What Your Kiss Can Do To A Woman

Your first kiss will determine if you get an invitation or a handshake. When it comes to kissing, you have to approach it with the right attitude. It is an experience to be enjoyed in and of itself, not just a stepping-stone to sex. Yes, of course we want it to lead to the bedroom and if done correctly, it probably will, but you need to experience and really enjoy the act of kissing. A woman will feel your kiss with great sensitivity and she will know if it is sincere or not. And if you really kiss with purpose, you'll enjoy it and thereby also be good at it.

Kissing not only involves the lips, but the whole body and mind, and, if you do it right, the soul. First know how to enjoy kissing before you can expect a woman to enjoy kissing you. Kissing is a process, not an act.

The way to enjoy kissing is to be sensitive to the closeness and touching of lips and tongues. Focus on your lips and hers. Enjoy the sensation. Let your mind wander with what you are feeling. Women are touchy-feely and it's all about emotions and heady stuff like that and most of us guys don't really understand and really don't want to, but we have to deal with it. And, again, if you go with the flow and catch the feeling, so to speak, you might find yourself on a new plane of pleasure. Kissing is a wonderful experience if you let it be. I'm reminded of a time when a kiss created the setting for a night of bliss that illustrates one of those wonderful kissing experiences.

I was visiting my parents at my boyhood home in Italy on the Mediterranean coast some years ago, the time not being of importance. After hooking up with old time friends and hitting the social scene, it was not long before my eyes met those of a fair young lady. We hit it right off after a brief introductory chat and from there the night flowed like wine at an Italian wedding.

As the night turned into the wee hours of the morning, we strolled as lovers would in an old time movie through the city square. As she twirled in front of me, arms outstretched and hair flowing so beautifully, I gently stepped closer. Seeing the impassioned look on my face, she slowly glided around and leaned into my arms. I pulled her close to me, looked into her eyes, and whispered a sweet compliment. She smiled and I kissed her. The kind of kiss that brought out all her passions and erased her inhibitions. It was a night that she will always remember as I do. I remember all my moments with women, even though there have been hundreds of them.

The beginning to a great night with a beautiful woman can end with a handshake if she does not like the way you kiss. If you want her to spread her legs, you first have to know how to spread her lips.

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Will Smith, I Am The Legend

Today's lesson: how to film a movie about the end of the world in the busiest city in the world. First, stop the traffic.

One Saturday morning last year, director Francis Lawrence stood in the middle of Sixth Avenue in New York. A voice crackled over his walkie-talkie: "Locking up 42nd Street down to 34th."

At each intersection of one-way Sixth Avenue, police stopped the cross traffic, as well as the vehicles heading north at 34th Street. Production assistants ushered bystanders back into doorways and off the corners, so that within the viewing range of the camera, the stretch was empty. The first day of shooting the film of I Am Legend had begun.

"Just standing there and looking on a Saturday morning down Sixth Avenue and it's completely empty and it's because they're letting us film our movie, and it's cool," Lawrence says. "It's not a power thing, it's just, 'Man, I'm lucky being able to experience these sorts of things.'"

I Am Legend is about the end of the world as we know it, a place swept clean of humanity by a lethal virus that began life as a cure for cancer, shepherded into existence by, among others, military scientist Robert Neville, played by Will Smith. The film is loosely based on the 1954 novel of the same name, written by Richard Matheson.

The virus spares Neville, whose wife and daughter die in the frenzied evacuation of Manhattan, but transforms countless others - human and animal - into zombies with aggressively anti-social dispositions, the usual netherworld aversion to daylight and extraordinary strength and agility.

Smith, Lawrence and Oscar-winning scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman went to considerable lengths to explore the mindset of a man totally alone: I Am Legend begins with Neville three years into his solitary existence.

The questions the film provokes, not least of them being the recent American fascination with apocalyptic scenarios - two such books, The Road by Cormac McCarthy and The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, became best-sellers - have forced Smith to ponder the difference between the man he is and the guys he plays on screen.

"Ali didn't step forward [after being conscripted into the US Army] because they wouldn't call him Muhammad Ali, and he knew he was going to jail, knew what the situation would be, but he could not," Smith says. "He wouldn't step forward. I just remember thinking, 'What would I do?' I don't know if I would be enough of a man to give up everything I have right now, the way Ali did for that principle.

"When I look at Robert Neville: what was there to live for, what was there to hope for? To wake up every day and to try to restore something that is good and gone. I like to believe I would put my chest up and stand forward and march on [loud, inspiring voice] and continue to fight for the future of humanity. But I would probably find a bridge - 'I'm comin' to join ya, Elizabeth [Neville's wife].'

"It's a tough question. I don't know. I don't think so. There's a part of me ... you want to be tested to know what you would do but you really don't want to be tested. That's the space I've lived in with quite a few of the roles I've played."

Part of the film is carried by Smith's elan and buff presence. He dropped eight kilograms for the role, illuminated in a single shirtless scene where he does a series of chin-ups, to many sighs from both genders in preview screenings.

In many ways, his part is a reprise of the everyman roles of other movies he has starred in, from Enemy of the State to Men In Black, Hitch and The Pursuit of Happyness. In this case, it's an everyday guy, trying to get by after life as we know it has ceased.

"He's attracted to those roles," Lawrence says. "If you can set aside the fact that he's a superstar, he's kind of an everyguy, oddly enough.

His sensibilities are that way.

"He's better than anyone I know at being just like a member of the general audience, which is partially why he's so successful, because he can sit back and imagine being a 16-year-old kid in the theatre and knows what he wants to see, what he wants to feel.''

In person Smith is tall and fit-looking, with the build of the runner who averages 50km a week, as he does. If anything, that physique yields to his personality, with a loud guffaw of a laugh and a charming and intimate manner - a big salesman for larger-than-life movies about the unexpected travails of an everyday guy. The press were in the palms of his inordinately large hands.

As executive producer and star, Smith had significant say in most aspects of the production of I Am Legend, not least of them casting, with his seven-year-old daughter, Willow, playing his screen daughter, Marley. Willow's older brother, Jaden, nine, appeared as his father's screen son in last year's hit The Pursuit of Happyness.

"Jaden is Johnny Depp," his father says. "He just wants to do good work. He doesn't care what money he gets, he doesn't care [how] many people see it or don't see it. He loves acting. He just wants to make good movies. And Willow is Paris Hilton [laughing]. Willow wants to be on TV [louder laughing]. We're managing both of those in our household."

Other than the challenge of emptying New York, Lawrence had to deal with the challenge of a one-man show, where that one man has no one to talk to but his dog.

Inspiration arrived by accident.

As Lawrence's wife fed their newborn son one evening, he watched a DVD with the sound muted. The movie was The Piano and Lawrence found that even without dialogue he could pick up every nuance of Jane Campion's unlikely, beautiful love story.

"My wife and I were struck at how we could follow it and not just follow, but feel it," Lawrence says.

"I got very excited and I said to the guys [Smith and Goldsman], 'This is what we have to do. We have to apply that thinking to this movie because there's really no dialogue, so whatever we do we have to treat it like a silent film, so not only can you follow it, but you have to be able to feel it without sound.'"

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Amy Winehouse Arrested For Interfering With Course Of Justice

Troubled British soul singer Amy Winehouse was arrested today as part of an investigation into perverting the course of justice, London police and her publicist said.

The 24-year-old, whose husband Blake Fielder-Civil is being held on remand accused of inflicting grievous bodily harm and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, went to a London police station to be arrested in agreement with police.

"It was voluntary and pre-arranged," a representative at her publicity agency said, asking not to be quoted by name.

London's Metropolitan police said: "A 24-year-old woman has been arrested by appointment at an East London police station in connection with an investigation into perverting the course of justice. She remains in custody."

Winehouse, nominated for six Grammy awards, has struggled with drugs and alcohol since shooting to fame. She was pictured this month wandering the streets of London at dawn in only a bra and jeans.

The tattooed singer has cancelled all her remaining planned concerts this year saying she cannot perform while her husband is in jail.

Fielder-Civil, 25, was charged in November in an investigation into perverting the course of justice, days before he was due to go on trial for beating up a bartender.

The trial was delayed after police launched an investigation into allegations made by British newspaper The Daily Mirror that the bartender was offered money not to testify.

Winehouse's parents have made repeated calls for their daughter to seek help, fearing that she could be sucked into a cycle of drugs and trauma.

"We want to help you, but we know that unless you want to be helped, unless you come to us, anything we tried would be in vain," her mother, Janis Winehouse, wrote in a letter published by the News of the World newspaper last week.

"Early fame has overwhelmed you, it's dizzied you and muddled your mind."

Winehouse scored a hit last year with the song Rehab about refusing treatment for drugs and alcohol.

She and Fielder-Civil, who married earlier this year, were arrested in Norway in October for possessing cannabis and paid a fine.

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Singer Bob Dylan Claimed Five Spirit Award Nominations

I'm Not There, an artful look at the life of singer Bob Dylan, claimed a leading five Spirit Award nominations for independent movies, including best film as Hollywood launched its annual award season.

The movie, in which several actors represent different stages of the musician's life and work, also earned nominations for director Todd Haynes, supporting actress Cate Blanchett, who plays one version of Dylan, and supporting actor Marcus Carl Franklin, 14, who plays another.

I'm Not There also claimed the first Robert Altman Award, named after the iconoclastic director of MASH who long-championed independent movies before his death in 2006.

Director Julian Schnabel's drama, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, about a paralyzed French journalist who dictates a book by blinking, and Jason Reitman's comedy Juno, which tells of a young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, earned four nominations each, including best movie and best director.

Also taking best film and director nods was Gus Van Sant's teenage skateboard drama, Paranoid Park. The final nomination among best films went to A Mighty Heart, about the search for slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

The final director nominee was Tamara Jenkins for drama The Savages, the story of two adult siblings who move their father to a nursing home. It earned four nominations overall.

'Talented filmmakers'

"We have a huge array of talented filmmakers with movies in many different genres. It has been an exciting year for independent film and this shows a deep pool of talent," said Dawn Hudson, executive director of Los Angeles-based group Film Independent, which gives out the Spirit Awards.

Film Independent supports moviemakers working outside Hollywood's major studios or within the studios' specialty film divisions. The awards have become an important barometer for which low-budget and art films might compete for Oscars, Golden Globes or other honors in Hollywood's annual awards season.

Angelina Jolie was nominated for best leading actress playing Pearl's wife in Mighty Heart and relative newcomer Ellen Page earned a nod for Juno. Joining them were Sienna Miller for Interview, Parker Posey in Broken English and another newcomer, China's Tang Wei, in drama Lust, Caution.

In the category for best leading actor, Don Cheadle was nominated for his role as a radio disc jockey in Talk To Me and Philip Seymour Hoffman earned a nomination playing one of the siblings in The Savages.

Other best actor nominees included veteran Frank Langella in Starting Out in the Evening, Tony Leung, a veteran of Hong Kong movies, for Lust, Caution and Pedro Castaneda portraying a migrant worker in August Evening.

Joining Blanchett for supporting actress were Jennifer Jason Leigh for Margot at the Wedding, Anna Kendrick in Rocket Science, Tamara Podemski for Four Sheets to the Wind and Marisa Tomei with Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

Supporting actor nominees with Franklin were Steve Zahn in Rescue Dawn, Chiwetel Ejiofor for Talk to Me, Kene Holliday in Great World of Sound, and Irrfan Khan in The Namesake.

Foreign film nominees included Romania's 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, winner of the Cannes film festival's Palme d'Or, Israeli film The Band's Visit, Irish drama Once and two French films, Lady Chatterley and the animated Persepolis.

The Spirit Awards will be given out February 23 in a ceremony that will air on the Independent Film Channel.

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One On One With Zachary Quinto

A year ago, you were just another jobless Hollywood actor. Now you're starring on Heroes and playing Spock. Are you sure you're not dreaming all this?
It's all very dreamlike, though Trek is feeling less so as it draws nearer. We're getting ready to shoot in a month, and I just had my first fitting for my Vulcan ears. It felt incredible, and in that moment there was a huge shift for me. Suddenly it was real, and I was like, "Okay! Let's get this thing going!"

In a wild twist on Heroes, your serial-killer character, Sylar, has lost his powers. Will this help humanise the monster?
Not really. Sylar's plans for ultimate power have been derailed, but that doesn't give us a chance to know him better. If anything, he's the same guy but even more driven and obsessed and in a place of absolute hunger: "I want my power back. No time to waste!" During this struggle, he'll align himself with the twins, Maya [Dania Ramirez] and Alejandro [Shalim Ortiz], and they'll go on a journey to New York to find Mohinder [Sendhil Ramamurthy].

Do some fans root for you to slay as many heroes as possible?
Oh, yeah! There's a group that calls itself the Sarmy or Sylar's Army that's dedicated to the support of my character, and they don't like it when he's disparaged. Their slogan is "Every villain needs a legion of evil supporters." But what's funny is they do great charity work. It's never bad to have an army.

Is it true you were ready to drop out of showbiz when Heroes came along?
I was in the depths of despair to the point where I couldn't get out of bed. I was about to turn 30, which is a notoriously tumultuous time for people, and I was dealing with career obstacles that were profound - a real existential crisis. I was asking myself, "What's the point of all this? Why am I even in the game anymore?"

But you'd already had a few cool roles by that time Tori Spelling's gay friend on So NoTORIous and Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) analyst Adam Kaufman on Season 3 of 24. Weren't you encouraged by that?
So NoTORIous was great fun but had no far-reaching appeal. 24 did have that, but I was an information disseminator who was very expendable on a show that doesn't have a lot of character depth. Until Heroes happened, I'd never played an amazing character on a really great show that a lot of people watched.

Let's get back to Spock. It's almost like you manifested this role. Was this (self-help philosophy) The Secret at work?
From the day I found out they were making the Star Trek movie, I said, "I want to be Spock" and I started talking about it to everybody - to my friends, my agents, reporters who interviewed me. I put my intentions out there clearly and the universe responded. But this is age-old thinking rooted in Eastern philosophy and spirituality. I've never read The Secret.

Some Trek loyalists are already griping online that the film, about Starfleet Academy, is starting to look like Star Trek, 90210. Response?
I don't immerse myself in the internet chatter because it opens you up to a whole source of danger. I think Zoe Saldana [young Uhura] and Anton Yelchin [young Chekov] are formidable young actors, and I'm grateful to be among them. The film is being made with the long-time fans in mind, but it will also be of its own time and have a distinct voice and perspective. There's no better way to respect the Trek mythology than to try to bring it to a wider audience.

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Al Gore Says Global Television Community Saved The Planet

Former US vice-president Al Gore urged the global television community to help get the word out about the climate crisis before it is too late as he accepted a special honour at the 35th International Emmy Awards.

British TV productions dominated the awards ceremony, winning seven of the nine categories, with BBC One's The Street enjoying wins for drama series and best actor.

Actor-director Robert De Niro introduced Mr Gore at the awards gala as this year's recipient of the International Emmy Founders Award for his efforts to promote "our common humanity".

De Niro wryly noted in his introduction that Mr Gore had "devoted his life to public service" and continued to do so "after he was elected President in 2000 and voted out of office by the Supreme Court".

"He has used his prominence as a concerned world leader to wield enormous influence," De Niro said. "When you see an international figure or head of state coming out in support of the fight against global warming look closely, you may see Al Gore behind him, pushing him."

Mr Gore had a special message for the audience of television executives, producers and performers from around the world who gathered in the grand ballroom of the Hilton New York Hotel for the awards ceremony presented by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

"The climate crisis is by far the most serious challenge human civilisation has ever faced," said Gore, who has already won an Oscar for his global warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth and will be travelling to Oslo, Norway, next month to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. "We really do now confront a true planetary emergency.

"We still have time to fix it. But this great powerful medium of television can be part of that solution because networks and channels all around the world represented here can help to get the word out while there is time."

Mr Gore was also honoured for his role as co-chairman and co-founder of the interactive Current TV cable and satellite network, which relies heavily on viewer-created short video segments.

"I think the future of democracy in our world depends to a surprising degree on democratising television," said Mr Gore.

"Current TV was designed from the start to connect the internet and television."

Britain had led all countries with eight nominations. Brazil had seven nominations, but was shut out on awards night. The International Emmys honour excellence in TV production outside the United States.

The only non-British winners were Poland's The Magic Tree for children's programme; the Netherlands' Pierre Bokma, for his role as a religious software entrepreneur in The Chosen One, for which he tied with Jim Broadbent of The Street for best actor; and French actress Muriel Robin, who won as best actress for her role as an infamous "black widow" serial killer in the true-life drama Marie Besnard - The Poisoner.

Robin said she was "so superstitious" that she thought it would be bad luck to prepare a winner's speech, so she wrote "a loser's speech" instead.

"From the bottom of my heart to you just simple words: emotional - a lot, happy - very, proud - yes, tears - not now, later in my bed. I dreamed so much of this moment."

But otherwise the awards ceremony was an all-British affair with BBC productions leading the way with six Emmys.

Each episode of The Street focuses on the residents of a different house on the same street in a city in northern England.

Broadbent, who missed the presentations, was honoured for his role as an embittered warehouse foreman approaching retirement.

"Really this award goes to the creator of The Street, Jimmy McGovern, whose characters have to face the inconvenient truth of their lives with honesty," said the show's executive producer, Sita Williams, in accepting the best drama series Emmy.

British comedian Stephen Fry took home the Emmy for best documentary for Stephen Fry - The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive about his own and other people's experiences living with bipolar disorder.

"This documentary was very important to me ... Manic depression is a pandemic chronic condition," said Fry. "We need to understand much more about it and most of all we need to address the urgent problem of the stigma."

Other British winners included Little Britain Abroad in the comedy category; How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? a competition to cast the role of Maria in a London production of The Sound of Music, for non-scripted entertainment, and Simon Schama's Power of Art: Bernini, about the 17th-century Roman sculptor, for arts programming.

"I wanted to prove that art actually isn't some sort of cultural luxury, it's our food and drink, it's our necessity," said Schama. "Art is a war against dreck. It actually shows us what our best we can do."

Of the British wins, the only non-BBC winner was in the TV movie/mini-series category - the More4 satellite channel's controversial docudrama Death of a President, which begins with the fictional assassination of George W. Bush.

Its producer-writer Simon Finch said the film wasn't meant to be "a liberal fantasy" or "anti-Bush".

"It was meant to be a film which was trying to say that there was something about the age of fear in which we live, about the danger of rushing to judgment," said Finch.

French actress Carole Bouquet presented the International Emmy Directorate Award to Patrick Le Lay, chairman of the TF1 Group, for his role in expanding the French network into one of the largest in Europe.

Le Lay said the television industry should not be thought of as an "old business" because TV programming is much in demand by the new technology from internet access providers to mobile phone companies.

National Broadcasting of Thailand won the special International Children's Day of Broadcasting Award, which this year dealt with the theme of Aids.

The event, hosted by Roger Bart, currently starring in the Broadway musical Young Frankenstein, featured several US television celebrity presenters, including Sam Waterston (Law & Order), Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos), Rob Morrow (Numb3rs) and George Wendt (Cheers).

The academy is the largest organisation of global broadcasters with more than 500 members from nearly 70 countries and more than 400 companies.

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Ryan Phillipe Became Suicidal After Divorce

Ryan Phillippe has revealed he contemplated suicide following his split from ex-wife Reese Witherspoon.

The actor - whose divorce from the actress was finalised last month - considered taking his own life because he couldn't stop crying and vomiting.

He said: "After the divorce, I was a physical wreck. I wanted to die. I was ready to kill myself. I was not taking care of myself at all. I would wake up and cry and vomit."

Luckily, Ryan - who shares custody of the couple's children, eight-year-old Ava and four-year-old Deacon, with Reese - pulled through and believes the experience has made him a better actor.

He added to Man About Town magazine: "Now, it's f***ing easy to cry on cue. When I was younger, I didn't have enough to cry about. But since I've had kids, I feel my work has become better, because my life is fuller and more complicated, and I've experienced so many highs and lows."

Ryan recently revealed how his children helped him get through the divorce.

He said: "I know it sounds pathetic - I'm a 33-year-old guy but my daughter is getting me through the toughest time in my life, and that's beautiful.

"Deacon's fun, every day he says something that makes me laugh, warms my heart. It ain't easy. It's devastating but the bottom line is I have to focus on the children, and they're doing amazingly well and that's really all that matters."

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Globalisation - Making China More Westernised

Lijia Zhang

'Scored yet?' That was the first question from several young adventurers crowded around a table at a bar in Lhasa, Tibet's colourful capital city. Between sips of yak butter tea, they trade jokes and swap tales about their latest sexual encounters. These twentysomethings on leave from city jobs could have been from anywhere in the world looking for spiritual enlightenment, romantic encounters, or both. But they were all from China, where such conversations and attitudes would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

'Why not?' said Sandy Li, a 28-year-old fashion designer from Beijing, lighting a cigarette from a candle and confessing that she took the trip to meet someone with no strings attached. 'Just for a bit of harmless fun. We don't have to behave ourselves here; we don't know anyone. Finding a proper boyfriend is a lot harder than finding a man you can go to bed with.'

Li's attitude is typical of many of the young urban middle class, whose slogan could well be carpe diem or rather carpe noctem. Apart from Lhasa, another popular pick-up place is Lijiang, in Yunnan province.

Of course, people don't have to travel to far-flung places for casual sex. Your own flat would do. Less than 20 years ago, singles had little choice but to stay with their parents. Now cohabitation, like sex before marriage, is commonplace.

Before a split six months ago, Li lived with her photographer boyfriend for three years but had never introduced him to her family. 'For my parents, bringing a boyfriend home means impending marriage. I am still young. I'd like to make a splash in my career first, and explore what life can offer.'

'The singles are not talking about marriages, and lovers aren't talking about the future,' goes one popular saying among colleague students. And a joke describes the pattern of 'one-week' relationships: 'On Monday, you send out vibes. Tuesday, you express true desire. Wednesday, you hold hands. Thursday, you sleep together. Friday, a feeling of distance sets in. Saturday, you want out. On Sunday, you start searching again.'

Youngsters' unwillingness to settle down is causing great anxiety to the older generation. In Zhongshan Park, a stone's throw from the Forbidden City in Beijing, dozens of parents, armed with photographs and information about their children, gather and search for potential partners. Some even go 'eight-minute speed dating' on behalf of children who themselves will be chatting and flirting on the internet.

'Today's young people are probably more sexually charged than their parents' generation,' said Susie Huang, author of All About Susie, a collection of essays about the love and sex lives of today's burgeoning bourgeois. It's China's literary version of Sex and the City. 'To start with, it's now safe to be naughty,' she said. 'Before you might have landed in a labour camp for conducting an extramarital affair.'

But is it safe? A more tolerant social environment has led many to experiment in uncharted waters, with mixed results. Divorce rates are climbing steadily in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where one in three marriages ends in failure. Syphilis has skyrocketed, with a 25-fold increase since the early 1990s. And extra-marital affairs are now common.

Maybe Muzi Mei, a former sex blogger, is an extreme example of today's restless and hedonistic crowds. Her site used to attract 10 million visitors a day before it was shut down by the government in 2003. Officials objected to her online diary, which explicitly detailed her exploits. She was forced to resign from her Guangzhou-based magazine as a sex columnist and now works for a website, but still continues her man-hopping ways.

'My sex life is very interesting. Some may find it educational as well as entertaining,' said the 29-year-old journalist over a bowl of steaming soup in a Beijing restaurant. 'I sleep with lots of men because I don't want to be imprisoned in one relationship,' she declared to the giggles of eavesdropping waitresses. 'I am a free spirit.'

She is also a romantic. In her magazine she offered tips on creating the right environment on a date and suggested playing your favourite music while making love. There are books available too, offering step-by-step guides to dating, from basic advice such as not spitting to sending flowers on Valentine's Day. Kissing, something the Chinese people once saw only in foreign films, is now part of the landscape.

A recent cover story in the national News Weekly concluded that 'China's love life is in a stage of revelry, featuring the emphasis on sex rather than love; on physical pleasure rather than spiritual fulfilment'.

Susie Huang thinks she knows why: 'It is a globalisation of some sort: China is becoming more westernised. And, in some ways, more human.'

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China's Sexual Revolution Awakens Its Sleeping Libido

Vanessa Richmond
The tanks are parked. Kids are kissing in Tiananmen Square. And if a new documentary is right, it's the kissing that's leading to more personal liberty than any form of rebellion since the Cultural Revolution began.

According to China's Sexual Revolution, by Miro Cernetig and Josh Freed, Chairman Mao married sexuality with capitalism (as forms of corruption and decadence). But now Chinese youth are embracing both with a passion. At warp speed, in fact. There are probably people necking in front of his statue right now, and that's just for starters.

Here's what happened. Sixty years ago, Mao turned "couples into comrades and not lovers, and cloaked men and women in the same unisexual suits," according to the film's narrator. Makeup was forbidden, and hairstyles were dictated by the government (they were not what you would call flattering). Men and women were supposed to feel only like brothers and sisters, and were supposed to regard sex merely as reproductive labour. Instead, they were supposed to get on with more important work. Um, like making cheap plastic sex toys for the rest of the world (70 per cent of which now come from China).

Why? The communist party regarded sex as an outdated feudal custom. And as Dr. Pan Sue Ming, a scholar featured in the doc says, they considered it dangerous since the Revolution needed "a man to want to fight against someone, but sex makes you love and happy." The party even chose people's spouses. And there were propaganda films portraying people who believed in "romance" as foolish, and a source of shame to their families.

Virgin lust

The film reports that secretly, Mao's own sex life was "worthy of an emperor." He, in fact, had a lust for virgins, whom he believed kept him young. "And his sexual excesses are now legend." But he didn't want his comrades comingling.

As a result there are many Chinese people with as much sexual knowledge as I have of the Mandarin language (I know two words). In fact, a recent survey found that 20 per cent of Chinese men didn't know what the clitoris is and 50 per cent of Chinese women had never had an orgasm. Sounds super.

One male student from Beijing recently called in to Whispers, a radio sex show (which is now one of the most popular shows in the nation) with a question. He wondered if he could have made a girl pregnant or got AIDS himself from their encounter. The incident in question was one where he and a girl kissed and hugged (and that's all) while wearing winter coats.

In the past, the government would have cracked down not only on the naughty public kiss but also on the radio show, but now, realizing whole generations lack adequate sexual information and it's leading to restlessness and resentment of the government, they tolerate it. The government has even come to tolerate sex conferences, complete with sex toy sales and video demonstrations, often flooded by as many as 15,000 people; whereas they used to shut them down. And Beijing alone has 5,000 sex shops, more than New York -- all of which are allowed to dispense free sex ed and sell lingerie and sex toys -- without bother.

It seems sex ed really is needed -- the film has other anecdotes about the level of sexual information out there. One couple, recently married, went to a health information centre to ask about "marital relations." The counselors soon realized they were both virgins. The couple thought sex entailed touching legs in bed. When I spoke to him, Cernetig said when he heard these two stories, he was shocked. But he's since heard countless more.

Raunch meets Revolution

Now, I've asked a few male friends about this. All said no one specifically told them the details about the birds and the bees, but they were pretty sure that a certain part of their anatomy was meant to make contact with something else -- anything else, in fact. And the idea that leg-touching could be "it" seemed, to them, hard to buy. But as a woman, who grew up before so-called third wave feminism made pole dancing and lingerie-in-high-school the norm (have you seen Gossip Girl?), I can see that with sexual repression 100 times stronger than what I experienced, that kind of deep ignorance is not only possible but likely.

Young people in the film are aware they're under a cloak of darkness and are moving into the cities in droves in order to shed it. The phrase "Sex and the City" comes up frequently, albeit in interesting translations. There's even a word for the first city haircut a country girl gets -- and it represents a kind of metamorphosis. And on the documentary, one such country-bumpkin-transformation says she's now working as a waitress, and gets shocked when she sees men and women kissing in the restaurant -- she sticks out her tongue. But she sticks around.

Another, Xiao Feng, the editor of the Chinese equivalent of FHM is in her 30s and still not interested in getting married. "Once, I would have had a husband and love him and do everything for him. But now we can do things just for ourselves." She says this would have been unheard of even a few years ago, and her parents still aren't pleased. But she'll continue the way she is. And many other women are leaving party-arranged, loveless marriages to pursue the city life too, creating an urban divorce rate comparable to ours.

Feng, and many other "city girls" are glamorous. But most women in the doc aren't. In fact, one of the most striking things about the documentary is the images of women not subject to "beauty" obsession present elsewhere, like here.

I covered the Miss China World pageant for a magazine a few years ago, and let's just say most women in the film don't look like they just stepped off that stage. It threw me for a minute, to see women not so elaborately commercially groomed, and it was also a relief. There was a kind of innocence -- meaning un-self-consciousness -- that I definitely don't experience here. And unlike when I watch "normal" TV, I wasn't constantly measuring myself against the women in the shows. Instead, I was just drawn in to what they were saying.

It's the feminist irony. On the one hand, I wanted them to find liberation and their dreams. On the other, I wanted to warn them against looking for it in a lip gloss.

Dancing without the stars

In fact, the most charming thing about the doc is the images -- shots of ordinary people and of places like night clubs. In the last clubs I went to, in Vancouver, New York and even London, most people looked bored and jaded (maybe nightclubs have "ended" but that's another story). Not so in Beijing. The club-goers look like they've been locked away until this very minute and have just seen color, warmth, music, booze, drugs and the opposite sex for the first time. There's joy on their faces and in their uninhibited dancing. It's worth watching this film just to see the wholehearted enjoyment.

But it's not all rosy -- and unlike most docs that focus on sexy topics, this one delves into the complex sociological implications of the trends.

The one child policy was meant to curb overpopulation, and on the good side (depending on whom you ask) had the unintended consequence of liberating women to pursue other things like education and paid employment. But solving the population problem created social problems -- given the culture's strong preference for boys, there will be 30 million more men than women within the decade.

Cernetig says for him, it was the saddest part of the research. In the cities, there are whole armies of men who will never have a girlfriend or a wife. They've moved from the country to make a certain kind of life and won't ever have it. And a form of class-ism is building. Working class men in the film talk about how they know they will never get a wife because they don't own an apartment and they aren't at least 173 centimetres tall.

"There is already a rising sense of gang violence in China," he says, "and it's getting harder to control. And that's the reason. A lot of men have nothing to lose. They go to Beijing only to find they will never be a Beijinger."

And it's also given rise to a thriving, brand new sex trade, not unlike that of Thailand's bordellos -- to serve those men. Some scenes show "karaoke bars," shot with a secret camera, where a hundred women sit in a basement, waiting for a client/john to purchase their services for the evening. Cernetig says the dungeon-like grimness there is one of the things that shocked him most.

So what can we learn from watching a sped-up version of the 1960s North American revolution take place at warp speed? Cernetig says, "One is that the Chinese are more like us than you might think. And the other is that it's a very layered place and a lot of what you see about the great rise of China actually masks a lot of problems."

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Sex A Taboo To A Muslim Girl

Rosie Millard
There is no way that Selin Tamtekin could be described as even remotely low-life. Immaculate, groomed to perfection, she walks towards me on perfectly unscuffed heels, without a gleaming hair out of place or a single microfibre of dust on her pristine white shirt.

At 33 she looks after the private clients of a Mayfair contemporary art gallery, organising dinner parties for collectors and inhabiting a glittering world that thinks nothing of dropping £40,000 on a painting. Her father is Yuksel Tamtekin, one of Turkey's most revered consular-generals.

Yet she has caused outrage in Turkey after the British publication of her debut novel. The Turkish Diplomat's Daughter is a racy roman à clef, chronicling sexual affairs with a Bangladeshi landlord, a sailor and a Freddie Mercury-obsessed fantasist.

When Turkish newspapers got hold of the book, Tamtekin admitted her identity (it is written under the pseudonym Deniz Goran) and was so roundly pilloried that worried friends dubbed her "the female Salman Rushdie". Splashed on the front pages of at least four national newspapers, she was derided as a "high-class Mayfair prostitute" who was writing about her own thinly veiled sexual experiences. The media were astonished that not only a Turkish woman but one from the highest echelons of society had written so frankly about her sexuality.

A public witch-hunt went on to name and shame members of the Turkish elite whose sexual peccadil-loes were supposedly outlined by the novel. Tamtekin went into hiding for three weeks, horrified by the uproar.

Despite the title, she insists that the novel is not about her experiences.

"It's not an autobiography, although there are people and situations in it that have inspired me. In society, women are expected to play the game according to the rules. Well, I wanted to create a character who does as she pleases. It's not common for women in Turkey to be so overtly sexual," admits Tamtekin.

Although she concedes she has not received death threats, the examples of not only Rushdie, but also Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker murdered for Submission, his transgressive film about women and sex in Islamic society, are a reminder that artistic expression as social critique is not easily accepted in some Muslim countries, even the secular ones.

Tamtekin is unbowed and is furious about the hypocrisy. "It's not as if no one has sex in Turkey. Of course women have sexually active lives, but they always make sure that no one hears about them. Women aren't able to stand out as individuals and talk openly about sex or fancying men," she says.

Turkey might pride itself on its secularity, but it seems as if the notion of a sexually active woman is as utterly taboo there as it is in far more fundamentalist Muslim countries. Tamtekin, who has a BA in history of art from University College London, is the first Turkish Muslim woman to publish a sexually explicit book. The reaction to what would seem pretty mainstream in Britain and the rest of Europe, where even such salacious series as Sex and the City have become accepted, shows how wide the gulf in attitudes still is between Turkey and its neighbours.

The process of Turkish accession to the European Union may well require a wholesale modernisation of the country's attitudes to women and freedom of expression. "There are no tele-vision programmes where people just chat about sex, for example," says Tamtekin. "Where I am from in Istan-bul, it's not that restrictive. I come from a secular, liberal background. But a high number of people living in Turkey regard virginity as crucial and would not contemplate the idea that their daughter might have sex before marriage."

As her book roundly attests, this morality is often utter hypocrisy; Tamtekin vividly describes a society where young women may well be sexually active but who are encouraged to visit a back-street doctor for a bit of "corrective" surgery before marriage.

She writes of a society where in remote rural areas incest is an unspoken but present horror and where, even among the middle classes, "sex, especially female sexuality and homo-sexuality, is still regarded as taboo - it's always done in a highly intricate manner behind closed doors".

From the subsequent furore, one can only surmise that many of her observations on Turkish society are spot on; even her father, the worldly wise diplomat, has stopped speaking to her since her book came out. "When a female Turkish author writes about sex in such a big way, that's a big issue," says Tamtekin sadly.

Given all the fuss, why did she go on with the publication of her novel in Turkish, which is now imminent? "Before signing the Turkish agreement I did have my doubts," she admits. "But if you have an idea and have created something, you have to take a stand and go all the way. I'm not insisting on imposing my own ideas, but everyone has a right to an opinion. I believe I have a right to publish this book in Turkey. And I will stand by my book."

She says that when writing it she just let her imagination wander. "I mean, why do people make such a big deal of it," she says. "We all have sex, everyone does. Sex is part of life and we should come to terms with it. From an early age, my father always taught me there was no taboo in art. And so I took him at his word."

Somehow I suspect that did not go down too well with the former consular-general. "Well, I sent him a letter reminding him that he always told me I was an artist with a great imagination. Of course, my mother asked me why I didn't write a novel all about flowers and birds."

Her novel is a lively gauntlet thrown down by a single woman championing casual sex. It encourages women to indulge in sex openly and freely and even dares to cast a sceptical look at marital fidelity. And it's not just about Turkey.

As she writes: "I never seem to understand why society considers sexually liberated women as such a big threat. Even in London, as a woman you need to play down your sexuality, otherwise people see you as some sort of a nuisance. I find it insane that there is still a majority out there who actually believe men . . . have a much higher sexual drive than women."

While The Turkish Diplomat's Daughter (Burning House, £10.99) may not be perfect literary fiction, the ideas that it suggests are quietly revolutionary. "I would like to be able to change opinion a bit," says Tamtekin. "I am not saying every woman should be leaping around, but they should have more freedom to do so if they wish to. And be open about it."

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Hong Kong Sex Workers Attacking Foreign Businessmen

Forty-four mostly foreign businessmen have reported being drugged and robbed by sex workers in a Hong Kong red-light district over the last three years, police said this week.

Police are continuing to investigate the possible poisoning deaths of two Americans at the Grand Hyatt hotel, also in the red-light Wan Chai district, over a week ago. Reports said the two men, identified only as Paul, 45, and Richard, 51, had been to a night club before returning to their room with two women.

The men's slumped bodies were discovered the next day by cleaning staff.

Police have yet to say what caused the men's deaths, although they have not ruled out that they were drugged. The Standard newspaper reported that a mixture of cocaine and heroin was found in their blood, but police have refused to comment, saying toxicology tests were continuing.

A Filipino women arrested shortly after the bodies were found has been released, but will appear in court on charges of violating her visa by moonlighting as a prostitute, a police spokesman said.

Police said Sunday that at least 44 men had reported incidents of drugging and robbery over the last three years in Wan Chai, where many nightclubs are easy places to meet Filipino, Indonesian and mainland Chinese prostitutes.

Some victims couldn't remember much and only made reports days or weeks after the event when they received their bank statements and found unexplained withdrawals from cash machines, a police spokeswoman said.

Other victims discovered cash and other valuables missing when they awoke in their hotel room, she said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Police were aware of the problem and of the possibility that some type of date-rape drug may have been used, she said.

She said police were giving crime prevention advice to bars and hotels in the area and working with the immigration department.

In one of the most high-profile cases, a senior Finnish policeman, Kari Juhani Koivuniemi, died of a heart attack in a luxury hotel after being given the drug Rohypnol in 2003. A woman thought to have been a mainland Chinese prostitute was suspected of giving him the drug, but she was never found.

Wan Chai was once one of Hong Kong's most notorious districts for sex and drugs, but has undergone a makeover in recent years. It remains a popular place for U.S. sailors, tourists and overseas businessmen.

Although prostitution is legal in Hong Kong, many of the women are either illegal immigrants from mainland China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, or moonlighting from their day jobs.

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Trafficking Syndicates Use Fake Free Roundtrip Tickets To Lure Filipinas Into Prostitution

Trafficking syndicates use fake roundtrip tickets and offer them as "free" to lure Filipinas they deploy for sex jobs in Singapore, the Philippine embassy in Singapore said last week.

In a recent statement, Consul General Maria Lumen Isleta said: "'Most of the human trafficking victims who run to the embassy for help hold dummy return tickets and ask for our assistance to be repatriated back to the Philippines."

Following a report earlier this week showed that a growing number of young Filipino women were being trafficked to Singapore for sexual exploitation. That report cited the cases of two women who were drawn in by the adventure of work abroad on the false promise of a high-paying decent job.

The increased incidence of trafficking of Asian women, including Filipinas, to Singapore has prompted the United States State Department to downgrade the city-state's rating from Tier 1 in 2006 to Tier 2 this year.

The embassy, in a report to the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the Singapore government was already cracking down on trafficking syndicates victimizing women.

Philippine Ambassador to Singapore Belen Fule-Anota said that in the past couple of months, Singapore authorities have arrested and jailed foreigners who knowingly presented fake return airline tickets to immigration authorities. She said that among them were 12 Filipinos, who were each given jail terms ranging from three to 10 months.

Anota said those arrested included several job seekers, pub girls who tried to extend their stay in Singapore, and even a Filipino information technology professional.

Isleta, who heads the embassy's consular section, observed: "Most of the women who were arrested by Singapore authorities for holding fake e-tickets were irregular hospitality workers who came to Singapore to work in pubs without any work permit. Most were caught while trying to re-enter Singapore at the border with Malaysia after their Singapore visas expired."

To entice prospective victims, Isleta said human traffickers and illegal recruiters would usually provide "free" roundtrip tickets (usually in the form of e-tickets). But, she cautioned, only one way was valid.

Isleta said this was a way for human traffickers to lower their cost and to demonstrate to their prospective victims that they were charging only a minimal recruitment fee while in the Philippines.

"To lower costs, human traffickers connive with travel agencies to issue dummy return tickets, usually from an airline different from the outbound one, to allow the trafficking victim to comply with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) requirement of a roundtrip ticket for tourists," she said.

Possession of a roundtrip ticket is a requirement for Filipino tourists who travel abroad. It is checked at the port of exit in the Philippines, as well as the port of entry of the destination country.

"This modus operandi lowers the cost of trafficking people across borders as traffickers only need to advance the cost of the outbound flight," she added.

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Gay Sex Party Busted In Kuala Lumpur

Police in Malaysia, where sodomy is a crime, broke up a gay sex party and arrested 37 men, including a Briton and a Chinese national, a senior official said this week.

Police, acting on a public tip-off, raided a fitness center in northern Penang island Sunday while a sex party was in progress and arrested the 37 men, aged between 20 and 45, said local police chief Azam Abdul Hamid.

Apart from the two foreigners, all of the men are ethnic Chinese Malaysians including three who work at the center, he said.

Police found used condoms strewn all over the floor, seven tubes of lubrication jelly, 20 gay magazines, four pornographic VCDs and six boxes of new condoms, he said.

"Based on our information, the center was regularly used for these gay activities," Azam told The Associated Press. "This is against our culture, our way of life."

Investigations are ongoing but he said the operator of the premises could lose his business license if he is found to have abused it, and the men, who have been released, could be charged with committing unnatural sex acts.

Homosexuality is not specified as a crime in predominantly Muslim Malaysia but it is covered under a law prohibiting sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping.

Azam said police are also surveilling other centers suspected to be involved in gay activities under an ongoing operation to check vice activities in Penang island, a major tourist centre.

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Google Boss Larry Page And Lucinda Southworth Getting Married

There are scores of eligible Google millionaires, but as of next month, both its famed billionaire founders appear to be taken.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, co-founder Larry Page will marry his girlfriend, Lucinda Southworth, at an undisclosed location during the weekend of December 8.

Guests have been advised to have their passports available to travel internationally, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, Silicon Valley celebrity gossip site valleywag.com reported that the two would marry on Necker Island, the Caribbean hideaway owned by Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson, on December 7.

Since 2003, Southworth has been a doctoral student in biomedical informatics at Stanford University. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 and holds a master's of science from Oxford University.

Southworth did not respond to requests for comment. A Google spokesperson declined to confirm the engagement.

Page, 34, co-founded the now famed search company in 1998 with Stanford University classmate Sergey Brin.

Since the firm went public in 2004, its stock has skyrocketed to nearly $750 a share and it has become one of the world's most highly valued companies. Following a week of rocky trading, shares closed at $660.55, up 4.5 per cent.

Page and Brin were co-ranked at No. 5 this year in Forbes' 400 list of US billionaires. Each is estimated to have a net worth of $18.5 billion.

In May, Brin married his longtime girlfriend, Anne Wojcicki, on a sandbar in the Bahamas.

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Justin Timberlake Gives Jessica Biel Same Kind Of Gift He Gave His Ex

Justin Timberlake has bought girlfriend Jessica Biel a customised surfboard, the same gift he gave ex Cameron Diaz.

The SexyBack singer, who bought Cameron a similar board from the same shop four years ago, is determined to teach Jessica how to ride the waves so he splashed out on a board and a years' supply of surfboard wax for her.

A source said: "He phoned Evolution Surf and ordered a longboard with a blue, yellow and gold design. He also put in an order for a year's supply of Sex Wax. He thought it'd be fun to surprise her with a board and a trip to Hawaii to teach her how to surf!"

Meanwhile, Justin is set to host his first PGA Tour golf event in Las Vegas.

The week-long competition, which is scheduled for October 2008, will be named the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

The singer will play in the celebrity pro-am competition and perform during the tournament.

Justin said: "I couldn't be more excited. We will make sure to make this event unique and memorable, and we will raise money for charity while participating in the greatest game ever played.

"Raising money to better children's lives while playing golf? I can't think of a better way to pass the time."

The star is following in the footsteps of Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Sammy Davis Jr. by hosting a PGA Tour event.

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Famous Magazine Features Celebrities Without Their Make-ups

If you woke up feeling less than incredibly beautiful this morning, get your hands on a copy of this week's Famous. The magazine's "Celeb ugly days" cover story is guaranteed to make you feel like a stunner instantly.

When the mag says that it contains "the photos they [celebs] really didn't want you to see" it is actually telling the truth. The "52 shock pics!" include a parade of angry red pimples (Katie Holmes, Britney Spears, Victoria Beckham, Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz) and a flotilla of fat, in the form of cellulite (the singer Beth Ditto, Heather Locklear and, again, Spears).

The scary pictorial spread features a number of other stars on the verge of looking like dropped meat pies, after being caught without their lippie and mascara. "Call the make-up artist," the magazine implores Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, Pamela Anderson and Calista Flockhart. Also chastised is Minnie Driver, who must be weeping into her Chanel foundation after being singled out for looking "more truck than driver".

Oh well, at least ugliness is a treatable condition (a coat of paint and anyone can look like a star), which is more than can be said for the other condition gripping celebsville this week.

It's called "carbophobia" and is characterised by a morbid fear of any food item containing carbohydrates. Just a trace of the evil stuff is known to cause intense hallucinations, in which sufferers imagine themselves tipping the scales at 200 kilograms, with their $400 designer jeans only big enough to serve as leg warmers.

A diet special in this week's NW magazine reveals carbophobia's latest victim, Kimberly Stewart (the daughter of Rod Stewart who is now famous in her own right for, err, we'll have to get to back to you on that one).

Discussing her daily food intake with the mag, Stewart reports typical paranoid carbophobia behaviour, such as scooping the soft bread out of bagels.

"Everyone in the US scoops out their bagels, so I do it when I come back to the UK, too. I always think, why do you need that extra bread?" Geez, I dunno. Maybe to stop you collapsing into unconsciousness because you're really, really hungry.

Tom Cruise may not be in danger of starvation but is busy readying himself for a battle of a different kind. According to all of the mags this week, Cruise is the subject of a new unauthorised biography set to hit the shelves in January. It is written by Andrew Morton, the bloke who lifted the lid on the British royal family with his now-infamous biography of Princess Diana. The revelations in the impending book, the mags say, have Cruise shaking in his boots.

The craziest of the bunch is that Katie Holmes, who is now his wife, had to "audition" to be his girlfriend, winning the "role" over other Hollywood starlets such as Jessica Alba Scarlett Johansson and Kate Bosworth. Maybe he had to send the audition tapes to his alien colleagues on, um, Mars or somewhere, for approval.

The book is also expected to reveal the couple's pre-nuptial agreement, which reportedly states that Holmes is entitled to $70 million after one year of marriage, with a further $10 million if she sticks it out for five years. If she suffers Cruise and his paranoia for "life" she gets $600 million. I don't know about the life part, but if Holmes gets sick of him, I'd be happy to fill in for a year or so. For $70 million I'll even fight the aliens with him.

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The Real-Life Soap-Opera "Crazy Love" Now A Film

Ruth La Ferla.

Fussing over a heap of shirts piled on an armchair in their living room, Linda Pugach turns on her husband and demands, "When are you going to hang up these clothes?"

"One of these days," Burt Pugach drawls, causing her to sigh with infinite exasperation.

"I go ballistic when I call Burt and he answers 'In a moment,"' Mrs Pugach says, adding sourly, "When I want something, he would jump, you would think."

"So go ahead and think," Burt Pugach says.

When they aren't swapping insults, shopping for clothes or sharing egg rolls at the local Chinese diner, Burt and Linda Pugach busy themselves reliving for visitors their famously and darkly convoluted love affair, one that began in the late 1950s and continues to evolve to this day.

It is a love-hate relationship, which is moodily tracked in Crazy Love, a documentary that opens in Australia on November 22. Crazy love is not a condition to be found in the medical journals, but the phrase aptly describes the arc of a romance that, off and on, has riveted the American public for decades.

In the early summer of 1959, Pugach, who was then 32, began to court Linda Riss, 21, a Bronx-reared dark-eyed beauty in the Liz Taylor mould. Burt, a lawyer who was also cock-proud of his small-time success as a filmmaker, wooed Riss with flowers and flights aboard his single-engine plane.

True, he was married, a matter of small consequence to him but naturally unsettling to Linda. Tiring of his promises to divorce his wife, she ended the affair and became engaged to someone else. Burt responded by hiring three men to throw lye (a solution of potassium hydroxide) in her face, leaving her disfigured and all but blind.

The crime and trial were tabloid sensations. But the Pugaches were merely at the end of Act 1. During 14 years in prison, Burt nursed a fanatical ardour for Linda, writing her love letters in a florid hand. Eight months after he was paroled in 1974, the couple renewed their courtship, and they were soon married. More headlines.

Today they live in a modest four-room apartment in Queens. Most striking about their relationship is not Linda's lingering resentment, not her husband's less-than-evident remorse, and not even their mutual dependence, but the marriage's frank descent into humdrumness.

In the film, the director, Dan Klores, examines Linda's increasing isolation. Once the media furore subsided, her fiance left her. Fearing she would be regarded as a freak, she rarely emerged from behind her dark glasses. "She's never seen herself as she is," Klores says. "To her, Burt sees her as she was. She's a hostage. And she's taken on his personality."

Klores goes on: "Those obsessive thoughts and actions that come about when we are hurt, when we love, that's what I thought at first this movie was about. But what I discovered it really is about is what we do not to be alone."

Earlier this month, Linda gave her husband a surprise 80th birthday party, inviting a clutch of the reporters who remain an intermittent presence in their lives. They hammed it up, Klores recalled, all this lovey-dovey cooing and kissing. Decades before the rise of reality television, the Pugaches were inviting camera crews to record their big moments. Burt proposed to Linda on television. Why the long-running fascination with this tale, a kind of seamy modern gothic?

"If you go to some high-class dinner party, I guarantee they all want to know about Pugach," says the columnist Jimmy Breslin, who wrote about the couple in 1997, and talks about them in the film.

At home recently, despite or perhaps because of the presence of a reporter and photographer, the Pugaches bicker steadily. Who is going to change the light bulbs? (She will.) Who will water the plants? (He will.) Should Linda continue to smoke? (She does, hiding ashtrays in her walk-in bedroom closet.)

They even argue about what precisely rekindled their relationship after Burt Pugach was paroled. "When I came out, Linda was stalking me," he says.

"He's not telling you why," Linda returns sharply. "It was because he spoiled me, sending me $100 a week. Then the cheques stopped coming."

Burt shrugs. "I didn't really have it," he says. "And I forgot."

These exchanges take place in a living room hung haphazardly with the oil landscapes Linda painted in the '70s, before she lost what remained of her sight. The room, with its two-tone shag rug, and a couple of wigs settled like lap dogs on the aubergine sofa, is a time capsule.

The focus on presenting a tasteful appearance has survived since the late '50s, when Linda took amphetamines to whittle her plump frame into a size six. She cultivated a dishy style, wearing capri pants, off-the shoulder sweaters, clingy sheath dresses and jawbreaker pearls, a sexier, albeit less regal version of who she is today. "From a style perspective she is very smart," Klores says. "The thing that I know about her is that she's a dame."

Her eyes, described in the film as a milky blue, are hidden beneath one or another of the dramatic dark glasses she collects by the dozen. She wears a champagne-tinted bouffant wig.

More a latter-day Estee Lauder than a Miss Havisham, Linda proudly displays her clothes closet, whose contents she and her husband sorted by colours, one rack for blacks, one for browns, another for whites and creams. "I colour co-ordinate out of necessity," she says. "I hate bothering Burt. He has no patience. I can't keep saying. What colour is this? I'm very independent. I don't like having to ask."

In the film Linda confides that after her attack she felt like damaged goods. She had wished him dead. But years later, a change of heart began. "I saw him on television; he never looked so good in his life," she recalls. She still had limited vision at that time. "He used to be a skinny malinky - like those men in the muscle building ads in the magazines. In the can he started to weight lift. His physique was improved. And he looked good on TV."

Loath to see Linda grow old, alone and blind, Margaret Powers, a New York City policewoman who had befriended her, arranged for the two to meet at Linda's apartment. Burt, who works as a paralegal in Queens, was terrified. "I thought someone was there waiting for me, to kill me," he recalled. A friend of Linda's had to spend 10 minutes showing me the apartment was empty."

Having reached a kind of wary truce with her past, Linda eventually agreed to marry the man who had maimed her. Why? "It's not that complicated," she says dryly. "Things get boring after a while. There was nothing terribly exciting in my life at the time."

Whether from choice or necessity, she remained loyal. During a widely publicised trial in 1997, in which Burt defended himself against charges that he had sexually abused another woman and threatened to kill her, Linda took the stand in his defence. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail. Linda says she regrets none of it.

"Does that sound cold?" she asks, adding after a pause, "When somebody asks 'What would I be doing if things were different? well, I would have had a slew of children already. I would probably have divorced already."

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Russell Cowe Now Spiritual Is Getting Baptized.

Australian actor Russell Crowe is planning to be baptized at the age of 43.

The Oscar-winning actor, whose bad-boy image has overshadowed any spiritual side, told Men's Journal magazine that he planned to be baptized in a Byzantine chapel that he had built on his country property in Australia for his wedding to Australian singer and actress Danielle Spencer in 2003.

He said both his sons, 3-year-old Charlie and 1-year-old Tennyson, were baptized there.

"I started thinking recently, if I believe it is important to baptize my kids why not me?" Crowe said in an interview in the magazine's December issue. "I'd like to do it this year.

"There is something much bigger that drives us all. I'm willing to take that leap of faith," he said.

Crowe, who is currently starring in American Gangster, said the chapel was the most extravagant thing he had ever bought for himself.

"I needed to convince Danielle she didn't have to travel to Rome to get married like she'd always dreamed of, because I saw all the paperwork involved. So I had to manage that disappointment," he said.

"It is consecrated and everything ... And we use it all the time."

Crowe has made newspaper headlines for his bad-boy behaviour including pleading guilty in 2005 to throwing a faulty telephone at a hotel concierge.

But is his reputation as a troublemaker unwarranted?

"Look, I call a spade a spade. I don't deny that," he said. "But my intention, for want of a better word, is a certain purity."

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Indian Gay Sex Workers Confident They Cannot Contact HIV

Shujaat plies his trade well. As dusk falls on the Pir Wadhai bus station in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, the slender 19-year-old gauges disembarking passengers for that 'look' - a responsive glance or wink suggesting a desire for more than just a quick bus ride home.

"Here you can find all sorts; mostly truckers, soldiers, day labourers, and of course married men," he said, leaning against the wall.

"I always find someone," the now veteran male sex worker (MSW) boasted.

After three years on the streets, Shujaat's confidence is dwarfed only by his ambivalence towards contracting HIV - a virus that he and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are increasingly at risk of.

"I'm careful and I'm clean, so what's the problem," he asked?

But for medical experts in Pakistan, a nation which until recently enjoyed a low prevalence for the virus, this line of thinking is worrying.

The South Asian nation of more than 160 million inhabitants now faces a concentrated epidemic among certain high risk groups - particularly intravenous drug users (IDUs), estimated at close to 200,000.

In the country's commercial capital of Karachi alone, a reported 30 percent of IDUs are infected with HIV

Pakistan's National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) officially confirms just over 3,000 HIV/AIDS cases across the country, while health experts assess the real numbers to be much higher.

According to UNAIDS, about 85,000 people are living with HIV in Pakistan today.

And while the issue of IDUs is often discussed in the media, the issue of MSM is usually ignored; a troubling reality in conservative Pakistan, where homosexuality is not only not discussed - it is often denied.

The male sex worker - a taboo subject

"It is very difficult to talk about sex and sexuality in Pakistan and more difficult to talk about homosexuality," said Dr Naeem-ud-Din Mian, chief executive officer for Contech International Health Consultants, a local NGO recently assigned a five-year project for the delivery of preventive services for MSM in the city of Faisalabad by the Punjab AIDS Control Programme and the World Bank.

Echoing that, Brian Miller, field coordinator for the Organisation for Social Development, a local NGO running an outreach programme near Pir Wadhai remarked: "People know about it, but it's a taboo subject as it's not in keeping with Pakistan's Islamic social setting."

As a result, open discussion about MSWs is all but impossible, despite the fact that most health experts in the country now view MSM, many of whom are married, as the singular most at-risk group after IDUs - and an important bridging population into mainstream heterosexual Pakistani society.

Government health figures reveal prevalence rates among IDUs of up to 27 percent, with around seven percent among MSM.

According to the Infection Control Society of Pakistan (ICSP), another NGO targeting the prevention of HIV/AIDS among MSWs in Karachi, around half of the MSWs in the city are married, while more than half of the unmarried MSWs buy sex from female sex workers - underscoring the group's capacity to act as a conduit to the virus's spread.

"They're the next risk group," Naseer Muhammad Nizamani, country director for Family Health International (FHI) in Islamabad - which is actively engaged in promoting safer sex practices among MSM and MSWs in the country - said about MSWs.

The US-based NGO estimates that there are some 50,000 MSWs in Pakistan, while others estimate their numbers are much higher.

ICSP says that in Karachi alone, there are between 40,000 and 50,000 male sex workers, depending on the criteria used.

The impact of poverty

Although many MSWs are gay, poverty, lack of job opportunities and broken homes appear to be the driving force behind this activity.

The majority of MSWs are below the age of 24 and began work at the age of 16, with many starting out under the guise of providing massage to men.

Today 'Malishias' - as they are commonly known - have become a common euphemism for sex in Pakistan, attracting their clients by massaging their private parts and masturbating.

"Massage boys are a traditional way of this happening. It's a big business in Pakistan," Nizamani said.

The average charge per sex act averages between just US$1 and $3. Pricing in turn largely dictates the number of clients a boy may be prepared to service on a given day.

According to an NACP survey carried out in eight separate cities, most MSWs average 2.3 customers a day or more than 31 a month. This is even higher among members of the 'Hijra' (transgender) community.

One Hijra, who had no other source of income, said she could easily service up to 20 men in a single day.

"There is no limit to the number of customers and no limit to the service," she told IRIN/PlusNews openly.

Insufficient services and low condom use

Despite such candour, however, there are limits to levels of awareness among MSWs, most of whom have no real understanding as to how the virus is contracted or simply fail to use condoms to protect themselves.

"People have heard of AIDS. But when you go deeper into what proportion actually know how the disease is contracted, that's something else," FHI's Nizamani said.

Although the NACP survey revealed that 70 percent of MSWs knew something about HIV and that a large majority of those who had heard about HIV also knew that it could be transmitted through sexual intercourse, less than half knew that injections could transmit HIV.

In Karachi, ICSP found that just 18 percent of MSWs in that city knew about HIV, its preventions and modes of transmission, while the NACP survey found that only about 60 percent reported condom use as an HIV prevention method - a fact largely dictated by money.

"I don't use a condom," 25-year-old Javed, who works in Rawalpindi, told IRIN/PlusNews. "They [the customers] complain that they don't feel the same amount of pleasure."

"If the customer wants to have sex without a condom and is willing to pay for it, how can I refuse," another MSW, who declined to give his name, asked?

Less than 25 percent of MSWs reportedly used a condom for anal sex with their last client, and even fewer used any form of lubrication aside from saliva.

According to Dr Kartar Lal of ICSP, 74 percent of MSM use saliva and oil in place of water-based lubricants, which facilitates the virus's spread.

"In-depth interviews of target groups revealed a significant proportion of these individuals are aware of the risks associated with unprotected sex, but are unable to negotiate safe sex practices with their partners," said Dr Rafiq Khanani, ICSP's president.

Male sex workers cite reasons of low self esteem, lack of empowerment and a genuine fear of losing the client to other sex workers willing to provide the service without a condom.

"It's very hard to speak openly about condom usage," Miller reiterated. "It's simply not done in a country like Pakistan."

He said the government had done little to publicly support the use of condoms or their distribution, given the strong religious opposition in the country.

According to UNAIDS, less than 10 percent of people most at risk of contracting HIV, such as MSM and drug users, receive preventative services.

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Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses And Blood Transfusion

Time and again Jehovah's Witnesses are on the spotlight on the issue of blood transfusion. But where does Christianity stand on the question of saving human life with blood?

Jesus was a man of integrity, which is why he is so highly regarded. He knew that the Creator said that taking in blood was wrong and that this law was binding. Hence, there is good reason to believe that Jesus would uphold the law about blood even if he was under pressure to do otherwise. Jesus "did no wrong, [and] no treachery was found on his lips." (1 Peter 2:22, Knox) He thus set a pattern for his followers, including a pattern of respect for life and blood. (We will later consider how Jesus' own blood is involved in this vital matter affecting your life.)

Note what happened when, years after Jesus' death, a question arose about whether someone becoming a Christian had to keep all of Israel's laws. This was discussed at a council of the Christian governing body, which included the apostles. Jesus' half brother James referred to writings containing the commands about blood stated to Noah and to the nation of Israel. Would such be binding on Christians?—Acts 15:1-21.

That council sent their decision to all congregations: Christians need not keep the code given to Moses, but it is "necessary" for them to "keep abstaining from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled [unbled meat] and from fornication." (Acts 15:22-29) The apostles were not presenting a mere ritual or dietary ordinance. The decree set out fundamental ethical norms, which early Christians complied with. About a decade later they acknowledged that they should still "keep themselves from what is sacrificed to idols as well as from blood . . . and from fornication."—Acts 21:25.

You know that millions of people attend churches. Most of them would probably agree that Christian ethics involve not giving worship to idols and not sharing in gross immorality. However, it is worth our noting that the apostles put avoiding blood on the same high moral level as avoiding those wrongs. Their decree concluded: "If you carefully keep yourselves from these things, you will prosper. Good health to you!"—Acts 15:29.

The apostolic decree was long understood as binding. Eusebius tells of a young woman near the end of the second century who, before dying under torture, made the point that Christians "are not allowed to eat the blood even of irrational animals." She was not exercising a right to die. She wanted to live, but she would not compromise her principles. Do you not respect those who put principle above personal gain?

Scientist Joseph Priestley concluded: "The prohibition to eat blood, given to Noah, seems to be obligatory on all his posterity . . . If we interpret [the] prohibition of the apostles by the practice of the primitive Christians, who can hardly be supposed not to have rightly understood the nature and extent of it, we cannot but conclude, that it was intended to be absolute and perpetual; for blood was not eaten by any Christians for many centuries."


Would the Biblical prohibition on blood cover medical uses, such as transfusions, which certainly were not known in the days of Noah, Moses, or the apostles?

While modern therapy employing blood did not exist back then, medicinal use of blood is not modern. For some 2,000 years, in Egypt and elsewhere, human "blood was regarded as the sovereign remedy for leprosy." A physician revealed the therapy given to King Esar-haddon's son when the nation of Assyria was on the leading edge of technology: "[The prince] is doing much better; the king, my lord, can be happy. Starting with the 22nd day I give (him) blood to drink, he will drink (it) for 3 days. For 3 more days I shall give (him blood) for internal application." Esar-haddon had dealings with the Israelites. Yet, because the Israelites had God's Law, they would never drink blood as medicine.

Was blood used as medicine in Roman times? The naturalist Pliny (a contemporary of the apostles) and the second-century physician Aretaeus report that human blood was a treatment for epilepsy. Tertullian later wrote: "Consider those who with greedy thirst, at a show in the arena, take the fresh blood of wicked criminals . . . and carry it off to heal their epilepsy." He contrasted them with Christians, who "do not even have the blood of animals at [their] meals . . . At the trials of Christians you offer them sausages filled with blood. You are convinced, of course, that [it] is unlawful for them." So, early Christians would risk death rather than take in blood.

"Blood in its more everyday form did not . . . go out of fashion as an ingredient in medicine and magic," reports the book Flesh and Blood. "In 1483, for example, Louis XI of France was dying. 'Every day he grew worse, and the medicines profited him nothing, though of a strange character; for he vehemently hoped to recover by the human blood which he took and swallowed from certain children.'"

What of transfusing blood? Experiments with this began near the start of the 16th century. Thomas Bartholin (1616-80), professor of anatomy at the University of Copenhagen, objected: 'Those who drag in the use of human blood for internal remedies of diseases appear to misuse it and to sin gravely. Cannibals are condemned. Why do we not abhor those who stain their gullet with human blood? Similar is the receiving of alien blood from a cut vein, either through the mouth or by instruments of transfusion. The authors of this operation are held in terror by the divine law, by which the eating of blood is prohibited.'

Hence, thinking people in past centuries realized that the Biblical law applied to taking blood into the veins just as it did to taking it into the mouth. Bartholin concluded: "Either manner of taking [blood] accords with one and the same purpose, that by this blood a sick body be nourished or restored."

This overview may help you to understand the nonnegotiable religious stand that Jehovah's Witnesses take. They highly value life, and they seek good medical care. But they are determined not to violate God's standard, which has been consistent: Those who respect life as a gift from the Creator do not try to sustain life by taking in blood.

Still, for years claims have been made that blood saves lives. Doctors can relate cases in which someone had acute blood loss but was transfused and then improved rapidly. So you may wonder, 'How wise or unwise is this medically?' Medical evidence is offered to support blood therapy. Thus, you owe it to yourself to get the facts in order to make an informed choice about blood.

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Vietnamese Authorities Approves Pornographic Pictures For Exhibition

Vietnamese authorities have given permission for the first ever exhibition of nude photographs in the conservative communist country, state media and the photographer said this week.

Photographer Thai Phien said he got the go ahead to exhibit 48 of his nude photos in Hanoi between November 24 and 27.

"I was the first photographer in Vietnam that received a licence to open this type of exhibition," he said.

Phien said he had to submit his photos to the censors, adding "it's lucky that the authorities accepted them."

He also expects a collection of about 70 of his nude pictures will be published prior to the exhibition.

The Thanh Nien newspaper said "Nude photos have gone on display in Vietnam before, but never has an exhibition consisted solely of nudes."

The daily said censors in the southern commercial centre of Ho Chi Minh City earlier this year refused to allow a similar exhibition by a female artist because "they were not in accordance with Vietnamese customs and morality".

Vietnam Photographers' Association head Chu Chi Thanh was quoted as saying authorities were always cautious because it was difficult to distinguish the boundary between erotic and artistic photos.

Phien agreed it was hard to draw a line.

"The boundaries between pornographic and artistic photos are very slim. It depends a lot on personal impression," he said.

Vietnam, whose 84 million people are mostly Buddhist, is a socially conservative country.

Films, books, photos and artistic works are often censored and those on sensitive topics such as sex are usually banned.

Earlier this month an amateur sex video featuring the popular teenage host of a TV morality show sparked public outrage, with four students arrested for allegedly posting the clip on the Internet.

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Malaysian Muslim Clerics Sees Naked Women When They Close Their Eyes To Pray

Malaysia's Muslim men are suffering sleepless nights and cannot pray properly because their thoughts are distracted by a growing number of women who wear sexy clothes in public, a prominent cleric said.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, said he wanted to speak about the "emotional abuse" that men face because it is seldom discussed, the party reported on its Web site Wednesday.

"We always (hear about) the abuse of children and wives in households, which is easily perceived by the eye, but the emotional abuse of men cannot be seen," Nik Abdul Aziz said. "Our prayers become unfocused and our sleep is often disturbed."

Nik Abdul Aziz has made controversial comments about women in the past, including that women should stop wearing lipstick and perfume to lower the risk of being raped. Women's groups have slammed his statements, saying Islam teaches both men and women to be responsible for modesty. They say comments like these encourage rapes because it puts the onus on women.

Nik Abdul Aziz's fundamentalist party has about 800,000 members. He is also the chief minister of northeastern Kelantan, the only one of Malaysia's 13 states that is not ruled by the moderate National Front governing coalition.

His party's Web site published an illustration Wednesday of how women should dress - in long, flowing headscarves covering their hair and chests and "baggy and loose" long-sleeved, floor-length dresses.

Most women from Malaysia's Malay Muslim majority wear a modest form of Islamic clothing, though younger women in cities sometimes wear body-hugging dresses or tight T-shirts and jeans.

In Kelantan, the Islamic party has fined Muslim women for not wearing headscarves in workplaces and implemented separate check-out lines for men and women in supermarkets.

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Film Director David Lynch Gets Positives From Negatives

Stephanie Bunbury
"It was so nice!" director David Lynch says of his appearance on the streets of Los Angeles with a cow on a rope, a brass band and a poster of his star to promote Inland Empire, his baffling new film that is about neither brass bands nor cows.

"It was kind of like a great gathering and talking and a lot of goodwill for Laura [Dern] and a lot of love for Georgia, this cow."

Lynch, whose reputation as a resolute visionary has made his films an arthouse staple for three decades, is surprisingly child-like in person. He answers questions in capitals - "YES!", "NO!" and "FOR SURE!" - as if he were pleased each time to be able to put up his hand.

Those who have worked with him say it is no pretence: he really is this slightly fey, deadly serious, eager boy scout who, at 61, is very much at home with his various madnesses.

His dense, often bewildering films have found a devoted and surprisingly wide public, even among people who would not normally fancy themselves as fans of the avant-garde.

His first feature Eraserhead, released in 1977, was so weird it seemed to have come from some other planet's cinema but its grainy black-and-white imagery, grinding soundtrack of industrial noise and grotesque science fiction interpretation of new parenthood immediately established him as an indie favourite.

And it wasn't just stoners who watched it. Older, established filmmakers were also quick to recognise Lynch's talents. Francis Ford Coppola showed Eraserhead to his cast and crew when he was making Apocalypse Now and Stanley Kubrick screened it while filming The Shining.

Lynch was was soon hired to direct The Elephant Man (1980), the true story of 19th century sideshow freak Joseph Merrick, to which he brought a particular sympathy and a bravura visual style, then the dismal Dune (1984).

"The feeling was very low after Dune because I felt I'd been selling out. I didn't have final control and then it didn't do well at the box office," Lynch says.

Then he adds brightly, "when you're down low, there is nowhere to go but up". Failure meant he was able to strike out afresh in his own voice. "There was just a huge sense of freedom and nothing to lose."

The result was Blue Velvet (1986), a work about the triumph of love over evil with a nightmare edge. It was pure Lynch and became a cinematic landmark. Palm D'Or winner Wild at Heart (1990) followed, then Twin Peaks, his television breakthrough in the early '90s.

Lynch's left-field series about a small town in America's north-west became that decade's must-see. You can never tell, he says, what will seize the public imagination. "A story that takes place in a little place, hidden away, and travels the world!" he says. "Who can figure it?"

His last film was Mulholland Drive (2001). It was a huge critical success, both for the director and for his star discovery, Naomi Watts, but only after the American television network ABC commissioned and then rejected it as a television series.

That wasn't all bad, he insists. "If they had loved it, I would have been destined to sign on for a long time and that takes tremendous energy and focus … looking back, it is as if it were meant to be."

The network's cold feet gave it a chance to become the film it is. "A lot of times, positives come from negatives."

His adventures in Los Angeles with Georgia the cow could be seen as a positive outcome of his latest problem: finding an American distributor for Inland Empire. The fact that he has had three Academy Award nominations and won several Cannes prizes doesn't seem to move the money men.

"It's a three-hour film, somewhat difficult to understand maybe, so distributors weren't racing to my door," he shrugs. So he decided to take it on himself, peddling his wares like some latter-day travelling showman.

Anyone who has seen Mulholland Drive will recognise many of the key story elements and visual symbols in the new film, although they are - somewhat incredibly - rather more impenetrably scrambled in Inland Empire.

None of this feels like repetition, however, still less that Lynch has run out of ideas.

There is, rather, a sense of the artist working once again with his chosen materials. Laura Dern plays a sunny-natured actress, not unlike the ingenue played by Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive, whose genial character begins to fracture into different identities in the same way Watts's did. One moment she is a cheesy, breezy American sweetheart; the next, she is a trashy tart telling the camera about the men she has sent packing.

Once again, too, the plucky female protagonist stages a climactic showdown with a lover who is rejecting her. Another empty theatre appears to hold the key to a mystery; the mystery, again, appears to be Los Angeles itself, which is cast as seething with seamy stories beneath its superficial glamour.

The title of Inland Empire refers to the suburban sprawl east of the city, while a long sequence with street prostitutes at the end of the film is set on the star-encrusted Walk of Fame. Dern - in her bedraggled, tarty persona - hangs out with them. "There is something about Hollywood and what happened there, the Golden Age of cinema, that has lit the dreamworld of billions," Lynch says. "It's got so much glamour and hope and, you know, despair and horror. The whole thing is beautiful!"

This story is confounded, however, with other elements that work in entirely mysterious ways. A girl weeps as she watches television, often gazing merely at snow; a violent man torments a prostitute, shouting at her in Polish. These sequences were shot in Lodz, a Polish city Lynch took to his heart when he went there for the city's film festival. "The festival takes place in the winter, so it was the winter light, the architecture, these clouds, the people and just a mood in the place I loved," he says.

Some other scenes cut to a stage set with humans in rabbit suits acting out banal kitchen sink dramas interspersed with canned laughter. These are taken from short films, all with rabbits, that Lynch made immediately after Mulholland Drive and has shown for years on his website. That's the way he has always worked, Lynch says; sometimes he can nurse an idea for 10 years until something else comes along that, at some subliminal level, somehow matches it.

"The feeling I have," he says, "is that someone is in another room with a completed puzzle and they keep flipping pieces in to me and as I get them and see them and feel them, I write them down until a whole thing starts revealing itself."

It is true, he admits, that Inland Empire is more of a mosaic than any of his previous films. He was writing scenes and shooting them one by one, for the first time, using digital technology that is cheap enough to allow that kind of randomness.

"I would get an idea and shoot it, not knowing I was building a feature at first. I was just building up scenes. Then the story came more, and I saw how those scenes were relating to each other. And then because so much more came, I wrote more."

He felt himself to be following the lead of the Surrealists he has always admired, throwing ideas up in the air and following wherever they fell.

He does not, as people often assume, work from dreams. "NO! I hardly EVER get an idea from a dream!" he insists. "But I have to say that I love this dream logic. Sometimes an idea comes that holds that dream feel, an abstraction that is not able to be said so well in words - at least not by me, although maybe it could by poets - but cinema is this beautiful language. You can say abstractions and cause wonderings and thinkings and feelings in the cinema that can't be gotten any other way."

That doesn't mean, in his view, that he is moving away from narrative structure. "NO!" he says firmly. "I believe in narrative but there's different narratives. So I like a story but I like a story that holds abstractions. All of them had that but this one maybe more than most."

If it is mysterious, that is what life is like too. "For sure! We are all detectives," he says happily. "We are all looking and feeling and intuiting things and wondering about them."

He is quite clear, within himself, about the story he has told. "But why do I need to worry about saying the words?" he demands. "The words just reduce it. It's the film that is the thing."

Inland Empire opens on November 15.
Twin Peaks seasons 1 and 2 (Paramount) is released on DVD the same day.

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