Pushing America's Sexual Frontiers
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The sexual revolution rocked America in 1969 but its seeds had been sewn decades earlier when G.I.s returned from WWII. Opposition to the war in Vietnam radicalized the baby boomers. Hippies were born at the corner of Haight and Ashbury.
Hippies experienced sexual freedom at Haight and Ashbury. They danced, sang, loved, and thought freely. Much of this was fueled by a drug called LSD. People describe the experience of sex on LSD as infinite joy.
Press Coverage of Free Love
Hippies at Haight and Ashbury got rid of repressed attitudes by having lots of sex. This was frowned upon by officials who ran San Francisco. It was not a liberal city and police cracked down. The sexual revolution collapsed under its own weight.
Spreading Sexual Revolution
In 1969 the kids who came to Haight and Ashbury were different than those who had come before. Alcohol and speed hit the neighborhood bringing violence and rape. The hippies moved on but they took their new attitudes with them.
Marketing the Sexual Revolution
On January 18, 1969 "Playboy after Dark" made its television debut hosted by Hugh Hefner. An early guest was one of the hippie youth culture's most public faces, Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead.
Men's Magazine Market
Playboy's monthly circulation peaked at 7 million in the early 1970s. In 1969 Hugh Hefner faced stiff competition from a rival magazine. It was publishing history when pubic hair was shown in Penthouse.
Hugh Hefner grew up in a time when most forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were illegal. The only moral and legal purpose was procreation. He had an idea for a world in which men and women were free to enjoy sex without shame or fear.
The Playboy Philosophy
Hugh Hefner says he reinvented himself when he started Playboy Magazine. He marketed a vision of sexual entitlement to men. He cushioned his images of women with good writing, advice, and advertising.
Soundtrack of the Sexual Revolution
In the 1960s songs of passion and the artists who sang them took the revolution's message to America's youth. Audiences were outraged when Jim Morrison of The Doors exposed his penis and encouraged concert goers to get naked.
Jim Morrison Nudity Scandal
Jim Morrison was convicted of profanity and indecent exposure after allegedly exposing his penis at a concert in Dade County, Florida. He argued that artists and performers should have complete freedom.
Rally for Decency
When Jim Morrison was convicted of profanity and indecent exposure his lawyers appealed but the outraged citizens of Miami, led by Anita Bryant, had already rendered a guilty verdict. This was the start of a counter to the sexual revolution.
Sex on Broadway
In the summer of 1969 the sexual revolution hit Broadway and Reverend Billy Graham hit New York to condemn Times Square as a sinkhole of sin. He was outraged by "Oh! Calcutta!" which put sex and nudity at the center stage of legitimate theater.
Controversy on Broadway
The woman who choreographed "Oh! Calcutta!" recalls all the preparation that went into getting naked and dancing on stage. On opening night the performers feared the show would be shut down by police.
Sexual Revolution on Broadway
Theater history was made when the curtain opened on "Oh! Calcutta!" on June 17, 1969. Despite bad initial reviews the show was a hit. Audiences continued to attend the show for 22 years.
Sexual Revolution in Film
At the 1969 Academy Awards millions watched as Midnight Cowboy was named Best Film. It was the first and last time an x rated film won the top honor. "I Am Curious Yellow" was an artsy foreign film that looked at sexuality and women's issues.
Swinging in America
The success of "I Am Curious Yellow" gave new courage to theater owners. They stopped playing foreign films and began showing pornography under the guise of art cinema. "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" said important things about sex.
Sexual Revolution In Hollywood
In spite of complaints that it didn't go far enough,
"Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" went on to be a major hit. It reflected the reality of the times with the characters struggling to express their newly found sexual freedom.
Repression of Black Males
By the summer of 1969 Black men and women felt free to express themselves. To a new generation of African Americans liberation and sexual revolution went hand in hand. Dangerous stereotypes of Black males were perpetuated in "The Birth of a Nation."
A New Sex Scene
D.W. Griffith used racial and sexual stereotypes to tell a lurid tale. These negative stereotypes would haunt America for over fifty years. In 1969 Jim Brown was a Black leading man with sex appeal, something new to Hollywood.
Black is Beautiful
Jim Brown and "100 Rifles" tapped into one of the most talked about trends of the sexual revolution, Black men with White women. At the same time Black women wore their beauty with a sexy new confidence.
Sandstone Retreat from Society
The sexual revolution gave birth to a new age as men and women gathered and used a combination of group therapy, seminars, sex and drugs to realize their full human potential. In 1969 John and Barbara Williamson aimed to change the world.
New Attitude About Sex
Young filmmaker Jonathan Dana traveled to John and Barbara Williamson's Sandstone retreat, which aimed to remove the feelings of guilt associated with sex.
Sandstone Reflects Society
At Sandstone retreat there were great heights of exploration along with emotional disruption and confusion. After four years John and Barbara Williamson decided the experiment had run its course.
Double Standard in Sexuality
By 1969 some women were beginning to notice that the sexual revolution had turned the entire world into an erotic candy store for heterosexual men. They recognized that sex was at the center of women's oppression.
Women's Liberation Movement
Being seen as nothing more than an object of male desire left a lot of women feeling angry and unfulfilled. Sexual dissidents came together in a new movement called radical feminism. The fight for women's erotic rights was at the top of their agenda.
Protesting Sexual Objectification
Feminists saw the Miss America pageant as a way to get their message out. Many viewers saw the annual contests as a glorification of American femininity but feminists claimed it demeaned women by reducing them to sexual objects.
Dynamics of Heterosexual Sex
The FDA approved the birth control pill in 1960 but there was a cultural presumption about sex that frustrated women. Many didn't know what an orgasm felt like. Women's liberation gave them sexual confidence.
In 1969 New York's Greenwich Village was a haven for artists and beatniks but even in this center of liberalism and free love, gay men and women were still being forced to hide and meet on the wrong side of the law.
A new gay community was rising up at Stonewall. When police arrived at the club in 1969 its patrons were in no mood to be targeted and oppressed. Four nights of riots ensued.
Legacy of the Revolution
The Gay Liberation Front urged others to come "out" and demand equal rights. They wanted the right to be sexual without shame. People still come together to celebrate the freedom that began with the Stonewall riots.
Credits: Sex in ‘69: Sexual Revolution in America
Credits: Sex in ‘69: Sexual Revolution in America