Talking Pictures


By David Templeton

Writer David Templeton takes interesting people to interesting movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate post-film conversation. This time out, he meets up with Anka Radakovich–the infamous Details magazine sex columnist–to discuss the frank and funny love story Chasing Amy.

“Am I doing this right?” asks Anka Radakovich sleepily, her once-confident demeanor now displaying a hint of uncharacteristic shyness. “Am I, you know, giving you what you need?”

I assure her that her performance has so far been more than satisfying. “Oh good,” she purrs. “I do like to take care of my men.”

Being a fairly typical male, I respond to the flirtatious nature of these remarks. Before I know it, the limbic system of my brain has devised a pleasant fantasy wherein Radakovich stands helpless against her sudden, overpowering, urgent desire to please me, me, and only me with multiple juicy quotes (I don’t know what got into her; maybe she could detect my probing sensitivity as an interviewer from the way I push the buttons on the tape recorder).

I slap myself psychically, silently hissing, ‘Stop it! Get a grip! Be a professional!’

Very well then.

Anka Radakovich is the notoriously funny author of Details magazine’s sex column, a post she embraced (with a professorial thumbs-up from her long-time idol Allen Ginsberg) and held on to for seven years. Her first book, The Wild Girls’ Club (Knopf, 1995), has been snatched up by Hollywood, and her brand-new Sexplorations: Journeys to the Erogenous Frontier (Knopf, 1997) is gaining enthusiastic, if somewhat flustered, reviews.

Unlike certain Q&A sexperts or those “technique of the week” writers, Radakovich takes her readers firsthand into the trenches of love. In Sexplorations, for example, she describes such adventures as attending dominatrix training, crashing a wife-swapping retreat, cruising a nudist colony, and deflowering a born-again Christian (hallelujah!).

Before leaving her hometown of New York for the book tour that has brought her to this early-morning coffeehouse rendezvous, Radakovich went out to see the film Chasing Amy. A truly modern love story, Amy is a boy-meets-lesbian/boy-loses-lesbian kind of thing. It stars Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams as Holden and Alyssa, rising young comic-book artists whose unexpected love affair is ultimately threatened by Holden’s inability to deal with his lover’s active sexual history.

“I loved it! What a great date movie! I liked the idea of the guy being so thrown off by her past,” Radakovich grins, leaning in close to add, “I get that too, because of what I do for a living. Guys are intimidated by what they perceive as my past sexual experience. I am always telling people, ‘I just write about sex. I’m not a sex worker.’ Come on! Some people write about movies, right? I write about sex.

“And what’s funny is that the guys who aren’t immediately scared away from me end up thinking that what I need is a real man, like them, to straighten me out, to turn me into a good girl. It drives me nuts!”

Radakovich–who has staked her career on the notion that sex is nothing to be ashamed of–demonstrates her fidelity to this belief by failing to lower her voice when uttering things that many would not even whisper in public. She’ll easily say “cunnilingus” and “the tip of the penis” at the same fearless volume that she says “And make that a decaf.”

“As for the whole bisexual theme,” she continues, “I can identify with Holden’s discomfort. I’ve gone out with bisexual men, and I admit that it intimidates me! I’m always afraid I’m going to be dumped for some guy named Ralph. I always end up sitting there thinking, ‘What if I can’t satisfy him?’ We go out on a date and all the time I’m going, ‘Gee, do I want to go through with this? What if I don’t perform fellatio as good as guys do it? Maybe guys are better at it than women.’ It really makes me insecure. And I’m a pretty good fellater,” she adds.

“On the other hand, sometimes I wish I were bisexual, because then I’d have a lot more to write about. If I’d been with a woman, I would have a lot more juicy stories to tell. If I were bisexual I’d have twice as many people to hit on. That would increase my chances of finding someone nice.” She sighs and rolls her eyes, fetchingly. “Alas,” she says. “I’m hopelessly heterosexual.”

“So,” I ask, maintaining my professionalism, “might Chasing Amy–with its frank discussions of sexuality–actually help people’s sex lives?”

“Why not?” she replies. “Anytime you just talk about it, bring it out into the open, it makes sex seem less mysterious. That’s a good thing.

“But, I have to say here, this movie is not just a sex story. It’s a love story. This is about love. After writing about sex for seven years, I’m realizing that it’s not as important as love is. Relationships–with all the dating, the flirting, the dumping, the game playing–that’s the hard part. Sex, once you learn a few things, is just the easy part.”

“So then,” she concludes, with a self-assured grin. “How was I?”

Web exclusive to the May 8-14, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent

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