How sex got its soundtrack: The X-rated history of "boom-chicka-wah-wah"

From "Deep Throat" to "Cafe Flesh," the stories behind the sultry tunes that define our famous sex scenes

By Paula Young Lee
Published July 28, 2014 3:40PM (EDT)

Sex has always come with a soundtrack. And that soundtrack has become part of our collective erotic imagination. “Almost everyone in the world knows what the ‘Wakka Chikka Wakka Chikka’ represents,” explains the blurb for a 2009 compilation album of porn music. Despite featuring literal-minded tracks such as “Brain Wank,” the playlist was not meant to seduce. It's the musical version of Proust’s madeleine -- summoning a set of associations linked inextricably to sex.

Neuroscientists have studied the phenomenon of “involuntary memory” triggered by taste and smell, and psychologists have written about the fact that sexual desire can be aroused by, well, just about anything. Yet surprisingly little research has been conducted on auditory cues tied to the arousal feedback loop.

Bypassing the naughty cabinet of curiosities that is “Notches: (re)marks on the History of Sexuality,” the sex soundtrack currently inhabits the domain of oral history. Just as the sound of Karen Carpenter’s silky voice takes writer Tara McGinley back to the “safe, happy place” of childhood, porn soundtracks lead a large chunk of Americans back to the same happy ...

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Paula Young Lee

Paula Young Lee is the author of "Deer Hunting in Paris," winner of the 2014 Lowell Thomas "Best Book" award of the Society of American Travel Writers. She is currently writing outdoor adventure books for middle grade and young adults. Follow her on Twitter @paulayounglee

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