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Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality

Ted McIlvenna and Jerry Zientara


TED MCLLVENNA talks about:

00:03 #1950s SF sex education
02:12 #Patterning films
07:52 #Mihaly Zichy


I had two high-spirited visits at IASHS, interviewed the Reverend Ted McIlvenna, director, founder, president and associate professor in clinical psychology. The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality is specialized in higher education and offers graduate degree programs for persons wishing professional training in sexology and erotology. The field of erotology is unique to the history of the institute and includes an academic study of audio-visuals and artworks. The Institute's library system is made up of 18 specialty libraries and is one of the most comprehensive sexological and erotological libraries in the world.  

When interviewing McIlvenna he talked at great length and even sprinkled fantasy onto his phenonemenal life experiences. He defined erotology as “the scientific study of the graphic depictions of the actions of sex and love." He explained that it studies how people express their views and feelings about sex through artworks, and that it is perhaps one of the most sensible ways to study sexuality. I agree with that view even though this approach has academically become marginalized.


Many of the IASHS art collections have been donated by people whose family members died and had left behind large collections of erotica that they had been too embarrassed to show. As Zientara explains: “Everybody in the world  collects something. It’s a human trade. But because sex is such a controversial issue for so many people, a lot of materials have not been preserved. Destruction of material is something we’re against and against. We wanna preserve it. We want to protect it and make it available for researchers.”

















JERRY ZIENTARA talks about:

00:03 # Everybody collects something
01:13 # Cheesecake and beefcake
10:03 # Erotology
12:07 # Pedagogy and patterning films


Jerry Zientara arrived in San Francisco during 1868 "the Summer of Love" and slowly decided to become an artist and sexology librarian. During our interview he shows me a wide range of his favorite collections or specialty items. We walked around in his exuberant and intimate space, while he explains the pedagogical foundations of the institute, He also highlights the revolutionary use of "Patterning Films" that were made in the 1960s and 1970s : "Part of the brilliance of the program here was that real people were invited to come in making movies and explaining what they would do normally, their own personal sexual patterns. It was a very courageous program and quite a lot number of movies were made. The premise was that after the film was made, the participants would get to look at the edited version and decide whether it accurately reflected their behaviors--they could "retell" the film so to speak. Derek Sadden was the other minister who worked with Ted. They were the kind of dynamic duo of the process. He was able to come in with his camera and vanish into the wood work, be comfortable with whatever it is they were doing. That was exactly the point. And the thing they most argue about was music. They could never find the right music".


Finally the Institute has played an important activist mission in fighting for the rights and benefits of sexual minorities in the USA and the destigmatization of sex culture in general. Both Annie Sprinkle and Carole Queen are alumni of the institute and have furthered their mission and taken it into new realms. To get a glimpse of the nonconformist Methodist minister and sexologist Ted McIlvenna fighting the sex-negative preachings of roman catholic church, watch this clip:


















And you can also watch a trailer of a forthcoming documentary by Robert James about McIlvenna entitled “Revolutionary Sex”



















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