Me, Dan Savage, and Two 70-year-old, Lust-Crazed Cousins

8/19/14 update: I originally wrote this post on June 25. I’m moving it to the top of my blog because I’m a guest on the Savage Lovecast episode 408 that airs today, and I expect many Dan Savage fans to visit this blog for the first time out of curiosity. In the 8/19 podcast, Dan refers to a scolding that I gave him. This blog post is the scolding/ spanking he’s talking about. Enjoy! 
Too far outside your wheelhouse?” began Dan Savage‘s message to me. He sent me an email from a reader who wanted advice. Because the reader was 70 years old, Dan thought I’d be the right person to help him respond.Here’s my interpretation of what I read:

A 70-year-old woman has been crazy with lust over her female cousin for the past 50 years! It turns out, the cousins discover now, that they both feel the same way! Bring it on! But since they’re both inexperienced in the ways of lesbian sex, they decide it would be cool to get a third woman in on this, to guide the experience so that the first time is stellar. Their fantasy is that Cousin #1 would watch Cousin #2 and their #3 at first, then join in.Their question: How to find this third?

What did I actually read? This:

I’m a bit out of your demographic, agewise (I’m 70), but I am still an avid reader. This is true, not a Penthouse letter. My cousin and I have flirted and joked about getting it on together for about 50 years or more. Now, she’s divorced and having the time of her life. She told me the other day, what she’d really like is to have a “lesbian experience” with me watching and then joining. I’m so crazed with lust that I’m having a hard time thinking straight. This is a kinky dream come true. I love oral sex and with two pussies to eat, etc., the whole thing sounds just great. What I don’t know is how to contact someone to do this. I don’t want someone who’s got a disease, or someone with a boyfriend just waiting to break in and rob everyone. Or someone truly horrific for any number of reasons. How do I contact, and then arrange such a thing? How would I ensure that my concerns are dealt with? Is using an escort services any guarantee of any degree of safety? Boy, I would just love some good advice. Got any for me? If you answer, you can call me… Old But Alive.

What’s wrong with this picture? Just the gender of the letter writer, that’s all. Turns out that my assumption that Cousin #1 (C#1) is female was wrong, wrong, wrong. C#1 is a man.

Dan knew that. I didn’t. It never occurred to me that I had the gender wrong. He didn’t realize that I didn’t know.

So I sent my advice, which included:

  1. “I hope you’re indulging that lust with plenty of hot talk, make-out sessions, and role-playing as you figure out how to make your fantasy a reality.” (Good advice.)
  2. “Start hanging out at lesbian bars and other social venues. Don’t go in aiming to pick someone up right off the bat—you don’t want to come across as predatory and creepy. Instead, go on a date with your cousin, dance, chat up women who are friendly. You could make great connections if you’re open and take your time.” (Good advice if C#1 is a woman. Horrible, clueless, shudder-worthy advice since he’s a man. No, no, no.)
  3. “Another way to go, as you suggested, is to hire someone. The advantage of a paid escort is that you can choose the woman and spell out exactly what fantasy you want her to provide. She’ll be experienced, creative, and totally focused on your pleasure.” (The best advice of all.)

Dan sent me back a quick email that he disagreed with some of what I said, but he didn’t tell me what. I was puzzled — what could he possibly disagree with?

The column posted today — you can read it here. To my shock, Dan broke into my lesbian bar advice with “About the only thing lesbians hate more than opposite-sex couples prowling for ‘thirds’ in their bars are sharp fingernails digging for clams in their pants.”
Huh? Where did he get the idea this was an “opposite-sex couple”?
Later in the post, talking about safer sex, Dan says, “Use condoms, Gramps.” Who’s he calling “Gramps,” and where would these lesbians put the condoms (unless they’re sharing sex toys)?
So it all comes out. C#1 is indeed a man*, and I’ve just gone from respected sex educator to clueless in the eyes of all the Dan Savage fans and Dan himself.
* (But Dan, don’t call him “Gramps” anyway — that’s ageist and condescending. Whether or not he has grandchildren has nothing to do with his sex life.)
Once Dan and I realized what had happened, he apologized profusely, both to me for not clarifying the gender of C#1 and to his readers via a “Dear Readers” update.
He told me later:

I thought it was obvious the letter writer was male — his cousin wanted a lesbian experience, which he couldn’t provide. That’s why they needed a third and he would watch while the cousin had her lesbian experience, then join in. And he mentioned having two pussies to play with… not three.

So, that’s the story, and now I can breathe more easily and sleep tonight. Now that I see it all in perspective, it’s pretty funny that I jumped to the conclusion that the letter writer was female. I can laugh about it now.

While I’m on the subject, finding a paid escort is less problematic than you’d think via the Internet or referrals – these women have found ways to advertise their availability, or they wouldn’t be in business. Kendra Holliday, who describes herself as a sex worker from St Louis, tells me, “You can track down sex workers in your area online and run your scenario by them. If the sex worker is not into that kind of thing, she can float it by her network. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool in the sex worker realm.”

Thank you, Dan Savage, for all you do to create a sex-positive world! (See my review of Dan’s book, American Savage, along with a gratuitous photo of his husband Terry in a swimsuit, here.) While you’re at it, do subscribe to the paid version of his Savage Lovecast — it’s well worth the small subscription fee to get almost 1.5 hours of Dan every week.


  1. Dan on August 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Joan…at 66 I was called "gramps" by a 35 year old in a face to face rant months back, a small men's event. Yes, it was meant as and insult and it was for sure ageist.

    Funny thing is? I'm having wilder, better, more creative sex than he is at age 35; AND unlike my ranter friend, I have
    1) kids and a family and,
    2) a wife, and
    3) a grandchild, and
    4) a small bit of wisdom due to the years.

    At 35 my ranter fellow may get laid as often as I do (I doubt it); but I get love and friends and children and family, too. What's sex worth without some of that? Thanks for keeping Dan Savage informed and "ungrampified".
    -the other Dan

  2. Rae Padilla Francoeur on June 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I had some trouble logging in so my comment may appear twice. I love you, Joan. And I have the greatest respect for Dan Savage. So I was proud of you both for persisting till you saw the source of your misunderstanding. I read it as Joan read it, for the record. And I, too, want that usage of "Gramps" stricken from the lexicon along with "spry." When did vigorous, energetic, dynamic turn into spry?

  3. Stuart Best on June 26, 2014 at 2:29 am

    A key phrase, oddly worded, caused the mistake: "…to have a 'lesbian experience' with me…" Even though the word "watching" follows "me," the phrase "lesbian experience with me" plants a subconscious assumption that it's a lesbian who is writing. I can see how both mistakes happened — yours and Dan's. It's a no-fault snafu, and both of you were gracious about it.

    • Ashgrove on June 26, 2014 at 5:57 am

      Agreed. Thanks to that particular phrase, I also read the whole letter as probably written by a woman.

  4. Penny on June 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    When I first read your advice, I was confused by your suggestion of going to a lesbian bar, especially with Dan's comment…now it all makes more sense!

  5. Bianca on June 25, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Joan, I made the exact same assumption as you! Glad you two were able to clarify, even after the fact, what the confusion was! And go you calling out Dan's ageist BS. You can be edgy and snarky (as Dan is wont to do) without being ageist and obnoxious.

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