Smooch

As the 1980s drew to a close, Republican wives weren't the only ones preaching purity. AIDS had begun to inhibit the romantic behavior of both the homosexual and heterosexual populations. As a titillating reminder of the good old days of wanton sex in gay bath houses, the World's First Jack-and-Jill-Off party was conceived and proclaimed an arousing success in San Francisco. But this party had a few new twists. Heterosexuals were invited, and there were stringent rules about safe sex. Men were cautioned to, ahem, keep their bodily fluids to themselves. A few gays were overheard reminiscing about the good old days - and they weren't talking about "Leave it to Beaver."

Love got off to a slow start in the Nineties. The men's movement began putting down roots: Soon males were banging drums, studying Robert Bly's Iron John, engaging in touchy-feely penis-admiration societies, and reveling in their love for themselves.

One of America's favorite couples divorced: The Trumps split the sheets December 11, 1990. Mistress-muffin Marla Maples got a $500,000 contract to model "No Excuses" jeans (previously shown by Donna Rice), and later had to give The Donald a loan when his checkbook ran a little short. Ivana and Marla slugged it out in a celebrity catfight on an Aspen ski slope.

Elizabeth Taylor took her eighth husband: construction worker and fellow recovering drug- and marriage-addict Larry Fortensky. Ted Turner and Jane Fonda forced America to endure the Tomahawk Chop during the World Series and married last December. He's a billionaire. She's a multimillionaire. Still no report on whether they expect wedding gifts.

Ivana got a new Italian boyfriend. Beverly Hills 90210 heartthrobs Luke Perry and Jason Priestly got 3000 love letters a week for being rich, snobbish, little teen studs on Fox's TV show about how difficult life can be when you grow up rich and beautiful. And in an act of true Nineties love, once-hot heartthrob Johnny Depp tattooed "Winona Forever" on his arm, proclaiming his attachment to fiancee Winona Ryder.

Some romantic shows had a longer run. Americans were riveted to their televisions in October 1991 for the Clarence and Anita show - which, more than any fictional TV series, showed how the times have changed. Sexual harassment made the front pages when Anita Hill, a University of Oklahoma law professor, and Clarence Thomas, U.S. Supreme Court nominee, offered a Senate committee two very different versions of their relationship. She said he harassed her by discussing his penis and its resemblance to Long Dong Silver's (there was an immediate run on videotapes starring a member of the same name). He said their relationship was purely professional. He made it to the Supreme Court - and sexual harassment became the subject of office coffee-break conversations across America.

An Ontario college student was evicted from her little love nest after her neighbors complained she moaned too much during sex.

In his autobiography A View from Above (a title suggesting a deep affinity for the missionary position), Wilt Chamberlain claimed to have had romantic encounters of the voracious kind with 20,000 women. Some quick math showed that to be 1.2 women a day since he was fifteen, proving his shooting records weren't all made on the court.

But love could still celebrate the simple pleasures. In November, Stanford University law student Neil Nathanson proposed to Leslie Hamilton via a crossword puzzle in the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle. She gave him a three-letter answer meaning most certainly. Love triumphs after all.

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