Biologist and pioneer of human sexuality ALFRED KINSEY was born on this date (d: 1956); Kinsey was an American biologist and professor of entomology and zoology who in 1947 founded the Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, now called the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. Kinsey’s research on human sexuality profoundly influenced social and cultural values in the United States and many other countries. His book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948 shocked the world.
Kinsey was rumored to participate in unusual sexual practices. James H. Jones’s biography, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life, describes Kinsey as bisexual and experimenting in masochism. He encouraged group sex involving his graduate students, wife and staff. Kinsey filmed sexual acts in the attic of his home as part of his research. Biographer Jonathan Gathome-Hardy explained that using Kinsey’s home for the filming of sexual acts was done to ensure the films’ secrecy, which would certainly have caused a scandal had the public become aware of them.
The popularity of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male prompted widespread media interest in 1948. Time magazine declared, “Not since Gone With the Wind had booksellers seen anything like it.”
The first pop culture references to Kinsey appeared not long after the book’s publication: Rubber-faced comic Martha Raye, singing ‘Ooh, Dr. Kinsey!’ sold a half-million copies. Cole Porter’s song “Too Darn Hot,” from the Tony Award–winning Broadway musical Kiss Me Kate, devoted its bridge to an analysis of the Kinsey report and the “average man’s” “favorite sport.”
In 1949, Mae West, reminiscing on the days when the word “sex” was rarely uttered, said of Kinsey, “That guy merely makes it easy for me. Now I don’t have to draw ’em any blueprints… We are both in the same business…Except I saw it first.”