Interview With Sex Columnist Anka Radakovich

Anka Radakovich is that rare bird: a sex-obsessed writer who is actually sexy in the flesh. Even seen in the late afternoon, sitting in the living room of one of the disappointingly unspectacular cabanas at the Chateau Marmont, her midnight-in- Manhattan style of dress--silver '70s platform shoes, consciously tacky shorts over black stockings, too-tight T-shirt with the word "girl" spelled out in big letters (as if there could be any question)--seems oddly appropriate. Her vampiric complexion and jet-black hair contrast nicely with the sunny day outside. After studying literature and fine arts at the University of Maryland, Radakovich moved to New York in the early '80s. She freelanced for an early version of Details, reporting on Manhattan fashion and nightlife, but it was not until the magazine went national that she truly hit her stride. After submitting a piece on spec that described a typical bachelor pad from an atypical female's point of view (a story which Details editor-in-chief James Truman said had 20 percent of his staff on the floor howling and the other 80 percent in his office complaining), she was given a column in which to unleash her observations on the fairer sex, the less fair sex, and the problematic relations between the two. The rest is history. Radakovich's columns have been collected in The Wild Girls Club: Tales From Below the Belt, which has just been released in paperback. It's sure to shock any unsuspecting prudes who happen to run across it in their neighborhood chain bookstore. Though Radakovich's work isn't likely to win a Pulitzer, her takes on all things sexual are never less than stimulating, and often provoke the kind of laughter that comes from seeing unspoken truths in print. She has dished the dirt on her friends' sexual experiences with famous men (Mickey Rourke was "hot and sweaty"; Matt Dillon was a romantic "he sang Duke Ellington songs"; artist Jeff Koons was "lousy in bed, terrible"; and singer Chris Isaac's penis was "impressive"--two of the Wild Girls had slept with him). She has compared male genitalia to a dog ("...it is always happy to see us, enjoys being petted, and often rubs itself against our legs") and described its taste as "akin to a salty hot dog with a musky bouquet and a janitorial aftertaste." Clearly, Radakovich is a woman unconstrained by the bounds of propriety, and in an age when passion has been replaced by a stodgy sense of responsibility and right-wing rhetoric passes for morality, her candor is close to precious. Naturally, Hollywood has picked up on her act: the author is currently at work on rewrites of a screenplay based on her book for Paramount, and Demi Moore and Nicole Kidman have expressed interest in playing the lead. Not too bad for a kid from a teeny town like Hagerstown, Maryland. Anka Radakovich is on a roll, and long may she rave. Q:Do many male interviewers try to flirt with you? AR: Well, the misconception is that because I write about sex, people think I'm easy or promiscuous. I've actually had male interviewers ask me if I'm promiscuous, and that's so insulting. I mean, just because I write about sex doesn't mean I jump in bed with a different guy every night. It's just like, if you're writing about murders, you don't go out and murder somebody. Q: But those people aren't writing about their personal experiences with murder. AR: But it still doesn't make me promiscuous. I probably have the same amount of lovers that the average person has, no more. Q:How has the column affected your personal life? AR: The problem is that the guys I date think I'm a sex expert. Maybe I should go to Thailand and learn how to do tricks like expelling ping-pong balls from my vagina. I should actually learn a technique like that so I can live up to my reputation. But I'm basically joking about all this stuff. I'm doing all these things for comedy material. But a lot of guys I go out with think they have to really perform for me in bed, that I'll be judging them or grading them. Q: It has to be a double-edged sword. Cockier guys, so to speak, probably want to give you the time of your life so they'll be written about, but more conscientious men could easily be scared away. AR: I just need a real man who can handle me [laughs]. But you know, I'm fun. People have an idea that I'm like this big dominatrix with a whip or something, but when they meet me they realize that I'm a sensitive person. That's why writers write, because they're sensitive to other people, to the things they say. Q: Being a woman has helped you immeasurably in doing your column. If a guy was writing about these topics, the response would basically be "Yuck." It's like, if a guy comes home and asks his wife what she did today and she says, "I masturbated," well, that's exciting. But if a woman comes home and her husband tells her he just jerked off... AR: She'd say, "That's disgusting." Men like to hear what women have to say about sex, their breasts, and girls getting together and talking about them. I mean, every single time we have the Wild Girls party, a guy tries to crash. And at about two in the morning, after we're all bombed, it's always, "Should we let him in?" "No." "Should we let him in?" "Yes." And the one time we let a guy in it was hilarious. We de-pantsed him and gave him a 20-girl massage. He dug it so much he wants to come back every time. Q: Quite a few guys who read the book must want to be a fly on the wall for one of those parties. AR: Hey, you wanna come next time? Every guy has a fantasy about a bunch of girls drinking and getting wild in a room together. They have this idea that we're all running around in teddies and high heels, hitting each other with pillows as our breasts fall out of our bras. Q: Kind of a lighthearted Valley of the Dolls thing. AR: Little do they know that we're sitting around complaining about their behavior. But really, I couldn't write this column if I hated men. I love men, and I'm just trying to have fun. Q: This is an odd interview to do, having read so many intimate details about your sex life. AR: I write about my breasts and pubic hair, and you're going to be sitting there asking, "So how are your breasts, Anka?" [laughs]. Q: It's surprising that you have good posture. A lot of early bloomers tend to be embarrassed about their breasts and fold in on themselves. AR: Yeah, I was about eleven-and-a-half. But mine aren't huge. They're about a C cup. You start hunching over with a D. When I was twelve years old, I was really aware of my sexuality, because I was so developed compared to the other little girls my age. I remember going out into the backyard in my first bikini, and I was hosing down some plants or something, and a guy in a car drove by and he looked over at me and ran into a telephone pole. The car was totaled but he was okay. A cop came and asked him what happened and he said, "Well, I was looking at that girl in the bikini." I remember thinking there was something really hilarious about sexuality, and going, "God, if I can get that kind of reaction..." Q: Once those things sprout it's hard to hide them. AR: I remember this guy came over when I was thirteen, he was like this cute rocker guy, and I made a date with him. I didn't know I was too young to date. My father answered the door, and he was talking to this guy, and he finally asked, "How old are you?" The guy said "25," and my dad asked, "Do you realize that my daughter is only 13?" I still remember how the guy bolted out of there and ran down the driveway. My poor dad [laughs]. Q: You know, in West Virginia that kind of thing is not only tolerated, it's sanctioned by the state. AR: That's the no-teeth crowd down there. Everyone has the same last name in West Virginia. Q: It's refreshing to read about the humorous side of sex. So many Americans seem to take it so seriously. AR: Most people are embarrassed to even talk about it, so for me to joke about it is almost more shocking to some people than the words I use for "penis." I don't use the "f" word in the book at all, but I have a bunch of words for "penis" and "vagina." Q: You've observed that guys often name their penises. Do women also go in for pet names? AR: In a recent article about a swingers club, I said that a guy touched "my Snoopy." Lately, I can't stop calling it my Snoopy. Q: That's not the sexiest term you could have come up with. AR: Well, it's fluffy. Actually, my favorite term for it in the book is "slab of hairy roast beef." I hope that becomes a classic. Could you imagine saying that in bed--"Touch my slab of hairy roast beef"? The guy would run out of the bedroom and never come back. Q: That's a definite erection killer. AR: It's ridiculous, but sex is ridiculous, right? The positions, the way it sounds, the way it looks and smell--it's all ridiculous. But, hey, it's all natural. You know, people can be so uptight, and it has to do with our religious training in this country. The people who probably hate me the most are the Christian writers. They say I'm a sinner. Q: It's doubtful that many of those types read Details. AR: Actually, I'm from Maryland, and we do have some of those people down there. When an article on me came out in our local paper, they got these letters saying, "The last thing we need in this town is a female Howard Stern scrambling the minds of today's youth." I took that as a compliment. I thought it rocked. I was thinking about printing some of those letters on the back of the book. Q: What's the longest relationship you've had? AR: About three-and-a-half years. When I started writing the column, I was still with him, and that's him in the aphrodisiac piece, the condom-testing piece. And then when we broke up I wrote the dumping piece, and then the dating odyssey began. Q: Dating stories would seem to work best for a lighthearted column like yours. The changes your sex life goes through when you've been with someone for a while make for much heavier subject matter. AR: Well, everyone can relate to dating, whether they're 80 or 20. Everybody's been single. Bad dates are always funnier than good dates. Like on Love Connection-it's always funnier when the two people hate each other. That's what people want to hear. Q: Just like no news is good news, good news is no news. AR: And you can't make this stuff up. The reality is always better. I don't write fiction--it's all pathetically real. Q: Some of your most important columns are the ones in which you act as a consumer reporter. Everyone is curious about those 900 numbers, but most people don't have a magazine to pay the bill. AR: Right. I'm not going to spend $500 sitting up all night talking to losers on the telephone, and I don't think I'd spend $900 on male prostitutes. My mother called when I was interviewing one of them. She asked, "What are you doing?" and I said, "Oh, I have a male prostitute over." And she said, "God, don't touch him!" That kind of got me out of the mood. But I didn't really want to touch him, especially after one of the guys told me that I was his fifth client that night. I went, "I think I'll just interview you." What was funny about the male prostitutes was that they had such big egos. They really thought they were hot stuff. Q: Well, come on, they get paid to have sex with women. AR: As a woman, I would feel degraded to have sex for money, but a man thinks it makes him into a big stud. What are you going to do? Q: There's no comparison between male and female sex drives. Guys are always ready. With women it's more of a cyclical thing. AR: That's just biology. I don't know. I'm as horny as any guy. But you know, a horny woman is called a nympho, and what's the male equivalent of a nympho? Any guy. Q: You brought up prostitution. That and pornography are zillion-dollar industries, with almost all of that money coming from males. AR: In the Details sex poll, we found that men use porno tapes alone and that women use them with a partner. I don't think that most women think of popping in a porno tape and touching themselves, but a guy wouldn't think twice about that. There are 200 strip clubs in this town with women dancing and one or two with men dancing. Q: All of which points to the fact that men don't get enough sex. AR: Guys want more sex, and with the whole AIDS thing, people just aren't having sex like they did in the '70s. People were having orgies back then. Q: If you had a gram of cocaine in your white disco suit, you'd be making out like a bandit. AR: I saw in the survey that people want to be kinky, but they didn't even know what a fetish is. One woman said, "I like chest hair on a guy." That's not a fetish. Maybe if you glued the chest hair to a foot it would be. That made me think that people don't really know about kinky or adventurous sex, or anything other than vanilla sex. The article I'm working on now is about me going into an S&M salon and being a dominatrix's apprentice for one night. She was so serious about spanking a guy wearing a dog collar, and I'm sorry, but when someone is seriously into a sexual practice like that, it just gives me the giggles. My articles are getting a little more perverted and depraved these days. This month I wrote about becoming a man for two days. I had a Hollywood makeup guy turn me into a man. He smashed my boobs down and gave me a penis--a big eight- incher, dude. I went to a strip club and got a lap dance. I'm heterosexual, so it didn't do anything for me, but this girl put her hand on my pants and said, "Wow, you're really packin'," and I said, "Yeah, I'm pretty big, but I'm a little lumpy tonight." I just want to keep doing things that nobody else would think of. People are going to think I'm nuts when they read this one. Q: Most female strippers are gay anyway. It's just another element of sadness in the life of a guy. AR: That's true. A lot of women are threatened by strip clubs, and they don't have to be, because it's just eye candy. Q: Women would be far less intimidated by strip clubs if they could see what guys are actually like in them. They're tremendously passive. They sit and stare straight ahead, and they rarely say a thing. AR: Right. And when you go to a strip club with male dancers, the women are rowdy. They're screaming, they're grabbing the guys' butts. Strip clubs [make up for] the fact that people are sleeping around less. They're seeing fewer naked people than they did ten or fifteen years ago. If you don't have a girlfriend, you want to see somebody naked. The difference between men and women is that women want that one special guy, and men want those ten special women. Again, that's just biology. Q: In Details, you're writing for an audience of young men, but you haven't yet touched on one common male fantasy-the two-girl threesome. AR: I had a boyfriend who said, "Why don't you invite one of your girlfriends over?" and I was insulted by that. She thinks, "What, aren't I enough for you?" It signifies that he wants to cheat on us. But I reversed the situation--I said, "All right, I'll have your threesome, but only if you bring one of your friends over and I can have a threesome with two guys." And he was like, "Oh no! That's not cool." Q: It seems much easier for women to entertain the idea of going down on a woman than for a guy to think about blowing a guy. AR: I don't know. I haven't really done scientific studies on that. Another thing is that men have this fantasy where they see two women together, and they're gonna get in there and whip it out and say, "All right, girls, the man is here. Get ready for Mr. Big Stuff." Men would love it if their girlfriend would go down on another woman for 20 minutes, but how are you going to feel if she dumps you and goes off with her? That's why sometimes things are better in fantasy than they are in reality. Threesomes break up a relationship, frankly. Q: What do you think the current generation of kids is like sexually? AR: They're very inexperienced, maybe more so than an eighteen-year-old was ten years ago. Q: That's surprising. With easy access to porn and ecstasy, it seems like high school might be one big orgy these days. AR: But you go to health class and they show you a video about VD, with all these weird diseases they didn't have ten years ago. Kids are really frustrated now. We're going to have a whole generation of masturbators. Q: Which won't be any different than every generation that came before it. AR: You know, I got a letter at Details the other day from a guy who said, "I'm not like the rest of your readers, you know, the ones who look at your photos and masturbate." And I thought, how the hell does he know what the other readers are doing? He must be doing it himself. I love my letters, though. I read every one. It gives me an insight into what my readers are thinking. I get a lot of letters from prison. I'm very popular with the incarcerated. Q: Doesn't some of that mail make you wonder about exposing yourself so totally in your column? You write about a guy coming on your face, and with your picture right there, it's an indelible image. AR: Oh yeah, the aphrodisiac piece. I said I ended up with more sperm on my face than usual. Actually, we lost a big advertiser because of that, which to me was kind of cool, because it made me think that I wasn't totally mainstream. My attitude is more rock and roll, like, "Fuck the advertisers! I'm not gonna sell out to them." On my last piece, when I was dressed as a man, the magazine censored one section where I went to a gay club and watched some blowjobs. They thought it was too graphic. Q: But Details must have a large gay readership. AR: Well, for the second book I'm going to put all that stuff back in there. They cut some stuff that they thought was too disgusting from my earlier articles that I put back in this book. I had a couple of hemorrhoid jokes that didn't fly with the magazine, and hey, there's nothing wrong with a good hemorrhoid joke. Q: Another subject of male fantasy you haven't touched on yet in your column is anal sex. The subject is bound to come up. AR: We ask that kind of stuff in the sex survey, but since we're only interviewing men, we don't get a lot of....Hey, at the next Wild Girls party, I promise I'll bring it up. But in our sex survey, we had a lot of people writing up and saying that within a heterosexual relationship, the guy liked it when the girl put on a strap-on dildo and had anal sex with him. And I thought, oh, this is great, a new sex trend for the '90s. Q: It's hard to imagine June strapping on and taking Ward back in the '50s. AR: Yeah, it's very '90s to strap it on. Q: There was a big flap in the media not long ago about how old you really are. AR: They blew it all out of proportion, of course. Hey, I'm 37. For an article, I put an ad in the personals that said I was 29, but everybody lies about their age in the personals. And then all these articles came out about me that focused on how old I am. The next thing you know, I'm on the cover of Newsweek, and the cover says "20 Lies About Twentysomethings." I never told them I was in my twenties. I mean, I've lived in New York for fifteen years, and everyone at Details knows my age. And then I found myself saying things like, "So sue me, and sue Zsa Zsa Gabor and Nancy Reagan. Women always lie about their age." It was no big deal to me, because I'm so honest about everything. The media saw a little inconsistency, and all of a sudden they wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein. It was awkward. Q: So what exactly is your attitude towards sperm? On one page you talk about getting a face full, and on another you compare it to "a cup of runny boogers." AR: Well, it's okay. We don't hate it. But sometimes men think their sperm is so great, it's like the nectar of the gods. And we're supposed to be like, "Oh, honey, I just adore your waste products." Q: That's a horrible thing to say. It's not waste--it's jam-packed with chromosomes and protein. AR: Yeah, it's just a gift from The Man. Q: So Hollywood wants to bring your book to the screen? AR: Yeah. It's a romantic comedy about a girl who lives in New York and has these Wild Girls Club meetings with her girlfriends. She has a sex column in a magazine like Details...

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