Barry Reay
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Alfred Kinsey’s informants
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The work of Alfred Kinsey is indelibly associated with quantification – counting orgasms was how he charted America’s sexual past. His recognised affirmation of same-sex desire and activity was based on such findings. However, his research agenda included amassing a vast archive of qualitative material, dependent on the participant research of favoured collaborators. And this highly colourful sexual archive informed his project, both before and after Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948). This chapter focuses on two of these collaborators, Thomas Painter, who pioneered the famous Kinsey Scale through his recorded decades-long sexual interactions with hustlers, and Samuel Steward, who provided practical and archival evidence of America’s BDSM culture as well as vivid visual and textual accounts of heterosexual/homosexual sex. This chapter examines their place and role in the Kinsey project and the importance of the Kinsey Institute in the history of sex.

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Sex in the archives

Writing American sexual histories


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