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Complete Woman

An interview with Graham Masterton by Complete Woman magazine

COMPLETE WOMAN: How did you gain your experience as a sexual advisor?

MASTERTON: At the age of 21 after training as a news reporter I was appointed Deputy Editor of one of the new rivals to Playboy, a British men's magazine called Mayfair. To compete with Playboy's sexual advice column I created a question-and-answer sex survey called Quest. I would simply interview ordinary people I met around London about their sexual experiences and their sexual fantasies. I also asked them what they would most like to know about sex, and I was taken aback when I discovered how ignorant they were about the physical side of human relationships. It wasn't their fault ? in the mid-1960s that sort of information simply wasn't available to most people and it was still considered 'rude' to discuss sex.

An extraordinary number of women had very little idea about lovemaking and birth control, even in the 'Swinging Sixties', and many of them were very unsure about their own anatomy. I shall never forget the frustrated rage of a 43-year-old married woman I interviewed who had only just discovered that it was possible for women to have orgasms.

Men were equally ignorant. They knew almost nothing about how to please a woman sexually, and very little about their own anatomy. Even this year, when I was researching my new book Up All Night, which concentrates largely on male potency and male performance, I came across an unbelievable number of men who thought that the penis was a muscle and (like the biceps) could be enlarged by frequent exercise. When I told them that it was simply a sausage-skin filled with spongy tissue, and that all the exercise in the world would never make it any bigger, they simply couldn't believe it. (Actually, I think they were somewhat disappointed ? they no longer had an excuse to masturbate.)

Because people in the '60s knew so little about sex, I also started to interview doctors and sexual researchers and psychologists and anybody who had an insight into sexual behavior. I talked to everybody from Masters and Johnson to Xaviera Hollander ('The Happy Hooker'), with a few highly-illuminating diversions in between (such as a hair-raising day spent with Monique von Cleef, the notorious dominatrix, in her house of pain in Holland.)

I also talked to ordinary people who had tried to spice up their sex lives in various different ways, to see how they had managed it, and how successful it had been (or how disastrous!).

I have now been actively interviewing people about their sex lives for over 30 years, as well as keeping up with all the latest developments in sexual therapy. I have published more than a dozen books which explain how to improve your sexual relationships ? mostly by using the anecdotal experiences of men and women who have been searching for the most exciting and satisfying sex ? and found it.

COMPLETE WOMAN: What makes a man good in bed?

MASTERTON: More than anything else, what makes a man good in bed is his consideration for your pleasure. His Number #1 priority should be your excitement and your arousal - by kissing, stroking and licking you and by stimulating you in any other way his imagination can devise. But this is not something that he should do by rote, as if he memorized it from chapter three of How To Tickle A Member of the Opposite Sex. He should make you feel that you are irresistible, and that everything he does in bed is spontaneously fired and inspired by your desirability. Too many men make love as if they are only worried about getting their own rocks off. They are either mechanical or peremptory in their so-called 'foreplay' and they have intercourse as if they are running the 100-yard dash. They make very little attempt to satisfy you properly, or to communicate with you emotionally. The best lovers are those who concentrate on making you feel good, who try to imagine what you are feeling inside as you gradually approach orgasm, and who luxuriate in your orgasm with you when you do eventually climax. As they come too close to a climax, both men and women tend to concentrate selfishly on their own release, but a good lover is somebody who tries to share his feelings, even during the intensity of orgasm ? which he can do by touch, by caress, or by simply telling you that you make him feel amazing.

COMPLETE WOMAN: How can you tell when you first meet him that a man is going to good in bed?

MASTERTON: If a man makes an effort to make you feel desirable in everyday company, then that is an indication that he is going to be appreciative and considerate in bed. If he is polite, keeps good eye-contact, and if he constantly anticipates what you might need (another drink? The door opening for you?) then he is likely to be sensitive to what you need between the sheets. This rule is not entirely infallible, since some men who find you really desirable may react by appearing to be stand-offish, even rude. Men like this often lack the confidence to show their true feelings and - deep down - are often intimidated by attractive women, and feel they have to put them down to compensate. But even men like this will pay you a great deal of personal attention, and once they have gotten over their macho strutting, they can make very good lovers. Small warning, though: men like this, once they have started a sexual relationship with you, can tend to be very possessive.

COMPLETE WOMAN: How can you tell if a man is interested in you sexually?

MASTERTON: There are several quick tests to tell if a man is interested in you sexually. The easiest way is for you to make some kind of physical contact, such as holding his hand. The old chestnut of telling him that you are a natural psychic and that you can read palms always works well, because it gives you an excuse to hold his hand for a lengthy period of time, and trail your fingertips tantalizingly down his heart-line. If he takes his hand away afterward and says "thank you very much, my dear," and goes off to talk to somebody else about Hobbits or car engines, then you know you are likely to be wasting your time. Whispering in his ear is another very erotic act which you can do to men you don't know very well, and which will quickly show you how much you arouse him (if at all.) You don't have to whisper anything very intimate ? a private comment about an office colleague will do ? or even a joking whisper such as 'I really hate your necktie'. But it will give you the chance to get very close, and to touch his face, and to breathe hotly in what British Cockneys call his 'shell-like.'

COMPLETE WOMAN: How can you tell if a man is good in bed by ? the way he drives?

MASTERTON: When it comes to driving, an immediate give-away to a man's abilities in bed is his automobile of choice. His car tells you what a man fantasises about himself ? a generalisation that you can prove for yourself by spotting the disproportionate number of bald men in late middle-age who drive Ferraris and other vehicular penis-substitutes. Traffic congestion and speed limits make it impossible for anybody to drive at more than 20 mph these days, so a high-performance specialist vehicle is a clear indication of sexual vanity. It's the automotive equivalent of overtight pants. A man who drives a $100,000 sports car thinks more about himself than he does about you. Large, flashy SUVs are another indication of men who are using their transportation in an effort to look more virile than they really are. And as for men who drive around in Humvees, they might as well have a placard on the back saying 'I Am Extremely Worried That You Might Think I Have A Small Willy.' Similarly, however, avoid men who drive pathetic low-power save-the-planet-mobiles. They have lost any hunter-killer instincts that make men sexually exciting in bed, and their mothers still buy their underwear. Look for a man who drives a car that is stylish, discreetly powerful and luxurious inside. He enjoys power but he prefers it to be restrained, and he cares about the comfort of his passengers. If he drives responsively but considerately, then he will make love in exactly the same way. He will drive fast but safely ? well up to the speed limit or a little over, on occasions ? but never so fast that he makes you feel frightened. He will start off at green traffic signals quickly and smoothly. He will constantly be checking his rear-view mirror so that he knows what is going on around him. Watch in particular the way he handles the controls ? if he holds the wheel lightly but firmly, then he will hold you the same way. If he yanks at the gear-shift as if he is trying to pry the lid off a can of paint, then he is likely to be awkward and clumsy in bed. More than anything else, watch his parking. If he can parallel-park an 18-foot long Lincoln into a tight space in one controlled movement, then you can be sure that he can park anything large and long into any tight space of his choice with just as much style.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...his table manners?

MASTERTON: Like good love-making, good table-manners are not so much a question of knowing what to do, but doing it with confidence and style, and showing consideration for the sensibilities of the person with whom you're doing it. Men who cram their food down as quickly as possible, barely even chewing it, will have sex with you for the sole purpose of releasing their physical tensions, and (like their semi-masticated hamburger) will hardly taste you as you go down. Men who eat with their mouths open are just as careless about what you think of their physical habits, and will make love the way they always do it, regardless of which positions or variations you prefer, or the fact that you are not overly excited by the sight of their big hairy bottom bouncing up and down in front of your face. On the other hand, beware of the prissy eater ? the constant mouth-wiper, and the man who eats cheeseburgers with a knife-and-fork. You want a man who makes love with gusto, and relishes the taste of vaginal juices as much as oyster-brine. The best test is the spaghetti test ? if a man can eat very long spaghetti with style, without sucking in the last bit so quickly that he gets smacked in the face with sauce, then you know you have found a gourmet in bed.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...his physical fitness?

MASTERTON: A certain amount of reasonable exercise will help a man to be a good lover. It will give him staying-power in bed, and the strength to try all kinds of interesting positions, like making love standing up in the kitchen, like they do in movies (have you ever tried that without falling into the sink?). However I am deeply suspicious of men for whom exercise has become some kind of religion. If they jog and lift weights and buy magazines about developing their pecs then I think that they are showing signs of self-absorption, which is the enemy of creative, sharing sex. Exercise is numbingly boring, and the self-love required to put up with hours and hours of tedium in pursuit of a better-defined body is immense. Similarly, if they like to play squash or tennis and always play aggressively, then they are the kind of men who always need to win, and they will make love fiercely and very physically as if they are in competition. These are the kind of men who will take you mountain-climbing and leave you puffing and panting a hundred feet below them while they go for the summit. Of course you should avoid men who spend every evening slouched on the couch with a neighborhood-size pack of Doritos and a keg of Duff beer, but sex is in the brain as much as the body. Make sure you try the mirror test: when you both undress, does he only have eyes for you, or does he take a sneaky peek at himself, turning his face to his good side and sucking in his stomach?

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...how much he drinks?

MASTERTON: Why men think that drinking large quantities of alcohol is macho I shall never know, because the effect it has on their sexual performance is devastating. Martini drinkers make terrible lovers because martinis are a way of getting blind drunk very quickly, but with a whole lot of fussy ritual and folklore to make it appear socially acceptable. So your martini drinker will tend to be the kind of man who can't face up to the realities of life ? not even to the reality that he can't get an erection because he has drunk five martinis. And, believe me, the only person who will get the blame for his inadequacy in bed will be you. Beer drinkers tend to be better-adjusted, and better-humored, but they tend to be socially and sexually immature, and they are unlikely to give you a very sophisticated time in bed. Very few beer drinkers can even pronounce 'clitoris', let alone find it. Look for a man who chooses his drinks according to the time of day, and the mood, and what you happen to be eating (if anything). If you prefer to stick to spritzers, he should drink only wine himself, or a very long drink, or strictly pace himself so that he doesn't become much more inebriated than you. He's supposed to be taking care of you, after all; and if he can't take care of you in a bar, how can he take care of you in bed? Beware the man who orders weird cocktails with lots of fruit in them. He will try something very odd in bed with maraschino cherries and it will take a long time to get them out again.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...the way he dresses?

MASTERTON: Men whose clothes are scruffy and dirty will be scruffy and dirty in bed, which is all right if you like that kind of thing, but it may include bodily noises. Surprisingly, men who dress very formally often make the best lovers because they are conscious of making a good impression on the people around them, while many smart-casual-designer-label wearers can be much more selfish in their sexual behavior. Avoid men who dress totally in black. They think they look dramatic and they believe that everybody should take them very seriously. They will be the same in bed and are likely to want to tie you up or put a FedEx Overnight envelope over your head. Also avoid men who wear satin shirts and too much gold jewelry and big hats. In their heads they think they are P. Diddy and all women are hoes. Men who don't wear socks think they are Hollywood movie producers and very, very sexy, but in fact they are only advertising the fact that their loafers smell.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...the way he looks at you?

MASTERTON: He looks you directly in the eye but focuses slightly more deeply. He takes your hand warmly and firmly and holds it while he clearly tells you his name but no longer than that. He keeps smiling but not cheesily, and (here's the real secret) he gives you that twinkle. It's the briefest of blinks, a fraction-of-a-second creasing of the eyes, and he's silently telling you that he wants to tug your panties off with his teeth.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...the way he dances?

MASTERTON: It's difficult to tell how good in bed a man is by the way he dances, because very few men these days have been taught to dance formally, and even the sexiest and most rhythmic lover can be guilty of jerking his way around the dance-floor like Al Gore at the Annual Democratic Hootenanny and Frug Fest. Even if he doesn't know any steps, though, you can judge how confident he is when you shuffle together in a slow dance. He holds you firmly, he looks you in the eye, and he also refrains from pushing his erection between your legs, although he might subtly indicate that you are having an effect on his anatomy by occasionally turning so that his hardness brushes against your thigh. Line-dancers are not usually very good in bed. Just when you thought they were about to climb on top of you, they turn their back on you, bounce to the other side of the mattress and shout 'whoo-hay!'

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...the way he kisses?

MASTERTON: It's surprising how many men are appallingly bad kissers. That's because they don't follow my golden rule of trying to put themselves into the woman's place. How would they like to be dribbled on? How would they like it if their lips were forcefully mashed against their teeth? How would they like it if they still had a half-chewed mouthful of wild mushroom pat? and somebody tried to stick their tongue down their throat? The good lover kisses by stages, just like he makes love by stages - testing, tempting, trying things out. The first time he kisses you, he kisses you gently, then withdraws, and smiles, and checks out your reaction. If you are showing him that you like it, he immediately kisses you again, longer this time. He does not dribble. Only when you are obviously enjoying yourself does he slide the tip of his tongue between your teeth, and run his fingers into your hair. When your eyes close with pleasure, and you melt into his arms, he may go so far as to take off his Hallowe'en mask.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...the way he gestures?

MASTERTON: Hand gestures are one of the greatest givers-away of a man's sexual personality. Men who make choppy, staccato gestures with their hands will be the same when they are in bed. They will kiss your lips, then they will stop kissing your lips. That's that done. They will kiss your breasts, then they will stop kissing your breasts. That's that done. They like everything to be compartmentalised and categorised. Men who fiddle with their hair or cover their mouths with their hands while they are talking are either unsure of themselves or are not particularly interested in you, so make your excuses and wave them goodbye. Keep away from men who make the same repetitive gestures over and over, no matter what they're talking about. Their brain and their body are not in synch. Look for men who make very few hand movements, but when they do, make gestures that describe what they are saying to you. 'The leather of this coat ? was so soft?' (makes inward-curving gesture, like caressing your right buttock). These are men who will think, I love your breasts, and whose hands will demonstrate just how much.

COMPLETE WOMAN: ...the way he walks?

MASTERTON: Men who roll when they walk are either drunk or else they have just dismounted from a drunken horse. But rollers are men's men, for whom women are only good for two things, and the other one is ironing. Men who slouch are defeated by life and will apologize when they have made love to you even if you have quite enjoyed it. Only go to bed with a sloucher if you are prepared to give him endless reassurance. 'It is big enough, Randall, it reaches your body, doesn't it?' Men who walk around as if they have a carrot up their ass probably have a carrot up their ass. Good lovers walk with their backs straight, at an easy, self-confident pace, and whenever they can they hold your hand or put their arm around your waist. Never go out with a man who has a stone in his shoe. It makes him limp.

Originally appeared in Complete Woman magazine, Chicago 2004. Used by permission.