Two behaviours from my childhood stand out as a) clear predictors of my future writing interests and b) missed opportunities for my parents to rope in therapists.
In primary school my idea of a quality after-school activity was to play with my Barbies while watching Grease (1978). Grease was more important than the Barbies, it’s important to note. Everyday on VHS. For six or so years. At 33, no, I don’t actually cream over cars nor do I have a fetish for coiffed lads in leather, but the film nevertheless is a nice 110 minute encapsulation of the sex and rock'n'roll that would long entertain me.
Also in primary school - and a little into high school - I used to spend my school holidays at my dad’s work. There, I would entertain myself with a spare phone and a Yellow Pages. I’d ring random photographers and practice my surprisingly-good telephone voice. Each call and I’d request quotes for photo shoots. People. Naked, it shouldn’t surprise you. Not just naked though. Posing with animals. Dogs. Cows. Maybe a horse. Could I get a discount if I ordered multiple prints? Really? Oh, that’s great, really great, thanks.
Forget calling up for pizzas. My crank calls were in a realm of spectacularness all of their own.
It is, of course, no surprise that well into adulthood my fixations remain similar.
A fortnight ago I was in Albuquerque for a conference. In the program my paper title was listed as:
Going Downtown in Film and Television
An error and a pretty savage edit, it has to be said. My real paper title was:
Going Down in Film and Television: Cunnilingus on Screen
(The first couple of minutes of my talk therefore, had to be spent explaining that I was not going to be talking about urban planning, and no, my slides didn’t include images of architecture).
Needless to say, the “new” title accidentally tapped into one of my very favourite clothed kinks: seeking out the the dirty in seemingly innocent song lyrics.
It goes without saying that there are plenty of songs with explicitly dirty lyrics. Peaches’ Fuck the Pain Away (“suckin’ on my titties like you wanted me”) and Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel No. 2 (although sexier if Rufus Wainwright is doing it) (“giving me head on the unmade bed”) are two examples where the sex is both frank and erotic.
Great songs both of them, but I prefer my song sex served subtly: I like the art of the against-the-grain-read. Joyously, my repackaged conference title gave me a whole new one: downtown as a euphemism for oral sex.
So go Downtown / things will be great when you’re Downtown / no finer place for sure, Downtown / every thing’s waiting for you
Long before I stumbled on Petula’s filth however, much enjoyment was found in crafting my filthy favourites list:
Cannibal’s Hymn by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: “Sooner or later, darlin’ you’re gonna get eaten” (cunnilingus)
Just Like Honey by Jesus & Mary Chain: “so alive in her honey dripping beehive” (vaginal secretions)
Here Comes Your Man by The Pixies (ejaculation)
Country Feedback by R.E.M.: “You come to me with a bone in your hand” (male masturbation)
Fade Into You by Mazzy Star: “I want to hold the hand inside you” (fisting)
I’d Do Anything for Love by Meat Loaf: “Would you hose me down with holy water if I get too hot?” (golden showers)
Shilo by Neil Diamond: “Papa says he’d love to be with you, if he had the time” (incest)
Burning Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash (figging)
Yes, yes, I’ll be the first to admit, that my sense of humour is an acquired taste. It is however, important to note that I’m not alone in my dirty pastimes.
Let us for a moment also honour those folk who spend vast amounts of time probing Disney films, for example, for all their delightful sexual inclusions (even if - akin to Magic Eye - I usually can’t see them myself).