David Farrier of NZ3 TV interviews Malcolm J. Brenner
Farrier contacted me in 2010, shortly after my novel “Wet Goddess” was published, and suggested we do an interview in which he would send me questions which I’d answer on my own camcorder. He would then record himself asking the same questions and edit the two files together to make a seamless interview. So with the help of my friend Cay S., who asked the questions and listened to my answers as my 20-year-old Sony Digital-8 camcorder, on a tripod, rolled on a head shot of me, we did our side of the interview. Because it was such a large file I think I burned it to a disk and shipped it to Farrier. For some inscrutable reason he sat on it for a year before he finally got around to editing the scenes together, but I think this is one of the better interviews I’ve done. Being openly gay himself, David had some appreciation of what another sexual minority might be encountering. Thanks, David! (And whoever the producers were who let you run this, thanks to them too!)
Swimming with Dolphins, Part 1: The Dolphin Research Center
In 2004 I was suffering malaise regarding my situation with dolphins and the difficulty of getting Wet Goddess published. Late that year, my stepmother, Rena Brenner, passed away and generously left me a modest sum in her will. It was enough to pay off some debts and still have money to travel. My friend and then-housemate Cay S. suggested I go someplace to swim with the dolphins. The DRC is located on Grassy Key, a few hours drive from my home in Punta Gorda. During the early 1970’s it was known as Santini’s Porpoise University, after the quasi-mythical Milton Santini, a former fisherman who’d found it more lucrative to catch, train and sell dolphins. I’d visited it at the behest of one of the trainers, an acquaintance of mine. The visit was mercifully short, but did not end well, sad to say. I wrote that experience up for Wet Goddess, but was forced to cut it for length and because it distracted from the interspecies romance story. So this visit to the DRC in early 2005 was a sentimental journey for me, and I determined to make a video of it to record my feelings about aspects of my experiences with Dolly that leave me with unanswered questions to this day.
Swimming with Dolphins, Part 2: Bimini
Following the visit to the DRC, I really felt the need to encounter dolphins on their own terms, and I still had some money to do so. After a lot of research, I selected Capt. Geoffrey Hanan’s Dolphin Expeditions, anchored in South Bimini, the Bahamas, because he seemed to have a dedicated non-intrusive attitude towards the dolphins’ privacy. For some reason I chose to go on a trip with Laura Scott, a self-described “author, psychic, medium, metaphysician & channel for healing” who would act as group facilitator for the eight people taking part. To thank my friend and then-housemate Cay S. for her help during Hurricane Charley the year before, I invited her to accompany me. As it was, we only got one good day to spend with the dolphins out of a week, due to weather and local conditions. This is my record of that event. What you cannot see is that I am desperately holding on to the tow rope with one hand and my Sony Digital-8 camcorder in a waterproof case (an expensive plastic bag, really) with the other. If you don’t like the video quality, consider how you might have done in similar circumstances!
Dolphin Lover, the real-life “Shape of Water”
In 2013, while pet-sitting for my daughter and her husband in San Francisco, I conceived of the idea of trying to sell some counterculture publication on interviewing me to promote more sales of “Wet Goddess.” I figured if zoophilia would go over anywhere, San Francisco would be more likely than, say, in Abilene, TX. So I sent out a few queries and was amazed when Matt Saincome of the SFWeekly responded. We did the interview, which ran the next week. Co-incidentally and fortuitously, a Miami theater owner and partner in a small film business, Kareem Tabsch, was in town. He happened to read Saincome’s article and was smitten by my story of an interspecies love affair. He contacted me and I agreed to tentatively discuss the idea with Kareem and his business partner, Joey Daoud. I wasn’t too impressed by their reel at first, but I got the opportunity to meet them at my place when they were on this coast working on another project. Although Joey didn’t say much, Kareem convinced me they were serious and would take my experience at face value without mocking it. So I agreed to to be interviewed and share my collection of photos from Floridaland with them, along with suggesting where they might look for archival footage. Although they originally planned a longer film, including interviews with marine mammal scientists, psychologists of zoophilia, dolphin trainers, etc., they couldn’t raise the money for such an elaborate project. So they decided on a short under 20 minutes. The interview, in a small studio near St. Petersburg, lasted for hours – Kareem says six, but I lost track. Joey ran the camera and monitored the audio while Kareem interviewed me through a teleprompter, which allowed me to look into the camera while looking directly at him. They shot miles of footage, much of which never got used in the final project. One of the lights blew a bulb, which caused delays in post-production to correct the color shift. I waited for months to see the final product, and when I did, oddly, the first thing that struck me was how sad I looked. I have a couple of minor quibbles – Dolly and I made love on a brilliant afternoon, not at night, like in the film – but on the whole it is a very intelligent, even-handed and sympathetic portrayal of my experience. It went on to win several awards, and I have no regrets about letting Kareem and Joey make it. Kareem keeps talking about making a low-budget feature-length “midnight matinee” movie out of Wet Goddess; I told him okay, as long as no real dolphins are used. He thinks he can do it. I have visions of computer animation when Zack and Ruby go “outside the fence.” They swim in phosphorescent open water, with streams of cold light flowing off their bodies… unfortunately, unless somebody with real clout steps in, I don’t think there will be the budget for that kind of artistry. But you never know, and stranger things have happened in Hollywood. Much, much stranger, I assure you.
(Stay tuned… more to come!)