On Perverts Put Out

Well. I can say that I really didn’t expect this, of all things, to be the topic of my very first blog post here.

Fox News is currently running a story that references Perverts Put Out, a sexually themed spoken-word series I co-curate with Simon Sheppard and Carol Queen.

Fox News is insinuating that government stimulus funds were funneled through the National Endowment for the Arts to pay for the production of our show(s) and/or to pay our performers directly.

This is a lie.

A little history: Perverts Put Out started as a benefit to raise money for the publishing activities of a small press in San Francisco called Black Books. Black Books specialized in anthologies of sex writing, fictional and memoir. It co-published the Best Bisexual Erotica series, it published my anthology of “rough dyke smut” Tough Girls, it published a zine called Black Sheets, and it published a big guidebook to alternative sexual resources called The Black Book. Back in about 2000, I became an employee of Black Books, and that’s when I started helping out with Perverts Put Out, or PPO as it’s more affectionately known.

From the beginning, PPO was held in a friendly little community performance space in San Francisco called, simply, 848 Space. The founders and curators of 848 Space were primarily dancers, so the space was designed as a dance studio/performance venue, but they were friends of ours, and dance alone didn’t pay the rent, so they let other outside producers hold various events there as well.

A few years ago, Black Books folded, and 848 Space expanded. They moved to a new, bigger and nicer space, professionalized, and started pursuing grants. They also changed their name to CounterPULSE.

After Black Books folded, Simon Sheppard approached me and asked if Perverts Put Out could be revived somehow. Simon was one of the ‘founding readers’ of PPO, a regular and a favorite. He told me that PPO was his absolute favorite place to read, ever, and he’d like to keep it going. I offered to do the publicity end of things.

Then we discussed the money. PPO had always been a benefit, and I liked it that way. I suggested that, with Black Books defunct, all monies raised could be donated to the Center for Sex and Culture, the new nonprofit founded by Dr. Carol Queen and dedicated to sex information, history, and education. Carol came on board as Simon’s co-emcee and our co-curator.

Now all we needed was a space. We contacted CounterPULSE. They remembered PPO and loved it, and they were happy to offer us a few Saturday nights a year to hold our friendly little spoken-word smut salon.

They didn’t offer it for free, of course (and we didn’t expect them to). They offered it for rent.

In other words, quite contrary to what Fox News is currently telling the world, we pay CounterPULSE to put on Perverts Put Out, not the other way around.

We have never taken a penny of federal funding. Never. Not a cent. Your tax dollars are not going to pay for us to stand in front of a microphone and recite dirty stories. I promise.

The news segments coming out of Fox News on this subject are littered with factual errors. PPO is not a weekly revue. We are not a web company. We’re not a dance company. We don’t stage live orgies and invite the audience to join in. I am disappointed, to say the least, at the utter lack of basic fact-checking that went into this so-called news story. As a journalist and editor myself, I can tell you that interns at magazine companies with less than 20 employees can and do manage a better job at fact-checking stories than the supposed high-level pros at Fox News.

But I am angry that they deliberately falsified the basic premise of their story as well. Fox News is using our admittedly catchy and certainly cheeky event title – Perverts Put Out! – as a stick to attack their enemies with. President Obama, the stimulus package, the NEA, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – these are the targets. CounterPULSE, Frameline, and other San Francisco cultural institutions are taking the inevitable collateral damage. They’re potential casualties in an uneccessary, divisive, and distracting culture war – a purposefully devised distraction to derail health care reform and badly needed economic adjustments.

Perverts Put Out itself is not likely to become a casualty, too. But if you’d like to support us and our allies, this is what you can do:

1. Become a member of CounterPULSE, or make a donation.
2. Write a letter of support to the National Endowment for the Arts: 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20506, 202.682.5400, webmgr@arts.endow.gov.
3. You can write a letter to your congressperson.
4. You can write a letter to Fox News.
5. You can do all of the above.

I hope that time will show this to have been a tempest in a teapot, a failed attempt to stir up false controversy and distract Americans from the real, serious business at hand. But in the meantime, I’m ready to correct the record as needed, and speak out whenever I hear lies. Spread the truth. Thanks.

written by Lori Selke at 10:21 pm · 3 comments


  1. Like your co-curator, you can write!

    Clear, succinct, and exactly what needs to be said. Thank you. We’ll be spreading the truth.

    Posted by Debbie Notkin on July 31st, 2009 at 10:29 pm

  2. The “journalists” on Fox “News” who perpetrated that lame-ass piece of scaremongery hate could learn a lot from how to construct a piece by reading this post, and examining its constituent parts.

    Of course, though, they’ll do neither. Because, remind me, when were Fox News ever interested in that quaint concept, the truth?

    Posted by Catherine Taylor on August 1st, 2009 at 6:22 am

  3. (Since I obviously don’t grok Textile formatting, let’s try that again…)

    After mulling on this further, and since I can’t really help with #2 and #3 on your list, I thought I’d spread the word via BlogHer – “The first casualty of Fox News? The truth, maybe?

    Posted by Catherine Taylor on August 1st, 2009 at 7:55 am

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