For ‘Savage’ columnist, no subject is off-limits

If you’re doing a quick internet search for crazy, ridiculous sex, Dan Savage’s name will probably be somewhere in the mix.

Editorial director of Seattle’s “The Stranger,” Savage (his real name) writes “Savage Love,” an internationally syndicated sex advice column. In it Savage has covered everything – from kinky fetishes to the most delicate relationship issues-all with his straight forward, no holds barred approach. Savage talked to The Northern Light on Feb. 5.

TNL: How did you get into writing about sex and relationships?

DS: I met some people who were moving to Seattle from Madison, Wis. to start a newspaper and I just said “Oh, you should have an advice column because everybody reads them’ and they thought that was good advice and they asked me to
write it. So I kind of stumbled into it by accident.

TNL: Had you ever had experience giving sex advice?

DS: No, not professionally. I was gay and a lot of my friends would come to me, particularly my straight friends, which seems to be something a lot of straight people rely on their gay friends for.

TNL: For sex advice about gay sex or straight sex?

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DS: No, about straight sex. Straight people correctly have the impression that gay people know more about sex than they do, cause we do. [It’s] because sex is what makes gay people not straight people. If you want to have this passionate perspective on your sex problems, who better than a fag if you’re straight.

TNL: Are there any letters or questions that have really stood out to you?

DS: All sorts. You get the letter from someone who likes to eat poop, and you think, “Wow, it doesn’t get any grosser than that.” Then you get the letter from somebody who’s having sex with his mom, and you think “Wow, doesn’t get any grosser than that.” Then you get the letter from someone who wants to eat his mom’s poop, and you want to retire. But you keep going because you have a mortgage.

TNL: Do you answer questions like that?

DS: I have. Usually if I get a question that’s really disgusting, and I’ve never touched that topic before, that gets rushed into the column, whatever that is.

TNL: But your column isn’t just about sex and relationships; you tend to get into a lot of political stuff.

DS: I only get into politics because politicians are always getting into sex. I would be happy to leave politics alone if politicians would leave sex alone, but they won’t.

TNL: I bring it up because our governor, Sarah Palin, recently gained some . . .

DS: Sarah who? You guys have a female governor? I had no idea.

TNL: But I saw your video appealing to be her “gay friend.” Did she ever get back to you on that?

DS: No, she never did. Maybe I’ll drop by the Palins’ place and make my offer in person while I’m up there.

TNL: So the offer still stands? You’ll still teach her kids about sex and she can teach your son about God?

DS: And birth control. She has other daughters and maybe it will save [them] from Bristol’s fate, if there’s an intervention in time.

TNL: When you heard about her nomination, did you have a reaction to it?

DS: Like the rest of the country I knew very little about Sarah Palin when she was nominated. But then I quickly learned that she’s bat-shit crazy and so apparently are the majority of the voters in Alaska who put her in office.

You know, the overlap with me and what I do, is hearing that she opposes comprehensive sex education, supports abstinence until marriage education – sex non-education – and then has a knocked-up teenage daughter with a high school-dropout boyfriend… a little poetic justice there. It’s just one of those moments where sex and politics overlap.

TNL: Can you tell me a little bit about “saddlebacking” and why you decided to name “saddlebacking” after Rick Warren’s church?

DS: It wasn’t my idea entirely. I was on the Colbert Report and Stephen joked that saddlebacking was a sex act sort of because it rips off of barebacking, which is a
sort of known, ridiculous sex act. He implied that it was a dirty, dirty thing, but there was no definition, so my readers decided to take up the cause and come up with a definition for it.

People submitted suggested definitions, and I threw one out there, and my readers picked that winning definition. And if only Levi and Bristol had saddlebacked more, then we would be discussing Bristol’s private, sexual choices during the campaign.

TNL: What kind of questions do you get when you come to colleges?

DS: You get a lot of situational questions. A lot of people who are young – for some reason, perhaps because of abstinence education – have sort of made a virtue of being ignorant about sex. The less you know, the better a person you are. The more God likes you. And that may be a good strategy for getting into heaven, but it’s not a good strategy for getting into anybody’s pants and once people get to college they suddenly have a keen interest to get into the pants of all sorts of people.

And questions come up. How do I do that? How do I make that happen? Increasingly people are down with and interested in exploring their kinks and fetishes and there’s a whole host of negotiation problems there.

TNL: Have you ever had a really awkward moment, where someone freaked out in the audience?

DS: No, not really. I’ve always fantasized that right-wing Christian fuck-wits are going to come to yell at me, I’m always braced for that. But they never show up, because they’re cowards.

TNL: What’s the main message you would like to get out to students at UAA?

DS: That your sexuality is yours, and yours to enjoy, and that you ought to enjoy it because you have no other choice. You can enjoy it and enjoy it responsibly, or you can try to run from it and be made miserable all your life. Those are your only choices really.

TNL: Do you plan to do anything while you’re up here?

DS: I plan to freeze my ass off. I also plan to meet Levi Johnston and explain saddlebacking to him.

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