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Talking Sex: Making Love in the ’90s

For all its X-rated conversation, "Talking Sex" doesn't come across as gratuitous. HBO's hour does walk a fine line at times, but the general message from the spec is a useful one: Explore new methods of sexual satisfaction and, if it doesn't kill you, enjoy yourselves.

For all its X-rated conversation, “Talking Sex” doesn’t come across as gratuitous. HBO’s hour does walk a fine line at times, but the general message from the spec is a useful one: Explore new methods of sexual satisfaction and, if it doesn’t kill you, enjoy yourselves.

Split into various video styles, spec features open discussions by couples exposing secrets of their sex lives and interviews with sex specialists. The central theme: Sex is good, but because of the risks involved, every avenue of “alternative sex” (sex that doesn’t involve intercourse) should be explored.

The information given by the doctors of medicine and philosophy is interesting and, although the info has been heard before, it needs repeating considering the potential consequences of unprotected sex.

Several discussions feature photogenic adults who were chosen by way of advertising at places like health clubs and lingerie stores. A group of gay men explain that intercourse isn’t always part of homosexual sex. Two separate groups, one white, one black, discuss masturbation, solo and mutual.

The conversations were initiated by offscreen producer/director Ellen Goosenberg Kent. Some of the discussions start with establishing shots of the bar where they took place, with voice-over looping and superb editing. One seg features public health educator Rob Jiggets Jr. discussing condoms in a comedic style in front of a barely seen live audience that laughs at all the right moments.

Unwarranted looping and flash-repeat editing are used to enhance his performance. Director of photography Mark Benjamin adopts the swooping, roving cam style, providing editor Juliet Weber with lots of in and out points that Weber manipulates well.

After a key word is spoken, it is flashed on the screen, “Sesame Street” style, to remind the viewer what is being discussed.

Talking Sex: Making Love in the '90s

(Thurs. (10), 11 p.m.-midnight, HBO)

Production: Taped in New York and San Francisco for HBO. Executive producer, Sheila Nevins; producer/director, Ellen Goosenberg Kent.

Crew: Camera, Mark Benjamin; editor, Juliet Weber; sound, John Wiggins; art director, Debby Lee Cohen; music, Caleb Sampson.

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