Recently Jessica Anya Blau, longtime TNB contributor and author of two daring novels, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and Drinking Closer to Home, piloted (I believe rather unintentionally) the concept of the Six Question Sex Interview series.  Her sex interview with author James Magruder was so stimulating (er, inspirational) to her fellow TNBers, that it seemed only fair that Jessica herself should be the next subject of this new series.  Always happy to engage in intellectual conversation with a talented writer (er, dish about sex with someone who writes about it as much as I do), I volunteered to do Jessica’s honors.  What follows is our exchange about her provocative writing, the Big Questions of age and beauty, what the next generation really thinks about its parents’ sexuality, and a few technique tips along the way.

Stay tuned for Jessica’s stint as a Featured Author on the Fiction Section in early 2011, when Drinking Closer to Home officially debuts!  And now, without further ado . . .

The Six Question Sex Interview: JAB Edition

GF: The parents in both of your novels are unconventional to say the least: they smoke (and grow) weed, they decide to “quit” parenting, they own vibrators, may have had affairs and . . . well, party naked.  I mean, even the grandmother in DRINKING talks about “discharge” on her granddaughter’s underpants!  On the one hand, I read your fiction wanting to cheer these free-spirited oldsters on, but I admit that sometimes it’s hard, since it’s also clearly not how their kids feel about them–Anna in Drinking Closer to Home, in particular, is physically grossed out by her parents, especially her mother Louise, who she says smells like armpits and has a square, flabby ass.  In other words, the parents’ compulsive sexuality isn’t necessarily “sexy.”  Can you talk about how age and responsibility factor into the complex equation of someone’s sexuality?

JAB: Here are two things I’ve noticed: sex plus old people equals a joke.Look at Betty White or those Playboy comics with the old lady (do they still have those? I haven’t seen a real live Playboy Magazine since my elementary school friend and I snuck into her father’s collection stacked by his chair).And then there’s the woman who hangs her wet-plastic-bag-looking breasts out the window in Something About Mary.The second thing I’ve noticed is that a come-on or a flirtation is either grotesque or compelling not depending on what is said and done, but rather on how appealing the flirter is.For example, if Jon Hamm walked up to you and said, “You have the most beautiful eyes,” your response would be, “Hell yeah, and what are you doing later?”Whereas if your friend’s grandfather hobbled up to you with his pants hitched up below his conical man breasts so that his sock garters showed and said, “You have the most beautiful eyes,” (same exact sentence, same wording, same delivery) you would find it repulsive.

I think that as hard as it is, we have to accept not only who we are, but how we are perceived.I’ll be talking to a student, for example, and I’ll read something on their face, or they’ll say something, and I’ll know that they see me as a professor, mother, and person of authority.This particular idea of me makes my students feel safe and comfortable.My responsibility with them, in my opinion, is to not act outside of those roles as it would totally freak them out and unground them.So, I shouldn’t discuss my lust for Jon Hamm and the extra scenes I mentally write into Mad Men each week that star him naked.But I can discuss character development, or how plot is moved in Mad Men.To sum it up, it’s important to know ones audience and to respect the limitations of that audience.And our children, in some ways, can be our most limiting audience.

GF: In Drinking, Anna finds herself on the “winning side” of lust and affairs, manipulating men with her body, whereas her sister, Portia, finds her husband banging a younger woman shortly after Portia has given birth, gained weight and a C-section scar, and stopped regularly shaving her legs.  This got me thinking back to one of the first TNB posts I ever read of yours, in which you interviewed your mother and discussed the subject of Beauty in some depth.  Beauty, of course, is one of sex’s great mysteries, since almost everyone on the planet has sex, and few of these people are beautiful, yet somehow sex and romance manage to remain, in the popular consciousness, reserved for Beautiful People.  Tell us the Jessica Anya Blau philosophy of beauty, as it relates to sex.

JAB: Well, I think there are two kinds of beauty.There is Still Beauty, beauty that is simply physical and is easily visible.You see a person sitting there and they are undeniably beautiful.Those people have a certain amount of power as long as that beauty exists.Then there’s Active Beauty, the beauty a person exhibits in movement, life, action and, most potently, talent.For example, I went to a Bar Mitzvah last Saturday and there was this beautiful woman dancing who was about my age; she was riveting. At the end of the night, I started talking to her and I saw that she had these funky teeth and an almost insect-like divided body.But she was still beautiful, because she smiled, and I could see how she connected to the world around her.If I hadn’t seen her dancing, if I had just seen a photo of her and nothing else, I wouldn’t have seen her beauty.Another example: I once dated a professional sailor.He raced boats, to Hawaii and back, that sort of thing.All our dates were on boats, we’d take a boat out and he’d be running around, messing with the sails, standing at what seemed like impossible angles as the boat ripped along on its side.He was beautiful.Amazing.Totally compelling.Then, after about a month we had our first date ashore.We were walking along the sidewalk toward a movie theater when I looked over at him and realized that nothing of his beauty came out on land.I couldn’t see it in him when he was a slow-moving, heavy-footed pedestrian.The relationship didn’t last long.I think the key to beauty is to find the things that make us happy, and to find the things we’re good at and to do them passionately and with all our hearts.Even those who are lucky enough to have Still Beauty need to find their Active Beauty.Still Beauty doesn’t last, there’s no point in putting too much stock in it.Active Beauty is something you take to the grave.

And as far as sex goes, Active Beauty is the dominant force.We’ve all met the gorgeous person who has no more appeal than a blow-up doll.And we all know the limitations of the man who chooses the blow-up doll over an engaging, vibrant human.

GF: Portia’s friend Sarah’s hot and pervy dad gives Portia advice on how her boyfriend should perform cunnilingus so she’ll orgasm.  While it’s a given that all regular TNBers perfect oral sex and have mind-blowing orgasms, still, for the benefit of whatever sixteen year old, clueless boys might have wandered into this forum by mistake while googling their “nervous breakdown” due to the inability to make their girlfriends come, will you please instruct everyone on how to properly lick pussy?

JAB: What I wrote in Drinking Closer to Home is, in fact, the advice that all sixteen-year-old boys and even many grown men need.Sarah’s dad says, “Tell him to keep his lips fairly close together and to use his tongue as a forceful nub.”Then he goes on to say, “Remind him that he’s not a Labrador.”I will add that to get to all good things in life you need focused dedication to one task at a time.If you’re wandering here and there, diddling on the piano and then plucking at the violin for a couple of bars, you won’t ever get to those beautiful, thundering chords at the end of the piece.

Also, second piece of advice for anyone who’s fumbling with girls and women: find your Active Beauty, become talented at anything (guitar, surfing, math) and you’ll be forgiven your floppy, aimless tongue (for a while, at least).

GF: One of the most charming chapters in the novel is about Emery’s idyllic but completely asexual relationship with his girlfriend, Katie, when he’s still in high school and hasn’t yet come out.  When Emery and Katie decide to lose their virginity to one another, the event is so completely anticlimactic that they–especially Emery–mutually conspire to avoid sex for the remainder of their relationship.  Later, Emery is in a longterm relationship with a man named Alejandro with whom he wants to have a baby.  I have to say that, out of all the members of the family in Drinking, Emery is by far the most normal and functional.  But were there any challenges for you, as a woman writer, in getting into the sexual mindset of a gay man?

JAB: In an earlier draft of the novel I had written Emery, the character based on my brother, without any sex scenes.Then my editor said she wanted a chapter with Emery losing his gay virginity and one with him losing his straight virginity.I realized then that the reason I hadn’t written any Emery sex scenes is that thinking about my brother having sex, and thinking about his penis in particular, did make me a little uncomfortable.(Whereas I had no problem at all writing the numerous and often kinky sex scenes for the character based on my sister.)With Emery, I decided to simply get over it.A penis is just a penis.Sex is just sex.If you look at it in the most basic form and don’t add any history or politics, sex is pretty darn easy.Before writing those scenes, I wrote my brother an email and asked him to tell me about his two losses of virginity.He sent back wonderful, detailed stories of each.I took the stories, fictionalized them, got into his head, and “felt” them, in a sense, as I wrote them.The human impulses are universal whether you’re gay, straight, young, old, male or female.So any of us can tap into desire, even if the desire we’re describing in fiction isn’t necessarily one that we have in real life.And as far as Emery being the most “normal” one in the book, I suppose that’s how it is in real life.My brother’s not dramatic, he doesn’t really fuck up in big ways, he keeps it all under control.

GF: In many ways, your writing seems to be no-holds-barred when it comes to sex . . . yet the little interview with your family at the end of DRINKING, revealing how autobiographical the novel is on many levels, makes me wonder: is there anything you held back from putting into one of your novels because you were worried it was too revealing or might upset somebody?  Come on, there are only 80,000 people listening . . .

JAB: I wish I had some juicy, sexy, never-before-heard tidbit to give you, but the truth is the stuff that I held back is the stuff no one would want to read.There’s an Ann Beattie story in which one character says, “Any life will seem dramatic if you omit mention of most of it.” So true. And the reason I’ve omitted so much.

GF: Flash forward 20 years and one of your daughters is writing a novel based on you.  How would she describe your sexual persona during her youth?

JAB: Ah, great question!Well, I don’t walk around naked, as my parents did.And I never talk to my kids about my sex life!My daughters’ complaint about me is that I ask too many questions.My curiosity about them and their lives appears to be infinite.So if one of them tells me she kissed a boy I want to know what the kiss was like, where it happened, what his breath smelled like, what his mouth tasted like, if they locked braces, or banged foreheads, etc.I ask only a fraction of what I’m curious about, so it always amazes me that they think I ask too much.I want to say to them sometime, “Do you have any idea how many unasked questions are knocking around in my head?!”Anyway, I think they find me a little invasive, so that is probably what they would write about.

They haven’t read my books and they don’t read my posts on TNB.But if they did, they’d probably write about how traumatic it was to find out that their mother pulled down her tube top while standing out the top of a sunroof during a traffic jam on the Long Island Expressway.Or maybe they’d just write about the horror of having a mother who would actually wear a tube top.

*Interviewer’s note: I should add that, while I’ve been a huge fan of JAB’s on TNB since I joined the site in something like 2008, it was a particular delight to meet her in New York this past May, where I found her just as vibrant and sexy as you all imagine her to be.  You’ve all seen that tan and that hair in her TNB photo, but I’ll add here that she’s a hell of a dancer, too.  Her kids are the only ones who would bitch about her in a tube top.  Just saying . . .

TAGS: , , , , ,

GINA FRANGELLO is the fiction editor of The Nervous Breakdown. She is the author of three books of fiction: A Life in Men (forthcoming from Algonquin in Feb 2014), Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press) and My Sister's Continent (Chiasmus 2006). She is also the Sunday Editor at The Rumpus, and was the longtime editor of the literary magazine Other Voices, as well as the co-founder and executive editor of its book imprint, Other Voices Books (now an imprint of Dzanc Books). Her short stories have been published in many lit mags and anthologies, including A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection, Prairie Schooner, StoryQuarterly, and Fence, and her essays, journalism, reviews and interviews have appeared in such venues as the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post and the Chicago Reader. In her nonexistent spare time, she runs a writing program out of Mexico, <a href="http://www.othervoicesqueretaro.com/" Other Voices Queretaro.

184 responses to “The Six Question Sex Interview: Jessica Anya Blau”

  1. Irene Zion says:

    “Sex plus old equals a joke.”
    Yes, I suppose to young people.
    Yes, I suppose sex plus old is embarrassing to young people.
    All that is true.
    What is also true is that old people still have sex,
    and it is no joke to them.
    It’s just as nice as it was when they were young.
    Does that surprise you?
    It should make you happy, if you think about it.

  2. Yes, yes, Irene, I meant to other people. Or to Americans, at least. I think it’s less of a joke in other countries. Old French women don’t see themselves as sexless and don’t seem to be seen that way. It shouldn’t be the way it is here. It should be nice for everyone.

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Yup, Jessica Anya, I was pretty sure that’s what you and Gina thought.
    But you’re right about what most people think.
    It’s a shame, that,
    especially since they are,
    going to get old one day too,
    and embarrass their kids
    and shock the neighbors,
    all while just having a good time.

    • Jessica echoed my sentiments here, Irene . . . you have to remember that, while you have some years on JAB and myself, neither of us is remotely “young” or particularly enthused by the American views of sexuality as the exclusive terrain of youth (especially when it comes to women.) I mean, I actually had a 22 year old student tell me that she had lost interest in Sex and the City because, I quote, “They just got too old for me to be interested in their sex lives.”

      Let me be clear: there are a shitload of valid reasons not to be interested in Sex and the City. But I don’t think THAT is really one of them.

      I’m 42 and have been with David for 20 years. We live in a culture where I’m about 20 years past the age when women are considered most desirable, and when anyone in a longterm marriage–especially a mom with kids–is largely desexualized in the popular consciousness.

      It’s so true that we will all be old someday. That the very student who once thought 40-something characters were unworthy of having interesting sex lives will someday BE a 40something woman who still very much wants to lead an interesting life, and who still wants to have a good time, and who still feels sexual, possesses complicated desires, and is (gasp indeed!) probably a better lover than she was when she was 22 and making comments like that, huh?

      • Irene Zion says:

        If that student remembers what she said to you, Gina,
        she is really going to be sorry one day.
        (But I’ll bet you anything she won’t remember….)

        • You never can tell what you might remember.

          I remember once, in seventh grade, the one year our class had a black teacher, our teacher asking the class if any of us (all Italian, Latino, or basic white hillbilly) would ever consider marrying a black person. Only one person in the class said yes–my best girlfriend, Alicia, who was obsessed with Michael Jackson, and was actually dating a half-black boy, the only one in the neighborhood. Everyone else said no. I think my teacher was actually SURPRISED to find me saying no–I think she must have expected better of me–and so she asked me (not everyone else) why, and I remember saying, “My dad would kill me.”

          This memory still kind of haunts me. I can’t believe I was such a moron, even though I was 12. I mean, not only of course am I really sad that I must have disappointed my teacher incredibly–that she must have deduced that even her few “bright” students were incurably racist–but I’m also sad that I so underestimated my father, who would have accepted anyone I loved, and who was actually the only person in our entire neighborhood who voted for Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, and who of course now has Chinese granddaughters who are basically his reason (along with his grandson) for living.

          So who knows? Maybe that student will look back in 20 years and say, “Wow, I sure was a stupid little shit.”

          She may also then think to herself, “My 40ish professor probably had a better sex life than I did.” Which would, I am willing to bet, be true.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Why were we such idiots when we were young?
          I never understood that.

  4. Yes, if we’re lucky we get old.
    It’s the great equalizer, in a sense–happens to all of us.

  5. Irene Zion says:

    I never did think it would happen to me, though.
    I really didn’t.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      I’ve been expecting it since I was about six. My best friend was an old lady in her 70s. I didn’t have any kid friends until I was 8. So I hung out with this old woman, we drank tea and chatted. Sometimes we looked through her drawers, picked up soaps she saved, smelled them, tried on hats. It was my future, I could see it, and it didn’t look too bad.

      • Irene Zion says:

        I had no contact with anyone elderly when I was little.
        Not a soul. Isn’t that weird?

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Really weird. Although maybe not too weird. Old people are shuffled off these days, hidden away in pissy-smelling convalescent homes. I think we need to work old people into the daily system more. Turn them all into Baristas at Starbucks or something.

  6. Simon Smithson says:

    “Sarah’s dad says, “Tell him to keep his lips fairly close together and to use his tongue as a forceful nub.” Then he goes on to say, “Remind him that he’s not a Labrador.”

    This is the best post ever. I’m laughing, and I’m also learning.

  7. Simon, speaking for JAB and myself, we live to be of service to mankind in its efforts to please womankind.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I’m sure someone’s getting serviced somewhere along the line.

    • and for that matter, of service to womankind! you ladies really rock and am so happy that this interview is out there in the world now because when i think about sexuality and what it means to get old (and I, by no means consider myself old at 35) but I do see little things happening to my body and we all start to feel age set in, but it’s relative. I feel like we get better as we age and those French women have the right idea—they still look sexy and are completely comfortable being sexual at any age. Incredibly important! I gotta say, though, Gina–you kill me. Both you and Jessica write about sex like no one else I’ve read. And I love it. The honesty, the boldness of the writing is what I simply love. Well done, girls!

      • Thanks, Ang! The comfort/confidence factor is everything, I think, when it comes to these things.

        And I just have to add that I almost wrote, in response to Simon, “and womankind,” but then thought to myself, Well–Sarah’s dad’s not telling chicks anything they don’t already know about how to please a woman. Then again, I have a 50something woman friend who has never had an orgasm so I shouldn’t make these assumptions about what women know about our own bodies. Indeed, Sarah’s dad may have something to teach all of us, ha.

  8. james magruder says:

    Loved the interview, ladies. Who is going to interview Gina now?

    I was discussing the fear-based roots of comedy with my drama students this very Monday and why is it that horny older and old women, from Chaucer through Lady Wishfort to those ghastly Golden Girls and Mrs. Roper and Peg Bundy and “There’s Something About Mary,” are so funny, at least from the male p.o.v. Women past childbearing age had no utility in feudal Europe, so they become either powerful crones or risible lusty widows. Impotent old pantaloons get their fair measure of literary scorn over the centuries–but I don’t think they evoke the same laughs, or shudders, as the dames do.

    I was in France last month & my partner and I marveled at how Parisian women dress and behave. No tracksuits and comfy shoes for them–they are still in the game and don’t you forget it.

    • Greg Olear says:

      A great point, James! Now someone must interview Gina. It should be a circle of some kind. Whoever interviews Gina is interviewed by someone else, and so on, and many, many years in the future, for the grand finale, you will interview the penultimate interviewer, thus completing the circle.

      How do you say “cougar” in French?

      • Jessica Blau says:

        I think LENORE has to interview Gina. Oui?

        • We might have to get a triple X rating for that one . . .

        • Jessica Blau says:

          For you or Lenore? The two of you together is like . . . ah, what? Combustible. Beautiful and fiery.

        • Greg Olear says:

          We need to come up with a surefire way to pick the new interviewer. First person to comment, maybe?

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Lenore has officially been TAGGED!

        • Lenore says:

          challenge accepted.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Oh Lordy,
          That will be one X rated interview.
          I’ll have to avert my eyes, what with the familial connection.

        • Jessica Blau says:

          You have to be like my children, and just NOT read it! But wait, you, too, must participate somehow Irene. And then it will be Lenore’s turn not to read! Can we interview you and Victor together?!

        • Irene Zion says:

          Victor doesn’t read TNB.
          He read my very first one years ago and said that was all he was willing to do.
          He doesn’t even read Lenore’s stuff.
          Don’t ask me why, cause I don’t know.
          I’ll do anything but Victor will not participate.
          We could make up what he’d say though, Lenore and I both could do that.
          He’s very predictable.
          (And he’d never know we did it.)

        • Jessica Blau says:

          I’ve figured out the RULES FOR THE SIX QUESTION SEX INTERVIEW:

          The person who gets interviewed (in this case, me) gets to pick the person who interviews the person who conducted the interview (Gina). So I picked Lenore. Then, Gina gets to pick who interviews Lenore (how hilarious if it were IRENE!), and so on and so forth.


        • Deal!

          (Though I think Irene might have to interview a fictional Victor, whose answers she and Lenore would make up together. Albeit none of the TNBers who have joined the site in the last year or so would probably know what the hell we were all doing, but I think some of the old-timers might just be so happy that we would go around radiating a glow for days.)

        • Irene Zion says:

          I’m pretty sure that anyone who reads TNB on a regular basis could do Victor’s answers for him. He’s pretty well- known for someone who wants to be invisible

      • james magruder says:

        le cougar ou le puma

  9. You know, James, I was just thinking about this: I haven’t spent time in France since the year I was thirty (yes, it’s been 12 years since I’ve been to France, which back when I was often living overseas in my 20s would have seemed an utter impossibility to me), and I’ve really been craving to go back there and get a personal perspective on the sexual/physical/fashion vibe of the older European woman. I don’t think that there’s an absence of youth-worship in European sexual consciousness . . . the “older woman” is still very much a type, as, for example, seen in the writing of Kundera, who is as close to a meticulous chronicler of the hetero/male European sexuality of the second half of the Twentieth Century as, I think, we have. Certainly many European men–French and otherwise–still pursue younger wives and mistresses, and think of a youthful woman as a kind of ultimate prize. But I do think there is more respect for older women’s wiser, more sophisticated, hard-won sexiness, too, in that culture.

    I also think that it’s interesting how European women–while more “fashionable” than American women–are often less concerned with money/jewelry/labels as a way of proving their sexuality, and rely more on personal style, personality, warmth and charm. This is not to say that French women don’t like their designers . . . but for example, when I’ve lived in Amsterdam or Lausanne or even London, rarely did I see women chasing after labels and ostentatious showiness to “prove” their desirability the way I sometimes think Americans think of what it is to have “style” or class or sexiness is associated with explicit consummerism (not to harp on Sex and the City in all my comments to this interview, but for example the way that–as the fabulous foursome aged–they had to become more and more wealthy/gaudy/showy in order to continue to seem “sexy.” They were no longer permitted to ever dress down, or to live in studio apartments or be struggling writers, etc. They had to be wildly successful, glamorous, the subject of Vogue photography shoots or riding camels in haute couture in order for the audience to believe anyone would want to fuck them.)

    I think of how sexy middle-aged women in Amsterdam often went around in leather pants with sneakers, short boyish hair, wooly sweaters, short fingernails, with ratty scarves wrapped around their necks. What made them so hot? Certainly they weren’t wearing track suits . . . but they weren’t following an American perception of feminine style/sexiness should be either. It was all so much in attitude. I noticed this even as a young American living abroad, but I think I would LOVE to go back and truly notice and digest it now, when I’m the same age as those women I used to observe from afar.

    • rob roberge says:

      Gina wrote:

      “I think of how sexy middle-aged women in Amsterdam often went around in leather pants with sneakers, short boyish hair, wooly sweaters, short fingernails, with ratty scarves wrapped around their necks. What made them so hot?”

      Is this REALLY a question? It seems like a trick question. What DOESN’T make that hot? But then, that’s me, Gina…you know my history, both with friend’s moms and Dutch women. So, I’m probably not the normal guy in this study.


      • Jessica Blau says:

        Rob, where can I read this history?!

        By the way, I was in a VERY young American store the other day returning a pair of size zero, teeny, tiny pants for my daughter and two middle aged DUTCH women were in line in front of me. I was checking out their purchases, they way you’d check out someone’s cart in the grocery store, and sure enough they were buying clothes for themselves. Dang those Dutch are cool!

        • Rob, Jessica–yes, I doubt Rob would be the “normal guy” in any study, which is why he’s so awesome. Jessica, you can start by reading Rob’s new collection, Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life. Rob’s the Featured Author on Fiction this coming week, and will be our guest at the Chicago TNBLE on 10/24. The book’s amazing–I blurbed it, so you two have me-as-a-blurber in common, which is not that common a thing for people to have in common, so it’s mandatory that you all be friends.

          Rob’s working on a memoir that will probably tell more about friends’ moms and Dutch women, but his fiction tells plenty on similar topics too!

    • Greg Olear says:

      I just found out that I will be going to France when TK comes out there in March. I’ll keep you posted.

      • Okay, Greg, that last comment made you sound really, really cool! Shouldn’t some rich benefactor throw a big TNB convention in Paris timed with the Totally Killer French release?

        • Greg Olear says:

          Replace the word “cool” with “lucky.” The only foreign language sale, and it’s the one I speak a little bit, and it’s on this really cool imprint that does “guy” books by writers like Tom Robbins and Jim Harrison. And, er, me.

          We can have a mini-TNB con. Nat Missildine, Steph and I at some swank Parisian cafe.

          But you raise a good point: we really do need a rich benefactor. Maybe one of the Kardashians?

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Actually, I’m trying to get a TNB workshop/retreat going in France. Seriously. Anyone want to help me organize?

        • This is the sound of my husband virtually slapping me in the head when I raise my hand and yell, “I’ll help you,” as he watches our bank account deflate from our forthcoming family-of-five trip to Kenya. I would be all over a TNB retreat in France. I would be all over cleaning toilets if it were in France (well, not so much: I did clean toilets at one point to stay in London, but . . .) Alas, in absence of the aforementioned rich benefactor, I believe I will be Stateside-bound in 2011 . . .

        • ahhem, i’m also going to france and london in february so I say, TNB – Paris edition come February! And Gina, I’ll work on that benefactor!

  10. Greg Olear says:

    I love this for so many reasons. One of them is, I read and loved DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME, and it’s fun to read about the characters therein.

    I imagine many of the TNB dudes, not just Simon, are taking furious notes on Jessica’s answer to Question #3.

    To your postscript, Gina, I’ll add that, as the host of that NYC TNB event, I felt like Bosley on Charlie’s Angels. (I think that would make Brad Charlie).

    • Brad is SO Charlie. (Let’s see: the readers that night were Allison Amend, Zoe Zolbrod, Robin Antalek and myself. Sue Henderson and JAB were also in attendance, among other TNB ladies . . . I think, in short, that we had enough estrogen to be Sabrina, Kelly, and all the Jill-and-her-future-blond-cousins entourage, easy.)

      • Greg Olear says:

        Brad is Charlie…except instead of the little telephone thingie from the show, he communicates via YouTube videos.

        (And K-Dub. Don’t forget K-Dub.

        On the Y-chromosome side, I did have Will, and that dude can hoof it.)

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Indeed, and you can hoof it, too! And let us not forget that Will was wearing an untied bow tie. A symbol for something, although I’m not sure what. (Sex??)

        • If I recall, Greg and Will were representing pretty fine that night. I have pics of both of them to prove it.

          Speaking of Kundera, as I was earlier, I’ve heard that every time he bedded a new woman, he bought a new tie. So we can go with ties = sex . . .

        • Greg Olear says:

          I’ve heard it said that the tie is supposed to accentuate the phallus by pointing at it. A bow tie, then, doesn’t achieve the same effect. But an UNTIED bow tie, that’s like two arrows pointing downtown. It was also a white bow tie, whatever that means.

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Double arrows, double phalluses? Phalli?

          And speaking of Kundera, when I think of him I think of that moment in The Unbearable Lightness of Being where his girlfriend smells his lover in his hair. It’s such a primal act, sniffing out another woman’s “sex” on your man’s head. And of course sex itself is such a primal urge.

        • I’m teaching Unbearable Lightness of Being starting next week. Maybe my 22 year old students will learn a thing or two from it!

          And Jessica, yeah, this is one of the few truly erotic books out there that translated into a truly erotic, complex film too. Both the book and the film are so amazing, but in wholly different ways since the book is so fragmented, philosophical, meandering, and the film is so much more linear. I also was always disappointed that Tomas, who is in his 40s in the book, was played by such a young actor (even though Daniel Day Lewis was quite scrumptious and up to the task, he was a good 10 years younger at least than the literary character, at the time the film was made.) In the book, Teresa is about 20, Sabina about 30, Tomas about 40 at least, so that they represent 3 decades of sexuality. In the film, they all appear roughly the same age, Teresa maybe 5 years younger than the other 2. This loses some of the nuances.

          That said, the actors are all so hot it’s like a festival of sexiness. I think I was 19 when I saw the film, and I’m sure I am not the only chick who bought a bowler hat immediately.

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Didn’t buy a bowler hat, but wanted one!
          And, after I read U.L.o B, I of course went out and read all other Kundera books AND, I think, have read all since.
          I’ve never reread any of them, and I should. Maybe I’ll start with U.L.o B.

          Wish I could take your class. You + Kundera sounds like an amazing course.

        • Jessica, my dream is to teach a Kundera seminar at Columbia College Chicago’s Prague study abroad program. I was invited to teach there (Kafka, not Kundera, but that would have been cool too) a couple of years ago, but my kids were too young to either leave for 5 weeks or bring along when I’d be working. My grand scheme is to snag an invitation in another couple of years, once the girls are old enough to babysit Giovanni while I’m teaching, and bring all 3 of them over with me. I’m pretty much a Kundera groupie. Though I feel like his novels regressed a little once he started writing in French, losing the complexity of his more mature work and going back more to the lighter vein of books like The Farewell Party or The Joke (which is still better than most writers, but not up to par with novels like UBoB or Immortality.

        • Greg Olear says:

          I bought my then-girlfriend a bowler hat, because she was a big fan of the film and the book. She looked at me like I had two heads…

          Kundera rules. So does Klima.

        • Jessica Blau says:

          And Kafka rules. Love Kafka. Krazy dude. But so Kool.

        • Jessica Blau says:

          And Greg. You definitely had the wrong girlfriend. Damn shame!

    • Irene Zion says:

      @Jessica Anya Blau
      @Gina Frangello

      I just tried to buy “Drinking Closer to Home” on Amazon and it is not out till January 18, 2011.

      Is Greg reading your mind?
      (Cause that is one scary ability.
      I’m shutting mine down right now so he can’t see what I’m thinking.)

  11. Allison says:

    I’ll interview Gina. I could use the pointers.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      Allison, if this is you (Amend) then you must follow through and write it up! And if it’s another Allison, then, yes, please, come forward, show your face and write up the interview!

  12. Allison, is that you? (Amend, I mean?) You can interview me! Why aren’t you a TNB writer officially? We “Featured” you–you should be writing for the site!

  13. M.J. Fievre says:

    Working on my Active Beauty… That was great advice, thanks. Great interview!

  14. Jessica Blau says:

    Your active beauty is already apparent–I read your post today–loved it!

  15. Zara Potts says:

    Jessica and Gina.
    Two words: Dream Team.

  16. Since I think that phrase is usually applied to basketball stars, Zara, allow me to thank you on behalf of two short women!

    (Now the Zara Potts sex interview . . . maybe conducted by Duke?)

  17. I should add that JAB looks tall next to me. Everyone does. Except my mom.

  18. Lenore says:

    i loved this, and i’m quite happy to see that my mother has come in to defend old person sex. because there is nothing i like better than thinking about how much my mother bangs my father.

    • Irene Zion says:

      Then I’ll have to write a story about it.
      Just for you, Sweetie.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      See this is why Lenore HAS to do Gina’s the interview. Because she says things like, “Nothing I like better than thinking about how much my mother bangs my father.” So wonderfully, perfectly, frank.

  19. Fantastic interview! You both are amazing.

  20. dwoz says:

    Somehow, there’s an ironic sting in a 42 year old woman talking about what it’s like to be an “old person having sex.” So where does that leave me? (and I DON’T mean the “odd man out” aspect either.)

    sex and age: I was once walking in a Borders Books parking lot, when a very sweet tight and hot young thing pulled into a parking space in front of me, about as fast as you can pull into a parking space without overshooting it, her car bumper about as close to my leg as you can get without leaving paint. I stood frozen to the spot as she disembarked the driver’s seat, looking at her with that kind of open blank look you get when a life lived fully is suddenly played across the inside of your eyelids in an instant. She sees me staring at her, and interprets my gaze as being something other than the gaze of a man who is contemplating the finer points of death and it’s brazen proximity, and says

    “in your dreams, old man.”

    If my math is correct, I was about 42 at the time…

    • Jessica Blau says:

      This is what I was saying about understanding how we’re perceived. Of course 42 is BabyLand. But to anyone under thirty it’s ancient and asexual.

    • Well, so, Dwoz, you see the irony perfectly: 42 is, of course, not that old. Even in 20 years (as long as I’ve currently been with my husband), at 62, I’m sure I will still feel as sexual as I do now, and remember my 42 year old self as extremely young, look back on my 40something photos and think how youthful David and I and all our friends looked, as I do now when looking back on the photos of us in our 20s. Twenty years after that, when I’m 82 (if I live that long), probably I will no longer feel quite like my former self (sexually or otherwise) . . . but the journey will have been so long and complicated that the idea that somebody would “peak” at 28 or so, and then spend the next 50 years of their sexual life in some kind of declining erotic wasteland, is of course ridiculous.

      It may, of course, not be any more ridiculous than the fact that 42–and 52–and 62 year old men ARE still generally so inclined to oggle 20 year old girls that any 20 year old girl seeing an older man looking at her immediately assumes he wants to fuck her, because (if I remember being a 20 year old girl at all), this is usually such a safe interpretation of such a stare that situations such as yours, wherein your gaze meant something else entirely, are woefully rare. In this case, a presumptuous young woman took out the general frustrations of her age/gender towards the legions of presumptuous older men on you, wrongly.

      On a tangent, though: despite the recent coining of the “cougar” term (and of course the tastes of some men like Rob, above, who loved older women even as a kid), I still tend to think that aging is harder on women sexually than on men, in terms of the “attractiveness” issue. My 40 year old single girlfriends claim that men their age are still marrying off the 25 year old, childbearing-age, never-been-married girls, looking at the women their own age as “too old” for them, which seems pretty awful, if it’s true.

      But I’ll admit this: women have it much, much easier as we age in terms of the “performance” issue of sex. I think if I were an older man in this Viagra culture, I would pretty much keel over with embarrassment. The implication that older men invariably have dysfunctional penises has becomes such a pervasive cultural misconception that it’s crazy. I mean, my grandparents apparently had good sex until my grandfather was 82, long before the years of Viagra, and older men have often impregnated young women over the years–clearly this Viagra obsession is based in large part on cultural myth, which must be really infuriating to all the middle-aged and older men whose dicks still work fine, thanks, without the aid of drugs.

      • dwoz says:

        Well, the interesting thing about 20 year old girls, is that they get spotted 7 points right out of the gate, in the “10 scale” just for the beauty of youth.

        I’m not sure how that score handicap scales into age, whether it is a linear or what.

        When we men were 20 year old boys, we looked at girls our age as if some of them were “sevens” and above, and many were “fives” and below, not realizing that we had no idea what we were talking about.

        So yes, of course us over-40 guys look at young girls. They’re beautiful. Youth is beautiful. What, when beauty enters my field of vision, I’m going to assiduously turn away?

        Now…when you want to talk about EXPECTATIONS….well….er….

        About the point about 40 year olds marrying off the 25 year old girls…I have a friend in LA (late 40s) that says he is literally swimming in 40-something women who can’t buy a vowel in the dating game, because all the guys are reaching back into the farm system to snag a young wife/girlfriend. I don’t know how to trust him on this, but I think it’s essentially true.

  21. Brad Listi says:

    The Six-Question Sex Interview might be the greatest TNB invention of all time. Hats Pants off to both of you! This was titillating and cocksure.

  22. Jessica Blau says:

    Ah, merci my Liege.

    And good graphics with the faded, crossed out HATS. You’re a man who knows how to finger a computer.

  23. I like the idea of everyone on TNB having to take their pants off to JAB and me . . .

    Not sure I’d want to skype it, though . . .

  24. Richard Cox says:

    Well it wouldn’t be a full week on TNB if there weren’t a sex post with Jessica involved somehow. Hahahaha.

    The idea of old people having sex is revolting. Just kidding, Irene. It’s interesting, though, how different people’s perspectives are depending on their age. Young folks might think it’s gross for “old” people to have sex, but plenty of old people (especially men) would have no problem having sex with the young ones. I suppose that’s some kind of biological thing.

    Also, with regard to cunnilingus, Jessica’s method is a definitely a well-received one, but it’s also good to keep in mind that different women respond to different movements, tongue pressures, rhythms, etc. Try out various techniques and pay attention to her responses and adjust accordingly.

    • Gloria says:

      Wooo!! The weekly sexisode! Sexdition?

      Okay, I’ll read now…

    • Jessica Blau says:

      Richard, I think you’ll have to explain your technique more! A post perhaps?

      • Richard Cox says:

        Ben Hogan was the most accurate striker of the golf ball in history, and he went to his deathbed with the secret to his swing.

        I think he had it right. Don’t give away your best stuff because otherwise people might beat you at your own game.


      • dwoz says:

        In my experience, women are snowflakes.

        In fact, they are snowflakes that change shape every few minutes or so.

        Thus, the “recipe” or “cookbook” approach is about as useful as a stopped clock.

        Therefore there’s only one way to actually perform the task well, and that’s to LISTEN.

        The little man in the boat is standing up and screaming instructions to you, using the simplest possible words so even a man can understand. Listen to what it says.

        There are literally reams of information streaming by you, if you just listen.

        Wagner, the famous composer and conductor, wrote extensively about melody. He railed against the conductors of his time, who he accused of playing Mozart at tempi that were too fast, too slow…completely inappropriate to the melody. A melody has a tempo at which it phrases effectively. It blossoms at that tempo, but falters and languishes at others. Consider yourself to be a conductor, and your woman’s pleasure is a symphony. It has an arc, a progression of intensity, and a proper tempo. Like a symphony, the ideal movements and motifs are probably not random scatter-shots, but rather carefully developed and repeated.

        When you hear the sound of your skull being crushed like an eggshell in a hydraulic press, you’re probably somewhere near the right track.

  25. Irene Zion says:

    This has got to be the most humiliating post yet on TNB!

  26. Yes, Richard, as Dwoz was just saying, youth is beautiful. Hmm. It’s a curious thing. The gendering of this, too. I mean, why precisely is youth beautiful? I agree that it is, but I think it’s also so complicated. Babies and children are especially beautiful, yet totally not sexual (unless you’re a creepy pedophile or a Nabokov literary character, which I guess is the same thing.) Parents worship our children’s bodies, really, but it’s wholly different from sexual desire. Then at some point (what point? I guess it differs by individual) the body becomes a sexualized thing. For me, while teenage boys may be “sexually mature” in terms of their height, body hair, whatever, they still do not seem sexual to me. To be honest, I’d probably be hard-pressed to find a man in his early 20s sexy. For this reason, for a long time the whole idea of “younger men” was gross and repugnant to me. How could any woman want to fuck a younger man, I wondered. I didn’t even want to sleep with guys that age when I WAS that age!

    Now, of course, a man of 33 is “younger” than I am by nearly a decade. And I will consent that, of course, there are plenty–plenty–of extremely attractive, sexy men in their 30s. And so for the first time, the concept of finding men younger than I am attractive makes sense to me. I can see that, objectively speaking, men in their late teens or early/mid 20s may be handsome, but they still seem like asexual babies to me, or thinking of their potential performance in bed tends to inspire me to giggle. But this isn’t true of someone 29 or 35.

    For men, I think it’s probably fair to say that many men find 15 and 16 year old girls really hot. They wouldn’t DO anything about it, but they like to look. If they can date a 22 year old, they damn well will.

    I don’t know a lot of women who feel that way about men of the same age.

    Is this simply an issue of biology? Women at the height of childbearing years are the most sexually desirable, I guess. We are just animals at heart.

    • Richard Cox says:

      I should have read all the comments. But regarding the issue of young people and sexuality, obviously we’re using “young” as a relative term. I would say a man probably recognizes sexuality in females who have gone through puberty and exhibit the curves and whatnot that result. I pointed out in a post a few months ago that from a distance, it’s difficult to tell the age of a woman from afar. On a beach you might find yourself looking again and again at that girl in the pink bikini, but when you see her up close she could be 15 or 50. For men, sexuality has a lot to do with simple physical appearance.

      This is a challenging discussion to have, without possibly offending people, but a man could easily be sexually interested in a girl, theoretically, and then be surprised to find out she’s a minor. I cannot conceive of actually making a mistake like that, like doing anything about it, but from a biological standpoint it’s not a surprise we could think that way. And I’m sure someone with relevant education could point out cultures where it’s acceptable for older men to couple with girls upon their initial childbearing years.

      In my 30s I’ve found that attracting women in their 20s is easier that it once was. Part of that comes with confidence, and part of it is the easily recognizable behavior of women being attracted to someone who might conceivably provide more security. And the “older” guy might be more likely to be in a position of “power” or have more money, etc. Men are attracted to women younger than themselves because they find youth attractive, but the underlying reasons probably have largely to do with the child-bearing argument.

      Having an actual human, intelligent relationship is probably more likely with someone the same age as me. But from a purely physical standpoint, I’d be lying if I said my eyes aren’t more often drawn to women somewhat younger. It’s not on purpose. It’s just the way things work.

      • Becky Palapala says:


        But from a biological standpoint, the older, more secure, mature, less-likely to stray guy isn’t necessarily the one a woman wants fathering her children, just the one she wants helping to raise them, hence the long, LONG primate tradition (and mortifying, terrible fear) of cuckholdery.

        This is one of those things that nobody ever talks about. The fact that female primates play such an active, actually fairly shady and not at all monogamous, role in sexual selection. It’s always talked about in terms of males as pursuers and agents, but females have–evolutionarily speaking–been playing their own game all along, too.

        It borders on predation, honestly. It’s impressive.

        I wonder how this plays into the chicks-into-younger-guys thing. I mean, obviously, a woman who is nearing the end of or is no longer in her childbearing years would have no real need for a responsible mate (to raise any potential offspring), so why the heck not a younger one?

        I mean, isn’t that the stereotype? The older, well-off woman (one who doesn’t need providing-for on any number of levels) is the one who chooses the cabana/pool boys of the world?

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Yes, Becky, yes! If you don’t need them to support to you, then why choose Larry King over James Franco?

        • Richard Cox says:

          I read something about female birds recently, I don’t remember which species, but it was about how when the male bird flies off to find food, the female often entertains other male guests. Genetic evidence proved the behavior, and the findings were apparently surprising because these birds were thought to be among the best examples of true monogamy in the animal kingdom.

          But monogamy isn’t that great for DNA propagation, is it?

          I think your description of female sexual proclivities makes complete sense. I’m totally willing to talk about it. I don’t think there should be double standards in any case. Let the truth be told! Women are dogs, the same as men!!

        • Becky Palapala says:



          Not quite the same as men. I mean, they may be, but in a different way. A female’s investment in any child is a zillion times higher than a male’s.

          He could, theoretically, go make 40 weeks worth of babies while she’s stuck there incubating the one. For him, if something’s wrong with that kid, it’s no big whup. For her, it’s 9 straight months, nonstop, of reproductive time and energy wasted. And if the kid lives, and she’s breastfeeding and not having regular cycles, potentially years MORE of time and energy wasted if the kid turns out to be a moron or have some kind of disease or that sort of thing.

          Frankly, given the risks/costs on the female end, it’s a wonder any man ever gets laid casually or for fun EVER.

        • A whole other post, Becky, could clearly be devoted to how the female of the human species’ “investment in the kids” influences female sexuality post-motherhood (in actuality, in popular mythology, in male perception, etc.) We may need a whole TNB spinoff sex site pretty soon . . .

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I was trying to talk more in terms of primates on the whole, or evolution in the abstract..mostly because culture complicates, obscures, or convolutes a lot of these fundamental evolutionary…I don’t know…best practices, for lack of a better way to put it.

          Humanity specifically is a whole other can of worms. Then you’ve got history, morality, ethics, religion, politics, on and on forever.

          If TNB starts that site let me know. I’d totally read it.

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Becky, love your take on reproduction! So great.

    • dwoz says:

      I think (academically…being on the wrong gender side of my argument), that young guys have an advantage over old guys.

      The young guy has the beauty-of-youth advantage;

      Where the young guy completely and unequivocally loses the sexual sophistication, skill, and sensibility contest, he can make up for it with sheer energetic enthusiasm.

  27. Love the story of the sailor and the notion of active beauty. I think if I’m not writing, I’m downright hideous. Fun interview!

  28. J.M. Blaine says:

    Ah, the Six Q Sex Series.

    In that first paragraph
    I thought it said
    “Jessica’s hooters”.
    Shame on me.

    I can’t believe nobody’s
    said this so I’ll be that guy:

    This totally
    needed more pics
    of JAB.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      You are that guy, and you made me laugh out loud!

      • JMB, I would have included photos of JAB at the NYC TNB party in May, were I not a tech idiot. I don’t really know how to include photos in these posts. Mea culpa–I thought at the time that various hottie shots of her might have been in order, but was not up to the task.

        • Gina–“declining erotic wasteland” –fantastic. I’m loving how much feedback this post is getting. Brad, this should be a weekly feature at TNB. I’m totally into it.

  29. More pics, less talk. a.s.a.p.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      Ah, well, I think after the fabulously creative (and hilarious!) banner Greg Olear made, I need to fade out into the background for a while.

      Maybe Gina will post pics when Lenore interviews her for the 6/sex next week!

  30. I’m with Jessica. I believe the world has now seen (imagined) quite enough of the two of us on the TNB home page banner! BTW, I think I’m supposed to be the one following Sarah’s dad’s technique pointers–thanks, Greg and Brad!

  31. Susan Vincent says:

    “Sex plus old equals a joke”…?
    This comes from a very uninformed person….
    Young people frequently confuse sex with love….
    Hopefully with added years will come some knowledge….
    Things are not always as they seem.
    The rewards of “older life” are more than just saggy skin.
    One is able to treasure not only the sex, but the love that has deepened with age.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      I totally agree. And if you read Gina’s comments, you’ll see she definitely agrees, too.

      I should have clarified, that this is what I SEE in the media (films, TV, even books going as far back as Chaucer–as James Magruder points out, above), and not what I BELIEVE. It is what we are told, but certainly not what is true.

      And thank you for pointing it out again, as it’s something we should all be aware of. I’m getting old, just like everyone else, and hope that things only improve with the years!

  32. Erika Rae says:

    Jessica and Gina – this interview made my day. You two are such a delicious tag team! And I love your description of the types of beauty. I’ll keep that one with me.

  33. Matt Baldwin says:

    Well, I need to go take a cold shower now…

  34. If all of TNB is not collectively taking a cold shower right now, than Jessica’s and my work is not yet done.

  35. dwoz says:

    gotta say, I so love the plates from “The Joy of Sex.”

    a celebration of hair.

    hair hair hair.

    and cute Montreal girls.

  36. Pastor John Piper says:

    As a follower of Jesus Christ , I find it offensive to use Porn and the Homosexual agenda to thrust this in the face of believers and innocent teens and preteens who just may so happen to click on this site ,without warning of sexual content from this site, shame on whomever was ignorant.

    The Joy of Sex titillation is unnecessary let the interview stand on its own without offending Christians and shocking teens and pre teens with the homosexual agenda, just to much in there face. my humble view

    J. Piper

    • Hello Pastor

      Could you expand on “The homosexual agenda” please?

      • Pastor John says:

        It is a political agenda to make homosexuality acceptable in our society , homosexuals with large resources in money and Washington DC connections are forcing their lifestyle on the majority. They are in alliance with liberals, unions, and atheists that want to destroy the family and God in this nation.

        It must be defeated and will be defeated in the coming elections , liberals are fixing to be cast off and Obama the socialists will be out in 2012. Conservatives will soon be in power the majority of them will shove the homosexual agenda back where it belongs and that means no special rights for people who choose a lifestyle that leads to destruction. And the porn so flippantly portrayed when you come on this site will be censored as it should be, shoved into a red light district.

        Now you do have a great choice , give your life to Jesus Christ and you will be changed, repent from liberalism. repent from a lifestyle that only leads to destruction.

        A new era and 3rd wave of God will take this nation back to righteousness, and believe this there is no separation of church and state it is not even in the constitution it is a favorite myth used by liberals and atheists.

        Pastor John

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Dear “Pastor John,”

          I was picking up “The Joy of Sex” off of average bookstore shelves in suburban shopping malls when I was a curious kid in the 80s. The Reagan years.

          To act like this material being readily available to the general public is somehow new because of the internet or the current administration or in any way whatsoever is the behavior of a person who is either deranged or stupid.

          I’m a conservative, and I think you’re a looney.

          The conspiracy theorist in me is delighted with your willingness to comment here. Total field day. Digital information everywhere. Now you’ll have to excuse me while I get to the bottom of this.

        • dwoz says:

          Becky, think “Poe’s Law”.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Bottom found. (See how easy that was?)

          You can stop this now, pick an identity, and own your opinions like a person of integrity would do, or I can tell everyone here what’s going on and cut your game off at the knees.

          You’re not going to beat me at it, so, you know. Abandon all hope ye who troll here.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          That’s one answer, indeed, dwoz.

          But this has been going on a while. Whether this person really believes what s/he is saying is not my concern.

        • dwoz says:

          watch out for the magenta chick with the mad sysadmin skillz.

          I’m willing to bet that the real Pastor Piper would be a little bit horrified at his alleged presence here, if not exactly in disagreement with the fake one’s statements.

        • Yay for Becky, it’s times like these that make me appreciate Tiger Lil’, even more.

          And regarding the oh so “erotic” Joy of Sex book:
          Total turn off to kids – when I was a kid and happened upon it, I thought to myself,
          “Ew, they’re so hairy.”
          So no worries there, Pastor John!
          And furthermore, someone here needs to get laid.
          Everyone knows that pent up sexual energy can lead to demon possession – c’mon
          that’s like Christianity 101.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          System admin. skills are unnecessary in this case.

          That is neither a confirmation nor a denial regarding my possession of them.

          But they’re unnecessary.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          And unless Pastor John has incredible tech skills (something I have yet to see any evidence of) I can absolutely, unequivocally assure you that it is not the “real” Pastor John Piper.

        • Pretty much after J.T. Leroy, I stopped buying anything as real. One, because when I read Sarah, my first reaction was “Bullshit.” I told this to the guy I worked with who’d given me the book to read in the first place, and he said “Well, I know for a fact it’s true because I picked J.T. Leroy up on Polk St. once. In fact, I kept his underwear and still have it.” He said this angrily, not at all a joke, so I thought “Well, I guess I’m wrong.” Many years later, turns out J.T. was indeed what he was, which is to say that he wasn’t. I’ve never run into that co-worker again, but I’d like to ask him if he’s still got that underwear in a safe place.

          I mention this because I had the strong feeling about 3 lines into “Pastor John’s” comment that it also was complete bullshit. Too pat, too easy, too much red meat for the topic. And by his second comment, I was sure of it. I’m completely not a tech person, but I’m glad to see it’s so easy to “out” a fake. I’ve wondered occasionally in the past if some people were commenting as multiple personas, even on their own pieces. Non-gravatar comments in particular can seem suspect, and Pastor John’s was particularly artless, but a really sneaky fuck would probably be smart enough to go the route of creating an entire front, complete with smiling pic.

          Anyway, it’s an interesting topic to me, relative identity and all that.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Well, relative identity is interesting.

          I mean, am I being “fake” because I stomp around here glowering while withholding the terrible secret that I bawl like a baby when Simba’s dad dies in the Lion King?

          We’re all acting, pretending, to some extent. And that’s as true face-to-face as it is on the internet.

          As far as I know, though, no one comments on their own pieces under multiple identities. If they do, their cover is utterly complete. Most of the personae who comment here on any kind of a regular basis have facebook pages, twitter pages, and even phone numbers you can call them at. I have even touched some of them. Like, in person. And this is true for a lot of different combinations of TNBers. Like, we actually KNOW each other. If any two of us were the same person, I’d have to think someone, at some point, would have figured it out.

          But you’re right. If you were going to go about being a deceiver, full-cover would be the way to do it. Still wouldn’t stop people from finding you out, but it would be the more competent way to go about it.

          Which is, maybe, why I loathe “Pastor John” so much. It’s not what s/he’s saying, it’s the deception. And it’s not just a deception, it’s an incompetent deception. About the only thing I hate more than a liar is a shitty liar. It means a person not only lacks integrity and accountability and respect for the fine art of lying; they are also stupid and believe me (and others) to be as stupid as they are. That’s just offensive.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      I wasn’t going to say anything, but I have found myself thinking lewd thoughts about the guy from the Old Spice commercials. And that never happened before reading this.

      I believe I may have been agendered.

      • Jessica Blau says:

        That guy on a horse? Is there someone on the planet with a TV or internet who ISN’T thinking lewd thoughts about him?!

    • Greg Olear says:

      You are entitled to your opinion, of course. But since I’m one of the people on whose ignorance you are heaping shame, allow me to rebut:

      1. There’s nothing homosexual about that image. But even if there were, as a follower of Jesus Christ, the ultimate champion of the meek and downtrodden, you should emulate His spirit and become a champion of gay rights (as He certainly would be, were He alive today), and not a hater. I find it loathsome when religious leaders fuel anti-gay sentiment by hiding behind their Bibles.

      2. JC hung out with prostitutes; I’d like to think He’d know the difference between a line drawing from a textbook and porn.

      3. Teens trolling for porn won’t find anything of interest on these pages.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Wait, as I remember that oral sex depiction was heterosexual. I think. Oh, if I could just find my second wife’s copy of Joy of Sex. Maybe she took it with her.

  37. Okay, here’s the comment I was just sitting down to write before the Pastor’s second (crazier) comment:

    “Wow, it totally makes my day to know that I have finally become culturally important enough to be contributing to the all-powerful Homosexual Agenda. I especially love that said agenda has officially become so pervasive that the people furthering it on TNB are Greg and Brad, 2 heterosexual married men with children, and JAB and myself, two heterosexual married women with children. Funny how the country’s legislation, forbidding gay people to marry, making them lie about their sexuality in order to adopt children, and sometimes barring them from one another’s hospital rooms when their life partners are dying, fails to reflect the fact that we’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid. Greg, your answer above is very valid, very tempered, and very reasonable. Since I’ve already written an entire post on TNB about what an asshole I am (http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/gfrangello/2009/02/i-hate-the-kite-runner-and-other-reasons-i-suspect-i-may-be-an-asshole), I would have just been more likely to pull out the red editing pen re: our dear Pastor’s comments. For the record, Pastor, I wouldn’t be thrilled about my pre-teens reading a sex interview either. But if this were the worst thing they could find on the Internet, I would let them spend a lot, lot more time on the computer than I do. This is an issue for parents to monitor, in a nation that cherishes freedom of speech, both on the Right and Left. For the further record, my father-in-law is a Presbyterian minister, age 68, husband of 45 years and father of two sons, resident of rural Ohio, and he has long supported gay rights for the very reasons the good Mr. Olear points out above. Think outside the box in which our politicians are–for the furthering of their own power–trying to put Christianity. And re: the Joy of Sex cartoon: let’s all just keep a freaking sense of humor.”

    Then, before I could press “add comment,” the Pastor’s second comment came in, and I concluded that either: a) as Becky indicates, the writer is either totally deranged or totally stupid, not really someone worth arguing with, or b) somebody is just fucking with us, parroting what they think a lunatic, uneducated Right Winger would say, re: Obama being a Socialist, advocating censorship, etc., to get attention and create controversy on the site.

    I’m frankly going with B. But I’ll be curious to see what Becky digs up.

  38. sheree says:

    Hey Pastor John,
    How many times a day do you shove God off of his throne to sit in judgement on it?
    I’m sick to death of seeing and listening to religious folks of all denominations playing musical chairs with Gods throne.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna tote my sinnin’ country arse back up the mountain and meditate on Proverbs while I polish my gun.

  39. I’d like to thank Pastor John for drawing my attention to this disturbing situation.

    I wonder whether the people in charge of the Homosexual Agenda have a Twitter account? They should probably use a less unwieldy name than @TheHomosexualAgenda, because in order to make their “tweets” “re-tweet”able, they’d have to limit them to 117 characters.

    Perhaps @BigGayPlot would be good.

    I shall investigate.

  40. Steve, you’d better start tweeting with @BigGayPlot tomorrow, because I have a note on my calendar to go follow you.

    • Twitter itself is probably part of the Homosexual Agenda. I mean, the name itself is pretty camp.

      I’m genuinely worried about the Big Gay Plot to Make Everybody Gay, because…well…do I have to spell it out?

      Show tunes.

      If the homosexuals force their lifestyle on the majority (as Pastor John assures us is their intent), our choice of music is going to become terribly limited. Judy Garland, Kylie Minogue, hard house, Pet Shop Boys, and Judas Priest.

      Wait, is that the gays or the Jews?

      • Becky Palapala says:

        We’d still have Rufus Wainwright!

        And Rufus Wainwright SINGING Judy Garland to boot!

        How can that not be enough variety?

        The combinations are myriad.

        Judas Priest doing Babs, Pet Shop Boys doing Madonna…

      • Jessica Blau says:

        But I LOVE show tunes, love musicals. Does this mean they’ve already made me gay?!

        • Becky Palapala says:

          So do I.

          But if they have made me gay, they’ve made me a gay, transgendered (?) man, which is, for most obvious intents and purposes and as far as I can tell, not particularly different from being a kinda badass straight woman.

          Virtually undectable.

          My God.

          I’m an agent of the gay agenda and I didn’t even know it, my cover is so deep!

        • Jessica Blau says:

          Someone help us both! I, too, think I’m gay man trapped in a woman’s body. I also might be Jewish. I’m scared of myself right now.

          I just wish I were as badass as you! Do you think that will spread with your gayness? I want to catch you have!

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Well, see, this is confusing, because people usually insist that my more cynical, badass-er tendencies are some how related to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.


          Am I a deep cover double agent?

          Or is there no dichotomy? Maybe they are one in the same? AHHHH the conspiracies! My Brains!!!!!

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Probably just the Illuminati again.

          And the Masons.

          Someone get Dan Brown on the line.

    • Jessica Blau says:

      Ah yes, the homosexual agenda, spread insidiously through such things as James Baldwin’s writing, Michelangelo’s art, the films of Gus Van Sant or Alan Ball or Pedro Almodovar, the beautiful clothes of Michael Kors, the music of k d Lang or Elton John or Tracy Chapman, the hilarity of Ellen Degeneres, the sexiness of Tom Ford or Anderson Cooper, the beauty of Portia de Rossi, the brilliance of Socrates, the poems of Mark Doty . . . I could go on forever. And I haven’t even tapped into things like the TV show GLEE!

      I hope others will free to add to this list the names of those homosexuals who are promoting that “agenda” through the arts.

  41. Joe Daly says:

    First off, fun interview. Girls talking about sex! Who knew it could be so fun and frisky?

    Wait, everyone, right?

    Particularly enjoyed the discussion of beauty. You hear people so often talk about the whole “skin deep” caveat,” as well as the import of “inner beauty,” but there’s generally not much thought surrounding those discussions. Almost as if, “well, we all know these aphorisms are true, so why bother contemplating them?”

    Classical/objective perfection has never done it for me- imperfections are sexy.

    And the homosexuality debate has raged on far beyond anything I could contribute here. But I will say that I was alarmed and then depressed last night while walking my dogs last night at around ten p.m. I walked by a garage full of teenage boys, yakking quite enthusiastically. I heard the word “sin,” or at least I thought I did. As I got closer I heard the following:

    “You’re contradicting yourself.”

    “No I’m not. I said it’s a sin.”


    “Earlier- I said homosexuality is a sin.”

    “Oh, OK.”

    How fucking depressing is that? Why couldn’t they be talking about tits or heroin?

    Nice job, girls!

  42. Jessica Blau says:

    Thanks Joe.

    1. As a woman with a big nose, I’m glad to hear you find imperfections sexy!

    2. Let us pray that those boys eventually figure out what’s what and what really matters in life.

  43. WOW. The sex question interview is genius. Bravo, Jessica and Gina. You both know I’m a huge fan — and I always admire a writer who doesn’t close the damn door when things get a little uncomfortable, something the two of you do so beautifully.
    It’s interesting the comments I’ve received now that almost a year has come to pass since The Summer We Fell Apart (with sex scenes both gay and straight) has been out in the world. While I was writing I certainly did not stop to think: okay here I have a chance to do a really explicit sex scene between two men and ahhhh wouldn’t a threesome be great as well? Those sex scenes were integral parts of the characters’ stories — they were as organic and natural as the sex they were having and I didn’t have a moments hesitation writing them. To my surprise, after the book was published I had as many comments and e-mails and yes, even letters, about “writing sex” as I did about the process of writing a novel and getting it published and honestly I am astounded that so many adults still have such a problem discussing and or reading sex. I’ve been to over sixty book groups and you can only imagine what some of the discussions have been like — one woman even told me she had no idea how gay men had sex until she read my book — and when I answered her that there were only so many openings in the human body, she looked at me like I had revealed the holy grail.
    That said, I have found it disturbing that equal parts either love or hate the love story of the book which is between George and Sam while hardly any bring up the extremely uncomfortable threesome (ask Greg, he can tell you how disturbing it is) between another male character, Finn, and two girls he has picked up at a Chinese Restaurant, for money, no less. Sex between two men whoa re deeply in love is always more titillating and controversial than sex for money? I’m not sure what that says about any of us in the year 2010.
    I cannot wait for the public to read: Drinking Closer to Home — it was one of my most favorite reads of the year!
    Now I just have to know: who gets the next interview???

  44. Jessica Blau says:

    Thanks Robin–I LOVE having your support for Drinking Closer to Home!

    You know, when I read your wonderful book I didn’t really “think” about the sex scenes. They DID seem organic, they DID feel right for the characters, they didn’t seem to pop out of nowhere, unrelated. I wouldn’t even think of The Summer We Fell Apart as a “sex” book. A sex book is, what? The Happy Hooker?

  45. It’s funny–I definitely don’t think of Summer We Fell Apart as hyperly sexual by “indie” standards by any means, Robin, but I do admit I was suprised New York hadn’t urged you to “tone it down.” I’ve been so discouraged that so few risks are being taken in corporate publishing these days, generally speaking. But recently, your book, Jessica’s novels, and Marcy Dermanksy’s have given me a little more hope that publishing is regaining some balls, so to speak, after the incredibly tame, palatable, crowd-pleasing blandness that characterized so much of the literary industry post-9/11 (and economic downtrends.) It’s nice to see some books with a little fire finding commercial success!

    And I agree with you about the strange fixation on anything “gay,” even when the sexual content is actually pretty vanilla and positive compared with other material in a book . . .

  46. […] She also created the TNB Sex Interview, for which she has played the role of interviewer and interviewee. […]

  47. Are ya loving glee as much as I do? Then stand and scream Glee! I want to see glee episodes online….

    […]Gina Frangello | The Six Question Sex Interview: Jessica Anya Blau | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *