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Chinese TV channels Dr. Ruth, with mask

Sexy skein hopes to help viewers, promote safe sex

BEIJING — China has greenlit its first national latenight talkshow about sex. Interviewees will wear masks to conceal their blushes in this country where public discussion about sex is still a taboo.

The program will be called “Masks” and will air on 50 provincial and city stations between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Viewers can tune in from Jan. 1.

Liu Xicheng, board chairman of the production company Shixi, said he hoped the show would help people with sexual problems and promote safe sex.

The reaction in China’s official media to the program has been positive, although it described the show’s name as weird.

“Breaking the taboo of talking about sex in public, the show reflects a changing society, and a positive change at that,” ran an editorial in the China Daily.

“Such a TV program aiming to provide an adult audience with comprehensive knowledge about sex — sexual ethics, behavior, procreation and contraception, sexual transmitted diseases prevention and anti-drug warnings — comes just in time,” the paper said.

Sex is everywhere in the new China, even if that’s hardly a controversial statement in the world’s most populous country, whose 1.3 billion people are proof positive that a lot of people are doing it.

Moreover nearly 1 million people in China are now diagnosed with AIDS, after years in which authorities denied its existence.

But attitudes to sex remain prudish.

While China is famous for martial-arts movies and has a high cultural tolerance for violence, cinema draws the line at explicit sex.

The government tightly controls the media and censors programming, and there is little scope for a TV writer or moviemaker to reach the public with risque sexual content.

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