Tuesday, January 17

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The Hacker Is Watching

In a dark echo of Rear Window, a wheelchair-bound hacker seizes control of hundreds of webcams, most of them aimed at young women’s beds.

Monday, January 2

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Soft Porn, Hardening Hearts

The dissolution of Brooklyn softcore skin-mag Jacques and the marriage of the couple that created it.

Friday, December 23

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Retail Therapy

How Viennese psychologist Ernest Dichter transformed advertising:
What makes soap interesting? Why choose one brand over another? Dichter’s first contract was with the Compton Advertising Agency, to help them sell Ivory soap. Market research typically involved asking shoppers questions like “Why do you use this brand of soap?” Or, more provocatively, “Why don’t you use this brand of soap?” Regarding such lines of inquiry as useless, Dichter instead conducted a hundred so-called “depth interviews”, or open-ended conversations, about his subjects’ most recent scrubbing experiences. The approach was not unlike therapy, with Dichter mining the responses for encoded, unconscious motives and desires. In the case of soap, he found that bathing was a ritual that afforded rare moments of personal indulgence, particularly before a romantic date (“You never can tell,” explained one woman). He discerned an erotic element to bathing, observing that “one of the few occasions when the puritanical American [is] allowed to caress himself or herself [is] while applying soap.” As for why customers picked a particular brand, Dichter concluded that it wasn’t exactly the smell or price or look or feel of the soap, but all that and something else besides—that is, the gestalt or “personality” of the soap.

Monday, December 19

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Inside Marilyn Chambers

A profile of a porn star on trial.

Thursday, November 17

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Teaching Good Sex

On Al Vernacchio, the best sex ed teacher in America.

Thursday, November 10

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My Hard-Core Obsession

Years of guilt and shame over an obsession with hardcore porn drives the Orthodox Jewish-raised author to meet the the personalities behind the darkest and most distrurbing X-rated subgenres and ask, “Do you ever feel guilty?”

Saturday, October 29

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He Who Casts the First Stone

The low-key swingers of sleepy Amarillo, Texas find themselves relentlessly harassed by a militant Christian group.

Tuesday, October 25

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Modern Family

Neither Jon nor Ian is legally married to Jaiya. Both are allowed to see other women. But the three of them live a lifestyle that—much of the time—isn't that different from a conventional marriage.

On the rise of polyandry, in which one woman settles down with two or more men.

Saturday, October 8

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The Jewish Holly-Go-Lightly

Love advice from a beloved aunt.

I try to call my Great Aunt Doris every day. She's ninety-years old and lives alone. I love her desperately and as she gets older, especially of late as she becomes more feeble, my love seems to be picking up velocity, overwhelming me almost, tinged as it is with panic -- I'm so afraid of losing her.

Wednesday, October 5

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The ESD Sex Scandal

When an exclusive private school discovered a teacher was sleeping with his 17-year old student, administrators did their best to make the problem vanish.

Monday, September 19

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The Stripper and the Con Man

On the marriage of Ponzi schemer Ken Starr and his fourth wife, Diane Passage, whom he met while she was dancing at a strip club.

Tuesday, September 13

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Identity Crisis

Is the desire in teens to switch their sex a mental disorder that needs treatment?