Last night I was having dinner with my college roommate and for some reason the conversation turned to old swinger couples. My friend started talking pretty expertly on the subject and when she saw my eyebrow raise a bit, she quickly muttered under her breath, “I know this from…um…an episode of…[cough] Real Sex.” To which I shouted, “DUDE, I LOVE REAL SEX!!!” a little too loudly, which out of context is not appropriate to shout in a Cheesecake Factory.
I’ve had this exact same conversation with countless people (normally not in a Cheesecake Factory setting) and I wonder if HBO knows what a crucial role they played in the sexual education of an entire generation of kids who watched it on mute in their parent’s basement.
Remember when you were 12 and you were home on a Saturday night, bored senseless because you didn’t clean your room so you couldn’t have a sleepover, so you’re just looking at the TV guide channel hoping something good is on and you see Real Sex is coming on at like 11:30? That moment might trump how I felt the first time I saw my presents under the Christmas tree. The worst is when you get excited because “Real S-" is coming on in a few hours, so you stay up for the sole purpose of watching it and it turns out to be Real Sports with Bryant Gumble. That is the ultimate buzz kill. I did not stay up for two hours to watch Bob Costas with a very special report on Jackie Robinson’s daughter, thank you very much.
I have no idea what it is about watching soft-core 90’s porn that’s so fascinating, but it really is. On one level, it was kind of hot. It was on really late; was always prologued with HBO’s warning, This Show Contains: adult situations; nudity; adult language and—gasp—sensuality. Finally, it was the closest thing to porn you could access at such a young age (unless you were super futuristic and had the internet. Or if you found your parents’ porn stash, which I imagine to be more unsettling than anything else.) But once you take away the glamor of the forbidden, Real Sex is less hot and more disturbing because the show is exactly what it says it is—real sex. It’s pretty much just watching your neighbors have freak-nasty sex, and honestly, that’s a dish nobody at this table ordered.
But still, I'd like to thank HBO for molding my sexual identity with such memorable Real Sex segments as:
- Swingerfest: I watched this episode again recently for old time’s sake, and Jesus Christ on ice skates it’s disgusting. If you couldn’t tell from the title, Swingerfest is an event where a bunch of middle-aged white trash in campers get together and have group sex in the woods. Here, I’ll save you the trouble of watching it: picture that gym teacher whose mustache always made you feel uncomfortable in middle school. Now picture any given waitress at a rest stop Denny’s. Now picture them having sex on a trampoline and multiply that by 20. Now go stab yourself in the heart.
- Latex Love:
The best part of this segment is obviously the Baroness, a dominatrix who looks like Molly Shannon with the world’s most intense mullet ever wearing an oversized condom for a shirt. She basically walks around a conference room of people wearing latex clothing, spraying them with Pam and shinning them up like a brand new penny. I remember being specifically disturbed by the Baroness’ so-called Sucky Bed; two layers of latex a person is sandwiched between as the air is vacuumed out so they're hermetically sealed with a small breathing tube. If having panic attacks were sexy, I’d be so into this.
- Punani Poetry: This segment manages to combine two things I really hate—slam poetry and people repeatedly saying the word “pussy.”
- Macbeth in the Nude: This was one of the most boring segments ever. It’s about a town somewhere (Florida? Georgia?) where they ban nudity in private establishments unless it’s for artistic purposes, so a group of strippers half ass (no pun intended) a few acts of Macbeth topless. Bo-ring...
- The Blow Job Teacher: Before Andy Dick taught the girls in Old School how to give a good BJ, this woman did it on Real Sex. This episode produced the classic moment where the prim and proper looking teacher squeezes her practice penis’ balls and says, “This ladies, this is the heartbeat of America.”
- Pony Play: Because what ISN’T sexy about pretending you’re a horse and your husband is your trainer? Well, I guess the whole pretending you’re a horse and your husband is your trainer thing. I watched this episode for the first time a few summers ago with Blair and we were both equally disturbed. He still gets freaked out when I whinny at him (which I’ve discovered I can do disturbingly well.) I think my favorite part of this segment is the guy with the ridiculously long blonde ponytail who insists, “I’m a Parisian war pony!” Well hose me down and feed me a carrot!
Real Sex, take 5, that’s a wrap!