Dan Savage Takes Editorial Reins at The Stranger

"Who wouldn't want him?" publisher asks.

Dan Savage, best known for his sex-advice column, Savage Love, and hero of many high-profile escapades, became editor of The Stranger April 4. His lofty goal is for the weekly “not to suck.”

The 31-year-old Savage has been with the Seattle alternative weekly as associate editor since its founding in 1991. He replaces outgoing editor Jennifer Vogel, who left in April to write a book for Scribner’s about her “charmed and tragically fucked up” father.

Savage, a native of Chicago, made headlines during the 2000 presidential campaign when he covered the Iowa Caucuses for online magazine Salon. Openly gay, Savage went undercover to work for the campaign of religious-right Republican candidate Gary Bauer. When he wrote that he licked doorknobs and drooled on office supplies to give noted homophobe Bauer influenza, quite a brouhaha erupted.

Savage went on to cast a vote in the Caucuses despite his status as a Washington state resident. He was caught, eventually pleaded guilty to charges of voter fraud in November 2000 and was sentenced to a year’s probation, 50 hours of community service, and a $750 fine.

Stranger Publisher Tim Keck says the recent scandal makes Savage more attractive for the paper’s top editorial job.

“Dan Savage has remarkable instincts. He’s a wonderful writer and so far has proved to be a great editor. I’ve worked with him for 10 years, and he’s a blast. And because of the terms of his parole, he’s not a flight risk,” Keck says

Savage refuses to discuss specific plans for the paper, joking that he only wants The Stranger “not to suck, which should be everyone’s vision for papers in AAN.” He will continue writing Savage Love in addition to his new responsibilities.

Publisher Keck is a little more voluble on what he expects with Savage at The Stranger’s helm. He calls his new editor “a one-man slaughterhouse” and says Savage will make the paper’s news section “more surprising.” With a nod to direct competitor, AAN-member Seattle Weekly, Keck says, “We need an editor who doesn’t feel constricted, who fools with the medium. There are not many people out there, who in a competitive situation, wouldn’t want Dan Savage in charge of your editorial.”

Besides his syndicated column, which appears in 50 papers worldwide, Savage has had a prolific freelance career, writing for The New York Times Magazine appearing on the public-radio program This American Life and authoring two books: a collection of his columns and last year’s The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story.

Eileen Murphy is a staff writer for the Baltimore City Paper.

Leave a Reply