Fierce Creatures: Exploring the Myth of Dolphin Sex on the Hawaiian Islands — PART 2

Many worlds collide on the tiny islands that make up greater Hawaii: natives and haoles (non-natives), residents and tourists, the off-beat and the way-off-beat. Is anything possible in the “Land of Light” or are some things just too weird to be true?

Part 2 — The Blubber-lovers

From Biblical times and well into the 19th century, laws concerning bestiality have been invariably harsh. In her article, “The Historical and Contemporary Prosecution and Punishment of Animals,” author Jen Girgen discusses “the practice of punishing animals for their ‘participation’ in criminal acts,” recounting the execution of a man named Potter in 1662 alongside “a cow, two heifers, three sheep and two sows, with all of which he had committed his brutalities.” Other punishments for animals presumed guilty included torture [footnote 1], hanging, decapitation, stoning and “especially in the latter half of the seventeenth century [and] typically in cases of bestiality” burning them alive.

In modern courtrooms, the legality of such practices tend to fall under the vague umbrellas of ‘sodomy’ or ‘crimes against nature,’ moral crimes which, if not already far enough in the grey area, commonly lack the physical evidence to back a prosecution. Many countries — and even some states [fn. 2] — don’t have laws directly pertaining to human-animal sexual relations and instances are handled on a case-by-case basis, the defendant being charged with some related offense such as trespassing or, the silver bullet, animal cruelty. The key argument against zoophilia is, as was pointed out again and again on the Jerry Springer Show, this: how can a creature that cannot communicate with humans give consent? Even in cases wherein no physical harm was caused to the animal, the general conviction tends to be one of animal cruelty. Rape, it seems, is a term reserved for members of the same species.

The preferred term for those who practice inter-special relations is Zoophilia. As defined by Dragon-wolfe Dolphinn, the unofficial expert on his now-defunct website, dolphinsex.org:

Zoophilia is best described as a love of animals so intimate that the person (and the animal) involved have no objections to expressing their affection for each other in the sexual fashion. This is not to be confused with bestiality, where a person forcefully mates with an animal, without their consent, and with no mutual feeling whatsoever. This is something that I would never do to a dolphin, since I love them dearly, and treat them with the same respect that an honest husband would have for his wife and children.

Dragon-wolfe, a delphinophile, suggests nightly visits to a beach that wild dolphins are known to frequent. After a month or so, the pod will be comfortable with your presence in the water. The next step is waiting for a bold female to approach you. Then, ease her into 2 ft. of water, hold her gently behind the dorsal fin, insert yourself, hang on tight and let her do the work. A blogger on delphinophile.com claims 3–4 ft. of water is preferable for the dolphin as it allows her to float and therefore be more relaxed. The concept of reciprocal affection holds true among other zoophiles. Mark, the guy from the Jerry Springer Show, recalls one time being so excited that he “wouldn’t take nay for an answer” from his beloved pony, a mistake that resulted in him getting, “a flying lesson.”

The idea of reciprocal affection in the zoophile’s mind exempts them from persecution. The speciest simply doesn’t understand the bond they have with their animal. To be fair, despite the alarms probably going off in your head at the idea of a real psychic/romantic bond going on between human and animal, the shit that some outed zoophiles have gone through is pretty horrendous. Rebecca, a guest who shared the stage with Mark, had been having romantic relationships with dogs since she was thirteen. In her twenties, a boyfriend she was living with walked in on her mid-hump with their dog and broke one of her ribs on the spot. He then shot the dog. Supplant the word “dog” with other and he would have gone to prison, but instead he walked and

For readers who may doubt the validity of the Jerry Springer Show [fn. 3], Mark is actually a big star in the zoophiliac community, founder of Z.O.O., the Zoophila Outreach Organization, and the focus of a short documentary called Animal Passions produced and directed by Chris Spencer. Animal Passions expertly blends elements of psychology, religion and the sociological aspects of zoophilia, all angles narrowing down on Mark and his cohorts at a zoo-friendly camp they runs in “the backwoods of Missouri.” Mark is also the author of the memoir The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile that received four out of five stars on amazon.com. “Two-hooves up!” despite only 16 reviews.

Oddly, even in places where zoophilia is legal the making or distributing of pornographic material related to inter-special sex almost certainly is not, except in Belgium which seems to be the most sexually liberation capital of the world. One thing to be sure of is that, illegality aside, zoophilia is not a cute anachronism, a throwback to the past, and is present in more countries than the short list of those that allow it [fn.4] may suggest. In his book, Before Night Falls, Reinaldo Arenas recalls a childhood in Cuba in which there occurred several counts of bestiality — with cows, sheep, chickens, a dog and a horse — that were later cut from the award-winning film. The comedian Louis C.K. has an anecdote about having a dog lick cottage cheese off of his balls as a kid. Besides, jokes such as…

Q: “Why should you always fuck your sheep on the side of a cliff?”

A: “So the sheep will push back.”

…must have their origin somewhere. I think a Welsh guy told me that last one in a bar.

One commonly restated phrase — and perhaps the origin for dolphins being the preferred mate of dedicated zoophiles — is that dolphins are, arguably [fn.5], the only animals aside from humans and Bonobo chimps who have sex for pleasure. This is true. What should be added is that dolphins are, in fact, hypersexual, a state in which sexuality is used not just for reproduction but also for purposes of bonding and community building. For example, it is not unusual for an immature male to have sex with his mother. Males will poke each other in the blowhole for sport and rub their enlarged penises along the viewing glass in aquariums to the delight of onlookers. Whether they are trying to be obscene or hilarious has yet to be determined.

Kayaking along the Hawaiian coast, my personal experience with dolphins is to see a pod in the distance like a water mirage on a hot highway, paddle towards them and get to the spot only to see their little heads reappear elsewhere on the same dream-like horizon. I’m not surprised at their shyness. They are wild animals and greeting every boat that approaches you in the ocean is generally a bad idea for ocean-dwellers. Still, I paddle towards them, if only to see the trick just one more time. Perhaps it’s their perpetual smiles, their freewheeling attitude that is so attractive. They are elusive, exotic like the Chinese exchange student who sits next to you in high school and eats her lunch with chopsticks. Dolphins are anthropomorphized [fn.6] more than almost any other wild animal and dolphin-sex is no joke to the people who preach it. The teaser for a delphinically-oriented erotic novel by Malcolm Brenner entitled Wet Goddess reads:

Stoked on cheap pot and reports that dolphins possess near-human intelligence, liberal arts major Zachary Zimmerman couldn’t be more thrilled about his first pro photography job. The project: shoot about the stars of Florida Funland’s struggling dolphin show while turning a blind eye to the writer’s affair with a trainer. But the writer isn’t the only one at Florida Funland looking for forbidden love. Ruby, a solo performer in the show, slowly edged her way inside Zach’s slightly foggy mind, drawing him deeper and deeper into her wet, wild realm of sensual abandon and unexpected violence.

Brenner self-published his memoir which, although it’s validity is hotly debated among the delphinophile community, spent time on amazon.com’s bestseller list for self-published authors. Unfortunately, the media buzz surrounding Brenner in the time following the book’s publication saw him, according to an interview by 3News of New Zealand, being “insulted, fired and harassed.” Brenner does have high hopes for the future of zoophiles, however, comparing their plight to that of society accepting young people having tattoos and piercings as the norm. This is an interesting comparison seeing as how the more cutting criticisms of Brenner are more in the ‘homosexuality leads to zoophilia’ line of bullshit reasoning that is so popular among evangelists and their ilk [fn. 7]. Brenner is currently seeking to get his novel published in Japan where, he believes, “it would not encounter the same kind of sexual taboos it does here in the puritanical States.”

In reading the customer reviews of both Wet Goddess and Matthews’ The Horseman, the most striking aspect was the amount of attention each had received. Both each had 16 customer reviews on Amazon.com, but the amount of activity encircling The Horseman was scant, all totaling around 200. Brenner’s book trumps this with the first customer review — a comical flash fiction about how reading Wet Goddess had helped the reviewer realize the true love between him and his guinea pig — which was, at the time of this writing, “found helpful” for 226 out of 244 people. The numbers drop from there to 170, 76, etc. proving more than anything that the general public quickly loses interest in reading book reviews. The numbers, however, suggest a prejudice I didn’t notice until taking a step back.

a) Mark Matthews was the star of an acclaimed BBC documentary as well as Jerry Springer’s too-hot-for-TV most infamous episode = mainstream publicity.

b) Matthews is also the founder of what is unofficially the largest zoophiliac outreach center in the world and was published by Prometheus books as part of their New Concepts in Sexuality Series = publicity among academics and other subversives.

c) Brenner self-published his novel and, “apart from a few local radio interviews in Florida, the book hadn’t picked up much media attention” until David Farrier of 3News in New Zealand did an interview with him.

[quotations come from Ferrier’s follow-up Q&A session with Brenner]

Yet Matthews would spend his life in relative obscurity while Brenner’s book rose to the top of the popularity charts for animal “lovers” and curiosity-seekers. Dolphins, it seems, are just naturally more attractive. On delphinophile.com members are encouraged through chat rooms and storyboards to relate their personal experiences with dolphins. They entertain each other with stories of sailors lost at sea who are rescued by dolphins that nourish them back to health and, naturally, have intercourse with them. Delphinophiles present themselves not as having some unnatural paraphilia, but as a sophisticated group who are working to bring awareness to the ones they love, helping them to escape fishermen’s nets and the constricting walls of theme park tanks.

Much like the divisions between the foodies in Maui, delphinophiles defend their unusual position by simply pointing the finger in the other direction, at the real perverts and their household pets. Dolly, the wet dolphin goddess in Brenner’s novel “put her snout on my shoulder [after making love], embraced me with her flippers and we stared into each other’s eyes for about a minute.” While the theme of zoophilia is a constant, delphinic writing is flavored with this very specific flavor of arrogance: the idea that delphinic zoophiles are cooler, are somehow better than your average horse-fucker.

The original dolphin weirdo was, to be fair, a scientist named John C. Lilly, a man whose tribute site, johnclilly.com, describes his life with such hyper-inflated language as, “devoted to a philosophical quest for the nature of reality, Lilly pursued a brilliant academic career among the scientific leaders of the day, mastering one science after another and eventually achieving a perspective that transcends the centuries-old conflict between rationality and mysticism.” Opinions among the cetacean community are divided. For example, as Carley Lowe, a researcher in the whale lab at UH-Hilo, put it, Lilly “lived on Maui for awhile and killed a bunch of dolphins by giving them LSD.” Whether he “mastered one science after another” or not Lilly is considered to be the father of dolphin research. Trained in medicine and psychoanalysis, Lilly is also the inventor of the sensory deprivation tank [fn. 8] and a floating house wherein dolphins and humans could cohabitate. His work with dolphins and on inter-special communication became somewhat of a focus for 1960’s romantics, much like Margaret Mead’s work in Polynesia would help to spark movements like the American sexual revolution and second wave feminism. Essentially, people (and grant money) flocked to Lilly. Like Timothy Leary — a friend of Lilly’s — or Margaret Mead, his research stirred the passions of the masses and was eventually overshadowed by the power of its influence, by its romanticism. This is why bringing the name John Lilly up in conversation with a group of young scientists will get you the same response that bringing up Jack Kerouac in a room full of young writers will, namely, “I love that guy!” or “I hate that guy!” While Lilly’s methods were non-traditional, applying the word “weirdo” to his efforts comes not from me but from the various grad students and whale lab workers I went out drinking with during my time in Hawaii.

“These hippies think dolphins evolved on land and then crawled back into the sea,” said Lynx, a grad student at UH-Hilo, “they forget about things like porpicide [fn. 9] and the gangs of territorial males that attack and murder each other. If they want to make the argument that dolphins are like people then gang violence and war are perfect examples, but they leave that part out because it would ruin their image of dolphins as these perfect, enlightened creatures when they’re totally not. It’s willful ignorance, really.”

“Working with the blubber-lovers was one of my first assignments here,” a particularly spirited deep-water researcher with a heavy Cockney accent explained to me one night. The guy had been nursing beers by himself in the corner of the bar all night, his attention drifting like a bee between the flowers from the band to the dancing girls. I left to play a few games of pool and came back to find he had plopped himself down at our table.

“They had a beached whale they were trying to save in a tank that was barely bigger than the whale itself. You know whales beach themselves for a reason, right? Anyway, they were pouring buckets of water on it and crying and I was just disgusted. I walked out.”

Finished, he gave his beer a sour look, took another swig and turned his attention to a Sublime cover band [fn. 10] that had just taken the stage. I asked him what had happened to the whale. The dude snapped his head around — he was either in a bad mood that night or just an angry drunk in general — and sized me up as if I just suggested that maybe he and I should go and get a hotel room together.

“It fucking died, man,” he said, “what do you think?”

FOOTNOTES:

  1. Under the pretext of extorting a confession.
  2. As of 2010: Arkansas, Montana and North Carolina. MO and NC used to have laws against bestiality, but these were later struck down as being unconstitutional. Washington passed a law prohibiting bestiality in 2006 after attention was drawn to the death of a Boeing engineer named Kenneth Pinyan who, according to the King County Examiner’s report, died from “perforation of the sigmoid colon during anal intercourse with a horse.” There’s an excellent documentary on the Washington case called Zoo (2007).
  3. I once had a friend relate a story about him and some friends being broke in Los Angeles while on a road trip and signing up for a “My Boyfriend Is Cheating On Me With My Brother”-type episode. A few hours before the show he admitted to one of the organizers that they had signed on under false pretenses and were really just looking to earn some extra cash, to which she responded: “Fine, just fake it and you’ll get $600 each.”
  4. According to a controversial Wikipedia article: Belgium, Cambodia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Sweden and Thailand. Notable cases in other countries are:
  • Sudan (2006) — an unnamed man was caught having sex with his neighbor’s goat. The owner of the goat, Mr. Alfi, captured the man, tied him up and called the local council of elders. Instead of going to the police, the man was ordered to pay Mr. Alfi 15,000 dinars ($50) and marry the goat. Mr. Alfi was quoted as saying, We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together” (2006, BBC News).
  • United States, Wisconsin (2007) — Bryan James Hathaway was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of having sex with a deer. Because the deer in this case was deceased his lawyer, Frederic Anderson, argued “because the deer was dead, it was not considered an animal and the charge should be dismissed … the statute does not prohibit one from having sex with a carcass.” Although this does raise the intriguing question of when does an animal cease to be an animal, the judge wasn’t buying any of it and sentenced Hathaway to a six month probation and evaluation for sex offender status at a treatment center in Duluth, MI. Hathaway had been convicted two years earlier of a similar crime, pleading “no contest to one felony charge of mistreatment of an animal for the shooting death of Bambrick, 26-year-old horse, to have sex with the animal” (Haines, L. 2007, The Register).

5. The definition of this is any sort of sexual stimulation not related to reproduction, sort of a bogus claim because monkeys masturbate, dogs hump pillows and human legs, etc. The key is that humans, dolphins and Bonobo chimps have sex for reasons like showing affection, social bonding and showing power — humanistic, progressive reasons.

6. To anthropomorphize something is to apply humanlike characteristics to a non-human being. For example, “My cat is crazy!” or “My dog missed me.” The idea, of course, is that being crazy or missing someone are human emotions we apply to animals because we really have no other point of reference when it comes to interpreting their behavior. My sister’s cat likes to pin down grasshoppers and pick off their legs one-by-one, which in any human sense would make it a total fucking sociopath.

7. Dr. Jeffrey Mason, author of Dogs Never Lie About Love compares the reciprocal love between zoophiles and their animals to parents having sex with their children and claiming that the child initiated it, in other words, “an excuse, a form of denial.”

8. The physicist Richard Feynman writes about his experiences with Lilly’s sensory deprivation tanks in his memoir Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman.

9. The deliberate, seemingly senseless killing of harbor porpoises by gangs of bottlenose dolphins.

10. If you don’t like reggae, love ballads or radio pop then you’d do best to keep your headphones on when visiting Hawaii.