Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book & Podcast Review: Savage Love

Over the last week I have been marathon-listening to the Savage Love podcast. Dan Savage is a sex and relationship advice columnist for the Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger. I had previously come across Mr. Savage in the form of his books, through my work at the bookstore. In Skipping towards Gomorrah, he indulges himself in the Seven capital Sins on a quest for happiness. There is The Kid, about the adoption process he and his boyfriend went through to add a little bundle of joy to their existence. And The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family is a memoir incorporating thoughts about gay marriage. The first two linger on my bookshelf, unread so far because I just haven't gotten around to them. (Try working at a bookstore for a couple of years and see if you don't start building up a serious backlog of reading material.)
A book also came out collecting entries from his advice column, titled - predictably - Savage Love. This one I have gone through cover to cover by now, and it is a fast and funny read. It's great for reading on the fly since the piecemeal structure means you can easily dip into it for a page or two in-between whatever you are doing. (STD's don't combine well with cooking though.) Through Mr. Savage's book and this podcast, I now know more about vaginas and the female orgasm than I ever needed to.
Mr. Savage has a bit of a pottymouth on him, which works just fine for his line of work. It signals to his audience that no question will be too rude to be taken seriously, anything goes. In some cases, the questions make you shake your head at the lack of knowledge that USA youngsters have about sex. There is real damage being done here by consciously keeping people uninformed, often under the guise of religion, but really because previous generations had it drilled into them that sex is BAD and feel they have to make others suffer for that as well.
Dan's mantra is pretty much that sex and sexual experimentation are GOOD, unless it harms you or others. It's about getting maximum pleasure out of it all, while keeping your head on straight. For instance, a gay guy who wants to visit an orgy is strongly advised not to: it carries too much risk of disease. Questions about things like *gag reflex* eating shit are handled with equal practicality (so that would be a 'not a good idea', though - rejoice - pee is safe).
Thankfully, he is also not playing along with the assumption of some gays, that gays are intrinsically good and straight people are pretty much evil. There are assholes on both sides of the fence, and Savage even counts himself as one of those assholes. On one of the podcasts he rightfully, verbally bitch-slaps an effeminate gay boy who thinks that all women are disgusting and wants nothing to do with them. He even goes a bit pussy on him (to use his terminology) by not pointing out that the boy's hatred of women probably ties in to the fact that he is a bit of a flamer, struggling with his feminine side.
The questions never get boring, helped by the voyeuristic aspect to them. Often the answers are close to what your own response would be at first thought, but with a twist and more facts behind them. Though the word SEX is on the cover of just about every magazine every month, they are pussies about the graphic and technical aspects of it. Savage deals with these with refreshing bluntness and humour. I encourage everyone to read his column and to listen to the podcast. But beware: this asshole is not for pussies.


Anonymous said...

"This asshole is not for pussies"

Ha! Great review, thanks.

Steven said...

And here is why the internet is fantastic... After posting, I immediately sent an e-mail to Savage Love:

Hey there Dan,
I am sure you are too busy to read a piece where you get brown-nosed by a Dutch gay guy (me) on his spectacularly unread blog, but sending you the link just in case you need an ego-boost one sad, sad day.
I'll be listening!

Within the hour, I get a response by e-mail: 'hey, thanks! very sweet... xo dan' And simultaneously a response gets posted here. Thanks for visiting, Dan! Keep up the good erections!

Anonymous said...

Hey, just wanted to let you know, you really should read "The Kid". Dan maintains his usual smartass humor and fires off the expected biting and insightful critiques. But at the same time, he conveys the joy and wonder of becoming a father. The sentimentality is so genuine (in part because it seems so out-of-character). The book made me want to be a dad someday too--something I'd never really considered since coming out.

Anonymous said...

Great review! But as an avid listener of the Savage Lovecast, I have to say Dan would not agree with your usage of the word pussy here!