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

 

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Emilie knows Malcolm (but not in the Biblical sense)!

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Some time ago I was asked by Los Angeles comedian Emilie Hagen to do an interview. I was feeling a little toasty from a couple of recent interviews where the hosts kept asking me the same hoary questions I’ve been asked by every interviewer, like “How did you meet this dolphin?” (I’m seriously tempted to answer, “A bad match-up on a dating site.”) So I wasn’t really enthusiastic to do what appeared to be another one.

When I expressed this to Emilie, she explained that she wanted to ask me about my feelings for Dolly. This was such a novel approach that I was momentarily taken aback. Most interviewers are like, “Did you do it in her blowhole?” or “When did you stop fucking your dog?” Emilie, in contrast, was showing me some actual respect and treating me like a human being, rather than a sideshow freak. Believe me, I appreciated that!

Our Skype chat lasted a little over two hours, which was pretty amazing, and while Emilie allowed me to drift a bit, she got what she needed (I hope so!). Then she sat down with the 1/4-inch magnetic recording, demagnetized razor blade, an editing block and a roll of Scotch splicing tape… oh wait, sorry, wrong millennium! It took her about three weeks to edit our long talk down to what I think is one of the best one-on-one interviews anyone has done with me.

Many thanks, Emilie, for keeping it light and keeping it real. It was genuine fun working with you, which is a fuck of a lot more than I can say about those slavering boobs, Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge!

Listen to “Emilie Knows Everything” on Spreaker.

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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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“Twysted Tyrants” show interview April 16

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – Since the publication of his review of Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water, author Malcolm J. Brenner has seen renewed interest in his writing and  opinions on the controversial subjects of inter-species sex and love.

“The interview, written by Ashley Feinberg and published in The Huffington Post, has drawn a lot attention, and insane condemnation from people who wouldn’t know me from Adam in an ape suit,” Brenner said. “However, it’s also sparked an enormous bump in sales of my novel Wet Goddess: Recollections of a Dolphin Lover, which is based on my 1970-’71 relationship with Dolly, a female bottlenose dolphin.”

Monday, March 26, was unique, in that Brenner got requests for two interviews: one from The Twisted Tyrants Radio Show on STLR Media in Sarasota, Fla., the other from a student journalist in Sydney, Australia.

Brenner will be a featured guest on the podcast starting at 9 p.m.
(Eastern Daylight Savings Time) on Monday, April 16. The show is hosted by Johnny Christ BayBay and his sidekick Uncle T, as well as a couple of other on-air personalities.

“Most interviewers want to talk to me about zoophilia and the maybe dolphins, in that order,” Brenner said, “but I’ve written two other books, one about my childhood in a pseudoscientific cult and the other a novel dealing with UFOs. When Johnny contacted me, he mentioned that he was interested in my experience practicing Wicca and my time reporting on the Navajo Nation, because one of his advertisers is a magical supplies store. I’m glad to shine some light on other aspects of my remarkable life.”

“Be prepared for two hours of strictly adult entertainment,” Brenner concluded.

 

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!

 

An interview with Brenner and the makers of “Dolphin Lover”

The Miami New Times’ published an extensive interview with Dolphin Lover director Kareem Tabsch, editor/producer Joey Daoud and Malcolm J. Brenner:

Meet the Men Behind the Provocative Short Film Dolphin Lover