Rolling in the hay together

The rising podcasters in Brown Chicken Brown Cow mix humor and body positivity when talking about sex

Illustrations courtesy of Sean Makiney

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In a rhythm like ’70s porn music, Monkey and Miss Laura sing the words “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” when they get on-air. Childish jokes follow, and Laura announces to the internet that her colleague is blushing.

“Let’s bump up the blush meter to 2,” she says. Monkey (real name Sean Makiney) reddens easily. The highest he hit on the fictional meter was 32. He was so red that his face felt like it was on fire, he says.

Everyone laughs, including Madame Alchemia (Lee Asplund) and The Professor (Todd W. Spencer), who sometimes host, but primarily do production and tech on the podcast. Silliness relaxes the vibe of this Sacramento show about sex and body positivity.

What’s it called? Dim the lights and cue the groovy bass line, baby. Cuz you’re listening to Brown Chicken Brown Cow.

Today’s guests are Robert and Samantha, a polyamorous couple with two daughters, 8 and 10 years old. Laura asks: How did you tell your kids about having multiple romantic partners?

“It was more us explaining that we have a very open family, and we want to be open to anybody that we feel is important to us,” Samantha says. “It was fun to see how open and excited they were to have the conversation with us.”

The interview stays serious until Laura (who asked not to be named) poses a final question, as she does with every guest: What barnyard animal are you?

“We are an inclusive show, and we believe in all types of barnyard animals, not just traditional, hetero-normative barnyard animals,” Laura prefaces. Robert says he’s a dolphin, and Samantha’s a kangaroo.

“You have a pouch and you can carry your two kids in there,” Laura says. “That is a great animal to be.” This cracks everyone up, including Robert and Samantha, who had just cautiously revealed their alternative lifestyle to the web.

In a year and a half, Brown Chicken Brown Cow has become one of Sacramento’s most popular podcasts, with a digital audience stretching around the world. Some episodes are back-and-forth discussions among the hosts, others are interviews with experts. The goal is always to make sure things aren’t stuffy when they talk about serious topics, such as consent, sex with disabilities, or 50 shades of polyamory.

The show airs four times a week. The podcast started casually in June 2017, with friends hanging out and chatting about sex. It quickly saw its audience soar, and with it production values and guest caliber. It has had nearly 150 guests on so far, including Janet Hardy, co-author of The Ethical Slut, and Dr. Barbara Chubak, a head urologist at Mt. Sinai hospitals in New York.

Earlier this year, Brown Chicken Brown Cow reached about 70,000 individual users monthly. The podcast has been on hiatus since November due to personal issues, so that number has dipped slightly. The team of four says it’ll return in January next year.

The first indication of success came last February, when Makiney, noticed it had topped Dan Savage’s often top-ranked podcast, Savage Lovecast, in the sexuality category on Apple iTunes. The podcast now regularly lands in the Top 100 of all podcasts on iTunes. Brown Chicken Brown Cow even hit No. 1, overall, three times.

That’s impressive considering that, according to an early 2018 Nielson report, there are more than 550,000 podcasts worldwide.

Brown Chicken Brown Cow is not an advice show, which are aplenty in the sexuality category. It’s a topic/interview podcast, and its appeal is in its simplicity of good friends having a conversation.

“If we’re having fun, people listen,” says Asplund. “We pride ourselves in trying to get as much content out there from as many viewpoints as possible, while being a little crazy.”

The polyamory episodes were one of the podcasts’ monthly themes. With some topics, the hosts bring their own experience (they’re all polyamorous). Others they approach with naiveté.

Makiney, for example, says he’s not into kink, but has hosted episodes on the topic. When the talk turns to sex and disabilities, he has first-hand knowledge: Makiney lives with a back injury and says he has had several intense migraines a week for the past 37 years.

“When we looked at ’Sex and Disability Month,’ that was really close to me,” Makiney says. “It showed me that there are a lot of different people out there with visible and invisible disabilities. From alcoholism to not being mobile. Depression. [Post-traumatic stress disorder]. You’re still a sexual being.”

There’s an obvious intersection of positivity movements in how they discuss every topic. During the sex and disability-themed month, they interviewed Christella Garcia, who won a bronze medal in Judo at the 2016 Paralympics. Makiney asked what her body self-image was like when she had to gain weight to compete.

“When I look back at it now, it wasn’t about the weight. It was about having something in my life that I could control,” Garcia said of her teenage years. “It was tricky, feeling like my body is a weapon. I was building it for this particular reason, which was to be a Paralympic medalist.”

The hosts say they’re hopeful for what 2019 has in store for Brown Chicken Brown Cow.

“We are finding new and better ways to engage and empower our audience,” Makiney says. “I hope to make the world a slightly better place with each and every show.”