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Sound Sexual Advice

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Robert Scheer

In the Mood Music: Choosing the right kind of sexy musical accompaniment to doing it is a matter of both style and substance, because often what you hear has something to do with what you get.

Music to have sex by really is a case of whatever turns you on

By Lori Leibovich

IF GREAT SEX HAD a soundtrack, what would it be? For my neighbors, it's Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." When their juices start to flow, they drown out the moans and "Oh, God!"s with Jimmy Page's riffs and Robert Plant's wail. I don't get it.

To me, Led Zeppelin only evokes one thing: bad high school sex, when Led Zeppelin served as the backdrop to many forgettable nights of vain attempts at fighting off bionic-tongued boys. Just hearing it through the wall makes me wince.

A sex soundtrack is whatever gets you off at that moment when there's no turning back, and it should reflect the kind of sex you're having or want to have. Prince won't work for a tender love-making session, and it would be hard to do a strip tease to Van Morrison. Despite the best efforts of soft-sounds radio and Barry White's publicist, sexual soundtracks are not absolute. In fact, music that is explicitly sexual is often a turnoff.

"As long as you've been with your lover long enough that he can laugh at the joke of having sex to 'Let's Get It On' or 'Sexual Healing,' then Marvin Gaye is great," says my pal Jennifer.

"Music that talks about sex--or worse, includes sound effects--is the least likely to get me in the mood," says my buddy Eric. "I'm too busy laughing."

Surprisingly, most of my peers believe that music that produces giggles--not grunts--can be the most powerful aphrodisiac. "My old girlfriend and I used to play what we called 'steamy high school prom music circa 1983'--stuff like Peaches and Herb singing 'Reunited' or 'Babe' by Styx," says another friend. "It was pretty perverse, and maybe a little too ironic, but definitely fun."

One acquaintance says that for awhile, foreplay for her and her boyfriend included listening to Wings or Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits. "It made us feel like we were starring in a cheesy '70s movie, and for whatever reason, that turned us on." sex

My practical friend Molly says that when she has sex with a new partner, she chooses one of her favorite albums--standbys like REM's Murmur or Elvis Costello's This Years Model. Molly figures, "That way, if the sex is bad, at least it's guaranteed I'll enjoy something."

The success of mood music also depends on its sustainability--does it sound sexy before, during and after climax? Sure, it's nice to hump along to Fishbone when you're on your knees, but what about afterward, when you want to lie still and listen to your lover's racing heart?

Erotic melodies should provide ebbs and flows--along with eruptions. Al Green covers this landscape, as does Sarah McLachlan or any musician that moves you to caress, scratch and suck your partner's flesh all during the course of one album.

One of the hardest moods to set is that awkward "What next?" moment when you're finally alone with the person you've been craving. Drinks have been poured, and now music must be strategically chosen. Crucial moments like these require voices that convey subtle innuendo. Cassandra Wilson, Nina Simone, Morphine and the Cowboy Junkies come to mind--artists who provide enough groove, rhythm and twang to set the stage for conquest.

Boundless, primal sex deserves a backdrop, not a script. Jazz and classical work well when you want your own moans and professions of love to be the lyrics. Almost any Miles Davis albums will do, especially Sketches of Spain. "I dated a woman for years who couldn't orgasm without Gustav Mahler's First Symphony," confesses my neighbor Herb, a violinist and classical music aficionado. "That's my suggestion."

For the sweaty, smelly, business of hard-core screwing, best to dive into bed with some blues by B.B. King or Ben Harper. The blues also do the trick when you find yourself in bed with your ex or someone else equally wrong for you. PJ Harvey's "To Bring You My Love" has plenty of creepy, combustive refrains and enough references to God to make you feel sufficiently naughty.

If you're feeling particularly self-destructive, switch on Everything But The Girl's Walking Wounded. It will remind you why you broke up in the first place.

Having solo sex also calls for sensual scene-setting. Though the men I spoke with say they almost never take the time to flick on the CD player before greasing up, my female friends say that turning on the stereo was synonymous with revving up the vibrator.

"I like listening to feminists like Liz Phair or Ani DiFranco while I touch myself," says a female cousin who doesn't even want me to assign her a fake name. "I fantasize about dominating a man physically while wooing him with my feminine guiles." (This relative is Southern.)

Another advantage to turning on the tunes along with your magic wand: The music drowns out the buzzing, making it easier to forget that you're romantically entwined with a machine.

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From the February 13-19, 1997 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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