The new Showtime series "Masters of Sex" starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan is based on the book "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love," by Thomas Maier, Basic Books. Now On Sale.
Before Viagra, Madonna and Sex and the City, Americans learned about sex and love from medical pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Secretively in a small Midwest hospital lab, they presided over the biggest, most controversial sex experiment ever, relying on prostitutes and college volunteers to perform more than 10,000 sexual acts in the name of science. They documented how the human body responds during sex, and then came up with a successful therapy that replaced Freuds psychoanalysis in curing problems. For more than forty years, these two researchers, who eventually married, reigned as the nations top experts on sex, explaining the secrets of orgasm, emotional fulfillment, and sexual dysfunction. For reasons never told before, they divorced after twenty years amid a clash of success, betrayal, and jealousies.
More than any American couple in the 20th Century, Masters and Johson revolutionized our understanding of sex. They treated thousands of patients -- from politicians and Hollywood stars with marital problems, to gay men and women seeking conversion to heterosexuality. After centuries of religious cant and psychological conjecture dominated by men, their scientific findings underlined the power of female sexuality, forever shattering the portrayal of women as the weaker sex. They challenged a Puritanical America with its dont ask, dont tell philosophy, and paved the way for todays medicalization of sex with Viagra and other pharmaceutical enhancements. They created a new field of medicine by realizing the desperate need for effective treatments for impotency, frigidity, premature ejaculation and other dysfunctions—a phrase they coined. Masters of Sex underlines their courageous contributions and, through their personal story, explores the modern definition of love and the place that sexuality has in our daily lives.
Critically acclaimed biographer Thomas Maier offers an unprecedented look at Masters and Johnsons pioneering studies, and the sexual revolution they inspired. With revealing interviews and access to confidential documents, "Masters of Sex" offers a titillating portrait of this legendary couple -- the notoriously private William Masters, who abandoned his family for fame, and the equally ambitious Virginia Johnson, who championed the idea of equality in the bedroom amid her own quest for true love. Before Carrie Bradshaw, Gloria Steinem and Dr. Ruth, Virginia Johnson showed American women how to think independently for themselves in matters of sex. With both humor and tragedy, this groundbreaking book reflects on the eternal mysteries of desire and intimacy, and sheds new light on Masters and Johnsons complicated role in defining what Americans think of love.
Thomas Maier is the author of The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings, which was adapted into a Warner Home Video documentary in 2008, and the critically acclaimed Dr. Spock: An American Life, which was a 1998 New York Times Notable Book of the Year.
Thomas Maier has written the intimate, engaging biography that Masters and Johnson deserve. The more we know about the physiology of arousal, the better we can enjoy the uniquely human experience of sex for pleasure. Masters and Johnson showed tremendous courage in their research.—Hugh Hefner, editor in chief, Playboy
The subject of this book—sex and love—should interest just about everyone. As a bonus, Thomas Maier is a very fine writer, an accomplished biographer, and an astute reporter. If you read only one biography this year, it should be this first-ever look at the secretive lives of Masters and Johnson.—Nelson DeMille, bestselling author of The Gold Coast and The Gate House.
"No novelist could come up with something as remarkable as the real life story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the married experts giving advice to America on sex and love. With insightful reporting and writing, Thomas Maier has captured this extraordinary relationship between these male and female sex researchers, a legacy that transformed the way couples live today."- Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer, author of "Sex for Dummies"