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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Timothy Perper, 74, Writer/Researcher obituary

Timothy Perper, 74, Writer/Researcher

Timothy Perper, 74, writer and independent researcher on courtship as
well as advocate for Japanese manga and anime, died of cardiac arrest
on Tuesday, January 21st, at his Bella Vista home.

As a biology professor at Rutgers New Brunswick in the 1970s, Perper
became fascinated by how couples first meet and then decide whether or
not they are attracted to each other. He obtained a grant from the
Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation to study conversations and pick-ups
in singles bars. His book, Sex Signals: The Biology of Love (1985),
was described in the New York Times as "lively and provocative" and by
CHOICE magazine as "highly readable and well-researched." He
identified a body language sequence typical of courtship:
approach-talk-turn-touch-synchronization. This research attracted the
attention of the media, and he was interviewed by Dr. Ruth Westheimer,
Regis Philbin, and the Playboy Channel, among others. "We human
beings," Perper wrote in Forum magazine in 1987 "do not fall in love
by telepathy: we have to move into proximity with each other." Yet, as
he told L.A. Life in 1995, "it is behavior, vivacity that attracts
people, not looks, beauty, not elegance of dress."

Later, upon learning that Japanese manga comics depict courtship and
sexuality differently than did most American comics at the time,
Perper began to study and write about manga and anime in Mangatopia
(2011), Graphic Novels Beyond the Basics (2009), and in essays and
reviews online and in journals and anthologies. "Anime and manga
represent living evidence of what nonwestern, erotophilic, and
female-positive sexuality can look like," he wrote in the newsletter
Contemporary Sexuality (2005). "Manga and anime provide ways to
connect with young people and initiate conversations about sexuality."
He served as book review editor for The Journal of Sex Research, The
Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, and Mechademia: An Annual Forum
for Anime, Manga, and the Fan Arts.

Perper also wrote quirky fiction, some published in Analog and in
Oziana, the literary annual of the International Wizard of Oz Club. He
delighted in creating cunning, oddball comebacks to spam emails and
devising humorous wordplay. In recent years, his special love was
creating the adventure/comedy webcomic The Adventures of Princess
Adele of Utopia ( in collaboration with Martha
Cornog, his wife of nearly 30 years, and artist Jamar Nicholas. He
enjoyed visiting South Street-area bars, where he was sometimes known
as "Uncle Tim" and "Dr. Pepper."

Even while at Rutgers, Perper treated his students to unusual
experiences. "He told me about his 'cockroach lecture' to dramatize
evolution,' said his wife. "He would start by drawing a long parade of
roaches across the blackboard, and then erase many of them--those were
the ones that died young, before they could reproduce. Only the ones
that lived long enough to mate could pass along their genes. And they
sure did--roaches are extremely hardy insects and go back to over 100
million years ago."

Growing up in Greenwich Village, Perper obtained his undergraduate
degree in biology and genetics from CCNY (1961) and a doctorate from
CUNY (1969). He worked briefly in the pharmaceutical industry
(1969-1972) before joining the faculty at Rutgers (1972-1979). Upon
obtaining the Guggenheim grant (1980), he turned to independent
research and worked from home with his wife, a librarian and writer
and sometimes his collaborator. He never tired of watching people
flirt in singles bars. "If the magic is less mysterious than we
thought," he told Forum magazine in 1987 when describing his findings,
"it is no less entrancing."

He is survived by his wife and a nephew, photographer Robert Daniel
Ullmann, who together with Perper's friends and drinking companions
will hold a memorial gathering to honor him on March 14th, 5:00 p.m.,
at the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Contributions in his
memory may be made to the Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia
( and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Written by / Family contact:
Martha Cornog (wife),

1 comment:

Russell J Stambaugh, PhD, DST, CSSP said...

Dr Perper was a great contributor to professional discourse on human sexuality on the listserv of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. He will be greatly missed.