I loved the zebras, the cheetahs, the fruit flies, the octopi and the rest. But The Nature of Sex “climaxed” with a species I’d never heard of before, “bonobos,” which the narrator also called by their Latin/scientific name Pan paniscus. I knew “Pan” as classical Greek mythology’s horned and horny god of the wild, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. But when the bonobos started swinging onto my screen, well… what can I say? Today, I’ve got a whole book’s worth of stuff to say, but back then, I couldn’t utter a word. Imagine looking into an evolutionary funhouse mirror and seeing a side of yourself you’ve never seen before, shocking yet deeply familiar. “Who are these vibrant, joyful creatures that look so much like me, only hairier?” I wondered. “And what’s with all the sex?” They weren’t just going at it for procreation. They were engaging in sex for recreation and interpersonal communication, very much like humans, but without the pretense, hypocrisy and shame. I got very excited, but no, I still didn’t want to have sex with them. I wanted to have sex like them (at least occasionally), in that playful yet deeply meaningful way of theirs I started calling the Bonobo Way. But would it keep our sex life out of the dreaded sinkhole? Only time would tell.
Mommy, Daddy, what are they doing?” a little girl asked, watching the bonobos play. Her forehead and palms were pressed against the glass, as if she thought she could break on through to the other side and join them if only she pushed hard enough.“Looks like they need private time!” her father barked back, steering the girl away from the window as her mother brightly proposed, “Let’s go see the hippos!” Not everybody is quite ready for the Bonobo Way, and far be it from me to push it on anyone, especially some stressed-out parents at the zoo. On the other hand, maybe they’re more ready than they realize. Ready or not, its moment has come. The time is now for human beings to step up to the plate and protect our kissing cousins from extinction, as well as learn as much as we can from them about our noblest and kinkiest characteristics, our capacity for peace (even world peace) through pleasure, more satisfying relationships, better communication, hotter sex and deeper love.
Like my prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors, I hit the road fairly often in my footloose youth. From Yale’s Dramat to Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas, from the tantric ashrams of Kathmandu to the libertine scenes of the Côte D’Azur and deep down into the dungeons of New York’s aptly named meat-packing district, I searched and researched sex, love and the politics of pleasure (mostly among humans)...All of that searching and researching climaxed when I met my favorite research subject, who turned into my primary research partner and “prime mate,” my charming Prince Max. Unlike so many sex researchers who fall in and out of love (with their research as well as each other), we’re still researching, still married and, almost three decades later, more in love than ever thanks to a little bit of luck and the Bonobo Way.
Lana is a voluptuous brunette with a seductive smile and big, sparkling, cocoa eyes. Flirtatious and fun-loving, she has a couple of boyfriends, but enjoys her gal pals just as much, if not more. Though she loves to party and play practical jokes, she’s a conscientious mom and respected leader in her community. Gentle yet assertive, she can be fierce when crossed, but she’s also quick to forgive, turning hostility into harmony with remarkable empathy and a playful flair. In many ways, she’s just like a lot of wonderful women we all know. But Lana is not a woman, nor even human. Lana is a bonobo.