by Lacey Kat
(Copyright by the author - All rights reserved)
By the early 1970s the “sexual revolution” had left the fields of Woodstock and filtered into the respectable bookshelves of the local Rexal store. Right next to the books on proper etiquette, how to develop a winning personality, and the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle, were books on how to be responsible for your own orgasms, how to put the spice back into your “married” relationships, and how to strip for your husband.Two best-selling books of this era of sexual enlightenment were the Sensuous Woman by “J” and the Sensuous Man by “M”. You will note that the authors did not give their “real” names, as this was a transitional time in the growth of American sexuality. Retail stores might carry the books, but the government was still deporting famous Madams who dared pen their memoirs.
Entering into this charged environment of amorous emancipation was the stalwart “Dr. A,” and his equally controversial, groundbreaking work, “The Sensuous Dirty Old Man.” The front page biography admitted that “A” was a pseudonym for an “ordinary American who showed no signs of talent or greatness until he was over forty-five.” At forty-five, the “biography” continues, he left his youth and developed a finesse, art, experience, and the art of love. He now wanted to pass these secrets to you.
Through extensive research, high-level sources, and reading the front of the book, one soon discovers that the mysterious “Dr. A” is in reality, Dr. Isaac Asimov. Yes, THE Dr. Isaac Asimov, the respectable science fiction author, and Hugo winner.
Eager to capitalize on the sex craze in the publishing world, but remitting that he “doesn’t write trash,” the good Doctor was approached by Beth Walker, of Walker & Company, on March 12, 1971. Asimov reminded Ms. (or Mrs. At that time) that he did not know anything about sex and that the book would be short and a joke. Beth said great but had to hound the author who still thought it was not a serious suggestion. Even while he wrote it, in April of that year, he kept it a secret from even his future wife Janet. However, by the time he finished it he was into the humor, and even appeared on the cover of the hardback edition with a bra on his eyes to “hide his identity.” This was all for publicity for all the advanced work had Asimov’s name on it, and he even appeared on The Dick Cavett Show to promote his latest work.
The book is meant to be a light joke and a satire of the serious “sensuous” books already a hit. To do this, Asimov assumes an air of mock seriousness throughout the book. Every other page has a picture of some eminent person who is “quoted” to strengthen a point. Actually the “quotes,” as Asimov writes, “are given from memory,” and his memory is altered to give the quote a better spin on the subject at hand. So, for example, when citing Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous line on spring, Asimov “remembers” the quote as;
“In spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of what
The older man, throughout the year, has never even once forgot.”
Famous names and historical events are all liberally used to show why it is important to be a sensuous dirty old man, and the proper way to achieve this vaulted position. For example, Aaron Burr was an openly Sensuous Dirty Old Man, while Alexander Hamilton was more in the closet. Come the day of the duel, Hamilton’s fear of discovery lead to poor aim, Burr, more true to himself, had a more true aim. The rest is history.
Asimov goes on to discuss the correct way to leer at a young woman who takes the time to properly display her attributes, how to approach her, and the health benefits of a “Dirty Old Man” lifestyle. All this is done with a formality, use and misuse of language, and historical references that Asimov does so well.
There is nothing “dirty” about this book. With all of today’s cries of “harassment” and “chauvinism,” it might do some ladies well to read that there is a way to be respected and admired at the same time. Asimov was well known for his playful attention to women, and in his last biographies, he gave the impression that it was not all talk. Still, he presented respect for the women he worked with and never addressed them in a demeaning tone. “The Sensuous Dirty Old Man,” is a continuation of that style. It is funny, yet informative. It talks about sex, but you would have no problem giving this book to your mother, sister, or even your grandmother, who may have known “Dr. A” personally.
While the book is currently out of print, there are quite a few copies available on Amazon.com. It is well worth the price as this is one of Asimov’s funniest books.