Bill Cunningham NY

Last year shortly after the premiere of My Strange Addiction I got an email from the producers of the Bill Cunningham show. They were having a bit of a cast reunion, it was me, the guy who pulls hair out of drains, the woman who smells gas (who I speak with relatively often) and a stand-in for the over-tanning girl. We each had friends with us as the “normal” dissenting voice, it was madness and I’ll be able to share a clip of it with you today ❤
This is not a show by the wonderful NYC photographer Bill Cunningham, nor is it about Bill Cunningham, an original member of the Box Tops. No, this is about the lame Bill Cunningham, the guy known for the infamous “Barack HUSSAAAAIN Obama” Speech at a McCain rally in 2008. I mostly went on to get practice on speaking under pressure on television but also to maybe plant some seeds of positivity for the daytime TV folks. It was filming in Manhattan, I had to convince them to pay my friend and I a whole $50 each. They had already cast me, sent a car to the Bronx, did my hair and make-up, I knew I had some creative freedom, they wanted me to wear a footy and do some other stuff that I flat-out refused.

Before I explain too much, here’s a mildly hallucinogenic clip from the show. I still have yet to see the full-version but I’ll describe the events further into this post. I didn’t post this, it’s very strangely edited and please don’t bother reading or responding to the comments. 
Here’s me representing me on the Bill Cunningham show.

Back in the green room they had me sit with the other people, which was terribly interesting. Being in this room with these people you saw on TV, I will reserve posting my judgements of them, lets just say it was a very strange room to be in.  As soon as the producers left I gave them a pep-talk, basically to not be pressured by the producers on the side of the stage with big signs that say “get angry” or “interrupt each other”, that it’s not our responsibility to make good TV for them, don’t embarrass yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. Lie to the producers, change your story when the cameras are on, don’t do anything over the top that could be taken out of context. My friend and I were the only people there with any production experience and we later noted the nervousness of the people, mostly mid-westerners, mainstream kind-of people, where my friend and I were expressive queer New Yorkers. One of the “friends” even mentioned that it was her dream to be on TV, Michael yawned.

The producers largely left my friend and I alone while prepping everyone else, it gave me time to observe that though the guests of the show are largely people of color, the folks behind the scenes, producers, the host (who is a on-the-record racist) were all white. I had come into the taping of the show a day before we shot ours, I was incognito with the intention of gathering information. The show felt pretty darn exploitative, as if they wanted to show the worst side of their guests, to perpetuate really negative stereotypes. This was the moment where I really considered not doing it. The experience and potential effects was worth the uncomfortable feeling that I’m helping put money into the pocket of someone who profits from negative depiction of often compartmentalized people, sex workers, people of color etc. That all makes me shudder.

I did it anyway, I had hoped to bring some positivity into it and get my personal message out, a message of sanity, consent and positive thinking. I always imagine a person sitting at home with the AB/DL desire digging at them, no community, no confidence, watching Daytime TV and all of a sudden here comes this smiling beam of light telling you that you’re ok, that we’re ok. Call me naive, but I believe the negative effects of AB/DL’s are often constructed by the dissenting voices within the community and the positive aspects are the ones that have an effect on people. Positive representations in the media help deflect the negative ones, the pedos etc. Diapered folks have been on TV for decades with varying success, we’ve set a precedent that can be improved on as the world collectively opens its mind due to education, internet and tolerance. At least I hope it does, it’s easy to tell things are getting better… I feel as if i’m in the last generation of transpeople that are actively segregated, things are still bad for transpeople, but it’s getting better and it’s getting better fast. With that said, there’s been a number of transgender murders this month (including one of the girls from the NYC clubs) and there’s still a fight, a fight that needs the voice of both cis & transgender people. Start locally, vote queer, get involved, please. Now back to the show.

This is a little clip of me giving myself a pep-talk in the green room, I was nervous about talking about my intimate details in front of a crowd of randoms. I was slathered in make-up, and far more concerned about possibly revealing my trans-status than talking about my crinkles. The best thing about this appearance, something that I had pleaded with the producers not to mention, was that I was presented as a cis-gendered woman. They never mentioned my XY origin, the host even went as far as to mention my “jay-jay”. The part that you don’t see is my so-called roommate comes on, immediately asks Bill what a “jay-jay” was, and he responds with “a vagina, a va-jay-jay”, I was dying but didn’t comment, our host was quiet the class act. Mr. Cunningham was clearly flirting with me at points, though I believe he was prone to heavy casual petting around women, as I had seen him molest a smiling therapist the day before. If he would have touched me without consent he would have brought back a stump, and i’m a pretty cuddly person. There was a stage hypnotist who I opted out of, it all seemed like a circus, not a fancy french “Cirque” but one of those circuses where they taser the elephants.

Michael nailed his dissenting role. A theatre-enthusiast and old friend, we provided contrast to each other Michael with eyeliner and a black leather jacket, me in pastels. He was fabulous and concise, said not an ill-word. We played off each other, I primed him with what to say/not to say (as I’ve done before any media appearance) and there were a few moments of gold, though I’m not sure what actually made it onto the show. He totally ditched all the negativity and drew the ire to non-points, the best part was just as it was finishing Bill asks Michael, “is there any other issues you have with Riley?” and he responded “well I can’t imagine the effect that she’s having on the environment”, a point which global-warming denier Bill immediately laughed off. We nailed it, I signed some autographs (like in the picture below) then went out to the LES and danced the night away.

I wanted to gather my thoughts on this before I shared it with you, it’s kinda funny, weird, a good experience. I’ve been working on a press-primer for AB/DL media experiences, but for now you can find great information on the National Coalition for Sexual Freedoms Resource Library, I pretty much quote verbatim from there on the show. If you’re contacted by media, feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss the best ways to stay safe and get through it with most of your dignity intact.

This post has been all over the place, enjoy the strange video and thanks for giving me the confidence to go on TV and represent myself in a positive way. CapCon video in the next post, big hugs and more stuff soon!

12 thoughts on “Bill Cunningham NY

  1. Riley your a legend and that guy that interviewed you is weird a typical example of how tv producers can twist things loving your posts iam sending you lots of hugs.

  2. I did not like the host of that show. He came off like he was playing a act; an act of being uncomfortable, and tried to play this off by making light of you, like you were to be laughed at and humored. He was just too slimy and patronizing. Probably doing lines of crack before the show or something. You, on the other hand, came off just right.

    Smart, sweet and honest. I have only been an admirer of yours for a short time (months), but you handled yourself well. Standing up, showing people that AB/DL maybe different, it is not wrong, harmful, or gross. I also liked the constitutional right comment you slipped in, good job.

    Way to go Riley.

  3. Wishart hit the nail on the head Riley you handled yourself very well and editing like that dosent make it a balanced conversation Bill Cunningham is a terrible sneer and I hope he ends up with double incontinence stay strong hugs to you :).

  4. Riley: that was wonderful!

    You were really calm, spoke clearly and in a very effective way.
    While watching you I realised how much you were genuinely trying to get people to understand how ABDL is just one of the shades of us being humans, I really loved how you insisted on the DL world being formed from people of all colours, cultures, jobs, etc.

    It was a nice touch also to explain that you're a very hygienic person, that there are even diapers getting made especially for the ABDL community, that they can be very comforting and not only as a sexual tool.

    I know it's not easy to talk in public about our inner desires since, once you do it, other can make an easy target of you.
    People that supports you (me included!) are usually afraid of doing that in public, I would not be surprised if in that room there was another AB/DL just avoiding the look of loved ones in fear of being “discovered”.

    Small steps like this are a huge help to all the AB/DL community.
    You were awesome, go on.. do more of this things and enjoy life as usual!

    P.S. sorry for my English, I'm from Italy.

  5. Thanks for sharing riley. I know what you mean when it comes to “finding that light” that you arent the only one. I was meant to believe back when I was around 19 yrs old (in the military) I was basically told I was the only person that liked wearing diapers by a psychiatric doctor. Then when we got the internet and got bored one night I did a search on the net and found a websight dedicated to diaper lovers. I was shocked that others felt the same way. It was a huge relief. Been opening up ever since.

  6. I know and trust you in any media event you go to! You sound like you know how to handle them well. Be safe in whatever you do and remember to always be happy!

  7. What a strange way of interviewing used by that tv show presentator, not really looking into the questions a good journalist should ask (who, what, why, etc.) but more just plating up a few things he thinks will grasp the audience's attention.
    Besides that, you did very well on that show. It is a very brave thing to go on something like that and talk about something that, at least for me, is very hard to explain.
    Lots of well wishes for the coming future.

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