Review of Ask Isadora

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A Review of Ask Isadora

by Isadora Alman

New York: Masquerade Books

Review Copyright © 1989 by William A. Henkin

Originally published in Spectator



How do I find my G spot, and what is it I'm looking for exactly? Is there anything actually dangerous in being sexy with my dog? Can you define premature ejaculation? Do most men enjoy oral sex? Can a man have tits? It turns me on to watch my friend masturbate – is that all right? Hey Isadora – what's nipple torture?

I have a strong suspicion that one reason the San Francisco Bay Guardian is still in business is that for the past six years people have been able to read Isadora Alman's column there. Every couple of weeks the curious, the innocent, and the twisted lay their hopes, fears, and ignorance about sex and relationships at her literary feet in the form of questions such as those above; and Isadora, like Glenda the Good Witch of the East, makes everything better.


Dogs can and have been trained to do all kinds of tricks more interesting than rolling over and playing dead. You could, if you're male, wear a condom. I don't know about fitting one on a dog. Dog's penises have some unique properties, especially during intercourse, so if you are thinking along those lines, be sure to read up on their physiology. Other than that, there are fleas, poison oak from their coats, or bites and scratches which would be a dog's way of saying, "Not tonight, dear. I have a headache."


Isadora achieved some local prominence a few years back with a book based her experiences working on the San Francisco Sex Information switchboard, called Aural Sex and Verbal Intercourse. In addition, she had a two-hour Sunday night call-in show on radio station KRQR for a number of years, and I know I was not the only listener who 86'ed the station from my digital buttons when she stepped down.


The G Spot is a "zone of erogenous feeling," a highly sensitive area about the size of a coin, located a few inches inside the vagina and toward the front of the body.... When this G area, rather than specific spot, is stimulated it produces in some women an orgasm described as deeper, more powerful, at any rate "different from" those caused by clitoral stimulation. Many women also report that stimulation of that area produces multiple orgasms, and an ejaculation of a clear fluid.... Locating it oneself is awkward.... if you don't find anything like what I've described, don't despair. The search is half the fun.


The answers she provides in her column, now syndicated to the New York Press and a half-dozen other papers around the country, are usually informative, nearly always amusing, and sometimes so pointed they are barbed, depending on what the query demands.


When Halloween comes around every would-be drag queen comes tottering out of his closet wearing all the stuff that shouldn't be in there. I'm a man, and I dress like one 365 days a year. Don't real women feel outraged when they see all these insulting caricatures? I would.

I'm a real woman, second in that department to no one except the late Mae West, and I love playing dress-up. I only feel uncomfortable when some guy pulls off in jest what I've been working on for never-mind-how-many years ... and does it better! As I often say, being a man has little to do with having a stiff prick. The same applies to being one.


Yet, some people don't like tabloids, some don't like the Bay Guardian, and some live in San Ramon, San Ysidro, or San Clemente where neither is available. If you are such a person, or if you just want to have a private stash of sexy come-backs to questions everyone wants to ask at a cocktail party but no one dares, now you can have your own collection of Isadora's zingy treats in this handy pocket-sized format.


"Premature," like "sexy" or "boring" is a highly personal judgment call. Whether we're counting in seconds, minutes, or hours, if an ejaculation occurs sooner than a man or his partner would like, if its arrival is greeted with "Ooops!" rather than "Ahhh" by eaither party, then that might be considered premature.


The hype for this book ballyhoos Isadora as "a hip Dr. Ruth, a sexy Ann Landers, and a bawdy Miss Manners," but I think she's more of a Back Page Fanny Brice. In her columns she is informed, witty, brief and to-the-point. Although she is a licensed marriage and family therapist, she generally answers questions as they are put to her rather than directing her readers to seek therapy for problems that do not demand it. On the other hand, she has the great good sense to respond with absolute seriousness to questions that are not funny.


My current lover says he's heard that strangling a man when he comes gives him a practically subatomic climax. It has something to do with cutting off the oxygen or blood flow to the brain. Do you have any tips on how to do with without any undesirable complications ... such as killing him?

My tip is: DON'T TRY IT! You are risking hemorrhage, stroke, brain damage and death when you naively aim for "just the right amount" of strangulation. I am convinced that a large percentage of what looks like suicides by hanging are really masturbatory experiments which failed, particularly among teen-age males. The consequences of their curiosity turned out to be far more tragic than a botched orgasm.


I didn't answer all the questions I lifted from Isadora's book and used in the opening paragraph of this review because she doesn't write for this paper and my review is not her column. But the answers to these and hundreds of other equally important, daffy, befuddled, and naive questions can be found right in her book's pages. And don't you find it odd that a book reviewer should keep referring to the book's author by her first name? The thing is, she's such a warm, available author that her book gives a whole new meaning to the notion of "user-friendly." Can reading this book improve your psychological, social, relational, and/or sexual life? I'd be a fool to answer directly, but I'm happy to borrow from Isadora:


Can 30-60 minutes of vigorous sex three times a week be considered adequate aerobic exercise?

Most health and fitness purists would probably say not, but I've never been a purist of any sort. Since it requires no designer costumery, little in the way of equipment expense, and usually a minimum of travel to arrive at the site of the sporting event, it sounds great to me. "Go for the burn!"



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