"I want you to close your eyes," Patty Brisben playfully instructs a young man as she rubs scented lotion into his forearm and, to raucous laughter, reaches for an electric toy and a glove. "Fantasize about having an all-over body massage."
Welcome to Sex Week at Yale, a biennial celebration that has become one of the most provocative campus events in the country.
Organizers say Sex Week gets students talking about sex in a way that's more relevant than middle-school film strips, more honest than movies and television, and more fun than requisite college health lectures.
"To get people's attention, we do have to do things a little risque and a little different than other sex education programs," said junior Dain Lewis, who was inspired to direct Sex Week 2006 after attending the 2004 event.
Yale's event, which ends Saturday, includes lectures from dating specialists, a sex therapist and a discussion of homosexuality with a former Roman Catholic priest. More provocative sessions include a panel of porn stars and stripping lessons from a Playboy Channel hostess.
Critics say Sex Week is just the latest act of debauchery at colleges in recent years: Students started sex columns. Vassar and others created erotica journals. Harvard launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring suggestive pictures of undergraduates. Washington University in St. Louis offered a sex-themed week with orgasm seminars and condom telegrams.
"I don't see how bringing a Playboy stripper to campus is helping anything," said Travis Kavulla, editor of the Harvard Salient, which joined other conservative newspapers in giving Sex Week the Collegiate Network 2004 Outrage Award. "How are universities trying to educate students in sponsoring activities like this?"
Sex Week is a recognized student organization but Brisben's company, PureRomance.com, sponsors the events, not Yale. Advertising helps pay for marketing and for Sex Week at Yale, the Magazine.