CAMBRIDGE, MA—Announcing "a major advance in the age-old quest to unlock the secrets at the heart of human sexuality," researchers at Harvard's Center For The Graphic Depiction Of The Human Sexual Act confirmed Monday that, with the aid of experimental new high-speed photographic technology, they have successfully captured the elusive male orgasm on film.
The breakthrough marks the first time the male orgasm—perhaps the most mysterious, least-understood element of the complex dance that is human sexual behavior—has been successfully photographed.
"We have taken a giant leap forward in the struggle to unravel the mysteries of human love, illuminating aspects of the male orgasm that have long been hidden in a haze of speculation," said Dr. Donald Roehnert, head of the multidisciplinary team of experts credited with the breakthrough. "Though it is still too early to say how much can be learned, even a cursory examination of this historic footage reveals much that we otherwise never would have known about the magic and mystery of male sexuality."
For centuries, the male orgasm has remained shrouded in myth. Though it has long captivated imaginations with its evocative beauty, humanity's understanding of this most profound of human experiences has been clouded by ignorance and superstition since its discovery by the ancient Greeks in pre-Hellenistic times.
According to experts, there are many reasons that the male orgasm has remained such an enigma. Perhaps the greatest, however, is the deep unwillingness of males to allow themselves the extraordinary emotional vulnerability the act elicits.
"The male animal is not a piece of meat," Roehnert explained. "He is a rose wrapped in a poem, yielding up his deepest, most intimate secrets only when just the right magical moment has been achieved. The alluring yet fragile petals of the delicate flower known as the male of the species can unfold and bloom only in the presence of the right combination of gentleness, tenderness and deep, abiding care."
By establishing a powerful empathic bond with their male test subject and then reinforcing that bond with respect and trust over a period of many months, the Harvard scientists were able to do what no scientific effort could before: capture the moment of sweet release in all its majestic splendor.
Despite their success, the Harvard team did encounter its share of challenges and setbacks along the way.
"Only the most advanced camera equipment, under extremely precise lighting conditions and with the best in high-speed film stock, was sensitive enough to capture the image clearly," said Dr. John Leslie, the Harvard team's optics and photography expert. "But the effort was well worth it: Now that the exquisite, breathtaking majesty of the male orgasm has been immortalized on camera, the world will finally know just what an incredible sight it truly is."
"On a personal note," the visibly affected Leslie added, "the first time I saw the footage, I wept. And I'm not ashamed to say so."
According to Leslie, countless scenarios were tried, covering a wide range of sensory stimuli, before the precise conditions needed to trigger the fragile bodily response could be found.
"Using a painstaking process of trial and error, hundreds of situations were attempted," he said. "We tried everything: pool-cleaners arriving to find bikini-clad nubiles in the backyard, unsuspecting pizza-delivery drivers finding themselves at sorority pajama parties—you name it. Virtually every permutation of sensory stimuli you could imagine was exhaustively explored."
But in the end, Leslie said, only one scenario proved both orgasm-inducing and feasible to record: the direct ejaculation of the male member onto a corresponding female partner's face, with the woman's head positioned only inches away.
"For some reason," Leslie said, "no other set of circumstances produced the desired effect. Oh, and the woman has to have high-heeled shoes on, too, although she's otherwise undressed. We don't know why that is, either."
The scientists acknowledged that such riddles may never be fully unraveled.
"The male orgasm, like the song of the nightingale or the simple beauty of a rainbow, remains an exquisite and beautiful mystery, one whose timeless wonderment cannot be fully explained by something so cold and clinical as scientific analysis," Roehnert said. "There are many factors at work here that science will likely never understand."
"Perhaps it is a question best left to the poets and philosophers," he added.
Now that the male orgasm has been successfully captured on film, the scientists can begin in earnest the next phase of their research: subjecting the test footage to countless hours of scrutiny.
"Only by watching this wondrous imagery hundreds upon hundreds of times can we begin to understand what it has to teach us," Roehnert said. "The work is long, and the life is hard, but I know of no other cause so deeply rewarding."
Though the Harvard team's success has been hailed throughout the scientific world, individuals in other spheres have also shown interest in the photographic breakthrough.
"It may seem far-fetched at this point," Vivid Video spokesman Brian Gross said, "but someday, this advance could have commercial applications, as well."