April 17, 2015

How I Started Lusting After Silver Foxes

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’ve always had a thing for older men, ever since I lost my virginity to a 31-year-old when I was 17, but there’s a difference between older, but in what feels like a reasonable range, and much, much older. At least, there has been for me. Looking back on that dalliance from the summer after I graduated high school, that relationship seems more than a little creepy. It wasn’t the 14 years per se, but the vast span in life experiences. As an adult, I can appreciate that there’s an appeal to an older man who owns his sexiness, who’s as confident as he ever was, possibly more so. Think Roger Sterling on Mad Men (sans this season’s moustache).

Two years ago, I finally figured out in a deeply personal way what the appeal is in silver foxes. A silver fox, for the uninitiated, is defined at Urban Dictionary as “An attractive older man. Generally, one that has gray hair and is often desired by younger women.” For instance: Anderson Cooper (yes, I know he’s gay, but not only is that definition heterosexist, women can be attracted to gay men, obviously).


So in 2013, I was flying to New York from London after attending Eroticon UK, tucked into a window seat, fully prepared to mind my own business and zone out with a book or sleep my way back to the Big Apple. I was grateful for the empty seat between myself and the older gentleman in the aisle. For the most part, even though I’ve edited a book of mile high club erotica, I like my me time during air travel.

But my row-mate, after about an hour, wanted to chat. “Let’s trade books,” he suggested, and, not wanting to be rude, I agreed even though his tome was something like How to Play the Sitar. I handed him my novel, whose title I also can’t recall, but I do remember I was using a postcard for my women’s erotica anthology Fast Girls, with its topless cover model staring right at the viewer, as a bookmark. “What’s this?” he asked, and I went for honesty rather than expediency, and told him, “It’s my book. I edit erotica.”

What ensued was one of the most interesting conversations with a stranger I’ve ever had. He asked if I knew of any erotica about people his age; he was 74, precisely double my age at the time, 37. As it happened, I was reading a galley of Joan Price’s Ageless Erotica, by and about people over 50, on my laptop at the time. I told him about it, while he shared tidbits about his life, including that he had a girlfriend.

We weren’t flirting, but there was an erotic undercurrent to the conversation that shocked me. When I shifted so my skirt accidentally rode up to reveal my knee, he said something about my knee being cute. Neither of us said anything untoward or over-the-top, but the energy passing between us was enough to make me rethink my possible upper age limit when it came to who I might bed. I was in a relationship and not looking to hook up with him or anyone else, but during our casual chat, I sensed that, had we met each other at, say, a bar, and each been single, perhaps we might have wound up in bed together. (We didn’t, but I did take our literary exchange and turn it into the basis of an older woman/younger man story called “Book Swap” in Rose Caraway’s anthology The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica.)

Only one other time have I been attracted to someone whose age jarred me in a similar way. I met an older man at a party called Pleasure Salon, and wound up visiting him in London. When I found out he was a grandfather, that fact, more than his chronological age, gave me pause. What did it mean? I kept asking myself.

Well, now that I’ve had a few years to consider these various incidents, I’ve decided that it simply means I recognize that age, while not irrelevant, isn’t a deterrent to my attractions. I’m far more likely to be interested in someone 10 or even 20 years older than me than I am to lust after someone 10 or 20 years my junior.

It’s one thing to give lip service to the sex lives of our elders, and another to recognize that desire, lust and sexuality don’t simply slip away when we hit 60, 70, 80 or beyond. Those hours on the plane helped me appreciate the sex appeal of the silver fox, which I hope has in turn made me a better, and more empathetic, erotica writer. I look forward to incorporating some silver foxes, and foxy silver-haired ladies, into my erotic tales.

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  • Post authorBarbara Mikula

    When I was 25 I dated a man who was 55. He was tall, silver haired, sexy, handsome and rich. All good things. It went well for about 2 years, but then I started to become impatient hearing about how I should watch my salt. Does any 25 year old watch her salt? The age difference began to bother me, and we drifted apart. I didn’t want to be pushing the wheelchair 30 years from then. I have to say, though, that it was one of the best experiences of my life. – Skye Michaels

    Reply to Barbara Mikula
  • Post authorLiz Everly

    I ran into Anderson Cooper on the streets of NYC.Seriously, I walked right into him. I couldn’t remember his name. I was just so shocked by how beautiful he was. Two blocks later, I said to my niece (who witnessed the whole thing),”That was Anderson Cooper.” LOL. I’ve never really been attracted to an older man in my own every day life. But there are plenty of older men who are actors or models who I really like. I don’t think I’d let the age difference bother me. That is, if I were not happily married. Great post Rachel. Nice to have you on Lady Smut!

    Reply to Liz Everly
  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    Cooper is gorgeous. But I’ve usually gone for younger lovers. Huh. I have mostly silver hair now (when it’s not purple or pink).

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
  • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

    Reblogged this on C. Margery Kempe and commented:

    We’ve got the one and only Rachel Kramer Bussel over at Lady Smut today!

    Reply to C. Margery Kempe
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    While I can see the appeal of older men, on a base level they just don’t do it for me. The intellectual stimulation can be over the top, but not so much once the clothes come off.

    Welcome to Lady Smut, Rachel!

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorElizabeth Black

    I’ve always been into older men. My book “Don’t Call Me Baby” includes a relationship between a young woman and a man quite a bit older. When I was 21, I dated a man who was 58. It lasted two years. Most of my lovers were considerably older than me. We liked the same things, and as far as their bodies go, some older men are better fit than the younger ones. My first husband was six months younger, but my current husband is eight years older. I am NOT a cougar. LOL

    Reply to Elizabeth Black
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      My husband has a friend who was fifty when he got together with someone who was twenty–just a few years older than his son. They’re married now (friend and girlfriend) and have a baby and a dog and a house and they’re going on two years. Fingers crossed that it lasts. (But closing my eyes, cause I can’t watch.)

      Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorMorgan Rae

    Great article! Love your interaction with the older man on the plane. I think there’s definitely an interesting stigma around the issue of older man/younger woman, especially when it’s fetishized. No, not all younger women in relationships like that have “Daddy issues.” I agree with you; some people are simply good at falling in love without being deterred by age.

    Reply to Morgan Rae
  • Post authorAlexa Day

    So … I discovered that ESPN Classic reruns Battle of the Network Stars in prime time. Remember Battle of the Network Stars? It’s really, really old. Howard Cosell hosted it. That old.

    Anyway, Mark Harmon was on the other night, fresh from St. Elsewhere and years away from becoming the silver fox he is now. Mark was something of a ringer for his team — a genuine varsity athlete who dusted Parker Stevenson and Tony Danza in the obstacle course and remember how long ago this was.

    My point, though, is this:

    Mark Harmon, circa St. Elsewhere, was just pretty. Honestly, I don’t even think he was exceptionally pretty. But Mark Harmon is super hot these days. A lot of it comes from the best byproducts of age — confidence and wisdom — but a lot of it is just that hair. Heavens!

    Reply to Alexa Day
    • Post authorMadeline Iva

      PARKER STEVENSON. Wow. Okay, I’m back. Yeah –Mark Harmon, like Andrew McCarthy, brat packer extraordinare. He’s aged well too.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
  • Post authorJoan Price

    “It’s one thing to give lip service to the sex lives of our elders, and another to recognize that desire, lust and sexuality don’t simply slip away when we hit 60, 70, 80 or beyond.” Thank you — I love this, Rachel! Yes, we oldsters can be sexy, and I love that you not only notice that, but you put it in a bigger context. Thanks for mentioning Ageless Erotica, too. I look forward to reading your stories about Silver Foxes!

    Reply to Joan Price
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