BUT...I can't say I agree at all with Fishbowl NY blogger Dylan Stableford's take on Jessica Cutler dropping out of the panel (which just made Page Six). And I don't say that only because Jessica is my friend. I would say the same even if I didn't know her. She is being sued by Robert Steinbuch, which I've probably blogged about more than anyone cares to read but it just infuriates me so much - and believe me, not all of the most ludicrous details have been made public yet. He is claiming all sorts of damages, from not being able to find a job to not being able to get laid as easily, and trying to pin that on Jessica. Part of the consequences of that suit affect her ability to support herself and have impacted her life. I'm not saying let's all feel sorry for Jessica Cutler - she'd be the last person to want that - but to not assume that she is just being flaky and flighty when she did give ample notice about the panel.
I think, firstly, that you often have to take what Jessica writes on her blog at least a little bit tongue in cheek (her donate button says "I need money for slutty clothes and drugs!" and her one-line bio reads "I am a published author who jumps out of cakes for money."). That's one of the things I love about her. But the fact is, she didn't know it was being videotaped and that was an issue for her regarding the lawsuit. Also, she now (sadly for us New Yorkers who miss her fun energy) lives in Florida, which I found out about on Thanksgiving. I think the lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous and I understand why Jessica had to pull out of the panel.
Also, I think it's gonna be a kick-ass panel, and I'm not just saying that cause I'm moderating it (cause really, the moderator is more a conduit for the panelists). The bloggers on the panel have diverse stories and reasons for starting their blogs (and are at various points in their writing careers in relation to their books' publication), and I'm sure will have lots of interesting things to say. So I don't think it's all that damaging to the panel at the end of the day that Jessica dropped out and I think this is a case of Dylan joining many other people in being overly harsh toward Jessica because of some kind of prejudice that I've yet to fully understand. Taking sex for money, in whatever form that occurs, seems to set off people's ire in a way few other sex acts do. Really. I see it in the way people talk about porn stars, prostitutes, strippers, etc., all the time. I see it in the way people imply that there's something "wrong" with sex writing, that you must be damaged somehow to do it. Maybe I need to pitch an interview with Jessica to $pread.
I can't say I side with Jessica on the payment issue. I think plenty of authors agree to do media events, panels, appearances, etc., without getting paid, but I think that's a side issue here and is not her main reason for dropping out of the panel - if she were in New York and not being sued, I think she would still be doing it. (I feel I must disclose here that I am getting paid, but I will also say that I would totally have agreed to moderate it even if I wasn't.)
This photo was inspired by a freewheeling, rather ridiculous conversation over Thanksgiving dinner at the home of one of the replacement panelists, Michael Malice (co-author of Overheard in New York, evil genius website mastermind, and generally schemer).