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The East, The West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters – The Brooklyn Rail
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A Brooklyn warehouse becomes a s tropical resort in a sensuous Third Rail stage production that aims for immersion — but ultimately feels forced. A production of Third Rail, which also created the successful Victorian pastiche Then She Fell, The Grand Paradise is set in a louche tropical resort in the late s. A local answer to the popular import Sleep No More , it attempts to work stage magic with a smaller space, cast, and budget — though with a seemingly limitless supply of gold lame and coconut shells. The evening begins promisingly with a short video in the style of a flight safety announcement, a ritual garlanding with plastic leis, and an introduction to a former Brooklyn warehouse now entirely transformed via ersatz flowers, plaster rock formations, secluded cabanas, and flowing water. Closed doors tantalize with the thought of what might lie beyond them.
They go to broaden their horizons and all that, sure, but while away, they also manage to squeeze in plenty of revelry—sex very much included. Richard Bernstein, a former Time China correspondent, takes this mindset as his basic premise in his new book, The East, the West, and Sex: A History of Erotic Encounters , though he focuses on the sexploits of Western men in Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East during the past four or five centuries. Early European explorers may have ventured East seeking riches and renown, but they happened to stumble on some additional perks, tales of which eventually made their way back to Europe. He does, however, succeed in marshalling enough real-life evidence to challenge the post-colonialist argument that Eastern sensuality is a mere figment of the Western male imagination.