the book...

From tribal religious rituals to the Playboy mansion, and from ancient Rome to Burning Man, Plays Well in Groups explores the phenomenon of group sex. Author Katherine Frank draws on surveys, ethnographic research, participant interviews, and more to provide explanations for both participation in group sex and our complex reactions to it, from fascination to fear. The book looks at group sex across cultures—who has it, and why.


Group sex is almost always taboo and often criminalized, and yet it persists across cultures throughout history. Plays Well in Groups looks at the symbolism of orgies, as well as contemporary manifestations of group sex in bathhouses and public sex venues, at BDSM and swinging parties, on Craigslist, and in political scandals, Tantra classes, reality television, and more. Frank explores the many reasons people participate in group sex, from arousal to spiritual transcendence, in this bold study of subversive sexuality.

the news...  

 top 10 most provocative books out in May, 2013-- Creative Loafing, Tampa, FL 

the reviews...  

 From Publisher's Weekly

"Frank (G-Strings and Sympathy) views the history of and cultural fixation on group sex through the dual binoculars of outsider-curiosity and insider-experience. A sometime anthropologically-minded stripper, sex party attendee, and convention-goer, Frank provides a lively, extensively researched overview of the stigmatization of group sex across societies and years, thanks not only to the piquant material but to her crisp voice and scene-building prowess. Amid case studies and interviews are well-evidenced, stark observations, such as hers that transgression--up to and including orgies--is ultimately conservative in its social effects." Frank's section covering socially-reinforced shame strikes relevant chords from its focus on victim-blaming in gang rapes to its spotlight on the media's routine portrayal of swingers as frumpy, unwanted, and untouchable. Along with the psychological and cultural, she delves into the biological with a rousing discussion of "sperm competition" and more. Establishing herself as a passionate yet rational voice in the literature of sex, she handles some of our culture's most flinch-inducing topics without sensationalizing or abandoning her academic neutrality. From her examination of swingers' theme parties to her dissection of The Bachelor, Frank takes readers through an anthropological tour de force on a subject that remains controversial, fascinating, and complex. (June)"

 

From Choice Reviews Online 

"Sociologist Frank (American Univ.; G-Strings and Sympathy, 2002) examines the history and cultural fixation on group sex, which she defines as "erotic or sexual activity that implicates more than two people." The author provides much food for thought as she looks at the symbolism of orgies and contemporary manifestations, such as group sex in public sex venues and swinging parties. The book investigates multiple fields of study, including anthropology, biology, psychology, and sociology, in an attempt to explain participation in group sex and the varied reactions to it. Frank is both observer and participant as she explores various group sex situations. Interspersed among the ethnographic research, history, case studies, and interviews, Frank offers glimpses of her own experiences with group sex. Writing well and intelligently without sensationalizing the topic, Frank, maintaining academic neutrality, is the layperson's Virgil, using her intellect and research to illuminate the dimly lit world of group sex. Notes and an extensive bibliography make up the rest of the book, which student researchers will find especially useful. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers to undergraduates through researchers/faculty."  

 

Additional Reviews:  

New York Journal of Books  

Rob Hardy, in The Dispatch 

Jack David Eller, for The Anthropology Review Database 

Curve Magazine, online