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Media Tips

Interviewing on Alternative Sexuality

You don't have to answer the interviewer's exact question.

You rarely see the question in TV or print interviews, only the response. So feel free to pick out one word or phrase in the question and respond to that. For example, if they ask, "What do you think when people say you're eroticizing violence?" give one of your sound-bites: "Kinky sex is consensual because at any time the participants can stop what's happening."

Don't repeat nasty or inflammatory phrases.

See the above question - and don't repeat, "We don’t eroticize violence because..." or "Swinging is not cheating..." That makes their point for them.

Universalize the questions.

If the reporter says something like, "Do you really like to beat each other up..." or "You people who have sex with everyone..." then respond with, "We, like you and everyone else in America, believe we have the fundamental human right to have sex with other consenting adults."

Use standard terms rather than "scene" or Lifestyle language.

If you start saying "scene" and "munch" and "lifestyle" and "Alpha and Beta" "leather" and "vanilla" and "top/bottom" then reporters and your audience won't understand you. Use vanilla, ordinary terms as much as possible, or very rarely use terms and define them as you use them. ie "The top, that is the person giving the stimulation, must respect limits."

Keep repeating your sound bites.

It doesn't make for a stimulating conversation, but that's the way professionals get their point across. The reporter will ask their question several times, trying to get you to expand on what you're saying, to get a more sensational quote. Just be firm and keep repeating your point. They will respect you for it, and will print the sound bites you give them.

Don't utter a word you aren't prepared to see in print.

Reporters will try to make you comfortable with them, to chat with them informally. Those are usually the quotes they use. You aren't there to make friends or "sell" the reporter on alternative sexuality, you are there representing the community, group and yourself in the best light possible. Stay friendly, but reserved, and think before you speak. If you make a misstep, then stop and start all over again. Then the reporter will have to use the completed thought.

Don't do or say anything you feel uncomfortable with.

By the time you get into an interview, then the story will be printed or produced no matter what you do. You are completely free to say NO to anything you don't like. It is highly unlikely the reporter will just walk away and end the interview, even if they try to say you MUST do something or answer something. Some reporters talk about freedom of the press and accuse you of hiding information. I reply: "We believe that consent is the basis of any good relationship. You are becoming abusive by not respecting my limits."

Flag your most important sound bites.

This is done by saying, "The most important thing to remember is that the kink community educates adults about safe, sane and consensual sexual practices." Or "A key part of consensual non-monogamy is communication in order to understand each others’ limits and desires."

Don't do anything sexual on camera.

In the case of alt sex, a picture is NOT worth a thousand words. Don't let reporters take pictures of your polyamory family sitting on the bed. Don't do a BDSM scene in front of a camera. We need activists who will speak up for the alt sex communities and explain the serious issues such as discrimination and violence against our people. If the reporter is looking for images like these, it's likely you don't want to be involved.

Use the name of organizations.

Say you're a member of NCSF or the International Lifestyle Association. If you're representing a group or event, then mention the name several times. Explain that many groups are educational and social organizations that have been in existence for many years: "Over 1000 educational and social, nonprofit groups exist in America for kinksters."

Wear appropriate attire.

This means business or casual wear, such as an activist or group t-shirt. Don't wear revealing fetish wear or lingerie. A picture is NOT worth a thousand words. If we want to be taken seriously, we must present an image that the average person can relate to.

Be animated, confident and happy.

In TV interviews in particular, often the best thing is not what you say but how you say it. People will remember the image of your happy, confident expression much longer than the words you say. Even in a print interview, if you sound confident and knowledgeable and don't let the reporter push you into saying more than you wanted, you will be treated much more respectfully in the finished article.

If you need a moment, ask them to clarify.

If you don’t want to answer a question, then ask them what they mean. It may not be the details you were about to give.

Consider the media outlet.

For radio, especially morning radio, you can be much looser. With print media, you have to be very careful because they’ll only pull one or two quotes from what you say, so only say what.