be better if everybody abstained from sex because if everybody abstained from sex, we would be purer people, and there would be no more children, and we would hasten the end of the world and therefore, the second coming.

ANDELMAN: That’s a frightening thought.

ALEXANDER: It is a little bit of a frightening thought. And that’s gone down through a couple thousand years so I think that there’s a great cultural weight that people deal with. And it’s not just Catholics. It’s people from many different religions.

ANDELMAN: Right, but I’m dealing with the guy who wrote the book who is Catholic. In the book, you come back to that guilt periodically, and a couple times, you actually ask other people, “Don’t you feel guilty about that?” So I thought that was very interesting. It was not what I was expecting.

ALEXANDER: I think there’s a great throwing off of guilt. One of the points of writing the book was to discuss why we seem to be living in such a hypersexual culture while, at the same time, we have been undergoing what many people say is a new great awakening, a rise of Christian fundamentalism, which is not typically known as being pro-sex.

ANDELMAN: I suspect people who are tuning into this don’t want to hear about guilt. They want to hear about sex.

ALEXANDER: The two often go hand in hand, don’t they?

ANDELMAN: Do you feel any less guilty about your work in the sex field having completed the book?

ALEXANDER: I never really felt guilty about my work in the field. Any sort of guilt or sense of taboo that I have felt personally is really restricted to me, personally. My opinion about what people may or may not do in their own sex lives generally is somewhat libertarian, and that is that if you’re a grown-up and you are dealing with people who are agreeing to whatever it is you happen to be doing, then pretty much more power to you. Whether or not I want to necessarily engage in that is another story.

ANDELMAN: One of the chapters in the book is about a guy named Joe Beam from Family Dynamics. He seems to have more of a libertarian view toward sex as long as it’s in the context of marriage.

ALEXANDER: That’s right. It’s very interesting. In researching the book, I found that within at least some forms of Christian fundamentalism, by which I mean sort of Bible-based Christianity, there is a somewhat healthier view of sexuality than those people are generally given credit for. Joe’s opinion, and it’s the opinion, really is a mainstream opinion, within evangelical Christianity, is that if you are heterosexual and married, there’s really very little that you’re not supposed to be able to do. He has what he calls the 10 Biblical Prohibitions, and the prohibitions are things that you might expect. Don’t have sex with your mom, for example.

ANDELMAN: Oh, is that on the list?

ALEXANDER: That’s on the list. That’s on the list.

ANDELMAN: Oh, good. I’m glad I didn’t violate that before I found out about that.

ALEXANDER: It’s interesting. This is a sort of 30-year process that evangelical Christianity has gone through. They look at the sexual revolution of the late ‘60 and early ‘70s and said, “How do we address this? What do we tell people? Because our followers have new questions that they didn’t have before, so what do we do about this?” And they wrestled with it, and some people like Joe Beam have come up with this kind of laissez-faire within straight marriage philosophy.

ANDELMAN: Is he the exception to the rule? I’m guessing that he is because you highlight him, that if more people felt like him he wouldn’t stand out so much.

ALEXANDER: It’s surprising. He’s not necessarily the exception to the rule. He’s emblematic of a strain of thought. Tim LaHaye, for example, who wrote all the Left Behind books and is known to be somewhat of a firebrand Christian, also wrote Christian sex self-help books with his wife, Beverly LaHaye, who is an ardent religious-right political activist. This has been going on now for a little while. James Dobson, who’s the head of Focus on the Family and is certainly not a liberal by any wild stretch of the imagination, has talked about the naturalness of masturbation, for example. Boys should not feel guilty about that. So it’s not quite as black and white as you might think.

ANDELMAN: Tell us a little bit more about the book. Each chapter is devoted to a different exploration that you made, and I don’t mean that in one chapter, you have a three-way, and the next chapter, you…For people who haven’t seen the book, it’s not that kind of book. Tell us a little bit about the book, a little bit about how it’s set up and how you went about researching.

ALEXANDER: The genus of the book came about after I became the “Sexploration” or sex columnist for, and I was getting tons of emails from people asking questions about everything. Some of the stuff I hadn’t even heard of, and the biggest question people had, really what it came down to the question of, “Am I normal?” They were made to feel, either by our culture or society or themselves or their upbringing, that somehow, whatever it is they were asking a question about, was somehow not normal. And yet, at the same time, we were having this big freak-out over Janet Jackson’s breast at halftime of the Super Bowl. So how could these two things be happening at the same time? I thought the only way to go out and really sort of learn more about this is to go into the country and talk to people because people would rather eat dirt than ask a doctor about their sex life or respond to a phone call. I wanted to go where people would go who had sexual questions.

For example, I worked in an adult superstore selling sex toys and pornography and lingerie to people, and I chatted them up and asked them about their attitudes and about their sex lives. And I found that, across the board, they are you and me and our neighbors and our parents and our friends and co-workers. The inhabitants of a sex store in this day and age are not the sort of saddled guy in the raincoat, by any means. I wanted to hear the voices of people who were sexually exploring because I don’t think those voices get heard. And the book is a lot of fun. It’s not everyday, as a reporter, I get to interview a six-foot tall pink rabbit, a guy dressed in a rabbit/bunny costume who was a what’s known as a “furry” at a fetish convention. There’s lots of funny stuff in there, and I hope people enjoy the read, but underneath all that, there is this idea that we really are out there exploring much more than we are given credit for. And I go into why I think that is and what that says about our culture.

ANDELMAN: I think the interview that I enjoyed the most was actually early on, it was you talking to the woman who was selling the love swings. You’re trying to listen to her, and what she’s talking about is quite sexual and quite interesting, but you can’t keep your eyes off the video behind you and trying to figure out how exactly they did that.

ALEXANDER: Right. Seriously, these love swings can be very complicated. And as a guy who is not the best with power tools, I’m thinking, “How did they get the love swing up into the ceiling and account for the weight and all that sort of stuff? It requires a fair amount of intricate carpentry work to get that up there.” And that woman, by the way, is — so people who haven’t read the book know — a very sort of sweet, very nice lady, a mom who lives in North Carolina and is a church-going Christian who believes that Jesus is her Lord and Savior, and she makes videos, instructional videos, for the Sinclair Institute, which is advertised everywhere. And they are very explicit videos about how to have different kinds of sex.

ANDELMAN: That’s the “Better Sex” series, right?

ALEXANDER: That’s right.

ANDELMAN: You see those everywhere. They’re very clever, too, because they have a different type of ad for every type of place that they want to run it as opposed to some would have one ad, and they try to squeeze it in and put a round peg in a square hole kind of thing.

ALEXANDER: Right. It’s going to be a little bit racier in the sports section and a little bit more sort of highbrow in Atlantic Monthly.

ANDELMAN: We would hope. You did this research for the book a little differently than Kinsey or Hite. It’s really a very experiential kind of book, isn’t it?

ALEXANDER: This is not science, although it’s sometimes filed under the Sociology section. I’m not really sure it’s sociology either. It really is listening to people and not collecting data. So, for example, I’ve been asked the question do most people do this or that thing? And the fact is I don’t know if most people do. My argument in the book is that the stuff that’s in the book can now be really considered mainstream. Whether or not 51 percent or more of the people do it isn’t so important to me as whether or not it has gained broad acceptance in our society, and it has.

ANDELMAN: You mentioned before about working in a store. I think it was Fascinations in Tempe, Arizona.

ALEXANDER: That’s right.

ANDELMAN: How long did you actually work in the store?

ALEXANDER: About a week.

ANDELMAN: So you gave it the full experience.

ALEXANDER: Oh, yes. I went through the employee training and sort of became an apprentice salesman, and then I made something of a specialty out of selling lubrication. I figured if I was going to be there for a short amount of time like a week, I better at least get to know at least one product very well if I was going to hope to sell any of it. And I did pretty well selling it, and I became quite the good lube salesman.

ANDELMAN: You were the guy who figured out that, I think, that if you caught them on their way out…

ALEXANDER: That’s right.

ANDELMAN: …you hit them with the lube, right, and you put a little bit on them, and yeah.


ANDELMAN: Is there much touching in these stores? In some stores you go to, if you’re buying a stereo, a guy might put his hand on your shoulder as he’s pointing out things to you. Is there any touching in these stores?

ALEXANDER: Between the workers and the customers? No, there’s not a lot of touching at all. There might be some touching among the customers, but there is touching of, in this new form of sex shop, the products. We were encouraged as employees to take vibrators out of their packages, put batteries in, and let a woman handle it and feel it and touch it so she knows what she’s getting into. It’s really much, much more customer-friendly than it used to be. These stores are really aimed at suburban, middle-class, upper-middle class people who are not sneaking into a store anymore. They are big, they’re well-lit, they’re clean, they’re friendly. They’re not at all intimidating like they used to be.

ANDELMAN: Do people go to these stores to meet other people at this point, or is it pretty much you’ve already got a plan in mind? You’re going there cause you have a partner or you have a date with yourself.

ALEXANDER: Either one of those. Look, I waited on a woman. It still surprised me. I waited on a woman who was there with a guy, and so I said, “Are you two dating?” And she said, “Oh, no, this is just a friend of mine from work.” She’s there shopping for sex toys with a guy pal from work. Another woman said that she and her girlfriends show off their sex toys to each other like they used to show off the new Easybake oven they got when they were eight years old. This is not a thing that is hidden from anybody anymore.

ANDELMAN: Was there any product that you, after your week at Fascinations, bought and took home with you because you just had to have it?

ALEXANDER: I’m not telling.

ANDELMAN: Oh, c’mon, c’mon. Everybody’s got to tell you everything.

ALEXANDER: I’m not telling. I will say that I think there is a greater acceptance among men of sex toys than there used to be. When “Sex and the City” was on HBO, there was a famous vibrator episode, and people still talk about that as a sea change in the way women accepted sex toys and felt that it was okay for them to sort of come out of the closet about it. Men are now in the process of doing that, and manufacturers are realizing that maybe that’s a market they have not adequately addressed. Men are feeling more and more comfortable about that.

ANDELMAN: Not sure where to go with this, but I thought that men already had the market cornered on sex toys, inflatable dolls.

ALEXANDER: Yes, but inflatable dolls have traditionally been mainly sort of a gag gift. The new stuff is not so much inflatable. I don’t know if you’re under the rule of the FCC or not, but I can’t sort of talk about a lot of the names because they’re a little bit graphic. But there are new materials being used in some of these things, and they’re not typically full-on dolls. Now there is a new trend, which you saw in the movie Lars and the Real Girl, of silicone, very, very life-like, almost full-size female dolls that cost $4,000 to $5,000 sometimes. And some men, a few men, are starting to buy those. Generally, the sex toys I’m referring to for men, though, are sort of similar to vibrators or what’s called a masturbator sleeve. There are various anal devices that more and more men, straight men, are beginning to experiment with, and a lot of that comes from their familiarity with homosexual activities. We’ve become very sort of open now after HIV and so on and so forth about realizing how the homosexual world engages in sex, and some of that straight people have said hey, maybe I can try a little bit of that, maybe that feels good, and so they’re experimenting more and more with that sort of stuff.

ANDELMAN: A lot of the book, or at least the early part of the book, deals with products. You were just talking about toys and things. You spent a good deal of time, I guess, at Adam & Eve’s.

ALEXANDER: Yes. Adam & Eve is, as far as I can tell, the nation’s and probably the world’s largest mail-order purveyor of sex toys and porn. They are located in the unlikely spot of Hillsboro, North Carolina, and they were founded by the unlikely character of a fella by the name of Phil Harvey, who was Ivy League-educated, from a fairly well-to-do family, who really got into the adult business through his desire to do philanthropy. It’s a long story about how that all worked out, but he basically was an advocate for family planning back in the early ‘70s. And he began to sell condoms through the mail, and through a long series of events, that evolved into Adam & Eve, the Sinclair Institute, and a variety of other named businesses that fall under Phil Harvey Enterprises.

ANDELMAN: Or, as anyone who’s seen the catalog, “PHE,” which never made sense to me until I read your book.


ANDELMAN: The catalog says, not that I’ve ever seen their catalogs…

ALEXANDER: Not that you would know.

ANDELMAN: No, no, no, no, no! They reference “PHE” in there all the time and “PHE Inc.,” and I always wondered what that stood for.

ALEXANDER: Yep. That’s Phil Harvey Enterprises. And a percentage of the company’s profits are plowed back into a charitable foundation that promotes family planning and sexual health in the Third World.

ANDELMAN: And what was Phil like? It didn’t seem like he was the average person’s idea of a purveyor of adult videos and toys.

ALEXANDER: No, absolutely not. In fact, I’ve met very few people who met the stereotype, who worked in the adult business, who met the stereotype of who we think works in the adult business. Phil is a very funny guy with a dry, sardonic sense of humor. He’s very smart. He has been through a lot of battles including an epic battle with the federal government over pornography prosecutions, which he essentially won. That was back in the ‘80s during the Reagan Administration. He is somewhat cantankerous, and in his way, he is a large contributor to what I think has evolved into the hypersexual culture. He’s very thoughtful about what he’s done. He’s a businessman. He makes money, but for somebody who makes as much money as he does, you wouldn’t know it. I don’t think he particularly cares about enriching himself. I really do believe that he cares about the society we live in, which it sounds strange from a guy who sells sex toys and porn. But he gives what he does a lot of thought, and that breaks that stereotype that you’re referring to. He is not the sort of open-collared, gold-chained guy with a mustache that comes from the seventies.

ANDELMAN: If we can’t count on our stereotypes anymore, what good is society?

ALEXANDER: That’s one of the points of America Unzipped is that everything you thought you knew about the adult world, about sexuality, may not be what is actually the truth.

ANDELMAN: I know 20 years ago — and I’m going to link to this from the Mr. Media site at some point — 20 years ago, I did a story with a woman about swingers and swingers clubs in the Tampa Bay area where I am, and I approached it in a similar way that you reported this. We went to these things, and I have to admit I was uncomfortable. We went to a bar that was a swing club, and it looked fairly normal at first, just a big bar and a lot of people hanging out. As the evening wore on, everybody’s going and introducing themselves, and people are getting a little looser, and the clothes are getting a little looser, and there was a point at which I said to my wife — because I went with my wife — I said, “I think I want to go.” I kind of wondered, when you did this, and you’ve got sections on, I think, a fetish convention and swingers, where does that line between observer and participant come for you? Was there ever, in doing your research, was there anything that made you uncomfortable?

ALEXANDER: There are things that challenged my comfort levels, but by then, I had gotten to know enough people who were in either the fetish world or the swinging world or whatever the world they inhabited was to know that outside of that world, they weren’t really very different than I was. And they always respected my perspective. I always wore my wedding ring, for example, so everybody knew I was married, which doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not going to do something, but if the subject came up, I would say, “I’m not here to necessarily be flogged,” for example, and nobody had a problem with that.

The only thing that really sort of made me uncomfortable occurs toward the end of the book when I’m at a sex club in Seattle. And I’m watching a woman in a cage, a naked woman in a cage, and I’m watching a guy be sort of slapped around and flogged a little bit by two people and he wants this to happen. It’s what he’s into. It wasn’t so much that I was disturbed on their behalf. I was sort of disturbed on our behalf and what our society is. And it’s not that I think that what they’re doing was bad. I think that what they’re doing is a form of escape from the broader culture in which we are living, which I think has kind of gone numb. And they are looking for a form of sensation, and so I felt bad for them. I wasn’t offended in any way. It worried me about why it is that people are seeking that out. I actually think that it’s really kind of a rational response, but I think that says a little something about the rest of us that that might be a rational response.

ANDELMAN: You mention that you’re married, and I was going to ask you about that. How did your wife feel about the trips that you made for the book, the research? Was she ever uncomfortable about it, and did you ever have to talk about this?

ALEXANDER: I think she would rather that I was in Baghdad.

ANDELMAN: Oh, man. That says a lot right there. And you know what, Brian? I can completely relate to that because I think that’s exactly the way my wife would feel if I had pursued this line of research.

ALEXANDER: I’ve covered a lot of different sort of things in my journalism career. I think that she understands what it is and what I do. And really what I try to do in my career is write about American culture and where we are, and this is, obviously, a very big part of American culture, and it’s one that, for all the talk we have in this country about sex, I don’t think we actually explore real sexuality in the real lives of people very much. It’s all very sort of surface, and I really, literally, wanted to unzip the country a little bit and provide some insight. I think she understood that. It did require a couple of discussions about what it is I was going to be doing and not doing and some reassuring on my part, but once that was done, she was okay.

ANDELMAN: Do you mind if I ask how old you are?

ALEXANDER: I’m 48 years old.

ANDELMAN: Oh, okay. That’s funny. We’re actually roughly the same age. Do you have kids?

ALEXANDER: A step-daughter.

ANDELMAN: Okay. So have you had to deal with the whole sex talk and all that other stuff, or do you manage to avoid that?

ALEXANDER: Well, she’s now an adult herself, really, and that was my wife’s job.

ANDELMAN: That didn’t overlap with all of this.

ALEXANDER: No, no, not at all.

ANDELMAN: I wondered about that in reading the book. There wasn’t too much relation to what you were doing to children, and I thought okay, he probably is not parenting at the moment that he’s going through all this. I’m guessing that I might’ve been on the right track there.

ALEXANDER: Yes, but that wouldn’t have mattered. I would’ve done the same thing anyway. It’s interesting. I’ve been asked the question about, “What about child porn” and so on. And my response to that is sex can be abused like everything can be abused. There’s a lot of fear in this country that’s been ginned up around the field of sexuality, but sex is no different than money or cars or guns or alcohol or drugs or anything else. Everything in our culture has potential for abuse. The people that I am focusing on in the book are grown-ups who are doing consensual activities with other grown-ups. In fact, there is a fairly strong self-policing attitude among the sexual explorers that I spoke with that says if there’s a hint of child abuse, child pornography, of forcing a grown-up to do something a grown-up doesn’t want to do, that is thoroughly rejected. They realize, especially people who like fetishes, swingers, people who go to sex clubs, they realize that they are on the spot and under scrutiny from people who would like to demonize what they do, and so they keep a pretty good eye out for any kind of abuses. I was actually quite impressed with that.

ANDELMAN: For the record, I wasn’t actually thinking of child porn whatsoever so much as I’ve found the last couple years, I’ve got an 11-year-old, and I find that whenever I’m doing anything, really it’s not even just if the topic is sexual or something else, I’m thinking, I have in the back of my mind a picture of my kid, and “Am I doing anything that will not reflect well there or cause a problem there?” To be honest with you, even in my choice of who I interview and what I interview them about, I’m a little more cautious these days than I would’ve been 15 years ago, just because. I don’t know. I’ve always thought I had fairly libertarian views about a lot of things, but maybe not.

ALEXANDER: I empathize with you. I suppose it’s tough for people in any field if they feel like there’s going to be any kind of a blow-back on their family, they have to give that some thought. I guess I just don’t care if people judge me one way or another because of what I choose to write about. I really choose to write about what I think is A) important to write about, what people ought to know something more about, and B) what I find fascinating and interesting. I find it very fascinating that we are a very sort of sexually experimental country. We’re seeking something, and what is it that we’re seeking? The book goes into what some of those things might be, but it’s not really just about sex. In fact, one of the smartest people that I spoke to was Candida Royalle, who was a pretty famous 1980s-era porn star who now directs and produces her own sort of couples-oriented erotic movies. She’s quite smart and interesting. She read the book in advance and provided a nice little blurb for the back, and she said to me, “Your book’s not really about sex at all, is it?” And on some level, it’s not.

ANDELMAN: Right. I agree with that.


ANDELMAN: That actually surprised me. That was why I asked you about guilt first and that whole thing because it’s not a book about sex in the way that, well, like The Hite Report or The Kinsey Report. It’s not a Playboy-type of book about sex. I think you put your finger on it. It’s more about culture than anything.

ALEXANDER: I think it’s a way of looking at the culture or society that we’re living in through the prism of sexuality.

ANDELMAN: I got a laugh in the chapter about Fascinations when you worked at the adult retail store in Tempe. You make mention of something that was happening back in Gainesville, Florida, where a guy named Asher Sullivan was getting hassled for opening an adult retail store called Café Risque in tiny, tiny Waldo, Florida. And I thought: I know who Asher is, I know Café Risque, I know Waldo. I went to school at the University of Florida in Gainesville right next door, and I delivered mail through Waldo. And it’s a little hiccup of a town that’s best known for being a place where you would always get pulled over by the cops if you had out of town plates.


ANDELMAN: But the really interesting thing was, and you had no way of knowing this, although you may have heard about this since then, Asher Sullivan’s dad was famous throughout Florida for his 24-hour breakfast restaurants and his Skeeter’s Big Biscuits. And his son went in a completely different direction, and I thought, culturally, that was very, very interesting.

ALEXANDER: Yes, and his son probably didn’t think that it was necessarily a shameful thing to do. I don’t know what his father may have thought about it. But, well, here’s another example of that. The two brothers who founded a sort of miniature porn production empire, they live in California, but they were raised in an upper-class realm of Connecticut, went to private schools. One went to Stanford, one went to another liberal arts school. Their mother, and I picture their mother as being a very sort of genteel, country club, Connecticut woman, their mother gave them the money to finance buying this porn production company. It’s seen as a business. We just saw that a few weeks ago. Somebody paid half a billion dollars for Adult FriendFinder, which is a major hook-up site on the Internet where people go mainly for casual encounters or meet somebody who’s into whatever thing they’re into.

ANDELMAN: Oh, my God. People use the Internet for that?

ALEXANDER: People use the Internet for that, believe it or not. But the fact is The Wall Street Journal covers this stuff now.


ALEXANDER: Again, this is not the sort of proto-Mafioso guys anymore. They’re businesspeople.

ANDELMAN: There was a story in Portfolio magazine a month ago where they went behind-the-scenes in these companies that produce porn on the Internet and how YouPorn was…


ANDELMAN: No. There’s YouTube, but there’s one called YouPorn, which is all porn the way YouTube is all everything else. And I thought, I’m astounded to see this very white-collar, Park Avenue type of business magazine go into this. There was another example I thought of a moment ago. There was a show on Showtime, I don’t know if it’s still on or not, that was a documentary series about Seymour Butts, a porn producer. And they spiced it up with moments of porn that he produced here and there, but mostly, it was about this porn producer’s private life or lack thereof and how his mother was always trying to fix him up. It really is different than even five or 10 years ago the things that are mainstream, and I think you made that point.

ALEXANDER: Yes, the book is really about how all this is now really quite mainstream. When you get Ivy League businesspeople getting involved in this sort of stuff, it’s far past the way it used to be. Now you’ve got venture capitalists in Silicon Valley funding the expansion of a sex toy outfit. What I’m thinking about is a company called Jimmy Jane, and they’ve got some funding from some of the most prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists to make new vibrators.

ANDELMAN: Don’t we need more new vibrators?

ALEXANDER: You can never have too many good vibrators.

ANDELMAN: And you can never have too many batteries.

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