Meet the Man Who Had Sex with a Dolphin (and Wrote a Book About It)
Matt Saincome Malcolm J. Brenner, with his book, Wet Goddess
Malcolm J. Brenner, the controversial author of Wet Goddess, the autobiographical novel of a young man's love affair with a dolphin, relaxes on a computer chair inside a San Francisco apartment, gently stroking one of the two cats occupying the room with us. His red sweater is wiry and frayed, like the hairs on his balding head. He's 40 years older than he was when he drove to a near-abandoned Florida amusement park with the intent to "make love" with a dolphin he had been photographing for nine months.
The book, which he self-published, has gotten him fired from jobs and ended relationships, and with employers Google-searching most applicants, has made work hard to come by.
Brenner describes sex acts with various animals (including his dog) with the same level of calm most people use to tell you what they had for breakfast. And when he speaks of Dolly, the dolphin he had sex with while submerged underwater in 1971, you can see in his eyes that he can still see her, as if she is right there in front of him. It's the same look he had on his face when he told me after the interview that he was molested as a child.
Brenner was raised in a family that believed in the works of Wilhelm Reich, the Austrian psychoanalyst who believed in preventing the "armoring" of children from birth through a process called "vegetotherapy," which looked to establish a patient's "orgasm reflex" and "orgastic potency," which Reich described as "the ability for total surrender to the involuntary contractions of the organism and the complete discharge of the excitation at the acme of the genital embrace."
Many of Reich's patients say they were sexually assaulted.
I went into the interview with humorous intentions, knowing nothing about Reich's bizarre, orgasm-obsessed theories. Afterward, when Brenner told me that Albert Duvall, the physician in charge of Reich's infant research center in New Jersey, molested him several times in his office, I didn't feel like laughing anymore. Instead, I called Brenner to ask about the molestation.
"What he would do is poke and prod his thumb into sore or stiff areas. What Reich and my parents didn't know is that he was also sexually molesting his young patients. That was not part of the therapy," Brenner recalled.
He claims that several other children were molested by Duvall as well.
"He was a very cold, ruthless, and calculating man," Brenner said, adding, "We all complained to our parents what this guy was doing to us. That he was hurting us. That he was doing sexual things to us, and none of them did anything about it."
According to Brenner, growing up in the pseudo-scientific cult, which is the topic of his upcoming second book, Growing Up in the Orgone Box: Secrets of a Reichian Childhood, led to his zoophilia. No one who ever got the chance to speak face-to-face with Brenner, like I did, could doubt the validity of his story.
Mr. Brenner, we're going to be covering a lot of subjects in great deal of detail over the course of this interview, but I'd like to begin completely out of context by asking you one question, more than any other, almost every American and people all over the world want me to ask. Did you put it in the blowhole or the va-jay-jay?
It was vaginal sex. Vaginal sex. Blowholes are for breathing. Sometimes male dolphins do each other in the blowhole, but you wouldn't find me trying to do that.
Would it be oral if you put it in the blowhole?
It wouldn't be oral because it's not their mouth -- their mouths are full of teeth. It would be nasal sex.
Zach, the main character in your book, developed a telepathic communication channel with the dolphin, Ruby ...
He believed he did.
Yeah, he believed he did. It's an autobiographic novel, so does that mean you had a telepathic connection to the dolphin?
Everything about the dolphins in the book I wrote is based very closely on what happened with me. The only changes I made were about the human beings, and really minor ones at that. The book was as close to the real story as I could tell it. So yeah, I thought I was in telepathic contact with the dolphin.
It bedeviled me, because I knew it seemed improbable and it shouldn't be happening, you know? I was getting high a lot, so maybe I was just stoned? But then it would happen when I wasn't getting high, so it was very confusing.
But I've since learned I'm not the only person to have those kinds of experiences. I've talked with dolphin trainers and people who work with dolphins in the military, and if you really get deeply involved with dolphins, and you're open to these kind of experiences, and you're not being told that they don't happen or you can't talk about them because you work for Sea World, then a surprising number of people seem to have them.
©2011 Malcolm J. Brenner Malcolm J. Brenner with Dolly, the dolphin he had sex with.
Sure! How much foreplay are dolphins into?
They're into a lot.
You say the dolphin courted you originally, right?
Yeah! I didn't go in there with the idea of "Gee, I'd like to have sex with a dolphin." That was the last thing on my mind, actually.
What did the dolphin do? Did it send you late-night text messages with a whole bunch of emojis?
No, this was 1971, you have to remember. We were backwards then.
It started off the first time I got in the water with the dolphin. I was enthralled to get that close with a dolphin -- it was something I've always wanted to do. My interest in dolphins originally came with my interest in outer space and extraterrestrial communication. John Lilly had just received a grant from NASA to study dolphin intelligence because he said it might help us understand aliens if we ever meet them.
So I got in the water with the dolphin. I was standing there and she was lying at my feet. I was in the water basically up to my knees. You have to understand something about this dolphin, because she was a very unusual dolphin. She was the only dolphin outside of the U.S. military that was trained to swim out into open water and come back. And she did, I kept wondering why she didn't just swim off.
So I was in her pen with her, and she was kept in isolation from most of the other dolphins. She was alone pretty much -- and lonely. I started rubbing her head and she swam forward slowly and as she swam forward I kept rubbing her. I was rubbing her back, I was rubbing her belly, and then I was rubbing her genital slit, which is where the vagina is located. That's where she stopped. And I thought, "Hmm, this is embarrassing."
So I backed up and I went back to her head again and the exact same thing happened. That was how she began courting me. Now, apparently this was something she did with a lot of humans.
Yeah? So this dolphin had a reputation, then?
No one ever told me she had a reputation. But I just picked it up from her and other things later on, that she was interested in studying people. I think that's why she kept coming back and not swimming off.
Later on, she got much more aggressive, like you read in the chapter I put online. She beat up my girlfriend and tossed her out of the pool and she would come on very strongly to me. She would rub her vulva against me. She would masturbate on my feet. If I didn't let her do that, if I resisted, she would beat me up. One time, when I was especially resisting, she pushed me down to the bottom of the pool, which was 12 feet deep.
This is a 400-pound animal, this thing is a predator, you know? They're not Flipper. She wanted what she wanted, and she wasn't getting it from me. But then, after a series of [he points to both sides of his temples] communications with her, her courtship behavior changed. She became very gentle, almost passive. I noticed the change and I said, "What's going on here? How have I managed to communicate with this creature?"
She began doing things like opening her jaws and running her teeth very lightly along my legs and my arms. It was an amazing sensation, because they have like 88 teeth in their mouth. And she wasn't hurting me. She was courting me, dolphin-style, but without the dolphin roughness.
Next: Brenner confronts issues of animal harm