Here’s me representing me on the Bill Cunningham show.
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!