Swigging beer while speaking to his audience, author and columnist Dan Savage managed to take his fans at the Orpheum Theater by surprise Saturday afternoon.
Introduced by Tara Matheson, event coordinator for Canterbury Bookstores, as, “The current sexpert to the masses,” Savage spoke about his book “Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America” before exploring his views on a wide variety of other current issues.
Savage is primarily known as the author of “Savage Love,” a sex-advice column appearing weekly in The Onion.
Written as a response to Robert Bork’s book “Slouching Towards Gomorrah,” Savage explained what he perceived as the true American culture.
“I wanted to come to the defense of Bork’s ‘unreal American.’ I don’t think that you’re either sober or a heroin addict. It’s not that black-and-white. You can be a morally ethical adulterer,” Savage said.
Savage’s book chronicles his attempts to commit all of the seven deadly sins.
As an example of the sin of adultery, Savage recounted his experiences at a swingers’ convention in Las Vegas. “Gay couples are an irresponsible example to all straight couples out there,” said Savage. “Very few straight couples take gay couples as role models.”
He also cited the exploits of a swinger couple he met at the event, who claimed to be Orthodox Jews.
Savage also recounted a conversation with a pastor on a 1-800 prayer line in which he asked, “Can you be monogamous by being faithful to only one fornicator?” The answer of the clergy, “Fire is fire,” convinced Savage that “adultery was only a sin I could observe.”
Giving his view on Iraq, Savage expressed his support for action against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
“We should invade Iraq, right now,” Savage said. “We have a responsibility to uncreate Osama bin Laden.” Using the historic examples of Japan and Germany, he explained that the application of democracy can be a great thing, even to countries that hadn’t experienced it before.
“All these dictators are in power,” said Savage, who asked those who are politically left to take the potential conflict in a historical perspective
“The American left should not be opposed to this war,” he said. Attacking persecution many minorities face in dictator-led nations, Savage commented that “this war would make the world safe for atheism, religious pluralism, fags and dykes.”
Savage received a particularly rousing response from the crowd when calling for the legalization of marijuana.
“Beer just makes you mean, aggressive, stupid and violent,” he said. “We should just start calling pot Ritalin; then there wouldn’t be a problem.”
“The U.S. has spent over $75 million on the drug war to decrease the availability of pot,” he added. “Anyone here having a hard time getting their hands on pot in Madison?”