Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Montage of images and link description. Race for the Superbomb Imagemap: linked to kids and home
The Film and More
Imagemap(text links below) of menu items
The American Experience
The Film & More
Reference
Interview Transcripts | Bibliography | Primary Sources


Elaine Tyler May on: Fear of Sexual Chaos After Nuclear Attack
Q:This idea that there might be sexual chaos following a nuclear attack also found its way into popular culture.

ETM: Well, it wasn't only the scientists and the people in the public health field who feared that there might be sexual chaos after the dropping of a bomb. It was also something that emerged in the popular culture as well. Not necessarily seen as a negative or as a dangerous thing, but maybe as a good thing. The early rock 'n roll hit, 1954 hit by Bill Halley and his Comets, "Rock Around the Clock", a song that most people of a certain age in America have heard many times in their youth and since. But if they ever turned over the record in the old days, the 45, and found on the flip side, they would have seen and heard the other song that Bill Halley and his Comets sang, which was called thirteen -- "Thirteen Women and Only One Man," which was a post-atomic-bomb nuclear sexual fantasy about the dropping of the H-bomb. In the first line of the song he talks about how the dropping of the bomb came and wiped out his town, and he was the only man left, and there were 13 women and him. And the rest of the song is his fantasies about what those 13 women did, and how they took care of him and cooked for him and kept his house nice and made his clothes, and a lot of them with double meaning and sexual innuendos about what this life was like after the dropping of the bomb with only one man and 13 women to do his bidding.

So you have both the terror of sexual chaos, expressed in the medical establishment as in this particular article by a doctor worrying about venereal disease being rampant after any kind of nuclear attack, and at the same time Bill Halley singing about the joys of surviving an atomic holocaust and having 13 women all to himself.



back to Interview Transcripts



Program Description | Enhanced Transcript | Reference


THE FILM & MORE | SPECIAL FEATURE | TIMELINE | MAPS
PEOPLE & EVENTS | TEACHER'S GUIDE