Sexual response -- From Rush Limbaugh to Helen Gurley Brown, critics comment on Madonna's book, ''Sex''

By EW Staff
Updated November 06, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

What do the sexperts and other behaviorists make of Sex? Here’s what a few commentators on manners and mores had to say after seeing it for the first time:

*NANCY FRIDAY (author, My Secret Garden) She’s a living testament to the fact that women control sex….In this crazy time in history (with the religious right threatening certain freedoms), thank God we have Madonna. She is the Lee Iacocca of her field and turns out a better automobile every year — and this is this year’s model.

*RUSH LIMBAUGH (radio commentator) Given the controversy raging in the New York public-school system regarding sex instruction, I think they have found their first-grade textbook. But where were the condoms?

*JOYCE BROTHERS (psychologist) When you are a true feminist, you want power not for power’s sake but you want to accomplish something….Here, her power is used to exploit, and I think it’s kind of sad if young women use her as a role model — I mean, what are you emulating? You’re emulating a rich slut.

*DAVID M. SMITH (executive director, L.A. chapter, GLAAD) This book is great and I hope it gives the Reverend Donald Wildmon another heart attack…(but) the majority of gays and lesbians are completely into ”vanilla” sex — this is going to be just as shocking to them.

*HELEN GURLY BROWN (editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan) I am crazy about Madonna — she is talented, gutsy, interesting, non-stuffy, hardworking. I am a fan — but the book is just too hard-core for me. I like things to be a little softer and more romantic, not so brash and explicit — plus, her partners wouldn’t all be my choices.

*ROBERT KNIGHT (director, cultural studies, the conservative think tank Family Research Council) You know what adult bookstores do to neighborhoods? Madonna is the adult bookstore in our culture; she drags down the entire neighborhood.

*BOB GUCCIONE (publisher, Penthouse) The book is a tour de force of popular sexual fantasies but it’s really a philosophical book. Because she’s an American icon, everything she does is interesting — maybe for five minutes, and maybe not much longer than five minutes.

*ROBIN BYRD (host of exotic-dance shows on New York City cable TV) The book is interesting, but I’m not learning anything. Well, that’s not fair: I’m learning I should be in the book business and not doing cable TV.

Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Giselle Benatar, Rick Marin