“The camera became a part of all aspects of my life. I began to bring my camera everywhere and I started taking photos every day, of everything. I now specialize in taking pictures of New York City, its architecture and people. I strive to capture NYC life in all of its aspects from the seemingly ordinary to the famous and familiar and showcase them from my own perspective. My hope is that my emotions and passion for this city that I love resonate with people when they see my photos,” he says.
Nicole Russin, also known as Richárde, is a bestselling chef, print journalist and beauty/editorial model.
POP INTERVIEW: Jenny Block: Don’t Be Fooled by the Rocks, Um, Pen, That She Got!
Writer Jenny Block chats it up about open marriages, her life beneath the sheets, and how being such a candid scribe goes over with her mom.
Jenny Block, a gifted writer who is not from the Bronx block sung about by Jennifer Lopez but lives “on the page,” has blogged/written for The Huffington Post, ELLE Girl, Veranda and other websites and written a book, Open: Love, Sex & Life in an Open Marriage. As a guest, she has appeared on the right wing Fox News and free spirited Playboy Radio programming. She reached me on her day off to talk about her scribe world.
OK, please put this into a better perspective, because the second I talk about you being in an open marriage, a million men (and possibly women) are going to want your number imagining a porn movie. And I highly doubt your lifestyle is like that. What is being in an open marriage really about because you obviously want to keep your marriage strong, or it would be called “open divorce?”
It’s about respecting the truth that human beings are not monogamous by nature. It’s about putting the Cinderella myth to bed. It’s about the fact that there is not a one-size-fits-all relationship. Heterosexual monogamy is not for everyone. It has a crummy success rate. Only “the Church” demands that it be everyone’s choice no matter who they are. So why do we continue to act as if it’s the only way, the “right” way for EVERYONE to live?
It’s fantastic that you don’t mind hiding your real identity with your sex life themed writing. However, our era isn’t entirely ready for every female to go about doing this. Where should everyday people draw the line when discussing sexual relationships outside of the home?
That completely depends on them. If you are going to lose your family, friends, job, etc., you may well want to keep your relationship status to yourself. On the other hand, the more people who share their “non-traditional” lifestyles, the more people who will feel like other options are open to them. The more people who will come to realize that there’s nothing wrong with who they are simply because heterosexual monogamy doesn’t suit them. And the sooner that more lifestyles will become the “norm.”
What would have to happen so women could do this? Some guys I know still see Kim Cattrall’s “Sex and the City” persona as a future crazy cat lady with her garbage bag o’ clothes in one hand.
That is the million-dollar question. To my mind, it’s going to take two things – more people are going to have to live openly and honestly (as I mentioned above) and more time will have to past. We’re just not there yet. But we will be.
What are your talks like as a mother when you bring up sex and have you ever brought up your own sex life? Did you have to answer any questions?
I am honest and age appropriate. I answer the questions that my now 13-year-old daughter asks. And I don’t share details. That would be too weird for me and for her. I think it would be too weird between any parent and child. But things like how old I was when I lost my virginity and whether I ever failed to use a condom, things like that I am happy to share with her when she wants me to because those are the things that she can learn from. And I am happy to discuss any topics or issues that she wants to address. We could fix 99% of relationship and sexuality issues with conversation. And that conversation should definitely start at home.
You wrote a column about Mitt Romney called “It’s Just Common Sense.” I really understand neither side of the aisle is going to change their minds about politics. So, please give us your opinion for people who may want to switch parties or avoid supporting their GOP candidates in 2014 why they should become liberal momentarily or for life? Or vice versa, I suppose, if they hate being a Democrat? Why did you hate Mitt Romney anyway as a candidate? Assuming you answered this before he acted like he wasted donors’ money by stating he “didn’t want to be president, anyway,” and…pretty much, now everyone hates him of course, whether GOP, Green or Democrats, haha.
I cannot support anyone who does not respect women and members of the LGBT community. I cannot support anyone who is so removed from reality that he has no idea how hyper-privileged he is and how many people are truly suffering. I would suggest that everyone think about what their politicians really are saying when they vote for tax cuts for the rich or think they can legislate love or speak to issues they know nothing about or work vehemently to take away the rights and humanity from 50% of the population because they don’t have penises or because they love someone of the same sex. I cannot imagine how any self-respecting woman or LGBTQ person could support Romney or most of the GOP for that matter. It makes me so sad that he has a wife and daughters. They deserve better. I have zero tolerance for intolerance.
You wrote an essay for Jennifer Skiff’s book, “The Divinity of Dogs,” about your Chihuahua/Cairn Terrier mix Walter. Please talk about your relationship with him and why you think everyone should own a pet.
No one has ever loved me the way Walter does. My husband and girlfriend and daughter and family and friends love me. But I also drive them nuts and make them want to strangle me sometimes. Walter never wants anything more than to be with me. Never. I think everyone should have the chance to be loved like that.
Much of your writing has a subtle, almost “Glade fresh, mmm, heck yeah that’s good, ‘Rain’ flavor!” feminist tone. I hope you know what I mean: where it’s there but not in your face. Is this done on purpose? And I used that scent because I really cannot stand “Apple” and don’t want to compare your work to it; it’s absolutely too stinky and overpowering.
I don’t think I do it on purpose per se. That simply is my voice. Militance has never really been my style. It doesn’t feel good to me and it doesn’t do anything in the pursuit of connecting to others. And, ultimately, for me, that’s what feminism is about, clarifying once and for all that women are not “asking” for any kind of favors. We are simply demanding what is already ours, yet not enough people recognize – equality. On every front, in every case, for every venue, job, event, experience. It’s getting old. We don’t need men anymore. We can want them. But we don’t need them to support us or protect us. And that’s better for both sexes. Why would a man want to be with a woman just because he can make money and give her health insurance? That’s too akin to prostitution for my taste. A man should want to be with a woman because they want one another, because they are better together than apart, because she challenges and interests and inspires him and vice versa. Not because she can’t get earn a living and/or otherwise take care of herself.
You wrote about art sculptures for The Dallas Observer. I guess I didn’t expect you’d be into art! What is your favorite style of art? Did you ever take hard core art classes in college, the type where you write using awesome, big, dictionary words like “juxtaposition?” What do you want to learn about the art world? How does it compare to your writing?
Art history was my minor in college. I don’t think I could pick one style. I like art that speaks to me in one way or another. I love writing about art. You can’t be wrong. Art is all about inspiration and revelation and interpretation. It’s all about the viewer’s relationship with that being viewed.
And I do love to use the word juxtaposition. I also love to use the word post-apocalyptic.
As someone who defines herself as bisexual, do you hate it when actresses and singers claim to like women for men’s magazines? How do you feel about the term “girl crush?”
I don’t hate it. I just don’t like to see women cowing to the male gaze. Too many men think that a woman being bisexual means that she wants to have a threesome with him and her best girlfriend in which the two of them “perform” for him. It’s ridiculous and demeaning.
I don’t mind the term girl crush. I think it’s great that women feel comfortable enough to dig another girl even if it’s really admiration and not sexual attraction that’s driving it. What I want, what I believe in, what I hope my writing leads us to, is a world where all people can live honestly and be treated equally. Period.
Seriously, the whole time I’m asking you questions, I thank your name for putting “Jenny from the Block” in my head like a bad elevator song loop. So with that as a segue…pardon me for the awful pun here, if I wanted to head over to your block, what do you do to avoid writer’s block? What do you do to get in the mood as a writer?
There’s not much I can do to avoid writer’s block or get in the mood. I wish there was. My writing mentor always says the key to good writing is, “Butt in the chair.” So I do my best to remember that. I do my best to sit myself down and remind myself that if every writer waited to “be in the mood,” we’d be without a lot of great literature. I’d venture to guess that’s the case any way. I do love to be outside. So if I can be outside to write, that definitely helps. And I tend to write late at night. Although I’m trying to break that habit. I also write best when someone or something incites me or when a situation or landscape or anything really inspires me.
On the other hand, I love your writing and don’t want to diss it whatsoever. LOVE. Like…I want to write it out on a big cake for you and decorate “I love your work” in glitter and draw you a starfish. I actually can decorate cakes oh so well, truth. 😉 But, and perhaps you can answer this as you have a strong girl power to your spirit, I always wanted to be that girl who does what guys do in terms of writing, journalism and in the future, making movies and commanding what goes on at my own and possibly others’ photoshoots up to hair and set pieces. There’s a certain style of art and writing women do, and this includes great work in your vein, and work I see myself doing, like Michael Bay’s “movies for guys who love movies” blowing stuff up or movies about relationships *not* written like a female, OR…playing the guy role. Because whenever I see photography, modeling, movies, etc., I can always tell where there’s been a female hand at play like a psychic. I was wondering how, in your opinion, I can be the rare girl to pull this off and be the one who gets to do what men do with my work now and in the future, successfully? I feel like I actually want to do crazy stuff down to using myself as an object a la Michael Bay sexualizing Megan Fox, as I can separate myself in the process, and so on while controlling the art in a very feminist seeking equality way, if that makes any sense! 🙂
I don’t have an answer for that, I’m afraid. If I did, I’d be that girl. And, I hope I am at least in some ways. And I don’t doubt that you already are and will continue to be!
POP INTERVIEW: Jorge Valencia, Point Foundation CEO/Executive Director
Jorge Valencia, the CEO and Executive Director, talked about his own difficult coming out story, working for President Clinton and his work with the Point Foundation.
The Point Foundation’s website says its mission is to “empower promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential – despite the obstacles often put before them – to make a significant impact on society.”
Jorge Valencia, the CEO and Executive Director, talked about his own difficult coming out story, working for President Clinton and his work with the foundation.
What are examples of great philanthropy that the Point Foundation does?
Point Foundation’s (Point) philanthropy goes well beyond the financial contributions made to its scholars. For example, at Point, we believe that there is much to learn from mentoring – specifically, intergenerational mentoring. Many of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth learn little to nothing about their LGBTQ history in school. Pairing them with a prominent member or ally of our community, provides them with this history and an understanding of the fight for equality and acceptance that has paved the way for them today. Additionally, resources are set aside to further expand our scholars’ educational and professional experience by providing leadership training in areas such as fiscal responsibility, politics, health and well-being, public speaking, as well as implementation of an annual community service project for every year in which Point supports their educational endeavors.
There’s news and highlights about what Point Scholars are doing – their community service projects and their involvement in the LGBTQ community – on our ViewPoint blog: http://blog.pointfoundation.org You can also find on our web site some personal reflections on the benefits of the Mentor and Scholar experience: http://pointfoundation.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/meet_mentor_pair/ and http://pointfoundation.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/mentor-alan-guno/
Your personal coming story is really incredible. When nobody else was in your situation, or if they were, they were closeted, did you confide in anyone in the Mormon community?
I “publically” came out at age 27. However, I knew at a very young age that I was “different.” Growing up Mormon in a Latino household in Texas, the notion that I could love someone the same gender didn’t even seem like an option. I didn’t have any role models, nor did I know of any LGBTQ adults. Moving from a small town in Texas to Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University (BYU) only reinforced that while I could relate to other Mormons or Latinos on a cultural level, my sexual orientation left little for which I could relate. Since leaving BYU, I have reconnected with numerous members of the LGBTQ community from my home town and BYU. Little did I know that we were all living in the closet for fear of being rejected by families, communities and educational institutions. And it is for these reasons, as well as the lack of visibility of the LGBTQ community, that I never confided in anyone regarding my full identity.
Also, as you grew up in Texas and were among the Hispanic mentality, there’s this air of men having to be macho all the time, which means, besides acting out like that in regular life, nothing other than dating women. I’ve seen this myself often in real life and through American Hispanic and European programming. How did this affect you as a teen? How did it affect people you know? What is the way to make people from other backgrounds, such as particularly religious or in some cultural groups into seeing you can be a traditionally macho, still strong, gay man?
As a teen, I definitely felt the pressures that many young men in the Latino community still feel today – that of never showing weakness or vulnerability, of showing little to no emotion unless those feelings are focused towards competition and survival. Thankfully, the youth of today are stronger than many of us were and are rejecting labels associated with gender – even in the Latino community. Like me, many of my peers felt pressured into participating in sports or proving their manhood. For some, this was accomplished by joining gangs or participating in what was perceived to be “manly” activities – drinking, smoking and even purposefully treating women as inferiors. In time, I was made aware that some of my gay, Latino classmates got married and had children because it was expected of them. As a result, families were ignored while they explored their sexuality on the side – living a conflicted and double life.
I believe that both religious and cultural groups are experiencing the rejection of labels by many of our youth, as well as a shift in society towards more inclusiveness. As such, these groups are being faced with evaluation of traditional roles. I also believe that women have had a great deal to do with the breakdown of barriers as they rejected traditional roles and began to fight for and embrace their individuality and rightful place in society as equals. My personal belief is that through honesty in living one’s life, stereotypes will continue to weaken and ultimately (I hope) individuals will be accepted on their merits rather than preconceived roles in life.
When you were a missionary, did you ever encounter young men and women in the closet? Did you reach out to them in any way?
As a missionary in Brazil, I was still under the impression that this “difference” or “weakness” could be worked out through prayer if I dedicated myself fully to the task at hand. As such, I was either completely oblivious to sexual identity or chose not to face it for fear of my own struggles with my identity. I have no doubt that I came across some young men and women who were struggling with their sexual identity, but given the Mormon church’s view on homosexuality at the time of my mission, I’m not sure I would have known how to offered much help, other than to do what I was doing at that very moment – praying for these feelings to simply go away.
You used to work with the Trevor Project. What are some alternatives to suicide people should look for? What about things beyond seeking therapy that will help someone feel better?
I worked with The Trevor Project for five years, from 2001-2006. I am so fortunate to have worked with the founders and some very passionate board members in the establishment of the organization’s infrastructure and programs. Suicide should never be an option. There are so many resources available today for young people and adults. Whether someone struggles with depression that may require professional counseling and treatment, suicidal signs can identified and as a result, it can be avoided. The first step is to attempt to find a caring individual – a family member, a friend, a teacher – with whom you can confide. If this isn’t possible, there is always The Trevor Project, which is toll-free and anonymous. They also have options for writing in anonymously. Communicate with others who care for you and love you unconditionally. Look for a local LGBTQ center or contact PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays), which is comprised of adults who have a family member who is LGBTQ. You may be surprised to know that you’re not alone and that there is so much more to look forward to in life – take it one day at a time.
Aside from therapy, if you’re of junior high or high school age, there is no better way to feel better about oneself than to engage in your school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) or the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Even if you’re not comfortable joining this group, you’ll find someone within this group, including a faculty member who will be supportive. If you’re an adult, find a local LGBTQ Center. They typically have individual and group counseling and you’ll find a community of individuals who know exactly what you’re facing. I hear over and over again that engaging as a volunteer with a local charity not only provides much-needed support to the charity, but provides you with a network of caring individuals brought together through a common cause.
When students apply for a Point Foundation scholarship, what do you look for? How successful has your scholarship program been? What do the scholarship winners go on to do after college?
Point Foundation looks at a number of factors when considering recipients for its highly competitive scholarships. However, there are three specifics areas to which we pay special attention: 1) academic excellence, 2) leadership/community service commitment – within the LGBTQ community, as well as society as a whole and 3) need, which may be defined as financial or emotional. Success can be interpreted in a number of ways. For us, success is seeing an individual able to attain a higher education at the institution of their choice and eventually entering the workplace, while giving back to society through continued community service. We’re very proud of our current class of 76 Point Scholars and our 145 alumni who have gone on to serve as educators, award-winning filmmakers, doctors, lawyers, artists and even elected officials.
The website mentions advocacy. What are you working on politically and in public speaking throughout 2013?
Our scholars are engaged in numerous advocacy efforts. We empower them, and encourage them through their required community service projects, to seek LGBTQ causes that are important to them personally. And they are often asked to speak at conferences throughout the country in their capacity as leaders. As an organization, I have spoken at a number of conferences across the country this past year, including Reaching Out MBA, the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition Youth conference, Utah County Sexual Health Symposium and later this month I will give a keynote speech at the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership’s (CESCaL) annual conference. Politically, we participate in Equality Caucus meetings in Washington, DC and hope to further engage in issues surrounding higher education among the LGBTQ community.
When President Obama spoke about the LGBTQ community in his inaugural address, was there anything you think he should have added? Do you think he is going to be able to fit progress into his agenda pretty well as much as possible, or might that be something that may take several administrations?
I have had the privilege of attending a Presidential Inauguration twice – once when I worked in the Clinton Administration and this past month’s Presidential Inauguration for President Obama. When I worked for the Clinton Administration, we had what I believed the most LGBTQ-friendly Administration to date. Simply knowing that we had someone who recognized us as a community made me proud and gave me hope for the future. But never did I believe that in my lifetime, I’d hear our President vocalize his support for gay marriage and stand behind our community’s fight for equality. Listening to President Obama equate our fight at Stonewall with the fight for equality at Seneca Falls and Selma, in my opinion, gave the LGBTQ community the very clear message that there is no turning back on full equality, which he said when mentioning our journey as a nation. He clearly laid out his agenda for his second term and now it’s up to us to continue the momentum. I could not have asked for more in his address.
POP INTERVIEW: Two LGBT Leaders in PR: Steve Deitsch and Mikey Rox
Nicole interviewed two outstanding publicists who are making Mad Men era’s “straight employees only” whispered policy obsolete.
Being gay used to be the story. Nowadays, we see LGBT influences in PR telling the media what the story ought to be. I interviewed two outstanding publicists who are making Mad Men era’s “straight employees only” whispered policy obsolete.
#1: Steve Deitsch
REVERBERATE! Marketing Communications
An MBA is incredible and provides a vast learning experience for the business world in terms of book knowledge, but it doesn’t teach you about life experiences or how to interact with people. When you were learning how the PR world, what did you have to do?
Getting an MBA was a great learning experience, and for me one of the best parts was being around such smart, motivated and talented people. That in itself was inspiring. Much of what we learned at business school is geared for people who want to go into banking, finance or consulting. I chose a different path, and it seems there are very few MBAs in public relations and communications. Much of what I’ve learned in my career I’ve learned on the job, such as dealing with difficult situations, negotiating a contract, or creating something out of nothing. But every day, I use marketing strategy that I learned in business school and apply it to my clients’ projects.
For someone searching for a publicist, what should he or she do? How can someone tell if someone is right for themselves or their company?
My recommendation would be to get referrals from others, including from media outlets you care about. Also, it’s important to have chemistry with your account team , so meet them and make sure you like them. Also, make sure you will be working with a senior-level person on a day-to-day basis – not a junior person who is learning on the job. Make sure you give the potential firms information on your business situation, your brand, your objectives and your marketing budget – it will help them hone in and give you better programs. Also, check references and look at the results they provided for other clients.
Your brand info states you care a lot about loyalty. This is really hard to do when you just meet someone for the first time, but as they say, the first impression can sometimes be someone’s only impression of you. How do you show someone who could be a client that you will indeed be very local and a commodity to them in business?
A lot of PR/marketing people are “talkers” – they will sell you the moon, and then not deliver. My philosophy is not to BS people – I always tell it like it is. It’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver. If that begins to earn a client’s respect and loyalty, we will make a good team!
And this goes for people outside PR: what is your advice for people in any industry when it comes to showing themselves in their best light?
Be direct and honest. Speak from the heart and be yourself. Give away enough information so that they want more, but not so much that they might try to steal your ideas.
For a product launch, you don’t want to come off like you’re selling snake oil, but you need to push clients and their great work. How do you work with clients so they don’t come off seedy and people can say, “Hey, maybe someone like Estée Lauder has a great new cream?” In terms of both the media covering the event and the actual consumers?
The media and consumers are pretty savvy, generally. They can smell when something is hokey or fishy. But most of all, they can tell right away whether a product or campaign speaks to them in a relevant and engaging way (or not). I would say, most of all, know your target audience. For example, if your target consumer is educated and sophisticated, then an over-the-top or pushy campaign might backfire.
Especially with working for Pfizer and Botox – people can be pretty skeptical when covering pharmaceutical companies or corporations related to cosmetic fillers and uses – how did you successfully lead campaigns through a friendly approach?
Most people think of Botox as a cosmetic “wrinkle relaxer” – but it actually is a treatment for many serious health issues, such as migraine headaches, chronic pain, juvenile cerebral palsy, etc. Botox has more recently gotten approval from the FDA for treating these problems, which helps its image as cosmetic and “fluffy.” Also, the maker of Botox Cosmetic, Allergan, highly discourages things like Botox parties that reduce the seriousness of the treatment. I was involved with everything from media relations on new studies and new treatment options for Botox, to issues management when there was misuse of the product that led to a negative result.
Your PR site mentions you additionally specialize in LGBT PR. What issues arise with LGBT clients that you don’t normally have to deal with otherwise?
The LGBT audience is so important – they spend upwards of $800 Billion in the US alone every year, and are huge influencers of fashion, travel, fitness, entertainment and technology. But reaching this audience is not as easy as it might seem. As I mentioned earlier, knowing your target audience and learning how to speak to them in a relevant, engaging way is so important to marketing a product to that audience. Knowing the right words and images to use with an LGBT audience is crucial, because this audience is particularly sensitive. There are words that you never want to use with this audience, for example, “lifestyle,” “homosexual” or “preference.” The LGBT audience is incredibly brand loyal, though, and once they are a fan of your brand, they will often become passionate advocates of your brand for long periods of time.
How has being gay yourself led you to being a stronger person in your personal life and professionally? I hate to say it like this…but pretending I were a prospective client, in full honesty, I would think dealing with inner conflict and the usual range of emotions one goes through, as well as fitting in with society, would make you a very tough cookie and someone worthy of my time. In comparison to someone who has never had anything happen to them and sort of just landed a PR job because they felt like it in the morning over a bowl of Lucky Charms, you know?
As a minority, being LGBT is different from being African-American or female or Hispanic, for example. Gays can usually assimilate and hide the fact that they are gay – something most other minorities can’t. And many of us as children did not realize we were LGBT. So we were once “on the inside” and later pushed to “the outside.” This has enabled me (and many of my LGBT compatriots) to deal with people who are different from us with empathy instead of hatred and anger. And although it is changing rapidly, LGBTs, it seems, are the last minority that it’s “OK to hate.” For example, LGBT’s can legally be fired in 29 states, just for being gay, even in 2013! So we still have a lot of discrimination and difficulties to deal with. This has made all of us stronger people.
Please tell everyone about what you are doing this week and in the near future with your PR company and brands you are working with!
We work with a wide variety of clients, from New York Life to the American Cancer Society, from a top 40 Billboard recording artist, to the only LGBT Art Museum in the world. We are also working on a public education campaign to end discrimination at work for LGBTs and are working on a project for a major airline.
Paper Rox Scissors
Why did you call your company Paper Rox Scissors? Is it because PR is like a game of chance?
I chose Paper Rox Scissors because it’s a play on my name, Mikey Rox. But Mikey Rox isn’t my real name. It’s a pseudonym I came up with many years ago as an entertainment journalist that has sort of taken on a life of its own. I thought Paper Rox Scissors was clever. It’s really sort of an exercise in branding at this point.
Being new to PR isn’t really a bad thing. If anything, it makes you less “been there, done that.” You think freshly. What are some examples of how you are a great fit for the new decade in PR?
I had an opportunity to add PR to my suite of creative services about two years ago. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know much about the pitching side of PR because, as a writer, I was the one that was being pitched. Nonetheless, I decided to make a go of it, but instead of going the traditional route of charging my clients a monthly retainer, I decided to establish a pay-per-placement model. I thought it was only fair that my clients only pay for the placements I get them opposed to paying a flat monthly fee for something I cannot (and no PR person, mind you) can guarantee. I have a rate card that assigns a reasonable fee to specific types of media like digital placements, national print publications, and local or national TV. An editor at PRWeek once told me that this model is unethical, which made me scratch my head. What’s unethical about laying all the cards out on the table, being transparent, and busting my ass to get my clients what they want in terms of positive public relations? My business model fills a void in the PR world by allowing small businesses that can’t afford a pricey agency to have someone motivated and knowledgeable handle their campaigns. While this may not be the ‘future’ of PR, it’s certainly my future – because unlike a lot of flacks I’ve encountered, I actually like to work.
So, let’s say someone has a severe PR emergency. Someone might have done something like say, “I hate kittens, Justin Bieber, support terrorism and have a new sex tape out.” (Hopefully, that hasn’t happened to any one person at once.) What do you do for damage control?
I don’t rep individuals (although I get asked to rep artists, models, actors, etc. frequently) because it’s really hard to control the message when someone else is talking. People are unpredictable, and that’s just not something I want to get into. How can I, with a good conscience, defend my client to the press and put a positive spin on something with which I don’t agree? I couldn’t and I wouldn’t. So instead of eventually having to drop that idiot on his ass for saying something stupid, I’ve chosen to stay away from the situation entirely. Sadly there’s probably a lot of money involved in that sector, but my reputation is worth more to me than whatever that person could pay me.
Do you believe all publicity is good publicity?
Clearly not all publicity is good publicity. Lance Armstrong is a prime example. I do believe, though, that if people aren’t talking about you, you don’t matter. So thanks for taking the time to talk about me. 🙂
Ages ago, being gay would have been terrible PR. Think about the 1950’s and movie studios! Now, Neil Patrick Harris is a star as a gay man and what seems to be, in his role as a super parent. If you had an LGBT client, what advice would you give them for coming out or if they were never really closeted, how to approach answering questions with the media? What about a gay CEO of a new company who is worried about his new career going down the drain with very religious consumers?
I have always been an advocate for an individual’s decision to come out. I don’t think anybody owes it to anybody besides themselves to come out of the closet. And I think it’s wholly despicable to out somebody, as a certain insecure celebrity blogger used to do. Lives and careers have been ruined by coming out, plain and simple. Consider country singer Chely Wright, as an example. After she came out, her album sales declined significantly because her audience consists primarily of conservatives. Do I wish we lived in a society where it didn’t matter? Sure I do. But it does matter, and unfortunately people can and do still lose their jobs over their sexuality. That said, I think times are changing for the better – in this regard, at least – so it’s becoming less and less cumbersome to speak out and live an honest life. Still, what happens behind closed doors is nobody’s business. If you want to keep your sexuality out of your work, you have every right to do that – and nobody should open their mouth about it unless they intend to pay your mortgage for you if you get fired.
What is your personal story of being LGBT? How did you see people react to it negatively? Before you ever did PR, how did you make people see it positively or at least, as a normal part of your being?
This isn’t something I want to dwell on anymore. I’ve told my coming-out story many times. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Amends have been made, however, and I’m now a successful businessman with a home and a husband in New York City. What I will say, though, to anybody reading this who is contemplating coming out is that everyone will react differently. Some people will embrace you with open arms; others will shut you out. But whatever happens, don’t let the douchebags bring you down. There’s nothing wrong with you. The problem is theirs. Move on and move up.
What are some exciting things you are doing for brands right now?
Currently I working on several social media campaigns, I’m blogging on lots of different topics, and I’m continuing to look for bigger and better placements for my PR clients. Right now I’m talking to editors at Better Homes and Gardens, Vogue, Cooking Light, and Fitness magazines, and I’m continuing to build relationships at TV shows like The Steve Harvey Show and Today. What’s great about what I do is that every day is different. There’s always something creative to tackle. It’s very fulfilling. I’m quite lucky to have this opportunity and I intend to make the most of it. Hopefully you’ll hear more about me and Paper Rox Scissors in the future.
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