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From "bunga-bunga parties" to designer vaginas, behold the 10 best sex stories of 2010.
BOSTON — WikiLeaks. Afghanistan. Haiti's earthquake. Chile's miners.
Yes, it was an important year for global news. But we know what you're really interested in. And on that score 2010 did not disappoint.
Here's a quick roundup of the year in sex.
1) The Italian Stallion
In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi remained the godfather of sex scandals. Berlusconi spent much of 2010 fending off various allegations, the most serious involving 17-year-old Moroccon belly dancer Karima Keyek, better known by her stage name Ruby Rubacuori, or Stealer of Hearts.
Berlusconi's defense? "It's better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay."
The scandals roiled the Italian government, led to a confidence vote and sparked perhaps the most colorful sex term of the year: "bunga-bunga parties," wild soirees reportedly hosted by the 74-year old leader where participants engage in after-dinner sex.
2) Designer vaginas, anyone
The Czech Republic solidified its reputation as the sex capital of Europe in 2010.
That's where GlobalPost correspondent Iva Skoch (Prague's own) uncovered a boom in designer vaginas — plastic surgery to help women feel better about their genital appearance, or even resemble their favorite porn stars.
Speaking of porn, another Skoch investigation this year revealed the extent to which straight men are participating in Prague's thriving gay porn industry.
According to William Higgins, an American producer and self-styled “dean of gay porn," gay men want to see straight guys but imagine them as gay, which is why 90 percent of the Czech men he uses in his films are heterosexuals, or at least “that's what they like to call themselves.”
Europe's economic crisis is also playing a role.
4) He shoots, he scores?
In South Africa, the World Cup grabbed plenty of headlines in 2010, not all of them having to do with soccer.
That was certainly the case after the South African government requested one billion condoms from the United Kingdom to help World Cup fans stay safe while tending to their after-football needs. (The Brits responded by sending 42 million).
The prophylactic plea should come as no surprise, as we also learned this year that South Africa is Condom Nation.
5) Poland's priestly sex guru
Our tireless sex beat reporter Iva Skoch found a priest in Poland who has become an unlikely sexpert.
Through books and a popular website, Father Ksawery Knotz has developed a healthy following from those who seek his advice on matters ranging from God-approved birth control to the morality of oral sex.
"Woman who has not experienced an orgasm due to the fact that sexual intercourse has been too fast, could let her husband satisfy her in any other way," Knotz writes in a section called Ending of Marital Intercourse. "Only after experiencing an orgasm (sometimes several orgasms) an excited woman could feel fully-appeased."
6) Behold the "Rape-aXe"
The horrors of rape were well-documented in 2010.
But so, too, was a new deterrent against the crime: the Rape-aXe, a flexible polyurethane tube that fits into a woman's vagina. Rows of jagged plastic hooks line the inside of the device — bent backward like teeth in a shark’s mouth — and lodge in a perpetrator's penis upon entry.
The perpetrator can withdraw from the woman, but the Rape-aXe remains, painfully, clamped on.
7) The power of a giant wooden penis
As GlobalPost correspondent Jonathan Adams learned, nothing says springtime in Japan like a penis festival. Vaginas, too.
One of the best-known penis festivals is held at Komaki City's Tagata shrine, about 45 minutes outside Nagoya, every March.
It may sound like a sophomoric gag. But these are folk rites going back at least 1,500 years, into Japan's agricultural past. They're held to ensure a good harvest and promote baby-making.
At the Hime-no-miya grand vagina festival, parents dress up their kids, pray for healthy babies, and celebrate with sake, beer and snacks galore.
And, yes, he took photos.
8) Does Facebook lead to adultery?
That was a big worry in Indonesia in 2010.
In May, a group of Muslim clerics from Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, the Nahdatul Ulama, recommended creating rules to govern how Muslims use Facebook — pitting the nation’s religious against its increasing modernity.
As GlobalPost correspondent and deputy editor Peter Gelling reported, the clerical bunch were concerned the social-networking site could be used to flirt, leading to illicit affairs, adultery or worse.
9) Sex tourism in Senegal
More women — often white, European and "of a certain age" — flocked to Senegal's shores in 2010. They all had one thing on their mind. Three, actually: sun, sea, and sex.
As GlobalPost's Anne Look discovered, Senegal's sex tourism industry has its roots in poverty and the lack of jobs for the country's young men. The unemployment rate for youths is estimated at 30 percent, according to the International Labor Organization, and the average person in Senegal earns about $3 a day, the World Bank reports.
“It’s a question of survival. Life is hard. If I didn’t have these women, I’d be struggling," said Moussa, a 31-year-old dreadlocked drummer who has been "dating" female tourists since 2003. “The women come here alone. They hit on you, and you go with it,” Moussa said. “They like men with rastas who play the djembes [drums]. It’s part of the ambiance.”
"Besides," he added with a sly smile, "they know men who play the drums are powerful in bed."
10) Betal nut beauties
Betel nut, a mild stimulant, is enjoyed across Asia. But only in Taiwan is the nut sold by fetching young women in outrageous outfits, perched in neon-lit, see-through roadside stands.
But as Jonathan Adams reported, a debate erupted in 2010 over these scantily-clad hawkers of nuts. Is the practice a tourist draw, or a national shame?