Sundance Review: Ask Dr. Ruth

Imagine your grandmother sitting down and telling you how to pleasure a woman orally. Yeah, I don’t really want lunch anymore either.

I can recall Dr. Ruth as a kid. She was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and once she was on Late Night with Conan O’Brien (the latter she talked about putting onion rings on a penis – it was weird). I just had figured she was a late-night sideshow – like the guy that brought animals in to crawl around on Johnny Carson’s head while he made on “Oh gee!” face to canned laughter. It was just this old woman that talked about sex more than anyone I knew did. Perhaps not more than my buddies on the playground, but what did we know? This lady knew things. Gross.

What I wouldn’t know about Dr. Ruth Westheimer was that she is a survivor of the Holocaust, witnessing her parents’ death. After escaping and globetrotting (to put it very lightly) she became a radio host in the 80s, be a champion of reproductive rights, and eventually national platforms such as the late-night TV I previously mentioned.

At 90, there are two things I took away from the “Ask Dr. Ruth” that make her a truly inspiring subject. One, her energy. She seems to always have an appointment somewhere and rarely seems to say no to any opportunity. The Second is her disposition. I get upset when Wendy’s puts cheese on my burger. I don’t know any people who live lives without reliance on cynicism, so it is quite amazing that when I do meet someone of that ilk that they are often the most hard-working, cheery, and also people who have had harsh lives of grief. I don’t know any that are sex therapists and cultural icons, though. Maybe it’s just her accent. I doubt it, though.


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