Review of Nina Hartley's Guide to Foreplay

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This is one of the best "how-to" videotapes on sexuality that I've seen for quite a while. "Nina Hartley's Guide to Foreplay" is positive, fun, erotic, truthful, and practical.

This videotape covers topics such as how to help your partner feel comfortable and attractive, kissing, touching, communication, flirting, genital massage on a woman and g-spot play, massaging the clitoris, using vibrators, fellatio, masturbating a penis, erotic talk, etc. Basically, it covers all the common sexual activities except for intercourse, cunnilingus, and anal play. I especially appreciated the fact that it handled asking your partner questions about sexuality and what they like in a way that doesn't become clinical or invasive.

This tape would be perfect viewing for an SHS movie night if we ever start having them again. I feel that as an organization, and also in terms of our web page, we've been pretty strong in terms of sexual technique and resources and weak in some of the areas of sexuality that are the most important for many folks. This is perhaps inevitable, as it's hard to convey a "style" or "tone of voice" just in print and much easier to talk about toys, web page addresses, specific techniques, books, etc. Anyway, suffice it to say this tape covers very nicely some of the "softer" parts of sex that I wish I could convey better through writing.

This tape is divided into four parts. The first part features a woman named Midori and her boyfriend. For the most part, Midori's boyfriend lies behind her during this segment, acting in a reassuring fashion, while Nina Hartley demonstrates her approach to foreplay with women by conversation and demonstration with Midori.

The second part of this tape co-stars a different couple (apparently friends of Nina Hartley) and features a man named Michael playing the role that Midori did in the first part of the tape. In this segement some good points were made about the differences between men and women in terms of what they commonly prefer in terms of foreplay, and also some good points about men allowing themselves to feel "receptive."

The third part of the tape demonstrates a group massage session, similar to what I have talked about at various points on this list (brought on as a fantasy caused by Michael's partner reading a copy of Betty Dodson's book Sex for One); the group massage session is abbreviated, and wasn't accompanied by discussion or sound other than music, but was still nice to see.

The fourth and final part of this tape breaks away from talking to the viewer, and instead lets the viewer watch Nina Hartley and Michael in a fictional scenario in which they go from getting home after a date to talking about what they like to having foreplay to... Well, you'll have to watch the tape. Anyway, it incorporates a lot of the communication elements talked about in the first two parts of the tape, and like most of the rest of the tape was pretty erotic to boot.

I have only four complaints about this tape. For a large part of the segment where Nina is demonstrating genital massage on Michael, the camera is focussed on Nina's face and you can't see what her hands are doing; the camera does eventually back out, so this problem didn't persist. In my opinion in Michael's segment a few comments about safer sex would have been welcome. Finally, I think that the tape could have emphasized a bit more how one may comfortably request a change in what is going on if what is going on isn't comfortable for you, and (conversely) how one may receive such feedback in the spirit in which it was offered (i.e. not getting weird about it). But none of these are big deals; intelligent people should be able to fill in the blanks.

In any case, I would like to salute Nina Hartley for making this videotape: it is a high-quality and important contibution to sex education in this country.

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