Friday Dish: Does Sex Sell?

I was looking for something online when I came across an interview of a very talented musical group and the “sex sells” comment was mentioned. Now to be fair I didn’t watch the entire interview because the man who was there to give his view on things just wouldn’t shut up and I really found that annoying. It’s like you’ve had your turn; take a seat and let somebody else speak.

Anyway, it got me to thinking yet again about the “sex sells” line of thinking. In some arenas I do believe that is partially true. There are some people out there who won’t even read a book unless there is a sex scene in it, but conversely there are people who prefer for there not to be a sex scene in the book. So I think the “sex sells” line of thinking really is relative to the group that’s buying whatever is out there.

By way of music somebody brought up Vanessa-Mae. She’s a fabulous violinist and yes, she is pretty and photographs very beautifully. But at the end of the day, to me, it’s her talent that sells the record. If she couldn’t play then I think people probably wouldn’t buy her work. Does a beautiful package help draw more people to her work? Maybe. Being enticed to open a package is what draws some people to new things. But I think the fans that really are great to have are the ones that are there for the talent and not for the “sex sells” line of thinking.

When I think about how this applies to so many other avenues of life I think about underwear. Seriously, ever notice how perfectly sculpted the men look, or how beautifully toned the women look? Would people still be flocking to the store to buy a product they might not need at the moment if the package wasn’t so pretty? I think probably not. One must be enticed to open the package. If the temptation isn’t there then what’s the point in looking twice? Shallow?—Yep, but still human.

That’s all for this time. More Dish next week, same time, same place.



  1. I enjoyed reading your post. However, I am not in total agreement with your conclusion. From a guy’s perspective “sex sells” more than you realize. I mean just take a look at the top 10 songs in the Nation. I haven’t verified this, but I bet you at least 75% of them are sex related. Just my two-cents.

    • Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I like getting an outside opinion, especially from a guy’s perspective. All of my big brother guy friends got married so we don’t talk anymore…not that I would have asked them back then anyway. Talking to self-appointed big brothers about sex and the selling point would be a long lecture waiting to happen ;). Thanks again for stopping by.

  2. As far as books are concerned, I generally don’t buy books “for” the sexual content. Fantasy is my fav genre, so the sex isn’t usually the draw with that. However, if sex *should* happen as part of the story line and doesn’t, then it feels like it’s lacking something, and I’d feel disappointed. Or if a scene leads up to what would be a sexual encounter and then cuts entirely away, I feel let down. Game of Thrones had a lot of sex in it, some positive and some negative, and I don’t think the story would have worked without it. But that wasn’t the draw of the story for me, it was the adventure. The story wouldn’t have been as complete in my opinion, without including the sex scenes.

    Whether sex sells in general maybe isn’t so obviously about the act of sex, but in the draw of sexuality and attraction. From that perspective, yes, I think it does indeed sell almost everything. A book cover draws in the prospective reader in the same way that your lingerie ads bring in shoppers, even if the cover isn’t showing a sexy couple or person, but somehow appeals to what a person would like to read about or experience. For many that is literally something to do with sex, but for many it’s the “sexiness” of adventure or escape and sometimes that has or doesn’t have anything to do with sex, but the appeal and enticement factor.

    Anyway, lol, my .02 on the subject. I have thought about this topic before and wondered the same things you brought up. One of my fav musicians is Zoe Keating (a cellist) and while she’s not a beautiful woman, she does have a certain sense of exotica about how she looks and I’m sure that adds to her “sex appeal” when in concert or on album covers. It just adds to her personality and that’s all part of the package if I were to see her in concert. As for just listening to a CD, it doesn’t matter to me how she might look. What matters is how it sounds 🙂

    • OMG! First, thank you for mentioning a cellist. I’m a cellist (in training) so I’m always looking for new cellists (new to me) to listen to. I hadn’t heard of Zoe Keating so I’m going to have to check out her work. Thanks much for that :).

      Okay, now on topic…thank you for dropping in and leaving your .02 :). I have read a multitude of comments in various places some where the women won’t read a book simply because there isn’t a sex scene (or two, or three) and others who get upset when the scenes are in there. I think it just depends really on the reading audience. As with anything, there is no way to please everybody.

      This topic kind of stuck in my mind because the guy in the interview was trying to make it seem as if the ladies attractiveness (and sexiness) was the only reason their work was selling. I still believe if a person can’t play music that people aren’t going to buy enough CDs to keep them in the music industry. You can download pictures on the internet if sexiness is the end all of a person’s worth as opposed to spending upwards of $20 on a CD import.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing. 🙂

      • Oh I agree. Sexiness will only go so far. No matter what is trying to be sold, but it draws in the shoppers like the endcap sales on grocery store aisles.

        Zoe Keating is not a classical cellist. Supposedly she was raised learning classical and her passion wasn’t there so she quit altogether for a long time. Then she went back and played what her heart wanted to play (on the cello) and soared. Do you have any soundclips of your music? I’d love to hear. Cello is one of my favorite instruments, but I can’t play a lick on anything, lol.

      • P.S. I like classical cello too. I used to listen to a lot more instrumental than I do nowadays and now I can’t remember the names of the artists I used to love, but Tingstad & Rumble is one duet I remember.

  3. Madison, I think most cellist started off classical, especially if they started young. Somewhere along the way they find their true calling with music. I grew up listening to classical, but as I got older I gravitated toward what I like to call classical with a twist, epic, and cinematic type music.

    Playing…I used to share my learning music clips, but I haven’t done it in a while and those clips are no longer up for listening (one should be thankful for that since I really did suck ;).) There aren’t lessons where I live, or even near it, for cello so I have been teaching myself. It’s going…slow in my opinion compared to where I was when I played violin far too many years ago, but I’m a lot better than I was when I first started. Somebody else asked me to share what I sound like so if I can get a microphone next year I might be able to muster up enough courage to share something.

  4. I don’t read books for the sex, I read them for the story it self. If sex is in the book I don’t condemn it, but i do not need it to enjoy a book I love the idea of solving the mystery in the story. I love science fiction. But I am difference. In to days world most people seem to feel that sex is all there is. I feel sorry for people like that because they really don’t know what they are really missing. If you read a book with an open mind you can travel, become a spy, or a private detective, travel out in space, You can become those character and see the world through new eyes. If sex is all you want then just go out on the street you could probably pick up just about anybody and have what ever kind of sex you want, Unless your jobs are in one of spying, traveling out in space, or just being in any type of law enforcement you may never have the chance to experience any of these things but when you read you can at lease have the opportunity to make believe. If a person really wants sex they don’t have to make believe.

    • “If you read a book with an open mind you can travel, become a spy, or a private detective, travel out in space, You can become those character and see the world through new eyes.”

      I love that about reading…that one can explore many different worlds and professions. I’ve always had a vivid imagination so writing and reading is most definitely a journey for me.

      Thank you for stopping by :).

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