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May 20, 1999

You &...
Advice Provocateur
Dan Savage of the most widely-read syndicated sex advice column in America, anthologized in Savage Love

"Gay or straight, readers lust for 'Savage Love.'"
-- Chicago Tribune

"The American advice column has grown fangs."
-- New York Times

"Dan is the only person I can think of who is vulgar and mean and really really funny. Also, really really helpful. If you have a question with words I don't say in my column, ask him."
-- Breakup Girl

Oceanbabe asks, "Do looks matter more then personality?"

Yes and no. In the beginning, yes, looks do matter more than personality. Looks bring people together. You look at someone, think, "Yes, I'd like some of that," and then you get some. That's when personality starts to matter: After you got some, are you going to keep getting some? If the person has a nothing personality or a repulsive personality, then looks won't compensate, and you'll move on. So in the long run, no, looks don't matter more than personality. Which is good, since everyone's looks deteriorate over the long run, don't they?

Cybersquare asks, "What's your take on teledildonics? "Hitachi magic wand" eat your heart out, or the final decline of western civilization ?"

I'm in favor of teledildonics, so long as it doesn't worsen our trade deficit with Japan.

Breeder asks, "I used to read your column many years ago, and you had everyone address you as "Hey, Faggot" in an effort to reappropriate the term as descriptive, in much the same way as Lesbians have for "Dyke." But now that you've become big and famous (and on a Disney-owned web page) the greeting is gone. What gives? Did you mellow with fatherhood, or is this simply a necessary compromise?"

I never used "Hey, Faggot," on, where I write a kinder, gentler advice column. I used it in Savage Love for eight years. Dropping it from SL had nothing to do with ABC, and I was on ABC for two years before I dropped it. The reason I dropped my old salutation was because... it wasn't funny anymore. It was a joking reference to the whole Queer Nation/Act-Up reclaiming-hate-words debate, a debate which is pretty much over (and the reclamationists won). It felt odd to begin each of my SL columns with an eight year-old joke, so it was time to retire it. I still use fag and dyke and sissy and queer and breeder in my responses, so I haven't mellowed or compromised.

Mike asks, "One thing I've noticed about gays is that they seem to be (on the whole) happier people. Since gays have had to come to the realization that they are gay (as opposed to heteros who have always "just known" they're straight) then as a result, gays are more emotionally grounded. They've had to go through that whole "coming out" thing, which can be very stressful, therefore leading them to a hightened understanding of their own emotional state. Would you say that this is true, for the most part, or does this straight guy need to get his head examined?"

No, I disagree. One thing I've noticed about gay people is that, on average, we tend to be more messed up than straights. We may have it together a little more on the sexuality side, but considering what so many gays and lesbians go through before they come out--the fear, ostracism, self-hatred, etc.--many adult gays and lesbians have psychic scars that last their entire lives and negatively impact their personalities and their relationships.

Juliana asks: "Dan, what is the worst advice giving experience and/or the advice that you regret giving the most to someone who wrote into your column?

I have a terrible memory, so I have no regrets. You can't mourn stuff you don't recall, and there's not much I recall. I drove a nail into my head when I was in fourth grade, and it must have punctured the memory part of the brain, and good thing too.

AMR asks, "Do you feel that your column gives you a rare opportunity to peek into the hearts, minds and bedrooms you might not otherwise get to see?"

Yes. I get TONS of mail, from all over the world, and I've learned an awful lot about people doing this column. More than I ever needed to, cared to, and more than I can remember. The nail, you know.

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