7 Brilliant and Enticing Movies About the Lives of SexologistsS

This weekend is the premiere of Showtime's new series Masters of Sex, the story of famed sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson. But their tale of vibrators used as scientific instruments isn't the only one out there. Here are seven more great stories of sexual science and its consequences.

1. Kinsey

Alfred Kinsey, whose name has been immortalized via the Kinsey Scale, is one of the most infamous sexologists in the United States. An entomologist who was fascinated by the diversity of life, Kinsey turned his scientific eye to sexuality in the 1930s and 40s, when he published two enormous tomes on male and female sexuality. After conducting thousands of interviews with people, he shocked (and titillated) the world by revealing that most people masturbate, oral sex is pretty common, and that one in ten people is homosexual. Director Bill Condon, who also helmed Dreamgirls and The Fifth Estate, tells Kinsey's story as a moving tale of scientific and personal discovery. Liam Neeson is sympathetic (and sexy) as Kinsey, and Laura Linney is fantastic as his open-minded wife. The two are as experimental in the bedroom as they are in the lab, but the great gift of this unexpectedly quiet film is that it leaves you feeling that sexual experimentation is the most ordinary thing in the world.

2. A Dangerous Method

In this spicy saga of Sigmund Freud's tempestuous relationship with his young colleague Carl Jung, director David Cronenberg manages to turn the birth of psychiatry into a seriously hot intellectual love triangle. No surprise there, given that Freud is played by Viggo Mortenson, Jung is played by Michael Fassbender, and their patient Sabina Spielrein (who winds up becoming a brilliant psychiatrist) is Keira Knightley. Yes, there are some hot Victorian spanking moments with Jung and Spielrein, but the point of the movie is actually to highlight the incredible social pressures on psychiatrists to stop talking openly about sexuality — despite their discoveries that people's minds are full of sexual thoughts. Cronenberg is also careful to highlight the class differences at play, too. Jung is from an upper-class family, while Freud and Spielrein are from struggling middle-class Jewish families at a time when anti-Semitism was on the rise in Europe. Sex is complicated, but when you mix it with the new science of psychiatry, the drama is off the charts.

3. Hysteria

At the turn of the twentieth century, it was common practice for doctors to ease their female patients' bouts of "hysteria" by "bringing them to crisis." In this film, based on real historical events, you'll find out that this so-called treatment was nothing more than doctors masturbating their female patients to orgasm. Because mainstream medical beliefs at the time did not include the idea of a female orgasm, many of these doctors (though not the wisest ones) thought that they were simply massaging their patients' wombs. This movie focuses on a young doctor whose friend inadvertently discovers the vibrator, which promises to revolutionize the treatment of hysteria (again, this is based on true events, which you can read about in historian Rachel Maines' book The Technology of Orgasm).

But as this doctor learns more about the truth of female sexuality, he also draws closer to a fiery feminist and advocate for the poor (a superb Maggie Gyllenhaal). He has to choose between a respectable life as a doctor, and supporting the outspoken woman whom many believe is only a feminist because she's suffering from hysteria. This is a fantastic tale of social change and romance based on a lot more than sex.

4. The Road to Wellville

Also based loosely on true events, this satirical movie directed by Alan Parker is about an early-twentieth century health nut, John Harvey Kellogg (yes, the guy who invented corn flakes). It's based on a beloved cult novel by T. Coraghessen Boyle. Kellogg, played with scenery-chewing abandon by Anthony Hopkins, has a special spa for health nuts, where people eat lots of bran, immerse themselves in mud, and submit to "electrical vibrations." One of the many treatments on offer is for hysteria, which becomes a major plot point as the hapless protagonist (an adorable Matthew Broderick) tries to navigate the social world of the spa without losing his dignity — and his mind. Also featuring Brigitte Fonda in some compromising positions, and John Cusack as a foxy upstart in the cereal business.

5. Randy: The Electric Lady

This is a seriously silly porn movie written by Terry Southern (under the pseudonym Norwood Pratt), the guy who wrote Dr. Strangelove. Set in a futuristic sexology research center, it includes lots of scenes where people have sex with mind-control caps on their heads, or rolling around in a room where mainframes are blinking implacably over their nude bodies. Also includes the immortal line, "No sex at the Institute!" It's clearly a parodic homage to the famous sex lab built by Masters and Johnson, and is definitely one of the most mad science-y porn movies you'll ever see.

6. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)

One of Woody Allen's first movies was based extremely loosely on the bestselling 1960s book of the same name. Though the book is full of absolutely awful advice and pseudoscience (think Dr. Drew, but even more clueless), the movie is basically a giant sendup of sex education in the age of free love. We learn about how reproduction works by watching Woody Allen dress up as a neurotic sperm, and get treated to Borat-level weirdness in a famous scene where sexologist Gene Wilder falls in love with a sheep.

7. WR: Mysteries of the Organism

If you thought Randy: The Electric Lady sounded weird, then this movie will basically rip your skull open and inject LSD directly into your cerebral cortex. It's an extremely psychedelic documentary about Wilhelm Reich, the theorist who popularized the idea of sexual liberation and claimed to have discovered the "orgone." In the 1940s, Reich dabbled in what one critic called an anarchist sex cult in New York (and, later, Maine), where people tried to harness their orgone energy using practices that today we'd probably call tantric sex. But they also tried to capture this erotic life force by sitting in what amounted to boxes lined in tin foil (orgone boxes), and doing other exercises. Reich was eventually arrested for making false claims that he could cure cancer and other diseases with orgone treatments, and he died in prison. But his work lived on in the progressive political and intellectual movements of the 1960s, which is what gave birth to this crazy, indescribable movie from Serbian auteur Dušan Makavejev.