Playboy: Actually, let's talk about anal sex.
Pinsky: Well, anal sex isn't really on the radar screen if you're 40 or over, but younger guys have a preoccupation with it. They really want it. I've noticed this going strong for about eight years. At first I thought maybe it meant there was a lot of misogynistic anger about the feminism of the past 20 years, and anal sex was some sort of backlash. But then I realized it's probably the result of pornography. It hasn't been established in science, but my relationship with Playboy bears this out. Men in early and mid-adolescence have a period of plasticity or receptivity start equating sexual images with desire. And what arouses males around the ages of 13 to 15 becomes fixed, becomes musthave. For me, I found it all in Playboy, and that became my must-have.
Now a lot of guys discover pornography online, which is much different, and anal sex is always on the menu in pornography. One strange side effect is that anal sex has become a surrogate for maintaining virginity. Young women will call and say, "Well, I'm still a virgin, but me and my boyfriend were doing anal sex, so I'm still a virgin by doing anal sex," which to me is, like, What? Virginity has become some sort of technicality. As a result, the baseball diamond has been revised. Oral sex is now second base, which astonishes me. Oral sex was once something in the dugout after you got to home plate -- it was sort of perverse, extreme. Now it's the same as making out, thanks in no small part to the whole Bill Clinton thing. But what's lost is the notion that virginity once implied chastity. Anal sex is not chastity! We do a lot of coaching on Loveline to say "Hey, it's not necessary to do anal just because you saw it in a video or heard Howard Stern talking about it."
Playboy: Not to be obtuse, but what's so wrong with anal sex?
Pinsky: It's very simple: That part of the body wasn't made for doing that, and I dread to see what will happen to these women down the line. Once women hit their seventh and eighth decades of life, a lot of anal pathology kicks in without having anal sex. So I mean, it won't be pretty. You get fistulas, abscesses and, later, prolapses. One night on Loveline we talked to a nurse who was a surgical prosthetics salesperson, and she said her company's biggest growth area was anal prosthetics and sphincter replacements, which are little rubber --
Playboy: Oh God, say no more! Um, let's see -- what has been your craziest call in 25 years?
Pinsky: There have been a lot of them, but one that really stands out was a guy who called and said, "I can't understand why chicks always freak out when they find out what I was in jail for." And we go, "Found out that you were in jail?" "No, no, what I was in jail for." "Well, did you murder somebody?" "No." "What happened?" "I stole a head." "Huh?" This guy had broken into a cemetery, pried the marble front off a mausoleum, twisted some old lady's head off, freaked out his little brother with it and then boiled the skull and put it in his snake's aquarium because it needed some decoration. That was horrible.
Playboy: Wasn't there also a hostage situation?
Pinsky: Ah, yes, Fletcher Dragge from the band Pennywise. It started off with his vomiting on me and ended with his threatening to blow us all to pieces with a hand grenade. He got drunk during the show and put his finger down his throat to throw up. He must have weighed 320 pounds, and he was stomping around the studio like Frankenstein's monster. He started throwing up across the sound board. Everybody cleared out of the room except me. I climbed on a cabinet so I could get eyeball to eyeball with him, and I remember punching him in the face. It was like a cartoon. I punched him as hard as I could, and he didn't flinch or move.
That was his first visit. Then he came back. He was going to make peace, but he got wasted again. He went totally insane and began talking gibberish. He kicked everybody out of the room and locked me and Adam in there with him. His own security guy came in. He was huge, and Fletch beat him to a pulp. Then he put his massive foot against the door and said, "That's it. You guys are mine. I've got a grenade." A SWAT team filled the control room, with guns drawn, and they got him out of there after about an hour. He didn't have a grenade, but it was not my favorite experience on the show.
Playboy: Is that what made you start working out? Your arms are huge.
Pinsky: I used to work out a lot as a kid. At one time I was nutty about it. Now it's mostly a stress reliever. I have a gym in my garage, and I try to get in there three days a week. My life is like a jigsaw puzzle or spinning plates, so it's essential to have that outlet.
Playboy: What's your take on steroids? We use all sorts of technology to become better, stronger and faster. What's wrong with a little artificial help?
Pinsky: I've thought about that a lot, actually. I knew all about steroids before anybody because I was in that world of bodybuilders and gyms when I was 20. These gym rats would confide in me because I was in medical school. They told me what they were doing, and then they would deny it to everybody else. I watched some guys go from 17-year-old nothings to Mr. America with endorsements. For them, it was as if you could go from being a novice pianist to Mozart in two years just by taking a pill. How could they not be tempted by that? Of course, I see them now and they're dying from the stuff. There's depression, mania, rage and physical consequences that will cut their life short by 10 to 20 years. It's their choice. I'm not sure what to think about the ethics of it all, but I must admit it's kind of exciting to watch these guys in baseball hitting the ball out of the park. And I don't think Congress should spend billions of tax dollars to investigate it. It's a player's prerogative.
Playboy: It's a scary world out there. What's it like with your triplets being 15? That's the age when all the sex, drinking and drugs kick in, right?
Pinsky: I'm less freaked out about the sex than about drugs and alcohol. From hearing me talk, they know condoms are essential. They know about the perils of STDs and the complications of relationships. But drugs worry me. I don't think kids ever tell you if they're using drugs and alcohol, but I put it on record that if there's even a hint of something, I will bring the whole thing down. I'll have their asses hauled in by the police.
Playboy: So you're not one of those parents who say "You can drink as long as it's under my roof"?
Pinsky: To me that's the worst kind of parenting. Drink here but not there? Please! It becomes "You can drink everywhere," because that's how the adolescent brain works. Kids need very clear boundaries. My thing is, if you do something illegal, you're going to jail and I'm not bailing you out. And they know I've got perfect radar, too. The other thing is, don't ever say "Not my kid." Not my kid are some of the most dangerous words a parent can say.
Playboy: What's your history of drug use?
Pinsky: Mine personally? Because my kids may read this, I'm going to follow the advice I give to parents, which is that talking to your kids about what you did or did not do as an adolescent is the equivalent of issuing them a license to pick up where you left off. I guarantee you. I've been through this thousands of times. When parents tell their kids, "Well, I experimented with pot when I was 15, but that was all," the kids will think, Of course I'm going to experiment with pot. They did it; why shouldn't I? It would be hypocritical.
Playboy: So what do you say to kids?
Pinsky: You say "We don't talk about it."
Playboy: Come on! Tell kids that and they immediately think it means you did it!
Pinsky: When the child hears that, it has an entirely different impact on his behavior than my saying "Let me tell you about my experience." If you did or didn't do drugs, it's not up for discussion. Don't lie to your kids -- never do that -- but you aren't obliged to tell them everything.
Playboy: Won't kids rebel against hardass parenting?
Pinsky: I can't control what my children do in college. But while they're living with me, forget it. The younger these patterns start, the harder they are to break. If I were Britney Spears's parent, I would find out what she's doing, pack her into a car, send her off loaded with all her drugs and call the police. That's the way her life is going to be saved. But you haven't asked me yet what I would do after I brought the hammer down.
Playboy: Good question.
Pinsky: I would get them treatment, which, by the way, is exactly what the government doesn't do for addicts. The government just gives them more jail and more punishment. Once I brought the force of God to bear, that would be the end of that, and we would go therapeutic from then on. If the government took a therapeutic posture, we would see the beginning of the end of the addiction pandemic. There's always money for another jail cell, but there's no money for treatment, and that's horrible. That's pathetic. That's really why 60 percent of people in jail are there for drug-related offenses. It's ridiculous. They're not bad people. They're drug addicts, and they can be treated. There is treatment for them, and we should be throwing resources at them as much as possible, but people don't want to believe it's possible to make them better. It's hard to get them better. They don't get better until they have to, I'll give you that. But they will get better.
Playboy: Incidentally, with two daily radio shows, multiple medical practices, speaking engagements, television appearances and three hyperaware adolescents, how do you and your wife find time to bump uglies?
Pinsky: We manage to do that. Trust me, we do. Thank God. Probably a little less than I'd like to and a little more than she'd like to, such as it is. But we go to dinner every Friday and Saturday night. I'm very happily married, to my surprise. I didn't expect marriage to be so hot. I was one of those guys who thought you live your life, you marry and you die. We started dating when we were 24, which means I've been with her longer than without her. It was crazy with her at the beginning when it felt like something from the eons was pulling on my genes. It was weird. That's still there. That does not go away. Usually that kind of attraction comes from a very pathological place and puts you in dysfunctional relationship after dysfunctional relationship, but with us it seems to work.
Playboy: Do you ever enjoy a glass of wine?
Pinsky: Sure. I have two glasses of wine a week, and I don't seem to have a problem with it. I'm not a guy who goes out and splits a bottle of wine with my wife, because I don't like to drink and drive. Our rule is we have one glass and split the second glass, and that's fine. Lately I feel weird drinking in public. I certainly won't do it around patients or in a professional context since I know it makes people uncomfortable. But it doesn't feel like a temptation. People assume I'm super straight-edge and somehow out to bum everyone's high. That's not my intention.
Playboy: So what is your pathology? How would Dr. Drew diagnose Dr. Drew?
Pinsky: I'd say there was probably an overly enmeshed, gratifying infancy followed by too rapid a rupture from that, as well as some lingering narcissistic co-dependency.
Pinsky: That's psychobabble for not making a smooth transition from the idealized narcissistic union with your parents into autonomy and independence. That transition didn't go smoothly for me. I pushed my parents away. Now my pathology is I experience myself almost totally through other people. Someone asks me to do something, and I do it -- at the expense of the rest of my life, even if it means time away from my family. But after years of working on myself in therapy I've been able to hone that into something I can turn on and off. I think I'm pretty healthy, but it took years and years of work to get there.
Playboy: What's gayer, your lifelong love of opera or Adam Carolla doing Dancing With the Stars?
Pinsky: [Laughs] They are exactly equivalent. Adam finally caught up to my estrogen level. He gave me 10 years of shit for opera, but now he's in the club.
Playboy: After a career spent focusing on dysfunction, disease and dubious sexual behavior, are you still optimistic about humanity?
Pinsky: I am incredibly optimistic. I'm awed by the sensitivity and awareness of young people. These are tough times, no doubt, and things may get worse. Let's put it this way: When Rome finally did go down, I don't think they were talking about it going down. But it seems there's enough dynamism, healthiness and thoughtfulness to turn this around. Young people are finally getting that the unrestrained behaviors of the past 40 years weren't some cool part of the counterculture. They were actual pathologies. So now when someone at the age of 16 says "I'm just a sexual person," kids are starting to realize that's code for "I was sexually abused." Or "Hey, it's funny to do pot on weekends" or to laugh at wacky drunk celebrities -- no, this is serious shit, and people are getting that now. The more we're aware of all this, the healthier we'll be as a society.