It’s not hard to get laid when everyone is getting laid. Did Jimi Hendrix have copious amounts of sex after his LSD-fuelled rendition of the American National Anthem at Woodstock? Did Bon Jovi get more than “halfway there” after he did, well, anything? Probably. But so what? Nor is it hard to unhook a bra with one hand if all women are burning brassieres in the streets. But, consider instead the young violinist who had to struggle for an hour untying a 20-stitch corset by candlelight just to get to second base… where the penalties of being caught were excommunication or death? Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll.
The intertwining of sex and music is not a contemporary phenomenon, but one that predates the invention of the electric guitar, synthetic drugs, and skin-tight pants. Although the connection of music with sex is rooted in our biology, it wasn’t until the 1700s when the first true rock stars, classical composers, emerged.
Long before the lyrical deflowering of Madonna in “Like a Virgin” or the Rolling Stones suggested “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” fans of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lined up in droves to play his “magic flute” and Johann Pachelbel was letting the ladies see his “canon (in D” of course).
Since the first caveman clubbed a woolly mammoth to death and noticed he could make a beat, our lives have been inextricably linked with the love and enjoyment of music (it took thousands of years for the wobble bass to evolve, however). Sex and music has transcended cultures and generations because it’s in our evolutionary history, entrenched in the very DNA found our in our cells as well as in the discarded tissues on the floor next to the bed. Charles Darwin argued that music preceded language as a form of communication and has historically played a role in the seduction of the opposite sex. (He also theorised that humans advanced from monkeys and, after seeing the baboons in Cape Point lock pick doors, I believe him. Trent Reznor may have been on to something when he told us pointedly in “Closer” “I want to fuck you like an animal.” Darwin would be so proud.)
Numerous studies have been done to prove how the connection between drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll is deeply rooted in basic neurological function. According to researchers, music causes the brain to release dopamine, which is the same pleasure neurotransmitter that is released during sex and drug use. Diagnostic imaging software like the CAT scan has shown that dopamine is released in a similar manner in the brain during a favourite song just as in a build-up towards sexual climax. So, as a result of the striatal dopaminergic system, the euphoria felt during our favourite part of a song is comparable to a biochemical ear-gasm, without the mess. Just don’t get blue-balled by someone changing the track before your anticipated climactic verse (“I never wanna hear you say I want it that wayyy”).
Classical symphonies were the first rock concerts, led by composer front men with hairpieces that would make the entire 1980s blush. After all, it takes more chutzpah to obliterate a Stradivarius on stage than a Gibson Les Paul. The composition of the music itself was filled with sultry suggestiveness. Classical music critic and journalist Ivan Hewett noted “every time you hear a dissonance (a tense-sounding interval or chord) melt into a consonant one, you’re hearing the basic erotic pattern of arousal and relief.” It was the bad boys like Franz Liszt, Pytor Tchaikovsky, and Giacomo Puccini who challenged the conventions of the often droning and monotonous church choirs and put the “tone” back in atonement.
Liszt, in fact, had the original entourage. His Concerto in E-flat and Hungarian Rhapsody #2 ensnared female groupies both young and old who relentlessly pursued him around the world. More controversy surrounds the life and death of Tchaikovsky than Tupac Shakur. Speculation still abounds today about whether or not he liked nuts or simply cracking them. Composer by profession but poon-hound by practice, Puccini wrote operas Bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly. Self-described as “a mighty hunter of wild fowl, operatic librettos and attractive women,” it didn’t take much for him to make the ladies swoon. Like shooting fish in a barrel for this classical Casanova? You bet.
Meanwhile, Mozart may have had more sex than Bret Michaels on a reality TV show. In Don Giovanni the duet “Là ci darem la mano” implies that entanglement is not limited to hands. World-renowned historian Dr Ludington notes, “The brilliance of this piece is that the music simulates courtship, seduction, consummation and post-coital joy… the song is sex and the refrain ‘Andiam’ means roughly ‘I come.’” And yes, the double entendre holds in Italian. Dropping any semblance of allusion or metaphor, Mozart wrote “Leck mir arsch fein recht schön sauber,” which translates roughly to “lick my ass right well and clean” to entertain his depraved composer colleagues. If you don’t believe me, the shit, I mean sheet, music is widely available.
In an age where the Billboard Top 100 Music charts turn around faster than Lil Wayne’s alibi, it’s important to pay homage to the classical rock gods that set the precedent for the gyrating hips and pulsating vocals of musicians for generations to come. Any strung-out lead singer can write explicit lyrics, but only a true artist interweaves sexual imagery through a purely instrumental piece. The violin may be music’s first unrequited love, but certainly not the last. Many bold men made her sing but only if they got the fingering right. This instrument may be reminiscent of the beautiful and supple curves of a young woman, but for a discouraging glimpse into the future, see: cello. Good luck getting that to sit on your face.
Five Contemporary Sex Anecdotes
1. Axl Rose made a name for himself hitting high notes but it wasn’t until “Rocket Queen” that we truly heard a screamer. In order to bring greater depth to the lyrics, the Guns N’ Roses front man had sex with a particularly vocal girlfriend in the recording booth to lay down the blissful orgasms heard in the background of the song.
2. System of a Down lead guitarist Daron Malakian shocked fans in an interview when he candidly explained that he credits beating off for his light speed alternate picking. If only Johann Sebastian Bach had a masturbation setting on his metronome.
3. Chances are that nefarious groupies willing to have sex with someone simply because they are famous might not be the most pure of heart or health. From Franz Schubert to Freddy Mercury, sexually transmitted diseases have cut down musicians in their prime across generations.
4. Neil Strauss’ The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band provided groundbreaking insight into the hedonist and heinous world of rock ‘n’ roll by using Mötley Crüe as a case study. The precedent for the rock memoir was set, however, by composer George Antheil in his autobiography Bad Boy of Music. Then again Nikki Sixx was declared legally dead for over two minutes before coming back to life, which might be more badass than playing the piano.
5. Behind every great musician there is a great drug dealer waiting to deliver inspiration neatly measured by grams and cc’s. Had Anthony Kiedis been born in another time he could have had the company of Italian composer Niccolò Paganini (Under the Ponte Vecchio).
By Blake Michael
Published in Playboy SA January / February 2012