Here it is! This Thing We Call Sex: A Radically Sensible Look at Sex in America


If you know me at all, you have already heard about This Thing We Call Sex. If you don’t but are interested in the topics I tend to write about, this will still be good news. The book I have been working on as both editor and project manager for Booktrope is finally here! Once you have ordered your own copy and have had a couple of weeks to digest it, send your questions in and I will ask them in a blog interview with David here.

Through Hubby’s deportation, surgery, moving to Mexico and Hurricane Odile, I have continued working to get this book published even when sometimes I wondered why I was pushing so hard. Sometimes it feels like I have too many balls in the air, and likely I do, but seeing this book finally available (with all these great photos to boot!) makes it all worthwhile.

Once you read even a few of the essays in this book, my personal favorites being, “One Man’s Abortion Story,” and “Men and Pornography,” I hope you will see why I thought this book was so important. I found David Steinberg through my interest in Marco Vassi’s work. David wrote up a wonderful piece which is included in the book titled, “Marco Vassi: Avatar of Eros.” The book has something for everyone and possibly  something you will disagree with as well. What I love about this book is the same thing I loved about Henry Miller and Marco Vassi when I found them: frank, honest discussions of topics people rarely discuss in a thoughtful manner, much less with anything new to say.

What I also found extremely validating is that I am not the only one, as a fan of this book I am in great company. From Susie Bright to Christopher Ryan, Clarisse Thorn to Annie Sprinkle and Betty Dodson, many have contributed their thoughts on the book. I have added the blurbs at the bottom of the post if you are curious.

Here is a little about the book from the back cover:

In this long-anticipated collection, columnist, photographer, critic, and sexual explorer David Steinberg has gathered the best of his essays, anecdotes, and photographs into a uniquely insightful, engaging overview of sex in America.

For 25 years, Steinberg has documented the American sexual landscape from teenage sexuality to Viagra, swingers’ parties to erotic spirituality, lap dancing to women’s sexual liberation, fine art sexual photography to pornography, homophobia to BDSM. He calls on readers to question their sexual assumptions and fears, and to embrace sex as an opportunity for intimacy, self-understanding, and psychic adventure. Rejecting sensationalized rhetoric rooted in shame and fear, Steinberg offers an emotionally grounded understanding of a topic that is endlessly debated but rarely approached with depth and calm awareness.

Whimsical, philosophical, unapologetically political, and revealingly personal, This Thing We Call Sex will take you into sexual worlds that include Marco Vassi, the Marquis de Sade, 19th-century feminist Victoria Woodhull, erotic photographer Jan Saudek, and porn producer, exploring the spectrum of human sexuality with an unflinching eye, a compassionate heart, and a keen mind. After reading this book, you will find yourself doing the same.


Photo courtesy Kim Mears

David Steinberg has been writing about sex and gender since 1989. His Comes Naturally columns appeared in Spectator magazine from 1992 through 2005. His writing has also appeared in such journals as Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle, Playboy, LA Weekly, SF Weekly, The Sun, The Gay and Lesbian Review, The Realist, Transgender TapestryChanging Men, and Issues in Radical Therapy. He lives in San Francisco. His website is at

This Thing We Call Sex is available at Amazon, B& and soon to be at several bookstores near San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.

Here is what others are saying:*

These beautiful, sensitive essays, photos, poems, and stories portray some of the most honest and frank representations of human sex in all its wide range, with joy, ecstasy, and even pain. Inspiring.—Susie Bright, author of The Sexual State of the Union; editor of the Best American Erotica series 

This Thing We Call Sex is a fascinating exploration of sexuality, and a profoundly honest, open look at one man’s life experience. This is a highly readable, provocative, and eloquent book for anyone exploring their sexuality.—Eli Coleman, Director, Program in Human Sexuality, University of Minnesota Medical School

David Steinberg’s edgy, educational, compassionate, and fascinating book is for searchers—people who want to know the full range of sexuality and emotion.—Pepper Schwartz, PhD, Professor of Sociology, coauthor of 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality

Steinberg’s witty, candid, and deeply intelligent essays leave no doubt that his heart is as open as his mind. The shameless sensibility of Steinberg’s work is to be treasured, shared, and emulated.—Christopher Ryan, co-author of Sex at Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray, and What It Means for Modern Relationships

This Thing We Call Sex is a fascinating read for people who want intelligence with their sex. Steinberg is unafraid to expose his personal sexual truths while challenging us to face and accept our own. I’ve already started my list of lucky friends who will be receiving a copy!—Candida Royalle, founder, Femme Productions; director of Femme, Urban Heat, Revelations

David Steinberg explores the nuances of modern sexuality with an expert and empathetic eye, humanizing aspects of eroticism that our culture often dismisses. These powerful, persuasive essays challenge the conventional wisdom about sex, and force readers to reckon with their own preconceived ideas.—Rachel Kramer Bussel, author of Sex & Cupcakes

Steinberg understands what works for women and how we have our orgasms. His voice is a calm, reasoned call to rise above the standard porn nonsense about what it means to be a fully alive sexual man.—Betty Dodson, PhD, artist, author of Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving and Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex

David Steinberg is one of our foremost commentators on human sexuality. In a culture capable of astonishing levels of hysteria and illogic over these matters, he stands among our sanest voices.—A. D. Coleman, photocritic, author of Depth of Field: Essays on Photography, Mass Media, and Lens Culture

This is a fantastic book, written from David’s big heart, brilliant mind, and experienced sex organs. David takes on a variety of touchy subjects with honesty, integrity, and courage. Bring on the literary awards!—Annie Sprinkle, PhD, performance artist, author of Post-Porn Modernist and Dr. Sprinkle’s Spectacular Sex

David Steinberg’s writing and photographs are surprising, truthful, courageous, humane, and loving. Investigating what can be understood about sex, and reveling in what cannot, David’s work reveals us to ourselves and deepens our connections with each other.—Judith Levine, author of Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex

David’s core message is important for everyone: that sex is a treasure to be celebrated, and a path to self-knowledge. David has been advocating intelligently and passionately for sex-positivity since before that term was coined. It’s exciting to have the best of his writings collected in this long-overdue volume.—Joani Blank, founder of Good Vibrations; author of Femalia and A Kid’s First Book About Sex

David Steinberg is a writer of consummate intelligence and compassion. I am consistently touched by what he reveals about the changing nature of being a man. His prose is deceptively simple, drawing you into the story he is telling until you find yourself agreeing with much more than a simple anecdote. This is a great book.—Patrick Califia, author of Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex and Speaking Sex to Power: The Politics of Queer Sex

David Steinberg is simultaneously a thoughtful observer and a participant—an explorer with empathy, a writer with honesty. This Thing We Call Sex is on the right side of history.—Paul Krassner, editor, The Realist; author of Who’s to Say What’s Obscene?

David Steinberg’s ability to write clearly and honestly about what he feels and observes is a gift. He gives us stark, naked truth, rational philosophy, cultural history, and erotic wisdom. Look, feel, be exposed, get real. Sex is life. Think about it. David has.—Jamison Green, president, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, author of Becoming a Visible Man

Since sex became a legitimate beat for journalists, David Steinberg has been the right man in the right place at the right time. Moving beyond the role of witness, consumer, or critic, he participates—fascinated with the emotional power of what’s happening before his eyes. His prose is honest—sometimes funny, sometimes angry, but always just. If you’ve ever wondered about the incredible, ongoing whirlwind of sex, read this book.—James R. Petersen, former Playboy Advisor; author of The Century of Sex

David Steinberg’s magnum opus helps shift the conversation away from fear and shame, toward a radical embrace of sexual complexity and diversity. David brings thoughtful and wise dispatches from sexual arenas many of us will never visit. This Thing We Call Sex takes you on a journey that will bring you home to your sexual self with new comfort and a deeper sense of who you are. Some of my best conversations about sex have been with David. Open this book and you’ll see why!—Carol Queen, PhD, Founding Director, Center for Sex and Culture; author of Real Live Nude Girl and Exhibitionism for the Shy

Steinberg’s writing is thought-provoking and compelling. This important collection asks us to grapple with the complexities of real sex—to face our sexual angels and demons instead of turning off the lights and hiding under the covers.—Katherine Frank, author of Sympathy: Strip Club Regulars and Male Desire

 David Steinberg is a living, breathing sexual oxymoron. He dares to push, probe, poke, and prod, asking questions related to the mystery of sex. This Thing We Call Sex should be required reading for everyone who thinks they have sex figured out.—Jack Hafferkamp, cofounder, Libido: The Journal of Sex and Sensibility

 David Steinberg has been a calm, measured voice of reason for the sex worker in an era of scandalous journalism on the subject—the sort of sensible journalism on the culture wars you rarely see.—James Ridgeway, journalist; author of Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry

 Few writers about sex are as thoughtful, thought-provoking, and insightful as David Steinberg. He shows what sex-positivity really means and gives you new ways to think about sex and relationships. If you’re interested in sex or sex-positivity, This Thing We Call Sex is for you.—Charlie Glickman, PhD, author of The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure

This Thing We Call Sex pushes us to increase our understanding and acceptance of sexual controversies and practices, and thus grow in our sexual lives.—Dr. Tuppy Owens, author of Supporting Disabled People with Their Sexual Lives

Steinberg has developed a unique style of depicting the diverse spectrum of sexual attitudes and lifestyles. Exploring this hauntingly beautiful, thoughtful book is a mind-opening experience I heartily recommend.—Cheryl Cohen Greene, author of An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

 I loved reading This Thing We Call Sex. David is a true sex-positive pioneer.—Allena Gabosch, Executive Director, Center for Sex Positive Culture

Steinberg’s insightful essays and reports on sexuality stand above anything available in mainstream media. His perspectives remain fresh, far ahead of the curve, and brashly counter to conventional thinking about sex. This book is a cutting edge treat.—Layne Winklebleck, former editor, Spectator magazine; author of Moral Turpitude

Beautifully illustrated with intimate photographs of couples, This Thing We Call Sex brings together two decades of insightful prose and poetry on the subjects of sex, sexual expression, and freedom. A thought-provoking and timely collection.—Catherine Johnson-Roehr, Curator, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction

Steinberg passionately proves he’s on the right side of history, examining our progress toward sexual freedom while providing frank, intimate details from his own sexual explorations. This Thing We Call Sex is a philosophical journey that calls you to consider the meaning of sex in your life.—Susan Wright, spokesperson, National Coalition for Sexual Freedom

 Wherever Steinberg ventures, his explorations take us closer to the heart of this thing we call sex. In Steinberg’s view, sex is who we are, how we live, how we experience desire, yearning, joy, and life.—Michael Castleman, author of Great Sex and Sexual Solutions

In the early 90s, when I was a budding sex worker rights activist, Steinberg’s rants on sexual liberation fueled my passion for speaking out in favor of sexual self-determination. Some of my best arguments were shaped and refined by David’s fearless, feminist, human rights approach to sexuality. Thank you David!—Veronica Monet, ACS, author of Sex Secrets of Escorts; host of The Shame Free Zone

Here you’ll find everything from the tale of a famous, wealthy 1800s prostitute stockbroker to a description of in 2009. This Thing We Call Sex is a clear, well-researched, and highly entertaining exegesis of sexual politics.—Clarisse Thorn, author of The S&M Feminist

David Steinberg steps outside cultural straightjackets to present us with an honest, breadth-and-depth vision of our human sexual nature. This Thing We Call Sex will bring you to understand someone who is dancing to the beat of a very different sexual drum. It has definitely done that for me.—Kenneth Ray Stubbs, PhD, author of Erotic Massage: The Touch of Love

 Steinberg never fails to be both thought-provoking and entertaining. This Thing We Call Sex is a fine tapestry featuring boldness, sensitivity, and wit, in service to the crown jewel of human sexuality. This is the real stuff.—Howie Gordon, aka Richard Pacheco, author of Hindsight: True Love and Mischief in the Golden Age of Porn

 David Steinberg is a rare artist, a revolutionary, a visionary, and a practical man who’s not afraid to get his hands (and other body parts) dirty. This is a book for anyone who’s ever contemplated having sex.—David Henry Sterry, author of Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent

David Steinberg’s way of thinking about sex is inspiring. In place of moralism, cynicism, shame, and guilt, it’s about honesty and the search for nuances. Steinberg is not afraid to be wrong because, as this book helps us remember, sex is not a matter of being right.—Phil Jourdan, author of Praise of Motherhood and What Precision, Such Restraint

David’s clear, passionate intent has been steady over the decades. This Thing We Call Sex brings inspiration mixed with urgency: We must we get the word out. We must heal the intractable hurts our still half-puritan society inflicts.—Bill Noble, former editor Clean Sheets

David is a courageous explorer, artist, and cultural critic—a rare, informed voice in the mélange of discourse on sexuality. This insightful, engrossing, and well-researched compendium from someone who has spent decades on the sexual frontiers offers an essential history lesson in American sexuality.—Carol Leigh, aka Scarlot Harlot, author of Unrepentent Whore








Do I sound too much like I’m applying for a job with Publisher’s Weekly?


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