I really have no one to blame but myself. When I wrote a heartfelt, touching, sometimes sad, sometimes funny, account of large-size people’s experiences with romance and relationships, and then agreed to do media to promote the book, well, obviously, I was signing on as the representative of all circus-fat-lady-whores.
And I had warned myself from the beginning right in the promotional materials; hell, I had it printed right on the back of the book: “If there are two subjects that are universally fascinating and rife with controversy, they are sex and fat. Though our culture is obsessed with both, the two commingling are sometimes seen as offensive, obscene, or even grotesque.” So, clearly, it’s my own damn fault.
I admit I was not as emotionally steeled as I should have been, given the nature of my mission. When one is the representative of all circus-fat-lady-whores, one must use all that fat to thicken the skin. But really, up until it actually happened, it was all theoretical.
So I went to New York City, and of course I came prepared with a psychological bodyguard, I’m no fool. I took my mommy.
The book, "Fat Sex: The Naked Truth," was, after all, her idea in the first place, so clearly I had with me the quintessence of sound judgment. Seriously though, my mom is a tough broad. I had two television shows booked for that Monday, the Today Show and one which shall remain nameless, hosted by a doctor deeply concerned with mental health and empathic support. No worries there, that is, until the night before when I got a phone call from a producer.
When you do TV, a producer will be in contact to discuss the show, do sort of a pre-interview, and make sure you speak the language. I had already done my Today Show vetting, and it was great. The producer was thoughtful, interested and compassionate. And just as an aside, so were the staff on the show. Kathie Lee was just about the nicest lady you’d want to meet, none of that frenetic energy in real life. She hugged me and was like a surrogate mother during the show -– so that story’s boring.
But the night before, I found out the grand plan for my other appearance was to go something like this: I would be on the segment with a co-star, a woman who had been making the talk show rounds for a while. Her first claim to fame was she was aiming to be the “fattest woman in the world.” She had her eye on the Guinness Book record and with the support of a loving partner she was working her way (or weigh) up to a thousand pounds.
Now I actually talk about “gainers” in my book, and it’s a very controversial topic. The gentleman I interviewed was surprisingly pragmatic, realizing that there might be risks to intentional massive weight gain, and that society might not wholeheartedly approve.
This woman, though I never did meet her, so I can only judge from what I saw in the media, which is a terribly unfair way to judge, had posed with a dozen plates of food, which presumably she ate every day, in one sitting. However, her media story had changed since then, and for this appearance, she was touting her new diet regime, having sex seven times a day.
She claimed to have lost 90 pounds, or something, by doing the deed all day, and all night. So you can see how we were a perfect tag team, I had written a book with fat and sex in the title, and was aiming to discuss the complexities of life as a person of size, including stigma and shame, and the road to self-acceptance and healthy interpersonal dynamics, including intimacy and love. She was boffing her way to a smaller pants size.
To be fair, I watched what became her solo segment and they had hyped up the sex fiend angle for the promos –- shocking, I know -- and while I don’t entirely understand her motivation for doing television, she was far less, let’s say, eccentric, than I had expected. After my pre-interview, I called my publicist in tears, with my mommy at my side, and within 10 seconds, he had canceled my appearance. As it turns out, not all press is good press, even to an LA publicist.
Next came radio.
There’s long form and short form radio. Long form is about 20 minutes to an hour, and it’s everything from serious to silly, but at least it’s a conversation. Short form is a few minutes, say two to six. This is either a television kind of sound bite segment, or my favorite, “morning zoo.”
By favorite, I mean it’s the format that works best for someone who wants to be mocked and humiliated. So I don’t exactly mean favorite, more like the one I most loathe. I don’t even love to hate it –- they call it a zoo for a reason. For one thing, I’m pretty certain the radio jocks are talking baboons, although I wouldn’t want to insult baboons. And then, like a zoo, sound effects are a significant part of the entertainment. So I did my first one, six minutes with a team of guys called Mo and The Rat Man, or something like that. They were hilarious! Here’s how the interview went:
Q: Do fat girls have to try harder in bed to get a second round?
A: Yeah, and if some douchebag is doing you because you are the only available snatch, any modern girl would work hard for seconds.
Q: What are some of the underground fetishes involving fat people?
A: Suffocation by giant fleshy ass, and of course feederism.
Q: We know a girl that’s a feedee, guys love to watch her eat two cheesecakes for breakfast.
A: Could you phrase that as a question? Thousands of times more people have sex with animals than are into feederism.
Q: Is it better to like to have sex with animals or be into feederism?
A: I like incorporating animals into my feederism. Dogs really like it when you have sex play with a turkey.
Q: Do you incorporate food into sex?
A: Depends what I’m eating, boys. I’m not into fish but I can always go for sausage.
OK, I’m lying, but only partially. Those were the real questions, and I did actually say that thing about more people having sex with animals. I don’t know why, I guess everyone has a breaking point. Though it’s true, it’s in my book.
And that was the good morning zoo interview.
Next I did a show with Mancow Muller. I have no problem sharing his name, it’s highly unlikely I will return to that program. He started out with: “How fat are you, how much to you really weigh?” This was not my first “how much do you weigh” rodeo. But while attempting to give my thoughtful, “It’s not about how much I weigh, but how I feel about myself. My book is about self esteem,” he turned off my mic and played cow sounds.
He turned off my mic with every question to instead “represent” what he presumably assumed my answers would be with some sound effect. Thankfully the show was running long and mine was a short interview, which ended with him bellowing into the microphone, “It’s not healthy being fat.” Interestingly, in every interview, serious or silly, long or short, the host felt compelled to share that public service message.
I’ve never seen an actual sideshow with a fat-lady live and in person. Just in the movies or on TV. But never in those depictions have I ever noticed a caveat by the barker warning the crowd that fat is unhealthy.
Perhaps it’s a cultural change. Or maybe, when you have the audacity to talk about fat and sex, in an attempt to present it as a healthy and normal aspect of life, that should be beyond shame, and can only benefit one’s wellbeing in a host of ways, the only possible thing some people can imagine is that surely you must be a circus-fat-lady-whore.
In January, I’m supposed to go on Dr. Phil. I believe that woman mentioned above is, of course, also booked.