Print Review: “Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex”

Nina Hartley Guide Total Sex

Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex
By Nina Hartley, with I.S. Levine
Published by Avery/Penguin Group
368 pages, soft bound

Everyone and their sister seems to be writing a sex advice book these days — but perhaps few are as qualified to hold forth on the topic as Nina Hartley, one of the porn industry’s most respected, experienced, articulate, connected, and activist-minded performers.

Hartley’s skills and abilities are unique within the industry, even above and beyond the fact that she set aside her youthful plans of a career as a Registered Nurse in order to pursue a different kind of healing as a porn performer. As she explains early in her introduction, the Berkeley raised daughter of Zen Buddhists came of age during a time when sex was still seen as something fun, positive, and beautiful. Comfortably into her 40s, Hartley is a member of the last generation to have viewed a condom primarily as a birth control device but, living for so long in the Bay Area before relocating to Los Angeles to live with I.S. Levine, her new husband and literary collaborator, she doubtlessly saw friends and associates die for lack of the protective sheath.

Imbued with a desire to retain as much of the sense of fun and sexual well-being from her youth as possible, sex educator Hartley’s collaboration with husband and fellow industry icon Levine provides a kind of one-volume summation of many of the topics she has covered in the more than two dozen releases in her successful Nina Hartley’s Sex Guides video series from Adam & Eve.

No topic is taboo for the bisexual (if monogamous outside of work) sexpert who, along with her hubby, has likely done or seen just about everything. Solo and shared masturbation, orgasm, foreplay, oral sex, anal sex, fun with toys, swinging, threeways, dominance, submission, spanking, and bondage — it’s all on the table and written about with intelligence, knowledge, sensitivity, and affectionate good humor. Useful to heterosexuals, bisexuals, and lesbians, Hartley’s personal experience with her subject matter means that she knows what she’s talking about when she shares which techniques work for her.

This attractive and highly readable book includes a bibliography, index, and what appears to be a lovely but uncredited cover illustration of Hartley by famed pin-up artist, Olivia.

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