Advice columnist, author (American Savage), TV commentator, agitator, and husband: Dan Savage has done it all, and emerged one of the most articulate spokespeople for extreme beliefs and raunchy truths. Strap on your condoms—and other things—and hear him roar.
Hi, Dan. You use publicity-getting devices to make waves on issues, and you’ve done really well with that. But is it partly to gain notice for yourself?
That’s like a “When did you stop beating your wife?” kind of question. No one is a writer because they want to go unnoticed. No one in media or television is in the witness protection program and just wants to disappear. But when Terry and I created the “It Gets Better” campaign, for instance, that was a huge time suck and a distraction and not my job. It wasn’t lucrative—we weren’t paid anything. That took off and I spoke on behalf of it. It’s not like I was sitting in my attic, thinking, “Here’s something I can do that will get me on CNN.”
I was talking more about things like coining “santorum” as “the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.” Have you gotten any change out of the homophobic ex-Senator from stunts like that?
No, any personal evolution.
Oh god, no. He wears it as a badge of honor. The scarlet letter, but brown. A shit-smeared feather in his cap. There’s a reason they used to lock up cartoonists in the 18th century. If you can make a powerful public figure seem ridiculous, you’re undermining their authority. I get the credit for it, but there was a reader who suggested we come up with a new definition of “santorum”. The readers voted and picked that out of 10 others.
They definitely picked the right one.
Absolutely. It was something that needed a name. Santorum shouldn’t be there when you’re having anal sex. There’s no fecal mater if you’re doing it right. It’s perfect because it’s like Santorum wants to ruin your sex life!
So a “bottom” should always be sure to douche?
A bottom should either douche or know himself enough to know when he’s good to go.
That’s why I never understood why gay guys go to dinner first.
I do the “Fuck first—then go have dinner” campaign every Valentine’s Day.
Are you and your husband on Grindr?
I’m not. I can’t speak for him. Terry likes to look around. We’re not monogamous, but we’re not trolling the Internet either. We have an absolute full disclosure. I coined the term “monogamish” because we were so much more monogamous than not. We actually have sex with other people so rarely that we’re monogamous most of the time, and happily so.
Have you had threeways?
We’ve had lots of threeways.
You’re against random sex, yes?
I wrote columns criticizing bath houses and anonymous sex. I don’t think anal sex or rimming are first date activity. It’s irresponsible, and I think you can suck too much dick. Some people think the more dick you have in your mouth, the more liberated and political you are, and I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I never thought sucking a million dicks was a revolution. I think straight people should have more sex and sex partners than they do, and I tell them that, and gay men should have less sex and fewer sex partners than we can, and I tell them that.
What’s the most extreme thing you’ve written by way of advice? Something that really pissed people off.
People are outraged whenever I tell someone it’s OK to cheat. There are people trapped in sexless marriages where leaving is either not an option or will destroy the person they’re leaving or their kids. It will leave everyone broke and homeless. I look at a case like that and say, “Yeah, cheat, go ahead, cheat.” If your partner doesn’t want to fuck you, you’re not cheating your partner out of anything—go ahead.
You’ve been accused of being transphobic. So have I. I’m not. Are you?
There was this moment where “tranny”—that word—was reclassified as a hate term on a par with the N word and then retroactively all usage was ratcheted up to anti trans hate speech. We all know more about trans issues than 20 years ago. I’m not trans phobic. It’s hard to prove that you’re not transphobic. It’s like the “When did you stop beating your wife?” question again. I had Buck Angel and Kate Bornstein giving advice on my podcast for 20 years. If I’m the enemy of trans people, then they’re in trouble. What are the Keith Ablows of the world if I’m Adolf Hitler?
I’m not touching that one. Who are your favorite TV hosts that you’ve appeared with?
Oh my god. I have such a boner for…Well, that might be too strong a word and discomfiting for the host, but I have such affection for Stephen Colbert. Doing his show is always a blast and he’s always charming and humane and charismatic. But I also really love Bill Maher. Bill and I seem to have this rapport when we’re in front of a camera together. He has the quality I like in some straight guys—that they’re a little icked out by the mechanics of gay sex, but he knows he’s in the wrong and he knows equality is the side to be on.
And the worst?
I went on O’Reilly once. And I’ve never done it again. He shouted me down and screamed and yelled. I had literally never seen his program before I went on it. I didn’t know his MO was to keep asking questions and changing the subject until he landed on a question that tripped you up, and then he’d beat you to death with that question. Why assist them in hurting America? It’s not my job as a liberal.
Next Question With Michael Musto is a regular feature in which Musto uses his time-honed skills to interrogate big celebrities, former celebrities, and wannabe celebrities. Musto is a pop culture icon, regular TV presence, and the author of four books.