Q: Why did you decide to write Secret Sex Lives?
A: After 10 years of writing true crime books, I was worn out from all the murder, from all the tragedy. I needed to laugh, and for some strange reason talking about sex makes me laugh. So when my literary agent suggested I write a book about Americans’ alternative sex habits, I said yes.
Q: Did it make you laugh?
A: Many days it did. But there were many other days that I was frozen in sadness and loneliness. I don’t mean my loneliness. I mean the loneliness in America. I discovered that there is a depth of loneliness among Americans that is profound and heartbreakingly deep.
Q: Why do you think Americans are so lonely?
A: I think there are many reasons, but one is that we don’t know what we want. Perhaps due to marketing, advertising, magazines, television, and movies, many think we want quick connections or hook-ups. But as I communicated with people who were pursuing those quick connections, many of them discovered that what they really wanted was to be seen, heard, loved, and touched—emotionally and physically. In other words, they wanted real relationships. Deep relationships where they are appreciated, adored, and most of all where they can be open about their secret desires, kinks and all, and still be loved and accepted, and let me emphasize accepted without judgment.
Q: Should society consider this behavior as normal? Is it fair that many are labeled sexual deviants?
A: I bristle at calling my Secret Sex Lives sources sexual deviants. Maybe it’s because I come from the world of true crime, but I don’t consider my sources sexual deviants. To me, sexual deviants are child molesters, rapists, which my sources absolutely are not, at least to my knowledge. If they were, I would have reported them to the authorities. My sex sources are people who practice alternative sexual lifestyles or, as a psychiatrist friend called them, people who are “sexually out there”—swingers, cross-dressers, people who are into bondage and domination. I understand that there are people who consider such behavior deviant. But unlike rape, it’s not behavior that’s forced on someone. It’s behavior that is consensual, that is mutually agreed upon and negotiated with boundaries—with boundaries—before one partner is swapped, one rope is tied, or one flogger is lashed.
Q: What is something you were surprised by during your research?
A: The people that I talk about in the book are your friends and your family members. They are your Realtors, your contractors, your stock brokers, your accountants, your sales reps, chefs, and wait staff. They are the volunteers at your favorite charities, your children’s coaches, their school principals. They are your nurses at the hospital helping save lives, your cops and firemen pulling you from a wreck and our military men and women fighting to protect your freedom.
Q: Did you become close with any of your sources?
A: Yes, I became friends with many of our sources. We don’t visit every day and most aren’t privy to the intimate details of my life. At least not until the book comes out. But they have supported me through the trials of writing the book, and I have supported some of them through trials in their lives.
Q: You consider yourself a Born-Again Christian. Do you think your book matches your beliefs?
A: I’m not encouraging people to take up an alternative sexual lifestyle. I’m simply reporting facts and telling my story about my journalistic investigation into Americans’ alternative sex practices. By doing that, I hope I’m helping Americans see that there is a communication problem in our nation and, with specific regards to Secret Sex Lives, a communication problem when it comes to sex. If there are two things that I learned through researching Secret Sex Lives it’s that most parents don’t talk to their children about sex and long-term lovers don’t talk to each other about sex. And that communication problem is causing children and adults to practice unsafe sex and, as I said earlier, creating a profound and heartbreakingly deep loneliness in this nation.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with Secret Sex Lives?
A: To get people talking. I don’t mean gossiping, though I’m sure they’ll be doing that too. I mean communicating about sex so that we can save lives by learning about the risks of sex – more than 50 percent of Americans will get an STD sometime in their lives, but only 14 percent of men and 8 percent of women think they’re at STD risk, and getting any kind of STD increases one’s chances of contracting HIV. So I mean talking about sex to save lives and talking about sex so that we can save relationships by understanding our loved one’s or loved ones’ secret sex desires.