Media opportunities for UK poly folks

Do you live in the UK and want to participate in an art or media project? Bobbu at Polytical recently received a couple requests for UK poly folks for upcoming projects.

The first project is a portrait and still life photography project by Emli Bendixen, a London-based editorial photographer hoping to document the modern family unit. She is especially interested in the "many shapes" that families can take; one of her latest photoshoots for the project can be seen here. Bendixen can be contacted by email, phone, or Skype -- see her contact page for the info.

The second project is a TV documentary from North One Television producer/director, Ida Bruusgaard. Bruusgaard is creating a program about marriage, and hopes to include a polyamorous family as an example of an alternative to the traditional idea of marriage. Bruusgaard writes,

I’m interested in debunking the myth around the 'traditional' nuclear family. It seems to me that the idea that two people should be able to find indefinite happiness within their own four walls without much support / input / pressure taken off them by other adults, is in fact a very new phenomenon. Our homes used to be more open, with family members, neighbours and friends more intimately involved in our business. It makes me wonder whether 'privacy' and 'space' for married couples can cause isolation and trouble as much as being of benefit to a marriage.

I would love to find polyamorous people who are either married or in long term-ish relationships to feature in the documentary. I realise that a polyamorous lifestyle can be a sensitive subject, but I'd like to think it’s a chance to get a very positive message out there which will resonate with our viewers in ways they may not have expected.

Bruusgaard's contact info can be found on the Polytical post.

If you are interested in either of these opportunities and live in the UK, get in touch with Bendixen or Bruusgaard!

“Strange arrangements” on 20/20

Despite its ominous title of "The New Sex: Strange Arrangements," last Friday's episode of 20/20 included a pretty reasonable 7-minute segment on a poly network. One of the interviewees was Sierra Black, a woman who has written several wonderful articles about parenting in an open marriage, for sites such as Salon and Babble.

You can watch the episode on ABC's site or on Hulu, and ABC's article about the open relationship segment is a fairly direct reflection of the segment.

The interviewees do a great job of dispelling the myths that are thrown at them, like that they're committing adultery and must have jealousy issues. And although the interviewer, Elizabeth Vargas, calls their open relationship a "marital merry-go-round" that's "a tad kooky," the tone of the segment is not especially judgmental -- and generally allows the folks speak for themselves. Especially touching was the moment when Vargas spoke to one of Sierra's daughters:

You might think Sierra and Martin's daughters think their parents' arrangement is unusual, but when "20/20" anchor Elizabeth Vargas asked their daughter, Rio, if she thought her family was different from other families, she replied, "Not really."

Rio's definition of an open marriage was fairly precise, for a 7-year-old: "Your parent or one of your parents is dating a different person that's not part of your family," she said.

Black was content with the outcome of the interview, writing on her blog:

I did this because I wanted to give mainstream America a peek at a healthy, happy, thriving circle of poly families. It's my hope that we’ve done just that, and that this is a step toward a future where news shows won't want to do segments on how "kooky" polyamory is, because it's just a thing some people do. I am fairly confident positive portrayals on TV can make a difference, and I'm grateful to ABC for their approach in this one.

Triad on National Geographic’s “Taboo”

An equilateral triad family from the San Francisco area was recently profiled in National Geographic's show Taboo, in an episode entitled "Odd Couples." The family consists of two men and a woman who have been together for 17 years and are raising a teenager.

In 8 seasons of the show, National Geographic has turned the spotlight on many anthropological practices, such as voodoo, body modification, and initiation rituals, while also tackling topics that are merely unusual, such as strange pets and peculiar foods. Filming of the family took place last June, and there was trepidation over how the segment would be edited.

Thankfully, the family was treated respectfully. Alan M. describes the segment:

What a sweet portrayal it turned out to be, from start to finish! Cuddly kindness and family warmth; intelligence and thoughtfulness -- and such a steady smooth flow was evident among these people after their 17 years together. There was some mostly good commentary by a few talking-head experts (Helen Fisher, Peter Singer, Elisabeth Sheff). The 15-year-old in particular was articulate, perceptive, and proud to have so many good parental figures. The show went on for nearly 20 minutes including commercial breaks. It ended with them making a trip to Redwood Forest National Park (above), where they have an annual ritual of renewing their wedding vows.

Check National Geographic's schedule for air times. The episode cannot be found online at the moment, but you can watch a 3-minute preview on National Geographic's website.

Lionsgate planning reality show about swingers

Lionsgate Television, the company that created dark comedy Weeds, has a new project in the works. It's called Bedroom Community, and it's a reality TV show about suburban swingers. Notably, the focus will be on the swingers' day-to-day lives and their relationship dynamics, not what happens in the bedroom.

Producer Eli Frankel says,

The world of swingers is mythologized in American pop culture, but very few people outside of it have seen it . . . What we have seen on shows about swingers are primarily older hippies . . . What we found are elite groups of people in upscale communities who are good-looking and have money and access. That glossy version is much more interesting to watch.

Casting was a somewhat difficult process, Frankel explains, as he had to convince participants that the show would not be exploitative.

Lionsgate is currently shopping the project around to cable networks.