Everybody dreams of being instantly understood, of having people get the details and the emotion of what we tell them as fast as we can share it.
That doesn’t happen.
Communication, like everything else worth having, takes work. We have to build a set of shared symbols and metaphors, have to create a shared context which bridges the diverse experiences that shape different humans.
We have come up with a way to communicate effectively with other humans. It is called the pitch, a form of communication focused totally on engaging and swaying people to agree with us, to follow us, to buy what we are selling.
The beauty of the pitch is in the utter lack of ambiguity. To make a pitch, you need to have a goal in mind, something you want to obtain from the person you are pitching. The pitch is functional communication at its most seductive, all attention and intent.
Polished, routine pitches can be wonderful and engaging. At the CNE every August, I would stand and watch guys demonstrate Dial-O-Matics and carbon steel woks, taking a round of fairgoers on a well worn journey that would end up with many of them opening their wallets so they could take a bit of the magic home with them.
The individualized pitch, though, a master sorting through objections and concerns by reaching deep into a bag of tricks, weaving a fresh performance from collected bits and bobs, is very impressive. It is not only something to see, it is a blast to do, engaging and moving someone else to a new understanding, a fresh desire.
I have spoken before of how I am something that isn’t supposed to exist in nature, a slow analyst and a fast performer in one body. My performances are playful, energetic and sly, but because I can easily go back into hermit philosopher mode, I don’t push to perform much.
As a theologian, I believe in Socratic dialogue, questions that open the mind and heart of others so that they can create their own learning, growth and enlightenment. This is a messy process, full of ambiguity and challenge, one that has only the goal of exploration.
As a performer, though, I get the power of the pitch, the joy of the thumping evangelical polemic, the energy of pure manipulation that seduces others into buying whatever the hell you are selling. It is a blast for both seller and buyer, culminating in an orgiastic transaction where the valued is powerfully exchanged.
I admit here my deep dark secret, the one that I keep hidden because I find it challenging, corrupt, demanding and beyond my means: part of me really, really wants to be a pitch bitch.
To be one of those stylish women who can soften, lure and seduce others into transformation is a compelling and all too intense dream for me.
I know that most pitch bitches do not use their power for considered good, instead allowing themselves to be pitched on why some new geegaw will not only make lots of cash for everyone but will also make life more wonderful for everyone who obtains one. I may have loved the Veg-O-Matic pitches, but I never bought one, knowing that the magic was in the pitch, not in the plastic product.
The pitch demands a kind of erasure, eliminating noise and creating focus, that I know to be the basis of too much toxic manipulation.
In watching UnReal, I am drawn to Quinn and Rachel because I understand their intent and power as manipulative bitches. It was who I was as a teen, though I was hidden under the assumption of boy those around me made. It was why I became a TV producer, why I am still a process queen.
Constance Zimmer, who plays executive producer Quinn says “I truly believe that, for the most part, Quinn believes that she’s helping Rachel, that she’s aiding her, that she’s leading her down the road that she believes is the road she should be on The way Quinn would look at it was as [Rachel making] “a cry for help.”.”
This is the deep understanding that we manipulative bitches always fall back on: We see the situation more clearly, we understand what would be best, and we are just moving the process along by forcing the right thing to happen.
The arrogance of the pitch bitch is that she knows the right answer and any manipulation to get to that right answer is really a service to those who don’t know better. Everybody really would be better off with what I am selling, so whatever intensity, whatever persuasion, whatever cajolery I use, it is all for the best.
We live in a culture, though, were we have many more consumers than owners. People don’t learn to make decisions by thinking things through, rather they learn to fall into temptation, to be seduced by the machine made red shoes rather than owning their own handmade life.
You can argue that fighting fire with fire is the best solution. If other people are going to pitch self-serving crap, don’t we have the obligation to pitch healthy choices so that the easily manipulated have a choice? Don’t we know better than the other pitch bitches? We can’t smarten up the consumers, but like good mothers, we can help them make the “right” choices.
After all, people learn their own lessons, so doesn’t leading them down a path that doesn’t server them mean they get a lesson from it, smartening themselves up? Isn’t the power to rationalize the best thing that we can ever teach someone else?
I know why I do the hermit thing, the slow analyst, brutally challenging, honest and isolating thing.
But that performer thing, well that pumping preacher, that pitch bitch, well, it still runs through my vein. My first out after my parents died, the one so amazing, turned me out as pitch bitch, a winner in ways I never could have imagined and don’t know how to follow up.
I’m actually quite good at pitch bitch, so good that other people resist trying to get me to do more of it, even if it might save me. It’s scary, as my idol Lola Heatherton might say. Even performance people resist affirming that power, knowing how it can overwhelm them.
The trick to quick and effective communications are all wrapped up in the art of the pitch.
How do women take power in the world? Every pitch bitch knows the answer. Every woman who uses her charm to get the outcomes that she knows would be best, well she has some power to pitch, even if she would run from the label pitch bitch.
The world of women is full of those who have worked for other people and now are working to claim their own pitch bitch identity, creating their own entrepreneurial business. These women look to role models, other women who show themselves as powerful pitch bitches, wanting to buy into the aspirational performances.
I understand the call of that pitch bitch power and understand the downside of that power too. Fast performer, slow analyst, feminine heart, musclebound mind.
But is the idea of being potent and seductive ever not potent and seductive in itself?
Doesn’t everyone love a good pitch bitch?