Bag It Up, Grandpa
Senior Citizens Are Having More Sex Than Ever, and Getting More Diseases
Dave Cummings, 72, is a porn star, a swinger, and a dude who knows what to eat when you want a "more voluminous, thicker, whiter ejaculate."
You probably don’t like to think about your parents having sex, let alone your grandparents—imagine all that dry, wrinkled flesh being massaged and squished together—but rest assured, old people are going at it. They’re not just “making love” in the subdued fashion of married couples either, they are fucking, doin’ it raw dog, even swinging. Some senior citizens get as much action as teenagers, and like teenagers, they’re vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.
The idea that people lose interest in sex as they age is more or less a myth. According to some estimates, 70 percent of men and 35 percent of women over 70 are sexually active. (That gap might have something to do with women generally outliving men—it’s harder for single older ladies to find sex partners.) About 43 percent of seniors say their sex drive decreases with age, but the the notion that all old people inevitably lose their earthly appetites is simply untrue. Many of the elderly deal with physical problems that make sex complicated—in plain English, it’s often difficult for them to get hard or wet—but thanks in part to multi-billion dollar erectile dysfunction medication industry, those obstacles have largely disappeared. And this generation of seniors probably have fewer psychological hang-ups when it comes to sex. These are the Baby Boomers, after all, the folks who grew up with free love and the pill.
Sounds great, right?
The problem is that with great sex comes a bunch of diseases. From 2000 to 2009, rates for sexually transmitted infections like of gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia doubled among 50- to 90-year-olds in the past ten years, as did the number of new HIV diagnoses for that age group. Despite this, a 2010 AARP report found that 50 percent of single men over 45 used condoms “rarely or not at all.”
Jane Fleischman is an educator and researcher who specializes in senior sexuality. “It’s not so much that the physiology of the elderly changes,” she said, “but rather, our perception of their physical and emotional health.” The amount of data on seniors’ sexuality pales in compared to other areas of sexuality research, she added, and the recent spike in recorded STI infection rates might be due to more seniors getting tested—which is a problem in and of itself.
According to Jane, doctors typically don't ask their elderly patients about their sex lives. Early symptoms of HIV like fatigue, muscle aches, and loss of appetite essentially mirror the sensation of getting older, and doctors tend to assume this age group isn’t at risk for STIs. “Take a look at these numbers,” she told me. “Their rates are going up 20 or 30 times—what does that say about these doctors’ patients, and what does that say about their practice?”
Maybe unsurprisingly, Florida is a hotspot for the middle-aged-and-older sex scene. A guy I’ll refer to as “Pete,” a self-described “moderate swinger” in his 50s who lives in the state, told me you can have a full social life circulating among the network of clubs, restaurants, house parties, hotels, and beaches, all marketed to swingers. “People actually go on swinging vacations to South Florida and Tampa,” he said. “The swinging scene keeps growing more and more. It’s almost acceptable to the mainstream. People are even coming out and telling their friends about it. They’re not hiding it at all.”
Meanwhile, Florida’s famous retirement communities have, accurately or not, developed a reputation for having the social dynamics and sexual tension of a high school without teachers. That's in part thanks to the book Leisureville, which Andrew Blechman wrote after spending time in one of these communities, the Villages, where “talking about a black market for Viagra is like talking about a black market for aspirin.” According to his book, Villagers drink hard, smoke pot, and, of course, have lots of sex. While some residents go to activities like poetry club, some of them stay out late drinking and partying. “Granddads like blowjobs too,” Andrew told me.
Dave Cummings, a 73-year-old porn star and an enthusiastic swinger, is one such BJ-lovin’ senior. Like most adult-film performers, however, he’s meticulous about his personal hygiene and safe sex. “I get a lot of emails from these older guys who say, ‘The only way I could get a blowjob would be if you would fuck my wife. So would you please do it for me?’” he told me over the phone from his home in San Diego. “So I say, ‘Yeah, send me some recent pictures, and it’s gotta be condoms only!’”
Dave has noticed “considerable unprotected sex” in the group of older people he swings with, although that's a circle of friends who know and trust each other. But Dave never parties without protection. “I’m going to a swinger party tomorrow," he said. "And it’s a bunch of people who know each other. But they all know that if you want to play with Dave, he’s going to use a condom. A lot of husbands come up to me at these parties and say, ‘Hey, Dave, Dave, do my wife for me, will ya?’ Because I’m the host of this series called Screw My Wife, Please. A lot of people want to see their wife get screwed by a pornstar. But nope, sorry! No condom, no deal.”
Dave believes adult sex education is the answer to the wave of STIs sweeping through retirement communities and other places where DTF seniors congregate. “They probably should get people like Nina Hartley, myself, and Ron Jeremy, and just have us going around and giving maybe two different lectures of an hour each,” Dave mused. “I think besides educating the elderly, we could also help them learn about better sex. I can give them lots of little tips. Like, take 50 milligrams of zinc if you want to have a more voluminous, thicker, whiter ejaculate. And do not have any asparagus the night before you’re going to try to seduce the head of the nursing home.” He also believes retirement communities and nursing homes should distribute free condoms the way some college campuses and bars do.
Jane Fleischman has been teaching sex-ed classes to aging adults for years, and her students often surprise her with how little they know about safe and healthy sex, but also with their openness and willingness to learn. She still has deep concerns about the dearth of sex education across generations though. “If we think our young people have had very little sex education, these older people have had almost none,” she said.
Maybe that’s where someone like Dave can come in, pun intended. “Let’s say somebody in one of these nursing homes has got two women in his room and he’s got a condom on and he’s fucking one of them and he pulls his cock out of her and he puts it in another woman,” he said. “No, no, no, no! You’ve got to change condoms! And if you’re doing anal and you pull out, don’t put it in her vagina! You’re just going to help spread her own bacteria to her.”
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