“I’ve been waiting to do this for over a month,” says engineer Michael G. Haskins, donning protective rubber gloves in one of WBAI-FM’s (99.5) cramped West Side studios. He points to two fortyish women sitting opposite the control panel: Virginia Reath, a reproductive-health activist who works at a gynecological practice, and Barbara Glickstein, a registered nurse, hospital administrator, and co-producer of the WBAI women’s-health program “Healthstyles.”
“And now,” says Haskins, “stay tuned for ‘Snatches’ – where there’s a time and a place.” So begins the world’s first gynecological call-in program, a special edition of “Healthstyles” now heard at 1 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. (“Snatches” will take a brief hiatus in May and resume June 5.) But before the women plunge into this particular installment, on vaginal discharges, there’s a musical interlude, courtesy of guest Nora York (lyrics by York-Glickstein-Reath), who sings to the tune of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love”:
“The stuff of woo / is on my pants / The stuff down there / won’t go away / The stuff of woo is so annoying / it takes my day away / Is this the sugar binge not an STD I pray …”
Glickstein and Reath have brought a funny, loose Kaffeeklatsch tone to the unmentionable, thereby liberating a call-in audience to share some intimate moments. “Bertha from Brooklyn,” 70, tells a heart-wrenching story of the discovery of her first period by her panicked mother and observes, “If only young girls could listen to your program, it would be a revelation. You girls are the end of shame.”
“We want to break through the shroud of embarrassment,” says Glickstein. And on “Snatches,” a whole range of uncomfortable subjects – first periods, feminine-hygiene products, sexually transmitted diseases – are fair, often funny, game. “We’re going to be talking a lot about ‘down there,’ “ Glickstein says, “because ‘down there’ is rich. It’s also poignant, because it’s the topic through which we women have been trashed so badly.”
The two met in Yonkers at a health conference – the dry, academic atmosphere drove them from the lecture hall at the same time. They decided to combine their knowledge with their natural repartee. Glickstein persuaded her “Healthstyles” co-producer to cede the occasional show to “Snatches,” and now, after “The Body Hair Show” and “The Pelvic Exam Show,” it draws a loyal and large audience presumably separate and apart from its lead-in program, “Natural Living,” hosted by nutritionist-conspiracy theorist Gary Null.
“We want to break down the boundaries, but not break down the club,” says Glickstein. Adds Reath, “We love the club.”