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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Reality Bytes: Gay 'Shock Jock' Hartley
by David R. Guarino
2003-09-03

This article shared 5598 times since Wed Sep 3, 2003
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Whatever its shortcomings, Sirius Satellite Radio is fast building a reputation for taking risks in the form of innovative, informative, up-to-the-minute programming. Twenty-four hours a day Sirius utilizes three cutting-edge satellites (moving above the earth in figure-eight geo-synchronous orbits) to broadcast diverse and exciting programming to absolutely all areas of the continental U.S. A Sirius-ready radio can provide you with the ultimate streaming experience and it all originates from the National Broadcast Studios in New York City.

Besides continual stream offerings of an enviable array of music to suit virtually all tastes and styles, Sirius provides an interesting lineup of diverse programming under the umbrella name of 'OutQ.' Among other things, OutQ markets itself proudly as the only national provider of news, entertainment and up-to-date lifestyle information specifically targeted at the GLBT Community.

One of the most interesting (and controversial) shows in the OutQ lineup is a daily talk show entitled The Derek and Romaine Show, hosted by columnist/dating relationship guru Derek Hartley and Romaine Patterson, prominent GLBT activist and founder of Angel Action. Hartley and Patterson have pulled together a searing, controversial yet highly entertaining gay talk-fest centering on everything from love, courtship and relationships to at-length no-holds-barred discussions of GLBT sex and its many corollaries, including S & M, fetishes, the leather scene, the circuit scene, and more. The show has elicited both praise and condemnation but one thing is for certain, it is rarely dull. Hartley has, for his part in the proceedings, been labeled a gay 'Shock Jock' by many media pundits.

Derek Hartley got his start in print back in 1995, writing for the gay press. Born in Fredericksburg, Va., he is widely known for his gay dating/relationship column in PlanetOut, 'Fantasy Man Island.' Prior to that, Derek penned the nationally syndicated column, 'Deep Inside Hollywood.'

A collection of Hartley's column excerpts and essays provide the framework of his upcoming book, None the Wiser, due in bookstores later this year.

DG: How did you come up with the title, 'Fantasy Man Island?'

DH: (laughs) I wanted to call the column 'Boy World.' And AOL, which is a PlanetOut partner, had a real problem with it. They had concern about the use of the word 'Boy.' And 'Man World,' I don't know, it just sounded like a porn company ... . So one day I just kind of came up with it, 'Fantasy Man Island.' Because I liked creating an idea in people's heads of sort of a mythical place that was filled with cute guys. I was the intrepid reporter inside that world giving people the lowdown on it. That expanded because I was more interested in talking about myself ... than other people.

DG: What advice do you give people who are looking to meet someone?

DH: I advise people that the best place to meet someone is doing the activities that you love, whatever those might be. You're so much more likely to meet someone who shares your interests by going out and doing the things that you most enjoy. And for most people, their interest is really not sitting on-line for six hours a night! I think if people got out of their homes and did more things like, join a sports team, go to a church or join a religious group, they are more likely to meet someone who is like them.

DG: Gay Cruises are very popular these days ... your take on them?

DH: This actually came up on our show last night. Someone was going on a cruise and I said to him, 'Don't sleep with anybody on the first two days' (unless it's a three-day cruise).' Because the first day you get there it's like, 'Wow, all of these guys are so cute, he's hot, so is he, blah, blah, blah.' But the next morning you wake up, and they're all there at breakfast!' Then, they're all there at lunch. By dinner you realize that you can't leave this 'bar' and go someplace else and meet new people! So for the sake of your sanity and your reputation, you should let things shake out for the first couple of days and figure out who the flighty people are and who are the people with the bad reputations ... word gets around pretty fast on a gay cruise. Then you can make a wiser choice as to who you want to sleep with.

DG: How do you feel about circuit parties? A valid place to meet men or just an excuse to get drugged out, drunk and have unsafe sex?

DH: I think that gay people, boy, they sure do love their fantasies! And the circuit parties are our version of Disneyland. It's such an escape from reality, and what kills me about the circuit parties is that so many of the people who go to them are white-collar professionals! Doctors, lawyers, the kind of people that you would least think would be dancing on a table with their shirt off and having sex with four guys at the same time. But part of the attraction is that I think they are looking for an escape from their lives. I'm concerned about the drug use, the unsafe sex, but people need to let off steam.

DG: Is it easier for lesbians to maintain long-term relationships?

DH: It certainly seems that way. I think that part of (the reason for) it is the nature of women versus the nature of men. Many more women than men (but not all women) are more interested in nesting situations. And even in such venues as 'lesbian love circles' they end up dating one another and passing girlfriends on to other past girlfriends who are now their best friends. I think that women are more comfortable in their sexuality, more at ease with themselves and thus are better equipped to have those kinds of stable relationships where an ex can turn into a best friend who can turn into somebody who introduces you to somebody else that you date. I think that gay men, unfortunately are far more territorial, far more jealous and we're far less likely to be OK with our best friend being our ex-boyfriend. Maybe it's just about being a gay man; maybe it's about the culture that we create for ourselves.

DG: Talk about middle-aged gay men. Do you get many calls from this segment.

DH: I would hate to think that the way I felt about relationships and dating at 22 would be the same that I felt at 52 or 62. I do get some mail from older gay men, mostly they're crabbing about something I've written. I get a lot of hate mail from all quarters (laughs). I love it! ... Older gay men are almost like this ... mystery. Part of it is AIDS. You and I have been sexually active within the last 20 years ... first of all it wiped out a whole generation of gay men ... . And then also there has been this expectation for those of us who are my age (in their 20s) that there may have not been this long life expectancy for us. Gay men are really not saving anything for the trip back. We're not really focused on things like, 'Hey, what's it going to be like when I'm 80 and gay?' So I think that the problem is that there is sort of a great mystery built up around gay men who are in their 50s and 60s and beyond ... because we (the younger population) don't have any interaction with them. ...

DG: Who is your audience?

DH: Most of the mail that I get right now from my column is from 19, twenty, 21-year-olds, because all they think about is dating. They only care about dating and they're obsessed with it, so they can't wait to read my column and find out what I have to say about dating. Seriously, it's their whole world and I hope that when I'm 60, my whole world won't be about dating!

DG: Can you talk a bit about Romaine's friendship with Matthew Shepard?

DH: Actually, it was really interesting. Romaine and I have not talked a lot about Matthew Shepard. Now it's something that she talks about a lot. Part of it is the fact that she's already spoken quite a bit on the subject with the press and in public. Mostly these days Romaine is obsessed with The Laramie Project, the HBO movie done on Matthew's death and its effects on the town of Laramie, Wyoming ... [S]he didn't like the way Christina Ricci played her (Romaine) in the film ... . Everything that Christina Ricci did in the film playing her was wrong as far as Romaine is concerned! But with Matthew Shepard something that I did not know was that Romaine hadn't talked to him in months during the period before he died. He had done something that pissed her off. And Romaine's a bit volatile, I love that about her ... she's a lot like me in the sense that when somebody crosses you, you cross them off. ... The weekend before he died he called her up and they talked on the phone and had some closure in their relationship, even though they didn't know it was closure at the time. ... I had just thought they were best friends and they were hanging out all the time together and then this (tragedy) happened ... But (in fact) Romaine's relationship with Matthew was actually very complex. Her perspective on Matthew is very realistic, he is not a saint and he is not a martyr (in her eyes). He was a person who had a real life and real issues ... the nice thing about Romaine is that she's not into holding up this myth about him; that he was something that he wasn't.

DG: Tell us about your book.

DH: It's going to be a collection of essays which focus basically on life and sex. There's going to be some past columns of mine that are going to be incorporated into it and also some new material.

DG: Could you take me back to the most outrageous segment you have ever aired on the Derek and Romaine show?

DH: We had the porn star Michael Brandon on our show. And he, in case you don't know him, has a very large 10-inch penis. Yeah. And he took it out and got it hard and was thumping it on the counter during the show. ... And then Romaine was grabbing it. ... She's a lesbian but she's obsessed with men's chests and penises. So we got some photos of Romaine grabbing Michael Brandon's penis ... he has a name for it; it's called 'the monster.' And he kept insisting (on the air) that we call it 'the cock.' ... Actually people loved it. They called in and they loved it. But we caused quite a bit of a stir ... On another show we had Inga Muscio talking about her book, Cunt. Again, we used this word about thirty times on our show in that hour and the word is kind of a lightning rod for people. We were encouraging people to go to Barnes & Noble and go up to the head salesperson and say, 'Excuse me, do you have Cunt?' Hartley can be heard on 'The Derek and Romaine Show,' which he co-hosts weeknights on Sirius Radio from 6-9 p.m. CST.


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