A round-heeled woman

Sexy at 70: who says you have to be young to have a fulfilling sex life?

Before I turn 67 – next March – I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.

This is the personal ad that former English teacher Jane Juska placed in the New York Times Book Review back in fall of 1999. And now, at 74, she’s had enough romantic adventures to fill two books: A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance and more recently, Unaccompanied Women: Late-Life Adventures in Love, Sex and Real Estate. (For those not in the know, a ‘round-heeled woman’ is an old-time slang expression for a woman who is promiscuous.)

Judging by the popularity of her books, Juska – who has been divorced for over 30 years and is a single parent – has apparently struck a resonant chord among women and men seeking romantic and sexual fulfillment into their 60s and beyond. A blossoming literary career has her jetting all over North America and Europe for appearances and book-signings. She recently appeared at Toronto’s ideaCity, an annual event that features an eclectic mix of artists, adventurers, authors, cosmologists, doctors, designers, entertainers, filmmakers, inventors, magicians, musicians, scientists and technologists.

50Plus.com had the opportunity to ask Juska a few questions about her bold exploration for Eros.

Q. In “A Round-Heeled Woman” you say that you were moved to action by Eric Rohmer’s film “Autumn Tale” whose plot involves a woman placing a personal ad in a newspaper on behalf of her middle-age friend. Have you always been this confident – and this courageous?

A: As a teacher, I was confident and sometimes courageous, but as a woman seeking sex I was neither. It took psychoanalysis to get me going.

Q. Once you started receiving responses to the personal ad, how could you be sure people were who they really said they were? Did you put into place any screening/personal security arrangements both before and after deciding to meet with a man?

A: With each person I decided to meet there was a period of emailing, letter-writing, talking on the telephone. When I first went to NYC to actually meet some of the men, I informed my niece who lived in Midtown of my plans; after she got up off the floor, she said I could consider her apartment a Safe Place.

Q. Did you ever consider registering for any of the online dating sites, which are increasingly popular not only among young people but more mature adults?

A. I looked at match.com a few times, but decided no: one has to send a photograph which I thought would ruin any chance I might have.

Q. Of the responses you received from the personal ads, were any truly surprising? Which ones did you accept – and which ones did you reject?

A. All the responses were surprising since I had not expected more than two. The one from “Ron” age 36 included a photograph of him stark-naked save for a pair of sunglasses. I rejected him, also letters from men who were married (too complicated there) and from men who were terrible writers.