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I Love You, Let's Meet » 2007 » January

Archive for January, 2007

world premiere of I Love You Let’s Meet: The YouTube Musical

and you can attend in your PJs!

If you like it, please visit YouTube (you can also click on the movie after it’s done to get there) and comment and rate it and pass it on (very easy to register).

I hope you like it. It was so fun to make, and I love having creative, talented friends who can whip up a little movie in a week: M. David Hornbuckle (he really does have a ukelele!) and Mary Myers and Diane Bernard (who’s making a great documentary that doesn’t have a website yet) and Claire Kirk and Esin Egit.

READING (CANCELED!): Borders 1801 K. St., NW, Washington DC

UPDATE: CANCELED due to weather.

Sez Borders’ website, “Virginia Vitzthum, a former sex columnist for Salon.com, investigated the world of online dating, both as a journalist and as a participant, to write I Love You, Let’s Meet. It is the first book to seriously examine modern love and romance in the digital world.”

In the Flesh 10-reader orgy, ladies on top

What a way to lose my book-reading virginity, in an overflowing crowd in a chi-chi bar with 10-dollar drinks, vibe more chilly than warm, more men than women, and 9 out of 10 readers sexually explicit. It was charged and sweaty and packed. Rachel had sent an e-mail the day before asking us all to stay under 10 minutes, 8 if possible, and that made it like a slam; readers plowed through the crowd to the mike and launched in. A few of them, most hilariously Sue Shapiro, read really fast so they could jam a whole narrative into 10 minutes. And they really did. All my book’s stories are more like 20 minutes, so I didn’t try.

I just read my critique of eHarmony, figuring I’d shoot for informational and brief and not try to top the slave whose married master made her play a strange prostitute in a 3-way with the master’s wife; or the straight guy peeing into another guy’s mouth for something to write about; and especially not the reminiscences of food critic and droll starfucker Gael Greene, who closed the first half with that distracted charm of beautiful old ladies who don’t want to put on their reading glasses. She waved around a book shedding post-its but never consulted it. Instead she held forth faux-confidentially, with lots of italics and dramatic breath intakes. She tossed us fabulous details like Elvis’s bouncer/handler feeling through her little white glove for a wedding ring before hustling her into the limo and bearing her to the King when she was a 20-year-old reporter and he was young, luscious, entitled Elvis and girls outside the hotel were chanting We Want Elvis (This WAY eclipses her other famous fucks Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, IMHO).Gael Greene

In her gigantic black glittery captain’s hat, she anchored what looked to me like matriarch night at In the Flesh. All the ladies related sex in a wise, grown-up, not-mean, not-victimy, not-seductive, true and complex way, especially Sue and Gael and Helen Boyd. There was a lot of recognizing, surprised laughter from women in the audience, even if the subject was as unfamiliar as having a transgendered husband. (Below is Sue Shapiro, me, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Helen Boyd, Rachel Sarah. Thanks to Brian Van for the photos and here are others.)
Five Authors As my neighbor Francesco said, “All the women were cool. The guys were little shits; who fuckin cares.” I think he overstates. Grant Stoddard , who I’m reading with again Tuesday, and Ron Geraci were very entertaining. But they and creepy curtain-closer Marty Beckerman were kind of like the court jesters last night, offering up tales of their sexual humiliations with a slightly desperate hilarity. They probably also tap-danced harder because they’re younger, but the young women seemed way more self-possessed than the boys. (To dull the edge of that cattiness, I will admit I’m completely intimidated by reading with Grant Stoddard, who is a very funny writer and quite charismatic; I’ve asked to go first.)

But I needn’t allow Beckerman anything: He was the fart that stank up the room. I blame him for everyone rushing off into the cold after the reading ended. At one point in his interminable story, he and his girlfriend try anal sex, and she starts crying. After he recounts this, he asides, “…and I don’t like to make women cry. Unless they’re fucking fatties.” Into the silence, he added, “I wondered how that joke would go over here.” His whole story was so shallow and cartoonish and not-vulnerable even though it was about him taking it up the ass for the first time. He described that experience with a transcript, for god’s sake.(A) he taped it? and (B) dude, you’re a writer, you should be able to tell us more about your experience than a tape recording. I wasn’t surprised that he wrote for the New York Press, where boorishness gets to pretend it’s risk.

But up to the very last reader, it was a good bill and a fun night, lots of friends came, it was cool to see my books in a stack for the first time (yay Mobile Libris who lets us drink at readings by hauling books to bars).

And I even picked up a cute guy! So in a few short hours I had my first reading, and my first time with a guy reading my book in my bed. I was trying to/pretending to sleep in the a.m. but whenever he laughed, I had to go “what part?”

dating story that didn’t make the book

I’m reminded of this guy I met on nerve about a year and a half ago because my friend’s about to go on a date with him. (There’s been full disclosure all around, he said nice things about me, it’s all cool.) He’s smart and funny and attractive, one of the 90 percent of my connections formed online who seemed almost-good-enough in person.

Over years of online dating, I have very few horror stories — and zero happy endings. No A’s (for more than two weeks anyway) and hardly any F’s, D’s or even C’s.

Why the bell curve at B+?

Am I just really good at reading the profiles by now, so I land close to the target?

Do B+ people generally stick with online dating? Am I a B+ person?

Or does online dating turn you into someone who sees B+ people everywhere because it’s what you’re looking for? Does it make us all think “I can do better” and keep finding fault?

All of the above, probably. But, anyway, this one B+ guy, let’s call him Al, really just delivers the punchline of the story from a year and a half ago: It stars the only online guy I ever set up with an RL friend. “Jonathan” and “Susan” are feisty and I thought they’d like enjoy sparring. I was wrong. They both felt picked on.

Before the date, I’d made the e-faux pas of clipping something Jonathan, Jewish, wrote and sending it to Susan, gentile, because I thought it was funny, about an author with a glamorous print persona: “Of course in person she’s a rodential Jewess.”

So after the bad date where they both felt attacked, he and Susan started e-bickering and she chided him for that remark (which made me do all kinds of cringing as he now knew *I’d* cut and pasted from his e-mail). She declared his description of the author “worthy of Goebbels.”

They made it to Nazi-comparison after ONE DATE. It even took Max and Fitz a few days. So my only attempt to yenta fellow online daters was a disaster, and it happened right before my first date with Al. I told him the exchange, and he said, and I loved him then, “Maybe she meant gerbils.”

READING: Sundays at Sunny’s

I’m thrilled and honored to read at my friend Gabriel Cohen’s reading series, Sundays at Sunny’s, along with contributers to Up Is Up But So Is Down, a cool-sounding anthology of 80s downtown writing (Mary Gaitskill, Eric Bogosian, Spalding Gray).

Sunny’s is this wonderful bar right on the water in Red Hook, not terribly close to any subway stops (but next to the newish Fairway).

By bus: take the B61 toward Red Hook from Atlantic Ave. & Court St. (or from the A train midtrain exit at Jay Street Borough Hall). Get off near the end of the line at Van Brunt & Beard streets., walk 1 block right and 1/2 block left. Or take the B77 bus down 9th Street from Park Slope (or from the Smith and 9th Street F train stop–exit at the rear of the train and come down the stairs to street level and the corner bus stop.) Take the bus in the direction of Van Brunt Street and Red Hook.

If you’re driving: From Manhattan, take the Brooklyn Bridge and get off at the Court Street exit–then take a left on Cadman Plaza West, which will turn into Court St. Go about a mile, past Atlantic Avenue, and take a right on Sackett Street. Continue straight for five blocks, across the overpass over the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and take a left on Van Brunt Street. Continue down almost to the end of Van Brunt (you’ll see the waterfront up ahead) and take a right on Reed Street. Go one block and take a right on Conover Street–you’ll see a big sign that says BAR. That’s Sunny’s.

READING: Adam’s Books (Park Slope)

from Adam:
Virginia Vitzthum, our most local author (she lives less than one block away), has written a book called “I Love You, Lets Meet: Adventures in Online Dating”.

I haven’t read it, but it has a great title. Publishers Weekly says it “leaves no stone unturned” and is “genuinely funny”. I am inclined to believe them, having met the author.

The book is coming out on Thursday February 1, and ON THAT VERY SAME DAY, at
8 pm, Ms. Vitzthum will appear and read (aloud) at Adam’s Books.

I repeat:

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 1, at 8:00 PM: Virginia Vitzthum, of I LOVE YOU, LETS MEET:
Adventures in Online Dating, will unturn no stones at:
456 Bergen Street,
between 5th and 6th Aves,
half a block from the Bergen St.
2, 3 train on Flatbush Ave. Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Be there then.

books have arrived!

so says my publisher; I haven’t seen them yet. So if you come to any of the readings marked on the calendar (Jan. 17 and 23; Feb. 1 and 4th in New York, Feb. 14 in DC, thus far), you can buy one if you want.

last post about chastity I swear

I’m getting some comments from some chasties, so I’m going to post my opening statement from the debate. The last commenter said “your message only resonates because sex is perpetually titillating.” And I thought I said a LITTLE more than that, so here it is:

I don’t think we have a debate here so much as two different approaches to life on earth. I have to address the question as an agnostic, and so there are bound to be irreconcilable differences in my and Dawn’s approaches.

As an agnostic, I believe it’s all here – our rewards and punishments, trespasses and forgiveness, heaven and hell. I also think we’re the architects of our own lives, not Him. And so this is our one chance to learn how to become our best, most joyful selves and how to love each other.

Sex is an awfully big data set to leave out of that research. It’s way too central to being human to forgo – or to ask any other adult to forgo it. Sex is rarely as simple as it seems, and I do think Dawn’s book will resonate with lots of sexually active people. Sometimes you do feel cold or unvalued or confused after loveless sex. You don’t need to be religious to figure out that taking a break might help you feel more centered or in control of your life. Other times, a sexual encounter may be exactly what you need to connect you to another human being and back to your own body.

What we all need to figure this stuff out is our experience. Dawn’s path to her current contentment was her own wild life. It was experience, not innocence, that showed her what she needed to do. To deny other adults’ right to experience is like imprisoning them – or treating them as children.

And the push for chastity, targeted as it is at women, is part of this ancient, awful tendency to try to make women into children. We’re supposed to stay fresh and unspoiled by the harsh worldly world. Men are encouraged to go out and adventure and try everything: It’s how they become men. Meanwhile women get “used up” by their sexual encounters. Why would any woman buy into that bizarre theory of self-diminishment? I’m no more finite than a man; I don’t disintegrate when I have sex. And if it’s true that women are more in touch with their emotions – discuss – we’re better at noticing how things make us feel, which makes us better at finding our own sexual balance and happiness.

Fear of women knowing things is central to Christianity, starting with Eve. She could have stayed blissfully ignorant that the body she was just walking around in was actually a temptation to sin. But no, she had to get all grabby at the tree of knowledge and ruin it for everyone. And it’s not just Christianity; fundamentalists of most religions fetishize virginity and ferociously punish sexual women. To prize a woman for her removal from a full life is to make her a commodity, a domestic animal kept penned like some veal calf – or the famous cow whose withheld milk magically produces engagement rings.

Thankfully, these sexist, reality-denying attitudes are on the wane in the United States. Some of you probably read about the recent Guttmacher Institute Report that 95% of Americans have had premarital sex by age 44. 40,000 people were asked between about their sexual behavior, more than 3/4 of them women.

So basically everyone has sex now, and some say the pendulum has swung too far. For some, this may be true: It’s hard adjusting to freedom. But this shift in mores has saved so many innocent people – and by innocent I mean not hurting anyone — from so much unhappiness. Women’s reputations and lives aren’t ruined anymore for doing what we all want – and are designed — to do. Young people don’t have to get married to have sex and aren’t stuck married to someone sexually incompatible. One of the saddest stories in my book is about a Southern couple who met on a site for religious people. During their courtship, he said “We should wait til we’re married.” She was 10 years younger; she didn’t want to wait. But she deferred because she assumed he must really respect her and be very deeply spiritual. He made her feel inferior for wanting sex. After the wedding, he still didn’t want to have sex with her, preferring the stores of porn she eventually found on his computer. She also found out he’d also been arrested for exposing himself outside a women’s dormitory.

You probably thought the story was heading to him being gay, which is certainly another common twist on the long, chaste engagement story. That unhappy ending, thankfully, occurs less and less now. And this is where the chastity platform seems especially cruel. Finally, given the social changes of just the last few decades, people who might have been suicidally unhappy in the closet can come out and celebrate their love like everyone else. And the chastity advocates would have them go back to lying and hiding and shame.

And just as I don’t see life split into before-death and after-death, I don’t see the body as separate from the mind or soul or personality or whatever you want to call it. And medical science is with me here on seeing us holistically, not as prisoners of the flesh. People who have sex are happier and healthier. Benefits attributed to regular sex include
Reduced risk of heart disease among men
Weight loss and overall fitness

Bolstered immunity

Reduced depression among women

Less-frequent colds and flu

Better bladder control

Less prostate cancer

Less tooth decay (zinc)

Sex eases the pain of arthritis and reduces vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women (or as my Mom puts it, Use it or lose it).

Regular sex even makes people live longer.

It’s not unhealthy, it’s not a sin, it’s not a vice, we all do it, and without sex, none of us would be here.

Thank you

So that’s what I said and then in my last post I added the stuff about how sex is part of grown-up intimacy. If you still want to be chaste after all those good arguments, well, I don’t know. Seems like the chasties have a lot of guilt and regret about something that’s simply not bad! If God didn’t want us to have pleasure, why the reproductively useless clitoris?!?

London Observer puffs pretty prude

Dawn Eden is hardly the cutting edge of a movement, people of London. (Geez, what a lazy feature. Her book is a “heartfelt attack on the carefree, Sex and the City-style image of modern American dating.” Huh? She attacks an image? From a TV show? For what? Being true? And nobody in the bar was “surprised” at what she said, as they’d come to a debate about chastity). She’s not a vanguard; she’s a memoir writer with sexual issues who got published by a right-wing press.

And I called her brave, but did not say she “acquitted herself well.”

On the other hand, I was surprised at the voting in the Lolita basement: between 2 to 1 and 1.5 to 1 against chastity until marriage. I think Christians were bussed in, but still, it should have been a bigger margin. Plus a couple young women who didn’t seem to be from the Jesus bus took Dawn more seriously than I’d have expected. “Don’t you worry about making girls and young women feel bad about themselves if they have sex before marriage?” they asked her and then asked me to ask her. (Nobody had questions for me except “What if every time you had sex, an endangered species died?” Until that intense and wordy fellow laboriously sketched in his abortion metaphor, I was going to answer that the tigers were currently as safe from me as from Dawn — despite assumptions to the contrary about what a sexy gig it is to debate against chastity.)

My friend who I hope will let me quote his e-mail or who will post a comment, said I should have delivered a knock-out punch at the end. And I e-barked back that I was trying to be nice dammit and I believe more in finding common ground than facing off, that that’s the way to win over the reasonable middle like those questioning young women. But I wonder now if maybe he was right.

I did point out that 95 percent of us, not New Yorkers but of all Americans, have premarital sex, according to the debate-timely Guttmacher Institute Report. But I wish I’d emphasized more how most of us are serial monogamists, and that, as part of modern courtship, new couples spend anywhere from a few months to a few years in passionate lust.

And only then, after that pheromonopalooza winds down, does it get real. After the haze has cleared from what the polyamorists call NRE (new relationship energy); after you’ve weathered some stress and loss together; after you see each other as more than a romantic goal. That’s when illusions and fantasies give way, or should anyway, to real knowledge of a person as a life partner.

Dawn on the other hand recommends people marry from a state of horny infatuation to people they’ve never lived with. I just don’t see this gaining a lot of traction. And I don’t think Dawn, who basically cops to sexual compulsiveness, constant validation-seeking and narcissism, is very representative of most Americans, sexually. But perhaps I’m underestimating the damage a Dawn can do.

there’s a poster

from Dawn Eden’s blog, check it out. The illustration just underlines how totally apples and oranges and not a debate this is. But it should be entertaining — for everyone who’s not public speaker novice moi, anyway.

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