The majority of reviews on this book are by disappointed Lou Reed fans. Having read the book first, I was a little disappointed when the band came along. Thus, I'm compelled to register this dissenting opinion:
This book winkingly presents itself as a documentary on the pre-hippie sexual revolution and "swinger" movement of the 1950's and -60's. I bought this book because the cover illustration suggested it was mostly about BDSM (sado-masochism, bondage, sexual domination, leather, related fetishes).
I was a little disappointed, not because the book covers --in remarkably salacious detail for a supposéd research piece-- a panoply of sexually variant practices: personal ads for wife-swapping, nudism, mailorder sex paraphernalia, clothing fetishes, prostitution, homosexuality, bestiality, etc., but because only a small part of it is about BDSM.
Still, I found several pages containing interesting and graphic passages from letters and interviews from hardcore sado-masochists and devotees of both male and female domination. One memorable account deals with the practices of a circle of dominant midwestern wives, known as "Wanda's Club."
Those looking for titillation will find it; Since the book was written in an era when sexually explicit material needed to have "redeeming social value," the author adopted an attitude of shock and disapproval, couched in a mock, case-history research style. Nevertheless, there is a little something to tickle every sexual palate, except, thankfully, pedophilia.
As an enlightening sociological and historical work, it does have value. For myself, it was enough to discover that I was not alone in my unspoken yearnings and fantasies. It's an unusual book, but I've treasured it for four decades.