Viagra Falls

Article excerpt

I'M NO MARGARET MEAD (ALTHOUGH ONE HALLOWEEN I CUT IN some blunt bangs, slipped on a sarong and some sensible shoes, and carried a big walking stick), but I would have to say that straight people are in the middle of a bigger end-of-the-century sex panic than gay people could ever dream of having. On a scale of 1 to Jeff Stryker, it's big.

Who pushed the actual panic button is debatable. Ken Starr--always in that driveway, always with that Big Gulp-size Styrofoam cup of coffee, relentlessly playing "Six Degrees of Monica Lewinsky"--gave rise to President Clinton's Unwilling National Dialogue on Sex. Every press conference is turned into a town meeting on sex, no matter what visiting head of state is standing next to the First Babe Magnet. "Are you an insatiable sex addict?" "Do you consider oral sex, sex?" (I am so glad he's not into anal sex.) Even the grande dame of press conferences, Helen Thomas, shouts out, "Mr. President! Show me the monty!" One suspects there is someone behind the podium and that's why he talks so long.

With banks merging with banks merging with insurance companies merging with entertainment conglomerates merging with phone companies merging with networks merging with arms makers and with nations merging into one European Union, we are--wink, wink, nod, nod--told that bigger is better. Better for whom? Certainly not for poor people, who are actually described as the "unbanked." Not better for me. I dialed a wrong number the other day and bought a small prison by mistake.

Into this straight sex panic comes the panacea, the so-called magic bullet, Pfizer's Riser, the Mo' Bigger Blues, Viagra. What was originally tested as angina treatment to help blood flow to the heart proved unsuccessful in opening the coronary arteries but very successful in keeping a penis erect. This side effect was discovered when test subjects were reluctant to turn in their leftover pills. The drug's name, suggesting vigor and a trip to Niagara Falls, had been kicking around the company for years. So had Sunny Boner, but Viagra seemed a better fit.

Fueled by stories from Rogained newscasters smirking over their noticeably rising anchor desks, an average of 10,000 prescriptions were written per day in the first month of availability. …