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.

jenny block

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!

Nicole Russin aka. Richárde

Nicole Russin, also known as her alter ego Richárde, is a bestselling chef, experienced print journalist and beauty/editorial model. You may visit her official website at NicoleRussin.com.

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