Sat10252014

     Subscribe  |  Contact  |  Advertise  |  RSS Feed Other Publications

Wednesday, 22 February 2006 00:00

Undressing: Sex, scandal and character

Written by 

Campus Sexpot: A Memoir! by David Carkeet. The University of Georgia Press, 2005. 137 pages.

Before I was 10 pages into this “memoir,” Campus Sexpot, I found myself carried back to a little town in Georgia where I began teaching in 1958.

 

At that time the local newspapers were filled with news about a scandalous novel written about the town of Rome, Ga., and the sexual peccadilloes of its inhabitants. The author, Calder Willingham, had created a furor because his characters were so thinly disguised; their identities were readily evident to the citizens of Rome. Eternal Fire wrecked a lot of lives. Several teachers at a local church-supported college resigned and vanished, and a significant number of “respected” folks suddenly left town (including Willingham’s family). Like Dale Koby, the author of the sleazy, 1962 potboiler, Campus Sexpot, which scandalized David Carkeet’s hometown of Sonora, Calif., Willingham went on to write more shocking novels. However, there is one significant difference: Willingham became a highly successful Hollywood writer with a penchant for southern decadence; Koby wrote a series of soft-porn exposes, began to drink to excess, and never rose above the designation of hack writer.

David Carkeet was a sophomore when Dale Koby, an English teacher at Sonora High School, suddenly left town “under a cloud.” A few months later Koby published Campus Sexpot, and Carkeet, along with the majority of Sonora, acquired smuggled copies and began reading about Koby’s sexual exploits while teaching high school English. Carkeet’s initial shock caused him to burn the book in the backyard; however, it also gave him a new perspective. Suddenly, he looked at his teachers and his fellow students with an awareness of their worldliness. Yikes! While he was poring over Playboy magazines, all of these people had been “doing it!” To add insult to injury, according to the ex-teacher, Dale Koby, they had been doing so “with wild abandon.”

Campus Sexpot: A Memoir! proves to be a hilarious, nostalgic and poignant re-evaluation – not only of a trashy little sexploitation novel that carried the original title, but also of the book’s impact on the life of Carkeet, who is now a successful writer himself.

Carkeet revisits his rites of passage in the ‘60’s when Campus Sexpot served as a poor, hands on reference book – not only was it a poor source of information; it also gave Carkeet distorted and colorful misconceptions about sexuality. Females in Campus Sexpot were capable of “wild frenzies of delight, twisting and screaming with glee.”

Carkeet came to believe that all a teenage boy had to do was acquire a car, “drive, park, find your date’s ignition and turn her on.” Such an idea made Carkeet uncomfortable since it suggested that sexually aroused girls were subject to uncontrollable spasms, much like an epileptic seizure – when aroused, they suddenly became “Mustang Sally” bucking and screaming in the back seat.

In addition, Carkeet found Campus Sexpot woefully lacking in descriptive details. Either due to the rigors of censorship in the ‘60’s or the author’s poor writing ability, the book revealed very little about the actual “mechanics of sex.” Also, Koby’s descriptions never provided details about the behavior of males. Did they writhe and squeal, too? In addition, Koby was evasive about naked flesh, leaving Carkeet to wonder if the dirty deed was accomplished while the couple was fully clothed.

Finally, the profoundly frustrated Carkeet found that Campus Sexpot not only failed to inform him – it also lead to considerable disillusionment since none of his high school encounters bore any resemblance to the torrid episodes in Koby’s book. There were no “animal cries of delight,” and “dams of passion” did not break. Instead, there was only inept fumbling, guilt and a few, too brief spasms of pleasure – all of which left Carkeet feeling that he had not experienced “the real thing.”

However, David Carkeet uses this comical romp through his coming of age years to deal with a much more serious subject: his dysfunctional family.

As he reviews his own frustration in struggling with the rigors of conforming to social restraints in school, he realizes that his father and mother were victims too. In retrospect, he also understands that his parents were not happy. Carkeet’s father, a municipal judge was an alcoholic who neglected his family and often indicated his disillusionment with his life. Carkeet’s mother attempted to cope with the disintegration of her family but refused to acknowledge what was happening and retained an irrational optimism about everything.

In effect, Carkeet and his parents were all trapped in the social constraints of the ‘60’s – the era of “Leave It to Beaver.”

Only when the author reviews his own troubled adolescence does he acquire an insight into his mother’s denial and silent suffering as she cooks and tends to the needs of her dysfunctional family. In retrospect, Carkeet realizes that they shared a common bond: their inability to break the rules and defy convention.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Read 227 times

Media

blog comments powered by Disqus