Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask


This was one of those inexplicable best-sellers, a book that for some reason, everybody had to have. I haven’t read it. There’s nothing I was afraid to ask, and not much I didn’t know. Seems Woody got pissed when he saw the author, David Ruben, when someone asked him if sex was dirty. He replied “It is if you’re doing it right.” That’s a line he stole from Take the Money and Run. So Woody got the film rights from Elliot Gould, who had given up on the project, and made this. It is the first film where he used big stars, and appears to have a much larger budget than his earlier films. It was a smash success. The film consists of seven segments, each answering a question that was posed in the book, but somehow I think not the way Ruben answered them. Ruben didn’t like the film. Here’s a question for you, Doctor. Is it possible to go fuck yourself?

  • Do Aphrodisiacs Work? The weakest of the segments. Seems unfortunate that it leads off the picture. Or maybe it was best to get it out of the way. It doesn’t really work at all, for me. Woody is a terrible court jester. All his jokes stink. Which is a problem, because it’s not really funny to see a guy telling bad jokes. In a Hamlet parody, his father’s ghost appears to him and says he has to schtupp the queen (Lynn Redgrave) or something awful will happen. He gets a love potion, and things go wrong. He ends up with his hand stuck in her chastity belt. That’s about it. There is an overworked schtick with almost every word ending in –eth which isn’t funny, either.
  • What is Sodomy? Now we’re getting somewhere. An Armenian shepherd comes to Dr. Gene Wilder, distraught that the sheep he is in love with has fallen out of love with him. I think only Wilder could have made it work, the scene where he is at first incredulous and embarrassed, and gradually finds himself stroking the soft wool … and soon he is taking Daisy to hotel rooms, dressing her in stockings and garters. This may be the only romantic scene ever filmed of a man and a ewe in bed together, and Gene pulls it off. It’s written and filmed exactly as it would have been had the sheep been a woman. The private detective and his wife breaking in on them, the courtroom divorce, the promises that we’ll stick together, and the final tragedy when the shepherd takes Daisy back to Armenia. At the end the doctor is a broken man, sitting on the sidewalk on Skid Row and guzzling Woolite straight from the bottle.
  • Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm? Here is the most artistic segment, and I loved it. The cinematographer has managed to frame and shoot it all so that it looks exactly like one of those world-weary Italian films of the ‘60s and ‘70s, such as Antonioni. To make it even better, Woody and Louise Lasser, as the new bride who is frigid unless they are making love where they might be caught at it, are speaking Italian! It is totally brilliant, and transforms a sketch that might be ho-hum in English with the standard jokes into a masterpiece. I laughed very hard.
  • Are Transvestites Homosexuals? Another of the lesser ones. A man and his wife go visiting another couple for dinner, and while taking a bathroom break, hubby can’t resist going to their bedroom and trying on the woman’s clothes. There is something intrinsically funny about a really ugly man wearing a dress, I guess, but the joke doesn’t last very long with me.
  • What Are Sex Perverts? This one is brilliantly staged, but the material itself is a little weak. It’s a TV show called “What’s My Perversion?”, and it stars some of the real people who used to be on those incredibly lame, incredibly primitive game shows of my black and white youth. John Barry, Robert Q. Lewis, Regis Philbin. The two female panelists might be real, too, but I don’t recognize them. Each time a panelist asks a question that is answered with a “no,” Jack turns a card on his desk and the contestant wins $5. That’s right, a big five dollars!
  • Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate? The last two are the showpieces. Here John Carradine is a mad sex researcher, complete with creepy old mansion and a hunchback assistant named Igor. “They called me mad at Masters and Johnson, ha ha ha ha!” An experiment goes awry and a gigantic tit is released into the countryside. It is truly monumental, a size 4000 in an X-cup, and has to be seen to be disbelieved. I was hoping that Wiki or IMDb would say something about what was in that monstrous mammary, how they made it jiggle its way across a field, but I found no clue.
  • What Happens During Ejaculation? Incredibly elaborate and funny portrayal of the interior of a man’s mind and body seen as mechanical devices, with a NASA-like mission control in the brain. Tony Randall and Burt Reynolds supervise the seduction, arousal, penetration and ejaculation. A bulldozer and a lot of workers shove around tons of undigested fettuccine and red wine in the stomach. In the lower reaches, brawny, hairy guys turn cranks to erect the penis, while singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Meanwhile, down in the testicles, the kamikaze sperm with parachutes on their backs are ready to make their jump … all except Woody, who’s scared. What if he’s masturbating? I could end up on the ceiling. What if he’s a homosexual? Doesn’t even bear thinking about, where you might end up then. And the last line, as he’s hesitating on the edge. He looks all around, and says, “Well, at least he’s Jewish.”