America is a land of sinners. We are lazy, fat and horny. To remind us how truly ridiculous the idea of sin is, Dan Savage – the illustrious gay syndicated sex columnist whose articles appear in both The Village Voice and Miami New Times – researched and lived all seven of them, then documented his exploits in his book, Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America.
In coordination with his appearance at the Miami Book Fair International that ended this weekend, Savage agreed to do an interview with Life & Art and eloquently spoke on sin, ’cause face it, as he would say, “That’s what we do in America.”
Gomorrah, basically jeering at conservatives, describes in detail how Savage committed each of the deadly sins. Why? Who knows, but the reason doesn’t matter.
The forthright execution of these forbidden peccadilloes is candid, and that’s what counts: He gambled until he was broke in Vegas, gorged himself with food at a fat acceptance convention, smoked weed until he was thoroughly slothful, and hired a male prostitute in NYC. Savage admits that the funnest sin was gambling.
“I was surprised by how much I enjoyed learning to play blackjack,” he says, “hanging out in casinos with my ol’ buddy Bill Bennet.”
“The one I wouldn’t do again would have to be licking the toes of a towering, muscular male prostitute in a hotel room in Manhattan,” he adds, sincerely. “As sins go, that one was entirely overrated.”
Picking sins was easy for Savage. As a gay man who admits to recreational drug use and an undying love for chocolate cake, Savage is an out-and-proud sinner, and he couldn’t give two shits. In a progressive society where taboos eventually become obsolete and the separation of autonomous thought and the Church is almost complete, the concept of sinning has become absurd.
Refraining from stuffing your face with chocolate mousse because it’s gluttonous or abstaining from casual sex since it’s lustful is like being a guinea pig in a B.F. Skinner behavioral experiment – except, as humans, we have evolved.
In his weekly column, “Savage Love,” Dan undertakes issues like gay sex, butt plugs, bisexuality, bestiality and what-not, and Skipping Towards Gomorrah deals with the same issues, but demystifies them for those who believe such acts to be overtly sinful. It’s not too hard nowadays, with Britney and Madonna smooching it up all over TV and pretty boys in their Hollister and Abercrombie clothes referring to themselves as “metrosexuals.”
Note that a metrosexual is a man who is uniquely and safely in touch with his feminine side. While that’s all fine and dandy, weren’t gay men beaten to a pulp throughout the course of history because they were considered too feminine?
Savage tackles the issue in his usual wry style. “It will pass,” he explains, “and the kinds of Americans who are tolerant of homosexuals won’t become more tolerant because some straight men are getting their chests waxed.”
Skipping Towards Gomorrah also comments on the hypocrisy of the Pat Robertsons, Robert Borks and Laura Schlessinger’s of the world. All these kids, classic examples of losers that didn’t get laid enough in college, constantly bring up the issue of sin as a way to patronize and belittle the American people. Savage feels that “nothing is really sinful and there’s no reason to be talking about it. [Social conservatives] just want to have a neverending debate. Talking about sin is sexier to talk about than real issues.”
Not that Savage liked all the sins he dealt with – especially not pride. It’s the ubiquitous American word, telling everyone that despite all attempts to down us, we are still standing, and guess what, we are still PROUD of it. Savage applied such an ethic to a Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles, an event that he describes as “idiotic and dangerous to people who aren’t very bright.”
And that’s really the moral of the story. The conservative talk show hosts and their damnation of sin rely on the stupidity of the American people. Savage calls on all Americans to use their brain, and Skipping Towards Gomorrah implores acceptance of greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, envy, anger, and even pride. Please, let’s all sin together.
Sarah Giusti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.