Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The GroupSex Scene


The GroupSex Scene, by John F. Trimble, PhD.
October, 1971 Pinnacle Books

My wife and I occasionally go to estate sales, and while she looks at the antiques and etc I look through the vinyl LPs and the books. This being Dallas, the books are usually either Bibles or Christian-themed publications, but sometimes I come across some genuine wheat among the chaff. Late this past May was a prime example; beneath a pile of the usual glurge and Bibles, I discovered a cache of hidden trash gold: pristine paperback copies of Jacqueline Susann's The Love Machine, a trashy beach-read of a novel titled Charades by someone named Victoria Kellrich, The Sensuous Woman by "J" (one I've wanted to check out for a long time), and, most importantly, The GroupSex Scene, by one John F. Trimble, PhD.

Posing as legitimate sex research from a noted psychiatrist, the book is really nothing but trash fiction gussied up with some psuedo-intellectual commentary from the (nonexistant) Dr. Trimble -- who, I discovered after a bit of research, was in reality just the psuedonym of an author named Roger Blake. Under the Trimble psuedonym Blake published a slew of "nonfiction" sex research books, with such unforgettable titles as Cunnilingus and Fellatio, Female Bestiality, and Auto-Erotic Activities. I doubt I'll ever hunt any of these down; it appears that most of the Trimble books go for hefty prices these days, and I was lucky to get my copy of The GroupSex Scene for a whopping fifty cents.

Of course, I could be wrong about this and the material in The GroupSex Scene really is the first-hand accounts of a married couple who get involved with the swinging scene, with Blake a real doctor who covered himself professionally by publishing under a pseudonym. But that would be very hard to believe. This book reads just like fiction, given over to long first-hand accounts from our two protagonists, a couple named Don and Lorraine. They take turns relating the story of how they were swept up into the erotic world of swinging and group sex, with Trimble delivering a "commentary" every few chapters with his thoughts.

One thing about the book is that it fails a bit as far as description goes. I'm not just talking about the sex; characters are rarely described other than incidental details like hair or eye color. Very little attention is paid to locations or settings; I was hoping for a sex-filled trawl into the height of the groovy era, but other than a few sentences here and there, Trimble pays little attention to such things. Instead he focuses on the sexual antics of his two characters, but this too is rendered a bit flat due to the fact that everything is relayed in clinical terms...honestly, I don't think you'll ever see the words "penis" or "vagina" used more frequently in a book.

The book starts off promising, but soon becomes a tiresome trawl of sex scenes, with Don and Lorraine rushing off to meet some new swinging couple, clinically-related sex ensuing. But again, at the start it's not bad -- during vacation Lorraine discovers that Don has cheated on her (quite often) in the past. Instead of filing for divorce, Lorraine starts to think that she should even the score; opportunity presents itself a few nights later while Lorraine is visiting the neighbors, an attractive couple who, it turns out, is into swinging. Don comes home from work to find the group playing strip poker, and pretty soon it's time for some mate-swapping, the whole thing very much like that short-lived CBS series Swingtown from a few years back.

The next-door couple turn out to be gurus of what's being called "GroupSex," which is used throughout the text synonomously with swinging. Though sometimes "Groupsex" is what Don and Lorraine aspire to -- ie good old-fashioned orgies. But anyway after the gateway drug that is their neighbors (who soon conveniently move, allowing Trimble to branch out the narrative with new characters), Don and Lorraine become mad for it. Honestly, they're almost vapid in their static mindset of sex, sex, sex. A third of the way through the tale Lorraine even admits her concern that their "lives were becoming just about sex." But of course she quickly brushes off this concern and tells us all about their next sexual conquest.

As mentioned, the sex scenes are a little boring, mostly because they're so constant. It's funny though that Trimble has Lorraine develop lesbian tendencies, mostly so he can continue to write from a male's perspective while in her scenes. What I'm saying is, in the sexual exploits recounted from Lorraine's point of view, you get little feel of realism, mostly because Trimble's a male author and is more comfortable doling out details from Don's point of view. So then, all he has to do is have Lorraine suddenly find girls attractive, and tada -- soon enough Lorraine too is telling us how fabulous some other woman's breasts are, or how she is in bed.

Over the course of this sexual odyssey we have a redneck couple who like to film sex; a conman who poses as a husband with a sick wife so he can take advantage of the wives of swingers; a Swedish beauty who is more attracted to Lorraine but gives herself half-heartedly to Don; a well-off swinging couple who shock Don and Lorraine by revealing that they are in their late thirites, and thus "old;" and finally a genuine orgy club, "Group X," which scouts out Don and Lorraine via their swinger magazine ads and invites them to join -- that is, after Don and Lorraine have had sex with the committee judges.

Trimble does capture the decadent feel of the sexual revolution, of a time long gone. Everyone smokes, everyone drinks. Kids are just wall decoration, not the center of the world like they are today, and thus they are immaterial to the plot. Don and Lorraine have two kids, a boy and a girl both under ten years old. All told, I think these kids garner maybe four lines of text. Usually they're being "sent off to Grandma's," or "staying with friends." It's pretty funny because Don and Lorraine show absolutely zero interest in their kids, and indeed they come off as deterents on the road toward GroupSex. I found this humorous, especially when viewed from the perspective of the "kids are everything" world we currently live in.

The novel ends with Trimble himself attending an orgy with Don and Lorraine. This sequence is probably the highlight, as Trimble (still clothed) watches on as the various swingers engage in all sorts of shenanigans, Trimble relaying the details with total observational detachment. It's by far the funniest scene in the book, with Trimble putting quotation marks around the various phrases and situations, as if he's some anthropoligist witnessing the mating habits of a bizarre tribe, deep in the jungle.

What I most took away from the book was how vapid the two protagonists were. Don and Lorraine are not memorable at all, and while the swingers they meet are at times fun (or even bizarre), the two serve to put a haze of blandness over the proceedings. You definitely get a glimpse into the swinging world of the early '70s, but it seems to me that Trimble mostly did his "research" by reading actual news publications (most of them quoted) and looking at swinger magazines. But still, the book was certainly worth the fifty cents I paid for it.

1 comment:

Bob Milne said...

I love it when books like this crop up at estate or garage sales. The dusty old box of books sitting in the corner is always the first thing I head for. Never found anything quite like this, but I did find some old
Russ Martin titles a few weeks back.