Gil Reavill was outside the library in the tranquil Westchester suburb of New York where he lives. A three-year-old was humming the latest hit from rapper 50 Cent, which has been a soaraway success in the American music charts.
"I take you to the candy shop, I'll let you lick the lollypop, Go 'head girl, don't you stop," the toddler sang. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with gangsta-rap lyrics: That isn't really a lollypop 50 Cent is talking about.
For Reavill it was just another example of how graphic sexual imagery and pornography have invaded every aspect of mainstream American culture.
"I know she was just three because I stopped and asked. Our culture has been hotwired everywhere for sex," he said.
But Reavill has taken a stand. This week America's bookstores will be hit by Smut, Reavill's emotional plea to take sex out of the mainstream and put it back in the bedroom, where he says it belongs.
The book is all the more remarkable because Reavill made his career as a staff writer on the notorious 1980s sex magazine Screw. He has also written for Penthouse and the sex-laced men's magazine Maxim and helped edit a porn parody magazine called Sluts and Slobs.
Reavill is a classic poacher-turned-gamekeeper who once made a living from hardcore porn but has now decided things have gone too far. The subtitle of Smut -- published in the UK next month -- sums it up: "A sex-industry insider (and concerned father) says enough is enough."
Smut is a response to a wave of pornography that has seeped into mainstream culture. In recent months America's book charts have seen the appearance of How to Make Love like a Porn Star by sex actress Jenna Jameson and The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry.
In cinemas, audiences have been treated to a documentary on Deep Throat, a famed 1970s skin flick, and the release of Brown Bunny, a mainstream film featuring real sex acts.
But Reavill believes the invasion of porn is not limited to books and films. He sees hardcore pornography taking over music lyrics, MTV videos, the Internet, advertising and talk radio. It is hard not to agree that he has a case.
Reality television shows encourage their contestants to have sex and words like "pimps" and "hos" have entered teenage slang. Sex is the theme of TV shows such as Sex and the City, which feature story lines that would have been envelope-pushing 20 years ago but are now unremarkable. In advertising, sex is used to sell everything.
For Reavill, what has happened is obvious. What was once the hidden province of the hardcore adult magazines he worked on has now become the public mainstream.
"Whether we want it or not, we are inundated, saturated, beaten over the head with sex ... it's egregious, it's out of control, it's too much," he writes in Smut.
Reavill is now part of a widely recognized cultural backlash in America that began with the flashing of singer Janet Jackson's breast during the half-time show at the 2003 Super Bowl.
"Janet Jackson was a huge turning point. It just came out of nowhere. It really triggered something among many ordinary Americans who were just sitting down to watch a football game," Reavill said.
Reavill has been joined by many outspoken conservatives.
"The sex, violence and vulgar language which is prevalent in television, movies and in music is outrageous," said Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, the largest Christian grassroots organization in the US. Other voices have been added to the mix from less obvious sources.
Last year pop star Prince, who earned the ire of critics for racy song lyrics in the 1980s, condemned the modern trend towards overt sexuality.
"Now there's all these dirty videos. We're bombarded," Prince said to the surprise of many fans. "Back then [in the 1980s] the sexiest thing on TV was Dynasty, and if you watch it now it's like The Brady Bunch."
The importance of Reavill's book is that his argument does not come from the right. He is an open liberal. He makes a point of saying that he does not favor censorship or government regulation.
He also says that he is not a prude or anti-sex.
"I enjoyed everything New York in the 1980s could throw at me when I worked at Screw. It threw quite a lot. It was a pre-AIDS, very hedonistic scene and a real `go-go' town," he said.
Reavill's point is that pornography then was kept firmly in its place: Films and magazines that were purchased by adults who sought them out.
"There was quite a strict segregation of porn images and the mainstream" -- a segregation, he says, that no longer exists.
Reavill's stance has cost him. Old friends from his pornography days have reacted badly, labelling him "just another suburban dad," and Maxim is no longer commissioning him to write pieces.
But Reavill's response is that there is nothing wrong with wanting to clean up mainstream American culture and keep sexuality where it belongs: In private and away from children.
"People will say you can switch off the television," Reavill said. "But you can't do that. Just walking down the street you are bombarded with sex. This is the channel you can't switch off anymore."
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