The Bleeding “Edge”: End of a Saga?

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Press Release: For Immediate Release, 11/19/2019

Eyes Open Media, XXXX Easy St., Port Charlotte, FL 33952

malcolmb2@centurylink.net    (415) XXX-XXXX

Zoophile American Author Wins Case Against New Zealand Radio Station, Gets Nothing In Return

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL – Writer, publisher and self-described zoophile Malcolm J. Brenner has won a case against MediaWorks, Inc., a New Zealand broadcaster, for airing a distorted interview with him – where one member of the trio of interviewers insulted him, cursed him, and then left the studio.

“The interview lasted about 20 minutes, but that four-minute segment was all they used,” Brenner said, “and they lied to me about that.”

However, he’ll get nothing for his troubles, not even an on-air apology.

The ruling came from the Broadcast Standards Authority, New Zealand’s equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which found that a program on the station The Edge had deliberately edited an interview with Brenner to present an unflattering portrait of him.

“That’s disgusting! You’re sick! Dolphins cannot give consent,” said Meg Annear during a March 30 interview with the author of the controversial novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover.She then got up from her microphone on The Dom, Meg and Randell Show, removed her headphones and, over the protests of her partners Clint Randell and Dom Harvey, walked out of the studio.

“I’ve had this happen before,” Brenner said. “Some people, particularly certain women, are ‘triggered’ when I begin to describe the dolphin’s uninhibited courtship behavior toward me, and they react as if I was describing my own behavior.” When this happened at a radio station in Australia several years ago, the station opted not to air the interview.

The Dom, Meg and Randell Show, however, took a different course – one that involved the station’s lawyers, management, deception and eventually brought in the BSA itself.

“I went ahead and finished the interview with just the two guys, Dom and Randell, and it was okay and about 20 minutes long,” Brenner explained. “Then Dom and I exchanged some mail about when the clip was going to air. Finally, several days later, he emailed me a 10-minute edit of the interview and told me it would air in a few days.”

Brenner tuned in the podcast, but heard nothing. By now suspicious, he went back into the show’s archives and discovered, to his horror, that not only had Dom sent him a decoy audio file, the material that they did air was the most inflammatory part of the interview, where Meg curses at Brenner on her way out the door.

“Once I realized what the station had done to me, I was astonished and outraged,” Brenner recalled. “Nobody has acted with such contempt for me since junior high school, where I was an unpopular student. It was like getting mugged in the hallway, and they didn’t have to do it. It was malicious, it was intentional, and they thought they could get away with it because I’m a foreigner and an admitted zoophile.”

Bestiality has been illegal in New Zealand since the adoption of the constitution in 1963, by nation-wide law. Brenner’s interlude with the dolphin, named Dolly (Ruby in the novel), occurred over six months in 1971, but bestiality wasn’t made illegal in Florida until 2011.

“I did nothing illegal, not in Florida and certainly not in New Zealand, and yet Dom saw fit to deceive me, lie to me, lie about me and defame me,” Brenner said. “He did this solely based on the idea that I had the experience with Dolly 48 years ago and therefore I must be a non-person with no rights under New Zealand law.”

Worse yet, Brenner suspects the station’s attorney, Tom Turton, conspired with the rogue DJ’s plans.

“A couple of days after we wrapped the interview I inquired about when it would air, and Dom said it was being considered by the station’s lawyers, for content, because zoophilia is illegal in New Zealand,” Brenner said. “By that time the edited, four-minute clip of Meg leaving the studio had already aired!”

Was Dom advised by Turton to deceive Brenner?

“If so, I’d find a new attorney,” the writer half-joked. “When Dom told me he had to run it by the lawyers I had a bad feeling, but I decided to say nothing so as not to ‘bad vibe’ the situation. If Turton collaborated, he should be reported to the New Zealand Bar Association for misconduct.

“I learned it doesn’t matter if you voice your suspicions or not, by the time you’re aware of them the bird has flown,” Brenner said. He asked the BSA to order the station to apologize to him on-air, place the full interview in its archive, and to pay him whatever amount the BSA thought would prevent the station from running similar slanderous stories in the future. The Administration can impose up to a $5,000 NZ ($3,600 US) fine.

However, the BSA decided not to place any orders on the station, thus giving it only an symbolic “slap on the wrist,” Brenner said.

“MediaWorks advise that its processes have been reviewed with respect to how it responds to audience feedback on challenging topics. Taking into account the above factors and the action taken by MediaWorks, the Authority considers that the publication of this decision is sufficient to censure MediaWorks conduct and clarify our expectations of broadcasters under the fairness standard. Accordingly, we do not make any orders,”the BSA’s decision, signed by its chair Judge Bill Hastings, reads.

“I’m appalled at the lack accountability,” Brenner said. “This decision leaves MediaWorks free to practice this kind of slander on anyone who comes along, anyone they feel is ‘different’ or vulnerable.

“I don’t even get a formal apology from the people who lied to me, lied about me, defamed me, sent me a false file and tried to bury the truth afterward. MediaWorks said they had no problem making an apology and archiving the show, but the BSA doesn’t require it, so they won’t do it. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Brenner is filing an appeal of the decision, citing the lack of any orders. He is also the author of a memoir, Growing Up in the Orgone Box: Secrets of a Reichian Childhood,and a science-fiction novel, Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair.

For a copy of the complete decision by the BSA (15 pgs.), please contact Brenner at

malcolmb2@centurylink.net or at (415) 640-5013. He is on Miami time.

Website: malcolmbrenner.com

 

 

The “Road Soda” Interview: Good News/Bad News.

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WHAT IS YOUR STORY? $$ (Sarasota)

Compensation: $35

What is your story? Do you have an interesting life story, event that happened to you, or anything in-between? I will pay you for an interview to learn about your story and your interview will be put in a podcast. Please email for more info.
The above advertisement appeared in the Sarasota Craigslist on Oct. 16, but I didn’t notice it until Oct. 26. I don’t know why I was looking at “Gigs, Creative” — well, yes I do, I desperately needed money, but why in Sarasota, my old stomping grounds about 45 minutes north of here? I don’t know, but I read the above and immediately sent them the following message:
Yeah, I have an interesting story that ought to make a good podcast.
In 1971, while attending New College, I fell in love with a female dolphin who worked at an amusement park in Nokomis, Floridaland. And we made love. And then I lost her.
And I wrote and published a book about it, “Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover,” which got made into a award-winning short film, “Dolphin Lover.”
If you’ve gotten this far, we might talk. Call me, (415) 640-****. I live in Port Charlotte.
The response was very rapid, a couple of hours:
Malcolm,

I have heard about your story and would love to interview you for the cast.
The show is called Road Soda and has been running a few years. We are small and have a small but loyal listener base. The show has a wide variety of topics and always aims to entertain.
We do our interviews over the phone using skype or whatsapp and usually run about an hour. When the interview is all done we will send you 35 dollars through venmo, paypal, zelle, what ever is best for you, as a thank you for your time.
Interview times are M-F evenings 7pm-9pm
If weekends are your only free time, we can work something out.
Let me know what day you are free this following week and we will schedule ASAP.

looking forward to your response!

Thank you for reaching out. 
I still didn’t have a name, but I had an interview!
The interviewer was Isaiah Cooper, who turned out to be a welcome change from the interviewers of the past. He wasn’t out to question my morality, he didn’t try to defame me or insult me, he’d actually watched Dolphin Lover like I suggested and he let me tell my tale my own way, asking questions that illuminated things. (His regular sidekick, Peter Something-or-other, wasn’t there for the interview.) Our talk lasted an hour, which is plenty long enough to discuss things, and I ended up want to meet him in person (although I haven’t). Altogether, a nice, straight-up kind of guy!
That’s the good news.
What’s the bad news? Well, here’s the interview: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/road-soda/id1028616849?ign-mpt=uo%3D4
I come on about 54 minutes in.
I defy you to listen to it and UNDERSTAND MORE THAN HALF OF WHAT I’M SAYING.
In other words, the audio is shit. I had a pair of earbuds with a built-in microphone, which I bought for $9.99 when my Apple earbuds crapped out, and I was using them for sound, never suspecting that it sounded like I was talking on a tin can and a string. I wish to hell Isaiah had enough technical expertise to tell me I didn’t sound good and ask if I had another microphone (I do, the Radio Shack shotgun mic I used to record Mel-Khyor with, but it’s a little trouble to set up… how much? Oh, about 45 seconds), but no, he just let me ramble on, so the interview is very difficult to listen to.
Well, I was expressing this problem to my daughter, who is knowledgeable about such things, and she said “I’ve got a Yeti mic here I bought for an interview and don’t use anymore, would you like it?” So she’s going to bring it out here next time she comes. And until then, I will use the Radio Shack shotgun mic, as it’s impedance almost exactly matches that of the computer, for any other interviews I may do.
Problem solved, I guess… except that you have to listen to this utterly crappy-sounding interview. If you want to. (BTW, Isaiah has paid me my $35, so we are cool there. I bought  a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s and left the change for the baristas to fight over.)

Falling Off “The Edge”

 

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If you’ve been following my disappointment with The Edge, a New Zealand radio station-podcast that deceived and defamed me, then you know I made a complaint to the Broadcast Standards Authority, their equivalent of our FCC. Here it is.

Discrimination and Defamation: I believe I am the victim of a set-up. DJ Dom Harvey emailed me on March 28, 2019 (my time, all dates same year) and asked if I would do the interview for what he described as “a radio music show.” I said yes, and the interview took place on Monday, March 31.

I was one minute into my story and describing how the dolphin presented me with her genital slit for rubbing, when Meg had what I can only describe as a total freak-out. (The station has bleeped “genital slit” since they archived the program. This term is used by marine biologists to describe the organ and is values-neutral, but the bleep gives the unwarranted impression that I used a vulgarity or slang.)

Meg then declares “That’s disgusting” several times, and I will grant her her opinion, what I’m complaining about is that the station never gave me the opportunity to present mine. Meg states “This is a non-consensual situation. A dolphin cannot consensually choose to have sex with a human. You absolutely took advantage of that.”

That is a tangible falsehood. Dolly, the dolphin in question, was released into open water several times a day to perform tricks with a riverboat. She had the option to leave many times. Furthermore, dolphins are famous for having homosexual sex, lesbian sex, sex with oars, sex with sharks, and even human beings. The late Dr. Ken Norris, a USC professor of marine biology and an expert on dolphins, said “Dolphins have sex the way human beings shake hands.”

Meg left the studio, ending any chance of answering her accusations, but the interview proceeded with Dom and Randell for about 20 minutes. At no time was there any suggestion that the material would not be used. I expected it to be edited for length and content, but I was not expecting what happened.

Dom emailed me that the show would air “in the next couple of days.” I expected him to inform me when, as all other radio and podcast hosts have done. When I hadn’t heard a date by April 4 I emailed him to inquire. In response, he sent me an edited, 10 minute version of the interview, which I thought was for my approval. I told him it was fine, but there was still no air date from him, so I looked in the program’s archives. There was an April 3 program, but the only part that was used was Meg’s freak out! No other parts of my interview made it to the air! Not only that, but the 10 minute file Dom Harvey sent me was a decoy, intended to placate me and hoping I wouldn’t find out how they butchered my interview.

As a result, I was placed in a very severely negative light. The station maintains that I wasn’t because Dom et al. had discussed the topic on previous shows and had given listeners the “facts” of the situation, in spite of the fact that one of the “facts,” that I was fired from the dolphin show, is a lie he made up. I was never fired because I never worked for them. I was a freelance student photographer given free access to the property to produce photos for a book about dolphins.

The station responds “…we are aware (this) is not the case, but do not think this is material…” In other words, The Edge is OK with their DJs lying, as long as they do it about unpopular people.

This is the most egregious censorship I have ever encountered. I was not only discriminated against, I was lied to and given a fake file that was never intended to be used. And I am being given no recourse by the station.

As the letter I received says, “The Dom, Meg and Randell show is not a news, current affairs or factual programme… Listeners expect light-hearted chat and laughs, but do not expect it to be ‘authoratative or truthful,’ which is the defining characteristic of a factual program according to the commentary on the Standards.”

In other words, it’s OK to lie as long as you call it entertainment and not news.

Had I known the terms of the interview — that my interview would not be treated as news or history but as a basis for the hosts to make up defamatory things about me — I would have not done the interview. My permission was granted under false pretenses, and the falsehoods continued through the broadcast of the show without informing me and Dom giving me the decoy file.

Another producer encountered this while interviewing me, and didn’t use the interview at all: https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/radio/kyle-and-jackie-o-forced-to-dump-interview-with-a-man-who-had-sex-with-a-dolphin/news-story/49fde32f995ab26ed9c83cae7a7b2d18

I do not see why the station didn’t do this, instead of voluntarily defaming me and defaming me.

Balance

The Edge claims that their “hosts criticised behavior which is unlawful in New Zealand under section 143 of the Crimes Act 1961. We consider this was appropriate, and there is no breach of this Standard.”

However, I contend that absolutely no efforts, much less reasonable efforts, were made to present my competing viewpoint. Indeed, Dom Harvey and cohorts appear to have gone out of their way, by a considerable amount, to denigrate and defame me. I do not advocate bestiality or any criminal behavior, just for legal, if not social, tolerance of harmless practices.

Accuracy

MediaWorks writes, “…the Standard applies only to news, current affairs and factual programming, which this was not… Therefore, there cannot be a breach of this Standard.”

Look, you can’t have it both ways: If the story isn’t factual, it can’t be accurate, now can it? They’ve admitted that the version of the story they’re promoting and using as an excuse to stay out of trouble with the BSA isn’t factual, and therefore, it is inaccurate.

Fairness

MediaWorks itself notes, “There are serious issues with how Dom, Meg and Randell dealt with you and your contribution during the Broadcast. In particular the Committee is concerned about the way the interview was edited and broadcast on 3 April, and the information which Dom Harvey provided to you after the interview, which was misleading and incomplete. …However overall we are satisfied that the storyline or (sic) the 3 April were not unfair to you, and fairly reflects your position in relation to your interactions with Dolly.”

Do I need to say that I manifestly disagree?

MediaWorks then proceeds to list all the considerations for what is fair, which I should not need to repeat here. But they refuse to take responsibility for the deception and treachery they used, saying instead “…we do not accept that this impression was caused by the Broadcast. In the Committee’s view, any negative impression was a result of pre-existing perceptions of bestiality and those who engage in it.”

Gentlepersons, what we are dealing with here is a STEREOTYPE of bestiality. I am college-educated, do not drag my knuckles, and have had sex with women hundreds of times, versus once with a dolphin; I have a biological daughter who designs my book’s covers. MediaWorks has chosen to inflame a rampant and potentially dangerous stereotype of the zoophile; indeed, the law banning bestiality in New Zealand, going back almost six decades, makes us second-class citizens, apparently without the rights granted to everyone else.

Why is this, I wonder?

“We consider that prior to the broadcast you were adequately informed of the intended nature of your participation,” MediaWorks writes. When audience feedback proved overwhelmingly negative to this subject, no word was provided to me. “We would have expected them (the producers) to communicate their decision to you,” MediaWorks notes dryly.

Gentlepersons, I know my story is radical and not popular with some people, and I expect them to oppose me. What I am not prepared for is sabotage, and that is what has been executed here. Perhaps the producers shouldn’t have used the interview at all! “A better decision would have been not to play any part of your interview, rather than playing only the portions of the interview in which Meg reacted to your behavior,” MediaWorks writes, admitting they made a serious goof.

However, it is apparently OK to defame me this way, because Dom, Meg, and Randell spent a couple of minutes discussing the subject on a prior show. How can I agree with their hosts, who don’t even bother with the impression of impartiality? The way MediaWorks allowed its hosts to portray me is like letting a member of the Ku Klux Klan deal with the concerns of the Negro.

The audience never got to hear it “from the horse’s mouth,” as we say here in the States. My experiences and words were interpreted by a hostile crew,  ignored and disparaged, and I was lied to and given false information by MediaWorks and its employees.

MediaWorks admits to this! “The Committee does not approve of the way your interview was edited, and we understand why you might feel you had not been given a reasonable opportunity to comment,” they wrote. Do I need to say more?

Their argument is that, because of a label, zoophile, I should have no rights under New Zealand law. May I point out that I am a human being? Does that stand for something in New Zealand?

The presentation of me on the show was grossly, manifestly unfair. Even MediaWorks agrees.

In short, MediaWorks went out its way to abuse me on the April 3, 2019 Dom, Meg and Randell program; violated its own broadcast guidelines; lied to me about it; failed to keep me informed of developments that affected me; and finally, gave me misleading information, the edited interview, which they never intended to use.

I hope you will demonstrate to the people of New Zealand that such unethical conduct doesn’t pay by condemning what MediaWorks has done, what the producers of the Dom, Meg and Randell show have done, and in particular, what Dom, Meg and Randell have done to me.

Thank you for considering the evidence objectively. – Malcolm J. Brenner

 

Y ahora, la versión en español!

Quite some time ago I was contacted by a reporter named Benjamin E. Rosado, who said he was with El Mundo newspaper, Spain. (I mistakenly thought that meant he was writing for El Mundo, but as you shall see, I was wrong. No matter.)

He’d seen an old article about me on the UK site Unilad, which describes itself as “a major youth platform for breaking news and relatable viral content.” What I’m doing there, I’m not sure; I’ve been careful in my dialogues with individuals to make sure they are all 18+. But there’s no accounting for the tastes of editors, except to publishers. And I’m not rich enough to be one of those.

Back to Mr. Rosado. After some fumbling we managed to agree on a date for a Skype interview. His English was pretty good, better than my Spanish at least, and the interview lasted 1.5 hours, which is unusual. He was on a tight deadline so he wrote the story at once and sent it in to the newspaper Cronica, which it turns out is in Argentina! It ran in the Sunday edition as a feature, which figures, since it was what – 10 years old?

And it was a pretty good article despite a couple of errors, like one caused by a comment about time that made Rosado think I was living in Indiana (?). He also had me driving from Washington State to Mississippi to try to rescue Dolly, rather than from Philadelphia, where the car was — but never mind. I have fixed the errors in translation. Despite a certain Latin tendency to melodrama, Mr. Rosado’s article was mostly accurate and, thankfully, non-judgmental. He is to be commended for doing a good job. Muchas graçias, Señor Rosado!

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TRANSLATION BY GOOGLE

My romance with a dolphin, of which I have written a book.

At first I rejected her, but I ended up falling in love.

The facts are not recent, they happened at the end of 1971, but they have taken on an unexpected meaning under the cover of the new animalistic creed. Let’s start at the end: Malcolm J. Brenner had sex with a dolphin. Then he was 20 years old and the world was not prepared to understand what was going through his mind every time he appeared Dolly, a flirtatious and seductive cetacean from Floridaland. In that natural reserve, now extinct, which occupied several hectares of Sarasota County, tourists could feel the warm embrace of nature. Let’s say, to synthesize, that Brenner was no exception.

It took him more than three decades to gather enough courage to tell his story in a book, Wet Goddess (Diosa Mosada), that in the absence of publishers who were not scandalized with the recreation of underwater scenes he self-published in 2010. Five years later, his romance with Dolly appeared in a short documentary, Dolphin Lover, which caused a sensation at the Slamdance alternative film festival. No one could believe what Brenner confirms to us on the phone from his home in Florida: “We do not practice sex, but in each encounter in the water we made love.” What follows is a confidence, as delusional as tenderly true, of a man marked by an unconventional love affair.

You have to go back to the summer of 1970 to date the crush. At that time, Brenner was a student at New College and accepted the proposal of a writer who prepared a book about Floridaland dolphins. “She asked me to take the pictures to illustrate the volume,” he recalls. “I dreamed of becoming a journalist and I didn’t hesitate for a second.” They rented a boat and toured the reserve until they reached the dolphinarium dock. “I’ve never been so close to a dolphin and I experienced an indescribable feeling.” What Brenner did not imagine is that the Dolly Pizpireta, who celebrated his entry into the water by shaking the fins, would eventually become his lover. “I started rubbing her back and belly, and she seemed to enjoy my touch.”

The courtship lasted several weeks. In the morning Dolly worked as an acrobat in the Floridaland family show in front of crowded crowds of children. She had been trained by the Navy to locate mines and transport spy equipment. Compared to military missions on the open sea, the trick of the hula hoop was a bicoca that provided generous buckets of sardines. In the afternoon, Brenner paid her a visit. “When I got into the water, she approached me without fear and asked for attention. I never fed her, but as time went by, our encounters became more vigorous and intense: when she saw me, she put a belly up to touch her genital cleft.”

At first Brenner resisted. “She reacted to my refusal violently. On one occasion, she tried to masturbate with my foot, but I rejected her proposal,” he confesses to CHRONICLE. “Then she pounced on me and sank me with full weight to the bottom of the dolphinarium. I made it clear that that tactic would not work with me, so she took pains on other types of erotic tricks that ended up conquering me.” As he relates in his book, Dolly was massaging his arms and legs with her fine and pointed teeth. “It was a way of telling me: I am strong but I will not harm you.” By then Brenner had already begun to ask himself some questions. “I suspected there was something different about my sexuality. And, although I was attracted to Dolly, I yearned with all my might to be a normal person.”

That club was not made for him. His parents, devoted followers of Wilhelm Reich and his esoteric theories about orgone, put him in the hands of a psychologist who ended up abusing him. “I don’t know if a zoophile is born or made, but something had to do with the vexations I suffered in the consultation.” His first erection was provided by a dog at the age of 5. “I had gone to the cinema to see The Shaggy Dog and I shuddered to see the effect that the character of Walt Disney caused me.” The defloration came five years later, coinciding with the estrous cycle of Miss Clavel, the family poodle. “She was in heat and I assumed that she wouldn’t mind having sex with me. But I was wrong. It was an embarrassing and unromantic incident. I felt dirty.”

Splashing in the water with Dolly helped him clear his bad conscience. “Zoophilia comes from Greek and means ‘animal lover.’ I am not a goat rapist farmer, but a person capable of experiencing tender and affectionate emotions with animals.” A cloudy morning in 1970 he approached the dolphinarium with the intention of having sex with Dolly. “I tried to penetrate her, but the water was too cold and I was terrified that they could discover us at any moment.”

It took a year for them to consummate their relationship. “I made love with Dolly on my last visit to the park, when their owners decided to sell the land to build homes.”

Brenner took pains in the preliminaries for half an hour. “We practice games and try different positions until finally I managed to break through. Dolly’s vagina was like a sucking valve that caused me a sense of fusion at all levels: emotionally, mentally, physically and even spiritually. I managed to climax almost at the same time that Dolly emitted three groans in increasing cadence, which led me to think that she also reached orgasm. Then she rested her snout on my shoulder and we held each other for several minutes while staring into each other’s eyes.”

Brenner, today single and father of a daughter, fruit of his first marriage, is still excited to remember the outcome of the story. “When I learned that Dolly had died, I drove from Philadelphia to Mississippi to visit the ocean where she spent her last days,” he recalls. “Her coach told me that she had not wanted to eat and that they found her faint at the bottom of one of the tanks. He explained that the dolphin’s breathing is voluntary and that she had let herself die … I think Dolly killed herself for love.” And he says goodbye to the other side of the line: “Please do not describe me as a disturbed or a sexual depraved (person). Talk about a man who fell in love with a non-human person and who only regrets not having spent more time with her.”

– BENJAMÍN G. ROSADO

NEWS FLASH: Scientists prove female dolphins enjoy sex!

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(Above: a wild dolphin in Charlotte Harbor displaying the swollen breasts of a lactating female. © 2010  Malcolm J. Brenner/Eyes Open Media.)

At last, somebody (two somebodies, in fact, with PhD.s) has done the science on a delicate, touchy subject: the dolphin clitoris.  And I am thankful for it.

This provides me with validation for the experience in Wet Goddess (which some have disputed) when I described how I gave Dolly (the dolphin in question) an orgasm by letting her masturbate on my toe, and, later, while making love with her, even though I wasn’t able to penetrate her fully.

What made Dolly different from a dog who humps your leg, as I point out, is:

  1. A dog who humps you, or another dog, probably isn’t looking for sex, he or she is asserting dominance. I used to own a delightful little fixed Husky, Pugsley, and every night after dinner Pugsley would hump my housemate’s pit bull mix, Keiko. Keiko, an intact male, never paid the slightest attention to her, but would let Pugsley do her thing without interference. It seemed to matter a lot to Pugsley.
  2. Even if we don’t assign motives to the dog’s behavior, humping you is all it can do, and it does it rather blindly. We’ve all seen (or watched videos of – c’mon, admit it!) a sex-crazed male dog trying to hump a bitch’s head, and he isn’t looking for a toothy blowjob. In his excitement he’s acting instinctually. A dolphin can switch programs. If one strategy doesn’t work, it will try another. If something it’s familiar with isn’t working, it will try something new, or even, heavens forbid, peep into your mind to see if it can fathom what you’re thinking. I’ve had them do that to me, and suddenly change behavior. It’s weird, and I wasn’t even aware of what was happening at the time, but it happens, as four trainers will attest (the late Frank Robson, Ric O’Barry, Michael Greenwood and David Holroyd, stage name Capello).

Drs. Patricia Brennan and Dara Orbach, my hat is off to you, ladies! I am deeply grateful to you for doing the hard and difficult research this subject entails, if you know what I mean. 

 

With some effort, dolphin-human love story regains its lost “Premium” status

PrimeStatus

PUNTA GORDA, Fla., USA – “The role of the self-published author is not an easy one,” Malcolm J. Brenner said, sliding onto a dingy leather couch that might have once been white.  “In addition to successfully writing one’s magnum opus, one must also bring it forth into the real world, where it will grow up to compete in a ruthlessly Darwinian struggle for readers and reviewers.”

Brenner sipped iced tea – his habitual summer drink, with the occasional hard cider thrown in for historic, recreational and religious reasons – and relaxed. He had the furrowed brow of a man who has a lot on his mind, and no wonder. He recently finished re-formatting a 113,000-word Microsoft Word file for the ebook version of his most famous, or infamous work, the 2010 autobiographical novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover.

“It’s basically a re-telling of a torrid love affair I had with a female bottlenose dolphin in the summer of 1971,” Brenner explained.  “I just changed the names and a few details so that living people on whom the characters are based couldn’t sue me.  Even though I’m publishing it as a novel, it’s much closer to Tom Wolfe-style ‘new journalism’ than it is to fiction.”

Author Malcolm J. Brenner at home.
Malcolm J. Brenner in his trailer in Punta Gorda, Fla.

An admitted procrastinator since childhood, Brenner said that Smashwords, which publishes and distributes the ebook edition of Wet Goddess, alerted him last November that changes to their Premium Catalogue distribution system might require revising the file, which he first uploaded in 2011.  “I wasn’t clear on the details of what exactly the problem was, but apparently the old file no longer satisfied the new requirements, or so they said,” he said.

The Smashwords Premium Catalog puts the book into the hands of all the large ebook distributors, including iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Scribd, OverDrive, Tolino, Gardners, Odilo, Baker & Taylor Axis 360 and more.  “I’m interested in sharing my experiences with dolphins as widely as possible,” Brenner said.  “They are non-human people, so it behooved me to take care of this update issue sooner or later.”

After receiving warning emails for several months, Brenner finally pulled up his socks and tackled the problem himself.  This versatility, he said, demonstrates the technical virtuosity required of successful self-published authors in the 21st Century.

“If you’re an aspiring author and you’re lucky enough to land an agent or a publisher these days, you can thank a higher power,” Brenner scoffed.  “I knew a controversial book like Wet Goddess would be a hard sell even for a successful author.  I made a few stabs at finding a publisher without success, and an agent took me on for a while.

“She wined and dined me once at a book fair in Tampa, then, with no explanation, stopped communicating.  Months went by with no word.  It was only when I threatened to sue her to recover my manuscript that I learned from an irate family member she was still recovering from a near-fatal car crash months before.

“In publishing, like anywhere else, sometimes shit just happens,” Brenner concluded, with a hint of resignation.  After more rejections, he responded by abandoning the idea of conventional publishing and taking on all the tasks himself.  “It required me to become a jack-of-all trades, but the fact that I don’t get along well with many people actually makes that a good way to work,” Brenner admitted.  “If I work for myself, I may have an asshole for a boss, but at least he understands me.”

Brenner pre-sold copies of Wet Goddess to family and friends to raise funds for the initial press run of 50 copies.  A sympathetic friend contributed necklaces made from fossilized sharks’ teeth as premiums for advance sales.  The worst problems came from trying to get the manuscript proofread before it went to print.

“Don’t get me started,” Brenner fumed.  “I hired a so-called proofreader from a local community college, but she could only proof in academic style!  Book manuscripts require what’s known as Chicago style, and besides, Wet Goddess has a lot of colloquial dialogue in it,” he recalled.  “Every time a redneck character used the word “ain’t,” she flagged it – more than 300 times in the manuscript!  You’d think that if she was professional she’d have called me up and asked me what my intention was, but no.”

As a result of this and other unforeseen difficulties that cost him the original author’s proof copy of his debut novel, the first press run of Wet Goddess shipped with about 250 typos in it, including one whole, and rather crucial, paragraph repeated, Brenner admitted.

“It appears very close to the, uh, shall we say ‘climax’ of the novel, and it was very embarrassing to find it,” he explained.  “I hope I’ve got it stuck back in the right place now.”

For a cover, Brenner was able to rely on the talents of his daughter, Thea Boodhoo, an advertising industry professional and college-trained artist.  “I was going to use a B&W photo of a dolphin that a friend in New Mexico colorized many years ago,” he said, “but Thea thought she could do better, and when I saw her finished work I knew she was right.  I only made a couple of very minor Photoshop changes to the file she handed me to make the title stand out more and add the subtitle.”

wet-goddess-cover

A friend who owned a small desktop publishing business referred Brenner to Royal Palm Press, a nearby print-on-demand company, for production services.  “I had no idea what the local reaction to the book would be, so I had a chat with Tom Lewis, the press’s owner at the time, to make sure he wasn’t blindsided,” Brenner said.  “Tom said ‘As long as it’s between consenting adults, that’s fine with me,’ and that was that.”  Brenner also served as his own layout artist, an experience he described as “a mad blur of on-the-job training.”

With book in hand, Brenner ventured onto the soggy ground of marketing.  “Here, I got terrifically lucky,” he said.  “I didn’t have the money to hire a public relations firm to distribute a press release, but I found one that had a reverse-charge policy. The media outlets who received the press releases paid for the service, not me, so my initial publicity was free!”

Upon its release in January 2010, the novel received intense press coverage due to its taboo-shredding themes of interspecies sex, zoophilic love and a dolphin character smart enough to out-think a human.  “For a while it was frantic, but very gratifying,” Brenner recalled.  “I was doing several interviews a week, sometimes two a day.  A few of the interviewers were skeptical or harsh about what they thought might have been going on, but the majority were genuinely curious to know what happened, and to learn more about dolphins.”

Since then, the book has enjoyed sales surges whenever some news gatherer gets curious and wants to know about his experience, Brenner said.  One came in 2011, when a New Zealand TV producer, David Farrier, released a videotaped interview with Brenner he’d recorded the year before.  Others don’t conjure such pleasant memories.  Brenner felt humiliated by shock-jock Howard Stern’s 2015 obsession with his zoophilia, and a 2011 interview with Bubba the Love Sponge cost him a gig with a local slick when its advertisers threatened to withdraw unless the magazine dropped him.

Brenner’s most recent foray into the murky waters of self-promotion was somewhat less melodramatic.  “When I finally got around to looking at the Smashwords file, it said there was a problem with one of the book’s photos, but I couldn’t find it with a self-diagnostic program they offer,” Brenner said.  “So I took a chance and asked Smashwords’ customer service, citing the warning notices they sent me.”

He quickly received a courteous reply from a guy named Kevin, explaining that the problem was probably due to the use of colons in his chapter titles and sub-sections.  “I was glad it was so easily resolved,” Brenner said, “until I downloaded the file onto my computer to make the corrections and realized what a mess it was.”

In the interim between uploading the file in 2011 and downloading it in 2018, Microsoft had changed Word and given it a new file extension, .docx instead of the original .doc.  “That one little ‘x,’ unfortunately, made a hell of a lot of difference,” Brenner said.  “When I had to add a couple of pages to the print manuscript of Wet Goddess, converting the book from the old to the new file format inserted blank spaces more or less at random between paragraphs.  I had to start at the beginning and re-do the whole layout, including throwing in a couple of new photos to fill some yawning blanks.”

The problems with the ebook file were similar.  There, many words were unnecessarily hyphenated, and photos had to be re-aligned to make sure they didn’t obscure the text.  Brenner said the process took him about two weeks, including a couple of days off when he wasn’t feeling well, but he’s glad he did it.

“I don’t have the money to pay somebody else anyway,” he complained, “so I might as well do it myself, because being retired I do have a fair amount of time.  Besides, whenever I master a task like this, I improve my overall word-processing skills, which helps me find work in the freelance job market.”

In the eight years Wet Goddess has been in print, it has sold about 1,500 copies in 18 countries, mostly in the English-speaking world, due to Brenner’s unflagging self-promotion efforts.  When a fan in Russia contacted him  three years ago to inform Brenner he’d undertaken an unauthorized translation, the author responded by granting him permission to publish it there!  “It hasn’t taken off yet, because the translator, Anton River, lives in a very conservative northern city,” Brenner said.  “He’s planning to move to a better climate soon, and I hope he’ll renew his efforts to promote the book when he does.”

In addition to Wet Goddess, Brenner has written and self-published two other books.

orgone-box

Growing Up in the Orgone Box, published in 2014, is an unflinching memoir of his torture and sexual molestation at the hands of Dr. Albert Duvall, an “orgone energy” therapist and close associate of the late Dr. Wilhelm Reich, and the dysfunctional family structure that allowed this to happen.

mel-khyor-01-copy

His 2016 novel Mel-Khyor: An Interstellar Affair is a more light-hearted romp through the mythology and culture of the UFO scene, told from the point of view of a young woman determined to live up to her family’s expectations of her, no matter what it costs her personally.  “There is, again, inter-species sex, but since the other species is bipedal, mostly humanoid and obviously sapient, nobody should blow a 50 amp fuse over it,” Brenner said.  “After all, ‘Star Trek,’ Edgar Rice Burroughs and countless other science-fiction writers have only been doing it for about 100 years.”

Sales on these two books have been nowhere near those of Wet Goddess, Brenner said, and he’s had difficulty getting them any kind of publicity or reviews.  “That’s because, while they’re both sexually radical books, they’re not as radical as a man and a dolphin making love,” he said.  “Somehow, that just blows people’s minds.”

Having just turned 67, Brenner hopes to see his work more widely appreciated before he dies.  Asked if he thought his writing would endure beyond his lifespan, he waxed philosophical.

“My daughter might take it on, but she’s not planning to have children, so who knows what will happen over the course of time?  We only know of the Greek poet Sappho’s beautiful writing because it was used to wrap fish,” he noted.

“Let us remember that from the point of view of a book, which may endure for millennia if it’s an epic, humans are fleeting things who read it at some point in their limited lifespans, devoting to it some portion of their precious time,” Brenner said, drawing on an eerie theme reminiscent of the ambiguous Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.  “For this reason, books, especially long-lived books like Epic of Gilgamesh, Tao De Ching and Cattle Raid of Ulster, are grateful for the time their readers spend with them.  The books try to compensate the readers through a symbiotic relationship that informs you with a novel set of ideas, or supports your need for entertainment that doesn’t require batteries, WiFi or 3D glasses.

“I think that we humans, as a species, have a lot to learn from our dolphin cousins,” Brenner concluded.  “As for my writings, they will survive if people find value in them.”

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dolphinleapMED

Review: The Shape of Water

A few days ago, I was contacted by writer Ashley Feinberg, with the Huffington Post, who asked my opinion of the movie “The Shape of Water.” I hadn’t seen it yet (I’d been wanting to, on the recommendation of friends), but I was glad to go the next day (one of the pleasures of being retired).  Rather than mess it up with any kind of introduction, I’ll just link to the story: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-shape-of-water-malcolm-brenner-dolphin-sex_us_5aa17482e4b0e9381c169b7a

And I’ll tell you I’m very happy with the way the interview went and the resulting story. Many thanks, Ms. Feinberg!