When it was first published in 1972, Dr. Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex wasn’t just a revelation, it sparked a revolution. Much of this was due to its frank tone in discussing sex and desire — and its explicit illustrations. Designed like a cookbook, Joy aimed to turn heterosexual couples who were the sexual equivalent of amateur cooks into master sex chefs.
In 1991, nine years before his death, Comfort revised the book to respond to the changing times. In 2008, an even newer edition was published, including additions and edits by British relationship expert Susan Quilliam.
Quilliam’s intent was to focus more on female pleasure, which was sidelined in Comfort’s earlier versions. She also removed some of the more controversial passages and updated the illustrations to feature a more modern (less hairy) couple. Even with these changes, the book remains focused on heterosexual couples and defines a person with male sex organs as a man and a person with female sex organs as a woman. The book has been translated into 22 languages, and the American edition spent six and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list.