Why don’t you take advantage of e-mail technology? Instead of publishing
a single response to a letter you received (probably via e-mail!), why don’t you
send a response directly to the person with the problem? Then wait for the advice-seeker
to respond, and publish the whole back-and-forth for your readers. That way we
wouldn’t be left wondering how things turned out. For example, I’m sure everyone
wants to know if Giddy Schoolgirl slept with her TA. If you published chat-style
threads instead of Q&A, we would know!You could revolutionize the whole advice-column
genre! At the very least, consider publishing follow-up letters from the people
you give advice to.
The Hole Story
Advice columnists don’t get many follow-up letters, THS. The dirty little
secret of all advice columns–from Ann Landers’ to Miss Manners’ to mine–is
this: Weeks can pass in the time it takes us to get a...
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...of all advice columns–from Ann Landers’ to Miss Manners’ to mine–is
this: Weeks can pass in the time it takes us to get a letter, read it, respond,
and get the whole mess published. As a result, most advice-seekers take action
before they have a chance to read our advice. As our advice is often useless,
what would advice-seekers say to us in response? Thanks for nothing? And even
when the advice does arrive in time, the industry-standard Q&A format doesn’t
exactly encourage follow-up responses.
But I did find your suggestion of adopting a Q&A&R (question/answer/response)
format rather intriguing, THS. So I conducted an experiment. I selected two
letters from my incoming e-mail and responded to them personally:
You always seem to be giving advice to breeder chicks and babymakin’
boys these days. How about helping out a fellow fag? I’m 35 years old, attractive,
and trying to date. I met a hot guy who tells me he wants a relationship. The
problem: Kyle’s dick only gets hard when he ties me up. I’m adventurous, and
let him do it once. Now he insists I like it because I was willing to do it
at all. I probably know the answer to this, but can people only aroused by bondage
find gratification in normal sex? Is there hope?
If you’re sure you get no pleasure from bondage and never will, you need to
move on. But if you’re sure bondage does nothing for you, why did you write?
Unless you enjoy bondage more than you’re letting on, you already know the answer
to your question.
Kyle also says I like it more than I’m letting on. The one time
he had me tied up he kept asking his friends to notice the glint of excitement
in my eyes. I couldn’t say it wasn’t excitement because I had duct tape on my
mouth. When Kyle went to the bathroom, several guys asked to change places with
me. But I didn’t want them to be in my place! When I asked Kyle why he didn’t
date a guy who wants to be tied up, he told me that he prefers the “challenge”
of a guy like me. I wrote because I wanted to know how much a person into bondage
needs that to stay happy. Is he willing to live in my world? I was willing to
try living in his. Would he do the same for me?
You didn’t tell me that the one and only time he tied you up was in public!
Or that he left you alone! That’s extreme stuff even if he got your consent
and gave you some rough idea of what he had planned. Perhaps if Kyle had tied
you up in, say, your apartment, you would’ve had more fun.
Can he live in your world? Like most kinky people, Kyle probably tried to
live in your world for a long time. Most kinky people spend years suppressing
their desires, but once they leave the vanilla world and come out about their
kinks, well, let’s just say they’re unlikely to ever go back willingly. As for
the “challenge” of tying up guys like you, sooner or later Kyle will hit the
jackpot, i.e. he’ll tie up someone who discovers he digs bondage just as much
as himself. Clearly, you’re not the jackpot guy.
I’m a gay man with HIV. When guys I date discover that I have HIV,
they often react badly. Why don’t other gay men have more compassion? Where
can I meet guys who don’t make a huge issue out of my status?
Dan Fan in Toronto
Date other poz guys and your status won’t be an issue. Toronto is a big city,
and there are plenty of HIV-positive guys living there. I’m sure there has to
be an HIV-positive social/support group in Toronto. Join it.
What kind of advice is that?! I want to keep my status private!
Anyway, I did join one HIV-positive social group, and everyone was as old as
my grandfather! They were a bunch of old barf bags! No thanks! I guess I shouldn’t
have asked for support from a glorified gossip columnist!
Dan Fan No Longer!
Look, fuckbrain, meeting guys who already know you’re positive is the only
way to avoid “What? You’re positive?!” weirdness. If you’re too ashamed to be
out about your status, well, you have no right to complain when guys react badly
after they “discover” you’re positive. So join a support group or be out about
being positive or stop complaining. As for the old barf bags at the support
group you did attend, there’s a group for young HIV-positive guys in the city
where I live, and I would assume that a city as big as Toronto has one, too.
If it doesn’t, well, get off your ass and start one.
But I suspect that you won’t get off your ass. Like a lot of other shit-for-brains
poz guys out there, you’d probably be happier complaining. And, hey, where does
someone who calls older gay men “barf bags” get off asking for compassion?
You are a fuck. What gives you the right to be insensitive toward
me? I am not ashamed of being HIV-positive. I am a person in the public eye–let’s
just say I’m in politics–and can’t risk the whole world knowing. You better
be careful who you take on.
Dan Fan No Longer
Well, wasn’t that an exciting experiment!
Here’s what we learned: Batting e-mails back and forth with someone like Michael
is fun, but
the Q&A&R format can clearly get an advice columnist sucked into an endless
e-mail exchange with some psycho like Dan Fan. You see, most people who write
to advice columnists have problems, and often their problems are their own fault.
My advice upset Dan Fan because it rubbed his nose in that fact, and, being
an asshole, he wrote me an angry response. Being an asshole myself, I replied
in kind, which prompted Dan Fan to make vague threats. So while the Q&A&R format
sounds great in theory, in practice it presents too great a risk.
Additionally, THS’ proposed Q&A&R format is more work than the good ol’ Q&A.
As we’ve seen, Q&A&R can quickly mushroom into Q&A&R&R&R&R. Technology may one
day revolutionize the advice-column genre, but this columnist is far too lazy
to be on the vanguard.
Write to Dan!
Got a relationship problem? A burning sex question? A burning… sensation?
Dan’s been giving advice and been tapping the best sex researchers, educators, and scientists for more than three decades!