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We Read Dr. Anthony Fauci-Inspired Erotic Fiction So You Don’t Have To

In 1991, author Sally Quinn used the NIH head as inspiration in her erotic novel. We read the book, and, oh boy

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a 79-year-old infectious-disease expert, has become an unexpected sex symbol during the pandemic.


In this unprecedented time in global history, we’re all dealing with the stresses of the pandemic in different ways. Some of us are volunteering. Some of us are baking. Some of us are taking fistfuls of Klonopin and watching The Office in footy pajamas. And some of us are being filthily, unspeakably horny for Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Fauci has served as a plainspoken, sobering presence during Trump’s press briefings, providing a no-bullshit counterbalance to the extended Benny Hill sketch that has been the administration’s response to the coronavirus. And much like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he’s also been transformed into an unlikely sex symbol, with a petition to make him People‘s Sexiest Man Alive garnering tens of thousands of signatures.

But in truth, this is far from the first time Fauci has been subject to sky-high levels of thirst. Last week, novelist and Washington, D.C., socialite Sally Quinn revealed to the Washingtonian that Fauci had served as the inspiration for the male protagonist in her 1991 novel, Happy Endings, Dr. Michael Lanzer.I just found him riveting, and unbelievably attractive, and charismatic. I thought he was brilliant,” Quinn told CNN about meeting Fauci for the first time in the 1980s, while Fauci was best known for fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Quinn added that she thought Fauci was “really sexy.”

Unfortunately for Fauciheads, a term I just made up for hardcore Fauci stans (it’s a play on The Fountainhead — get with the program), Happy Endings is out of print and unavailable in any digital form, so most members of the general public won’t be able to read Quinn’s steamy depictions of the Good Doctor. As a public service, however, Rolling Stone procured a copy of the (absolutely bonkers) novel and compiled some of its best passages, in case you’re lacking for pandemic spank-bank material.

The protagonist, former First Lady Sadie Grey, whose husband has just been assassinated, first meets Dr. Lanzer while on a Caribbean vacation with friends. Lanzer is portrayed as the consummate do-gooder, serving as the head of the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, and the inventor of AZT, the drug that slows down the effects of HIV/AIDS. (Fauci did not invent AZT, but was instrumental in promoting use of the drug.) More to the point, Lanzer is a babe: Quinn describes him as having “remarkable blue eyes, a square jaw, and high cheekbones, lending him almost oriental or Indian features which belied his coloring.” It’s up to the reader to determine whether this erotically charged, weirdly racist description is accurate, suffice to say from the very start the thirst drips off the page.

Because Lanzer is married (as Fauci has been in real life since the mid-Eighties), he and Sadie must resign themselves to covert flirtations and a whole lot of stilted dialogue (“I like to make you laugh. I’d like to make you cry, too”) for most of their Bermudian vacation. The first time they touch, at a New Year’s Eve party, Lanzer is wearing a shirt with his sleeves rolled up, which “showed off the muscles of his wiry body and made his eyes look bluer.” Their first kiss is soundtracked by a song from Phantom of the Opera: “He slowly brought his mouth toward hers. They kissed so softly that for a moment she wasn’t even sure they were actually kissing.” Violating social distancing norms! The good doctor would never.

For pages and pages, Sadie secretly fantasizes about Dr. Lanzer, making up excuses to see him, such as having him give the current president an HIV test as a public-relations gambit. But because of Lanzer’s wife and his staunch religious beliefs (he is Orthodox Jewish, though Fauci himself is not), the two are kept apart until Lanzer gets dangerously sick and Sadie nurses him back to health. After a rigorous butt-cheek massage, he can’t take it any longer:

He pulled her to him and began to kiss her softly on the mouth, then more passionately. She thought she would faint. The energy had been drained out of her and she nearly went limp.

We are then treated to an extensive description of Dr. Fauci’s — sorry, Dr. Lanzer’s — lovemaking prowess:

How did he know to kiss her and lick her softly on her neck and shoulders until she wanted to scream? Most men weren’t that subtle. The pressure of his fingers on the rest of her body was perfect, gentle and eager at the same time. He knew exactly what to do with his tongue and his hands, and as he moved slowly down her body with his mouth until he rested between her legs, she could hear herself as if she were in another room letting out little whimpers and gasps of pleasure.

Then it’s time for Round Two.

She took him in her mouth this time … watching him experience ecstasy heightened her own pleasure almost more than she could bear.

Amid all this frantic lovemaking, there are glimmers of insight into Lanzer’s work and his character. He’s depicted as a totally selfless public servant who is utterly devoted to the cause of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic (which had, by 1991, killed hundreds of thousands of people all over the world). “Somehow what you’re doing about AIDS, what you’ve done, seems so much more important than what people in my world are doing,” the former first lady says during casual pillow talk. “You’re saving people’s lives.”

Lanzer is also portrayed as a figure who sees his role in public health as totally distinct from politics, affording little thought to his front-facing image. He complains of his role at the NIH being limited to public relations and not actual medicine, and at a pivotal point in the novel, when the president’s HIV test turns out to be positive (no, I am not making this up), he demurs when asked for his opinion on how to handle the situation. “I’m a doctor, not a politician,” he says, a stance that certainly seems to mirror Fauci’s own approach to his current role as fearless truth-teller, even when the truth is daunting or unpopular.

But that aspect of Fauci’s real-life persona takes a back seat to descriptions of how good he is at porking:

She bit at his lips, tantalizing him, biting, pulling away, biting, pulling away, until he couldn’t stand it and grabbed her hair,. holding her so he could cover her mouth with his. They moved together, loving each other, he taking the lead one moment, she the next, breathing in tandem, covered with sweat, devouring each other in the dimly lit room with their eyes, with their mouths, with their bodies.

Sexiest Man Alive, indeed.