Sex and the centenarian


At 100 years of age, Shirley Zussman is still dispensing advice to her sex therapy clients. Some of her patients, she says, are only a quarter her age.

The venerable doctor was born in Berlin a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but has lived most of her long life in New York. After working on her dissertation with famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, she became a sexologist under the tutelage of William Masters and Virginia Johnson (the inspiration for the Showtime TV series “Masters of Sex”).

Over her 50+ years of practicing in Manhattan,  her perspective has come to encompass the radically changing sexual mores of the 20th century: in addition to taking part in  the growth of sexology as a discipline, Zussman witnessed the legalization of the Pill in the freewheeling ‘60s, Roe v. Wade in the ’70s, the AIDS epidemic of the ‘80s and the rise of Internet pornography ever since. She co-authored a book called “Getting Together: A Guide to Sexual Enrichment for Couples” with her late husband Leon in the ‘70s, but the irrepressible Zussman hasn’t sat out the age of the Internet: she currently writes a blog called “What’s Age Got to Do With It?”

But let’s let her speak for herself—the doctor is in (and online) in this interview with Time’s Charlotte Alter.

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