Mystery Date #1 came out in 1994. The first copies had the title written in magic marker; I didn’t yet have access to a cursive font I really liked. While the text was typed on a computer, I did the layout by hand, with rubber cement and bristol board. All typos here are guaranteed verbatim.
In addition to “Sex Ed on Vinyl” and an introductory essay, other articles were: “Mystery Date: An Appreciation” and “Selections for Your Reading Pleasure: The 60s.”
“Sex Ed on Vinyl” was anthologized in Chip Rowe’s The Book of Zines (Owl Books, 1997).
Sex Ed on Vinyl
Telling children about the facts of life has always caused a fine film of sweat to break out on parental upper lips. There is no consensus on just how or when this delicate information is to be imparted, hence the numerous “how to tell your children” books on the market. I’ve spoken with many people whose parents took just this route, handing them a book as gingerly as if it might explode and then quickly leaving the room. Other parents were more direct. One of my friends remembers her mother telling her all about sexual intercourse while carefully ironing her husband’s shirts and not meeting her daughter’s eyes. Then, when she finished talking she asked if my friend had any questions. Just one, she replied, “How do you do this with your clothes on?” It was only when her mom explained that you didn’t have any clothes on that my friend became truly grossed out by the whole process.
Perhaps sex education records filled a void for parents wishing to avoid the impersonality of the book method and the high squeamishness factor of the direct confrontation method. What could be more folksy than entrusting your child to, say, Art Linkletter, right in the comfort of your own living room? Agree? Then run right down to the thrift store and pick up a copy of ART LINKLETTER NARRATES THE STORY OF WHERE DID YOU COME FROM. Listen as Art explains all about frogs, chickens, horses and humans and “what we call … the act of mating.” Learn how the egg grows in “a hollow place in the mother’s body that the doctor calls the uterus” and how the sperm gets to the egg through “a little tube” on the father’s body. I guess Art doesn’t know what the doctor calls it, or maybe he’s just not saying. Also, while he tells us just where to find “the little tube” on a horse, he never mentions just where it might be located on a human male.
For answers to tricky questions like these, spin John and Joan McArdle’s YOUR SEXUALITY – A THING OF BEAUTY. Mr. McArdle, according to the liner notes, “was active in the Buffalo Family Life Department,” while his wife “taught the High School Marriage Course in the Diocese of Buffalo.” This is a fabulous record. For a couple who apparently went around making this presentation to various school and parents’ groups, you would think they would have something more than the truly wooden stage presence displayed on this disk. You can hear them turning the pages of their notes in the background. The whole slant on their talk is morality, of the “now that you know all about it, don’t do it” school. To this end, they actually name body parts and processes. “Now, let’s talk about erection for a moment,” intones John. Otherwise, stereotypes and misinformation run rampant. Joan explains that girls are “incapable” of having sex without “thinking of love.” John tells them that they are fertile only one day a month. Oops! In fact, between this tidbit of disinformation and the hot little surf number (“Take Off” attributed on the record to J. Bono, but actually Reble and the Jaguars) that surprisingly closes side two, this record was probably responsible for untold numbers of teen pregnancies.
While the McArdles aspired to be the kind of adults that teens actually listen to, they fell short of the mark. Teens probably couldn’t believe that what they did in the backseats of cars and what John and Joan McArdle did in their marital bed were the same thing. DON LONIE TALKS TO TEENAGERS, on the other hand, is a live recording before a high school assembly and Mr. Lonie has ’em rolling in the aisles. While technically not a sex education record, DLTTT and it sequel DON LONIE TALKS AGAIN are the aural equivalent of the “morality” unit in Family Living class. This man intends to be funny, and he is funny (at least in a high-school assembly sense). Lots of info about the dangers of drinking and driving (a couple of teen auto death and dismemberment stories are included), wearing too much makeup, and conformity (at the expense of religion, of course), all delivered for the most part in a wise-ass, deadpan manner. The moral here is go to church, please your parents and grow up as straight as possible. Oh, yeah, and “you can laugh at Don Lonie … but you can’t laugh at God.”
If, however, you didn’t have Don Lonie come to your high school assembly to teach you how to be a responsible, squeaky-clean adult, you might find yourself reaching for THE WAY TO BECOME THE SENSUOUS WOMAN BY “J”. From the liner notes stressing “the importance of his orgasm” (their emphasis), to Connie Z.’s last bit of narration, “For it is love that makes a woman whole and gives her a sense of purpose,” this is the double standard at its finest, filled with time-honored male and female stereotypes. Basically, what we have here is 40 minutes of instruction on how to give head. OK, ladies, let’s repeat after Connie Z., “I must not nick or scratch.” Which mental image do you prefer: the miniature vacuum cleaner, or the bunny nibbling asparagus? By the way, at an orgy, it’s only polite to have sex with your escort first. See you all at Plato’s Retreat!