After hearing that story, I knew Dr. Ruth was my kind of woman. I’d suspected as much from listening to her radio show every Sunday night, back in my prepubescent days. No matter how hilariously bizarre the callers’ questions, Dr. Ruth always cheerfully supplied the answer without missing a beat. Although I had no idea what they were referring to half the time (I was only 12 — cut me some slack!), it was still mighty entertaining.
Little did I know, back in those innocent days, that I’d someday actually get to ask Dr. Ruth a few questions of my own (and thankfully, not questions about some impotent husband problem). But before we get into that, let’s have a little background info on this superstar sex therapist, media personality, author, mother and grandmother.
Born in Germany 71 years ago, Dr. Ruth spent the first decade of her life in Frankfurt, before the Nazis took over. At age 10 she was sent to live at a children’s refugee camp, in Switzerland, and never again saw her parents or grandparents. At 16, she headed for Israel, marrying a young man she met on a kibbutz. They moved to Paris and divorced a few years later. Just short of finishing her psychology program at the Sorbonne, Ruth accepted a German government grant for Nazi victims and set sail for America with her new beau, Dan.
Soon after reaching New York, in 1956, Ruth landed a sociology master’s scholarship to the New School for Social Research. Later that year, she became pregnant and married Dan (yes, in that order). The following year they divorced, and Ruth took on the challenge of raising a daughter alone while finishing her master’s degree. During this time she met Manfred Westheimer on a ski trip, fell instantly in love and married him that same year. They had a son two years later.
Not one to lounge around the house eating bonbons, Ruth went back to school and received her Ph.D. in Education from Columbia University in 1970. Somehow she also found time to study human sexuality at Cornell.
These credentials proved fateful later on, when Dr. Ruth was chosen to address a room full of radio community-affairs managers on the need for sex education programming. Her refreshing frankness led to a wildly successful guest spot on a local radio program, which landed her a show of her own, “Sexually Speaking,” in 1980.
Dr. Ruth’s special brand of sex advice has been with us ever since — on the radio, in print, on television, and now on CD-ROM and the Internet.
Now let’s see what she has to say about two of my favorite subjects: Wine and sex!
|Tina: You’re a hard woman to get a hold of! What’re you so busy with?Dr. Ruth: (Laughs her Dr. Ruth laugh) Let me take two hours to answer that! The revised Sex for Dummies book is coming out, plus I just finished two books about grandparents — one for adults, one for kids. Then there’s my Web site, Dr. Ruth.com, and I also contribute to Foreigntv.com as a journalist. I still have my private [sex therapy] practice six hours a week, plus TV appearances, and I do quite a bit of lecturing on college campuses and to other groups. And I always make time to visit my three grandchildren once a week in New York.
T: I need a glass of wine just thinking about all that work! Speaking of which, I hear you’re a fan of wine.
DRW: Yes, I like wine! But I don’t drink it by myself. I’m a social drinker. I like wine with a nice meal and to relax. My husband loved Portuguese rose — it came in a beautiful bottle, too. He always loved wine — he was the one who would buy it.
T: Do you think wine can improve a person’s sex life?
DRW: I always tell people that wine is part of a good lovemaking evening and a part of foreplay because it helps you to be in a good mood. But you shouldn’t drink too much wine or it will backfire!
T: What’re your favorite seduction wines?
DRW: I like Beaujolais Nouveau and gewurztraminer. Or a nice California white wine.
T: What about food?
DRW: I don’t think there are any particularly sexy foods — it’s all in people’s heads!
T: What’s the most important ingredient for having good sex?’
DRW: Knowing each other.
T: I understand you had a great relationship with Manfred, your last husband. Aside from plenty of good wine and sex, what’s the secret to a successful marriage?
DRW: The secret is having respect for the other person. You should also develop different hobbies and not demand that your partner share yours.
T: Is that what you tell young people in your college lectures?
DRW: Here’s what I tell them: Don’t rush into anything. Have a relationship before having sex, and make sure you’re protected against unwanted pregnancy and STDs.
T: Having sex in the AIDS era can be pretty scary. Is there any way to just forget about it and have fun?
DRW: There is no such thing. That’s why it’s so important to know your partner first! You should both be checked out by a doctor before having sex. And never have sex when you’ve had too much wine, because then you won’t care about using protection!
T: So what do you do when you’re not lecturing at colleges and writing books?
DRW: I love to ski! I’ve been doing it my whole life. But now that I’m 71 years old I only ski the blue runs. I don’t ski the black diamonds anymore. But you can’t drink wine and then ski — drink it after! Then it’s very nice to sit in front of the fireplace in the lodge and have a glass of wine.
T: I’ll bet people have some interesting questions for you at the lodge! By the way, what do you do when someone says they need advice for a “friend”? (For example, I know this wine magazine editor…)
DRW: When this happens, I smile and I listen. Then I answer the question. It doesn’t matter if the question is really for a friend, the important thing is giving the right information.
T: Thank you very much for your time.
Need some advice for your, uh, “friend”? Not to worry: Dr. Ruth’s words of wisdom are available in just about any medium that floats your boat.
Sex for Dummies (revised version to be published soon)