Media Savvy 

Sex columnist Dan Savage hits the road on a populist crusade -- and also to flog his book.

Dan Savage isn't ready to repent. In fact, the "Savage Love" sex-advice columnist and editor/co-owner of Seattle's alt-alt-weekly The Stranger is traveling around the country (including Berkeley's Black Oak Books, Monday night at 7:30) encouraging audiences to loosen up and sin a little -- the better to promote his new book, Skipping Towards Gomorrah (Dutton, $23.95).

Savage hit upon the happy idea of illustrating each of the Seven Deadly Sins -- greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, pride, and anger -- with the lives of ordinary Middle Americans. So we get confirmed degenerate gamblers in Dubuque, Iowa; suburban married-couple swingers in Illinois; and upscale call girls in New York -- all filtered through the Savage sensibility and aimed squarely at high-profile "virtuecrats" like William Bennett and Pat Buchanan. For someone who grew up Irish Catholic in Chicago, the Michael Moore/Barbara Ehrenreich-style populism fits Savage like a pair of his beloved tighty-whities. He's on his own populist crusade. "There are millions of ethical, fully moral sinners in America," he writes, "and I've grown sick listening to the right wing bitch and moan about them while the left wing refuses to defend them."

A sprinkling of Savage on antiporn activists: "They're trying to control their own urges and to force us into an unnatural antisex posture. We got the Puritans, Canada got the French." On organized religion: "Its two main concerns are the hereafter and trying to make us keep our pants on." On TV PSAs linking drug use with terrorism: "They're a lie. Money flows to the cartels and terrorists only because drugs are illegal. It'll never happen that people will stop using drugs. They need to legalize them." On the hard-scrabble realities of working America: "Class -- the notion that we don't have a class system here -- is the great lie in American life. I wish there was more class consciousness among the people getting screwed." On "Savage Love": "I got drafted into it, originally. I think of it as a humor column." And on sex: "It'll always be Topic A. Not model shipbuilding."

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