Monday, July 07, 2003

WHITE GOES INTO THE LIGHT: Which prompted the excellent online-email-obit service Popped Clogs to ponder thus:

It's strange that having sex to Barry White has become a cliché, because there are those of us (step forward, brothers and sisters
- do not be ashamed!) to whom the idea of attempting congress while Barry is growling through some dull funk in the background seems *absolutely preposterous*. For starters: his music is, on the whole, incredibly boring. Sex is boring enough without external stimuli adding to the monotony. And another thing: when you hear his grumbly funk chundering from the speakers, it's impossible not to picture Barry behind the microphone, with his 17 chins aquiver and his terrible hair glistening from the globs of Swarfega that he slops into it before performing. Barry White may have been a lovely person, but sexy he wasn't. So why would you want him around when you're having a poke? It makes no sense.
Indeed - there are some of us who find the whole idea of having sex 'to music' unappealing, regardless of whose music it is. It's one thing having sex while music happens to be on - (maybe you're so carried away with passion that you don't bother turning off your stereo, or maybe your toe bumps the 'on' switch during a shift of position, like Robin Askwith in Confessions of a Pop Performer); but it's wholly another thing to put it on
*specially* for the act of sexual intercourse.
What does it mean to have sex-to-music? Here are some thoughts on the matter:
Are you meant to listen to the music? Are you meant to pay attention to the words? Hum along? But if you're aware of the music, isn't that tantamount to saying that you're not wholly consumed by the act of love, and part of your brain is elsewhere? That's hardly flattering to a partner (unless you both tacitly admit that you need a bit of music to help pass the time during the act of coitus).
Or are you meant to ignore it? Is it part of the challenge of lovemaking: to tune out the distractions? Is it like saying to your partner: "I'm so *completely* into you that it doesn't matter that some dullard is croaking away in the background; it's not going to put me off my stride"? But then, if you aren't aware of the music, then why is it on at all? It's just using up electricity.
Or are you meant to use the beat as a guide for rhythm? Like synchronised swimming? And what happens if you get out of synch? Does someone have responsibility for catching up or slowing down? And what do you do between tracks? Pause for breath?

Or is it part of the general 'atmosphere' of lurrrvemaking? But here again you have the problem that the addition of music implies a lack in the actual physical chemistry of the combatants. Surely we can all agree on this: that if two people really want to have sex, they just go for it. The act of congress is their entire world for those beautiful two minutes. You don't need any extra sensory input.

The idea that you have to get the mood 'just right' (with music, candles etc.) to make sure the magic happens is deeply problematic. It means that one (or both) of the following thought processes has occurred: i) I think you don't find me appealing enough to make love to me on my own merits, so I'm going to try and 'hot you up' with some sexy music; ii) I think that by sheer force of environment, I can make you put out. The first thought process is demeaning towards the person putting the music on; the second is demeaning towards the person who (it's hoped) is putting out. Everyone's demeaned. Maybe you're into demeaning sex? If so, slap on the Barry and get dirty.

Otherwise turn off the music. Turn off the lights, close the curtains, cut a hole in a sheet, scrunch up your eyes and get to it. It's the most natural thing in the world.

Don't you wish all obituaries were this way? (Apart from the ones that end in the words "despite her threat to Major that she was "a good back seat driver", once removed from office she faded swiftly from the public realm", is there any further finer way to memorialise the dead? That url again:

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