Coral Gables

Coral Gables

Celebrated therapist ‘Dr. Ruth’ talks sex with Gables seniors

 

The 86-year-old will soon reach a new generation with a show on MTV.

jsalo@MiamiHerald.com

Celebrated sex therapist Ruth Westheimer, best known as Dr. Ruth, dispelled the myth that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks in front of an audience of senior citizens Friday.

Westheimer, who turned 86 Wednesday, talked frankly about maintaining a healthy sex life after 60 at The Palace, an independent adult rental community in Coral Gables.

While standing atop a stool before the podium, the petite radio and television sex therapist admitted that she had lost a quarter inch to her 4’7” frame, but the candor that has made her famous was as evident as ever.

No subject was off limits for the plainspoken Westheimer, who talked everything from online dating to goings-on between the sheets.

“At a certain age, a man can’t hang from the chandelier anymore,” she told the 200 guests.

But her advice for the challenges of diminishing sex drive and sexual function was straightforward.

“Use whatever is available,” she said.

For those who came believing they know all that there is to know at their age, the author of 39 sex-related books argued otherwise.

“I am still learning every single day,” she said.

Sexual discourse has evolved dramatically since its national media introduction in 1980 with Westheimer’s late-night radio show, Sexually Speaking, but she has not let these changes pass her by.

Westheimer, who has over 80,000 followers on Twitter, fielded questions from the packed audience about online dating and the rising rates of sexually transmitted diseases amongst senior citizens.

“It is remarkable that she has been able to adapt to all of these changes over the years,” said Fran Gross, 68, who attended.

A Columbia University professor, Westheimer shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

There is a new book she co-authored released this month titled Myths of Love: Echoes of Ancient Mythology in the Modern Romantic Imagination and a play about her life, Becoming Dr. Ruth, touring the country.

The play chronicles her fleeing Nazi Germany as a child, as well as immigrating to the United States in 1956.

“It was wonderful for me to see my life portrayed even though it was sad,” she said.

She revels in the irony that actress Debra Jo Rupp had to take speech lessons to play her, but that Westheimer was told to lose her accent to succeed professionally after immigrating. With an hourly wage of $1, she could not afford the lessons, and her voice remains as one of her most distinguishing characteristics.

On another professional front, Westheimer revealed plans to reach a new generation with an MTV talk show, which will premiere in the fall.

“This is a whole segment of society that will get to know me,” Westheimer said. “It makes me very happy.”

While the format of the half-hour show is still in development, Westheimer said she plans to work with comedians to dispense sex advice.

Her mantra remains the same for every endeavor, regardless of the medium or the decade.

“A lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained,” she said.

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