I’ve frequently been on the receiving end of enthusiastic descriptions of transformative sexual events in someone’s life. People who experience really great sex are often dying to tell somebody all about it. I’ve long been intrigued as to these experiences, when and why this happens. What does it take to make sex more than merely functional or even satisfying but truly memorable and extraordinary?

I was inspired to write about this when reading reviews of John Turturro’s delightful recent movie, Fading Gigolo. I was struck by the bewildered response from many male reviewers who just couldn’t understand why a gorgeous woman like Sharon Stone would pay $1000 to have sex with a stranger. “Now if one wanted to be a stickler, one might observe that if a woman like Stone really wanted to find some willing, random anonymous partner, she could probably find one in less time than it takes to walk from the front door to the mailbox,” grumbles reviewer Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Silly man. We’re not talking here about mediocre sex with some random stranger. The tantalizing promise that bewitches the fading gigolo’s well-heeled customers involves enjoying sex with a man who knows exactly what he’s doing. That’s worth paying for. Paying a lot for.

Years ago I received an email from a woman who wrote about her rare experience with a man who had The Gift – a rare talent she described as “the uncanny, intuitive ability to handle the woman’s body in ways it liked.”

In the story I’ve just published in The Age, I describe fascinating research on “optimal sexuality”, defining what makes great sex great. Yes, it’s true that some people have The Gift but they need receptive partners to achieve memorable experiences. And it is certainly possible to have great sex with a stranger, or perhaps even to pay for this special joy. Read more:


Given the steady stream of bad news about sex, the endless stories about sexual abuse, pornography, sex trafficking and so on, I hope you will enjoy reading some good news about this wonderful activity. Listen to me talk about great sex with Steve Austin on ABC Brisbane.