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Writer/director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) explores the life of the pioneer of human sexuality research, Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson), whose landmark studies on sexual behavior rocked a nation. Over six decades, Kinsey subjected his life and his researchers to the same type of analysis that produced his 1948 best-selling book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. While the Kinsey team's focus was predominantly outward, what they learned about themselves was as great as what they taught their country. Co-starring Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Tim Curry, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow and Peter Sarsgaard.


Dr. Alfred Kinsey knew something about sex. He came to this knowledge in a most basic way: he talked to people. A simple, revolutionary idea first hatched over sixty years ago. Kinsey and his team of researchers criss-crossed the country collecting data on the sexual activities of what he liked to call “the human animal.” Then they shared that information in a ground-breaking study, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which was first published in 1948.The world would never be the same. Getting people to open up about the most intimate aspect of their lives was not a simple proposition. Kinsey developed an interviewing method that was based on strict anonymity. All answers were recorded in a cryptic code on a single sheet of paper which was divided into 287 boxes. Kinsey would ease in with innocuous questions—age, religion, education, and occupation—before moving on to early sexual experiences—masturbation, dreams, etc. As subjects began to relax, he would shift to one of the most revealing aspects of a person’s sexuality—erotic arousal. Kinsey felt that he could often learn more about a person’s sexual nature from what they thought about than the actual activity they allowed themselves to engage in.

The questions on arousal start as you might expect:

  • Are you aroused sexually by thinking of females? Males? Both?
  • Are you aware of any physiologic changes in your body? Is there warm skin, deep breathing, rapid pulse?

The questions continue along these lines, gradually becoming more specific:

  • Are you aroused sexually by seeing females and/or males in a social situation, like walking down the street or in a room?
  • Are you aroused sexually by reading romantic love stories in books or magazines?
  • Are you aroused sexually by listening to music?
  • Are you aroused sexually by motion; that is, by riding in an automobile or bus or on a train or horse?
  • Are you aroused by odors or smells?
  • Are you aroused sexually by seeing yourself nude in the mirror?

One of Kinsey’s most effective techniques was to assume that the answer to every question was yes. This gives the subject permission to report on experiences they might not otherwise want to reveal.

  • Are you aroused sexually by seeing two animals have intercourse together?

Another technique was to take on the vocabulary and speech patterns of the interview subject. Kinsey could talk to anyone—housewives, farmers, prison inmates, even actors. He interviewed the entire original cast of A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as the replacement cast.

So here you are, art house patron, thumbing through this magazine while you wait for the inevitable NPR trailer to begin. Like any other subculture you have a specific sexual identity, one we’d like to know more about. So please, take a moment to fill out this questionnaire. Because there isn’t a lot of time, we’ve skipped over the introductory questions and gone right to the section on sexual arousal. (Be warned—many subjects have discovered that giving a sex history can be as illuminating as ten years of psychoanalysis.)

  1. Do you own a DVD copy of Salò or Auto Focus? What about The Piano Teacher? Camp?
  2. If so, do you watch them in the nude?
  3. Were you disappointed when Control Room turned out to be a serious documentary about Al-Jazeera and not the sado-masochistic fantasia you were expecting?
  4. Is the sight of Ewan McGregor’s penis still able to arouse you sexually, even after seeing it in over 100 films?
  5. Were you aroused sexually by seeing Hope Davis vomit while kissing Paul Giamatti?
  6. Does the mention of the word ‘Chloë’ or ‘Sevigny’ cause any physiologic changes in your body? Is there warm skin, deep breathing, rapid pulse?
  7. What about ‘Vincent?’ ‘Gallo?’
  8. Were you aroused sexually by seeing Christian Bale attempt an American accent in American Psycho? What about Laurel Canyon, or The Machinist?
  9. Are you aroused sexually by sitting in a broken seat while eating art house popcorn?
  10. Are you aroused sexually by hearing an exotic woman inform you in five languages that the language of film is universal?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then hurry back to see Kinsey, which will be opening soon at a theater near you. Liam Neeson plays the good doctor and Laura Linney is his wife, with Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard and Tim Hutton as his dedicated team of sex researchers.