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For fired CBC host with kinky sex life, best defence is good offence

For fired CBC host with kinky sex life, best defence is good offence

In the relatively small firmament of Canadian radio stars, Jian Ghomeshi is about as big a celestial body as you can get. Or should we say ‘was’?

The career of the popular host of CBC Radio’s Q unravelled in the space of a weekend following a terse announcement by the public broadcaster that it and Ghomeshi had parted ways.

The program went on Monday with substitute host Brent Bambury, who began with the show’s signature opening essay, this time on the future of Q.

Ghomeshi tweeted last Friday that he was taking time off to deal with personal issues, which many ascribed to grief over the recent death of his father.

But on Sunday evening, Ghomeshi posted a bizarre announcement on Facebook that he’d been “stripped of my show” over the CBC’s concerns about allegations connected with his kinky sex life, which he said includes dominance, submission and role-playing.

“I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners,” he said in his FB post.

Ghomeshi said he and his girlfriend joked that it was a mild version of Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy bestseller about a young woman’s journey into the world of bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM).

But the Toronto Star reported Monday it had interviewed three women, whom it didn’t identify, who claimed the sex was not consensual.

Ghomeshi followed his FB confessional with a $55-million lawsuit against the CBC filed Monday alleging breach of confidence, bad faith and defamation.

No one from the CBC nor Ghomeshi’s legal counsel, nor from the two public relations firms apparently working for him, would comment to Yahoo Canada News.

None of the allegations in Ghomeshi’s claims have been proven and Toronto police told the Globe and Mail he is not the subject of an investigation.

So what we’re looking at now is a public relations shadow war. An Ottawa-based communications strategist says Ghomeshi has won the first battle.

[ Related: Scandal-plagued radio host Jian Ghomeshi was becoming an international star ]

“I think it’s already been a huge success in terms of rallying people basically to create defenders on his side by making it first of all very personal but also coming out ahead of the story and giving his side of events,” Taylor Mann, who blogged on the Ghomeshi’s pre-emptive strike, told Yahoo Canada News.

Ghomeshi’s lengthy account on Facebook has shaped the narrative by getting his story out there first, enlisting support from his sizable fan base and making it harder for contrary versions to get traction, Mann explained.

“Let’s put it this way, if he didn’t put this out there, there would have been a much less favourable version of events published,” he said.

Andrea Zanin, who posted her thoughts about the Ghomeshi affair on her Sex Geek blog, agreed. Women who allege sexual violence by the radio host may feel too intimidated to come forward now.

“Jian Ghomeshi has a really big fan base and a lot of people would be very happy to crucify anyone who attacked him, especially if they’re women who’ve had any kind of valid interest in kink but didn’t expect what it was that he dished out,” she said in an interview.

“It makes a lot of sense that these women would want to keep quiet and not be dragged through the mud themselves, especially if they’ve already suffered something difficult.”

Reaction from the BDSM community so far has been mixed, said Zanin.

“I think for a lot of people who are SM players, their immediate thought is ‘oh my goodness, it’s like every top’s worst nightmare to become accused of doing something they didn’t do. I would hate to be that poor guy,’“ she said.

(A ‘top’ is the dominant partner in the role-playing.)

But some now are questioning what the real story might have been, what Ghomeshi’s partners might have to say.

“When things start to not add up too much, I think a lot of people are taking a second look,” Zanin said.

[ Related: Jian Ghomeshi accusations bring questions about what consensual BDSM activity is ]

Sacrificing his personal privacy to advance his case against the CBC might work in the short run.

“But again. we’re missing the more complete stories of the other people who are involved in the situation, right?” she said. “We don’t know what the CBC knows or doesn’t know.”

Ghomeshi’s CBC audience for Q, which featured interviews with high-profile artists in music, TV and film, reportedly averaged 280,000 a night. Add in more than 160 U.S. National Public Radio stations plus international syndication and his listenership probably ran into millions.

But how employable will he be after this, even if he’s vindicated?

Ghomeshi has demanded CBC reinstate him, which seems like a non-starter even if there’s an out-of-court settlement.

“It’s hard to imagine him going back after such a what I’d call flame war publicly,” said Mann.

But lots of other celebrities have revived their careers after weathering humiliating personal episodes, he said. In the rough-sex department, NBC sportscaster Marv Albert was rehired after pleading guilty to a sexual battery charge.

“His (Ghomeshi’s) typical audience is much younger and they tend to be more liberal,” said Mann. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they react as a cohort.”

Zanin said she’s not heard of other Canadians losing their jobs over their interest in kinky sex, something that more commonly happens in the United States. A U.S. group called the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom does legal advocacy for those who’re fired or face child-custody problems.

“I think it exists as a specter in a lot of people’s minds all the time, that I will say,” Zanin said.