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Singin’ the Body Electric

If looking at Ricky Martin shaking his “bon bon” or seeing Britney Spears dancing seductively with her navel exposed makes you hot, it’s because these artists have learned that mixing sex with music makes for a powerful tonic.

As proven in VH1’s new series From the Waist Down: Men, Women & Music (airing Monday-Friday, August 6-10 at 10 p.m. ET/PT), music and sexual attitudes have long been intertwined, from the rock ‘n’ roll early ’50s through the hip-hop culture of today.

In the early phases of rock, girls that screamed over Elvis “The Pelvis” or the “Beatlemania” phenomenon were craving a taboo they could not easily describe: sex.

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From Robert Plant to Jim Morrison to Lenny Kravitz, tight leather pants, an exposed chest, and the intensity with which these performers sing their music continues to be extremely sexual to this date. Although they may not consider themselves sexual, musicians transmit carnal desire through their work.

Did music help trigger a sexual revolution? Definitely.

Who better to explain of the effect musicians had on society than those who lived it? Slash, CC DeVille, Ted Nugent and The Go-Go’s Jane Weidlin all contribute to the series by giving their insight how music, especially their own, had an effect on society.

CC DeVille, guitarist for 80s rock band Poison, waxes eloquent about living in the fast lane– a hobby for the band that had the biggest groupie list in the nation. When it came to music, however, CC DeVille wondered about his role in the music industry back in the day.

“How come I look like a transvestite, am getting laid, but am not getting respected as an artist?” he pondered.

Jumping on that bandwagon is legendary rocker Ted Nugent, who says that every musician joins a rock band just for the girls. Using a guitar as a phallic symbol–a musician can easily holds a guitar between his legs as he strums the instrument in a sexual manner–becomes second nature to budding musicians, continues Nugent‘s theory.

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Believe me, from the clips shown the man knows what he’s talking about.

VH1 gathered video clips from performers and interviews with both artists and rock critics (although The New York Times‘ Ann Powers has become a tedious, boring regular on the network’s “rockumentaries”) and tells the tale of the fine line between sex and rock and roll well.

Over the years, the tight clothing, the not-so-discreet sexual acts onstage and the suggestive lyrics have served as an easily attained admission pass to many newcomers in the music industry.

From the Waist Down: Men, Women & Music will be presented in five themed, not-necessarily-chronological hour-long episodes as detailed below:

Dance to the Music

Elvis Presley caught the attention of young girls as he moved his hips from side to side and sang such tunes as “Sweet Little Sexteen,” on the Ed Sullivan Show. The concern of parents watching their teenage daughters see him perform was so severe that CBS executives forbade their camera crew to shoot him below the waist.

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Similarly, American Bandstand camera operators were under strict instructions to avoid filming couples who danced too closely to each other. Thus begins music’s challenge on propriety, social mores and sexual attitudes.

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Whole Lotta Love

The most entertaining episode of the series, this episode spotlights 80s glam rock and the sexual liberation these artists forged. Def Leppard band members designed a special backstage pass for roadies to give to sexy women in their audience they wanted to meet. With groupies known for their devotion, Poison installed a condom machine in their tour bus and logged the groupies’ contact information in a computer database. For Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Slash or Duran Duran’s John Taylor, music in the 80s was about living the ideal rock star life, including women and music to excess.

Sisters are Doin’ It for Themselves

Who said men were the only ones who could play music, and sexually at that? Tina Turner was well known across the country for fondling the microphone while on stage. Girl groups like The Bangles or The Go-Go’s said they “dressed up for themselves, not for men,” during concerts, but their short skirts, makeup, and good looks, always drew male fans into their music. Cher, with her tattooed derriere exposed (everyone remembers the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video) and hot romance with Bon Jovi guitarist Ritchie Sambora, was just one of the “bad” girls in rock and roll.

Are You a Boy or a Girl?

Musicians also explored gender-bending styles. Artists such as David Bowie and Elton John had fun playing dress-up while performing onstage. Bowie often claimed to be the founder of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Longhaired Men… wow! It was during this era that gay clubs began getting attention (and acceptance) across the nation, as it became legal in 1969 for two men to dance together in a nightclub.

I Fought the Law

Hip-hop gains popularity among white teens. Think Vanilla Ice. Teenagers listen to rappers as a form of rebellion against authority. In 1989, 2 Live Crew’s song “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” contained 226 instances of the “f” word, 87 references to oral sex, and 163 insults to women, leading a Florida judge to rule the album legally obscene and that selling the album would be considered a crime. Undeterred, the cover of Jane’s Addiction album Ritual De Lo Habitual showed three people naked together in bed. Their record label refused to print the cover, and the grouped was forced to change the image. The final product was a total white cover, which included only the band’s name at the top and the text of the first amendment at the bottom as a statement.

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