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"Virgin School," the cringeworthy tale of an older male virgin learning how to you-know-what


I just came across a TV documentary that aired on Channel 4 in the UK back in 2007. "Virgin School" follows 26-year-old James Riley, a shy and insecure man with no sexual experience, as he goes through a 4-month sexuality course in Amsterdam called Aquarion. You can watch the slightly edited show in 5 installments on YouTube here. It's definitely NSFW.

In the grand scheme of things, 26 really doesn't feel that old, but let's move past that. Over the course of show, we watch James get coached in intimacy, female anatomy, social skills and solo sex by a female tag-team of three fifty-ish new age therapists. And yes, I'll ruin the suspense by telling you he does eventually 'go all the way.'

On one hand, I found the show, which caused a flurry of both outrage and ridicule when it aired, seriously cringeworthy. There's a real ick factor in listening to him talk about his sad life, watching him get rubbed down in the shower to get comfortable with physical intimacy, and see him peer into the ladyparts of his therapist to learn about female anatomy. Ew. Ew. Ew.

I also have to wonder how someone as shy and awkward as James would ever agree to be the subject of such a stupendously intimate and revealing show. I actually found it easier to listen to the program, rather than watch it (It's about on par ick-wise with watching swinging seniors on HBO's Real Sex.)

On the other hand, having heard so many stories from older virgins – and especially the older guys – it's clear how emotionally crippling that life can be. And listening to James's brutally honest assessment of his life, watching his growing confidence, and his eventual understanding of the difference between sex and intimacy is moving. It's also kind of refreshing to see older women portrayed as so open and comfortable with their own bodies and sexuality.

A follow-up article on James reports:

Since being on the show, the 27-year-old now has a job working at the Odeon cinema in Beckenham High Street and a girlfriend of six months - who he described as a "ray of sunshine" in his life.

He met his girlfriend at work and got together with her after a date at the cinema in August last year. He said: "If it wasn't for the courage the documentary gave me, I would never have asked her out.

"It made me a stronger person. When I look at the person in the documentary he's like a stranger to me now - that's who I used to be."