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A Life Not Safe For NPR Broadcast

I woke up one morning not too long ago at my usual dissolute hour, and rolling over to check my phone, found that someone had left me a voicemail.

Arrgh, I hate voicemail!

Just text me already, people, ain’t nobody got time to be checking voicemail.

Even worse, when I finally did check it, it was some effete yokel from the local NPR station – so of course I automatically hit “delete.”

This was right in the middle of one of their endless fundraising pledge drives, and since I’ve donated in the past, they’ve been known to hit me up from time to time, begging for more.

Greedy bastards!

Later, however, as I was going about my day – probably rolling around naked on a cactus for some amateur pervert’s enjoyment, somewhere – I checked my phone again, and now I had an email from the same radio station, following up on their earlier voicemail request for an interview.


Being the publicity whore that I am, I scrambled to reply that I was so sorry I hadn’t responded yet, but that yes, of course I’d love to come in and chat with them. This was all in regards to a book I was recently published in – an anthology of local writers blathering on the topic of “progress.” We were all to appear at a live reading and book signing that night at the Clark County Library, so they wanted a few of us to come in and pimp the event on the air.

Now, I’d been on this same radio program before. About a year ago they did a show on dominatrices, and while I myself am not a dominatrix per se, they had me wrangle a couple of dommes I know and join them on-air for a lively discussion about fetish work in general. On that occasion, I was totally thrilled about being on the radio – even moreso because it was NPR, which I listen to religiously every morning (well, afternoon) while spackling on my makeup. (My toilette is a one-hour process which would be insufferably boring were it not for the dulcet musings of Terry Gross et. al.)

However, that interview turned out to be a total train wreck. My domme friends were certainly colorful, but not exactly the most articulate people in the world; it was one of the most awkward interviews I’ve ever sat through. The radio host (or any of the other tweedy intellectuals at the station, for that matter) didn’t know quite what to make of these heavily tattooed, pierced lovelies, who tottered into the studio on sky-high stilettos, oozing confidence and mounds of cleavage, but without having much to say beyond “I’m a bitch and my slaves give me money.”

The culture clash made for a really awkward, disjointed Q&A. I’ll never forget the look on the host’s face as one of the dommes described a client of hers who wanted her to castrate him – such talk had likely never been heard in the annals of public radio. Howard Stern, maybe…but NPR???

To make matters worse, the ladies kept accidentally cussing on the air, even after we had been warned about FCC regulations. In their defense, it turns out there are a lot of words you can’t say on the radio – not just the seven most famous ones. And as it happens, it’s next to impossible to describe a domme’s life without using at least a few of them.

If all of this had been on TV – say, Jerry Springer – it would have been awesome. The visuals were hysterical. But it made for terrible, cringe-inducing radio.

So after that experience, it was with some hesitation that I went down to the station this second time. I think the staff had the same reservations. I was supposed to read an excerpt from the piece I’d written, but one of the producers had me skip around a little so as to avoid uttering even the words “blow” and “g-spot” on the air. Juuuust to be safe!

Fortunately for all involved, this time the show went off without a hitch. The other guests were erudite writer-types, and I myself know how to make nice when called upon to do so. No F-bombs were dropped, no distracting cleavage was on display, and everyone was wryly witty and droll – just like you expect NPR to be.

And the best part was, no one hit me up for money while I was there. I thought for sure this was all a ruse to get me in there and then shake me down for a pledge donation. As it turned out, the staff was earnest, polite and so gosh-darn nice that I really felt bad about deleting that initial voice mail.

And wonder of wonders, now I felt even worse for not making a pledge in the first place. Like I said, I listen for at least an hour every day and, in fact, found myself tuning in on the drive home from the station. It was either that, or listen to Katy Perry for the billionth time (Vegas radio sucks ass).

So I went home, logged on, and made a damn donation. Maybe those tweedy fuckers actually did learn something from those dominatrices…

Guilt is the biggest bitch of them all!

SARAH JANE WOODALL is a one-woman culture festival. Read more at her blog,