No two persons ever read the same book. --Edmund Wilson

Friday, August 01, 2008

#34: Sin Cities -- Ashley Hames

I think my own motivation is a selfish need to seek out kicks, put myself outside my comfort zone and feel the endorphin rush of a new and anonymous encounter. And I don't think having such a drive for sexual thrills is an entirely uncommon thing.

Saw this book reviewed in one of the free papers, and thought it sounded fascinating: Hames' increasingly extreme sex-related adventures as he roams the globe in search of audience-grabbing footage for LIVE TV. (Disclaimer: I do not have a TV, I do not watch 'Sin Cities', I did not know.)

Hames makes some interesting observations about a dominatrix's clientele ("I don't think it's any coincidence that a high proportion of paying customers tend to be from the upper reaches of society, often with highly-powered jobs ... the dominatrix helps [them] to fill a vacuum and find a balance in life." He doesn't, however, go on to make the connection between the price and the income.) And there are some fascinating details, the kind of information that might come in handy one day: porn directors keep a microwave handy to destroy the film if they're raided; a viewer's report on the Paris Hilton sex tapes; the best way to nail the male anatomy to a piece of wood. You never know.

There were points, though, when I wondered if Hames had ever actually talked seriously to any actual, non-professional women about sex. On the rise of homemade porn: "It can't be just the boyfriend who wants to do these things, can it? No, it takes two to tango, and my hunch is that girls can be just as naughty when they're shown enough trust and respect." Woof! Er, that is, as a woman I rolled my eyes and made an exasperated noise. But perhaps it isn't that obvious to the average young British male. Or perhaps I' ve become accustomed to greater openness about and enthusiasm for sex than Hames has encountered. (I'd recommend a read of Kerry Sharp's Women's Sexual Fantasies before his next conversation with a porn actress. Maybe he'll get past the 'but surely you can't be enjoying that' stage.)

I'm not this book's intended audience. I'm female, not easily shocked, and I can spell minuscule. That said, the book didn't really live up to my hopes. Hames's style is a peculiar mash of laddishness, confessional and occasional glimpses of a rather narrow-minded outlook. I suppose it goes with the territory -- he's looking for extreme sexual habits, so he needs to be somebody who finds them extreme. Though he says at the end of the book that he's been 'freed from the very British mistrust of sexual difference, and liberated ... from a fear of the unfamiliar', it seemed more like acceptance than understanding or enthusiasm. Not a bad thing, and probably as much as the target audience would be willing to accept.

Mr Hames could do with a better editor / proof-reader, too. And if he is that keen on having a larger penis (thank you, dear author, for so very many details) then I can forward him some emails. I won't be needing them.

Quite an entertaining read but ... unfulfilling.

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