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Sex and the Stars (2)

Nov. 29, 2004

The stars must have been in alignment that day. A minor blogging frenzy was kicked off in June when Bill Clinton, while being interviewed about his new book on CNN, happened to be seated in front of a shelved copy of Sextrology — a sizzling zodiac guide by Stella Starsky and Quinn Cox, the pen names of an astrologer couple from New York City's West Village. (One blogger joked that the interview must have been held in Clinton's office.) It was a key moment in the charmed life of this amusing study of the sexual character of zodiac signs.
Sextrology began with a modest printing of 10,000 copies in the U.S. in January, and has since grown into a word-of-mouth phenomenon, with six printings and total sales of almost 50,000 copies. Since the book's European launch during the summer, international sales have reached some 10,000 copies, mostly in Britain; Starsky and Cox are in discussion with the BBC about developing a companion TV series. "Sextrology tells you everything you ever needed to know about your other half — but were afraid to ask," says BBC producer Sally Lisk-Lewis. The authors have also sold Russian, German and Spanish rights to the book. In France, even without a French translation, the Parisian style and design boutique Colette sells about 300 copies a month. "The laughter, the pleasure of discovering what people read is very visible and very immediate," says Colette spokesman Guillaume Salmon. The book's success lies in its deft melding of high-mindedness and raunch — nothing like knowing that your penchant for outdoor sex is due to your binding zodiacal link to Dionysus, the orgiastic Greek god of wine. As Cox says, "What [readers] didn't expect were the smarty bits; they just expected the unzipped stuff, not the smarty pants themselves. Pop, but also classic, high and low." To achieve this, the book's first two sections examine questions of body, soul and mind, drawing from an array of Greek mythology, psychology and astrology before arriving at the juicy bits. So the reader gains a robust sense of a particular sign and its motivations before perhaps learning, for example, that he was "built to deliver that much more bang for the buck." Though it might make some readers blush, Sextrology, packaged with humor and intelligence, is a rare find: a genuinely new take on the planet's oldest pastime. Thank your lucky stars.