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Editor's note: Advice Columnist Wanted: Riverfront Times seeks an author to pen"Ask a Cougar!" Follow this link for details.
She summarized her m.o. within the first five minutes of our telephone conversation: "If I can smell you," she said, "I'm gonna wanna do you."
Six days later she has a Busch in hand when we arrive at Venice Café, her watering hole of choice in Benton Park. Her given name is Debra Reed, but she goes by "Ginger" after Memorial Day and "Scarlett" come winter.
"First of all," she says, pulling some notes from her Kate Spade purse, "the sex is great — uninhibited. They've got stamina — without drugs — and they're always telling you how limber you are. I had one guy recently, we were making out, and he stops and says, 'Where did you learn to kiss like that?' I'm like: Dude, I've been kissing since before you were born!
"Sweaty, mmm-hmm," Reed goes on. "Sweaty. Uninhibited. Sex.
"Next: I'm not averse to using 'em and losing 'em. I don't think there's a double standard any more. I mean, older men have always gone after younger chicks and nobody bats an eye. The majority of mankind does it — and they're usually married and using the young girls on the side.
"I really have nothing wrong with being the alpha chick and treating the young guys like prey."
Quite the opener, if Unreal dares say.
But let's back up a minute, shall we? This is a sociological, not a sexual, mission.
On safari for two weeks now, we've been prowling clubs and cyberspace for a certain breed of woman: self-confident, aggressive and independent, whose natural habitat contains a firm mattress and an economy-size box of condoms. A "cougar," in popular parlance, she bags younger quarry with willful abandon.
We found Reed on backpage.com. "Likes to camp, float and sit by the river with a big-ass bonfire roaring, loves swaying [her] small hips to classic rock 'n roll," her ad read. Innocent enough.
It called for a guy age 30-45. Reed is divorced, childless and 53.
Though she didn't label herself a cougar, Reed identifies completely with the term and was thrilled to regale Unreal with some of the most intimate details of her exploits in the wild. It was 150 minutes of storytelling that would make our mother (who's 55) clap her hand to her chest and faint dead away. Oh, and all the while, Reed informed us, she was going commando. ("I think I might have two pairs of underwear," she confides.)
A strawberry blonde with wispy bangs, a Barbie-doll wave and plastic-framed, fuck-me librarian glasses, Reed boasts hourglass hips, toned, freckled calves and 38D breasts. No pinup, per se, but certainly no slouch. She says her last tryst lasted more than six hours; she never even slept before heading for work at Saint Louis Bread Co. the following morning.
The date started at a gay bar in Soulard — something different. The exotic factor, Reed says, upped the titillation factor. "We went home and had sex all night long. We went from different pieces of furniture — couch, bed, shower — with cigarette breaks and cocktails. We threw some porn into the mix — young guys dig that. And toys, lots of toys, and that just keeps it going."
Reed tells Unreal she has pursued young studs exclusively for five years now. The last one, age 32, hung around for seven months. "He was a punkass mama's boy who lived at home with his mother and sister but came to my house every weekend, including Christmas," says Reed. "His mother was 52. I met her. She used to drop him off at my house when she couldn't stand his shit any more.
"But I didn't take care of him," Reed emphasizes. "It was sex. 'Tommy Tiger,' I called him. He was just a maniac in the sack."
The breakup was ugly, though not in the emotional sense. Tommy stole something from her and lied about it, Reed says. She retaliated by calling his girlfriend and announcing, "Your boyfriend's been fucking me for months."
Hang on, Unreal interjects. Girlfriend?
"Pshaw," replies Reed. Later, she clarifies: "I don't do married, but girlfriends are OK. They're a dime a dozen."
When it comes to the courtship phase, Reed is pretty old-fashioned. She doesn't send photos via the Internet, preferring the anticipation of a blind date. PDAs (public displays of affection) are a no-no, excepting a subtle brush of her hair or hand. Don't even think about ingratiating yourself with "honey" or "babe" before your first meeting.
She likes a cologne-wearing guy with clean fingernails. Manscaping is optional. ("There was a point I said I'd never do a guy with hair on his back, and then I did, and it was awesome, and I thought: What was I thinking?")
But once in the bedroom, Reed's animal instincts take over. "My philosophy when it comes to oral [sex] is, 'You do me, I'll do you.'" Cosmo has provided some great tips and techniques over the years, Reed says, likening herself to Linda Lovelace in Deep Throat, the 1972 porn classic. "I don't insist on [protection]," Reed adds. "I inspect. I look around. I squeeze."