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I Unleashed My Freak!

A conservative journalist sets out to explore the sexual fringe in this country -- and is most surprised by herself.

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And then I had to tell her about the ending of the book.

Yes, can we talk about the ending of the book?

I prefer not to, but, you know, you’re going to do what you want!

Well, do you feel uncomfortable with what happened in the ending?

I feel uncomfortable with my family reading it and with my neighbors reading it. I don’t want the people in my neighborhood to know this.

Beyond just the public revelation of it, how do you feel about what actually happened?

I still have mixed emotions about it, because, yes, it was so great to know that I wasn’t dead inside, to know that I have that ability [to be turned on] and it opened me up to other things that I don’t want to go into. To know that I have the capacity to not be dead inside, because I thought I would be dead inside for eternity. And I know I can resurrect that side of me.

Why were you able to access that part of yourself at that particular point?

I guess to have someone say, “You’re so beautiful, you’re so sexy,” it was sort of like a balm for all these hurts and embarrassments or shames I’ve been carrying all these years. Because I always think of myself as the ultimate geek, nerd and unattractive, and to have someone think I’m attractive it was just like, “Whoa!”

It sounds like in general some of the sexual attention from your male subjects felt really good — you admit to being flattered when they ask for your photo — and that you were conflicted about that.

Yeah, because a journalist is supposed to stay arm’s length away. I also thought I was immune to all that.

Right. You really thought of yourself as coming to this project as the perfect impartial judge, because you felt so very removed and sort of irrelevant to the conversation, right?

Exactly. I’ve had so many people say, “Oh Suzy, you really knew you were going to have sex.” No, I didn’t. It was a complete shock. Even when I think back to it now, I’m still in shock. If I had been drinking that night, OK. But I had been drinking water and Diet Coke.

Personally, I do sometimes wonder about the “cover” that being a journalist gives me to ask about or see things that maybe I have a personal interest in but am too embarrassed to explore without the excuse of “it’s for work.” Do you ever feel that?

Of course. I knew I was really bad at sex and I thought maybe I could learn. I don’t think even watching porn movies teaches you how to do it. So I thought talking to real human beings, maybe I would learn something. But, yes, there was also the curiosity factor, because for decades people have insisted that I’m lesbian and in denial about it. This was a way, sort of, to feel out the situation. It taught me some things about myself.

Like what?

I definitely have the capability to be bi, which I’m OK with and at peace with at this point. Before, I wasn’t. As the years have gone on, I’ve found out that I’m much more hetero than I expected, too. Talk about the continuum — yeah, I’ve been sliding back and forth on that.

How did your mom react to the book’s ending?

She doesn’t know the full ending, even though I said, “Hey, there’s this couple in [the book], I do have sex.” She’s, like, terrified that I was raped. I told her I wasn’t raped, these are very nice people, it wasn’t like that. But the good news is we each got something we needed: I heard from her for the first time, “I love you no matter what. I’m not going to reject you. I accept you, I love you.” She told me that over and over.

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