what's happening in the sexual and social arenas
In the Buff
New York City--You thought you'd heard of every topless service imaginable? Wrong. The proprietor of Manhattan Adult Video has introduced topless shoeshines--or reintroduced them. A bare-breasted buffer here says her mother told her that topless shine girls were an attraction at vaudeville shows in the Twenties. In the more sedate Nineties, customers at this parlor run the gamut from blue-collar workers to Wall Street executives. "So far," according to the buffer, "there have been no problems with lunging."
Just Say Yes
Chicago--A group has decided to take on the abstinence-based sex education provided in public schools by offering alternative information. The Coalition for Positive Sexuality works outside area high schools. CPS hands out condoms and a safe-sex booklet, "Just Say Yes," to students who request the material. "It's too bad you weren't here a couple years ago," said one girl to the activists. "I have a nine-month-old baby now."
Annals of Repression
Washington, D.C.--A sodomy law that prohibits "unnatural sex" between consenting adults is still on the books. Gay groups challenged the statute, but the D.C. council--the district's governing group--split on the issue five to five. However, three members were out of town for the vote and new members will be joining the board, which virtually guarantees another challenge this year.
Ontario--A court judge has declared unconstitutional a Canadian law that makes consensual anal intercourse by or with persons aged 14 to 18 punishable by up to ten years in prison. Observing that it does not involve risk of pregnancy (which might otherwise have been a factor), Madam Justice Marie Corbett said she saw "no evidence indicating any harmful effect on the public generally or the individual."
Cambridge, Massachusetts--A consulting firm, Management Resources, is selling a battery-powered red-light pin that women can wear on their clothing. The company suggests women flash the pin whenever they feel subjected to sexual harassment or sexist remarks in the workplace. Some critics complained that it trivializes the issue, but Management Resources insists it's a good training tool.
Elmira, New York--"There are a lot of teenagers out there embarrassed by them," says Thursa Hargrove. The "them" are condom packages that adorned her hair and clothing as a safe-sex and unwanted-pregnancy statement. Hargrove, a 16-year-old high school junior with an 18-month-old child, speaks from authority. But so did school officials: They removed Hargrove from class after she refused to remove the condoms. According to the school principal, "It's distracting to the other students."
As the Worm Turns
Beijing--The good word: Researchers isolated an as-yet-unnamed compound that could ultimately result in a natural, homegrown contraceptive. Chinese scientists are working on a spermicide made from earthworms. "Research has shown that an earthworm extract can kill human sperm really fast," reported the overseas edition of People's Daily.
Tucson--The bad word, announced in the journal Nature, is that producing sperm may substantially shorten life spans. This came as a shock to a University of Arizona researcher and other scientists, who say it could indicate that sperm production might divert physiological resources that otherwise prolong life.
Research Triangle Park, New Jersey--Burroughs Wellcome said it will make its antiherpes drug, Zovirax, available (up to 730 grams) at no cost to patients who enroll in a special plan. Applicants must be referred by their doctors and need more of the medication than their insurance will cover. Similar programs have been set up for HIV patients who cannot afford needed drugs.
London--The journal of the London Institute of Psychiatry offered a case study in which a 20-year-old member of a religious sect that forbids sexual involvement with women before marriage developed a relationship with the family car. Reportedly, the man masturbated near the tailpipe and also kept photos of the car in his room. As a patient, he underwent a program of "orgasmic reconditioning" in which he started masturbating to pictures of the car but finished with pictures of nude females. Doctors reported that the treatment was only partially successful: He did develop a greater interest in women, but his first love remains the car.