Last night's Dan Savage appearance at the Kessler Theater, his first ever in Dallas, took the form of a Q&A session. Unsurprisingly to anyone who reads his weekly sex-advice column, about 90 percent of the A's boiled down to: "Sex is good, judgment is bad."
It was billed as part of a book promotion tour, and included the opportunity to buy a copy of It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, And Creating A Life Worth Living and have it signed after the talk. But rather than read passages from the book he co-edited with husband Terry Miller, Savage simply turned the session into a live 90-minute version of Savage Love, reading and answering questions submitted by the audience on index cards. For anyone expecting the entire night to be a serious discussion of the issue at the center of It Gets Better, the bullying and guilt-torture that leads LGBT teens to run away from home or attempt suicide at rates higher than their straight peers, the first question set them straight, so to speak:
"Why do some guys like to look at poorly colored pictures of the inside of poorly fed strangers' vaginas?"
Savage's response set the tone for the rest of the evening.
In a nutshell: Some guys like to look at "where their dick is supposed to go." You don't have to look at the pictures yourself, so lay off the guy and let him enjoy his porn, for fuck's sake.
But his response to the next question, about how to get over a lost relationship with "The One," revealed that Savage is just as thoughtful about matters of the heart as matters of the cock.
"There is no One," he said. "The One is a curse. ... What there is is a world is full of .64s and .69s and .73s that you round up to one. ... But you have to remember, you're not his One either. He's rounding your ass up too."
This mixture of brutal honesty and advocacy for humane treatment of each other in all relationships colored his responses to the audience's questions, which ranged in topic from political ("What is the gay agenda, anyway?") to dealing with long-distance relationships to whether he prefers girth or width to personal questions about his adopted son.
And he dealt with them all gracefully, even when destroying the sex-robot premise for an audience member's musical script by conjecturing that there will be no Stepford-wife sexbots because the only people who would pay for them are those with physically or legally unattainable fantasies. Sexbots might take the form of well-hung minotaurs, human-like dinosaurs and, um, children. But for anyone else, it's cheaper to rent an actual human. Former Observer clubs editor Rich Lopez got his full response on video for the Dallas Voice.
His courtesy even extended to one woman whose question was a thinly veiled excuse to brag about how many gay friends she has and declare herself the Kathy Griffin of Dallas. His eventual "It really is all about you, isn't it?" did not seem to penetrate her immense wall of self-regard, judging by her smile and extravagant bow at this conclusion.
The It Gets Better movement, which started as a series of YouTube videos from LGBT adults and other supporters encouraging LGBT youths not to despair, did come up, of course. In response to a question about his impressions of Dallas (mine), he thanked the Reverend Stephen Sprinkle, a professor at TCU's Brite Divinity School. Sprinkle's contribution was the first from a "high-profile, openly Christian gay man," Savage said, and helped gay people of faith feel welcome to participate in the project.
"So my impression of Dallas is that you have the best preachers." Surely Robert Jefferies is honored.
A few other nuggets of wisdom:
"People talk about monogamy the way they talk about virginity. Pop your monogamy cherry, and it's gone. It should be more like the monogamy wagon. If you can be monogamous for 40 or 50 years and cheat once or twice, you're doing pretty good."
In response to a question from a lady trying to decide if she should move to be with her girlfriend, "Don't lesbian the shit out of this relationship."
As for how to help a control-freak boyfriend stop micromanaging every facet of the couple's lives? "Marijuana."
And does anything shock him any more? "No. After a letter from a guy having sex with his mom who wants to start an incest pride movement similar to the gay pride movement, after letters from shit eaters, a guy who wants to eat his mom's shit, nothing shocks me anymore. I just say, 'I hope you floss.'"