Don't Say "Coochie" on the Radio

I'm re-running this oldie-but-goodie post, because it cracks me up. And because the more I work on my own book publicity, the more I realize how individual the task of book publicity really is. This author struggles with having a book topic which is almost too edgy for traditional media. But ultimately, would you guess that it's a true disadvantage? Or an opportunity to craft very juicy lede lines?

Sarah: When it comes to TV, print and radio, authors’ fears usually come in two flavors.  There’s vanilla: how on earth will I land the publicity, and also chocolate: if I get a shot at it, will I be suave or tongue tied?

Until I heard the following story, it had never occurred to me that the fear and uncertainty could run in both directions.  Dr. Lissa Rankin’s book What’s Up Down There: Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist if She Was Your Best Friend garnered terrific publicity.  While Dr. Rankin met her PR opportunities fearlessly, the same cannot be said for her publicizers!      
 Dr. Lissa: Just before blasting off on my 20 city book tour for What’s Up Down There, I got a call from a guy at They had posted a piece called 15 Crazy Things About Sperm and it has been a slam dunk, runaway hit on the website. He wanted me to write a similar post about vaginas. He loved my style, thought I was funny, and they were trying to spice up their health news, so he thought I’d be perfect (*Lissa blushes*). I was running around like a crazy person trying to get ready for my tour, but how could I turn down the opportunity to write 15 crazy things about the vagina? Vagina vagina vagina!
So I dropped everything and wrote a badass piece -- 15 Curious Things You May Not Know About the Vagina. The guy at loved it and promised to post it on the day my book launched. Which he did. But when I went to look for it, it wasn’t there? What happened?
Too saucy?!
Well, the next day, the guy called me, tail between his legs, to say how embarrassed he was to have to tell me that the post was up for only an hour before the suits in corporate made him take it down. It was “too saucy.” He felt awful. He couldn’t stop apologizing. I was tempted to go off on the guy and start ranting but he was SO nice and clearly, it hadn’t been his decision. He loves vaginas. He felt bad, so I let him off the hook. No worries. We’re scheduled to have coffee when I’m in New York.
But the more I thought about it, the more it bugged me. Why DID they make him take down my post? The sperm post was pretty saucy too. Why do sperm get to stay up, while vaginas—once again—are relegated to the closet? What does this say about our society?
Don't say "coochie"
Then, I was on a famous national radio show that shall go unnamed. They invited me to be a guest on this radio show but when they received a copy of my book, the producer called and said, “We’re having second thoughts. We’ve read the book—and we love it—but we’re a bit concerned about the language.” Okay, so I have a potty mouth. I figured they wanted to make sure I didn’t say any four letter F bombs on national radio, and of course, I know how to behave. But no—it wasn’t the cuss words they were worried about. It was words like “coochie” or “va jay jay.” I giggled because I wanted to name my book "Coochie Confidential" but my publisher wouldn’t let me. They told me “Down There” was suggestive enough.
So I agreed to keep quiet in exchange for massive exposure on a famous radio program. But midway through the program, the host picks up my book and says “You’re gonna love this. Listen to the chapter title—'How Coochies Smell and Taste.'” And she got bleeped. And then she said, “Hey, am I allowed to say the word coochie on the radio?” And she got bleeped again. The producer was behind the glass screen, shaking her head like we were two naughty children.
Another producer of a national television show invited me to appear on her show to talk about What's Up Down There?—the plan was for the hosts of the show to ask me the questions they’d be too embarrassed to ask their gyno. But the producer warned me we’d have to be careful. “You can talk about vaginas,” she said, “but you’re gonna have to call it a ‘passion flower.’” Say what? A PASSION FLOWER? Are you kidding me? But in keeping with my mission, I smiled demurely and agreed to her terms.
But the idea got nixed by the hosts. Apparently, they were too embarrassed to ask their questions on national TV, so we offered to tone it down for them. But they said no. Too racy. Too personal. Too much vagina talk. So the show got canned.
What Gives?
If vaginas are too inappropriate for network television, national radio, and, why can we talk about erectile dysfunction and sperm? The double standard pisses me off! What is wrong with these people? Personally, I have no problem with talking about sperm and Viagra, but if I have to get caught explaining an erectile dysfunction commercial to my four year old, shouldn’t we be allowed to talk about vaginas?
That’s why I wrote What’s Up Down There? -- to get people talking and demystify this divine part of our bodies. How can we love ourselves if we don’t love ALL of ourselves? So say it with me. Vagina. Vagina. Vagina. (See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?)
Trying to live up to the name my friends have given me—"VaJesus",
Dr. Lissa
PS. Want to read 15 Crazy Things About Vaginas? Read it here.
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of, Pink Medicine Woman coach, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend andEncaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax. Sign up for Lissa's FREE Get Out Of Your Own Way mini eCourse by clicking here!


  1. Dr. Lissa,
    If my gyno showed up with a red satin dress under her white coat, I know I'd be a much happier woman today. . .

  2. An interesting post. Of course Eve Ensler used the word "coochie" to great effect in her celebrated play,The Vagina Monologues. Personally I found the play to be completely distasteful but it wasn't written for me. Having said that, it was the particular monologue entitled “The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could” which was the most shocking. It was here that Ensler has a 13 year old girl plied with alcohol and raped by a 24 year old woman. The child character states: "I say, if it was a rape, it was a good rape, then, a rape that turned my [vagina] into a kind of heaven." I find it totally shocking how a lesbian rape of a 13 year old girl can be classified as a "good rape." Sadly, to denounce the play leaves one open to the charge that they are an anti-feminist and sexist. What a pity.

    Part of the point of this diversion is that despite the fact that "Coochie" can not be used on the radio, it seems to be totally acceptable in colleges up and down the USA where Ensler's Vagina Monologues, I am led to believe, are regularly performed.

  3. Hey, if Oprah says the word Va jay jay why can't you?

  4. HMM, seems like a double standard there. I will probably be in the same boat when I submit my memoir to agents - it details some of the abuse I received as a child. Seems some things are not "appropriate" to discuss - even though the purpose is not pornographic, but to help others feel what the violation was like. I wish you well with your book and I loved your article - don't see how it was considered racy.

    Have a blessed day.

  5. Pfffft. Broads, i dont get em. Do you?