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Issue 18, 2017

Issue 18



  • Voluntary WOF a Step in the Right Direction

  • ACC Campaign to Target Sexual Violence

  • Free Menstrual Products at VUW!

  • The Impossible Dream: Fairer Fares Update #394

  • Drove My Chevy to the Levee But the Levee Was Dry

  • Inquiry Reveals Climate Change Threatens Millions

  • A Call for Change

  • Gordon Wilson Flats Saved From the Wrecking Ball

  • Features

  • RE: Conceptual Romance

    I was apprehensive to write about Chris Kraus. She seems to have become a bizarre receptacle for the projections of well-read white feminists. People feel compelled to mention Lena Dunham when talking about Kraus. The re-issued copy of I Love Dick resembles the opening credits of Girls. Lena Dunham gifted a copy of I Love […]


  • Red Threads

    There’s a sentiment shared by many on the Left today: capitalism no longer promises to collapse in the distant future; it is collapsing — we live in the end times. For the French-Italian collective the Invisible Committee (IC), “The present catastrophe is that of a world actively made uninhabitable.” Facing this catastrophe, what alternative worlds […]


  • The Beast and Where It Lives… — La Región Salvaje (2017)

    “There’s some hidden, deeply rooted thing about the Anglo male American that has to do with inferiority, with not being a man, and continually having to act out some idea of manhood that invariably is violent. This sense of failure runs very deep.” — Sam Shepard   “We must return to our bellies, to the […]


  • RED

    I have always thought that red was a sneaky, manipulative colour for Frank Jackson to choose in his Black and White Mary thought experiment. It is the colour of the most evocative emotions, love and hate, and symbolises some of the most intense human experiences, birth, sex, death, and war. Red symbolises many broad human […]


  • RE: Conceptual Romance

    I was apprehensive to write about Chris Kraus. She seems to have become a bizarre receptacle for the projections of well-read white feminists. People feel compelled to mention Lena Dunham when talking about Kraus. The re-issued copy of I Love Dick resembles the opening credits of Girls. Lena Dunham gifted a copy of I Love […]


  • Red Threads

    There’s a sentiment shared by many on the Left today: capitalism no longer promises to collapse in the distant future; it is collapsing — we live in the end times. For the French-Italian collective the Invisible Committee (IC), “The present catastrophe is that of a world actively made uninhabitable.” Facing this catastrophe, what alternative worlds […]


  • The Beast and Where It Lives… — La Región Salvaje (2017)

    “There’s some hidden, deeply rooted thing about the Anglo male American that has to do with inferiority, with not being a man, and continually having to act out some idea of manhood that invariably is violent. This sense of failure runs very deep.” — Sam Shepard   “We must return to our bellies, to the […]


  • RED

    I have always thought that red was a sneaky, manipulative colour for Frank Jackson to choose in his Black and White Mary thought experiment. It is the colour of the most evocative emotions, love and hate, and symbolises some of the most intense human experiences, birth, sex, death, and war. Red symbolises many broad human […]


  • Arts and Science

  • Robotic Legs, “Inspiration”, and Disability in Film

    In only a few minutes of screen time, Captain America: Civil War tells a more accurate and, in my view, more edifying story of disability than most Hollywood films do in upwards of two hours.

    Okay, bear with me.

    In case you haven’t seen Civil War (or the memory of it has been crushed by the relentless march of the Marvel-industrial complex), here is some context: James Rhodes (or War Machine, played by Don Cheadle) is permanently injured in a scuffle with Christ-like android the Vision (Paul Bettany). In lieu of a spare Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the Russo brothers elected to maim poor Rhodey. Consider the stakes raised.

    How do the filmmakers redeem this ultimately lazy twist? In the final minutes of the film, after superhero relationships have been torn asunder and the requisite amount of punching has been indulged in, the audience is reintroduced to Rhodey. He, with the aid of Stark-designed robo-splints, is relearning to walk. He takes a few steps and falls over. Tony tries to help him up before joining him on the floor. Rhodey’s response? “Yeah, this sucks. This is a bad beat.’’ He takes Tony’s hand and gets up again.

    Simple and (despite the nifty robotic legs) real.

    I’m disabled. I have a (comparatively) mild form of cerebral palsy. If you have any classes at Kelburn, chances are you’ve seen me, walking sticks in hand, shuffling around. I’m also a film student, and seeing disability portrayed on film has been a source of both interest and frustration for me for many years. This is because, in very broad terms, mainstream Hollywood films recognise to some extent the challenge that disability represents, but do not usually portray it accurately. Movies about disability tend to regard physical ailments and handicaps in very simple terms. Disabilities are challenges to overcome, things that can be defeated with the aid of the right orchestral score. This formula reduces disabled people to bland saints at best, and smiling objects of inspiration at worst. Being disabled is somehow intrinsically inspiring because it is a set of circumstances to overcome, as opposed to something that must be lived with.

    I’m not coming to argue that all movies about disability are terrible (see My Left Foot, The Theory of Everything, et al) but the overwhelming number of films conform to the expectations I’ve mentioned. A month after Civil War was released, Me Before You graced New Zealand screens. This well-intentioned weepy represents the apotheosis of the formula I’ve described. Both the film and the book are replete with lines like “Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle.” and “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.” However, once Will (a paraplegic played by Sam Caflin) has outlived his usefulness as an object of inspiration, he opts to end his life. It appears that the film’s Facebook-ready platitudes don’t apply to him. Instead, disability is presented primarily for the benefit of nondisabled onlookers. How inspiring we are, and just by being!

    In my experience (which is, of course, personal and subjective), no dramatic music has accompanied my small accomplishments. In the words of lawyer and disability activist Stella Young, “no amount of smiling ever turned a flight of stairs into a ramp.” The scene showing Rhodey’s adjustment acknowledges part of the truth in Young’s statement: it’s a tough beat, but it is doable. To have this acknowledged onscreen (and in a superhero movie, no less) gives me hope for the portrayal of disability in mainstream film. Maybe we can move beyond tales of “inspiration” and “overcoming”, and tell stories about life?


  • Cuts From the Deep: Lucille Bogan

    Lucille Bogan is the ’30s blues/jazz singer with the filthiest damn mouth you have ever heard.

    Born in Mississippi in 1897, there is very little known about her life before she started recording music in New York in 1923 after being scouted from the thriving jazz scene in Birmingham, Alabama. She was deemed too “vaudeville” for her New York label, so she moved to Chicago and signed with Paramount Records, and had a nationwide hit with “Sweet Petunia”, petunia being blues doublespeak for labia. She later moved back to New York and teamed up with pianist Walter Roland, with whom she wrote over 100 songs, and who was known for frequently dancing barefoot in the studio. Unfortunately, Bogan wasn’t hugely popular during her time or immediately afterward, so most of these songs are no longer accessible. She eventually was dropped by her label due to her explicit lyrical material, split from her husband due to infidelity on her part, entered a long-term relationship with a much younger man, and spent much of the rest of her life managing her son’s band, Bogan’s Birmingham Busters. She eventually died of coronary sclerosis in LA in 1948.

    Bogan was argued to have had one of the finest voices of all women blues musicians, though she is not as storied as names like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, and this presumably has a lot to do with her controversial lyrical material. The subject matter she drew from included sex work (she discusses the hardships of being a sex worker in “Tricks Ain’t Walkin’ No More”), drinking (Ah, I’m getting sloppy drunk today! from “Whisky Selling Woman” may be the most relatable lyric to come out of the ’30s), and abusive men (she even had a song called “Women Don’t Need Men”).

    What Bogan may be most known for, though, are her songs that weren’t afraid to get down, dirty, and highly sexually explicit. Her most well known song “Shave ‘Em Dry” starts with I got nipples on my titties/ Big as the end of my thumb/ I got something between my legs/ That’ll make a dead man come, and only gets even more full-frontal from there. On “Til’ the Cows Come Home”, Bogan sings I got a big fat belly/ I got a big broad ass/ And I could fuck any man/ With real good class, as well as referring to her partner’s junk as a baseball bat and claiming she’ll give him head until he defecates.

    The ’20s and ’30s were an era where women were still considered as property in many jurisdictions, marital rape was legal, and women were generally considered submissive creatures that reared children, cooked dinner, took sex submissively and quietly as a pleasure purely for men’s enjoyment, and were supposed to be seen and not heard. Lucille Bogan not only claims her sexuality, she seizes it with gay and mind-bogglingly filthy abandon, wears it shamelessly everywhere she goes, and owns that shit better than anyone I’ve ever known. She’s self-proclaimed as fat and hairy and couldn’t give less of a shit about it, knowing that this has nothing to do with her ability to be sexy. Hot damn, Lucille Bogan had so much right in the ’30s that most of us can’t even bend our minds around over 80 years later. Little is known about the backlash that she received from her lascivious lyrics other than that she was dropped by her label, but this absolutely marvellous lady had enough people who enjoyed her music in the ’20s and ’30s to have a career spanning at least 12 years.

    Sex wasn’t the only taboo topic Bogan broached. In “B.D. Woman’s Blues” she discusses lesbianism, “B.D.” standing for bull dyke. LGBT+ rights were in a pretty sorry state during this time and most people believed lesbians didn’t or shouldn’t exist, yet here was Lucille Bogan singing a song about admiring gay women, commiserating with their difficult societal position, and stating that they could do the nasty just as good as a cis man: B.D. women, you sure can’t understand/ They can lay their jive just like a natural man — something that a lot of cis het dudes that I’ve met are still yet to wrap their heads around.

    Bogan may be the most lyrically ahead of her time musician that has ever existed, with possibly the most explicit lyrics ever released on a major label (seriously, please go and look up “Shave ‘Em Dry” and sate your curiosity). Tragically, what’s left of her recordings are of very low quality, but they’re certainly enough for the delightfully lewd lyrics to shine through. Her work also echoes throughout the jazz and blues genres through the ’30s and ’40s, with her songs being watered down and reworked by musicians such as B.B. King, Earl Hooker, and Sonny Boy Williamson. In sum, this woman was shimmeringly brilliant and I love her.


  • M’Lady — Cassandra Tse

    If you’re interested in musicals, comedy, and a bit of gender political fun, I’d encourage you to give M’Lady — A Meninist Musical a whirl.  

    In the briefest of summaries, we follow the story of Elliot (played by the beautiful Aimee Smith) who is struggling to win the heart of his fair Freda. G (Jayne Grace), an endearingly clumsy “pick up artist”, aims to transform him into a ladies’ man.

    Each of the male archetypes in M’Lady are portrayed in outrageous extremities. Most of the humour lies in the audience’s understanding of these archetypes combined with the script’s clever integration of referential jokes and modern one liners.

    The actors were amazing: Aimee Smith with her dynamic singing voice; Jayne Grace’s natural ability for comic timing; and Marysia Collins and Greer Phillips as ensemble characters filled the space with their movement. Freya van Alphen Fyfe seemed so familiar with her character I wouldn’t be surprised if she was Adrian in real life. Real props go to Karen Anslow and her performance of Al and Nemesis. While Anslow’s characters were designed to be larger than life, she managed to steer them to serve the work of the satire, playing less into the farce of the situation while still being genuinely funny.

    The set looked extremely cool. A highlight for me was walking in and staring at all these crazy posters. Looking up and seeing the energy drink chandelier gave me an incredible thrill. But as dynamic as the aesthetic was, the overall design did fit well in the space, and set pieces had to be stored side stage in full view of the audience. Because of this the vibrant choreography also suffered, making it seem under rehearsed.

    The music itself was incredible and made the production feel professional. A duet between Elliot and Al was a brilliant example of how the music dominated the tone of the show. The lyrics were well written and created an earnest hilarity which matched the script’s impeccable timing. Unfortunately, the actors ought to have been miked I was sitting in the front row and could hardly hear some of the songs and I found I was losing interest in some of these moments.  

    But the real star of the show was the script. The dialogue was smooth, natural, and hysterical. The structure was refreshing, breaking the boundaries enough to keep us engaged. What the production tackles is extremely ambitious, and to be able to pull it off with the resources available is a testament to how strong the script itself is. I can easily see this show on both bigger and smaller stages. Red Scare Theatre Company have managed to create a rare thing: a brilliant multidisciplinary musical accessible to all budgets.


  • Pacific Bodies

    Pacific Bodies is a video series of five episodes, available to watch on the Auckland Art Gallery’s various online platforms. As they put it, “Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki together with British Council New Zealand invited local artists of Pacific heritage to offer a counter-narrative to the themes of our current exhibition The Body Laid Bare: Masterpieces from the Tate.” Artists featured include Rosanna Raymond, Ioane Ioane, Ema Tavola, Leilani Kake, Nanai Tolovae Jr., Te Iwihoko Te Rangihirawea, Jimmy Vea, Michel Mulipola, Ali Cowley, and Tanu Gogo. The videos are short, about five minutes each, but manage to provide personal responses to notions of the nude in art and in the Pacific, criticisms of Western frameworks that dictate our understandings of the body and what it might represent, and insights into each artist’s own practice and cultural heritage. Overwhelmingly, the interviews assert the need for Pacific realities and histories to be represented within institutions like Auckland Art Gallery in a way, as Ema Tavola puts it, “that is safe, that is meaningful for all parties, and that is mutually beneficial.”

    It’s difficult to distill each artist’s individual body politics into a five minute video, and difficult again to try and account for them within 600 words. The series leaves a lot to be desired, specifically in terms of acting as a “counter-narrative” to an exhibition of around 100 artworks, because it has not been granted the physical presence so many of the videos attest to the need for. Rather, it is the intangible presence of an absence that is being acknowledged by the gallery in commissioning this series. Having said that, the series remains accessible to audiences across Aotearoa and the Pacific despite the exhibition having been packed up and shipped back to the Tate, and so has the chance to long outlive the exhibition proper.  

    Often the series seems to ask for more of the gallery than it has been granted. Rosanna Raymond, who features in episode one, speaks of visiting galleries with her mother as a child and being totally unrepresented. The question raised but left unanswered is whether or not a young Samoan girl could have walked into The Body Laid Bare and found a figure she could identify with. Tanu Gago, photographer and co-founder of FAF SWAG, who features in the final episode of the series, said in conversation with Anthony Byrt for Metro in March that “[FAF SWAG] realised that the challenge of inclusion and participation and diversity is actually to come into the centre, and to operate in a way that is still authentic and meaningful to [our] cultural space, but has the visibility to reach a wider audience.” He elaborates on that in Pacific Bodies, speaking to a need for the realities of young, LGBTQ+ Pacific peoples to be brought to the forefront of the public consciousness in order for the general population to understand what they need from us to ensure that their futures thrive. The point the series makes, it seems, is that it itself is not, cannot be, enough.

    Pacific Bodies leaves you wanting: wanting for the gallery to allow itself to be truly and physically decentralised by the artists whose voices it has brought to the fore; wanting for a longer conversation; wanting for a chance to experience the works we see so briefly on screen in real life. The series, in making present the absence, marks the need for something more.


  • Birthday of a Crafter of Horror

    August 20, undoubtedly the date of many a person’s birthday. But there is one in particular that often goes unnoticed. One of my favourite authors, H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday is overlooked by most. In fact, many people are unaware of who he even is. To my dismay, at mention of his name I am often met with blank faces and a swift change of subject. Those who do recognise his name tend to merely think of him as “that guy who wrote about Cthulhu.” And so, as my gift to his memory, I am taking it upon myself to tell you about the man who changed the horror genre forever.

    After much consideration, I have decided to merely list a few facts about H.P. Lovecraft in an attempt to avoid scaring readers away (I understand, I myself have a habit of skipping over the long articles):

    • Howard Phillips Lovecraft was never what you would consider “normal”. From a young age, he suffered from sleep paralysis and was haunted by “night gaunts,” a symptom of hallucinations brought on by the paralysis.
    • He barely attended school until the age of eight due to constant sickness, and even then he was pulled out of school after a year.
    • The adult Lovecraft is described by Wikipedia as “gaunt with dark eyes set in a very pale face (he rarely went out before nightfall).” (I think our campus goths need to up their game.)
    • Throughout his life he also suffered from the deaths of several close family members, including both of his parents (who both died in the same mental institution) and his grandfather, all of which impacted much of his view on life.
    • He is believed to likely have been asexual.
    • His close friend was called Samuel Loveman (which is fitting).
    • Lovecraft was very sensitive to criticism, and often gave up on trying to publish his works after they were rejected once. He never even tried to publish his novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward because of his fear of rejection.

    By this point you may be going “hey, didn’t you mention something about changing the horror genre or something? How exactly?” Yes I did dear reader, and here’s how. Before H.P. Lovecraft, the horror genre was based primarily around vampires, witches, werewolves, and murderers. So what did Lovecraft do? Write about elder gods that shape the nature of the universe and drive people fucking insane. And suddenly, horror could be about anything. You know how Stephen King is one of the most popular horror authors alive? He himself was inspired by Lovecraft. By breaking the boundaries of horror, H.P. Lovecraft opened up a whole world (and beyond) of possibilities. So maybe, if you ever come across one, have a read of one of his many (many, many) short stories. See what he’s about, other than just Cthulhu (don’t get me wrong, Cthulhu is popular for a reason). You never know, you might become a fan. I mean, who can resist the use of such words as phantasmagoria?

    Happy birthday Lovecraft. In the genre of horror your legacy lies dreaming.

    — A fan from Innsmouth



    Wednesday: French for Rabbits ‘It Will Be Okay’ Tour — If you are like me and really just wish that you could jam an IV into you and have atmospheric indie pop streaming through your veins at all times, then you should definitely go down and get your fix at San Fran from 9.00pm. These are some delightfully whimsical people, and shit’s free so you’d be an egg not to.

    Thursday: Alae Spring Tour — These kids have just popped up recently with some bodacious satiny soul that sweetly strokes your eardrums and tells them that everything is going to be just fine. They’ve opened for Hollie Smith and are set to become bloody New Zealand famous m8, so get to them while you can still get close enough to steal a lock of hair that you can keep at home on your wall in a ziplock bag. They’re playing Caroline from 8.00pm, and tickets are $10 + booking fee from Under the Radar.

    Friday: Miloux EP2 Release Party — Miloux makes some serious pop bangers, and she’s gonna debut four freshly baked beauties for your listening pleasure at this show. This will be special and fun and nice and it starts at 9.00pm and it’s at Meow and it’s only $10.

    Saturday: Le1f, with George Turner and borrowed cs — Salient has covered how gobsmackingly wonderful NYC queer rapper Le1f is, and he’s bringing his low drawl and talented-ass hotpants-wearing realness to Wellington to bless us for an evening. If you RSVP on the Red Bull website, it’s only $5, and it’s at Meow from 9.00pm.


  • Agents of Mayhem

    Developer: Volition

    Publisher: Deep Silver

    Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Windows)

    Review copy supplied by publisher


    The success of Overwatch seems to have spawned a new trend among developers, one which has frankly become necessary: large casts of diverse playable characters. While some may see this as a purely political move designed to appease certain online subcultures, I contend that it is a sign of the games industry learning from its mistakes and even maturing with its core audience.

    But maturity isn’t in this game’s vocabulary. Instead, Agents of Mayhem is a balls-to-the-wall, outrageous, and not at all serious experience that is essentially the video game equivalent of saying “fuck it, give me another Jägerbomb, barkeep.” Considering this is a spinoff of the Saints Row series, those in the know should not find this surprising.

    Set in a futuristic version of Seoul, the game follows the titular agents of M.A.Y.H.E.M., led by the mysterious Persephone Bromstone, as they fight to take down the supervillains of L.E.G.I.O.N. and their evil Minister of Pride, Doctor Babylon. With a pitch like that, it’s no wonder the story is something of a tongue-in-cheek cheese-fest reminiscent of ’80s action flicks, complete with incompetent henchmen, space lasers, and enough explosions to make Michael Bay jealous. It even comes complete with 2D animated cutscenes, just to add to the atmosphere of silliness.

    Of course, with at least 12 characters to choose from (not including the pre-order exclusive characters), each with their own unique weapons and abilities, saving the world can take a backseat. Each agent has two story missions, allowing you to take the time to get to know their backstories and motivations, while simultaneously introducing you to their style of play. While some of the cast do feel like exaggerated stereotypes, I simply loved being around this bunch of misfits too much to even care. You’ll probably find at least one character you really like.

    Adopting a similar open world layout to its parent series, the core gameplay has you exploring Seoul in teams of three, which you can switch between at any time. There is a high level of customisation options available to you, with each character having their own RPG-style progression systems. With the word “mayhem” in the title, you’d expect combat to be absolute chaos, and oh boy is it ever! While it definitely varies between characters, the gunplay is generally meaty and satisfying, especially if you’re lucky enough to pick up Johnny Gat, one of the pre-order exclusive characters, like I did. Driving is serviceable if not spectacular, and all characters have a triple jump, allowing for more aerial on-foot movement.

    Unfortunately, outside of core story and character missions, there just isn’t that much to do; everything else just feels like busywork put in there to convince you the game has lots of content. It certainly doesn’t help that the world doesn’t exactly feel alive, like a Grand Theft Auto game does — what good is a sandbox if there are no toys to play with? Even the story missions have a certain repetition to them, with many of them featuring what feel like procedurally generated lairs that aren’t always interesting. I completed the main story and most of the character missions over approximately 16 hours, and I don’t really want to go back and get 100% completion, which, given how much I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the overall aesthetic, is a shame. The PC version of the game also appears to have some severe issues with slowdown and framerates dropping below 60FPS in certain situations, as well as with bugs across all platforms. I attribute these issues to the fact that I was playing a pre-release version, but it may affect your experience.

    Regardless of this, it’s hard not to recommend Agents of Mayhem. If you enjoyed Saints Row, particularly the third and fourth instalments, then this will be right up your alley. If you can pick this one up cheaply, and once some of the niggling issues are fixed, then you are definitely going to have a rollicking good time, if only for a short while.


  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    When characters become likeable, it’s easier for me to get behind them and support them. Ivan Denisovich suffers from so many struggles and challenges in one day that it is not long at all before you start caring and rooting for him. This novel, as the title suggests, covers one day in the life of Ivan, who lives in one of Stalin’s forced labour camps in the 1950s.

    It is cinematic; reading it, you can’t help but see the action play out in front of you, startling in its cruelty. The long and physical descriptions of the harsh environment and the tough work Ivan experiences grounds the reader. It is a gritty realism. We know how heavy the bricks are which he must carry. We experience the hours worked on an empty stomach. We picture the coldness of the wind when the workers begin their day of labour. Every moment of every hour for Ivan was a struggle for survival. Challenges are layered on him, one after the other, giving us an indication of how torturous life was for these indentured workers. Ivan had to worry about being thrown into dark cold isolation, in which many died. We feel for Ivan, and want to cheer him on, but the novel prevents any glorification of the surroundings. We do not envy the characters or their situations.

    It is a difficult read. The prose is short, sharp, and punchy, but it increasingly becomes melancholy. People die, loved one’s names are forgotten, and the natural setting is unforgiving. The book does, however, celebrate daily victories, such as a warm bed, a hot meal, and friends who have your back. Other people’s suffering does not mean we should feel bad about our own situation; just more grateful. The book is also a reminder of how easy it is to look back at the past with the wrong lens. It is fashionable for many who were born in a post-cold war world to glorify Communist Russia without grasping the atrocities of that regime. Stalin’s purges, Russia’s activities in Berlin after World War Two, and the forced labour camps tell another story.

    Above all, the novel supports the idea of facing each struggle head on, and playing your part when you’re in a team. There is no time to sit back and complain. It’s a call to stand up and be proactive. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich is excellent and I would recommend it to anyone.


  • Bang!

    Bang! is a Radio New Zealand podcast about sex, sexuality, and relationships. Salient sat down with producer and presenter Melody Thomas to talk about getting busy (making this podcast).



    Why make a podcast about sex?

    I knew I wanted to make a podcast because I work in radio and I have fallen in love with the format; I can’t get enough of it. I really love that there’s this whole narrative around young people just wanting short, snappy, bite-sized bits of information, and yet there’s these long form things that take up a lot of space and time proving to be popular, so podcasts I have had my eye on for a bit. One of the podcasts I fell in love with was Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, which is an agony aunt style sex advice show in Seattle. It’s hilarious, and it’s quite shocking to listen to at first; it really exposes you to the breadth of human appetites when it comes to sex. But it became normal, and started some really interesting conversations among my friends and family and even within my own relationship. I realised that New Zealand could benefit from our own version of something like that, but I’m not an expert so the agony aunt format wouldn’t work, so we had to call in other people.


    One of the experts that you call in is Mary Hodson, who is a sex therapist. I quite like the way she’s not over the top — because she’s a sex therapist, you’d expect her to be crazy, with all these ideas, telling you “yeah, go for it!!” But she’s very reserved, and I think that adds to it, right?

    Yeah I think you’re right, I’ve been trying to explain what it is about Mary, you’d expect a sex therapist to be like the teacher in the Magic School Bus


    Ms Frizzle!

    Yeah, Ms Frizzle! But maybe when it comes to sharing intimate details, you need someone more reserved. I think people would be intimidated to have Ms Frizzle asking about their sex lives you’d feel like you’d have to make up some details. Mary’s great.


    The podcast has lots of guests and testimonies from people talking about their own experiences. In the second episode about teenagers, you go into a classroom and talk to them about what sex education they’ve received at their high school. It’s pretty candid; did you find it difficult to get them to open up?

    No! The most difficult part was going back to a high school as a 32-year old, and the moment you step into a high school hall, all the smell and pain of high school comes pouring back onto you. I’m being dramatic! But they were great, they were so much cooler than me. I’ve been talking about sex for maybe a year or six months now non-stop, but they’ve been talking about sex for three years their sexuality education starts in year ten. They put a lot of energy, even before they start talking, into rules to make it a safe space, so they really led the way on that one. They showed me how open I could be. And that’s what a dialogue with teenagers about sex can look like when they’ve had education.


    A special extra feature of the podcast is the feedback on Wednesday’s Nights with Bryan Crump, when people can ask questions through RNZ’s VoxPop app. How do you think this improves the listener experience?

    When we were first planning the episodes, there was an idea to have listener questions in the episode, because I like the idea of being able to interact. When you’re looking at a topic that is not talked about in an upfront way — more so with young people now, but generally not — people are going to have a lot of questions, so having an opportunity to have those questions asked is really important. Also, I present myself as a stand-in for the listener, but of course there are questions I miss, so it’s a nice opportunity to have those questions aired. And it worked really well, we’ve had great feedback from it. There’s been slight anxiety from within the organisation about having a live sex-related feature on air. It’s the closest thing to talkback RNZ has ever done, and the subject matter is something the organisation hasn’t really had any experience with before, so there were a few nerves going in, but there was no negative feedback. We had lots of questions and lots of texts coming in; we’ve even had a couple of 70- and 80-year old women getting in touch to talk about how glad they are that this is getting talked about because it was so closed off in their day. My hope going into it was that I had hit upon something that people were waiting for, and that reassures me that it is the case.


    Episodes two and three are about teenage sexuality, and modern dating. You’re a bit older, you’re in a long-term relationship was it weird to revisit those worlds?

    I loved revisiting it; I have a natural fascination with sex and relationships and dating. My single friends have let me swipe on their Tinder, and I often wonder what my early twenties would have looked like if I had been on Tinder. Dating when I was dating was like, hooking up, on a dancefloor, and then like, “Oh, we’re in a relationship now!” And it was interesting for me to see that people are really dating now people go on dates, we never really did that! Once you get over your initial “are these young people even gonna want to talk to this 32-year old mother of two,” it’s very fun.


    Also in the teenagers episode, there are young people talking about a lack of sex education. Do you think that organisations like RNZ, maybe through The Wireless, should take the bull by the horns and be providing more meaningful, sex-positive content?

    I think they are, this podcast is a first step for RNZ. For The Wireless I’ve just written a story about the Nope Sisters, who made that amazing consent t-shirt and that all goes to Sexual Abuse HELP Wellington, and it’s not the first story like that that I’ve written for The Wireless. I think that RNZ and The Wireless are keen to put more of that content out there it only ever gets good responses.

    I think it’s really hard when it comes to the idea of sexuality education and especially consent education being compulsory in high schools. It’s what a lot of young people are calling for, it’s obviously something that weighs very heavily on their minds. I think consent education is something that needs to be taught more widely, and more comprehensively. But I also do understand why the Ministry of Education may want to let communities and families have a lot of input in what’s taught. It’s not that black and white, but it’s a really important conversation to be having and I’m glad that we’ve started it. I hope that places like The Wireless continue to provide that content because their audience has a real stake in it.


    You’ve released three episodes, and you’ve got four more to go — can you give us any hints about future episodes?

    Episode four is called “Love and Marriage” and it’s about how intimacy changes over the course of a long-term relationship. I’ve talked to four couples about their intimate lives, and how that changes. I’ve got a couple that have been together four months, who are like those friends who suck face everywhere and are just infuriatingly in love. And then I’ve got couples talking about kids and dealing with infidelity 20 years in, which is pretty full on. I have a marriage counsellor coming in, so there are bigger lessons for people listening.

    The next episode looks at conception and contraception. I’m still working out what goes in that one, but one of the things in there is a story about two young women who wanted to start a family and ended up turning to Facebook to try and find sperm. So we’ll be looking at how to make a baby and how not to make a baby.

    And then we look at what happens in your 50s to mid-60s in relationships we look at dating at that age. What’s it like getting on Tinder after a divorce, or if you’re a woman who’s only been with one man for 30 years? There’s a lot of research that says divorced women aren’t good at protecting themselves from STDs because their sex education wasn’t great, and safety is really important there as well. In that episode I actually talk to my mum about her sex life! I feel like that’s been the real measure of my growing maturity that phone call that started off quite awkward because I am human, but actually ended up being a really nice discussion.

    The last episode is about sex and intimacy toward the end of our lives. I’m going to talk about practice and policy towards sex in retirement homes, which is really fascinating. There are a whole lot of things I wouldn’t even have thought to consider, like how do you talk about consent in an environment when you’re dealing with Alzheimer’s? Then I talk to a couple who are 72 and 75 who talk about their still very happy sex life. When I turned up to talk to them they said “We’ve actually already had sex because we knew you were coming, so we got it out of the way!”


    Finally, what podcasts are you listening to?

    At the moment I listen to a lot of My Dad Wrote a Porno, because it’s hilarious and sometimes you just need a break! It makes me laugh the whole way home, it’s hilarious to listen to on the bus because no one knows the filthy stuff in your ears! Radiolab is probably up there with my favourite podcasts ever, because of the way it’s produced and the way they package really complicated ideas in a way that is really understandable. This American Life and Savage Lovecast. Song Exploder it’s so good, they take a song and get the artist who wrote it to take you through it. They separate out all the tracks and show you piece by piece how all the songs were built, it’s brilliant. I feel like music podcasts that are fun and easy to listen to are pretty hard to come by, but this one gives you real insight.


    Bang! is available to download at and all major podcast platforms.


    Melody has also created “BANG! Melody’s Sexy Sex Mix” available on Spotify. Check it out, it features D’Angelo (daayyyum).


    If you’re interested in similar content produced by Radio New Zealand, have a gander at the following:


  • Japanese Breakfast — Soft Sounds From Another Planet

    Japanese Breakfast is the name of the solo project of Michelle Zauner, who released her incredible sophomore album last month. Soft Sounds From Another Planet is an appropriately galactic journey through huge walls of guitar sounds, intricate arrangements, impeccably used auto-tune, whirling keys, and reverb-drenched delight — in stark contrast to her lo-fi guitar-based first album, Psychopomp. She has spent her time in between albums working with new producers, musicians, and engineers, touring and opening for such greats as Slowdive and Mitski, and this has certainly allowed her to polish her sound.

    The album’s opener, “Diving Woman” is one of my favourite songs of this year; a tantalising mash of Ride-style ’90s shoegaze and early 2000s pop vibes à la Kylie Minogue’s “Breathe” or All Saints’ “Pure Shores”. The album was intended as something of a science fiction musical, and it delivers on this promise on the originally released single, “Machinist”. This track is honestly my musical wet dream. It has sick nasty funk riffs, Kraftwerk-style vocal phrases, strong pop sensibilities, and a ripper sax solo. It is a shining disco anthem written for a cyber lover.

    The album’s title track delivers a deliciously reverb-y swirl that almost sounds like a dark, intergalactic version of the country-pop ballads of the ’50s. “Boyish” isn’t afraid to get even a little more country in sound, and delivers the iconic line I can’t get you off my mind/ I can’t get you off in general. “This House” deals with the simple day-to-day reality of living in a flat full of women, sharing trauma as you do the dishes together, the very relatable loss of a relationship, and ruminating on whether it was only a need for companionship and opportune timing that the relationship existed at all. “The Body is a Blade” is a modern shoegaze classic, revamped for today by putting the vocals at the centre of the mix, and provides one of my favourite lyrics of this year, and possibly one of the best pithy summations of mental illness I have ever heard: Your body is a blade that moves while your brain is writhing.

    This album is a heady mix of rock, funk, disco, pop, and shoegaze, and an absolute fucking delight to have in your earholes. Check it out wherever you tend to find your music, stat.


  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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