Total Sex: stimulating and educational samples from our new book - of course - comments on the book 'Total Sex: Men's Fitness Magazine's Complete Guide to Everything Men Need to Know and Want to Know About Sex' - Cover Story

Total Sex: stimulating and educational samples from our new book - of course - comments on the book 'Total Sex: Men's Fitness Magazine's Complete Guide to Everything Men Need to Know and Want to Know About Sex' - Cover StoryWARNING: The weak of heart, the hypersensitive and the politically correct should not read this real-world-oriented section. If you have problems with masculine language and ideas, or if you lack a sense of humor about the male sensibility, you may take what we have to say the wrong way.

Men think about having sex all the time ... when we work, when we sleep, even when we're having sex. Unfortunately, most of what passes for rational thought about sexuality is just a hormonal hodgepodge of fantasy, mythology, misdirection and conjecture. Despite (or perhaps because of) our intense appreciation of the subject, a lot of us are left shooting in the dark when the lights go out.

Well, turn up the three-way and start reading. The best way to get total sex in your life is to get Total Sex, the new encyclopedia of sexuality from the libido experts right here at Men's Fitness. Fun, frank and user-friendly (if we do say so ourselves), Total Sex covers condoms, chemistry, cybersex, circumcision, conversation, celebrities, commitment, chick flicks, the clap and the clitoris ... and that's just a few of the c's. Take a crash course in comparative anatomy - yours and hers. See how way-out sex can get with the book's lust-survey results. You can even improve your capacity for medial pelvic thrusting in a special fit-for-sex section.

On the following pages, we've adapted three brief chapters from Total Sex to jump-start your erotic training. There's a little something for everyone, from nookie rookies to heavyweight champs. Because no matter how good it gets, the best part about sex is that it can always be better.

How to get from meeting to mating in six easy steps

Ok, you've met an attractive member of the same species. So how do you make that critical transition from "Hi" to "How do you take your coffee?" It's called seduction, and it's a key skill for any man to possess. Just follow these simple guidelines - accredited by our semi-anonymous expert panel - and you'll find storied success as a seducer.

Step 1: Radiate your sex. If you want women to see you as a carnal possibility, you've got to view yourself that way. Revel in your own sexuality. Lose the I'm-a-geek-and-you-probably-won't-like-me attitude. "You have to radiate your sexual self the way some women do," says Zoe, a decorative painter in Santa Monica, California. "The only way to do that is to be comfortable in your own skin. If you don't, you're probably not going to feel comfortable around a woman." (One caveat: Know the difference between reveling in your own sexuality and wallowing in it.)

Step 2: Receive her signals.

In most cases, seduction is reaction, not action. Women usually tell men to come hither, sending messages verbally and via body language. "If they're interested, women will attempt to make it easy for you to seduce them," says Bernie, a freelance writer from New York City. "The problem is that most men don't try to figure out what women are saying."

A few good indicators of interest, according to Jeanne Martinet, author of Getting Beyond Hello, are:

* eye contact and a smile

* hair twirls

* pointless fingering

* light touches of her body or yours.

Step 3: Flirt. Of course, it's still up to you to at least appear to make the first move, so flirt. He who flirts well and flirts often will not sleep alone at night. This is the heart of seduction; it's a way of showing genuine interest in becoming better acquainted with someone. (It's also where you overcome the fact that you don't look like Tom Cruise and don't drive a Rolls-Royce.) Flirting is banter and play; it's saying one thing while meaning another, and fully intending that both of your intentions will be understood.

Judy Kuriansky, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating, offers this inside info for flirts:

* Use flattery. It's the fastest way to a person's heart. If you're truly taken by the way a person looks or acts, feel free to compliment. Be sincere.

* Listen. "The most powerful aphrodisiac is your undivided attention," Kuriansky says.

* Try to discover a common interest, then talk about it.

* Smile. According to one study, people who smile more tend to make more money and have less stress. For flirting purposes, a smile makes you look friendly, warm and open. And that's always attractive.

* Trust yourself. "Believe that you can do it, survive it, and come out feeling good about yourself," Kuriansky says.

* Be responsible. Be truthful, careful and clear about your intentions.

Step 4: Buy another fork. Let's say she agrees to go out with you. Dark and atmospheric restaurants are great date sites, especially for the better-heeled. But there are other options. Invite her over for dinner. If you're insecure about your culinary capabilities, remember an important point: When you're cooking for her, she's at your place. Just make sure you have the basics: salt, pepper, plates, etc. (Note: Women are significantly less likely than men to consider Kleenex or gym towels to be adequate substitutes for napkins.)

Step 5: Swab down the love boat. According to ancient tradition, the Bachelor Pad is a foul and sordid place, disheveled and faintly redolent of tossed-off sweat socks and funkifying sheets, with sinks full of dishes and bathrooms that violate state health codes.

Sounds great, doesn't it? But women have different standards. Clean your little love nest, and make sure there's plenty of toilet paper in the bathroom. Be neat, but not sterile. A cool mess - clutter that reveals something about your life, like music or books - is OK. One of our love pundits even stores his motorcycle in his living room, deliberately parked against a white backdrop so it looks like a piece of furniture or sculpture.

In the bedroom, start with clean sheets and some decent blankets and a comforter. You want the environment be simultaneously safe and exotic - a secret chambre d'amour. Add lots of pillows and some candles for the night table. Subtract any pictures of your ex.

Step 6: Set the night to music. Music contains more romantic energy than any other force in the universe. Why? Who cares; it just does. The question is: Which melodies will best contribute to the mood of the moment and make your date more amenable to your advances? Whatever you play yourself will work if it isn't on a tuba or a kazoo. Otherwise, try anything by Billie Holiday. Or Marvin Gaye. Or Barry White, Chris Isaak, Luther Vandross or Al Green. If all else fails, get something - anything - with lots of saxophone.

Phacts & phallusies

Are these common sexual myths getting you down?

When it comes to sex, men are governed more by fable than by fact. Avodah K. Offit, PhD, a psychiatrist and sex therapist based in New York City, has worked with men for years to wrest reality from the web of erotic fiction. Here, she provides the truth about the 10 most prevalent sexual myths.

Myth No. 1: A man should be ready, willing and able to have sex at all times. Men impose enormous physical demands on themselves - unrealistic demands. Frankly, there's something wrong with a man who can have sex with anyone at any time - and this is true for guys from 18 to 80. It's not only a physical impossibility, but a gross neglect of self-interest, self-awareness and self-respect. You may simply be too tired, too angry, or just plain disinterested. The penis is a good barometer: If you're not in the mood for sex, don't expect it to respond at the drop of a skirt.

Myth No. 2: The longer a man lasts in bed, the more pleasure a woman feels. There's an erroneous notion that a man is supposed to keep pumping away for hours on end, and that he's not supposed to have an orgasm until the woman is thoroughly exhausted. This is nonsense. Most women are not looking for endurance champions; they prefer to go up and down in excitement, taking periodic breaks before getting back into the hot-and-heavy sex. Of course, having the girl of longevity is no liability, but it's not the first thing women are after.

Myth No. 3: A man should be blessed with the power of achieving instant erections. Some women take it as a blow to their egos if you're not instantly hard in their presence. This problem rests with the woman, not the man. A woman's self-esteem must be pretty low if she is dependent on your spontaneous erection for her own ego gratification. Many men need time to relax before getting erect. Don't rush it. As long as it happens eventually, everything should be OK.

Myth No. 4: A small penis is less satisfying to a woman than a large one. This falls under the heading of personal choice. It's really a matter of fit. Vaginas come in different shapes and sizes and, of course, penises vary in length and girth. In general, an average-size penis - one that can fit comfortably in most women - will do the trick.