- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Forget superstition, folklore and herbal potions. The sex-power dynamic is the ultimate turn-on, according to Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the country's best-known psychosexual therapist.A small crowd of longtime friends and well-wishers gathered downtown at Teatro Goldoni Friday night to greet her and line up for personally inscribed copies of her latest book, "Power: The Ultimate Aphrodisiac."

Though she may be in her late 70s, "Dr. Ruth" was the most energetic person in the room as she greeted friends and fans and talked about her latest discoveries.

"Everyone knows her, and everyone loves her" said hostess Ingrid Aielli, who co-owns the restaurant with her chef-husband, Fabrizio. "She tells you what is good to do in the bedroom and what isn't."

While guests eagerly scooped up copies of the therapist's latest tome, few 'fessed up to having "bedroom questions" for the diminutive author.

"I've known Dr. Ruth for several years, but we've never talked about sex," said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. "We always talk about Israel."

That was fine, because Washington power brokers in need of advice can pick up plenty of tips just by reading the book.

Its title comes from a famed Henry Kissinger quote (which, in turn, paraphrases Napoleon). Asked how an overweight, middle-aged man with a monotonic German accent could attract so many actresses, models and other young lovelies, the former secretary of state quipped that "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

Asked how Bill Clinton fit into all of this, the guest of honor begged off, pointing out that she never offers opinions on Mr. Clinton, Rep. Gary Condit or any other politician in the news. "I am not an investigative journalist," she said. "I want to use history to talk about the phenomenon of women who use sex for power."

After pondering how accepting some countries, such as France, can be of politicians' sexual indiscretions, she said, she decided to take a look at the storied connections between power and sex throughout the ages. Turns out, the two have been interconnected pretty much as long as government has been around.

Look at Antony and Cleopatra, whose doomed romance was chronicled by Shakespeare; biblical figures including Samson and Delilah and David and Bathsheba; Juan and Eva Peron; Catherine the Great and her lovers; and such American figures as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln and John and Jacqueline Kennedy.

Throughout her book, she traces such historical relationships to make some modern points about polygamy, political sex scandals and "trophy wives."

The "rules" are notably different, of course, for those on the distaff side of the gender gap.

"If a man walks into a room with a younger woman, he's seen as successful, but if a younger looking man walks into a room with an older woman, he's seen as a gigolo or maybe even her son," she said.

Don't let all of the sex talk fool you as far as she personally is concerned.

"She's actually quite conservative in her personal beliefs," said her publisher, Jed Lyons of Madison Books. "Dr. Ruth is no wild-eyed libertine."

The guest of honor heartily agreed with that assessment.

"I am a square," she joked as the last copy from the last box went out the door in the hands of a well-known, much-divorced lawyer, "but I speak explicitly [about sex] because that's how I think it should be taught."

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