In an early discussion on body hair, the team behind the podcast LSD dropped this catchy bit of wisdom: “Everybody thinks about it, nobody wants to talk about it, but everyone still wants to know about it.” How apt that in this country of the booming population, the same applies to sex.
Meet Prem and Rogue, the sunny-voiced, taboo-shattering siblings behind a series that aims to break down Love, Sex and Dating (LSD) for young Indians. Each week, they talk about topics — from online dating and porn habits to paid sex and rejection — all sourced from questions sent by listeners. Their meandering discussions pack in puns, dip into theories on social justice, relive awkward personal experiences and eventually arrive at some surprisingly insightful answers. In a country with a long history of ignorance and misinformation on the subject, they’re filling the gap that sex education should have and taking into account a host of new-age problems as well. They’re your 21st-century “agony aunt, shrink, friend, advisor”, boasts Prem. “You name it, we have it all.”
So how did a brother-sister duo, born several years apart and currently in different time zones, get here? “As a team, we possess a great combination of knowledge and practical experience in this field. We keep it light, funny and totally real. We encourage people to write in and ask us any question they feel too embarrassed or afraid or awkward to ask anyone else. And we ensure their anonymity. We take a very candid approach and quite enjoy taking fun jabs at one another, too.”
With Prem currently in LA following Hollywood dreams, and Rogue back home after 13 years abroad, they’ve both been exposed to a liberal attitude towards sex. Held in contrast against the often muddled and ignorant Indian view on sex and dating, there was definitely a lot they had to say. According to Rogue, “We got started because we felt like there was a real vacuum in the space of love, sex, dating. Nobody seems to be talking about it frankly, and podcasts are ideal because they’re slightly anonymous and also totally accessible to anyone with a smartphone.” Bringing her radio journalism skills to the microphone, Rogue knits together audio files recorded on Skype to produce their weekly podcast. It hasn’t been without a fight though — their podcast was dropped from the iTunes store for being too ‘explicit’, a wall sexual literacy is often up against. But they’re here because they truly believe they’re needed. “While we deal with all kinds of issues, we always underscore the basics: the need for safer sex and condoms, contraceptives, STDs, respect, communication. Speaking to someone about these should not be mental torture, but the reality is it’s still a taboo,” says Rogue.
Although they’ve only been on air for a little over six months, they’re already drawing in unexpected listeners. “We initially thought it would be only big-city kids, but small-town India surprised us,” says Rogue. The questions range from ‘how to get my partner to try anal’ to ‘what if my mother doesn’t like her.’ While the duo have recently begun taking opinions from guest speakers and are even planning to bring in a professional psychologist, for now they answer straight from the heart. More often than not, they disagree, as siblings are wont to do. Yet the disagreement underlines their central message — all opinions are equally valid. Today’s dating scene is an emotional minefield, and it’s good to have someone break down the basics for you. “The more you normalise a subject, the better equipped you become to deal with it,” says Rogue. “In India, I feel that sex education is so lacking, the ignorance leads to all kinds of fall-outs. I would go as far as to link objectification, patriarchal eve-teasing, harassment and gender stereotyping to how uncomfortable our youth (both genders) is with sex. I firmly believe it needs to be taught in all our schools, and specifically addressing a mixed audience, not just girls or just boys, but with sensitivity and positive guidance, through good role models who are matter of fact and honest. So a culture of respect, especially self-respect, is inculcated in everyone from the beginning.”
As the show moves forward, they plan to expand the scope. “We’re trying to be more inclusive of people from across the sexuality and gender identity spectrum. We’re looking at more partnerships from the LGBT community to have more perspectives on our show.” Is it possible for them to dig out even more diverse topics than they’ve already addressed? Head to Sonologue.com to find out.