Dan Savage wants you to get real.
If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your sex life or your relationship, the author, advocate, and sex advice columnist suggests you start with some housecleaning, quit fantasizing and figure out just what it is you’re looking for.
Savage — who also helped to found the influential It Gets Better Project, aimed at helping prevent suicide among LGBT youth — will be bringing a live version of the “Savage Love” podcast he hosts to Boston’s Wilbur Theatre on Jan. 25, joined by San Francisco’s sex-positive comedy musician Rachel Lark. We spoke to Savage to get his thoughts on the state of sex and love in 2017.
As an expert, how do you think the age of people living increasingly public, online lives has changed sex and romance?
It creates more opportunities for, if not infidelity, desire and temptations, or flirting and showing off. For some people, that can be a threat to their relationships.
How do you think dating apps like Tinder, Grindr and Bumble have reshaped modern dating and relationships?
They call it “The Paradox of Choice,” when you go into the supermarket and there’s too many brands of mustard, and you just look at all of them and leave without buying any mustard, because you can’t decide which you want. Some people have that problem now with dating. There’s just too much opportunity, too many people out there. For some people that’s paralyzing. And it shouldn’t be. Not everybody on Tinder wants to [bed] you. The magical thinking that people engage in is, “Oh my god, I have so many choices.”
What’s most important, and a trait of truly successful people, romantically, are realistic expectations. A lot of people have unrealistic expectations. And rather than adjust their expectations, or examine them to see if they’re rational, they end the relationship and head back out there to try and find the perfect partner, the perfect relationship — the one. And I have been railing against that concept for decades. There is no “one.” There is maybe a .67 that you can round up to 1.
So your Stranger bio says you cheat at racquetball. In Trump’s America, do you really think you even have anything to apologize for?
No, I no longer feel the least bit shy about that. I’m not defying the emoluments clause by playing aggressively at racquetball, so no.
I’m curious about what you, as a professional voice with a knack for being blunt, think of the way our new president uses performative hyperbole to connect with his audiences.
I crank people up to love and accept themselves and be realistic about relationships and enjoy their sex lives, and I think that’s a little different than cranking up people to hate and despise their fellow Americans. The style of hyperbolic overstatement in the service of improving people’s sex lives, I think, is a positive. That style and service of xenophobia and racism, I think, is different and toxic.
I’ve heard this from some people, “How is what you do different from what Trump does?” Look at the ends. You can pick up a hammer and build something useful, or you can pick up a hammer and beat somebody to death. You don’t then look at the hammer and blame it.
Did “golden showers” strike you as a plausible kink for Trump?
It did strike me as a plausible kink. Some people are saying, “He’s a germaphobe — therefore, he would never.” But the reality is people often, in the sexual realm, want to transgress against their public persona — against the person that know themselves to be. They want to be the opposite.
It’s just like the cliche of the high-powered CEO who pays a dominatrix to force him to grovel and beg, and takes all his power away. Or the righteous feminist woman who, in the sack with her boyfriend and consensually, wants to be called a “slut” and have her hair pulled. These are all cliches. So the fact that Trump is a “germaphobe,” as he cited in his press conference, as proof that he could never possibly be into this, is actually not terribly convincing, if you’re me.
Finally, what’s your idea of a perfect Boston date?
I dated a guy from Boston a million years ago, when I had just come out. And so my impression is everyone from Boston is insanely kinky, but my sample size is one. So I guess my perfect Boston date is walking around the beautiful city, and then going back to some rich kid’s parents’ house to have insanely kinky sex.
If you go:
Savage Love Live
Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
246 Tremont St.