O: Ten years! You must have a PhD.
Paul: You would think. I've supervised doctoral students and I'm a graduate psychoanalyst, which means I can be the training psychoanalyst for psychoanalytic candidates, but instead of writing a dissertation on some hideous psychoanalytic concept such as "An Epistemological Comparison of Projective Identification in the Semiotic Narratives and Intersubjectivity of the Pretraumatized Borderline Patient"—seriously—I wanted to practice and do other things.
O: What other things?
Paul: I was in Los Angeles and involved in some of the first research on PCP babies; I was also working with teenage prostitutes and gang members. I'd started writing a textbook for kids on the "chemistry of bikinis, skateboard wheels, and surfboards"—that was the title—thinking it was a good way to get them excited about science. I was going to do a whole series, including a textbook down the line on sex. But then I was suddenly so broke, I thought, "I'll go ahead and knock out the sex guide."
O: Dr. Ruth meets Dr. Drew?
Paul: After working on it for months and months, I give it to a friend, a playwright. This is, oh, probably about when the Jurassic phase was coming to a close [early '80s]. She reads it and hands it back to me. "You know," she says—and I'm sitting there thinking, "Wow, she's only highlighted about three sentences in the whole thing, so I guess she really liked it"—"as women, we're really sick and tired of the great white doctor telling us what does and doesn't work for us. And that's the tone you've got in this dog. Those three sentences I highlighted? That's the tone you need to have."
O: So how long did it take to finish the book?
Paul: Seven years. And then no publisher would touch it. Nobody. Finally, one company was interested. And I looked at their catalog and the list included The Anarchist Cookbook. It was hard, but I just couldn't be with the same publisher that put out books on how to make bombs. My poor agent was bleeding from the ears. So I borrowed money and started my own publishing company. Now the guide, in its fifth edition, is doing really well. Barnes & Noble is probably our biggest customer, and it's assigned reading in a bunch of college courses; it's even in some medical schools. Right now this is my full-time gig. I haven't seen patients in three or four years.
O: Got to ask: What's the best sex tip ever?
Paul: It's such a horrible cliché, but the best sex tip in the world is to listen to each other.
4 Tips from the Guide to Getting It On
1. "Couples don't hesitate to get books and magazines on travel, business, and gardening—and they spend time discussing these subjects. That's not always true with sex. You don't need to look at hard-core magazines—consider something more classy, like a book by a good erotic photographer. Or pick up an anthology of erotic literature and read parts of it to each other. Do what you can to find humor. It helps any discussion that might otherwise be filled with anxiety."
2. "Some people struggle to get fully into their bodies. Some have trouble relaxing enough to enjoy what is being shared with them sexually. Learning to massage and be massaged might help your body put down its armor. If it's anxiety-producing at the beginning, go slowly and try to enjoy the gains you are able to make."
3. "You might consider planning a time and place to get naked together when the sole purpose is not just to have intercourse. A lot of honesty and trust can be generated that way. Some couples enjoy taking each other's clothes off; others have fun playing strip poker or using a blindfold on the partner being undressed. Occasionally, people find it helpful to tell each other some of the things they do and don't like about their bodies. Just getting your fears out in the open usually helps you feel more comfortable."
4. "The exquisite brush-off: Have your man spread his legs, and gently brush his inner thighs, testicles, penis, and abdomen with a soft makeup brush. Making circles around the scrotum can feel especially nice. The sensation can be relaxing and titillating at the same time. Brush his face, back, feet, and hands. If you're lucky, he'll grab the brush and return the favor."
— From the Guide to Getting It On! (Goofy Foot Press)
This article is part of Oprah.com's 2011 Feel Good Challenge. Join now—and move closer to the life you want!
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