How Do You Make Love to a Woman? If You Have to Ask, Mike Morgenstern Wants to Help

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updated 08/09/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/09/1982 01:00AM

Not long ago Mike Morgenstern's idea of an arousing writing topic was entitled "Immunological Incidents of Guillain-Barre Syndrome Prior to the 1976 Swine Flu Program." But back then Mike was a budding lawyer specializing in medical cases. Today his writing subjects would curl the carpets off the floor of his old New York law firm. In his best-selling book How to Make Love to a Woman, he's switched from torts to turn-ons, and the only briefs he files are likely to be lacy.

"There's nothing more interesting than love, intimacy or sex," says Morgenstern, 30, who gave up his law practice to work on his book. Its 14 chapters ("Seduction and Arousal," "Technique," "The Big 'O,' " etc.) distill the knowledge gained from interviews with 200 women—and 20 gigolos who "really know what women want."

"I only slept with one girl who's in the book," he notes. "I'm not a Don Juan. I'm serious." His not-so-astounding finding: With the sexual revolution established, what women now want is not only all that physical fulfillment they've been told they're entitled to but also "a return to romance, a return to wooing and courtship, a return to traditional sex roles and the warmth these can bring." And, he elaborates, "Men should learn to convey passion to women the way European men do," meaning less shoving, more loving. Women, he concludes, "aren't interested in sex without love. They want to be treated with consideration."

Morgenstern's manual comes after the similarly heavy breathing of Alexandra Penney's 1981 How to Make Love to a Man, also published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. Penney turned down the obvious sequel because, she says, "There's no fresh information about women's sex. It was all said in the '70s; we have heard about orgasms ad nauseam." Not so, argues Morgenstern: "Men don't read women's magazines where these issues are discussed; my book is for men."

He began mulling over his subject in 1978, when he held a chair for a female lawyer at a luncheon and "she made an outrageous scene. I was embarrassed." He decided that the changes of the last two decades have made "men confused and women dissatisfied, and I wanted to learn more about it." Then last December, after he had left Weil, Gotshal and Manges and started teaching legal writing at Brooklyn Law School, Potter gave him a $42,000 advance (Penney got $75,000). He hired two male buddies as researchers and began interviewing.

Women, at least, will find the results either woefully obvious or woefully unsubstantiated. Among other flat assertions, Morgenstern says, "If it's anything women want more of in bed, it's oral sex." He also says they want to be "fondled and hugged and kissed" and generally dealt with by self-assured men who respect them as equals. He never really grapples with toughies. For instance, he was frequently told by women that men—consciously or unconsciously—really don't like women, but doesn't explain why, or even seem to care.

Raised in Hamilton, Ohio, the son of a lawyer father and an X-ray technician mother, Mike played tournament tennis with his sister, Barbara, now 29 and a Cincinnati Post reporter. He graduated in 1975 in philosophy from Ohio State, and three years later from American University's law school. He went on to clerk for a federal judge in Chicago before heading for Manhattan. He is now commuting to work in the Hamilton firm of his father, who is running for a judgeship in Ohio's State Court of Appeals.

Morgenstern lives alone on Manhattan's Upper East Side in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. He says he "dates around," though he has rejected the one-night-stand game as "something I did when I was younger." Now, he says, "For the right woman I'm a great lover. I make love 12 times a week," he claims, "but now I spend more time with foreplay and massaging, and I've learned to kiss longer." His cautionary note is probably well taken, however: "No matter how much attention you lavish on picking the right time and setting the scene, if the woman isn't turned on to you, you're probably wasting your time." Thank you, Mike.

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