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HBO's 'Real Sex': An Oral History

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HBO's "Real Sex": An oral history. | HBO

In November of 1990, HBO viewers who stuck around after yet another Tuesday night showing of She’s Having a Baby found themselves watching a documentary special called Real Sex. The show featured segments on phone sex, stripping, and, most memorable, a female masturbation workshop. It aired at 11 p.m., hardly a desirable time shot. What no one anticipated was that 2.8 million households would tune in, giving it the second highest rating of any HBO documentary to date (only The Making of the Sports Illustrated 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue had done better). “We started research for what was intended to be one 66-minute special,” said Patti Kaplan, the series’ producer. “It became 33 episodes.”

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