When Real Lesbian Sex Becomes Exploitation

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When Real Lesbian Sex Becomes Exploitation

Apparently the L in the Real L Word stands for Lez-ploitation. Last Sunday, Showtime aired the infamous "strap-on" scene in The Real L Word. Since many of us have stopped watching (or never began watching), here's what I've gleaned from autostraddle (the only lez site who seems to be keeping track):

Whitney (the dreadlocked cast member of TRLW) strapped it on and banged Romi (non-cast member, sexual partner). The two were "extremely intoxicated" from a party and the cameras naturally followed them into Whitney's bedroom and they did it. I assume there were careful cutaways with no dildo penetration shots, but from the bit that I get, viewers are actually watching these two fuck.

Okay lets fucking stop right here. Here is my first question:
If these were straight people would we be seeing this up close and personal view of a man and a woman banging?
This belies more questions for me. Is it because these are two women and the straight world doesn't consider it sex without a bio-penis in the room? Perhaps if there were a cigar it is sex. Since even the lesbians on TRLW (or editing the TRLW ) have no idea what sex is, did they also not consider this real sex?

After Romi sobered up, she told autostraddle: "I’m not part of the main 6 cast members, I have no power whatsoever in what airs, so having it removed from the episode was not an option and that is hurtful – because it is ME out there. Do I regret mine and Whitney’s actions – no. We’re two adults comfortable with our sexuality. Am I upset that it is in the public eye – yes."

I don't fault Romi for accidentally letting her inebriation get the best of her. Suddenly realizing your fuck-up stays forever on cable and the internets sucks hard. Forget the booze, it seems like the presence of a camera is an intoxicant in itself. Last year when I went on the cattle call for Magic Elves' Work of Art, a producer lining up all the artists before the judges told us, "Be yourself, but just make it bigger!"

An exaggerated version of oneself... Oh yeah it's a minstrel show, I forgot! Go on, go play your big bad lesbian self — you can even do it in white-face! And cut! More Cock please.

Under the guise of "telling lesbian stories" I wonder just what stories are being told here? As far as anyone can tell, the stories selected out of the real lives of these women are so banal, materialistic (Nikki Weiss' response to us seemed to indicate there is a lot more going on in the lives of these women than what has been meeting our eye), and worst of all, the editors have relied on shlock shock to get viewers and/or press.

Apparently the cast and producers were on a press junket to promote the "strap-on" episode appearing at a Television Critics Association presentation. Afterellen writes, "It seems as if they were out to promote this specific episode, which is likely the one focused at the Dinah Shore." Cast member Rose is quoted saying, "Episode 7 will make up for 1 through 6 not having shock value. There's one word for it: Epic."

Why am I still bitching about all of this? Why does this all still irritate me?

Because, this is how lesbians are being represented to the world! Right now we have The Kids Are All Right, a well-done "realist" fictional narrative about a sex-less middle-aged lesbian couple, coping with life. And we have a reality series portraying six "real" West Hollywood lesbians promulgating what lesbians do and don't do, what they know and don't know — in life and in bed.

I resisted the negative analysis of the Kids Are All Right because the movie is done so well and with such expertise. The Prof sent me this review by the queer academic Jack Halberstam. If you are a thinking queer, it's worth a read.

At the other end of the spectrum we have TRLW, which has served to trivialize our lifestyles. From the bigger perspective what we have is a desexualized demographic. Lesbians are either un-sexy sexless women or they are hyper-sexualized to the point of superficiality and caricature. What is the problem with our sexuality, I ask? Is the male penis so fragile that we have to trivialize the female cock, or refrain from sex altogether?

Beyond the guise of "story telling" I ask you, does this set our visibility, or more importantly the understanding or our culture forward or backward? Really, I want to know.

Comments [41]

karrr's picture

what horrible decisions

to join the show, to sign up for full disclosure, etc. the dreadlock girl with the strap-on, the quality of women she's going to find after this show....

seriously! who signs up to act in this bs? it'll probs take her awhile to get out of a string of very artificial relationships with women wanting to ride her dwindling pr train

Calogero's picture

A tasteless act

As MacLass pointed out below, the scene itself was nothing special. It came across as an emotionless, badly directed sex scene from a cheap porno (It would have fit nicely into season 6 of TLW actually). No offence intended to those who found it hot or whatever, but it was just a pathetic piece of acting (on Whitney‘s part anyway)… Anyone who actually paid for a Showtime subscription to see it should ask for a refund and go give it to the nice people over at Crash Pad instead!!

I admit to having sat through all 7 episodes so far and for the most part have enjoyed them. Yes, there are several cringe-worthy scenes and the questionable editing of the participants is leaned way too much towards trying to create an alternate version of the L word. But there are several aspects of each cast member which I can either relate to, or see in some friends around me.
I won’t lie and say that this episode will make me refrain from viewing the last 2 episodes, however It has made me appreciate the views of a lot of people who have been against the show from the outset.

Airing the actual scene and constantly promoting it as ‘epic’ and ‘groundbreaking’ was nothing more than a tasteless act, as the reality is, it was a scene that contributed nothing constructive to the episode or show. But it is reality TV and at the end of the day, the ratings are all that matter. Screw the consequences for the individuals or cultures affected.

It seems that Whitney was the only participant to give full consent to have every inch of her ‘activities’ aired from the outset, she’s said as much in every interview given to date. I’m convinced that it’s the only reason she was selected to be a part of the show, as 90% of her scenes revolve around her ‘dramatic’ sex life.
That she has never appeared fully nude (intoxicated or sober) pretty much says to me she knew exactly what she was signing up for and which scenes the producers were going to use on air. I just wonder if she realized how badly that same production team were going to portray her through the craft of editing…

My problem with all of the sex scenes on the show is that they appear to take place when the non-cast member (Romi on 2 occasions & Sara once) is somewhat intoxicated.
Initially I thought that they (Romi & Sara) were both just after their 15 minutes of fame and willing to do whatever for a little camera time. However on reflection it is noticeable that when in a sober state, none of Whitney’s trio of women would allow the cameras to stick around when getting intimate with her.

Tor (another of Whitney’s sexual partners) apparently had sex with her the night before, in the same bed, with the exact same strap-on used on Romi and the camera’s weren’t present for that…
Which sadly leads me to believe that any waiver or consent form signed by the non-cast women in those scenes was done whilst intoxicated, which is supremely fucked up beyond belief and I really hope that I’m wrong.
I‘m not sure what the laws on consent in this sort of situation are in the US but I really don’t want to believe that those women had absolutely no rights over their actions being broadcast to the world…

As it is I don’t think it (the scene or show) will have much of an impact on the understanding or visibility of gay/queer culture in either direction. At the end of the day It’s reality TV and the majority of people who watch it aren’t doing so to be enlightened or educated about anything. They just want to be entertained in a way that makes them feel better about their own dysfunctional lives and if it means watching a group of people that they can or can’t relate to embarrass themselves for 50 minutes a week, so be it.

It’s bad that Romi feels hurt by the whole situation, especially as good ole’ Whitney couldn’t be prouder (in front of the camera’s anyway). Referring to herself as the Harriet Tubman of the ’apparatus’ on the Live chat after the show, though meant in jest, was one of the most moronic things I’ve ever heard said. Even by a reality TV contestant…

" Teachers teach and do the world good, Kings just rule and most are never understood "

Grace Moon's picture


What does "Harriet Tubman of the ’apparatus’" mean?

I'm trying to draw an analogy but I just can't???

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Calogero's picture

apparently she's a pioneer...

For televised strap on sex (the word apparatus was used as it's a PG13 webcast)...

It was mentioned that she'd made history with that scene and the Tubman analogy was the 1st thing that came to her mind. Allegedly she's leading her own underground railroad, but I think Julia summarised it accurately below.

" Teachers teach and do the world good, Kings just rule and most are never understood "

Julia Watson's picture

To be fair, Whitney is

To be fair, Whitney is clearly a conductor in the Underground FAILroad.

SMBrown's picture

Thanks for never failing us,

Thanks for never failing us, o wordsmith!

Robin Rigby's picture


Replied to wrong comment.

Keeli M's picture

not my reality

I read the review of TKAAR on Bully Blogger and it really is so well written.  There was a reply from Sarah Schulman that I think hits home the point the Moon is trying to make. 

The recent Terry Gross interview with Lisa was a perfect example of how this gets enforced. Gross asked her if she had been criticized for not casting lesbian actresses – this of course implies that the mean lesbians will jump on you while the straight world is kind and neutral- but also, it’s a false question. The real question is: given how impossible it is for lesbian actresses to reach the level of stardom afforded Moore and Benning, isn’t’ she forced – by systemic homophobia- to cast straight actresses if she wants A-list?

Yes, yes yes!  The long short of it is that we still have to compromise ourselves and our integrity to have our art shown on any platform that reaches a mainstream audience.  So the question becomes a moral and ethical choice that one has to make.  Either you make this piece of shit TV show that will absolutely be picked up because of the cache of money, power and sex or you  make a really authentic possibly mainstream-boring piece of art that doesn't stand a chance of being picked up by anyone outside of our own community.  We are not at a point in our power of our own images yet that we can make the choice to show ourselves authentically.

I’ve seen an episode of TRLW; caught it on YouTube and it just confirmed my understanding that this was Chaiken taking the money and running.  It’s so easy to have this show and much much harder to create a show that is a reflection of another type of queer.  Obviously these are lesbian women so we can’t say that it’s not real, it’s just the easier option to get backing for.  I’m really hoping that IC is stacking her money and her credibility to one day make a film or a TV show that is something I’d want to tune in for. 

I think we forget sometimes as we open our computers to throw shade on VP that not everyone is able to have this experience.  Many many people have limited access to queer images so its imperative that what IS out there is portrayed with a voice that is educational and as close to the truth as possible. It is absolutely up to us to discuss and refute anything that we question.  That is power and tossing it away is giving it away.  My co-workers are certainly not doing their homework on this part of my identity and would find it far easier to go to the movies or tune in Showtime, and these images will absolutely influence their views and opinions. 

Right now these (TRLW and TKAAR) are the most talked about and the most mainstream images of who we are: shouldn’t we be questioning them now so that the next ones get a little bit closer to the truth that you want to be told?  Look at what BET and subsequently MTV did for images of Black performers.  Talk about a minstrel show!  You could very easily see these same ‘modern’ performances in 1901 in the woods drinking moonshine.  There’s a difference between being in on the joke and being the joke.  If more Blacks had seen where this was going and voiced their rage then where would be now?  Institutionalized racism is alive and well!  I see this discussion about strap-on sex on a reality show is preventative medicine.  Talking it out before it gets out of control and we lose all control.




blow up my ego @lvrandafighter

Robin Rigby's picture

I haven't seen TKAAR yet but

I haven't seen TKAAR yet but I agree with you about including A-list actors.  Names are what draw people into theaters.  Always have from the beginning of Hollywood.  The studios know this so they look for names to be attached to a project.  So, say you're Lisa Cholodenko and you want to get this movie made and you have a studio interested.  You can cast Julianne Moore and Annette Benning & get the studio's money or you can cast some unknown who also happens to be a lesbian and work your ass off to raise some cash for production, distribution, etc.  It's not a hard decision to make.  

And for my part, I don't care if the actors are gay or not.  I only care if they're talented and the right actor for the role.  

toodlin's picture

I think showing any real sex

I think showing any real sex on tv is horrible and degrading.  The fact that the PR for this episode would be pushed as "epic" is beyond juvenile.  I agree Grace with what you're insinuating, which is that it's easier to degrade lesbian sex.  "Here, watch this...it's epic!"  Horrible.

SMBrown's picture

Juvenile=perfect word choice.

Juvenile=perfect word choice.

Robin Rigby's picture

Good job on getting right at

Good job on getting right at the heart of Grace's blog. 

toodlin's picture

I didn't mean to just parrot

I didn't mean to just parrot what Grace said.  I can't believe what a poor choice it is to air actual sex in this context.  You have to wonder how that decision was made, and if somewhere Ilene Chaiken (and others) is rationalizing this truly shocking invasion of privacy with some half-baked idea that showing lesbian sex is subversive,  simply because you do it, no matter how stupidly you do it.  It doesn't sound like this was done with any actual forethought, which makes me wonder if the participants in said sex or if the ladies on the show gave the "ok" for their sexual activities to be aired.  I would love to know.

Robin Rigby's picture

I would not describe it as

I would not describe it as parotting.  I think you just summed up what she was getting at with the blog in a concise fashion and there is nothing wrong with that.  Getting to the heart of the matter is a trait I appreciate.  

I also wonder if they realized that something that personal could be aired.  And I really feel for Romi, who wasn't even part of the cast, just collateral damage.  

chelilektra's picture

The Kids Are Alright

I couldn't disagree with you more about said movie. The nauseatingly awkward "Moms" almost turned me against gay parenthood. I found both women absolutely implausible. I couldn't believe that there was ever a hint of chemistry in their relationship, regardless of how many "babes" they slipped into conversation. Their awkwardness had more to do with the actresses themselves than it had to do with their failing marriage.

It felt as if Julianne Moore left the movie by entering a closet we rarely speak of where with time some people abandon dyke island having found chemistry with a man.The film is written in such a way that I really believe that JM was actually better suited for MR than for AB, largely because Annette Benning's character is written as painfully in need of a LONG trip to a silent retreat (Bette Porter style) and no amount of impromptu Joni Mitchell karaoke (Gah!) undoes the uptight wreck of a cariacature built onto the screen in the first twenty minutes of the feature.

Were the filmmaker's cut from whatever was happening under the sheets with the mini-vibe and clothing to Mark Ruffalo's hot sex scene w/ Yaya not enough, Julianne Moore's comment after unzipping his pants sent me into a total fit of rage. For the first half of this movie, the message was clearly: 'lesbians struggle to make up for the lack of cock in their lives' which the pair were so kind as to directly communicate to their son. *cough* The Crashpad *cough* Genderfuckery *cough* Seriously, what planet did these two live on?

I may have watched too many foreign films at work of late, but this felt like a piece of American garbage and were it not a star studded cast and a hot topic issue, I assure you it would have went absolutely nowhere. These two actresses in particular are at career lows in this film. Every plot point in this tired movie exists in better form elsewhere. The whole thing is sloppy.

I'm shelving this one next to The Village for mind-numbing stupidity.


"Bitch, what you don't know about me is that I can just about fit in the Grand fucking Canyon. Did you know that I always wanted to be a dancer in Vegas?" Silent Bob

Diana Cage's picture





peacekitty's picture

I guess I just see it as

I guess I just see it as being "just a tv show" and I don't think it's detrimental to the lesbian community in general.  I watched only part of episode 1 and liked the cast but thought it was ultimately boring and didn't feel the desire to watch it again.

As for the actual sex, I would find it embarrassing and feel weird watching it. Who doesn't like a hot love scene in movies, but we know it's fake.  It just feels strange and voyeristic to watch the real deal in a reality show.


"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

MacLass_19's picture

Hi PK !!

I've enjoyed the episodes that I've watched. I kind of even loved it....Of course, with a large cast, there are some individuals that we may empathize with - and others that we don't. Actually, in that regard, it's not much different than our own lives.

You have a good attitude PK. You're right, it's television, allegedly entertainment. Television is an amazing medium. It has the ability to entertain, educate, inform, and enlighten. But, it also has the ability to be very singular, at times, in it's application. In this case, it's voyeuristic, reality TV. It's not meant to educate or inform. And for some, barely entertain. But to me, that's okay. If it was being placed before the viewing public, as a documentary and claimed to represent all lesbians, I'd be all up in Showtime's business. 

I can take it, or leave it. It certainly doesn't have the appeal of TLW. But, it's a reality show.

Nice to see you PK...   Smile

minniesota's picture


I would love to see TRLW cast members on ABC's Wipeout! For some strange reason, I have become addicted to Wipeout this summer.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

MacLass_19's picture

Heeeeee heeeeeeeeee

That is a fucking, sick-ass show! Hilarious, but extremely twisted. Who would put themselves through the torture that those folks go through... I've only seen the promo's for it. Has anyone ever won? What do they get if they survive the brutality?

Actually, watching the TRLW cast get beat up would be kinda fun! Okay, I have a very evil side to me.


minniesota's picture

Moolah for the winner

I am watching it this very minute! Haha. The winner brings home $50,000.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

MacLass_19's picture

Exploitation? I don't think so.

The bottom line...this is a reality show. Period. And, whether we may like it, or not, it is the reality that these women live. It's their life. How many times is this site going to complain about the show, and how these women are being portrayed? The show is not a commentary on all lesbians in every corner of the earth.

As I stated in another blog, the controversy encouraged me to watch. It intrigued me. So, I popped some popcorn and my gf and I watched. To date, I've scene two episodes. And quite honestly, I've enjoyed it.

Yes, I can relate to some of the characters...particularly, Nikki and Jill. The dynamics of their relationship goes much deeper than planning a wedding, and living a pretentious, 'West Hollywood', lifestyle as so many seem preoccupied with. The 'strap on' episode included the planning for their first family Seder/Passover celebration together in their home. Watching Nikki and Jill making decisions, and organizing a family event that they both felt was culturally significant to both of them, was very telling about their individual personalities. It was interesting to watch. I could relate to the compromising moments in their relationship. 

Unlike yourself, Moon, I watched the episode in question...... No big deal. Really. The scene was beyond boring, and 'penetration' was never visible. (There has certainly been more 'exploitative' sex scenes in Big Brother, and the definately in the upcoming show... Bachelor Pad.) The only time the strap on was even seen was when Whitney, and her best friend, went shopping for it. In the actual scene, well, Whitney looked like an insensitive fool, there was no perceivable 'emotional connection' between the Romi and Whitney. It wasn't erotic, at all. Just a mechanical, and emotionally disconnected, scene with two women who, one might say, appeared a bit bored themselves. It lasted...seconds. *Yawn*

I do find the emphasis on alcohol abuse disturbing in the show, but it is an unfortunate reality in the gay community. Substance abuse is often the bane of jokes amongst ourselves, the subject of numerous humorous blogs, etc.. But, when it's displayed to us, we would prefer to deny that it is a big part of our 'bar' and 'party' culture. Didn't we all just laugh at the campy, Second City video in the Profs 'cougar' blog? I recall the depiction of a young girl, drunken and throwing up, and a lesbian 'cougar' going for it? Many of us, including myself, laughed. Maybe it's the truth that bothers us. 

I'm somewhat surprised that the 'strap on' scene would be so controversial. The episode that included that scene, also included a scene that I found much more disturbing. During, yet another alcohol infused party scene, Whitney, snuck off with another girl and fucked her with the same strap on, and in the same bed, that she and Romi had shared. When Romi figured out what was going on, we could see how hurt she was. The camera could read the pain in Romi's face very clearly. Actually, at that point, I felt very voyeuristic - even uncomfortable. I could feel her pain, it wasn't a good thing. And Whitney? She appeared very satisfied with, yet another, conquest. Oh, one more thing, Romi had never experienced a 'strap on', and judging by her reaction to Whitney being with another girl, it meant more to her than the camera led on. 

I don't want to review the entire 'strap on' episode, I'll just say that portions of the show definitely displayed some of the women in a negative light. But, not everyone.

Aside from the drinking, sleeping around, emotional disconnects, self deprecating behavior, egos, back stabbing, and more drinking, it is a typical 'reality' show. And, IMO, it doesn't matter if it was set in the midwest, east coast, or a deserted island in the pacific - the dynamics are meant to raise eyebrows, and get ratings. West Hollywood or Toledo, it doesn't matter.

Reality shows are the dirty little secret that 'Hollywood' loves... and viewers eat it up like candy. They're cheap to produce, and people can't stop talking about them. Just like this site can't stop - even after blogging that the site was through talking about TRLW, it hasn't stopped yet. Addiction, that's what reality shows are all about. Addicting viewers to the dysfunction...

I have yet to hear heteros pissing and moaning about 'Snooki' or 'The Situation'..... Perhaps it's because there are so many dysfunctional heteros, displayed in reality shows, that heteros have simply become immune to the display of stereotypical, reality slop. Or, perhaps it's because they're comfortable in their own skin, and don't feel the need to continually state their dislike of such ignorant programming. Or, perhaps it's because they're not judged, as we are, denied their visibility and equal rights, as we are. I'm pretty sure it's a combination of all three factors.

I'm hopeful that, eventually, there will be enough diversity, in television programming, that we won't feel the need to dissect each and every show. But we will, instead, be able to embrace positive images and a more varied portrayal of our lives.  I'm hopeful that, eventually, our presence on television won't be seen as such a circus sideshow. I'm hopeful that, eventually, the public will understand that bad reality shows are simply... bad reality shows, and not a representation of our entire community. And with that, hopefully, a broader understanding to who we are, who we really are. And perhaps it could help to heal some of the hate that is so prevalent in our society.

I would suppose that if we want reality shows, or any show, to be more representative of our communities diversity.... we need to first accept diversity in our community, ourselves. Not everyone fits into a tidy, politically correct, lesbian box. Not everyone is the same, or wants the same things out of life - and personally, I appreciate that.

The bottom line - TRLW is a reality show. Not necessarily everyone's reality. 


**Oh yeah. After about 20 minutes of watching the show, my gf went outside. She decided that brushing our horse's teeth was more entertaining than watching TRLW. She's so not into watching programming that, as she put it.... 'is a blatant representation of the selling out of our culture for corporate profit'. I disagreed with her, finished the show & the popcorn.


Robin Rigby's picture

Actually, I believe what was

Actually, I believe what was said on the prior blog was- No more recaps. Which is hardly the same thing as - No more coverage.

Mjfranci's picture

I felt it was implied that coverage would stop

as well.

There are entire Will & Grace episodes out there that could serve as really cool quotes for signatures. Yes, whole episodes!

Robin Rigby's picture

The blog in which Moon lets

The blog in which Moon lets Watson give up her weekly viewing said this at the lead in:

After much debate, confusion and Googling the Editors of Velvetparkhave decided NOT to review The Real L Word any longer. 

I added the bold for emphasis.  Now, we could debate if Moon is reviewing the show in this blog but since she admits she hasn't seen it I don't think this qualifies.  Since the first lines are about Julia not wanting to watch the show anymore I think their intent was clear.  

This is a lesbian website.  Expecting the editors to ignore a lesbian themed TV show, movie, concert, et al is silly.  

Mjfranci's picture

Ok, thanks for alluding to my

sillyness. I somehow did understand that blog as including reviewing, partially recaping, b*tching about it... You name it. But if you think there was a grey area when that blog used the word "review" and if you also find one in the nature of this current blog, who am I to say otherwise?



There are entire Will & Grace episodes out there that could serve as really cool quotes for signatures. Yes, whole episodes!

Grace Moon's picture

the editorial perspective

of Vp is that we make cultural commentary.
*edit to add:
reviewing, re-capping and comentary/op-ed are entirily different kinds of writing.

We stopped doing recaps because we found the show was no longer worth re-caping or reviewing for that matter.

That The L Word has become a "Brand" that exploits lesbians is entirely my cultural opinion.

We clearly have no problem discussing any kind of sex on this site, And we are actively supporting Crash Pad the Queer Porn Company we've given advertising to on the side bar.

***As long as sex partners are consenting — on and off camera — there is nothing out of bounds.***

This girl Romi seems not to have been in a state of mind to consent to having penetration sex on camera. I know few sober people who would.

The 2nd point that seemed to be gleaned over in my post is that Lesbian Sex in MS entertainment is trivialized and rendered meaningless. And TRLW / TKAAR are the two only examples of lesbians in entertainment right now.

If I feel like discussing this again, I just may.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Tex's picture

Hell yeah!

But please don't!  heheheheheheeeeee

Twitter Time @kdhales

Robin Rigby's picture

"Lesbian Sex in MS

"Lesbian Sex in MS entertainment is trivialized"

Toodlin pointed this out this morning and I thought to myself- Gee, did everyone else miss that this was Grace's point?  I meant to comment to her but haven't had a chance to yet.  Let me do that now.  

jahbooti's picture

take a chill pill ...

why is everyone panties in a twist about a little strap-on sex. Which was very steamy and hot BTW! (I support the gay community by watching and reading as many gay things instead of criticizing them out right) 

Yes, the characters on TRLW are ridiculously-annoyingly-childish but so many adults are guilty of this very trait. I watch TRLW knowing who i am as lesbian woman and make fun and laugh with the rest of the world about what a slut Whitney is and how fucked up Rose is in the same fashion that i made fun of Mike the Miz and the rest of the Real World Crew when i identified as a straight woman. 

The fact is not every lesbian is like you and just because they are a little trashy doesn't make them any less lesbian ... it just make them a trashy lesbian and trashy lesbians deserve a voice too! 

thewritersays's picture


Thank you Smile

It was hot and steamy! People need to relax a little.

minniesota's picture

This reminds me

This reminds me. Did you ever see the show on HBO called Taxicab Confessions? It has been around since 1995. They place hidden cameras in the cab, record the passengers, then reveal at the end of the ride they are being filmed and ask for a release. The taxicab driver is good at getting the passengers to converse and some of the passengers are really fascinating. (Apparently they must collect a lot of footage to get fascinating people).

The first time I watched it (earlier in this decade), I watched a hetereosexual couple having sex in the back of a cab. At the time, I almost couldn't believe my eyes, but yes, there it was!

I always wondered if some of the passengers were sober enough to sign a release form.

Just a TV memory blast from the past!



Still searching for the right brainy quote.

MacLass_19's picture


According to reviews, that show was / is major trash....is it still on the air? I've never seen it.

I remember, years ago, reading review after review of the show. All were implicitly, negative. But, viewers loved it!  What does that say about us? 

minniesota's picture

Emmy worthy, I guess

Well, the show has won an Emmy in 1995 for "Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Special" and has been nominated three other times. So I guess it had a socially redeeming value, at least in someone's eyes in the industry. Laughing out loud

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

MacLass_19's picture


Informational Special? Really? OMG. What's happening to the America I grew up believing in?  LMAO


Tex's picture


They didn't choose you for Work of Art? Piss on 'em!

Twitter Time @kdhales

geek4grammar's picture

reality TV...what has it done for anyone, ever?

I haven't watched the show at all (despite the fact that people keep giving me links to download it for free), because I just do not care for reality TV, period. It's stupid, and watching it makes us all stupider, IMHO. I'm honestly not sure if there's really any difference in how exploitative and poorly representative it is for us vs. the mainstream (straight) world...but have there been any pay-cable reality shows before this? Because my first thought was, "wait, they can't show sex on reality TV! Oh, wait, yes they can, it's showtime." I'm still horrified that they did it, but I would've assumed that the cast and producers had sat down in advance of the filming and agreed on what was allowed and what was not allowed to be filmed. The strap-on is immaterial to me; what matters is, if you're gonna film real people having real sex for reality TV, you damn well better have their freaking permission to do so. 

We're all born naked. The rest is drag.
--RuPaul (appropriating Judith Butler for the masses...)

Mjfranci's picture

Grace, U may be

giving the TRLW way too much power. Society and the world at large don't take cues from this show alone. And didn't I read somewhere that TRLW was being canned from VP because it just sucked? What happened to that resolution?

This post proves that shlock shock actually does work because the show found its way into being written about on VP again. Hurt them where it matters--ignore the shlock and sensationalism and praise the positive portrayals. They ought to get the message.

There are entire Will & Grace episodes out there that could serve as really cool quotes for signatures. Yes, whole episodes!

Erika Davis's picture

Maybe we should call Oprah

I understand what you're saying, Moon.  I'm with you, sister!  It's unfortunate that TRLW is doing a pretty terrible job of portraying "real lesbians"  I'm sure that some of us feel like they're being represented, maybe?  Possibly?  But no one that I know.  For most of us we've never seen it (like me) or saw it and refuse to watch it again.  The thing that sucks is that it paints a picture for the rest of the world to see and therefore to make up their minds about what is and is not homosexual life.

Shows like Real World (from what I remember) definitely showed some steamy scenes in it's day but because it was MTV and not Showtime at most you got some moaning and some black lights with shots of folks under covers.  We are sexual creatures, just like all human beings, and I'm not ashamed of the sex that I have.  On the other hand, I don't know what they did and did not show but I will agree that you'd never see a big ole man-penis on the small screen or the big screen for that matter.  Even with television and movies you get bush, ass and tits for the ladies and a little peak of stand-in ass for the dudes.  It's totally not fair.

I actually was looking forward to TRLW and was hopeful that IC could have done it tastefully but tasteful and the actual real lives of real lesbians wouldn't sell.  Especially since she sold it under "The Real" L Word.  I mean, fans of TLW had expectations and characters like Shane and Papi that they were hoping to see in "real" life so IC found 'em. 

I would support a show on Bravo, or Lifetime, or which ever network aired John and Kate and the series about the little people because we got to take a look at the lives of "different" family dynamics in an actual "real" way.  I actually would be into signing a petition to have a network brave enough to take on a real lesbian story line of a couple in Texas, Ohio, Michigan, and a big city like NYC or Portland.  Show a real couple paying their bills, grocery shopping, enjoyinig dinner together, raising children.

Would a network do that?  I'd like to think so but probably not.  Maybe the O network?  Does the O Network still exist?  Maybe we should call Oprah.

Erika has spoken.
Now, go read my blog Smile

Tiff's picture

Well said.

Also, I like your idea of a network following a real storyline; however please please please don't let it be TLC (the network that airs those other shows). I don't own a television and only keep up with two shows currently (well, actually I'm pretty behind on one, so Glee's pretty much it), so I don't know much about the programs offered on TLC, other than that it seems to be the modern day equivalent to the circus side show. Step right up see the: octopus woman, lizard boy, family with many multiples, family with twenty kids, etc.... I can only hope that they don't get it in their heads to do a show featuring a gay couple. I think I heard the O Network was sold and she's about to start another network. Forget the O Network and Logo. Ellen should have a channel. Smile

thewritersays's picture

It is reality...

We are all doin' it...whether it is behind closed door or on the kitchen table where your neighbors can see. The difference is...It was done on TV and they wanted ratings. In our culture, society assumes that we all use strap-ons. Would you have rather they showed Whitney finger banging (from behind!!!) Romi?. I mean, in regular (hetero) tv shows, they would never show a man or a woman's private. But personally, I think a bio penis does not identify us - so why worry what people think?