Thursday, January 29, 2009

Suburban Sex - Part 7 of 7

Media is one thing, but medical science has changed the sexual attitudes in the suburbs, too. Just look at Viagra. It’s hard to believe, but the little blue pill that launched a million jokes and a gazillion pieces of spam celebrated its tenth birthday this year.

Yes, sildenafil citrate, more popularly known as Viagra, the comedian’s best friend, was approved by the FDA to treat erectile dysfunction in 1999. Thousands of marriages were saved—and probably tens of thousands destroyed—as more than 30 million men lined up for prescriptions and millions more took it without benefit of a doctor’s advice. The AARP declared that Viagra is as significant as the birth control pill that launched the first sexual revolution some 30 years earlier.

A recent AARP study reported that 36% of men 60-69 have intercourse once a week versus 24% of women in the same age group. How do experts explain the discrepancy? Filewich says, “There are a lot more older guys out there cruising for young chicks.”

Another thing that has changed is the ease with which those older guys—and younger people of both sexes—can find like-minded pleasure-seekers. Forget pick-up bars—now it’s all arranged online.

“Adult Friend Finder ( is a big thing,” reports Q, a medical technician who finds pleasure with various partners during her off hours. “I’ve met lots of swingers from Westchester, men who cheat on their wives, guys who are just looking for basic relationships.”
I did a quick check of Westchester listings on the website and found hundreds. Q, a woman in her late twenties who lives in the southeastern part of the county, says she prefers to look for partners online because it’s anonymously discreet and, once both people are comfortable with their online relationship, they can move on to a physical one.
“I’ve found people are looking for variety, not the same old boring thing all the time in bed—the man on top, over in five minutes, do it every Tuesday,” Q explains. “Dressing up, using cuffs, role playing, living out a fantasy, including a third or even a fourth person—people really like variety.”
Even in Westchester.

Read more about Suburban Sex in this seven-part series.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Suburban Sex - Part 6 or 7

Media today, be it the Internet, TV, shock radio, or even billboards, seem to some to be no more than one long smut fest. Observes Dr. Robert Filewich:

“You now have KY Jelly advertised so you can ‘have a more intimate relationship’ with your partner. Whoever thought that would be on TV?”
Ads like that one used to appear only in magazines delivered in plain brown wrappers. Now we can hear similar spots for the Romantic Depot, Westchester’s one and only mature-shoppers-only retailer, on local radio. The store, squeezed into a specially-zoned section of Elmsford, NY, next to the I-287 on-ramp, mostly sells DVDs, but about a third of the floor space is devoted to toys like the “rabbit”, a vibrator with two protrusions. The most expensive model has numerous settings and sells for $228. Bondage items like furry handcuffs, leather straps for every part of your body, paddles, whips, bed restraints have their own section, as does edible underwear. The store has a small foyer with display windows and a much larger 18-and-over room in the back where you can buy your own pole-dancing kit in a tube for $229, which comes complete with a telescoping pole, garter, and instructional DVD. The package carries a helpful warning just like the one on dry cleaner bags: “this is not a children’s toy.”

It’s all part of a Westchester world of little blue pills and battery-powered stimulators, where experts assure us absolutely everyone can get satisfaction—at least physically.
“Men come in looking for better erections,” says Michael Werner, MD, a urologist who also oversees the Medical Center for Female Sexuality. “It’s not my job to make sure they are only using them with their wife.” He hastens to add, “Monogamy is the ideal, but it’s not always the norm.”
Maybe not always, but mostly. According to a study by The University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, sexual activity is 25 percent to 300 percent greater for married couples versus the non-married, depending on age. In case you were wondering, the study says married couples between ages 18 and 29 have sexual relations an average of nearly 112 times per year. That rate steadily decreases (but doesn’t disappear!) with age, so that married couples aged 70 and older have sex 16 times a year on average.
“We don’t do it as often as we did before the kids came along,” R says, “but it’s more from lack of opportunity than lack of desire.”
She is a young part-time paralegal with two children in school; her husband, T, works in the banking industry. She adds,
“Why would either one of us want to mess up our marriage and our children’s lives when we make each other happy as it is?”
Few developments have affected our sexual lives as much as the Internet, where “WWW” is inextricably tied to “XXX.” There’s nothing new about pornography, of course. You can find it on ancient Greek pottery and probably on cave walls somewhere. But what’s changed is how easy it is to find online. As Werner pointed out, “It used to be that the only way you could see people having sex was to go to one of those movie theaters where you wore a raincoat. Today, you can accidentally click a link and end up with a porn site.”

Most of those clicks aren’t accidental, of course. Numbers aren’t hard to come by, although they are difficult to verify, but type “sex” into Google and you get 718 million links. The Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade group, reports that $2.9 billion was spent on Internet-delivered porn in 2006, the latest year with available data. That’s a little more than Apple sold online last year. There’s no way to measure the amount of free-porn viewing that goes on, although it’s undoubtedly high. An interesting and often-quoted statistic is that 70% of porn viewing occurs during the 9-5 workday.

Another, darker side of pornography, though, is how it affects people already prone to sex addiction, a very real problem in Westchester as elsewhere. Nationwide, the AAMFT believes 12 million people are afflicted. There is a network of recovery groups for sex addicts just as there are for alcoholics and drug abusers. In Westchester, a fifty-member group affiliated with Sex Addicts Anonymous meets in White Plains. There is another one in Armonk.

Read more about Suburban Sex in this seven-part series.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Special WLS African-American Literary Tea

The eleventh annual African-American Writers & Readers Literary Tea was an event even more special than usual this year. It's always the highlight of Martin Luther King's birthday celebration in Westchester County, but it held special significance this year since it was held the day before the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States.

Speakers included event Chair Toni Cox Burns, Honorary Chair Cherl Brannan, President & CEO of Sister to Sister International, and Host Melvin Burruss, President of the African-American Men of Westchester. Terry Kirchner, the newly-appointed Director of the Westchester Library System, said a few words after the program, which was presented in association with the Westchester County Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Appearing were Asha Bandele, poet and memorist who read from Something Like Beautiful, Tonya Bolden, who read from MLK Journey of a King, and popular novelist Kimberla Lawson Roby, author of The Best of Everything.

The Tea was the first event of a year-long celebration of the Westchester Library System's fiftieth anniversary. Funds raised are used to support African-American collections at the system's 38 member libraries.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Suburban Sex - Part 5 of 7

Looking for love in all the wrong places used to mean hanging out in bars and clubs, but suburbia’s bustling office complexes are teeming with match-seekers, too. I was told by G, a mid-forties entrepreneur, about one small business with about 30 employees where the 20-25% fooling around factor may be conservative.

Company sex isn’t the only variety, of course, nor is it strictly one-on-one in staid, buttoned-up Westchester County. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, a 1969 movie about various combinations among two married couples, would be tame compared to some of the social functions reportedly held behind closed doors in Westchester.

“I know a woman who was deejaying a private party for swingers,” M (a hairdresser) says. “She told me she was not prepared for half the things she saw. We left it at that!”
Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, a sex therapist, says the swinging scene is nothing new.
“Bondage, SM, swinging, nudism, all that stuff’s been going on for ages. People were having key parties in the ‘70s.” She tells of one woman who got into swinging with her husband, enjoyed it for a couple of years, but then grew kind of tired of the whole thing. She said she couldn’t stop, though, because her entire social circle was based on swinging. Marcus explains, “She told me she had met the loveliest people and she didn’t want to lose their friendship.”
Read more about Suburban Sex in this seven-part series.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dave Is On The Level With Hezi Aris

Suburban media maven Hezi Aris recently invited me to appear on his WVOX-AM program, "On The Level With Hezi Aria" to discuss events in the Congo and Heart of Diamonds. An mp3 version of the program is available for download at Hezi's NY Times-recognized blog, Yonkers Tribune.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Suburban Sex - Part 4 of 7

Not everybody in the suburbs is into sex toy parties, strip tease aerobics, or even fooling around. It’s not like every third person you see walking through the Westchester Mall is a hot-to-trot, pill-popping sex maniac. Even if the total number of Westchester, NY, residents with infidelity on the brain is close to the national average, the vast majority of us are not cheating on our partners. Even fewer of us are swinging or looking for cheap thrills perched on a bar stool ogling a stripper.

Consider B, married to D (his second wife) for 15 years. They have two kids, a beagle, and a hamster named Cubby, all living in a center-hall colonial in southeastern Westchester. He and his wife live what they say is a perfectly happy life that includes completely satisfactory sex with each other and only with each other. Their friends, they say, do too.

“People like to talk about all this stuff, but it’s not going on in my neighborhood,” B observes. “I don’t know a single person who’s cheating on their wife or husband. Never been to a key party or know anybody who has.” He then adds, “I also don’t like to talk about my relationship with my wife, but I can assure you that we’re quite happy in that department. Maybe we’re boring, but I believe most people are just like us.”
Dr. Robert Filewich, director of The Center for Behavior Therapy in White Plains, NY, says B is probably right.
“On average, people here have good healthy sex.”
Most other experts agree. In a national survey of over 650 married couples, approximately two-thirds of the husbands and wives reported a "a great deal" (or more) sexual satisfaction in their marriage. Similarly, the majority (over 80 percent) of married or cohabiting respondents in another study stated that they were "extremely" or "very" physically and emotionally satisfied by sexual activity with their partner.

So how much fooling around do people do in Westchester? I did a completely unscientific check of one of the most popular hook-up services, the online Personals on Craigslist, and found that we don’t seem to be as active as other places. During the random week I tallied, there were 600 listings seeking “Casual Encounters” in the Westchester section of the Craigslist Personals. Long Island had more than twice as many (1,450), but that is fairly comparable on a per capita basis. Raleigh, NC, a metro area with about the same number of people as Westchester, had 1,650 “Casual Encounters” listings while Sacramento had a whopping 2,700. Maybe it’s a New York suburbs thing. Or maybe it’s because, as Dr. Wayne Gersh said, “Most adults here do not choose to have indiscriminate sex.”

Statistically speaking, Westchester is a little more monogamous than the rest of the nation, at least according to 2006 Census Bureau projections. 51.4% of us over the age of 15 are married, versus 50.4% in the entire US. Significant (at least to me) is that 9.8% of Westchester residents are currently divorced or separated, whereas 12.8% of the nation as a whole falls into the marriage-on-the-rocks category. The balance is either widowed or never married.

Read more about Suburban Sex in this seven-part series.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the