Seven stories are trying to answer the question: what is sex? Or maybe they are not trying.
Seven segments related to one another only in that they all purport to be based on sections of the book by David Reuben. The segments range from "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?" in which a court jester gives an aphrodisiac to the Queen and is, in the end, beheaded to "What Happens During Ejaculation?" in which we watch "control central" during a successful seduction.
Seven unrelated stories are presented, they only tied together in that each loosely tries to answer a question about sex. In "Do Aphrodisiacs Work?", a court fool in medieval England is in lust with the Queen. He believes the only chance he has with her, regardless of the consequences by the King if he is caught (the King who already believes the fool not to be funny), is to ply the Queen with an aphrodisiac obtained from a sorcerer. Even if the aphrodisiac works, the fool may have more challenges in having the Queen. In "What Is Sodomy?", married Dr. Doug Ross, who has a general practice in New York City, receives a visit from a new patient, Stavros Milos, a rural Armenian recently arrived in the US and the brother of an existing patient. The reason for Mr. Milos' visit leads to Dr. Ross questioning his own sex and love life, as well as his sanity. In "Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?", mod Italian couple Fabrizio and Gina have a passionate yet detached relationship, typical of what one might see in a Federico Fellini movie. The problem is that he cannot bring Gina to orgasm. In asking his friends and acquaintances how to overcome the problem, Fabrizio may come across the answer in the most inopportune of ways. In "Are Transvestites Homosexuals?", middle aged Sam, who has long been married to Tess, has been feeling out of sorts of late. At a small dinner party hosted by their daughter's in-laws, Sam takes measures to make himself feel better, being caught in his self-pleasurement which would lead to some tough questions by all. In "What Are Sex Perverts?", celebrity panelists on the game show "What's My Perversion?" ask questions of the guest to figure out what his sex perversion is. This particular episode also contains a weekly feature, where a pervert of the week gets to act out his/her fantasy on the air. In "Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?", Dr. Bernardo, who formerly worked for Masters and Johnson, is doing his own sexual studies now. Victor Shakapopoulos, a researcher who will be working with Dr. Bernardo, and Helen Lacey, a journalist who will be interviewing Dr. Bernardo for a news article, meet en route to Dr. Bernardo's house cum laboratory. Victor and Helen will find that their encounter with Dr. Bernardo is nothing as they imagined, and has potentially deadly consequences. And in "What Happens During Ejaculation?", mission control in Sidney's brain believes, based on everything that has happened on his current date, that he will have sex tonight. After a dry spell, mission control may have problem coordinating all Sidney's bodily functions, while his sperm, anxious for a release, may not know how to proceed due to lack of practical knowledge.
- The credits at the start and close of the film are played over a backdrop of a large mass of white rabbits, to the tune of "Let's Misbehave" by Cole Porter.
The film is divided into seven vignettes, as follows:
"Do Aphrodisiacs Work?"
In Elizabethan times, the king (Anthony Quayle) is infuriated by his fool (Woody Allen), whom he considers unfunny. Later, the fool follows the queen (Lynn Redgrave) into the gardens and fondles her. After she stalks away, the ghost of the fool's father appears and commands him to have sex with the queen. A sorcerer provides him with an aphrodisiac but warns him that if the king discovers the potion, he will be killed. The fool then gives the queen the potion, and as soon as she drinks it, she demands that he ravage her. Upon removing her clothes, however, the fool discovers her chastity belt, and gathers keys and tools in a desperate attempt to break it open. As the fool opens the belt, the noises from inside the room attract the attention of the guards and the king himself. Hearing him approach, the fool and the queen struggle to close the belt, but his hand becomes stuck inside, so she throws her dress over his hand to hide it. When the king wants to make love to his wife, the fool pretends to leave but hides beneath her skirt. Soon, the king uncovers the fool and has him beheaded.
"What Is Sodomy?"
At Dr. Ross's (Gene Wilder) busy practice, he is surprised by a visit from Armenian shepherd Milos Stavros (Titos Vandis), who announces that he is in love with a sheep named Daisy. Unsure how to respond, Ross is further horrified to hear that Milos made love to the animal but now imagines that she is cold and indifferent to him. When Milos urges the doctor to speak to her for him, Ross gently suggests psychiatric care. Milos insists on carrying Daisy inside, where, as Ross explains why Milos' feelings are completely inappropriate, the doctor strokes the sheep and begins to fall in love with her.
That night at dinner Ross is listless and later, his wife Anne (Elaine Giftos) finds him petting his lambswool sweater. The next day, Milos brings Daisy to the office, and Ross nervously woos her. He takes her to a hotel room, ordering caviar and grass from room service. Soon he is buying the animal diamonds and lingerie, but when Anne catches the two together, Ross loses his family and his license. Waiting tables to support Daisy, he screams to the crowd that he is a doctor, then returns home to find a note from Milos stating that he has taken Daisy back to Armenia. A broken man, Ross drinks Woolite on street corner.
'Why Do Some Women Have Trouble Reaching an Orgasm?"
(Note: this segment is filmed entirely in Italian)
After his wedding, Fabrizio (Woody Allen) takes his bride Gina (Louise Lasser) to bed, but she is unmoved and passive. Over the next weeks, he grows despondent at his wife's lack of passion, and disheartened by his friends' tales of their sex lives. Despite his exhaustive efforts, she remains bored. Fabrizio visits his priest, who states he can do nothing to help. One day the couple is in a store when Gina becomes aroused and urges Fabrizio to make love to her. Realizing that she wants to make love only in public places, the two enjoy sex in church, restaurants and friends' homes. Although Fabrizio is concerned that they will one day be discovered, he is relieved that at least his wife is not frigid.
"Are Transvestites Homosexuals?"
Sam (Lou Jacobi) and Tess have dinner with the parents of their daughter's fiance Alvin. During the meal, Sam goes upstairs, ostensibly to use the bathroom but really to try on Alvin's mother's dresses. As the others are downstairs discussing their travels, upstairs he prances in a dress, hat, high heels and purse. Upon hearing Alvin's father climbing the stairs, Sam hangs from the window ledge to hide. Unable to hold on, he drops to the ground and walks to the sidewalk in front of the house, where his purse is snatched by a man running by. Women walking nearby gather to help him, then the police arrive. Insisting that he does not want to press charges, Sam struggles to hide his mustache. When another police car pulls up with its siren blaring, everyone in Alvin's parents' home steps outside to investigate. Sam tells the police that he is three months pregnant, prompting Alvin's father to invite him inside. At that point, Tess recognizes him, shouting "She's my husband." Later, in bed, Tess tells her husband that she does not mind that he is "diseased and perverted," and pleased that she is so understanding, he agrees to see a doctor about his condition.
"What Are Sex Perverts?"
The television game show "What's My Perversion?" begins with a commercial for hair conditioner that features two football players in a locker room. As the ad ends, the men begin kissing. Jack Barry emcees the show, which asks celebrity panelists Pamela Mason, Regis Philbin, Toni Holt and Robert Q. Lewis to guess a contestant's deviant sexual preference, based on the answers to questions they pose. Contestant Bernard Jaffe, who likes to expose himself on subways, answers a series of questions, but the panel cannot guess his perversion, speculating that perhaps he is a rapist or child molester. Later, one lucky winner acts out his fantasy on air: Rabbi Chaim Baumel, a silk stockings fetishist, is tied up and whipped while his wife sits at his feet eating pork.
"Are the Findings of Doctors and Clinics Who Do Sexual Research and Experiments Accurate?"
Victor Shakapopulis (Woody Allen in another role), a sexual phenomena researcher, stops at a gas station on his way to the home of Dr. Bernardo (John Carradine), a renowned sex expert with whom he plans to work. Helen Lacey (Heather MacRae), a young reporter planning to interview Bernardo, tells him her car has broken down, so he offers her a ride. At Bernardo's mansion, the door is opened by hunchback Igor. Bernardo enters and whips Igor, then serves dinner, at which the two younger visitors praise the doctor and his innovative findings. He notes that although he was thrown out of the Masters and Johnson Institute for Sexual Studies and labeled insane, he initiated dozens of major findings in the field. He then takes them to his laboratory, where Victor and Helen are horrified to see the experiments being performed on unwilling human subjects: one man has sex with a huge loaf of bread, while the brain of a lesbian is being transported into a man who works for the telephone company. Bernardo holds them at gunpoint and declares that Helen will be the subject of his new experiment, in which he will test her heart rate while she is "gang-banged" by twenty Boy Scouts. Igor restrains Victor and straps Helen down, but Victor escapes, grabs Bernardo's gun and shoots into the lab, ruining his equipment. As the lab begins to burn, Victor frees Helen and they flee. Bernardo and Igor are trapped in the ensuing explosion.
Outside, the car will not start, and Victor and Helen witness a giant breast burst out of the house and move toward them. They race to the sheriff to report the "fiendish tit" on the loose. Meanwhile, a couple parked nearby is attacked by the breast. Victor plots to destroy it, and so lures it out into a field. Dodging the milk it squirts at him, he holds up a cross and leads it into a giant bra, trapping it. Walking with an admiring Helen, Victor decides that some things about sex are better left unknown.
"What Happens During Ejaculation?"
In a mission control center inside one man's brain, operators are busily controlling all his bodily functions. The main operator (Tony Randall) signals the eyes to show him the man's dinner date and agrees with the controller (Burt Reynolds) that there is some likelihood of sexual activity later. The sperm prepare to launch, hoping this is not another false alarm. The operator directs the man to attempt to make love to his date in his car. Engineers winch up the penis, but the workers fail to keep the erection upright. All of the body systems check in with each other to locate the problem, and finally a 45-degree erection is achieved. As he lines up for penetration, one sperm (played by Woody Allen) is scared to go out, but his friend reminds him that he took an oath to fertilize an ovum or die trying. Suddenly, the erection once again flags, and the operators scramble to alleviate the problem, which is revealed to be a priest in the conscience room turning up the guilt mechanism. Jettisoning the priest, the main operator calls "Full steam ahead." In the erection room, the laborers sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" while the sperm play a melancholy tune, then launch. When the orgasm is completed, the controllers celebrate with champagne and cigarettes. In the car, the date asks to "go again," and the main operator signals the gonads that "We're going for a record."