The cover of Best Sex Writing 2008 features a young woman’s backside, her lacy black thong tugged upward by one patent leather heel. Those expecting to find nothing but a collection of lit erotica within, however, will be pleasantly surprised—the book, like sexuality itself, has a lot more going on in the noggin than we might give it credit for.
“I wanted to create an anthology that would open people’s minds about sex, and not just deliver the usual suspects or what you might expect,” explained Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of the current edition. “I set out to find pieces that looked at sex in new ways and focused on people you might not normally hear from.”
She has certainly succeeded. The book’s 21 stories range from comic vignettes to serious essays to journal-styled entries. In one, modern-day eunuchs explain the reasoning and risks involved in their voluntary castrations. Another, “Sex in Iran,” examines the divisive case of a sex tape scandal within a fundamentalist nation. “Oral Report,” meanwhile, attempts to explain why Jewish women supposedly give better head. And one story, “Absolut Nude,” by Miriam Datskovsky, BC ’07, focuses on a topic dear to all CU hearts: college sexuality, specifically the advent of the nude party scene.
Datskovsky is perhaps best known at Columbia for her “Sexplorations” column during her years at Spectator. She was inspired by previous sex advice articles, which answered the “nitty-gritty how-to details” but failed to “actually broach issues of sex and sexuality that college students face.” Datskovsky is now an editorial assistant at Condé Nast Portfolio, a business magazine from the publishers of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker.
Before the formation of Best Sex Writing 2008, Datskovsky had known Bussel for years, and both women were familiar with each other’s work. “Absolut Nude” was chosen to address the college trend that is naked parties, and Datskovsky’s piece has the distinction of being one of few to address university-aged sexuality, and the way that obscurity and group participation can diminish sexual taboos.
“I would hope that all expressions of sexuality become acceptable regardless of anonymity or whether everyone’s doing it,” Datskovsky said. “Ideally, people will be comfortable with their own sexual preferences because they’re comfortable with their sexuality and nothing more.”
Photo of Miriam Datskovsky by Stacie Joy