One of the weekend highlights of the Sydney Writers’ Festival was the sold-out talk by Christian Lander, author of the wildly-successful blog, Stuff White People Like, also published as a best-selling book.

Asked about his success, Lander said he was now an “Internet Celebrity, which is in fact the lowest form of celebrity.

“Even serial killers have more credibility.”

As for the perks of fame, Lander said he still couldn’t get into nightclubs — how could he hold up his Mac laptop to a bouncer and say “this is my blog”?

By 4pm yesterday we were lining up to listen to “Men Women and S-x; No-one outside a marriage really knows its secrets, the hidden yearnings, the love, lust and the betrayals”.

There, panellists Bettina Arndt, Lucienne Joy and Wendy Harmer took facilitator Maxine McKew “behind closed doors (to) explore the s-x lives of married couples.”

Bettina and Wendy are well-known; Lucienne works for Maxine and last year published a book called Ulterior Motives, about a woman marrying someone who turns out to be an S&M fiend. Despite the fact that my only S&M experience is leg-waxing, I thought it was a ripper read.

Maxine started by saying that she was taking time out from dredging her moat at taxpayers’ expense, and reminding everyone that this wasn’t one of Kevin’s community cabinet meetings.

Bettina told a story about Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, muttering “good luck Mr Gorsky” when he returned to the Apollo spacecraft. In 1995, she said, he revealed that as a child he had gone next door to retrieve a lost football and heard his neighbout, Mrs Gorsky, say that she would give Mr Gorsky oral s-x when “that child next door walks on the moon.”

“The world is full of Mrs Gorskys”, Bettina said. (Tragically, it’s an urban myth).

There were many jokes about male technique, she said, including, “What is the difference between a G spot and a golf ball? At least men will spend 20 minutes looking for a golf ball.”

Bettina, who has written a book called The S-x Diaries, also quoted from one of her diarists who had taken testosterone for low desire and had suddenly become interested in p-rnography. (No word, however, on whether her husband had preferred her without the beard.)

Wendy also quoted from her book, Nagging for Beginners:

  1. Before s-x, “I’ve still got the ironing to do, so keep it simple”
  2. During s-x “If you sold the boat, we would have more time to do this.”
  3. After s-x “That was nice and quick, now can you put on the light so we can look at the paint charts?”

There were very few young people in the audience but luckily one asked a question about female raunch culture. This enabled Wendy to tell the audience that she frequently had to ring up Foxtel to complain about the uncensored content of the ads at 6.30pm, when she was watching Malcolm in the Middle with her daughter.

Is there anything more annoying than baby boomers complaining about the debasement of our culture and calling for stricter standards? For a generation who broke every taboo to turn around and complain about the result, only because they have gone on to have little kiddies, is intensely irritating. Whether or not you agree with Bettina, at least she has been consistent.

At one point, Maxine said, “we are dangerously close to sounding like old farts.”

With that, we all had a cup of organic free-trade coffee, got into our Toyota Priuses and drove home. What is the stuff white people like the most? Writers’ festivals, of course.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey