Some people are too young to know that once upon a time words like “penis” and “vagina” were verboten on TV.
And those people will never know how both odd and awesome it was to hear those words fall out of the mouth of a tiny woman with a German accent wearing big spectacles.
Ruth Westheimer - TV’s famous “Dr. Ruth” - was unafraid to say anything about sex. She still is.
“Not only was I one of the first to talk about matters of sexuality, but the timing,” she told The New York Times last summer, a few days before her 90th birthday.
“When I started the radio program in 1981, not many people were talking about sexuality. Not many people were talking about AIDS or HIV. I said you have to use condoms and know with whom you go to bed.”
A new Hulu documentary exploring how the Holocaust survivor became America’s sex therapist debuts at the Sundance Film Festival, which begins Jan. 24. The trailer for the film, which will hit theaters later this year, was released on Wednesday.
To get you in the mood, here’s a quick look at some of Dr. Ruth’s more recent pearls of wisdom.
On “older” sex
The L.A. Times asked the author of “Dr. Ruth’s Sex After 50” - she has 51 books on Goodreads.com - about “key misconceptions about sex and aging.”
“Older people have to be sexually literate,” she said. “No sex in the evening when they’re tired. The best way for older people to engage in sex is after a good night’s sleep. There’s a whole body of knowledge that older people need to know, like how important it is to caress and be caressed.”
She talked about sexual fantasies with Men’s Health in November, noting that it’s best to “keep your mouth shut.”
“Don’t tell your partner you like big breasts if she does not have big breasts,” she said. “But use all of that in your fantasies. You can go to the beach, you can look at some of those bodies. You can put them in your mind and go home and have good sex with your partner.”
On reigniting your sex drive
A reader of her “Ask Dr. Ruth” column on Time.com last year asked how to boost her dwindling libido.
“Here’s one thing you can try on your own that might do the trick (assuming that you’ve seen a doctor and ruled out anything that requires treatment),” Dr. Ruth wrote.
“There’s a French saying, l’appetit vient en mangeant which describes the situation of not being hungry, but then sitting down to eat and finding that your appetite has kicked in.
“Well, it can work with regards to sex as well as food. Assuming you have a partner, the next time she or he initiates matters, go along with it. Don’t say to yourself, or to them, ‘I don’t really feel like it.”’
“And don’t say ‘OK’ but then just lie there like a log. Instead take part as fully as you would have before this change in desire occurred. In many instances you’ll find yourself getting excited and the sex will be very satisfying..”
On dating apps
“I’m all for any place, any way, any media that can help people connect with somebody and not be lonely. But people need to be clever about it,” she told The Times of Israel last summer.
“They should never, ever meet in a secluded place. Meet in a lobby of a hotel or a building, somewhere public.
“I think you should use any available media to make a connection. That holds true for heterosexuals and homosexuals, that holds true for anybody. But I’m old fashioned and a square. I’ll teach you about good sex and different positions but I don’t want you picking somebody up from the street. I want you to have a relationship.”
On royal sex
Last summer she talked about Prince Harry marrying American actress Meghan Markle.
“I’m sure they’re having a good sex life,” she told the New York Times. “She has had sex before, she found Prince Charming and captured him. They don’t need Dr. Ruth.”