Q&A: Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino On Planned Parenthood, Her First “Sex Talk,” And Being A Role Model


Yesterday morning a vote by North Carolina’s legislature overrode Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of the state’s budget, and as one of the consequences North Carolina became the third state in recent weeks to cut all public funding to Planned Parenthood programs. Proponents of the measure relied solely on the fact that its clinics also provide abortion services—even though 97 percent of all Planned Parenthood services are preventative. Some historical context: In 1936, North Carolina became the first state to recognize birth control as a public measure when it allowed the early stages of the then-growing Planned Parenthood program to provide contraceptive services and education through their public health program.

The whole thing has been emotional and, quite frankly, pretty scary for many women and Planned Parenthood supporters nationwide. When Best Coast singer Bethany Cosentino heard about the threatened government shutdown over federal budget debates a few months ago—specifically the GOP’s plan to cut healthcare funds that went directly to programs like Planned Parenthood—she was outraged, and she linked up with with Planned Parenthood‘s New York Action Fund rally for their cause. Tonight, the singer (alongside friends Those Darlins) takes the stage of (le) Poisson Rouge to raise money for the organization. We caught up with her via email to talk about her support of the program, her anti-choice fans, and her first “sex talk.”

How did you come to play the Planned Parenthood benefit?

I heard about what was happening to Planned Parenthood and I knew that I wanted to help out right away. I wrote to my manager and was like, “I need to find a way to help them,” and the benefit show seemed like the best idea. I wanted to do more than just donate money. I wanted to help spread the word and get more people involved in the cause. So that’s why the benefit seemed like the best route.

Do you remember the first time you got the “sex talk”?

I remember taking sex ed in the seventh grade and giggling a lot in the back of the classroom with my friend Jessica. I don’t really remember my mom actually sitting me down and talking to me about sex, but I do remember her giving me a book about it. My family was really open though. I didn’t live in one of those households where sex was a hush-hush subject.

Tell us about another “first.”

My first kiss was in a hot tub during a game of Truth or Dare in front of like all my closest friends in junior high. So awkward.

Have you used Planned Parenthood services before?

I have been going to Planned Parenthood for years. That’s part of the reason I wanted to do this benefit—I want to support an organization that I’ve been going to since I was a teenager. The first time I went to one I was super scared, but it’s not a scary place. They make you feel very comfortable!

Do you think you may have fans that are socially conservative / anti-choice? What would you say to those fans?

I’ve had people tweet at me in regards to my support of Planned Parenthood—people that are definitely upset that I support them—but I have to remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It makes me sort of sad that people disregard Planned Parenthood as a helpful organization because of their stand on politics. Because regardless of what you believe in, Planned Parenthood is an organization that helps people and saves lives. So, to me, it’s just upsetting that people don’t see that.

Are there any female musicians that you remember turning to as a role model when you were younger?

I was obsessed with Gwen Stefani my entire life, and I still am now. I think she’s amazing. Especially as a teenager, I was so into her—her style, her stage presence, everything about her. Right now I’m really into Loretta Lynn and Stevie Nicks.

When, if ever, do you think that you start to embrace that you too may be becoming a role model of sorts too? Does it ever effect the way you portray yourself publicly?

It’s bizarre to me! But so special and exciting. I meet so many female fans at shows who tell me they look up to me, and it blows my mind! If anything, I just want to remind women that it’s OK to be yourself. I’m not glamorous and I’m okay with that. I just enjoy being who I am and I hope that other women learn that from me. You don’t always have to weigh 100 pounds and wear layers of makeup to be a sexy woman!

If you could go back in time, is there anything you would advise your younger self about sex or relationships?

I’ve always been pretty smart when it comes to that kind of stuff. I just think it’s important for people to remember to be careful. And if you ever feel threatened or unsafe in a situation, take yourself out of it.

Best Coast and Those Darlins play at (le) Poisson Rouge tonight. Tickets are sold out, but at 6 p.m. 100 tickets will be released, first-come, first-serve. If you can’t go to the show, support the cause by visiting and donating to Planned Parenthood’s New York Action Fund directly.