It's the News,
with Kathy Pinckert, Spokesperson for the NakedNews.com
By Wil Forbis
The television anchorperson has perhaps the one vocation in the
media whose practitioners are asked to downplay their sexuality. Actors,
musicians, even comedians know that to get ahead in the business, the
best thing you can do is flaunt your business... But the Tom
Brokaws and the Connie Chungs of the world know
they can't highlight their aesthetic gifts. They're doomed
to a life of starched shirts and business skirts as mundane as the pitter
patter they have to recite on air.
That's all gone out the window
with creation of a streaming video website entitled the "Naked
Naked News correspondents know they're sexy and they augment their appeal
by... well, taking it all off. They are, as the name says, naked, and
the site is having fabulous success with such a formula. Even the mainstream
is standing up and paying attention, as Time Magazine, Entertainment
Weekly, Playboy and the Howard Stern Show cast light on the web site.
Thus, it only seemed fitting that a media giant such as Acid Logic do
the same, by featuring the following interview (conducted by phone in
March, 2001) with Naked News spokesperson, Kathy Pinckert, on the subject
of letting it hang out, Internet style.
The Deflating Internet…
Wil: We're currently seeing
the implosion of the Internet boom that started in the middle 90's. Some
foolish people might argue that a web site offering naked chicks reading
the news isn't the most solid business model. What's your response to
Kathy: Well, we are an
Internet success story. In December we announced our anniversary and we
had four million unique monthly visitors.
Wil: That's a little bit more
than Acid Logic…
Kathy: And that has climbed
now to 5.7 million. Talking about business models, ours has two components.
One of them is banner advertising. The other is that we recently created
a Naked News club. [Which operates on a paid membership basis.] It was
actually from a demand by our viewers who are always seeking the highest
quality webcasts that they can see. Akamai
is providing the club and that's fairly expensive to provide. So to offset
the costs, we created a club for that, but it will also become a revenue
model as well.
Wil: So if I join the Naked
News club do I get a cool Naked News membership card?
Kathy: We don't have membership
cards yet, but maybe in the future…?
Wil: I think that'd be what
they call a "value add".
Kathy: (Laughs) Value add…
Porn versus Nudity…
Wil: What do you say to people
who claim that the Naked News is denigrating the proud, North American
tradition of serious television news broadcasts?
Kathy: (Laughs) Well… I think
we are setting a benchmark for quality content. Our writing is very excellent
and it requires you to listen. It's giving you valuable information. So
I think it's raising the benchmark that used to be there and that with
time in most news arenas has softened. And the Naked News now introduces
a really important component and challenge.
Wil: Cuz' no one is going soft
around the Naked News…
Kathy: Mmmm, No.
Wil: What do you say to people
who claim that the Naked News is denigrating the proud, North American
tradition of online pornography?
Kathy: We are news, naked.
Pornography carries with it an implication of sexual commerce, if you
will. We are naked bodies communicating in formation. It has more to do
with nudity and people's perception about nudity.
Wil: How does the Naked
News approach broadcasting stories of violence or tragedy? I imagine you
can't have anchorpeople standing there naked, telling stories of Israeli
missiles killing people in Palestine or U.S. subs sinking Japanese fishing
Kathy: Well, nudity is
at some level a fashion statement, just as you might wear a suit, or a
shirt and tie, or a T-Shirt and shorts. All of that is just a part of
the image and nothing else. We do focus on serious news, or dramatic news,
or news that is poignant. If it's part of our international news, which
Victoria Sinclair delivers, clothing might be kept on. When Prime Minister
Trudeau passed on… I know she was one of his big fans and that was done
with clothes on. I will also tell you that all of our news reporting is
done with a very serious tone. We treat the stories appropriately. The
clothing is nudity. It's really more what you convey in your voice, your
facial expression or your hand gesture, just as any other newsreader would
Wil: Do you personally encounter
people who say you're making the world a worse place for women, or things
to that effect…?
Kathy: (Laughs) So far,
honestly… the answer is no. I personally don't see it that way. What I
see is something in a much larger context and I'll give you an example:
Last week we guested on the Howard Stern radio show and it was fantastic.
Now some people have some perceptions about Mr. Stern…
Wil: That's very true.
Kathy: But Mr. Stern
is, at the end of the day, a champion of free speech. Whether you like
him or not, or whether you like us or not, we are here. Looking at First
Amendment rights, they are very important to all of us. On the Internet,
which is currently way less regulated than radio, and we hope continues
to stay that way, then the Naked News is the counterpart to Howard Stern's
radio show for championing the right to exist and to communicate. And
it is always going to be about choice. The viewer and the listener have
a choice and we can't forget that.
Wil: I watch CNN fairly
often, and they have a lot of attractive female anchors, and I'd imagine
the last thing those anchorwomen would like is for me to be constantly
undressing them with my eyes… which is pretty much what I'm doing. Isn't
the Naked News simply encouraging this loutish behavior?
Kathy: I think it's normal for
people to think about other people in different ways. There is nothing
about it that is prurient, it's just normal. It's part of human nature
and the human animal. The inspiration for the Naked News came because
that was speculated. And so the concept was "Why not do the news, naked?"
When most people have an idea they don't act on it. Every day you're looking
at different newscasters and you're thinking…
Wil: "I wonder what they look
Kathy: Yeah, and I've
heard many people say that. Now most people in polite conversation aren't
going to say that, but it flickers in one's mind. And so we have taken
that one step beyond and have actually created it.
Wil: Do you think the
Naked News will push other news anchors to appear naked? Like a nude Tom
Brokaw or a nude Dan Rather…?
Kathy: Ahhh… most
likely not. Because you can deliver the news with dignity and class
with or without clothes. We're just making a completely different type
of statement, and what we are doing by doing that is grabbing people's
attention. One of the most refreshing aspects about the emails we get
is that people who have been ignoring the news or have been turned off
by the news, because it is, especially in the United States, very violent
- There's a Kelsey Grammer bit from that movie "15 seconds", "If it
bleeds, it leads" - and people after a while don't want to hear that.
So what they are doing is turning off the news. And with Naked News,
they are turning it on… it's a "look and see", and then it moves into
"listen". People write us and they say "Whoa, the first week, we were
hooked on this nudity stuff, but then we started to listen!" And then
they keep coming back. You don't go from 0 to four million, to 5.7 million,
without having something to say. It would get old too fast.
A Rainbow of People…
Wil: I can't help but
notice that the Naked News is pretty limited in terms of racial diversity.
Don't you feel any obligation to offer a fuller spectrum of womanhood
to your viewers?
Kathy: When's the last time
you watched Naked News?
Wil: I actually watched it a
couple nights ago, though I freely admit I didn't watch the whole thing.
Kathy: (Laughs) Well,
then you wouldn't have asked the question.
Wil: Clue me in.
Kathy: We have been, since February,
auditioning male and female web casters. What we are doing currently is
that we have Lilly Kwan who is an addition as a reporter.
Wil: I assume she is
Korean or Vietnamese..?
Kathy: No, she is Chinese. So
we are very open to having a rainbow of people!
Wil: So what prompted you to
make the decision to look for a more diversified cast?
Kathy: Well, we are looking
for cast. So when you're auditioning, you can only be responsive to those
who respond. You don't have a choice over that. All you can do is tell
the public that you're auditioning, and then the public will respond.
That's kind of up to the fates as to who's responding. We're not making
an active solicitation by going to people, they're coming to us.
Wil: You say you're adding some
men. Is that going after a gay market or a female market, or a little
Kathy: Well, it does
not matter at all. In response to female viewers -we have about 20 percent
female viewers - and they enjoy Naked News very much, and they have written
in and they have emailed and they say, "Where's the men?"
Wil: So it'll all be part of
one program? It won't be split off to one for women, one for men?
Kathy: Probably not,
as we look for candidates, they will probably have some influence on what
would be appropriate for them to be reporting on. They might have a passion
for sports, for example. So we'll be moving into those areas and that's
already in the works.
(Note: Naked News
added Lucas Tyler on April 12, 2001.)
Make a Run For The Border…
Wil: Do you think Canada is
more receptive than the US in terms of something like the Naked News.
Maybe not so much in viewers but in terms of getting funding…?
Kathy: The concept originated
in Canada. I really think this is something without borders. It's about
who had the idea and where they were when they were doing that, rather
than a place. This place just happens to be Toronto.
Working for a living…
Now it must be kind of a kick
working for a company called the "Naked News". What kind of reaction
do you get from people when you tell them where you work?
Kathy: They want my job!
Wil: Do they think that you
sit around naked all day?
Kathy: (Laughs) Nobody
thinks that. I have an incredible job, because, number one: I work with
incredible, creative, innovative people. Also, in the realm of the Internet
or any other industry, being first in the pole position is becoming a
rarity. We're in the pole position. Anyone who comes after us, comes after
us. We are the leaders and we are the pioneers. It's exciting to be a
part of something that's unique and innovative and is grabbing people's
Wil Forbis is a
well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending
chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the
world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy,
he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - email@example.com
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.
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