Dirty Talk: Speak the Language of Lust
by Lynne Stanton
Published by Chronicle Books
124 pages, 2006
Reviewed by Monica Stark
I'll be very honest: if Dirty Talk: Speak the Language of Love had appeared on my review pile about five years ago, I would have given a tired yawn and moved it aside. The book would have inspired a sort of been-there-done-that feeling. Talking dirty, after all. What more is there to think about? Wasn't this sort of thing hot in the 1970s when everyone seemed to discover their privates and started thinking about what to do with them? By the time the 80s rolled around, everyone had it all figured out and, come the 1990s? You had to rock pretty hard to shock anyone at all.
But that was then. Now things are very different. With a new wave of moral majority surfing the American psyche, a book with a slightly naughty look and flavor can be just what the sex doctor ordered. It's a little bit like Victorian times: with a repressor in the castle (or the White House, for that matter) it can only be a matter of time before all the things that made us say, "Ho hum," a decade ago start making us say "hubba, hubba, hubba" all over again.
And so here we are. As far as slightly naughty books go, Dirty Talk is pretty tame. More allusion than specifics, this is the sort of book you could give your mother if you'd a mind to. It's not for your father, though. Stanton makes it quite clear from page one that her little book is intended for women only:
Sure, you're a nice girl, but there's no denying you've got a naughty side. Maybe you've even practiced what to say. Maybe you've gotten this close to actually whispering the words in your lover's ear...
And so on. Perhaps the author felt guys would want more specifics? Or maybe just not be happy seen reading a little red book bound in ultra suede (Or is it microfiber? I can never tell them apart.)
In some ways, Dirty Talk is as much about getting used to the idea of being a sexual being as it is about articulating your love words and there's nothing wrong with that. As Stanton says in her introduction, "one of the best-kept secrets of dirty talk is that you don't have to use a single dirty word, if you don't want to." She illustrates the point -- perhaps unintentionally? -- by writing a book on talking dirty that doesn't actually use a single word that most people would describe as "dirty". She does, however, offer some dirty vocabulary building advice in the form of lists of some fairly soft porn (The classic Devil in Miss Jones, Behind the Green Door and others of that ilk) as well as some mainstream movies with a high steaminess factor (The Big Easy and Sirens among them) as well as some "naughty bedside reading" that includes "Anything by Henry Miller; anything by Nancy Friday," The Story of O and others.
Dirty Talk might prove to be a fun initial exploration but I'm guessing that it's real niche will be as a gift book. One can imagine the squeals of feminine delight and mock shock when someone pulls this sensuously bound little number out of a gift bag at a wedding or engagement shower. And, honestly? There are worse reasons to buy a book. | July 2006
Monica Stark is a contributing editor to January Magazine.