Tales Of The Darklady

Do our personal sexual behaviors belong to the adult industry?

A periodically emotional chat with a TV reporter concerning KATU’s recent coverage of the Ace of Hearts, a local swingers club, revealed that some members of the mainstream media think so. It was Sweeps Month (remember Ellen’s coming out?) and since sex = ratings, the station focused on the perfectly legal club, suggesting that those who frequent it are sex-crazed maniacs putting all of society at risk. Who’s more prurient? A few dozen folks going quietly into a nightclub to hot tub, talk, play pool, dance, watch X-rated videos and, yes, occasionally, have sex? Or the cameramen, reporters, and producers who brought this discreet lifestyle into the livingrooms of the Portland/Metro area with all the lurid sensationalism of Reefer Madness journalism?

In a nutshell, two reporters went to the Ace of Hearts, got an introductory tour and then bailed before they could be sullied by the sexual debauchery they just knew would follow. Instead of sticking around to see what does happen at the Ace of Hearts, speculation, out of context quotes, and the madness of crowds were the rule of the day. Neighbors with wild concerns for the safety of newborn babies and cowardly suggestions of spousal abuse were treated as newsworthy. I must have missed the classes where they taught these techniques while I was studying journalism in college.

Not everyone approves of, or is interested in, swinging or casual nudity, but neither of these things are currently illegal, nor should they be. If it’s news that some neighbors are upset because such things are done inside a private club, then I have to wonder when the press will be showing up on the doorsteps of individuals and covering the “news” of what we’re doing in our bedrooms, our basements, on our couches, and in our hot tubs. Did you swap last night? Did Mr. Willy slip into the “wrong” orifice? Did your neighbor hear the sound of a flogger or a loud orgasm last week? Maybe you’ll be a media star soon.

Personally, I think it’s much bigger news that hairstylists are exposed to carcinogenic substances at work, that McDonald’s lures kids to heart attacks with toys, that grocery stores demand drug tests before they’ll let a person mop the floor... but none of these stories are sexy; none of these stories grab John and Mary Couch Potato by the crotch and keeps them glued to the set from commercial break to commercial break. Yeah, who’s guilty of prurient behavior? At least the adult industry is honest about what it does for a living.

Which brings us back to my first question. Does our private sexual behavior belong to the adult industry? “This is the sort of story the adult industry hates to see,” the reporter (whom I found to be an otherwise intelligent man who just doesn’t quite seem to understand why the First Amendment protects unpopular speech, including that of a sexual nature) informed me after we played “defend the industry."

Since when was a private club a part of the “sex industry?” Perhaps in the same way that the Masons are part of a plot to eat Catholic babies and the Jews plotted to murder Jesus. In other words, when your mind is filled with fairy tales and you’re too afraid to really do research (i.e., practice journalism) you’ll justify your fear any way you can.

I do not consider myself to be a possession of the “adult industry.” I am a journalist. My beat is the adult industry and human sexuality and that’s as valid a beat as any neighborhood or mainstream professional association. It takes real integrity to cover this beat, to overcome personal prejudices, and to face down the insults to my integrity by more “respectable” members of the media. It’s stories lacking integrity that I hate to see... regardless of where they come from.

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