Martinis with Mary Roach

From the Best Sex Writing 2009 reading, via Nokia N95, left to right: Tracy Clark-Flory, Mistress Morgana, Rachel Kramer Bussel, me, Mary Roach.

Last friday I had the extreme joy of reading from Best Sex Writing 2009 with one of my favorite authors — and now, my friend — Mary Roach. We’re both in the book together, which is so very exciting. What’s even better is that after being online friends, that evening we finally got to meet in person and had drinks, which we’ve been meaning to do for quite a while. What is it like to have drinks with Mary Roach? Just as crazy and hilarious and nerdy as you’d think, but squared. We plan to do a lot more of this. I interviewed her about hew newest book “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” for my San Francisco Chronicle column this week; the book came out last year but getting to interview her after reading the book was (for me) more interesting than the other way around. Usually the pre-press happens, then the book comes out, and I read the book and then I have all these unanswered questions; I kind of like this better. See what I mean in my piece, Martinis With Mary Roach:

Local author Mary Roach has to be the world’s funniest science writer; who else can take a book on cadavers, visit a dead body “farm,” and sit in on severed-head plastic surgery practice – and make it funny? No one, that’s who. While you’re squirming and squeaming, she’s observing and humorously sharing our collective OMG about the human condition. In her newest book “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” Roach takes us on a tour that manages to make you want to see just how tight you can cross your legs while delivering a book about sex research that is impossible to put down once you crack open the cover.

Last week I had the joy of joining Mary Roach in a reading from a book we’re both featured in, “Best Sex Writing 2009” punctuated by three hours of sciency nerdgasm over martinis as Roach and I absconded from the crowd for some much-needed, post-reading lubrication. (Yes, I know, keep reading.) Having drinks with Mary Roach is just like reading one of her books and getting to ask all the creepy questions you want, and her answers inform and educate, while also turning your nose into a beverage sprayer. Note: Do not take a sip of your martini when asking her how, in “Bonk,” the creator of The Eroscillator (an unattractive and slightly overpriced vibrator created by a former electric toothbrush inventor) realized his returned-for-repairs toothbrushes were being used for something other than dental hygiene, prompting the invention of another type of intimate health gadget.

Or, the smelt. Not as in “she who smelt it” but the fried smelt. I should have known that after a certain amount of time the woman who went to a sow insemination farm to investigate whether orgasm boosted fertility in pigs during hands-on artificial insemination (chapter 4), she’d make me eat something weird. Just because. Combine a couple martinis, her behind the scenes take on the mechanics of animal-human testicle implantation (chapter 7) and fried smelt – you do the math. This was only topped when Roach told me about fried cod semen, apparently something she’d recently tried in Japan. Mary said, “You just keep telling yourself it’s Ma-Po tofu, but a little spicier.” At which point I realized that the next several times I ate tofu, I’d have to keep telling myself I was eating tofu.

Mary knows her gin, and even better, she knows her subject matter like no other author I’ve chatted with. Going into the subject of science and sex, she really had hoped to uncover a teeming mad scientist underground of researchers all over the world (…read more,

* And yes, the SF Gate *still* really needs to do something about the pointlessly mean troll commenters.

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  • Ken

    I really enjoyed Stiff, but I’m kind of ashamed to admit I haven’t gotten the other two yet. Looks like it’s time for an Amazon run.