Matt Baume

The Sewers of Paris

Life-changing gay entertainment
The Sewers of Paris

Description

Revealing stories about the books, movies, tv, music and more that have changed the lives of gay men. Each week, a guest plucks a piece of entertainment from their past, and answers the question: how did it change your life?

Link: www.mattbaume.com/sewers-shownotes/

Episodes

Don't Make Superman TOO Sexy (Ep. 280 - Joeboys/Joe Phillips)

Apr 2, 2020 01:01:16

Description:

Last week I chatted with comic book author Dale Lazarov, and this week we’ll hear from a comic artist — Joe Phillips. Jos images were some of the first glimpses of gay life I ever saw, back in the 90s as a teenager. His art was simultaneously sexy and wholesome, depicting smiling scantily clad young muscle men in tenet romantic scenes. It wasn’t until a few years later that I learned about his more erotic endeavors. Joe’s work touches on a wide variety of settings and themes, not unlike his childhood which had him moving between rural farms and big cities, with influences that included classic TV, broadway musicals, his church, and his grandmother — a practicing witch.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

And big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on April 4 at 11am Pacific.I've been trying something new with the livestreaams: rather than just sitting there and talking, I play some nice relaxing Animal Crossing while we all chat about what we've been up to. It's been a really soothing way to kick back and hang out and get away from the daily stress of, you know, everything. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like nerdy queer podcasts you may enjoy my narrative comedy shows Queens of Adventure and Queens of Adventure Legends! Join us for an escape into a world of fantasy, with drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. Queens of Adventure features an ongoing fantasy story with a regular cast, and Queens of Adventure Legends features recordings of live shows, one-shot adventures, and stand alone stories with special guests like BenDeLaCreme, Rock M Sakura, Erika Klash, and many more. Queens of Adventure: Legends is perfect for new listeners, with stories that can be consumed in one or two sittings and introductions at the start of each episode. You can subscribe to both shows at QueensOfAdventure.com, or search your favorite podcast app.

Connect, Not Just Sex (Ep. 279 - Luis Buñuel/Dale Lazarov)

Mar 27, 2020 00:58:29

Description:

Hello and welcome to the Sewers of Paris. My guest this week is Dale Lazarov, a comic book writer who specializes in sexy character-based stories. Dale grew up in Puerto Rico, amidst a conservative culture of machismo, and as a young adult he was scandalized by anything sexual. His writing helped him overcome the social baggage that kept him in the closet, and now his novels serve as a sort of wish fulfillment — he writes about his dreams, and then miraculously, they seem to come true.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

And big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on April 4! It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like nerdy queer podcasts you may enjoy my narrative comedy shows Queens of Adventure and Queens of Adventure Legends! Join us for an escape into a world of fantasy, with drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. Queens of Adventure features an ongoing fantasy story with a regular cast, and Queens of Adventure Legends features recordings of live shows, one-shot adventures, and stand alone stories with special guests like BenDeLaCreme, Rock M Sakura, Erika Klash, and many more. We made Queens of Adventure: Legends with new listeners in mind, with individual self-contained stories, you can start listening to whichever episode you want. Subscribe to both shows at QueensOfAdventure.com, or search your favorite podcast app.

The Most Expensive Flop in History (Ep. 278 - Madeline Kahn/William Madison)

Mar 19, 2020 01:05:52

Description:

My guest this week has a had a lot of jobs and a lot of adventures, from working on Broadway shows to producing the news alongside Dan Rather, singing to Angela Lansbury, earning a nickname from Fidel Castro, and writing the biography of Madeline Kahn. William Madison knew he had a passion for creative artists from an early age, but there’s no way he could have predicted how closely he’d work alongside them.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on March 21! It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like nerdy queer podcasts you may enjoy my narrative comedy shows Queens of Adventure and Queens of Adventure Legends! Join us for an escape into a world of fantasy, with drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. Queens of Adventure features an ongoing fantasy story with a regular cast, and Queens of Adventure Legends features recordings of live shows, one-shot adventures, and stand alone stories with special guests like BenDeLaCreme, Rock M Sakura, Erika Klash, and many more. Subscribe to both shows at QueensOfAdventure.com, or search your favorite podcast app.

Failed Mystics (Ep. 277: Buffy, X-Men, He-Man, and Lwaxana Troi)

Mar 12, 2020 01:03:30

Description:

Hello and welcome to the Sewers of Paris. Have you ever been lucky enough to enjoy the sensation of villainy? For this week’s episode, we’re revisiting my interview from three years ago with Anthony Olivera, who you might also know for his incisive tweeting as Meakoopa. We spoke in 2017 about his love for villains, failed mystics, and queer awakenings; and just this month, Harper Collins announced that they’ll be publishing a comic by Anthony featuring all of those things entitled Apocrypha. It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Paradise Lost amidst a cosmic war, and judging from the conversation you’re about to hear, it’s going to be super gay.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a reminder that I’ve got some live shows coming up! Join us for an escape into a world of Dungeons and Dragons & drag queens with our show Queens of Adventure, where drag performers play Dungeons & Dragons for a live audience. We’re playing at Re-Bar in Seattle on March 12, then heading to San Francisco’s Oasis on March 25 and 29. Queens of Adventure live shows are so much fun — basically big queer improvised comedy stories where queer heroes save the world. Tickets and details are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com — I hope to see you there!

And if you like queer podcasting, check out a brand new show I just launched: Queens of Adventure: Legends! This new podcast features recordings of live shows, one-shots, and stand-alone adventures from the world of Queens of Adventure. You can dive in to any episode and hear recordings with special guests like BenDeLaCreme, Rock M Sakura, Erika Klash, and more — Queens of Adventure: Legends is available to subscribe to now wherever you get your podcasts.

Queer People Before There Were Queer People (Ep. 276 - X-Men/Mike Ciriaco)

Mar 5, 2020 00:57:20

Description:

How have you discovered your hidden talents? My guest this week is a former shy kid who, after trying to hide from the spotlight for years, was shocked to discover that he’s actually really good at acting, journalism, and go-go dancing. Growing up in a rougher environment, Mike learned the hard ay that he’d sometimes be challenged to stand up for himself — such as the time he came out as gay, got punched in the face, and then surprised everyone by wheeling around and breaking his assailant’s nose. As he grew more comfortable asserting himself, he found some less violent outlets — acting, dancing, and being a jubilant party boy in underground queer New York clubs. But eventually, it was time for him to buckle down and get serious, which is how he found himself going from dancing nearly-naked on boxes to delivering the news.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First — I want to let you know about a whole bunch of live shows I’m hosting in Seattle and San Francisco this March, including a livestream that you can watch anywhere in the world. Join us for an escape into a world of Dungeons and Dragons & drag queens with our show Queens of Adventure, where drag performers play Dungeons & Dragons for a live audience. It kicks off with a livestream on YouTube on March 8th. Then we’re performing live in Seattle on March 12 and 13, and then San Francisco on March 25 and 29. Queens of Adventure live shows are so much fun — basically big queer improvised comedy stories where queer heroes save the world. Tickets and details are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com — I hope to see you at those shows and on the livestream on March 8!

My Mentor was a Murderer (Ep. 275 - Muppet Show/Dan Steadman)

Feb 28, 2020 01:08:34

Description:

My guest this week has a lot of stories to share, both in his role as a filmmaker and as person who’s lived a lot of lives. Dan Steadman’s upbringing in a sheltered religious community found him placed in a lot of unusual circumstances, surreptitiously consuming forbidden entertainment and rebooting his entire identity when his family swapped lives with a family in Brazil. His career in showbiz took him to Los Angeles, where he worked alongside big-time celebrities and also faced a crisis — the more comfortable he became living as an openly gay man, the more he realized that he’d have to cut ties with some of the homophobic celebrities he worked with.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First — I want to let you know about a whole bunch of live shows I’m hosting in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco this March, including a livestream that you can watch anywhere in the world. Join us for an escape into a world of Dungeons and Dragons & drag queens with our show Queens of Adventure, where drag performers play Dungeons & Dragons for a live audience. It kicks off with a livestream on YouTube on March 8th. Then we’re performing live in Seattle on March 12 and 13, Portland on March 18th and 19th, and then San Francisco on March 25 and 29. Queens of Adventure live shows are so much fun — basically big queer improvised comedy stories where queer heroes save the world. Tickets and details are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com — I hope to see you at those shows and on the livestream on March 8!

It's F*cking Tough to be Reasonable (Ep. 274 - Carlos Maza/Suikoden 2)

Feb 20, 2020 00:58:04

Description:

For this week’s episode, we’re diving into the Sewers of Paris archive to revisit a chat with the wonderful Carlos Maza. You may know Carlos from the brilliant videos he’s produced, analyzing news and media. Or you might know him from the big queer fuss he caused last year when he shone a spotlight on the rampant harassment and discrimination problem faced by YouTube. Carlos and I spoke back in 2017 about his nerdiest interests — role playing and video games, a medium in which he’s given a lot of thought to whether he identifies as a fighter or a healer? In his videos, Carlos puts up a strong verbal fight. But offscreen, the role in which he's most at home is that of caretaker, looking after others and supporting the well being of those around him. But as he's found, that doesn't always leave time for taking care of himself.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First I want to let you know about a whole bunch of live shows that I’m hosting in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. You’ve probably heard me mention my live comedy show and podcast Queens of Adventure, which features drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. We’ll be taking the stage at Re-Bar in Seattle on March 12, and then at Emerald City Comic Con on March 13; then we’re doing two in Portland at the Siren Theater on March 18 and 19; and then even more at Oasis in San Francisco on March 25 and 29. Our Queens of Adventure live shows are a ton of fun, basically a big queer improvised comedy story powered by unpredictable dice rolls and a rowdy audience. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com — I hope to see you at those shows!

Horror is a Comfort (Ep. 273 - classic horror/Lee Gambin)

Feb 13, 2020 00:53:49

Description:

My guest this week is Lee Gambin, who always knew he had a place in the world of cinema. An obsessive collector of VHS tapes as a kid, he grew up to host raucous film screenings and to write extensively about his great love — classic film and particularly horror. Despite his favorite films being full of frights, he’s never found them scary. Instead, he’s embraced the comforting power of monsters and gore.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First I want to let you know about a whole bunch of live shows that I’m hosting in March. You’ve probably heard me mention my live comedy show and podcast Queens of Adventure, which features drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. We just announced an upcoming live show at Re-Bar in Seattle on March 12, another at Emerald City Comic Con on March 13; then two in Portland at the Siren Theater on March 18 and 19; and then more shows at Oasis in San Francisco on March 25 and 29. Our Queens of Adventure live shows are a ton of fun, basically a big queer improvised comedy story powered by unpredictable dice rolls and a rowdy audience. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com — I hope to see you at those shows!

Magic Horses & Middle School (Ep. 272 - Fantasy novels/Hugh Ryan)

Feb 6, 2020 01:05:21

Description:

Hugh Ryan is a writer, researcher, speaker, and also the subject of a recent episode of The Sewers of Paris. You might remember a few weeks ago when my guest Michael mentioned Hugh’s book, When Brooklyn was Queer, and Hugh was kind enough to sit down for a chat about his own favorite books — pulpy sci-fi novels, which filled his middle school days with magic horses. Growing up, be became a sort of explorer — mild mannered academic by day, rowdy party monster by night, after a series of adventures, including one in which he moved into another person’s life, Hugh found a calling in creating informal pop-up museums of queer history.

Big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on February 8. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasts you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Sing Loud and Drink a Martini (Ep 271 - Will & Grace/David)

Jan 30, 2020 00:52:20

Description:

My guest this week moved to New York straight out of college with stars in his eyes and big dreams of making it on stage and screen. David Merten landed in the big city with just a handful of luggage and some change, sleeping on couches, working odd jobs, and feeling totally alone in a city of 8 million. But bit by bit he’s been climbing the acting ladder and now the kid who grew up in a tiny town surrounded by corn and meth is booking gigs — and forming a family of folks like him.

Big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on February 8. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasts you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

I Wanted to be a Rock Star (Ep. 270 - David Bowie/Scott Shoemaker)

Jan 23, 2020 00:56:19

Description:

My guest this week is Scott Shoemaker — you heard his partner Freddie on the show last month. Like Freddie, Scott’s great passion is live weird theater, such as his ongoing series where he plays a boozy pill-popping version of Ms Pac Man, or his annual Christmas show where he finds new ways every year to ruin and then hastily repair the holidays. Growing up, Scott dreamed of being a rock star — and as it turns out, dressing his friends in goofy costumes and taking them on the road to sing and dance and tell jokes is oddly close to a super queer version of rock stardom.

Big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on January 25. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasts you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

I Embrace Being High-Strung (Ep. 269 - Jeopardy!/Louis Virtel)

Jan 16, 2020 00:57:22

Description:

You might’ve seen that the show Jeopardy just invited three of its greatest winners of all time to participate in a championship showdown this week. And I thought it would be a good time to dig back into the Sewers of Paris archives for a chat with the contestant I consider the greatest Jeopardy player of all time, Louis Virtel, revisiting our 2016 chat about game shows, Clue, and great actresses of the 1970s.

When he was on Jeopardy, Louis captured the nation’s attention with an earth-shattering snap after he triumphed in a Daily Double. But you might also know him from his YouTube show Verbal Voguing, his podcast Keep It, or for being the very reason we have Twitter. In addition to being hysterically witty, Louis has a fascination with game shows that exists for him on deep personal level as a form where he’s free to channel everything that he cherishes about himself.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on January 25. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasts you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Becoming a Library Gay (Ep. 268 - Tales of the City/Michael)

Jan 10, 2020 00:57:02

Description:

What kind of gay are you, and how many different kinds have you been? My guest this week is Michael, a San Francisco library-gay who’s also been a ballet gay, a nightclub gay, a rowing gay, and various other flavors with probably many more to come. Michael grew up around queer people, with progressive parents and a childhood passion for dancing in the Pennsylvania ballet, where he had some moments of personal awakenings involving dancers in sailor costumes. But he still wasn’t sure who he was, and so after coming out in college, he fled to the west coast to reinvent himself in Harvey Milk’s neighborhood.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on January 4. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasts you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Feeling Like a Woman, Looking Like a Man (Ep. 267 - Josephine Baker/Shawntae Arnette)

Jan 3, 2020 01:02:12

Description:

My guest this week has had a lot of families — some good, some bad. Shawntae Arnette dreamed of being a performer all their life, after seeing a documentary about the famous dancer Josephine Baker. But there were roadblocks to that dream, from unsupportive biological family, to a period of homelessness, to a chosen family that turned toxic. Drifting and aimless, Shawntae joined a job program and was surprised to discover not only a career, but a group of queers that felt like a true family — a family who got Shawntae on a track to becoming a parent and the performer they always dreamed of being.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on January 4. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasts you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Excited and Terrified (Ep. 266 - Edward Gorey/Jordan Christianson)

Dec 27, 2019 01:10:21

Description:

Do clothes cover you up, or reveal who you really are? My guest this week is Jordan Christianson, a Seattle artist and designer who creates incredible one-off costumes for many of your favorite Drag Race stars. He’s also a big nerd, whose work is influenced by the futuristic fashions of Star Trek and Dune, as well as giant anime robots and eye-catching classic cars. Jordan’s always used clothing to express himself, even when he was a strange shy kid who dressed like an Edward Gorey character, but it’s only in recent years that his clothes can bring out a side of himself that for a long time he’d lost touch with — a side that likes who he sees when he looks in the mirror.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on December 28. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasting you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure podcast that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

On My Own (Ep. 265 - Willy Wonka/Gus Lanza)

Dec 19, 2019 00:58:04

Description:

My guest this week had to figure out a lot on his own. After dropping out of high school and moving across the country at the age of 15, Gus Lanza had no idea how to finish school, how to find a career, or what he was meant to do in life. Figuring that stuff out involved a lot of listening to himself — and also finding others who could help him along the way. As time passed, a unique chosen family grew around him, from childhood friends to neighbors to his partner, a performer many of us would come to know as drag star BenDeLaCreme. And it wasn’t until a few years ago that Gus finally realized that his path ahead had been staring him right in the face.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode.

Also I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on December 28. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasting you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy-adventure show that stars drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

What You're Shown and What You Discover

Dec 12, 2019 00:53:18

Description:

My guest this week has a single-minded determination when it comes to entertaining, parties, and filling everyone’s lives with joy. Freddy Molitch is a Seattle playwright and DJ who also goes by the name DJ King of Pants, and he’s on a mission to bring happiness to audiences through theater and music and very weird nightlife. He came of age in 90s Seattle, when grunge and disaffection were at their peak. Back then he explored the city’s strange counterculture, its blossoming music scene, and adventurous queer underground — and today, he’s become in integral part of all three.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on December 14 at 10am pacific. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasting you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy adventure show in which a band of drag performers on a narrative adventure. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

A Writer's Job (Ep. 263 - Wicked/Gregory Maguire)

Dec 5, 2019 01:02:08

Description:

My guest this week is Gregory Maguire, author of the novel Wicked among many other works. Though I’m sure you’re familiar with his book and the Broadway musical adaptation, you may not known the extent to which Gregory’s childhood was infused with elements of fairytale — from the fantasy novels he devoured, to the family tragedy that led to his time in an orphanage. 

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on December 14 at 10am pacific. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And by the way, if you like LGBTQ podcasting you may enjoy my other show, Queens of Adventure, a comedy adventure show in which a band of drag performers on a narrative adventure. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

There's More of us Than I Thought (Ep. 262 - Tomb Raider/Jackie)

Nov 28, 2019 00:46:25

Description:

My guest this week is artist, animator, and globe-traveling adventurer Jackie Wu. He grew up in Hong Kong, playing video games with family and idolizing figures like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. As he grew older, he knew he needed to venture out into the world and explore, seeking treasure of a different kind. And that’s how a quiet, unassuming artist found himself traveling to the UK to reinvent himself, come out, and creating gender-bent Lara Croft cosplay while learning to scale cliff walls.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on November 30. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

The Weird Family (Ep. 261 - Conor/Calvin & Hobbes)

Nov 21, 2019 01:02:47

Description:

My guest this week is Conor Olmstead, a photographer and video producer, and also my co-adventurer in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. In addition to being an accomplished nerd, Conor is also deeply imaginative, and has a gift not just for noticing beauty in the world around him, but also capturing it through a camera’s lens.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on November 30. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

The Cool Person I Could Be (Ep 260 - Pokemon/Cody Shipman)

Nov 14, 2019 01:02:55

Description:

My guest this week is my friend Cody Shipman, a graphic designer and artist here in Seattle whose work illustrates better than any I’ve ever seen why the Pacific Northwest feels like cozy home. Cody’s most famous piece depicts a bear and a lumberjack sitting down for tea together, and his other art features men cuddling in onesies, relaxing in steam rooms, and flirting in singlets. Cody’s also created artwork for my other podcast, Queens of Adventure, which features drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. For a long time he felt hesitant about blending his gay interests and his nerdy interests together. But it was when he finally brought them both together he found inspiration for some of his most rewarding work to date.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on November 16. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

So Weird and So Cool (Ep 259 - Baldur's Gate/Liam Esler)

Nov 7, 2019 01:02:33

Description:

My guest this week dreams of great big musical adventure. Liam Esler is the co-founder of Summerfall Studios, a game company that’s currently in development on a game called Chorus, which promises to be an adventure story that’s also an interactive musical. Currently crowdfunding for the game, Liam leaned heavily on prior experiences to develop the concept — he went to school for theater, but in his free time taught himself to modify video games to include queer content. Now he’s finally bringing those two sides of his past together.

A big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers. Thanks also to everyone who’s reviewed The Sewers of Paris on your podcast platform of choice.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And I hope you’ll join me for our next fun friendly livestream on November 16. It’s a laid back brunch-time chat about the books and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. There’s a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

The Moment I Saw the Hair on Ed Asner's Arms (Ep. 258 - The Smiths/David Schmader)

Oct 31, 2019 00:57:58

Description:

My guest this week has spent his life traveling the country to bear his soul, and now he’s settled down in the last place he ever expected — the town where he grew up. David Schmader is a writer and performer who wrote for The Stranger in Seattle by day, and who turned his articles into dramatic theatrical performances by night. He’s also the country’s foremost expert on Showgirls, and appears on the commentary track on the official DVD. These days he’s doing more writing than ever, and rediscovering the gay scene in a town that he left before he could fully appreciate it.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

Also I hope you’ll joins us for a great big adventure this Saturday. I’ll be livestreaming a game of Dungeons & Dragons with comedian Deven Green, writer Carlos Maza, culture critic Anthony Oliveira, and scholar Bryan Wuest to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital. It’s happening Saturday, November 2 at noon pacific. Details are at bit.ly/extralifeseattle.

Heterophobic (Ep. 257 - Mary Poppins/Devlyn Camp)

Oct 24, 2019 00:53:52

Description:

My guest this week is Devlyn Camp, creator of the wonderful podcast Mattachine, which tells the story of the work that preceded the modern queer liberation movement. Devlyn is surprisingly young for someone with so close a connection to the past. But with their historical storytelling, they’re able to pull off an impressive feat — creating new queer community by diving into old queer community.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.
And I want to let you know about two livestreams coming up — the first is one of our regular fun friendly chit-chats, this Saturday, the 26th, at 9am pacific.

But the second is a big to-do: I’ll be joined by comedian Deven Green, writer Carlos Maza, culture critic Anthony Oliveira, and scholar Bryan Wuest for a livestreamed game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s our annual livestream to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital. I hope you’ll join us on Saturday, November 2 at noon pacific time. Details are at bit.ly/extralifeseattle2019

People Wearing Masks (Ep. 256 - Hocus Pocus/Rantasmo)

Oct 22, 2019 00:42:05

Description:

Hello, and welcome to The Sewers of Paris! Apologies for this episode posting a few days late — I’m on the road all this month, but I finally made it to a spot with wifi, and as we draw to the close of October, I wanted to bring you an episode from the Sewers of Paris vaults that asks the question — why is Halloween so gay? The topic is Hocus Pocus, Eerie Indiana, and Black Mirror.

Back in 2015, I spoke with Jamie Mauer, who you may know as the Needs More Gay culture critic Rantasmo. He grew up loving unsettling stories, like a lot of gay men. For those of us who feel pressure to hide their true selves, horror and fantasy — and particularly Halloween — provide a chance to trade one mask for another, be someone new, and scare everyone else for a change.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to join the folks who make the podcast possible, and to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

And if you’re in Minneapolis, I hope you’ll come to Queens of Adventure LIVE at Lush on October 23rd — it’s a fun comedy adventure show featuring drag queens playing Dungeons and Dragons, starring Utica Queen, Kamaree Williams, and The Other Jeannie Retelle. Tickets are on sale at QueensofAdventure.com.

Mamma Mia Murder Mystery (Ep 255 - Miss Marple/Jorge Molina)

Oct 10, 2019 00:57:33

Description:

My guest this week grew up surrounded by mysteries and clues, but of course he carried a few secrets of his own. Not just that he was gay, but also that his tastes didn’t quite match those of his friends. It took a long time for Jorge to accept that it’s OK to love the things you love, and in fact doing so means that you can finally find others who share your passions. It was a physical response to seeing Meryl Streep sing that finally convinced him that it was time to make some changes in his life.

We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to join the folks who make the podcast possible, and to check out the rewards for backers.

And just a reminder that The Sewers of Paris is on Twitter and Facebook — I post clips of the stuff that we talk about on each episode, so you can follow the show on social media to get a look at the stuff that guests recommend.

Also BTW I’m in Chicago right now with my comedy storytelling show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. We just did our first live show at Hamburger Mary’s Attic and it was a huge blast — thanks to everyone who came out! The the second is coming up on October 16th starring Seattle legends Arson Nicki, Butylene O’Kipple, and Fraya Love.

And then I’ll be in Minneapolis for two big events — I’ll be a guest of honor at Gaylaxicon, a queer sci-fi and fantasy convention. We’re doing a Queens of Adventure show there on October 19 with Utica Queen, Nocturna Lee Mission, and The Other Jeannie Retelle. And then on October 23 we’re doing another Queens of Adventure show in Minneapolis, this time at Lush with Utica, Jeanne, and Kamaree Williams.

Everywhere we Turned Was a Song (Ep 254 - Pippin/Cam Clarke)

Oct 3, 2019 00:55:39

Description:

My guest this week is Cam Clarke, who grew up in a showbiz family that’s been entertaining audiences since the early 30s. If you’re not familiar with his work as one of the the youngest members of the King Family Singers, you might know him as the voice of Leonardo on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or as Kaneda from Akira, or as Liquid Snake in Metal Gear. He’s been the voice of He-Man, Simba, Jen from the Dark Crystal, and hundreds of other roles. Cam’s always had a gift for voices and song — and not just with the SOUND of his voice, but with the words he’s found to express who he truly is.

Cam was kind enough to invite me to his home for this interview, where we talked about growing up in a Mormon showbiz family, struggling to come out and find his place in the world, and why he he has a gorgeous collection of Barbie dolls.

And a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to join the folks who make the podcast possible, and to check out the backer rewards.

Also! I’m heading to Chicago in October with my comedy storytelling show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. We’re doing two live shows at Hamburger Mary’s Attic — the first on October 9th with local Chicago queens Lucy Stoole, Fox E. Kim, and Joe Lewis; and the second on October 16th with Seattle legends Arson Nicki, Butylene O’Kipple, and Fraya Love. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

No Greater Act of Defiance (Ep. 253 - V for Vendetta/Justin Hall)

Sep 26, 2019 00:56:15

Description:

My guest this week has traveled the world to create images of the varied lives human lead — including the sexy secrets hiding in their erotic imaginations. Justin Hall is the creator of numerous comics and graphic novels, and I was lucky enough to catch him while he was reachable at home rather than voyaging from country to country with just some paper and ink. He shared stories of finding freedom and himself in an itinerant life, living on the road in tents and squats before they were demolished, being turned into a quivering mess by a comic book that changed his life, and why if he ever gets malaria — again — he hopes it’ll be in Tanzania.

And a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to join the folks who make the podcast possible, and to check out the backer rewards.

Also! I’m heading to Chicago in October with my comedy storytelling show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. We’re doing two live shows at Hamburger Mary’s Attic — the first on October 9th with local Chicago queens Lucy Stoole, Fox E. Kim, and Joe Lewis; and the second on October 16th with Seattle legends Arson Nicki, Butylene O’Kipple, and Fraya Love. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Behind the Orange Curtain (Ep. 252 - The Real World/Brian Moreno)

Sep 19, 2019 01:00:31

Description:

Where do you find the nerve to stand up for yourself? My guest this week is Brian Moreno, who discovered a big wide world of gay culture in his conservative town. By day he was a shy nerd, by night a nightlife photographer documenting wild queer parties — at one point helping to throw a gathering that, to his shock, drew twelve hundred guests. These days he’s set that life aside, but he still uses the confidence he found at those parties to remind himself that he’s capable of so much more than he thought.

And I hope you’ll join me for a laid back livestream chit-chat on Saturday September 21 at 10am pacific! I’ll be hanging out on YouTube to talk with you about the book and movies and music and shows that you’re loving right now. Come share your recommendations, get tips from others, and spend some time basking in a friendly livestream.

And a big thanks to everyone who makes the Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click “support the show on Patreon” to join the folks who make the podcast possible, and to check out the backer rewards.

Also! I’m heading to Chicago in October with my comedy storytelling show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons. We’re doing two live shows at Hamburger Mary’s Attic — the first on October 9th with local Chicago queens Lucy Stoole, Fox E. Kim, and Joe Lewis; and the second on October 16th with Seattle legends Arson Nicki, Butylene O’Kipple, and Fraya Love. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Dad at the Gay Bar (Ep 251 - Fame/Pete Rush)

Sep 12, 2019 00:57:32

Description:

Where do you pick up the skills to design the life of your dreams? My guest this week is artist and theatrical designer Pete Rush, who fell in love with drama at an early age and thought he’d be a New York actor until he realized he had an aptitude for stage design. So he crossed over from creating characters on-stage to crafting the world around them. And in the process, he learned how to craft a daring world of art and adventure around himself… often with as little clothing as possible.

Thanks to everyone supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon. Click "support the show on patreon” to check out the rewards for backers. Thanks also to everyone who’s reviewed The Sewers of Paris on your podcast platform of choice. Please reach out and let me know what you think of the show on Twitter and Facebook, or at sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

I hope you’ll join me for a laid back livestream chit-chat on Saturday September 21 at 10am pacific! I’ll be hanging out on YouTube to talk with you about the book and movies and music and shows that you’re loving right now. Come share your recommendations, get tips from others, and spend some time basking in a friendly livestream.

Also we are coming up on the end of our Kickstarter campaign for the podcast Queens of Adventure, a comedy storytelling show where Drag Queens play Dungeons & Dragons. We’re raising money to record a dozen hours of new adventures with local drag artists and D&D shows in the midwest, and you can get some gorgeous gay rewards if you back the kickstarter. The campaign ends on Saturday September 14.

Trust it & Thrust it (Ep. 250 - Showgirls & Ellen/Patrick Bristow)

Sep 5, 2019 01:07:10

Description:

We’re nearing the anniversary of the release of one of my favorite films ever made, Showgirls, which came out on September 22, 1995. So this week we’re heading into the Sewers of Paris vault for a listen back to my 2015 conversation with one of the actors in that movie, Patrick Bristow. He played the terrifying choreographer who hollers THRUST IT at Elizabeth Berkeley. He also played the wigmaster on Seinfeld, Larry David’s dance teacher on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the bubbly Peter on Ellen. He shared some fascinating behind the scenes stories about the making of all those movies and shows, as well as his own revelations about learning to set aside the need to fit in.

And hey, if you’re going to be in Seattle on September 27, I hope you’ll join me for a screening of a new documentary about Showgirls entitled You Don’t Nomi. I appear in the doc as an expert on Showgirls — which I can hardly believe myself — and I’ll be present at the screening to introduce it and answer questions. It’s happening at Northwest Film Forum on September 27.

Also, a quick heads-up that I’ll be doing a very special livestream this Saturday, September 7. A team of drag artists is going to put me into drag, live on camera. Join me along with Arson Nicki, Fraya Love, and Londyn Bradshaw to catch a glimpse of a side of me that nobody, including me, has ever seen. Head over to https://youtu.be/wh2Z1pccCxc to watch, and to set a reminder for when we go live.

And just a reminder that right now we’re running a Kickstarter campaign for Queens of Adventure, a comedy storytelling podcast where Drag Queens play Dungeons & Dragons. We’re raising money to record a dozen hours of new adventures with local drag artists and D&D shows in the midwest, and you can get some gorgeous gay rewards if you back the show. We just added new reward tiers and lowered the price on others, and the campaign ends on September 14.

Gay Love Stories (Ep. 249 - The Book of Mormon/Matt Olshefski, The Shirtless Violinist)

Aug 29, 2019 01:02:07

Description:

When it’s time to start a new life, how do you decide what to shed and what to keep? My guest this week is Matt Olshefski, also known as The Shirtless Violinist. He came to terms with being gay at a silent retreat, but after his family learned the truth he had to endure a hostile home life until he finally climbed out a window with only the things he could carry. These days, he’s gained fame online for music videos featuring gay love stories, but it took a lot of time to rebuild a new life that brought him the joy of creating art with the man he loves.

We'll have that conversation in a moment -- first, I want to let you know about new project I’ve just announced. You’ve probably me talk about my show Queens of Adventure, a comedy storytelling podcast where Drag Queens play Dungeons & Dragons. Well, for the first time ever we’re taking our cast on the road, bringing them to Chicago to record a dozen hours of new adventures with local drag artists and D&D shows in the midwest. There’s a Kickstarter underway to make the trip possible, and if you support the project now you can get some gorgeous nerdy-gay enamel pins, bonus episodes, and even guest on an episode of the show. The campaign ends on September 14.

The Family I Always Wanted (Ep. 248 - The Sims/Christopher Smith Bryant)

Aug 22, 2019 00:57:02

Description:

Human interaction is challenging even under the best of circumstances, and for years this week’s guest was resigned to just always having difficulty understanding other people. Comedian Christopher Smith Bryant picked up techniques for socializing from interactive entertainment like video games, and later from improv classes. His adult life has been a series of unexpected discoveries, from the realization that he actually shouldn’t be a minister to a recent diagnosis that’s helped him understand how to navigate a world that he’d always found difficult to make sense of.

I also want to let you know about new project I’ve just announced. You’ve probably me talk about my show Queens of Adventure, a comedy storytelling podcast where Drag Queens play Dungeons & Dragons. Well, for the first time ever we’re taking our cast on the road, bringing them to Chicago to record a dozen hours of new adventures with local drag artists and D&D shows in the midwest. There’s a Kickstarter underway to make the trip possible, and if you pledge now you can get some gorgeous nerdy-gay enamel pins, bonus episodes, and even guest on an episode of the show. Head over to QueensOfAdventure.com and click the banner at the top for all the details on our ongoing Kickstarter. The campaign ends on September 14.

Gay Men's Catnip (Ep. 247 - The Wizard of Oz/Josh Trujillo)

Aug 15, 2019 00:56:22

Description:

Hello, and welcome to the Sewers of Paris! This week is the 80th anniversary of the premiere of The Wizard of Oz, and to commemorate that, we're diving into the Sewers of Paris archives. The very first interview I recorded for the show was with Josh Trujillo, a writer then based in LA and now living in New York. The Wizard of Oz played a major role in his life -- as a kid, he was obsessed with film, and later discovered that Oz conventions (yes, there really is such a thing) served as a sort of meeting-place for older closeted gay men.

With the movie hitting 80s years old this week, it's a fine time to look back at the impact that it's had on culture -- particularly the culture of we people known in certain circles as friends of Dorothy.

We'll have that conversation in a moment. First a heads-up about some upcoming live events I'll be hosting! This coming Sunday, August 18th, we're doing a livestream of Queens of Adventure -- a comedy storytelling show where drag queens play Dungeons & Dragons. I hope you'll join us at 4pm Pacific at youtube.com/queensofadventure to see me and our party of drag artists journey into the unknown! That's this Sunday, August 18, at 4pm pacific.

And if you're going to be in Seattle, we're doing two live shows later this month. The first is on Wednesday, August 28 at Kremwerk -- tickets to that are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com. And the second show is going to a panel as part of PAX West -- so if you have PAX badge, join us on Sunday September 1st at 8pm in the Sasquatch theater.

Details on all those shows is at QueensOfAdventure.com.

I Was a Regional Rockstar (Ep. 246 - Hellraiser/Old Witch)

Aug 8, 2019 00:49:26

Description:

Picture the creepiest, most sinister decaying swamp hag you can imagine, and that’s my guest this week — the Seattle drag queen who goes by the name of Old Witch. She’s the product of a delightful shy nerd who grew up in a tiny Montana town and who struggled to find housing before finding her footing as a rock star, a champion of literacy, an adoptive parent, and a pillar of the community in the Pacific Northwest.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on August 3, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Gay-Porn Summer Camp (Ep. 245 - Star Wars/Jasun Mark)

Aug 1, 2019 01:02:16

Description:

You never know how your dreams might manifest. My guest this week is Jasun Mark, who dreamed of being a filmmaker as a kid. After some time in a tiny farming town and performing in a successful Canadian pop band, he got an opportunity to pursue that childhood dream in a particularly exciting niche — as a director of dozens of porn films, a line of work that he both enjoys and also allows him to pursue his own personal passion projects.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on August 3, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.


The Lost Art of Cruising (Ep. 243 - Donahue/David Quantic)

Jul 25, 2019 01:04:39

Description:

For years, David Quantic’s only connection with queer community was cruising the bathrooms at the local mall, slipping away from his parents while the family shopped to meet up with men in stalls. But gradually, he found windows to a more expansive view of what the gay world could be, watching afternoon talk shows and eventually running away to Texas and then New York to capture queer life through a camera lens. It’s probably no surprise that these days his lens is turned towards sex, telling the story of queer community through our physical connections.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on July 20 at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter.

Something from Another Planet - (Ep. 244 - David Bowie/Orlando Ortega Medina)

Jul 25, 2019 00:55:47

Description:

My guest this week is musician-turned-novelist Orlando Ortega Medina. Growing up in the music scene in and around Los Angeles, he was never really in the closet — or at least, he didn’t think of himself as closeted, until he realized that his own parents didn’t fully understand that he was married to a man. Explaining to his mother that she had a son in law wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it changed everything for his relationship with his parents. And he processed the experience in the way he knew best — by turning it into a novel.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on August 3, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter.

I Couldn't Get Close Enough to the Screen (Ep. 242 - The Simpsons/Matt Fisher)

Jul 11, 2019 00:45:52

Description:

My guest this week is caught between two extremes — the smart reference comedy of The Simpsons and the brutality of dramatic films about lives crumbling to pieces. Matt Fisher is the co-host of the podcast Ex-Rated movies, where he and his co-host and ex-boyfriend Ryan chat about films. Ryan was my guest on episode 235 back in May, and we talked a lot about how he finds joy in exuberant dance. In contrast, Matt’s drawn to darker stories, exploring pain through cathartic release.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on July 20 at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter.

Mom, I'm Super Gay (Ep. 241 - '80s Films/Wes Hurley)

Jul 4, 2019 01:02:30

Description:

This episode is posting on the Fourth of July, and I’m going to celebrate America with a look back at one of my favorite early episodes of The Sewers of Paris — an interview from 2015 with director Wes Hurley, whose story of immigrating to this country is unlike anything you’ve ever heard. Wes was raised in Vladivostok Russia, where images of American culture floated to him through illegal midnight broadcasts and his life was so dangerous he had to carry a knife to school. His mother was able to bring them to America — she was a mail-order bride — but upon landing stateside as a young queer teen, Wes soon found the country wasn’t quite what he’d been led to expect.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on July 6 at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter.

We Were a Phenomenon (Ep. 240 - Power Rangers' David Yost)

Jun 27, 2019 00:59:25

Description:

My guest this week has spent the last 25 years tapping into inner heroes — first on screen, and then in real life. David Yost played Billy, the Blue Ranger on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, portraying a teenager with attitude who saved the world every week. But in his private life, he struggled to accept himself and to resist the homophobia of his colleagues. With on-set harassment exacting a heavy toll, he walked away from Power Rangers as an act of defiance and self-care, beginning a journey of self-acceptance that required as much bravery as his on-screen counterpart.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on July 6 at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. We’re doing a special preview weekend at the end of June, making over 20 hours of backer-exclusive bonus episodes available for anyone to listen to. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter, where we’ll post more information in the coming weeks.

The Greatest Spectacle There is on Earth (Ep. 239 - Opera/Michael Fabiano)

Jun 20, 2019 00:58:24

Description:

My guest this week is a man of intense confidence -- which seems like a prerequisite for the work that he does. Michael Fabiano is an opera singer, and also former baseball umpire, debater, and business student. Opera was a side-passion for him until a teacher told him that his talent was so great that he had a moral obligation to dedicate himself to cultivating his art to the exclusion of all else. And so that's just what he did -- though he still makes time for casual hobbies now and then, like flying airplanes.

And by the way, Michael just released a new album of songs -- check out Michael Fabiano: Verdi & Donizetti to hear him present a spectacular set of songs.

I've had quite a few guests discuss their love of opera, and if you'd like to hear more you can check out Episode 4 (Salome), Episode 38 (Angels in America), Episode 89 (Mama Tits), and Episode 127 (Sailor Moon) -- all go into even more depth on the genre and the craft.

Also, a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on June 22 at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. We’re doing a special preview weekend at the end of June, making over 20 hours of backer-exclusive bonus episodes available for anyone to listen to. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter, where we’ll post more information in the coming weeks.

How to Have a Life (Ep. 238 - Sunday Bloody Sunday/Walt Odets)

Jun 13, 2019 00:55:39

Description:

My guest this week has noticed something funny about the way we each live our lives: we all fumble through life like we're the first one to have ever figured out how to live. And Walt Odets has had a lot of life; he's worked as a photographer, as a airplane pilot transporting priceless cargo, and as a psychologist working through the worst days of the HIV epidemic. We'll be talking about trauma and loss in this episode, including some pretty heavy topics around mortality -- but also emerging from trauma and finding the optimism and strength to carry on. Walt's new book is called Out of the Shadows: Reimagining Gay Men's Lives, and provides a pathway for dealing with feelings of loss, pain, and aimlessness -- guiding people to self-acceptance, self-confidence, and self-realization.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. First a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on June 22 at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. We’re doing a special preview weekend at the end of June, making over 20 hours of backer-exclusive bonus episodes available for anyone to listen to. Visit queensofadventure.com or follow @dungeondrag on twitter, where we’ll post more information in the coming weeks.

A Machete in Her Hands at All Times (Ep. 237 - Roots/Michael Twitty)

Jun 6, 2019 01:00:02

Description:

My guest this week occupies some unlikely intersections. Michael Twitty is the author of the James Beard awarding-winning book The Cooking Gene, in which he explores the history of African American cuisine through his own family history and his Jewish faith. He's been on a lifelong exploration of those very different identities and others, seeking answers to his past in journeys to Africa, to synagogues, and in the kitchen.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. First a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on June 8, at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com. The episode we just posted is a recap of the entire adventure so if you've been looking for a good place to jump in, now's your chance!

I Always Was a Mermaid (Ep. 236 - Optimus Prime/Noah Michelson)

May 30, 2019 00:59:16

Description:

What can you gain by giving yourself a fresh start? My guest this week is Noah Michelson, an editor at the Huffington Post. He's been lucky enough to give himself a couple of reboots in life, jumping from situations that were unsafe or unfulfilling to find something better once he wiped the slate clean.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. First a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on June 8, at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Sweaty Good Times (Ep. 235 - Dance Music/Ryan Whedon)

May 23, 2019 00:47:23

Description:

How do you balance time spent in your head with time spent around other people? My guest this week is Ryan Weadon, host of the podcast Ex-Rated Movies where he chats about films with his ex boyfriend. After searching for years to find the work that he loved, Ryan found his true joy on a sweaty dance floor, and now his passion project is mixing exuberant dance with thoughtful conversation between friends and solitary contemplation.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. First a reminder that I host twice-monthly livestreams where I chat with listeners like you about the book and movies and music and shows that are bringing you joy right now. The next one is on June 8, at 9am pacific, and there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

And for more queer podcasting, check out the show Queens of Adventure, featuring drag queens on an epic Dungeons and Dragons quest! That's at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Fantasy Worlds with Quests and Wizards (Ep. 234 - Dungeons & Dragons/David Gaider)

May 16, 2019 00:58:39

Description:

This weekend, I'm be attending The Descent, a Dungeons and Dragons live event in Los Angeles. And so for this week's episode, we're diving into the Sewers archive with a conversation from 2106 featuring game writer David Gaider.

You may recognize his name as one of the co-creators of some of the most popular sci-fi and fantasy stories in the world -- his work appears in Baldur's Gate 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, Neverwinter Nights, and many more.

Though he's been telling stories his whole life, David never planned to become a professional game designer. He didn't think creative work could ever be practical, and even went so far as to turn down the job that would eventually change his life. For years, he operated under the assumption that nobody would be interested in the kinds of stories he really wanted to tell. Until one day he included a piece of himself in his work and found that it didn't just open a door for him, but unlocked new possibilities for everyone around him.

And if you like hearing about queer game creators, you might also like Sewers of Paris episode 177, where I chat with Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer for Dungeons and Dragons.

Big thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon -- head over to Sewers and click "Support the show on Patreon" to check out the rewards for backers.

I Was a Pet Project (Ep. 233 - Lady Gaga at the Superbowl/Bucky Flores)

May 9, 2019 00:53:58

Description:

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How much searching does it take to find your passion in life? My guest this week is Bucky Flores -- before he was performing with Lady Gaga in the Superbowl, Bucky drifted through his early 20s, trying to figure out what he wanted out of life beyond menial jobs and going out drinking. Stuck in a small town with only a few options, it was a chance audition for a color guard group that snapped him out of his malaise and showed him what happiness could look like -- but not without a lot of work first.

And a heads-up that I'm traveling to LA later this month to cover DragCon and also a big Dungeons & Dragons Live event. I'll also be hanging out at Musical Mondays at Rage in WeHo on May 20th. So if you're in LA, I hope to see you at one or two or all of those events!

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. There’s a link to the next one on the Sewers of Paris Twitter feed.

The Psychology of Harry Potter (Ep 232 - Harry Potter/Victoria Lee)

May 7, 2019 00:58:07

Description:

My guest this week is writer and psychologist Victoria Lee. She’s got a soft spot for villains — not just for the deeds they do, but for the emotions they feel and the creativity with which they solve problems. Understanding the difference in everyone’s perspective on good and evil informs the work she does today, conducting experiments to figure out how people respond to challenges in real life — and also in her fiction, which draws on her love of fantasy, science, and the human brain.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. There’s a link to the next one on the Sewers of Paris Twitter feed.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

A Musical Theater Teen Factory (Ep 231 - Peter Pan/Marc Snetiker)

May 2, 2019 01:00:43

Description:

We never get back the time we spend in the closet, so once queer people come out we often have to find time to make up for lost time. But if you could go back, and enjoy the things you wanted to, what would you give yourself permission to love? My guest this week is Marc Snetiker, senior editor at Entertainment Weekly. It's a role where he has the freedom to chase the pop culture that he craved as kid and feared being found out for loving.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday May 4 at 9am pacific, noon eastern with special guest Jaymes Mansfield from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

My First Gay Gasp (Ep 230 - Gilmore Girls & Nico Lang)

Apr 25, 2019 01:17:42

Description:

My guest this week has been through a lot -- growing up with caretakers who were processing a lot of pain, losing people he thought he could count on, confronting alarming mental illness, and learning far later than most people how to function in the world. Despite all that, Nico Lang's still here, still discovering what it means to be a functioning human being, and still working on understanding everything that happened to him and why.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday April 27 at 9am pacific, noon eastern.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

Humans Trying to Make Sense of God (Ep. 229: The Good Place & Ross Murray)

Apr 18, 2019 00:58:22

Description:

How do you reconcile two communities that have been at odds for as long as any of us have been alive? My guest this week is Ross Murray, Senior Director of the GLAAD Media Institute and the Naming Project, as well as a Lutheran Deacon. He felt from an early age that he was called to a life of service to the church, and was lucky enough to live in a bubble where his sexuality and his faith weren't in conflict. And now he's doing what he can to make that a reality for others.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday April 27 at 9am pacific, noon eastern.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

The Last Person Who Was Taught to Cruise (Ep. 228 - Roger Rabbit & John Leavitt)

Apr 11, 2019 01:01:12

Description:

My guest this week is busy fomenting revolution, but not without his spreadsheets. John Leavitt is an artist and community organizer pushing for the end of debt, plutocracy, and capitalism itself -- sometimes on the front lines of protests, but it turns out social upheaval also requires a lot of office work, and it doesn't hurt to have a wealthy patron or two. If that sounds like a bit of a throwback to a hundred years ago, it's because that's really where John feels the most at home, sometimes calling himself the last person to learn how to cruise in bushes before apps took over.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday April 27 at 9am pacific, noon eastern.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

Buffy is How I Found Friends (Ep. 227 - Buffy & Ray Goldberg)

Apr 9, 2019 00:53:19

Description:

My guest this week has honed a variety of superpowers -- among them a skill that so many queer people discover they have, assembling a logical family to achieve greatness that once seemed impossibly distant. Ray Goldberg is a content producer with the podcast Tabletop Potluck, and a screenwriter based in Chicago who had a series of life-defining revelations -- from finding happiness to finding themselves.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday April 20 at 9am pacific, noon eastern.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

You're Going to Have a Lot of Feelings (Ep. 226: Tobin Low & the Tonys)

Apr 4, 2019 00:58:30

Description:

A few weeks ago, I welcomed Kathy Tu to the Sewers of Paris -- she's the co-creator of the podcast Nancy from WNYC. And this week, we're chatting with Nancy's other parent, Tobin Low. He's a recovering cellist-turned-podcaster who realized he hated his career and needed to make a change for his own good. As a young queer person, Tobin got swept up in the fairytale love stories of rom-coms and wedding announcements, but life got messy when it turned out relationships aren't all storybook romances.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaugn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday April 6.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

Consistently Lying (Ep. 225 - old-timey radio)

Mar 28, 2019 00:58:58

Description:

As wonderful as it feels to live at a time when podcasts rule the earth, this isn't the first golden age for audio storytelling. My guest this week is Briggon Snow, who plays Caleb on the podcast The Bright Sessions. He grew up listening to old radio shows like Abbott and Costello, and Burns and Allen. He developed a keen ear for rich characters expressed through wordplay and vocal inflection, and as an adult, it became his job to inhabit different roles in his professional life. That's how he came to realize that he was inhabiting too many roles in his personal life as well.

Also, just a reminder that I host twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday April 6. There's a link at the top of the SOP twitter feed.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons livestream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaughn, and my partner James as DM. On our recent adventure we snuck into a cultist lair inside a giant statue to rescue a man with beautiful cheekbones. You can join us over a twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

We Were Young and Having Fun (Ep. 224 - Miami Beach in the 1970s)

Mar 21, 2019 00:57:04

Description:

My guest this week discovered himself somewhere in the lost dark lounges of Miami beach. He grew up in the 1970s, enduring raids on drag shows, wild drug culture, and occasionally running from the police or paddling away in an escape rowboat. Anthony's adventures took him from doing painkillers with the granddaughter of deposed presidents, interviewing Grace Jones, and to a comparatively placid life today of selling tea with his cat-loving husband.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaugn, and my partner James as DM. We just started and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday March 23 at 9am Pacific.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

The Seven Minutes of Terror (Ep. 223 - Arthur C. Clarke)

Mar 14, 2019 01:09:31

Description:

My guest this week is on Mars. Troy Lee Hudson is an Instrument System Engineer for NASA's Insight mission, which just successfully landed a probe on a planet hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth. But he doesn't only explore space -- here on Earth, Troy's ventured into BDSM, finding kink and leather through a chance encounter with a Tom of Finland magazine.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaugn, and my partner James as DM.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Saturday March 23 at 9am PST. There's a link at the top of the SOP twitter feed.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

Weird and Queered (Ep. 222 - Return to Oz)

Mar 7, 2019 00:57:00

Description:

What is it about queer people and villains? This isn't the first time I'd had a guest on the show who loves sympathetic monsters. Michael Lee Richardson is a writer and filmmaker in the UK who takes the world around him and makes it weird ... and queered.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for a brand new weekly queer Dungeons & Dragons stream, every Saturday at 11am Pacific. Join me and Connor Olmstead, Brian Moreno, Justin Saint, Jen Vaugn, and my partner James as DM. We just started last week, and now's a perfect time to join us at twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel.

And of course, I'm also doing twice-monthly hangouts on YouTube, where I chat with you about the books and movies and music and shows that you're obsessed with right now. The next one is on Sunday March 10 at 2pm Pacific with JP Brammer of Hola Papi.

As always, huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! Head over to Patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the rewards available to backers.

Bonus Episode: A Show for all the Awkward Queers (Ep. 222 - Xena Warrior Princess)

Mar 4, 2019 00:53:21

Description:

You might’ve heard this episode’s guest on the podcast Nancy. Kathy Tu chronicles queer stories on the show -- sort of a This LGBTQ American Life. I’m so excited to chat with her about making the show and jumping from law school grad to queer podcaster.

Seek Queer People Out (Ep. 220 - My Gay Roommate)

Feb 28, 2019 00:53:30

Description:

This week's guest in Noam Ash, a theater actor and youtube-gay who co-created the web series My Gay Roommate, which features a gay man and a straight man living together as platonic friends. That might not sound like the sort of thing that would be inspired by Harry Potter, but ever since he was a kid, Noam found solace in stories of outsiders discovering someplace new where they belonged -- and occasionally someplace foreign where they didn't.

Why Can't it be Me? (Ep. 219 - Shakespeare)

Feb 21, 2019 00:50:42

Description:

This week's guest is actor and creator Ken Arpino, who you may know from The Queens Project. He’s appeared in the touring company of shows like Mamma Mia, and now that he's got some major shows under his belt, he’s dedicated himself to bringing live theater to folks who don't have access to the arts or to queer community.

An Etch-a-Sketch for my Life (Ep. 217 - Clue)

Feb 14, 2019 00:59:36

Description:

My guest this week has undergone an incredible change, from living in a deeply religious rural community to performing underground cabaret in New York City. John Coons is a singer, performer, songwriter, sometimes go-go dancer, and overall delight, and I’m so excited to chat with him about how he found a church he could truly believe in.

Bonus Episode: Science is Queer (Ep. 218 - ASAP Science's Mitch and Greg)

Feb 11, 2019 01:03:02

Description:

This bonus episode has two guests: Mitch and Greg are the creators of the super popular YouTube series ASAP Science. They met years ago through a Facebook hack, and grew close as they searched for a way to blend their love of science and art. Now they've built a quirky queer science empire together, as creative partner and life partners.

Hypersaturated (Ep. 216 - Knitting & Dance)

Feb 7, 2019 00:39:18

Description:

My guest this week was almost a world famous dancer, but instead he's a world famous knitter. Steven West's fiber art is known all far and wide for bright color, surprising stitches, and beguiling design -- you might think of it as hipster knitwear. Behind the celebrity knitter is a former Bible camp kid who loved to dance. Looking at him then, you might have had a feeling he'd become famous, and he did. Though it was for a reason no one could have predicted.

And don’t forget to join us for the next livestream! It’s on Saturday, February 9, at 2pm pacific.

Working on Something Big (Ep. 214 - Sci-Fi and Ham Radio)

Jan 31, 2019 01:10:55

Description:

There’s a good chance that the Internet as we know it wouldn't be a thing without this week's guest. Alan Emtage grew up in Barbados, where his connection to the outside world came through amateur radio projects that allowed him to talk with people around the world. He went on to pioneer the way we find information on the Internet at a time when there was no way to search, inventing the technology that eventually became familiar tools like Google. Alan made it possible for queer culture to flourish online, and for people who grew up isolated to find their community.

And don’t forget to join us for the next livestream! It’s on Saturday, February 9, at 2pm pacific.

Star Power (Ep. 214 - Tales of the City)

Jan 24, 2019 01:03:42

Description:

This week's guest is John Russo, a celebrity photographer who’s on a first name basis with subjects like Catherine Zeta Jones and Leonardo DiCaprio. John always projects a persona of complete and total confidence, a vibe that he also calls forth from his subjects. It’s a technique that's worked well for him, ever since he started out in his field, faking it until he made it.

And don’t forget to join us for the next livestream! It’s on Saturday, January 26, at 2pm pacific.


Permission to be Sexual (Ep. 213 - Cher & Prince)

Jan 22, 2019 00:56:37

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Indigo Blue

You might’ve seen this week’s guest onstage at some point — Indigo Blue is an accomplished burlesque performer and teacher. She also got a degree in anthropology by writing about sex work while working as a stripper, so she has a unique set of skills to pass along to students.

And don’t forget to join us for the next livestream! It’s on Saturday, January 26, at 2pm pacific.

My Grubby Dark Weekend Secret (Ep. 212 - James Bond)

Jan 17, 2019 00:58:05

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Mark O’Connell

My guest this week is Mark O’Connell, an ‘80s culture superfan who’s obsessed with Star Wars and James Bond. He’s the author of the books Watching Skies and Catching Bullets, and is also family friends with the producers of the Bond films. He’s also grown close with some of the actors from the franchise — no surprise, since those movies came to him as a kid when he needed them most.

Join us for the next livestream — it’s on Saturday January 26 at 2pm pacific with special guest Terrence Moss!

And thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. Head over to patreon.com/mattbaume to check out the new backer rewards, including a Sewers of Paris care package in the mail!

Stuff We Talked About


It Was a Battle (Ep. 211 - Leather, Kink, and Watchmaking)

Jan 10, 2019 01:00:44

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Bolt

My guest this week is Tyler, who you may know as Bolt — co-host of the YouTube series Watt’s the Safeword. Online, he’s known for providing fun cute silly sex ed, but did you know that when he’s not on camera, he’s super into watchmaking? Oh and also adventurous kinky sex of course. But that watchmaking!

Also, a quick note about the next livestream: I've had to reschedule it from Saturday the 12th to Sunday the 13th at 10am Pacific. See you there!

Stuff We Talked About



The Gothic Clarinetist (Ep. 210 - Mormon Musicals)

Jan 3, 2019 00:59:18

Description:

My guest this week is Timmy Roghaar, a Seattle actor, drag queen, go-go dancer, and ex-Mormon. Timmy left Salt Lake City behind to take off his pants and dance, and we chatted all about what got him out of a rut and in touch with his inner exhibitionist. (BTW in case you missed it, check out my livechat with Timmy a few weeks ago!)

Stuff We Talked About



Behind the Sewers of Paris (Ep. 209 - Star Wars)

Dec 27, 2018 00:53:38

Description:

Hello there! I hope you had a nice holiday time and New Year season. We’re doing something a bit different this week — a kick-back chat with me and my partner James about why I started The Sewers of Paris, how it became what it is today, and the entertainment that changed my life (Star Wars, and also a roast). We’ll be back to the regular format next week, but let me know what you think of this slight departure from the normal Sewers style!

Taking Back Queer Femme Sexuality (Ep. 208 - Sylvia Plath)

Dec 24, 2018 00:56:54

Description:

The guests on this bonus episode are Erika Rose and Chelsea Moore, who talk about Sylvia Plath, The L Word, and the Well of Loneliness. Erika and Chelsea are a New York filmmaking team who push the boundaries of queer sex and sexuality on screen.

Stuff We Talked About: The Well of Loneliness (Wordsworth Classics) By Radclyffe Hall The Collected Poems By Sylvia Plath

The Sewers of Paris Holiday Special Special!

Dec 20, 2018 01:17:30

Description:

This holiday season, I hope you're surrounded with good cheer, fabulous family and friends, and comforts aplenty to keep you warm in the dark winter nights.

And when it comes to feeling cozy, I can think of no greater experts than Dave White and Alonso Duralde of the Linoleum Knife family of podcasts. Whether it's cooking glorious feasts, binging on cheesy specials, or unearthing obscure wintery films, this husband-and-husband team are the pinnacle of holiday warmth. Dave and Alonso were my guests on the very first Sewers of Paris holiday special back in 2015, sharing their advice for enjoying a jolly holiday, so we're going to start this episode by listening back to that conversation.

Then we'll hear a more recent chat from earlier this month, when Dave and Alonso popped by one of my regular livestreams to talk about how they're celebrating in 2018.

Next, I'll bring you a quick dive into my favorite holiday special -- Christmas at Pee-wee's Playhouse. Every month, I produce a video for my Culture Cruise series where I talk about LGBTQ themes on TV, in movies, in book, games, and more. And for December I took a look at Pee-wee's 1988 special, and it's connection to Judy Garland Christmas specials of the past, Glee episodes of the future, and believe it or not 18th century French theater. Then we'll wrap things up with a traditional Christmas carol sung by some past Sewers of Paris guests!

A Little Space Alien (Ep. 207 - Superman)

Dec 13, 2018 00:58:23

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Glenn Kiser glenn promo image.jpg

You might not recognize the name Glenn Kiser, but he's had a hand in countless films over the last three decades -- helping to craft films in editing rooms alongside directors like David Fincher, Spike Jonze, and Jane Campion, before moving on to run Skywalker Sound for George Lucas and now the Dolby Institute. As a kid, Glenn would obsess over movies and dream of the day he could make his own. And just like gathering elements of a story in an editing room, he crafted the steps in his career that would take him from living on an isolated ranch in Texas to working at Skywalker Ranch.

And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with Scott Flanary, winner of The Amazing Race Season 29. It's on Saturday December 29 at 2pm pacific.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. And we'll be doing our next Queens of Adventure livestream on Saturday December 22, so head over to QueensOfAdventure.com for details.

This Week’s Recommendation: Auntie Mame

Thanks again to Glenn for joining me. We talked a bit about Auntie Mame, and now is indeed the perfect time of year for that film. Or for the book on which it's based. Or if you're really devoted, the musical adaptation Mame starring, for various reasons, none of them good, Lucille Ball.

None of these works is entirely perfect -- their handling of racial stereotypes is particularly unpleasant -- but they also manage to achieve moments of sheer delight.

Auntie Mame, in whatever form you consume it, is a delightful work of mid-century art. The film is a 1950s romp with bright phony soundstages and bellowing performances that overflow with camp, centered around a wacky aging aunt who lives a life entirely on her own terms, much to the horror of everyone around her.

At times, the movie manages to accidentally anticipate the freedom of the 60s, but gaily depicts it as originating not in youth culture but from a powerful grande dame.

It's no wonder queer folks are drawn to the character -- created by Patrick Tanner, a bisexual man. As Mame, Rosalind Russell emits a perfect form of manic free-spirited energy to demolish what today we would call "the patriarchy" but back then would simply be "life." And although the two movies lean heavily on the uptight heterosexual nephew as a framing device, Mame has no time for the stodgy times in which she lives, and flies from one madcap caper to another.

Whether her story is contained within the context of the Depression, the pre-feminist 50s, or who knows maybe someday a contemporary remake, Mame's refusal to even consider that she might be beaten down by her circumstances is inspiring. Insane, sure. But the inspiring kind of insane.

Stuff We Talked About Ragtime: A Novel (Modern Library 100 Best Novels) By E.L. Doctorow Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (Perennial Classics) By Paul Monette



What Do You Do When You're An Over The Hill Baton Twirler? (Ep. 206 - The Sound of Music)

Dec 6, 2018 01:06:00

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This Week’s Guest: Henry Goldring henry promo image.jpg

How do you share your story when your story defies belief? My guest this week is Henry Goldring, whose upcoming memoir is entitled Unbelievable and recounts tales of audaciously bluffing his way into getting hired as Joan Rivers' opening act, despite never having performed before; and also getting committed by his siblings. Henry grew up in a generation that didn't have the internet, didn't have public role models, and was decimated by an epidemic. Considering all he's endured, it's no wonder he's got some particularly wild stories to share.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with the delightful Dave and Alonso of the Linoleum Knife family of podcasts. It's next weekend, and it's a little earlier than usual: Saturday December 8 at 8am pacific, 11am eastern.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. And we'll be doing our next Queens of Adventure livestream on Saturday December 22, so head over to QueensOfAdventure.com for details.

This Week’s Recommendation: Maude

Thanks again to Henry for joining me. After we recorded our conversation, I went back and looked for a clip of him on that episode of Maude, and found him in the background of a scene. There's a screengrab posted at SewersofParis.com.


And that episode is this week's recommendation -- it's entitled "The Gay Bar," and it aired in 1977, season 6 episode 9. Maude episodes are available to buy on Amazon, and for free from illicit sources. But if you'd like a condensed version, I have a video on YouTube where I show some highlights and talk about the historical context at the time when it aired.

In the episode, there's a gay bar coming to town and Maude's homophobic neighbor Arthur isn't having it. He plans to protest and get politicians involved and shut the place down. The episode is remarkable for a couple of reasons -- it was a particularly compassionate depiction of gay people and the persecution they face; it may be the first time the inside of a gay bar appeared on television; and there's one extra who wears a pink three-piece suit that has to be seen to be believed.

But what really stands out to me when I watch the episode now is that in the end, Maude and Arthur are able to reach a point of mutual respect for each other, despite also having mutual disdain for each others' values. This was a time at which it was considered a virtue to overlook the moral failings of bigots like Arthur in the name of collegiality and compromise. There are a lot of reasons that changed, but by today's standards I'm not impressed by either Maude or Arthur. He ends the episode backing down from his plans to picket but still believing that gay people are a blight; she ends the episode telling him that the consistency of his principles is worthy of respect.

But lets not forget what those principles are: that queer people should be hounded and persecuted to the point that they can no longer leave the house. That might've been a mainstream opinion at the time, but the fact that a supposedly liberal character would tolerate it as recently as 1977 reminds us just how backwards that time was.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About


Unleash the Queen (Ep. 205 - Freddie Mercury)

Nov 29, 2018 01:00:55

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Jim Provenzano

I don't know if you heard, but somebody tried to make a movie about Bohemian Rhapsody recently. And it's nice that the film might introduce the band to a new generation, but there are some queers among us who got to live through Queen the first time. My guest this week is Jim Provenzano, author of the novel Now I'm Here, which tells the story of two small town boys who fall in love to the soundtrack of the late 70s. Jim's a product of that time as well, and grew up in a time of innocent homoeroticism, and at times, dangerous disobedience.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with the delightful Dave and Alonso of the Linoleum Knife family of podcasts. It's next weekend, and it's a little earlier than usual: Saturday December 8 at 8pm pacific, 11am eastern.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. And we'll be doing our next Queens of Adventure livestream on Saturday December 22, so head over to QueensOfAdventure.com for details.

This Week’s Recommendation: Flash Gordon

Thanks again to Jim for joining me. Check out JimProvenzano.com for all of his work. And if you're in San Francisco, he'll be part of an upcoming celebration of the music of queen on Thursday, December 6th. It's a live show called Now We're Here, and it features acoustic performances of more than a dozen classic Queen songs interpreted by Bay Area musicians.

It's nice to see Queen and Freddy Mercury a topic of conversation these days, my recommendation is that you see the film that really captures their music and their aesthetic. I'm speaking of course of 1980's Flash Gordon, featuring a soundtrack composed entirely by Queen.

The movie both terrible and an absolute gem, a work that cuts corners in some areas and spends lavishly in others. The look is a bizarre 70s fantasy-futurism, the plot is absurd, and some of the performers are upstaged by their hair. But the music is magnificent, not to mention the sheer misplaced extravagance. It's giddy and weird and rarely makes sense, but at no point can you predict what will happen next.

Where bad movies are concerned, I have high standards -- you don't need to waste your life inflicting every single movie like Zardoz and Lost Horizon on yourself. Some films are so bad they're just bad. But Flash Gordon is a stupid delight -- not as queer as Barbarella, but a camp pleasure nonetheless. The over-the-top music, starting with the perfectly gaudy theme, set the tone for an experience that is wonderful and ridiculous. It takes an incredible talent to make such an incredible mess.

Stuff We Talked About

This Boy is a Deviant (Ep. 204 - Jaymes Mansfield)

Nov 22, 2018 01:02:47

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This Week’s Guest: Jaymes Mansfield jaymes promo image.jpg

How much do you know about the people who paved the way for you? We all benefit from foundations laid by those who came before, but so often -- and particularly for queer people -- those forebears are lost to history. But my guest this week is dedicated to shining a light on the incredible queer pioneers who led unimaginably fascinating lives and blazed the trail we now walk. You might know Jaymes Mansfield from her appearance on Drag Race Season 9. And these days you can catch her on YouTube, where she's become one of the internet's leading drag historians with her series Drag Herstory, shining a light on the people and stories that you won't believe you've never heard about before.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick reminder -- I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest, performer Timmy Roghaar. That's this weekend -- Saturday November 24 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Drag Herstory

Thanks again to Jaymes for joining me. I cannot recommend her series Drag Herstory highly enough. They're well researched, insightful, educational and entertaining. I thought I knew a lot about queer history but I've learned so much by watching this series.

In particular, check out Episode 2, "A Brief History of Drag Queen Music," a fascinating look at artists like Sylvester and Divine. I also felt a particularly satisfying frisson of nostalgia from Episode 6, "A Brief History of Drag Queens of the 90s."

So far there are 19 episodes in all, and after every single one I find myself thinking, "why haven't I ever heard about this before?" Drag is one of the far-flung frontiers of queerness, where you can find some of the most daring experiments into gender, performance, and art. So of course, some drag has often gone over the head of mainstream audiences and even other queers, disappearing into obscure history.

That's why I'm so glad we have Jaymes to excavate those forgotten or just under-appreciate creators who blazed a trail over the last century. Folks like Charles Busch, Lily Savage, and the performers of Finnochios never became household names, in part because they came along at a time when one didn't discuss gender outlaws in polite society. But today, it's clear that they were visionaries whose work not only withstands the test of time, but outdoes many of the icons we're familiar with today.

We owe it to those pioneers to remember them. And we owe it to ourselves to indulge in their art.

Bonus Episode: Beyond the Sewers of Paris! We Were Born for This Moment (Ep. 203 - Annie)

Nov 22, 2018 01:00:05

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This Week’s Guest: Kate Kendell kate promo image.jpg

Thanks to everyone who supports The Sewers of Paris on Patreon -- with your pledges I'm able to release monthly bonus episodes like this one. This week we'll be going beyond The Sewers of Paris with someone for whom I am truly grateful. Kate Kendell is the outgoing director of the National Center for Lesbian rights. Over the last 22 years of history-changing moments for LGBTQ people, she's not only had a front row seat, but she's been one of the key figures pushing those moments forward. I'm so excited to bring you this conversation, ranging from the moment she discovered live theater, to proudly working for the most hated organization in Utah, to becoming an LGBTQ community leader, and what she sees next for queer liberation.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest, performer Timmy Roghaar. That's this weekend -- Saturday November 24 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Sonnet 116

Thanks again to Kate for joining me. I'm just so inspired by the work she does. In fact, Kate was one of the people who inspired me to become an activist. I was living in San Francisco in 2004 when the city began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Valentine's Day. My bus went right past City Hall on the way to work, and I remember seeing the couples lined up around the block. And I remember seeing the photo on the front page of the Chronicle -- Mayor Gavin Newsom, now the incoming governor of California, marrying lesbian pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, and in the background Kate Kendel looking on overcome with emotion.

I'm torn on what to recommend this week. If you want to relive that incredible time, you should definitely look up some of that news coverage from 2004, featuring stunned activists and couples racing to marry. Or look up the infamous clip of Kate Kendell swearing on live TV in reference to Proposition 8. Or you might want to check out my book, Defining Marriage, which includes stories from couples who lived through that time as well as Kate's experience fighting Prop 8.

But I think my main recommendation this week is going to be a Shakespearean sonnet that Kate mentioned, Sonnet 116, which begins, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments." Often read as a declaration of same-sex love, it was set to music by Rufus Wainwright -- you can find that with a quick YouTube search -- and it's absolutely lovely. "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove," the sonnet goes. Out of all of humanity's attempts, over the centuries, to explain in words what love is, I think this might be my favorite.

Stuff We Talked About Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street By Herman Melville The Beast in the Jungle By Henry James To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee

What Happens in a Gay Bar (Ep. 202 - Lady Gaga)

Nov 15, 2018 01:01:24

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This Week’s Guest: Bryan Lowder bryan promo image.jpg

This week's episode is going to be a bit of a song and dance. My guest is Bryan Lowder, associate editor at Slate and co-host of the Outward podcast. Known now for his cerebral essays and thoughtful analysis of queer culture, as a college student Bryan was drawn to New York's underground dance clubs, where years ago he found inner peace, and also encountered up-and-coming artists like Lady Gaga.

And the next Sewers of Paris live chat is this weekend -- Saturday November 17th at 2pm pacific. I hope you'll join us for a fun friendly chat about whatever entertainment has been changing YOUR life lately. And then mark your calendars for the next livestream, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 24th. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Thanks again to Bryan for joining me. Check out his Outward podcast wherever podcasts are casted. And for my recommendations this week, take a look at the recent season finale of the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Normally a cynical sitcom where everything goes wrong and everyone's the butt of a joke, the last episode of season 13 takes a surprisingly heartfelt and sincere turn.

For most of the episode, the character of Mac, who's been out for about of year, laments that he doesn't know what his place is in the gay community. And what's worse, his adoptive father Frank tells him that he just doesn't get the whole gay thing. That leaves Mac with nowhere to turn, and no words to express himself.

So he stops trying to use words. The episode culminates in, of all things, an interpretive dance that should be funny and stupid and a fiasco but instead it's a powerful expression of turmoil and confusion and abandoning language to simply express oneself through their body.

Watching it in isolation, it might come off as cheap sentimentality -- but because of a context, a sitcom sacrificing its trademark cynicism for real heart, I think it comes off as brave. And that's why it feel so lovely when Frank, the adoptive father, finally whispers at the end, "Oh my God, I get it."

Stuff We Talked About

What Makes You Have a Fabulous Life (Ep. 201 - Madonna)

Nov 8, 2018 00:59:14

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This Week’s Guests: David and John

How do you measure your success? For a lot of us it's career or fame or money or family, but the common theme among all of those is happiness. That is, what makes you happy? But often happiness as a goal gets drowned out by the things that we think are supposed to get us there. My guests this week are John and David, a husband-and-husband team behind the Queer Money podcast. They met on the dance floor and formed a bond that's only grown stronger for more than a decade. And one secret to their relationship's longevity has been some honest, and at times difficult, conversations about whether they needed to change everything about how they were living their lives.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat on November 17 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Marilyn Monroe & Madonna

Thanks again to John and David for joining me. It's a real pleasure to have double guests every now and then, and I have a double recommendation this week as well. Start with Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes -- specifically the number Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, in which she's wearing a pink strapless grown and is presented with all manner of riches by tuxedoed chorus boys. Then once you've watched that, jump over to Madonna's music video for Material Girl, shot 30 years later, in which she wears a pink strapless gown and is presented by riches while surrounded by chorus boys.

Both songs are beautiful, but there's an interesting contrast between them. Marilyn's character is enamored with riches, while Madonna -- despite the song's lyrics -- dismisses them in favor of simple romance. Madonna clearly employed comparisons to Monroe throughout her career in the 80s, and but she never overdoes it -- it's never an imitation, but instead a reference from which she quickly diverges.

Madonna's agreeing to Marilyn's sex appeal, but she adopts a third-wave feminist spin by turning herself from an object to be acquired into a sexual being whose needs must be met. As the lyrics conclude, it's her experience that's made her rich -- built her personality -- and that's a greater value than any diamond.

Thanks to everyone who's rated and reviewed The Sewers of Paris. Thanks to all the listeners who keep the show going -- there's rewards for backers. Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the Show on Patreon" to join the folks who make the show possible.

Stuff We Talked About


She Made me Dress up as the Pink Carebear (Ep. 200 - Kevin Yee)

Nov 1, 2018

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This Week’s Guest: Kevin Yee Screen-shot-2011-07-12-at-11.01.05-AM.png

We're going back into the Sewers of Paris archives this week, for an interview with ex-boybander Kevin Yee. Kevin's new comedy special recently premiered Hulu, as part of the Comedy InvAsian series. He's been a performer for almost all his life, with his career taking a wild twist in his teens when he was cast in a 90s boy band. Three years later, things hadn't quite turned out as he'd hoped, and he thought his dreams of performing were over before he had even reached adulthood.

These days things are looking a bit better -- in addition to his Hulu special, you can hear him on the podcast 2 Dope Queens, and at the upcoming Cucalorus Festival and Dead Crow Comedy Comedy room in November. And you can get the story of his journey from boy band to stand up right now in our conversation.

Quick reminder that the very first Queens of Adventure livestream is coming up -- November 4 at 1pm pacific. It's a game of Dungeons and Dragons played live, with queens in full drag; and it's a fundraiser to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital. Get the details and watch us live at bit.ly/extralifeseattle.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Double Life

I met Kevin a couple years ago, long after he put the boy band and clothing store behind him and found his calling in comedy. He is even more fun and funny in person than he is on stage, and I'm so glad I know THAT Kevin, the real Kevin, and that as awful as his time in the band surely was, that it only strengthened his resolve to live a life that's genuine.

And as glitzy and glamorous and gay as showbusiness is, it's long had a way of forcing people to repress their true selves, forcing queer entertainers to adopt a straight facade. That a disservice not just to artists, but also to audiences -- whether and actor or a singer or painter or a poet, art need honesty in order to work.

For my recommendation this week, I'd like to check out the book Double Life, by Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine. The two men met in June of 1958, when Norman spotted Alan onstage on the Broadway show Jamaica. And over their six decades together, they've worked onstage, in television, in advertising, in visual arts -- and the memoir they wrote a few years back is a meticulous chronicle of how their lives were shaped by the various closets they endured.

Double Life is a fascinating glimpse at the ways that the entertainment industry forced gay men to remain closeted, to deny their own existence. It's also a tender love letter between two men who shared each other's lives, often through times when only they and their closest friends could know what those lives truly were. And it's a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a time when artists and their art can be honest, and are no longer forced to wear a straight face.

Stuff We Talked About

You Were Great in Lawnmower Man (Ep. 199 - Neuromancer)

Oct 25, 2018 01:04:06

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This Week’s Guest: Adam Koebel

This week's guest is an imaginary creature -- or at least, that's primarily how the public knows him, though character and places he invents. Every day, Adam Koebel runs role-playing games where players invent new personas, work together to solve problems, and tell stories that exist in their collective imaginations. He's also the co-creator of Dungeon World, a game that's driven by the relationships between characters. As a result, a lot of Adam's time is spent inhabiting roles and expressing fantastic identities -- but in all of them, there's a little germ of who he truly is -- the strange outcast who left a corporate job to spend every day playing games.

And we're just a few days away from our weeklong livestream of games, a fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital! Starting on October 28, I'll be hosting a big gay game of Dungeons & Dragons featuring Comedian Bryan Safi, Culture Critic Carlos Maza, Writer Anthony Oliveira, and Scholar Bryan Wuest. Then I'll be streaming games every day from October 29 to November 3. And on Sunday, November 4th, join us for another game of D&D featuring the drag queen cast of Queens of Adventure in full drag! We'll be serving looks, interacting with viewers, and encouraging everyone to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital -- 100% of everything you give goes straight to the hospital. Get the details and watch us live at bit.ly/extralifeseattle. See you starting October 28.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest Seattle drag superstar Arson Nicki. It’s Saturday October 27 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Once More into the Dungeon… World

Thanks again to Adam for joining me. We talked a bit about how Adam runs he games, makes room for people to express themselves, and encourages folks to explore their connections with each other. And my recommendation this week is to watch that first hand -- you can follow Adam on Twitch, or check Twitter to see when he'll be going live. But a particularly fun game that I recommend happened a few months ago at GenCon, and so I suggest you check out his session Once More into the Dungeon... World. There's a link to the video at SewersOfParis.com.

One of the things that stands out to me in the session is how kindly Adam presses the players to open up about their characters. It's not easy to share something creative that you made, especially after you whipped it up right there on the spot in front of an audience of strangers. So Adam takes it step by step, throwing out a few questions to each player at the start and then sitting back while they talk, occasionally signaling when they're on a particularly fun track.

Why does it matter if people have help playing games? Well, because games -- particularly role-playing games -- are really stories we tell about ourselves, even when it looks like they're about monsters and halflings. When we put on disguises, try out new accents, give ourselves a new name or a new species, that doesn't just come from nowhere, it comes from someplace deeply personal within each of us. And often it's a place we've been reluctant to reveal before a game came along to give us a safe place to show it off.

It's a strange tension that games offer -- one one hand an expression of the imaginary, but on the other sometimes more personal and revealing than we are in our normal lives. That's the beauty of play, and why games have the power to connect us to each other. And it's why it's such a pleasure to watch Adam at work.

Stuff We Talked About Neuromancer By William Gibson Dungeon World By Sage LaTorra, Adam Koebel


The Go-Out Girls (Ep. 198 - Alaska Thunderf*ck)

Oct 23, 2018 00:48:35

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This Week’s Guest: Alaska Thunderf*ck and Jeremy alaska promo image.jpg

We've got a special two for one deal on this episode: Drag Race star Alaska, and her friend and collaborator Jeremy. With a friendship dating back to their weird college days, Alaska and Jeremy recently released an album of songs called Amethyst Journey that is surprisingly sweet and folksy. We talk about all about their early influences, watching Rocky Horror together on a little laptop screen, and also the creation of Alaska, the time they sang Dolly Parton songs so loud the cops were called, and also how Alaska bombed her first audition from drag race -- plus we'll also have a very brief cameo from Alaska's mom.

Because of their busy travel schedule, Alaska and Jeremy were only able to do an interview from the road, so you'll hear a little background noise in our interview. I've cleaned up the sound quality a bit and I hope it doesn't distract too much from their fabulous stories.

Also, speaking of The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- I posted a brand new video in my Culture Cruise series last week. It's a deep dive on how that film went from being a commercial failure to a cultural phenomenon, and why it's such an important midnight movie for outcasts and weirdos. Head over to YouTube and search for Rocky Horror Culture Cruise to watch that.

And we're just a few days away from our weeklong livestream of games, a fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital! Starting on October 28, I'll be hosting a big gay game of Dungeons & Dragons featuring Comedian Bryan Safi, Culture Critic Carlos Maza, Writer Anthony Oliveira, and Scholar Bryan Wuest. Then I'll be streaming games every day from October 29 to November 3. And on Sunday, November 4th, join us for another game of D&D featuring the drag queen cast of Queens of Adventure in full drag! We'll be serving looks, interacting with viewers, and encouraging everyone to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital -- 100% of everything you give goes straight to the hospital. Get the details and watch us live at bit.ly/extralifeseattle. See you starting October 28.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest Seattle drag superstar Arson Nicki. It’s Saturday October 27 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: The Drag Roast of Heklina

Thanks again to Alaska and Jeremy for joining me for a lovely chat. If you're looking for more fun times with Alaska, check out the drag roast of Heklina -- a live show at the Castro theater that was filmed, and is now popping up at queer film festivals and occasionally online.

Alaska's joined onstage by drag legends Peaches Christ, Jackie Beat, Jinkx Monsoon, and why not, the Julie Brown who is not downtown. They are all merciless in their attacks on Heklina and each other, and when I watched the video in a theater last week, there were almost as many gasps as there were laughs. It is also, of course, hilarious and occasionally heartfelt, as when Peaches concludes her roasting with a genuine recognition that she can't imagine life without her good friend.

But mostly it's one solid punch line after another. I'm not usually a fan of the roast, since for heaven't sake the world is mean enough already. But behind the teasing at this particular show was a deep affection, and a camaraderie that comes of having spent years together in the smallest subculture of a subculture of a subculture.

Moving as they do in a very small community, performers like Alaska and Jinkx and Heklina get to know each other better than most friends or coworkers or even family. And when they get up on stage to tease each other, it's like a little glimpse into a private world we rarely get to see -- at least not at such length. The fact that they all laugh at each other's quips and insults lets us know there's no harm done, it's all said out of love, and they're all in on the joke. And now, as an extension of their queer performer family, we are too.

Stuff We Talked About

There's no Comedy Without Conflict (Ep. 197 - Improv)

Oct 18, 2018 00:46:50

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Michael Henry michael promo image.jpg

How do you muster the nerve to keep going when it seems like the odds are stacked against you? My guest this week picked up some life advice from improv comedy -- in particular, the lesson to say yes and then heighten whatever's happened so far. Though you may know Michael Henry from his YouTube comedy videos, his acting background is far more serious, and he expected to become a serious dramatic actor. The fact that he could only seem to make audiences laugh troubled him for years -- until he realized he could say yes to comedy, and the unexpected direction it would take him.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. But first I want to invite you to a weeklong livestream of games starting Sunday, October 28! It's the return of Extra Life, an annual fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital. We're kicking the week off with a big gay game of Dungeons & Dragons featuring Comedian Bryan Safi, Culture Critic Carlos Maza, Writer Anthony Oliveira, and Scholar Bryan Wuest. Then I'll be streaming games every day from October 29 to November 3. And on Sunday, November 4th, join us for another game of D&D featuring the drag queen cast of Queens of Adventure in full drag! We'll be serving looks, interacting with viewers, and encouraging everyone to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital -- 100% of everything you give goes straight to the hospital. Get the details and watch us live at bit.ly/extralifeseattle. See you starting October 28.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest Seattle drag superstar Arson Nicki. It’s Saturday October 27 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Michael’s YouTube Channel

Thanks again to Michael for joining me. You can check out his videos on YouTube, which is my recommendation this week. They're all super short AND YET I keep finding myself spending way too much time clicking through one after another after the next. In particular, look for the video with the startling title "This video is about HIV."

As advertised, the video is about HIV. It's under 2 minutes, but in that time, we see a lightning-fast montage of gay men talking about -- or avoiding -- conversations about sex and health. Not only is it funny, with a solid punchline on average every three seconds, but it is actually one of the most educational and honest lessons on HIV I've seen in a long time, covering topics like testing and PrEP and stigma. What I love about the video is that it jumps through every conversation queer guys need to have about AIDS and feel weird about bringing up -- but hopefully a little less weird after this video deflates the somber attitude around STIs.

But that's not all! There's also a great video about why men call each other masculine nicknames; and another about the privilege of being pretty; one about how straight guys talk to gay guys about whether other men are attractive; and one about deciding whether or not to be a sex object. They're all short and pithy and refer directly to some aspect of queer culture that it is about time someone brought up. As you watch, you may feel about 50% vindicated and 50% called out. Which is about the right balance for any great work of art. Or YouTube video.

My First Job with RuPaul (Ep. 196 - Jamal Terry-Sims)

Oct 11, 2018 00:50:30

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Jamal Terry-Sims jamal promo image.jpg

You've seen this week's guest on RuPaul's Drag Race, and you've seen his choreography in Footloose, on the Emmys, and videos and stage shows for Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, and the Spice Girls -- despite having never taken a dance class. Jamal Sims' dream began when he saw The Wiz and knew he needed to be up on stage dancing. And now, after a career spanning nearly three decades, he's shining a spotlight on up-and-comers with the documentary When the Beat Drops.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. But first I want to invite you to a weeklong livestream of games starting Sunday, October 28! It's the return of Extra Life, an annual fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital. We're kicking the week off with a big gay game of Dungeons & Dragons featuring Comedian Bryan Safi, Culture Critic Carlos Maza, Writer Anthony Oliveira, and Scholar Bryan Wuest. Then I'll be streaming games every day from October 29 to November 3. And on Sunday, November 4th, join us for another game of D&D featuring the drag queen cast of Queens of Adventure in full drag! We'll be serving looks, interacting with viewers, and encouraging everyone to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital -- 100% of everything you give goes straight to the hospital. Get the details and watch us live at bit.ly/extralifeseattle. See you starting October 28.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest Trish Bendix -- managing editor of Into, the queer news site that's a part of Grindr. That's on Saturday October 13 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: The Wiz

Thanks again to Jamal for joining me. He mentioned The Wiz as an early inspiration, and if you haven't seen that film for heaven's sake what are you waiting for. There have been countless iterations of the Wizard of Oz story, from a forgotten 1910 silent film to the the 1939 classic to last year's Emerald City series, cancelled after its first season.

The Wiz originated on Broadway in 1974 before heading to the screen in 1978. It's a uniquely African American take on fantasy worlds, melding contemporary music with black stars and magical cityscapes. The result is a movie infused with beauty and pride, and an empowering finale that in my opinion outdoes Glinda's "you've always had the power" scene from the 1939 version.

The Wiz is pure 70s, and not every moment ages well. But if you buy into the campy disco and Michael's somewhat prolonged clown shtick and a bit of a meander around the middle, you'll be rewarded by a joyful, empowering, uplifting climax that doesn't just belong to Dorothy but to the audience as well.

I've always felt that a weakness of the classic Wizard of Oz is that Dorothy is forced to leave her better world behind and return to the black and white, like her big lesson has been that she was wrong to dream. In the Wiz, Dorothy and the audience see a better world, where its possible to tap into inner strength and literally peel away the disguises that only served as tools of injustice.

As in other tellings, Diana Ross as Dorothy unites with a chosen family. But in this version, she returns home to the city triumphant, empowered, forever changed -- and unwilling to ever participate in her own oppression.

That's a vision that was particularly meaningful to the audiences that The Wiz was addressing in the 1970s. And wouldn't you know it, themes of liberation are still meaningful to this day.

Stuff We Talked About

The First Time I Could be a Gay Person (Ep. 195 - Alien)

Oct 4, 2018 01:01:50

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Nathaniel Atcheson nathaniel promo image.jpg

My guest this week is Nathaniel Atcheson, writer and director of the film Domain, which comes out this week. Like the movies that inspired him as a kid, Domain is a story about isolation and loneliness and coping with the fear of being life-threateningly disconnected from other people. That might sound grim, but behind the scenes of his work, Nathaniel is hardly disconnected -- for him, making films is a way of finding a union with other people, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. And human capacity to overcome obstacles can surprise us -- for example, when Nathaniel met the man who he would, against considerable odds, one day marry.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. But first I want to invite you to a weeklong livestream of games starting Sunday, October 28! It's the return of Extra Life, an annual fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital. We're kicking the week off with a big gay game of Dungeons & Dragons featuring Comedian Bryan Safi, Culture Critic Carlos Maza, Writer Anthony Oliveira, and Scholar Bryan Wuest. Then I'll be streaming games every day from October 29 to November 3. And on Sunday, November 4th, join us for another game of D&D featuring the drag queen cast of Queens of Adventure in full drag! We'll be serving looks, interacting with viewers, and encouraging everyone to donate to Seattle Children's Hospital -- 100% of everything you give goes straight to the hospital. Get the details and watch us live at bit.ly/extralifeseattle. See you starting October 28.

BTW, I hope you'll also join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with special guest Trish Bendix -- managing editor of Into, the queer news site that's a part of Grindr. That's on Saturday October 13 at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Dune

Thanks again to Nathaniel for joining me. You can check out his new film, now available to stream, at DomainTheMovie.com. For my recommendation this week, I went looking for some queer science fiction -- spoiler alert, pickings are a bit slim. That's not to say there's none -- an episode of Deep Space Nice, some Dr. Who, Wizards vs Aliens -- but the offerings pale in comparison to heterosexuals bumbling through space.

But I do think you should check out some extremely compelling -- and weird -- queer visions of the future, and those are the scenes with Baron Harkonnen in David Lynch's 1984 film Dune. Just to prepare you, it is a long and very strange film, so even though I do think you should watch the whole thing, I'll forgive you if you seek out relevant clips on YouTube. You'll want to see the scene where Sting appears in a thong that looks like a piece of scenery in an art-deco theater. And then later there's a horrifying moment when the evil Baron commits a particularly atrocious act with a young man's heart.

The scene is with the heart is, and it's important that you know this, VERY upsetting. I do not recommend this scene because it's a delightful depiction of queer desire. On the contrary, it is grotesque. But the images, if you are confident you can stomach them, are so indelible because they feature a marriage of beauty -- as represented by the healthy, attractive young men -- and the hideous, represented by the unspeakable villainy and physical decay of the Baron. There's a simultaneous attraction and repulsion that makes the cruelty on screen even more upsetting.

There are a lot of problems with this movie, and not just with the ways that Lynch chose to associate ugliness with queerness and disability and size. But the combination of the beautiful and the horrible are so effectively nauseating that they evoke to me the worst anxieties about being gay -- the longing and the terror, the appetite and the guilt. It's dark, and horrible, and if you need a palette cleanser afterwards there's fortunately some hilariously goofy wire work in the scene; so if you don't want to see blood, you can always laugh at THAT.

Stuff we Talked About

Come to the Party, it's Weird (Ep. 194 - Cheryl)

Sep 27, 2018 00:55:10

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Nick Schiarizzi nick promo image.jpg

How do you make friends as an adult? Without school to throw lots of people together in far greater combinations than a workplace, it's easy to feel stuck in the wrong group -- especially when other gays are hard to find. So my guest this week did something about that. Nick Schiarizzi is the co-founder of the brutally bizarre dance party Cheryl, where everyone comes expecting something weird and leaves having something even weirder. But you'd never guess it to look at him -- Nick is calm, deadpan, and for most of his life terrified to dance. But when he found himself feeling lonely and frustrated as a young adult, he decided to find a way to break through his inhibitions to he could finally find others like him.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday September 29th at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Cheryl

Thanks again to Nick for joining me. I do heartily recommend those Cheryl parties. But if you're not in New York or a city where the party's on tour, you can experience a tiny taste of the next best thing by looking up their promo videos. Go to CherylWillRuinYourLife.info and click through the videos to find a lengthy collection spanning a decade of festive, colorful, and mystifying videos that capture the very strangest nocturnal queer culture that New York has to offer.

In those Cheryl videos you'll catch a glimpse of hundreds of people gathering together under cover of dark and buffeted by bass, dancing and partying and pushing boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries. Sometimes art is meaningful, and other times the meaningless is the meaning. That, and kicking back to just enjoy yourself as extravagantly as possible while also spending as little money as possible. And what could be a more fundamental definition of queer culture than that?

So go -- watch some videos, get confused, get excited, and then find your way to creating something extremely peculiar of your own that definitely shouldn't exist, but does.

Stuff We Talked About


In my Own Way I'm a Doomsday Prepper (Ep. 193 - I Love Lucy)

Sep 20, 2018 00:50:08

Description:

This Week’s Guest: Phuong Mai

Acts of selflessness are great, but what's in it for me? This week I'm chatting with my friend Phuong, who's made a whole lifestyle out of making things for others. Whether it's bread or soap or knitted hats, it seems like every minute of his day is dedicated to creating stuff for the people around him. But even though he gives all this stuff away, there's something important that he's getting back.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday September 29th at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: I Like You

Thanks again to Phuong for joining me. I can't think of any better gift than hospitality, demonstrating to someone that you care about making them feel good. Mindfully being a good host or maker or companion is a simple gesture with deep meaning that says, "I like you." And that's the title of my recommendation this week, a book by Amy Sedaris about entertaining company and making them feel loved.

Whether it's building a layer cake out of cold cuts, a wreath out of meatloaf, or a party game for kids that hopefully doesn't involve fire, Amy has all the guidance you need for welcoming guests into your home and into your heart. Of course, the advice is all acerbic and strange -- but it is also, at its heart, legitimately useful and kind. There's a section on keeping a conversation pleasant and surprisingly even when dining with the most dreary business people. There's a recipe for the perfect BBQ sauce (it's just mixing two leading brands together). And there's advice for being as successful a guest as you are a host.

"I Like You" is full of weird wonderful photos and great recipes and strange fashion choices, and it should be the first book you reach for when entertaining. Amy advice for hospitality is also great advice for life: Be kind, be yourself, and party on.

Thanks again for listening and to everyone who's rated and reviewed The Sewers of Paris. Thanks to all the listeners who keep the show going -- there's rewards for backers. Head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the Show on Patreon" to join the folks who make the show possible.

I'm Here, I'm Queer, I'm Tired, It's Your Turn (Ep. 192 - Secretary)

Sep 18, 2018

Description:

Bonus Episode Guest: Trish Bendix trish promo image.jpg

My guest on this bonus episode has a difficult task ahead of her, a different kind of gay marriage -- not of people, but of industries. Trish Bendix is the managing editor of Into, the queer news site connected to Grindr. And in that role, she's in charge of bringing news of the world together with social flirty hookups that made the app famous.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday September 29th at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: Lilith Fair

Thanks again to Trish for joining me. We talked a bit about the phenomenon of Lilith Fair, the women-focused music festival that, while it was around, was a truly wonderful experience. There's no recapturing that late 90s energy, but fortunately there are some YouTube videos that come close. So my recommendation this week is to just do some video searches for Lilith Fair and bask in the acoustic guitars, plaintive poetry, and audiences full of women and femme folks swaying in delight.

My own memory of going to Lilith Fair in 1997 is of sitting on a grassy hillside, far from the stage, and as evening fell Sarah McLoughlin interrupted the music to point out that it was a full moon and we should all turn and look up into the sky and appreciate its beauty. And that sums up the kind of vibe -- if you went to Lilith Fair you could look forward to a fun, friendly, relaxing experience, and an atmosphere that I would describe as grateful.

Grateful for the opportunity to all come together in one place, optimistic that people who felt otherwise marginalized might life each other up, and oh so extremely earnest in a way that went out of favor for far too long. Lilith Fair always stood in opposition to cynicism, no easy task in the 90s, and I think it's only fairly recently that as a culture we've placed new value on wholesomeness, enthusiasm, and the sort of sincerity that could prompt an entire field full of people to cheer approvingly for moon.

Stuff We Talked About How to Grow Up: A Memoir By Michelle Tea Black Wave By Michelle Tea


The Town Queen (Ep. 191 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)

Sep 13, 2018 00:54:00

Description:

This Week’s Guest: John Michael Byrd jmb promo image.jpg

My guest this week is an artist whose creations include the persona he's established for himself. Since childhood, John Michael Byrd has always felt like more of a cartoon character than a normal human, which wasn't a particularly easy role to play growing up in a small southern town. But after spending years disconnecting from the physical world around him, he's found a place where he's finally free to be as animated as he's always felt.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday September 15th at 2pm pacific with guest Bryan Lowder -- editor at Slate and co-host of the new Outward podcast. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show. And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. That’s at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week’s Recommendation: The Flight of Dragons

Thanks again to John Michael for joining me. Check out John_Michael_Byrd_Studio on instagram to see his work.

We talked a lot on this episode about feeling out of place, belonging to a different world. For my recommendation, check out an animated film that it's not particularly queer, at least not on the surface -- Flight of Dragons, made by the same Rankin Bass team that did The Hobbit, The Last Unicorn, and all those stop-motion Christmas specials.

Flight of Dragons is set in your standard Tolkien-style realm, where the encroaching forces of science threaten to destroy all magic in the world. To protect themselves, the most powerful wizards in the world unite to create a safe refuge, hidden away from mankind. But an evil sorcerer has other idea -- he plans to corrupt mankind with greed so that humans will destroy themselves.

It's into this mix that someone unexpected steps: a human from our current-day world -- which at the time the movie was made was 1982. An accident of magic transports a modern scientist to the realm of magic, where he finds himself inhabiting the body of a dragon, the last hope to save a magical world his science cannot explain. Or can it? There's a surprisingly smart tension throughout the movie, with the worldly logic of the human world jostling with the ineffable enchantment of the magical realm. And at the heart is the unlikely hero, forced to walk a line and choose the world in which he truly belongs. So I guess I take it back -- it is, in fact, a particularly queer film.

Stuff We Talked About

I Don't Want to Go Quietly - (Ep. 190 - Metallica)

Sep 6, 2018 00:43:10

Description:

This Week's Guest: Dan Corkery dan promo image.jpg


You can't accuse this week's guest of ever making things easy for himself. Growing up south of Boston, he was the town's only gay metalhead before he decide to join the army, deploying to the middle east in the 1990s. Now he's enjoying his retirement by going back to school to become a physician's assistant, while also occasionally noodling around with other musicians and singing on military bases. It's hard to imagine that anyone else on Earth has lived a life like Dan's, or so many different lives from his small town to metal bands to Saudi Arabia to supporting the health of his community.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday September 15th at 2pm pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

Check out the podcast Queens Of Adventure to hear me lead a troupe of drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons adventure -- that's at QueensOfAdventure.com. We just started a new story arc this week, so if you've been waiting for a time to jump in, look for episode 8: Operation Watersport.

This Week's Recommendation: The Glory Hole

Thanks again to Dan for joining me, and for recommending the men's bathroom on the base in Saudi Arabia. It's easy to forget how recently queer people had to engage in subterfuge even to acknowledge each other's existence, and how in many places, they still do. For my recommendation this week, keep your eyes peeled at queer film festivals for a short documentary called The Glory Hole. It's a quick watch -- just four minutes -- and it's about how an adorable elderly gay couple met many decades ago under circumstances that we can call "not safe for work."

The interview with the two men is woven effectively with footage of a dramatic recreation, and it really takes you back to the seedy, often dangerous underbellies where gay men cruised and met up and sometimes even found love. There's a lot of stigma around glory holes and bathrooms and peep shows. But when mainstream culture pushes good queer folks underground, thriving in the dark isn't something to be ashamed of -- it's something to be proud of.

A Party to Call Home (Ep. 189 - Pink Party Prime)

Aug 30, 2018 01:18:08

Description:

This Week's Guest: Charlie Logan charlie logan.jpeg

Hello friends! This weekend is the 10-year anniversary of the Pink Party, a queer geek gathering in Seattle. In honor of that milestone, I'm digging into the Sewers of Paris archive this week to bring you an interview with its founder, Charlie Logan, originally posted in 2015. Charlie's story is full of twists and turns, from terrible danger to finding his place at Pride to living in the woods with gold prospectors to befriending his childhood heroes. Charlie's story is nothing short of amazing. So here's that episode, originally published three years ago.

The Fast Road to Hell (Ep. 188 - The Nutcracker)

Aug 23, 2018 01:04:16

Description:

This Week's Guest: Woody Shticks woody promo image.jpg

My guest this week has been under a lot of pressure in his life. Raised in an oppressive religious community, he had to deal with ex-gay scammers, a parent who was abusing other kids, and more guilt than any person should ever have to deal with. On top of that, he had a highly active libido that came out in... unusual ways, culminating in the invention of a truly unique form of erotic folk art -- and a career path requiring a lot of vulnerability and very little clothing.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday August 25th at 2pm pacific featuring guest Londyn Bradshaw. You can find a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed -- that's @sewersofparis. And head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode.

Also! If you're in Seattle, come check out the live comedy show that host along with some fantastically funny drag queens. It's called Queens of Adventure, and features queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. Tickets are now on sale for our August 30 show. And we're also appearing on a panel at PAX West on September 1st at 9:30pm in the Hippogriff Theater -- I hope we'll see you there! Get details and tickets at QueensOfAdventure.com.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Kimmy Schmidt

Thanks again to Woody for joining me. Head over to instagram to check him out. Thoroughly. He mentioned having gone to a pray-away-the-gay scammer, and being told he was too gay to be a successful actor. Hearing about that reminded me of an episode from season 1 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt -- episode 10, in which Titus hires an acting coach in order to book an acting job as a mad scientist/romantic lead.

Every episode of Kimmy Schmidt is extremely weird and extremely gay, this one in particular. Not only does it have the whole learn-to-act-straight storyline, there's also an extended running joke about a homoerotic 1930s musical called Daddy's Boy. It's one of my favorite episodes of the entire run of the series.

What makes it extra-ridiculous is the depiction of the pressure applied to actors like Titus -- he needs to be believably straight so audiences will accept his character marrying a cyclops woman at what is essentially a haunted house dinner theater. That is obviously dumb, but not THAT much dumber than the pressures applied to actors in real life to remain closeted, to police their every movement and word, and to base their careers on the constant aspiration to arbitrary signifiers of heterosexuality.

Titus the character manages to successfully feign straightness by the end of the episode. But Tituss Burgess, the real-life actor, is successful for the exact opposite reason: He's loudly queer, whether on 30 Rock or on Kimmy Schmidt or singing Poor Unfortunate Souls -- look up that video on YouTube -- or on various talk show appearances. He's found fame not by straightening himself out but by leaning into flamboyance. 

All Monsters Are People (Ep. 187 - Attack of the Killer Tomatoes)

Aug 16, 2018

Description:

This Week's Guest: Michael Varrati


What would it look like if you celebrated Halloween and Christmas at the same time? My guest this week is Michael Varrati, host of the podcast Dead for Filth, and screenwriter of such films as Grindsploitation 4, From Hell She Rises, and Seven Dorms of Death. But he's also the writer of the Hallmark film Broadcasting Christmas, starring Melissa Joan Hart, as well as A Christmas Reunion and A Christmas in Vermont. Michael's genre-hopping might seem a little weird, but he's not alone in straddling horror and rom-com. The two have more in common than you might expect.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday August 25th at 2pm pacific. You can find a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed -- that's @sewersofparis. And head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode.

Also! If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens called Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer game of Dungeons & Dragons and we just announced some more live shows. Subscribe, sign up for the mailing list, and get tickets at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Gremlins

Thanks again to Michael for joining me. Since we recorded our chat a few days ago, I've been thinking a lot about the overlap of horror and Christmas -- how they're both such foundational genres, going back over 120 years. The first horror film was probably Le Manoir du Diable, made in 1896; that was followed two years later by the first Christmas movie, entitled simply Santa Claus.

And so the seeds were planted for the film that is my recommendation for this week: 1984's Gremlins. Not only is it a difficult cultural artifact to describe, it's sometimes difficult to convince people that it actually exists because it sounds like a parody -- which, in fact, it is.

A mysterious adorable creature is accidentally unleashed in a small suburb right before Christmas. At first everyone is enchanted by the cute furry monster, but then things get out of control as it multiples, and its various duplicates become increasingly wicked in response to the wickedness of the human around them. 

It is really hard to classify this movie, so let's not even try. It's a completely deadpan delivery of both horror and holiday tropes -- it's not unheard of for naughty characters to get coal in their stocking, but in Gremlins they're launched to their death on sabotaged stairmasters. 

I can't think of a better blend of the two genres, and I wonder if it's in part down to camp. Both scary movies and Christmas films thrive in trope and excess. It's only natural that they'd get along as well as they do.

Stuff We Talked About

Bonus Episode! Gay by May or Your Money Back (Ep. 186 - Gaby Dunn)

Aug 15, 2018 00:59:46

Description:

This Week's Guest: Bad With Money's Gaby Dunn audio Block Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more gaby promo image.jpg

What happens when you allow yourself to become a character in the stories that you tell about the world around you? My guest on this episode is the fantastic Gaby Dunn -- actress, journalist, writer, comedian, activist, blogger. Her podcast and forthcoming book are both entitled Bad with Money, and chronicle Gaby's attempts to help others manage their finances as she learns to manage her own. Gaby's background is in journalism, where the first rule is to remain neutral and never inject yourself into the story. But she felt drained by the pressure to hide behind her reporting, and discovered that getting personal and revealing was a gateway to more fulfilling work, and a more fulfilling life.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes bonus episodes like these possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday August 25th at 2pm pacific. You can find a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed -- that's @sewersofparis. And head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode.

Also! If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens called Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer game of Dungeons & Dragons and we just announced some more live shows. Subscribe, sign up for the mailing list, and get tickets at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: His Girl Friday

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the movie His Girl Friday, staring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russel. It's one of my very favorite films, following a will-they-won't-they pair of reporters who struggle with their feelings for each other and their dedication to covering the news. His Girl Friday comes from the era of fast-talking black and white screwball comedies, and it veers from farce to romance to an indictment of mass media that's still relevant -- in fact, perhaps even more relevant -- to this day.

We talked a lot on this episode of the podcast about journalism, and the long-standing rule that reporters must keep their writing as impersonal as possible. And at first, that might seem like a good rule of thumb, since you'd think that the whole point of news is to receive an objective reporting of the facts. But there's a problem with that: first, as we discussed, that exacts a pretty heavy toll of journalists. And second, it's impossible for news to ever be truly objective

Although his Girl Friday is definitely a Hollywood depiction of journalism, it has a brilliant appreciation for the fact that there are actual human beings behind the words you read, whether they're printed on a page or today glowing on a screen. It shows how newsworthy events intersect with the personal lives of those covering them, and how impossible it can be to maintain a firewall of objectivity -- since the very act of relaying information is always going to include a point of view. 

Stuff we Talked About

Demons Were Always At Hand (Ep. 185 - Beetlejuice)

Aug 9, 2018 01:06:38

Description:

This Week's Guest: Anthony Hudson anthony promo image.jpg

Is it possible to be a responsible adult without giving up the imaginary worlds you enjoyed as a child? My guest this week is Anthony Hudson, also known as Portland's premier drag clown Carla Rossi. Growing up, he'd slip into fantasy worlds to escape the reality of the dreary little town where he lived. But his reliance on escapes as a kid meant that he was unprepared for life as a grown up -- until he figured out how to invite real life into his fantasies.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. Thanks to Trey Johnso8 who writes, "Relatable ... Listening helps me remember how much I love the topics discussed and sometimes gives me ideas for new things to try."

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris livestream. It's this Saturday, August 11th, at 2pm pacific, with special guest Isabella Price -- an expert in horror films. We'll be talking about our favorite queer monsters, gay vampires, and everything spooky. There's a link to the livestream at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And we've just announced two more Queens of Adventure live shows, featuring drag queens playing a fantastically funny Dungeons & Dragons adventure for a live audience. The first is on August 30th at Kremwerk in Seattle, where we'll be part of a double-feature alongside the podcast d20 Dames. The second show is on September 1st at PAX West, also in Seattle. Tickets and details are now available at QueensOfAdventure.com -- where you can also subscribe to the Queens of Adventure podcast, join the discord, and follow the show on Twitter.

This Week's Recommendation: Interview with the Vampire

Thanks again to Anthony for joining me. Ever since I started this podcast, I've noted that queer people have a particular fondness for monsters. Maybe we identify with their feelings of frustration at the world, maybe it's their strength we admire, maybe it's their defiance -- whatever the case, scary creatures seem to hold a special place in many of our hearts.

So for my recommendation this week, take a look at one of my favorite horrifying films about a gay couple just trying to make it in the world: Interview with the Vampire. It's a movie that ages surprisingly well -- unlike the unfortunate followup, Queen of the Damned, about which the less said, the better. 

Tom Cruise doesn't so much play Lestat as inhabit him, evoking a pained cynical effortlessness that simultaneously acknowledges his beauty and also his misery at the price that beauty exacts -- a look that will be familiar to anyone who's caught a glimpse of an Instagay in the wild.

Brad Pitt is the despondent human he seduces and persuades to join him, isolating him from the world except to eat it. When the relationship starts to sour, Lestat does what so many desperate spouses before him have: he obtains a child, played by Kirsten Dunst with so much sinister maturity you forget she was only 11 when the film was made.

Vampire films are among the oldest film genre -- we're nearing the 100 year anniversary of the making of Nosferatu -- and at this point it's nearly impossible to tell a vampire story that hasn't been told before. But Interview is stunningly inventive in multiple ways, my favorite of which is the barely-veiled lust between the male leads.

Whether the characters are staring at each other with passion or contempt, it's always with rolling boil of baroque desire. Overwrought, campy, and ridiculous, every moment they're on screen looks like the cover of a romance novel. And thanks to the unreasonably lavish production, it works. You buy them as a couple. A terrible murderous self-destructive tragic couple, sure -- but then again, they don't call them monsters for nothing.

Stuff We Talked About

A Bondage Analysis of Tolkien (Ep. 184 - Lord of the Rings)

Aug 2, 2018 01:06:01

Description:

This Week's Guest: Nayland Blake

Where do you see yourself 200 years in the future? My guest this week is artist Nayland Blake, for whom sci-fi and fantasy were an opportunity to create the future that he was sure he'd never have. Growing up in New York in the 1960s and 70s, it seemed like imaginary worlds were his only opportunity to inhabit a world where he could be openly gay. But then he moved to San Francisco, and lo and behold, it appeared that the future had finally arrived.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- click "Support the Show on Patreon" to join the folks who make the show possible and sign up for backer rewards. Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday August 11th at 2pm Pacific. There's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed.

And if you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. We've got some announcements about live shows coming up soon -- subscribe to the podcast and get on the mailing list at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Rejoined

Thanks again to Nayland for joining me. You can find links to the stuff we talked about and video clips at SewersOfParis.com. For this week's recommendation, let's stay with the sci-fi/fantasy theme and take a look at the show Deep Space Nine -- specifically the episode Rejoined.

I made an entire video about this episode as part of my Culture Cruise series on YouTube -- you can find that at SewersOfParis.com as well. But to sum it up: there was a rise in exploitative lesbian kiss episodes in the mid-90s, with various sitcoms and hourlong dramas throwing women at each other to make out for a few seconds for the sake of ratings. Invariably, the characters involved in the lesbian kiss would "get over" their feelings and move on and never do anything gay again. But at the time, even a few brief moments of queerness felt absolutely glorious.

The episode Rejoined focuses on a character who, for complicated sci-fi reasons, experiences a sort of re-incarnation every time they die. Every time they're brought back to life, they're forbidden from resuming past relationships -- again, for complicated sci-fi reasons. But that requirement is put to the test when the character Dax meets another of her species, a former lover from several lifetimes ago. They thought they were over each other. Turns out, they're not.

The episode does everything it can to be an allegory about the social stigma around homosexuality without ACTUALLY saying anything about homosexuality. The characters are shunned when they resume their relationship, they face death, they are told they'll lose everything if they follow their hearts. But in the context of the episode, those consequences are all tied to their society's rules about interacting with former lovers. Nobody ever mentions the fact that they're two women.

At the time that episode of DS9 aired, there had never been a same-sex relationship on Trek, or a main character who even hinted at being queer. For all we know, those could have been the only two lesbians in the entire universe.

These days of course we've been given a same-sex couple on Star Trek Discovery, which is nice -- but a bit late, considering Star Trek is a franchise founded by a captain whose ship was basically powered by his heterosexual libido. I'm glad that the show's finally admitting that there are queer people in space, and that they're boldly catching up to where everyone has already been.

Stuff We Talked About Times Square Red, Times Square Blue By Samuel R. Delany Dhalgren By Samuel R. Delany

Examining Your Desire (Ep. 183 - Ragtime)

Jul 31, 2018 01:01:00

Description:

Bonus Episode Guest: Zack Ford zack promo image.jpg

Zack Ford never planned to become the LGBTQ Editor at ThinkProgress.org. He was going to be a music teacher, and writing about current events was just a hobby. But after he came out in college and began living a more authentic life, he realized that he was holding himself to some expectations that he simply didn't want to meet. And that his happiness depended on a radical shift in his assumptions about work, pleasure, social justice, and sex.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- click "Support the Show on Patreon" to check them out. Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on Saturday August 11th at 2pm pacific.

Also! If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. Subscribe and get on the mailing list at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Urinetown

Thanks again to Zack for joining me. Do check out Ragtime, it's a fantastic and too-often overlooked show. And if you like musicals with something to say, you might also enjoy one of my favorites -- the title is Urinetown, and that does not even begin to prepare you for just how unsettling an experience it can be.

The show is set in a sort of fabled speculative future, where water is so scarce you need to pay in order to use the bathroom. From this bleak dystopia emerges a folk hero named Bobby Strong, whose father was seized by authorities for his refusal to pay for urinating. Bobby, determined to usher in a more just world, falls in love with Hope Cladwell, the daughter of the wealthy madman who controls the town's water.

Together, they believe that there's a better way, a more just system by which all people can live together.

They are wrong, and everything goes very badly.

While the show is a goofy comedy full of in-jokes about overdone musical theater tropes, it's also a very dark comedy about how the best of intentions don't always lead to the best of results. A few weeks ago I recommended Assassins as a musical that leaves you feeling a sort of cold weary dread about humanity. Urinetown is, for its part, often just as alarming... but at least in this show, we're laughing about it. 

Stuff We Talked About

Behind Closed Doors (Ep. 182 - Steel Magnolias)

Jul 26, 2018 01:02:13

Description:

This Week's Guest: Nick Kochanov nick promo image.jpg

My guest this week is Nick Kochanov, host of the podcasts Squirrel Friends Cocktail Hour and The No Good, Very Bad Gay. Growing up, he dreamt of having his own version of the salon from Steel Magnolias. He envisioned himself hanging out with his own versions of  Dolly Parton and Sally Field and Julia Roberts. But it took years for him to realize that there was a problem with his vision -- that the man he was envisioning hanging out with them wasn't really authentically him.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- click "Support the Show on Patreon" to check those out. Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. I want to hear about the books, movies, music, and games that you and your fellow Sewers listeners are obsessed with. The livestream is on Sunday July 29th at 2pm pacific -- there's a link on the Sewers of Paris twitter feed, and you can click a reminder button to get a notification when we go live. 

Also! If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. We've got some big announcements coming soon -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe to the podcast, and to get on the mailing list to find out when you can see the queens performing live.

This Week's Recommendation: Brene Brown

Thanks again to Nick for joining me. We talked a bit this week about having permission to express yourself honestly and to pursue the things you want. For my recommendation this week, look up the TED talk by a researcher and storyteller named Brene Brown. I don't normally like TED talks, especially the ones that offer vague and only semi-actionably inspiration.

But this 20-minute talk is chock full of promising ideas for you to mull over and process and incorporate into your life. Brenee Brown spent years interviewing people about why they experience feelings of shame, self-worth, and connection. And then she reached a point where she herself was overcome by her findings, baffled by the patten that emerged: that people who make themselves vulnerable have a closer connection to feelings of shame and fear and struggle for worthiness, but also a closer connection to joy, creativity, and belonging. That led to what she describes as a yearlong personal street fight with vulnerability that she ultimately lost, and in the process, won her life back.

There are, like I said, a lot of ideas in this talk, from the root of shame to offering love when it may not be returned to finding inner courage. I come away with different thoughts every time I watch. And wherever you are on your own journey, it's a good point of calibration to ask yourself what you're doing, what you're avoiding, and what stands between you and what makes you happy.

Stuff we Talked About

We Just Kept Secrets (Ep. 181 - What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?)

Jul 19, 2018 00:53:29

Description:

This Week's Guest: J. Ronald M. York ron promo image.jpg

I want to let you know that this week's episode addresses some upsetting topics. It wasn't until his parents died that J. Ronald M. York learned about accusations of childhood sexual abuse in his family. Letters in a box in his father's garage finally revealed the terrible secrets that his family had kept from him his entire adult life. And in turn, that started his process for dealing with the secrets of his own abuse that he'd been carrying for years.

These are hard things to talk about -- but they're important to acknowledge and address. If you need to talk to someone about sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE, or connect with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at RAINN.org.

This Week's Recommendation: Cameron Esposito's "Rape Jokes"

Thanks again to Ronald for joining me and for speaking so openly about something so difficult. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to talk about experiences like his, to say nothing of the pain of carrying those experiences as a secret. But I hope that hearing about what he's been through is helpful for other people carrying similar burdens. 

And for another take on surviving sexual assault, take a look at Cameron Esposito's new stand-up comedy special, entitled simply "Rape Jokes." It's a title that doesn't mince words about what to expect: a challenging and also, importantly, hilarious exploration about sexual assault.

Cameron is herself a survivor, and her perspective is absolutely vital. It's an experience like nothing I've ever seen, swerving simultaneously through jokes and pain and laughter and anger and compassion. The entire special is available to watch online at cameronesposito.com, and there's a "Donate" button in the upper left to benefit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Go, watch, give.

For something with so blunt a title, "Rape Jokes" is an amazing feat of comic finesse, or generosity, and compassion.

Stuff we Talked About

I Finally Felt Like I Made It (Ep. 180 - Andrew Lloyd Weber)

Jul 12, 2018 01:00:44

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jonathan D. Lovitz jonathan plaid promo image.jpg

What role does confidence play in reaching your goals -- is confidence as important as skill, or more, or less? My guest this week is Jonathan Lovitz, senior vice president at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Before he stepped into that role, Jonathan enjoyed a successful acting career on stage an screen. But then he found his enthusiasm turning to LGBTQ advocacy, and now speaks out to improve economic opportunity for queer people. An funnily enough, in both roles, a lot of success comes down to the confidence people allow themselves to have in themselves.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. I want to hear about the books, movies, music, and games that you and your fellow Sewers listeners are obsessed with. The livestream is on Saturday, July 21st at 2pm pacific.

Also! If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. Season 1 just launched -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe.

This Week's Recommendation: Assassins

He mentioned wanting to play the role of the Balladeer in the show Assassins, so for my recommendation this week, you might want to check out a performance from the revival at the 2004 Tony Awards, available with an easy YouTube search.

I say "might" because it is an upsetting song in an upsetting show. Standing on stage, we see presidential assassins from throughout history, holding tight to their guns and singing about how they're all entitled to dreams. They're alarming, sinister, urgent dreams. All that death and disillusionment exacts a heavy toll on an audience.

There's also a lot of relevance to extract from the show, much of it in the eye of the beholder. To me, the show is about the dark side of ambition, a cautionary tale about confidence. Yes, of course, by all means believe in yourself. The funny thing about beliefs, of course, is that they are often wrong.

But that wrongness is a double-edged sword. As crushing as it can be that  confidence can be misplaced, so too can self-deprecation. If one were to search inside Assassins for any sign of optimism -- and it would be a lengthy, difficult search yielding just scraps of evidence -- the silver lining might be that our own inner assassins, the ones who steadfastly believe in our own failure, might be the one who's misguided.

Stuff We Talked About

Gunshots in the Night (Ep. 179 - Kingdom Hearts)

Jul 7, 2018 00:57:39

Description:

Bonus Episode Guest: KaiKai Bee Michaels kai promo image.jpg

How do kids learn to be people when the adults in their lives aren't teaching them? Kai's parents weren't always there to give her the guidance she needed, and so she was forced to fend for herself. That meant learning basic life skills on her own, but also how to function around other people -- and how to take care of herself during a period of homelessness, moving across the country, and starting fresh with a day job in education and a nighttime gig in drag shows.

By the way, Kai is one of the San Francisco performers in our upcoming lives show, Queens of Adventure, where drag performers play a game of Dungeons & Dragons for a live audience! Kai plays a high elf Wizard with a magic owl. You can see her onstage along with Erika Klash, Pollo Del Mar, Kitty Powers, and Rock M. Sakura in two brand new adventures on July 13 and 14 at Oasis in San Francisco. Tickets are available now at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Justin Saint Cosplay

Thanks again to Kai for joining me -- look for KaiKai Bee Michaels on Twitter and Instagram to follow her cosplay and performances. And if you're in San Francisco, you can see her in Queens of Adventure, our live show featuring drag queens playing a D&D adventure, on July 13 and 14! Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdvenuture.com

We talked a bit about cosplay on this episode -- that's the craft of making costumes based on your favorite game or comic or cartoon characters. And for my recommendation this week, I suggest you go follow one of my favorite cosplayers in the world: the delightful Justin Saint (who you can also hear on Sewers of Paris episode 161.)

Justin's cosplay is nothing short of stunning. You might've seen a Maleficent look that's particularly beautiful, but there's also a Stevonnie from Steven Universe that is sheer perfection. Linda Belcher, Ariel, Korra, Padme, the looks are all exquisite, and you can find them by searching Instagram for gaymerqueen, that's gaymer with a Y.

Part of the loveliness of cosplay is when you share someone's enthusiasm for a character or a show. But I think I actually like it more when I DON'T recognize whoever they're cosplaying as. It's a signal that, hey, there's something out there that's so good people are willing to transform themselves to embody it. It's the strongest possible recommendation to check out something new and exciting. And it means that the next time you see that cosplayer, there's a chance you'll be able to geek out together over the new favorite they helped you find.
 

Stuff We Talked About

When I Started Saying the Word Butt (Ep. 178 - Q. Allan Brocka)

Jul 5, 2018 00:55:46

Description:

This Week's Guest: Q. Allan Brocka

This week's guest has had a hand in shaping a lot of queer culture we enjoy today. Q. Allan Brocka created one of the shows that aired on Logo as the network was getting off the ground; he directed the Eating Out series of films that have been a mainstay at LGBT film festivals for over a decade; and he's currently working on some intriguingly upcoming film and TV projects. Before he was a successful filmmaker, he was a shy kid from Guam, quietly absorbing what seemed then like forbidden culture.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, San Francisco, we're bringing our show Queens of Adventure back to Oasis! Come see drag queens playing a real Dungeons & Dragons adventure live on stage, July 13 and 14. That's right, two nights -- two completely unique adventures, starring Dragula's Erika Klash, as well as Kitty Powers, Pollo Del Mar, KaiKai Bee Michaels, and Rock M. Sakura. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

And if you can't make it to the live shows, don't worry -- you can check out the podcast Queens of Adventure, featuring four MORE drag queens on an ongoing quest! Season 1 is now underway. Listen and subscribe at QueensOfAdventure.com.

A huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

This Week's Recommendation: RuPaul on Public Access

Thanks again to Allan for joining me. We talked a bit about his public access show, but it occurred to be that kids today might not even know what that is. You see, back in the olden days before YouTube, cable TV companies were required to fund television production studios all across the country that anyone could just go to and use. And then whatever they made would be broadcast locally for folks in town to watch.

The results were, most of the time, completely unwatchable. But out of public access stations came some fascinating artifacts. And among them are brief glimpses of RuPaul's early career. My recommendation this week is just to search online for "RuPaul public access." You'll find videos of a 20-something Ru in the 1980s learning to be the entertainment mogul she is today.

It's all very messy and unpolished -- this is before she met the stylists who would craft the looks that we know her for today. She's wearing makeup that would be read to filth on her contemporary runway; she's stumbling and babbling over talking points; her sets are cardboard messes with cables piled in a corner. The crew around her seems to be learning how to use the equipment as they shoot.

But despite the mess, she is totally captivating. You don't have to look very hard to see the polished personality that would emerge in the 90s to take over the world. Ru didn't emerge onto the scene as a fully-formed product, but instead spent years honing her craft and her talent. 

Public access stations still exist today, but technological changes have left them in the dust. Now it's easy for anyone to pull out a phone, shoot some nonsense, and stick it in front of millions. It's great that there's no need to fumble with equipment and schedules at a run-down building on the outskirts of town. Now you can bypass all the hassle of dealing with public access stations. But you can also bypass all those years of polish.

Stuff We Talked About

Our Own Lothlorien (Ep. 177 - Dungeons & Dragons)

Jun 28, 2018 01:05:03

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jeremy Crawford jeremy promo image.jpg

Imaging growing up to find that the fantasy worlds you envisioned as a kid aren't just real, but have been waiting for you to lead them. My guest this week is Jeremy Crawford, lead rules designer for Dungeons & Dragons. We'll be talking about the witches, wizards, and elves who shaped his work in games, his relationship with his husband, and the queer content he now gets to insert in the world's most iconic tabletop game.

And BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. I want to hear about the books, movies, music, and games that you and your fellow Sewers listeners are obsessed with. The livestream is on Saturday, June 30th at 2pm pacific -- there's a link at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed, where you can set a reminder to get a notification when we go live. 

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. Thanks to Cappafeo who wrote on iTunes, "I came to the show through Queens of Adventure and I'm so glad I did."

Well, speaking of which! If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. Season 1 just launched -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe.

And the Queens of Adventure live is coming to San Francisco for two shows on July 13 and 14. Come see drag queens playing D&D live on stage! Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Affairs of the Heart

For this week's recommendation, take a look at the classical writing that Jeremy mentioned, lamenting the loss of queer culture in ancient Greece. The title is translated sometimes as "Affairs of the Heart," other times as "Amores," and also as "Erōtes," an it's a dialogue between characters debating the merits of same-sex affection versus opposite-sex.

Translations are easy enough to find online, though they're not exactly fast reads. There is a LOT to unpack, and my favorite parts are those that really seem to revel in sexuality -- such as this rather steamy description of men in their twenties: "The limbs, being large and manly, are hard, the chins that once were soft are rough and covered with bristles, and the well-developed thighs are as it were sullied with hairs. And as for the parts less visible than these, I leave knowledge of them to you who have tried them!"

There are also passages that will excite fans of homosupremacy: "For marriage is a remedy invented to ensure man's necessary perpetuity, but only love for males is a noble duty enjoined by a philosophic spirit. Anything cultivated for aesthetic reasons in the midst of abundance is accompanied with greater honour than things which require for their existence immediate need, and beauty is in every way superior to necessity."

That's followed, unfortunately, by some intense misogyny -- as it turns out, gay culture hasn't changed that much in 2000 years. As much as there is to enjoy in the text, there's a lot to critique, including the youthfulness suggested by repeated use of the term "boy." Still, it's a fascinating peek into attitudes toward sexuality in the 4th century, and it's not hard to imagine the same spirited conversation happening over brunch today.
 

Stuff We Talked About

Space Ballerinas (Ep. 175 - Sailor Moon)

Jun 21, 2018 00:55:51

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ryan La Sala

My guest this week is Ryan La Sala. He's got a very queer fantasy novel coming out next year, and while he's always been imaginative, he didn't always exactly use his powers for good. 

BTW, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat. It's on June 30th -- there's a link to the next livestream at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed, and you can set a reminder to get a notification when we go live. 

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There's rewards for folks who back the show -- just click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. Thanks to AdamSmith520 who wrote on iTunes, "I’ve learnt so much from this podcast! If you’re interested in gay stories and culture, check it out."

If you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. Season 1 just launched -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe.

And the Queens of Adventure live is coming to San Francisco for two shows on July 13 and 14. Come see drag queens playing D&D live on stage! Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Magical Boys

For more about magical girls, magical boys, and magical enbys, check out a podcast co-hosted by a past Sewers of Paris guest, DJ Kirkland. The show is called Magical Boys, and on it DJ and his friends talk about games, movies, comics, art, culture -- basically anything geeky and gay. 

Magical Boys is the funny frank conversation you want to be having all the time with your best friends -- and because the boys all know each other so well, they can be delightfully honest about the insecurities, vanities, and guilty pleasures that we're so often hesitant to confess. 

Recent topics include Overwatch, soft talking, hot boys at the gym, and how come on, it's 2018 everyone, just be horny on your main Twitter account instead of creating a whole separate secret one for sex talk. Magical Boys produces my favorite podcast effect: the feeling that you're getting together with friends to relax, let down your guard, and somehow even though it's an audio recording, feel like you're really being seen.

Stuff We Talked About

Dream Bigger (Ep. 174 - The Amazing Race)

Jun 14, 2018 01:07:09

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This Week's Guest: Scott Flanary scott promo image.jpg

Do you always NEED to dream big, or is it sometimes ok to just be happy with what you've got? My guest this week has some experience when it comes to achieving big dreams -- Scott Flanary was the winner of Season 29 of The Amazing Race, which had been a goal for pretty much all of his adult life. So now that he's accomplished goals that once seemed impossibly difficult, he's grappling with a tough question: now what?

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Sewers of Paris live chat last weekend. Our next one is June 30th -- there's a link to the next livestream at the top of the Sewers of Paris twitter feed, when you can set a reminder to get a notification when we go live. 

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show. Thanks to Alestrial who wrote on iTunes, "Yes please, A rare podcast that helps you discover something about yourself while learning about others." Aww that's really sweet. 

Also, if you're looking for more queer podcasts, check out the show I host with some fantastically funny drag queens Queens of Adventure. We play an ongoing and very queer Dungeons & Dragons adventure full of action and suspense and shady banter. Season 1 just launched -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe.

If you're in Seattle, we've got a live Dungeons & Drag Queens show coming up on June 21! And the Queens of Adventure live is coming to San Francisco for two shows on July 13 and 14. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Me Talk Pretty One Day

Thanks again to Scott for joining me. For more queer musings on travel, fresh starts, and finding yourself while you were looking for something else, check out David Sedaris' book "Me Talk Pretty One Day." Sedaris is, of course, required reading, his essays all beautifully crafted meals of humor, anxiety, and thoughtful resignation to the absurd. But this book marked a shift in his writing: it chronicles his time in America and then his re-settlement in France -- where, unable to speak the language, he is robbed of his primary means of navigation. The experience he relates is a bit like being hazed by an entire country, one word at a time, and yet still he soldiers on, a sort of gay Eeyore grasping his way through an alien landscape.  What emerges is a travelogue not as much about being in a new country as it is about living in a new language, a broadening of horizons that is far more expansive within the writer than without.
 

Stuff We Talked About The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World, Second Edition By Alan Downs Less (Winner of the Pulitzer Prize): A Novel By Andrew Sean Greer

Madonna Nirvana (Ep. 173 - Madonna)

Jun 7, 2018 01:00:52

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This Week's Guest: D'Arcee Charington Neal darcee promo image.jpg

Join us on tonight's episode when my guest D'Arcee recalls what may have been the worst thing anyone's ever been told by their boss.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, if you're looking for more podcasts to listen to, check out the show I just launched along with some fantastically funny drag queens. The show's called Queens of Adventure, and it's based on our live shows where drag queens play a real Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Queens of Adventure brings together larger-than-life drag shows and epic fantasy adventures, with the queens rolling the dice every other week to combat killer wigs, tame burly bears, investigate shady seamen, and misty step their way into your heart. Season One just launched -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe.

And if you're in Seattle, mark your calendars for June 21! We're doing our next live Dungeons & Drag Queens show at Kremwerk just in time for Pride. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat -- on Saturday, June 9, at 2pm Pacific. There's a link pinned to the top of the SewersOfParis twitter feed -- see you there!

This Week's Recommendation: Human Nature

Thanks again to D'Arcee for joining me. For this week's recommendation, check out the music video for Madonna's Human Nature. Surrounded by dancers in light bondage gear, her body is pried open as she chants that you should express yourself, don't repress yourself. The entire song is a non-apology for feelings and words that don't require an apology. The focus is unmistakably sexual -- no surprise, given the artist -- but there's also a winking playful shrug as the visuals shift from aggressive writhing to goofy images like a Chihuahua in leather chaps.

The conflict in the video is totally spellbinding. On one hand are the demands of the dance, which has emotional figures bound, thrown, flogged, and and tangled in rope, seemingly out of control of their own bodies, along with angry lyrics like "I'm not your bitch don't hang your shit on me." But on the other hand there's shots of laughter, and comfortable confident ease in bondage scenes.

Throughout, the lyrics repeat "I'm not sorry. It's human nature." Sex, as it's shown in the video, is relentless and uncontrollable and violent -- but also funny, if you let it. Libido grabs hold of us all with forces beyond our control, and by the end of the video we see Madonna happily going along for the ride. 

The video concludes with her staring into the camera. "You're the one with the problem," she says. "Absolutely no regrets."

Stuff We Talked About

The Devil in my Head (Ep. 172 - The Bodyguard)

May 31, 2018 00:55:49

Description:

This Week's Guest: Byron Lane byron promo image 2.jpg

A well-told joke doesn't just have the effect of making an audience laugh -- it can also provide armor for the person telling it. My guest this week is actor and comedian Byron Lane, whose projects include the webseries Last Will and Testicle, and the stage show Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist. Through his work, he went from the kid who always wanted someone to protect him to a man who could protect himself through laughter.

Byron's show is coming to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, but first they're doing a couple of bon voyage/fundraiser shows in LA. Tickets are available: Fri 6/29 8pm & Sat 6/30 8pm at Casita del Campo.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, I want to let you know that I've just launched a new podcast along with some fantastically funny drag queens. It's called Queens of Adventure, and it's based on our live shows where drag queens play a real Dungeons & Dragons adventure. Queens of Adventure brings together larger-than-life drag shows and epic fantasy adventures, with the queens rolling the dice every other week to combat killer wigs, tame burly bears, investigate shady seamen, and misty step their way into your heart. Season One just launched -- head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to subscribe.

And if you're in Seattle, mark your calendars for June 21! We're doing our next live Dungeons & Drag Queens show at Kremwerk just in time for Pride. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Last Will and Testicle

Thanks again to Byron for joining me. Head over to LastWillAndTesticle.com to check out his webseries, an autobiographical comedy about all the different stages of coping with a life-changing diagnosis. In bite-sized morsels, each little episode highlights the emotional impact that the news has on family and friends, and also the goofy ways that a cancer scare changes a person's life.

Over the course of two seasons, we see Bryon deal with denial, anger, bargaining, and the rest. He engages in dialogue with his balls. He processes his feelings with the help of a therapist, religious parents, and a boyfriend who is mostly just grossed out by the whole thing. And throughout it all, he seems mostly befuddled, since now matter how prepared you might be for a health crisis, it will always be larger than one person can handle on their own.

Look for cameos from Jonathan Van Ness, Drew Droege, Sam Pancake, and other usual-suspects. Although these familiar faces often pop up on various gay webserieses, in this context it's particularly comforting to recognize them. Health problems are scary, so it's nice to have family by your side -- whether it's biological family or a chosen gay family of the LA gay comedy scene.

Thanks again for listening.

Making Things up as You Go (Ep. 171 - Björk)

May 24, 2018 00:52:43

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This Week's Guest: Santiago Melli-Huber santiago promo image.jpg

How do you know when it's time to move versus when is it time to stay put? My guest this week is Santiago Melli-Huber, who's on a constant hunt for a place that feels right. Whether trying new jobs, new cities, or new social circles, he's made himself into a bit of an investigator, always asking what needs to change and then taking action to try something new.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

Hey, if you're in Seattle for Pride next month, mark your calendars for June 21! We're doing our next live Dungeons & Drag Queens show at Kremwerk. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Week's Recommendation

Thanks again to Santiago for joining me. I'm always delighted to talk about Bjork, particularly because Iceland is just about my favorite place. Should you find yourself fortunate enough to spend a little time in Reykjavik, my recommendation is that you look into a group there called Drag-Súgur that's doing some of the most interesting drag on Earth.

Even Iceland's capital city isn't very large, and so as drag troupes go, Drag-Súgur has a decidedly small-town feel. Experimental, surprising, and very youthful, the group is diverse out of necessity, since Reykjavik just isn't large enough for different queer groups to splinter into many different subcultures. What's more, their shows attract a crowd of friendly international regulars, where everyone knows each other's names and does their best to learn each other's languages.

When I visited last summer, the impression that I got was one of true queer community: supportive, friendly, willing to give each other the space to try something new. There was a tribute to The Fifth Element, a goth rock song, a bit of Euro-pop and some friendly barbs exchanged between hosts. In other words, a place where you can instantly feel at home, despite being far from where you're from.

Stuff We Talked About

No More I Love Yous (Ep. 170 - Drag Families)

May 22, 2018 00:55:27

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Special Guest: Alexis Nicole Whitney alexis promo image.jpg

No matter how thoroughly you've planned, life has a way of taking you by surprise -- and when it does, it's often family that gets you through the tough times. Alexis was born to a woman unprepared for motherhood, and so grandparents stepped in to raise her. As she grew older, Houston's drag scene provided a second family where she was free to express herself more freely. But it was an unexpected health crisis that brought both families together when their daughter needed them most.

BTW, The Sewers of Paris is made possible by everyone who pledges a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon" to help make this podcast possible. Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

And if you're in Seattle, mark your calendars for June 21! We're doing our next live show, featuring drag queens playing Dungeons & Dragons, just in time for Pride. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

This Episode's Recommendation: Adults Only

Thanks again to Alexis for joining me. For this week's recommendation, seek out the short film "Adults Only," which (full disclosure) was directed by a friend of mine, Heath Daniels, a couple of years ago. It's the wordless story of a deaf man mourning the end of a relationship, and struggling to figure out what's next. He's still mired in past memories, disconnected and longing for connection.

That connection comes in an unpredictable place and an even more unpredictable form: the neon-lit labyrinth of a bathhouse, where he's surrounded by peep shows and public sex. The short forgoes dialogue, instead using evocative imagery and sexually charged daydreams to illuminate the main character's pain -- and also his drive to move on despite not quite knowing the way.

It's hard enough to put yourself in another person's place, particularly someone who doesn't experience the world with the same senses that you do. But the deaf protagonist of Adults Only finds a common ground that's hard not to relate to -- heartbreak, loss, and mourning, followed by the thrill of unexpected pleasure.

Stuff We Talked About

Spitefully Outed (Ep. 169 - So You Think You Can Dance)

May 17, 2018 01:01:09

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This Week's Guest: Phil Stamper phil s promo image.jpg

My guest this week is Phil Stamper, whose book The Gravity of Us tells the story of two young men who fall in love amidst the drama of a mission to Mars. For years, Phil struggled to balance competing impulses to be silly and serious, and to keep his creative spark alive throughout the drudgery of office work. The result is an upcoming debut novel that amplifies his own queer experiences with some help from science fiction.

Just a reminder -- I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat on Saturday May 19, at 2pm Pacific with special guest Fazaad Feroze. We want to hear about the book and movies and songs and shows you're obsessed with right now. 

And if you're in Seattle for Pride next month, mark your calendars for June 21! We're doing our next live Dungeons & Drag Queens show at Kremwerk. Tickets are now on sale at QueensOfAdventure.com.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

This Week's Recommendation: Steven Universe

Thanks again to Phil for joining me. You can find out more about him and his book at PhilStamper.com. We talked this week about the mix of culture both silly and serious, and for my recommendation I hope you'll take a look at one of my favorite shows, Steven Universe. 

You'll want to give it a few episodes to really get going, and then the show will reward your patience many times over. What seems at first like a goofy kid's show suddenly yanks back the curtain midway through the first season to reveal a show that, while still fun, has seemingly endless layers of depth and sophistication and darkness and a pumpkin that barks and cuddles like a dog.

It is also possibly one of the queerest shows ever to have existed, featuring magical science-fiction women in relationships so complex we don't even have words for how they relate to reach other. Come for the zapping lasers and space battles; stay for the lesbian commune drama.

Stuff We Talked About

How to Make Something About Making Something (Ep. 168: Bedknobs and Broomsticks)

May 10, 2018 00:58:38

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This Week's Guest: James Connelly james c promo image.jpg

What if you had the power to make the places you imagine real -- so real that people can walk through them and touch them, and millions of strangers could see the setting that once only existed in your mind? My guest this week is James Connelly, who designed the sets for shows like The Voice, Bill Nye Saves the World, the Teen Choice Awards, and many more. When he's building worlds for television, he draws on his memories and experiences and daydreams, mashing together influences from across his life to invite the world into his imagination.

By the way, if you're heading to DragCon in LA this weekend, I hope you'll join me for two panels! On Sunday, I'm be hosting a game of Dungeons and Dragons played by BenDeLaCreme, Erika Klash, Kitty Powers, and Fraya Love. And on Sunday, I'll be hosting a fun friendly chat about tabletop gaming, featuring a panel of queer and ally gamers sharing recommendations for finding games and people to play with. 

And mark your calendars for our next Sewers of Paris live chat -- it's on Saturday, May 19th, at 2pm Pacific.

If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, click "Support the Show on Patreon" to join the folks who make the podcast possible for as little as a dollar a month. Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

This Week's Recommendation: The Great British Bake-Off

Thanks again to James for joining me. I hope you've already seen this week's recommendation, but in case you haven't, make this the week you finally watch The Great British Bake-Off -- or as it's called in the US, the Great British Baking Show.

I'm not normally one for reality show competitions where everyone's bitterly clawing for the prize, and fortunately that's not what this show is. The Bake-Off often feels more like a collaboration, a partnership between contestants where everyone enjoys seeing each other succeed.

There's no sabotage, no cruelty, no attitude from anyone -- apart from, perhaps occasionally, one of the judges -- and the whole affair feels more like friends gathering to support each other than a contest.

That's not to say it isn't dramatic. The challenges they face are overwhelming, often requiring ingredients nobody's every heard of, techniques impossible to master and recipes that may not even be in English. The show pushes the bakers to reach beyond what they think they can do -- and when it's at its best, shows them helping each other to reveal that with just a little assistance from others, we're all capable of exceeding our expectations for ourselves.

Stuff We Talked About

The Only Boy on Paradise Island (Ep. 167 - Wonder Woman)

May 3, 2018 01:05:28

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This Week's Guest: Richard Andreoli richard promo image.jpg

This week's guest grew up idolizing comic book heroes, which presented a problem as he entered adulthood: how could he possibly measure up to the flying, crime-fighting, invisible-jet-flying role models of his youth? Richard Andreoli's mission in life became seeking out the opportunities for heroics in everyday life. In other words -- not expecting to become a superhero, but finding pride in being a normalhero.

By the way, if you're heading to DragCon in LA next month, I hope you'll join me for two panels! On Saturday, I'll be hosting a breakneck game of Dungeons and Dragons played by BenDeLaCreme, Erika Klash, Kitty Powers, and Fraya Love. And on Sunday, I'll be hosting a fun friendly chat about tabletop gaming, featuring a panel of queer and ally gamers sharing recommendations for finding games and people to play with. It's going to be a blast -- hope to see you there.

And no matter where you are in the world, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat -- it's on Saturday, May 5, at 2pm Pacific. We want to hear about the book and movies and songs and shows you're obsessed with right now. There's a link at the top of the SewersOfParis twitter feed -- see you Saturday!

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

This Week's Recommendation: The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin

Thanks again to Richard for joining me. Head over to BattleAtTheComicExpo.com to check out his book, coming out later this month. 

For this week's recommendation, take a look at a documentary about another gay author: it's called The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, and it is an utter delight. You probably recognize Armistead's name as the author of the Tales of the City novels, but the documentary pulls back the curtain on the life of the man whose writing turned him into an icon.

It's a perfect primer not just on what his books are, but on why they matter and to whom they mattered most. Starting in the 1970s, his stories of singles mingling in San Francisco were only supposed to be a fun weekly newspaper column. But as time went on and his subject matter got queerer, his columns became a lifeline for a community that still faced daily struggles to survive.

Looking back, nearly a half century later, it's hard to image what that world could have been like, when queer culture was taboo even in San Francisco. So much of that history was lost to the epidemic, to bigotry, and to the fear -- completely reasonable -- that documenting LGBTQ lives would expose them to even greater harm. 

If you're of a certain age, you can rely on your memory to keep those distant voices alive. But for the rest of us, those records of the time -- whether written down or shared face to face -- are a vital link to those who built the world we enjoy today.

Stuff We Talked About The New Teen Titans, Vol. 1 By Marv Wolfman Mondo Homo: Your Essential Guide to Queer Pop Culture By Richard Andreoli

Becoming Real (Ep. 166 - The Velveteen Rabbit)

Apr 26, 2018 00:57:00

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This Week's Guest: Wyatt Fenner

My guest this week is actor Wyatt Fenner, who you've seen on Veronica Mars, Bones, and the movie Take the Yuletide Gay. New Yorkers, you can see him right now in the show Transparent Falsehood at Theater 511 on West 54th Street. As an actor, Wyatt's an expert at inhabiting personas and hiding himself behind someone else. But an accidental outing and an attack that could have killed him helped him realize just who it was he was hiding.

By the way, if you're heading to DragCon in LA next month, I hope you'll join me for two panels! On Saturday, I'll be hosting a fun friendly chat about tabletop gaming, featuring a panel of queer and ally gamers sharing recommendations for finding games and people to play with. And on Sunday, I'll be hosting a breakneck game of Dungeons and Dragons played by BenDeLaCreme, Erika Klash, Kitty Powers, and Fraya Love. It's going to be a blast -- hope to see you there.

And no matter where you are in the world, I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat -- it's on Saturday, April 28, at 2pm Pacific with special guest Ray Miller. We want to hear about the book and movies and songs and shows you're obsessed with right now.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or you can support The Sewers of Paris for free by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice -- that really helps people find the show.

This Week's Recommendation: The Christmas Toy

We started our conversation this week with The Velveteen Rabbit, and for my recommendation this week, check out a similar project: a mid-80s TV movie called The Christmas Toy, one of the darkest projects produced by The Jim Henson Company.

The story is strangely close to that of Toy Story: children's toys come alive when their owners are away, and the comfortable affection of humans is challenged by the arrival of a new toy that doesn't realize it's a toy. But the stakes are far higher in The Christmas Toy: if one of the toys is caught in a place its owner didn't leave it, the toy becomes frozen and lifeless forever.

Like I said -- it's dark. As with The Velveteen Rabbit, there's a deep melancholy pervading the story -- Rugby the Tiger lives in fear that he'll lose the love of his owner, and the image of lifeless frozen toys absolutely terrified me as a kid.

But the movie's ultimately uplifting, with the toys discovering how important it is to keep the memories of their lost comrades alive. There's a lovely moment near the end where the toys acknowledge their love for each other, which is even more powerful than the love of the humans who will never know the truth of the toys' lives. 

Their performance as objects is what gives the toys purpose. But their honesty with each other gives them life.

Vampire Drag Queens (Ep. 165 - Marilyn Manson)

Apr 19, 2018 00:50:00

Description:

This Week's Guest: Evan J. Peterson

What's the difference between confidence and arrogance? My guest this week is Evan Peterson, author of the memoir The PrEP Diaries. For years, he trained himself to be aggressive, aloof, above it all, as a way to pre-empt criticism. That meant erecting masks and disguises, from gothic costumes to club-kid confusion. But what was missing behind his ostentatious displays for others was confidence in himself -- something Evan's still reaching for as he journeys through recovery, faiths, and sexual exploration.

Thanks to everyone who supports The Sewers of Paris with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the show on Patreon" to join the folks who make bonus episodes like this possible. Or if you can't pledge, you can still help out by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

You can also follow @sewersofparis on Twitter and Facebook -- I post clips of stuff we talk about and chat with listeners about the entertainment that you love. And join us for the next Sewers of Paris livestream on Saturday, April 28 at 2pm Pacific! We've been doing those livestreams twice monthly with special guests, and it's such a fun chance to hear about the movies and shows and books and music that you're obsessed with right now. 

This Week's Recommendation: Velvet Goldmine

My recommendation this week spans three different eras: made in the sexually adventurous late 90s, it's set in a bruised version of the 1980s, with flashbacks to a libidinous 70s. It's the Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine, which tells the story of a journalist seeking the truth about a vanished glam rock star.

The references to Citizen Kane are explicit and intentional, and there's a touch of Rashomon, Almost Famous, and Merrily We Roll Along but with an soundtrack that is absolutely thrilling. The reporter, played by a boyish Christian Bale, is on a mission to re-construct the life of a fictional but clearly Bowie-analogous idol played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. That mission brings him into contact with Ewan McGregor as a sort of 70s Kurt Cobain, Eddie Izzard as a swaggering manager, and a miasma of his own personal nostalgia for long-lost teenage rebellion.

There's also some pretty tasty gay sex.

It's not much of a spoiler to say that the more your learn about your idols, the greater the chance that you'll find they're not who you thought they were. But in his excavation of another man's life, the reporter of Velvet Goldmine finds something else he was looking for -- keys to his own life, and love, and attraction. The Charles Foster Kane of Velvet Goldmine -- or the Moby Dick, if you want to think of him that way -- isn't as important as the meaning he gave his fans.

Velvet Goldmine was initially meant to be much more directly about David Bowie, but Bowie objected and the resulting changes gave the film a freedom to fabricate and collage a story with biographical snippets of Jobriath and Iggy Pop and Jean Genet and Oscar Wilde. But the resulting work is only a distant relative of those creators. As much as the characters of the film find their own meaning outside of the artist, the film finds its own meaning outside of its influences.
 

Stuff We Talked About The Sandman: Dream Hunters By Neil Gaiman The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act By Kieron Gillen Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon Graphic Novels) By Marjane Satrapi Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic By Alison Bechdel

I Don't Have Any Shame in my Game (Ep. 164 - Aydian Dowling)

Apr 17, 2018 00:58:34

Description:

Special Guest: Aydian Dowling aydian promo image.jpg

Hello, and welcome to a bonus episode of The Sewers of Paris! Thanks to the support of everyone on Patreon, I'm able to bring you extra episodes with guests beyond just gay men. This month, we're going beyond the Sewers with a very special guest: Aydian Dowling, the first trans man to appear on the cover of Men's Health.

You might know him as the physically fit model who appeared on a special cover of Men's Health a few years ago. Aydian Dowling's made a habit of breaking barriers, refusing to back down, standing up and being seen. But he wasn't always the beaming, confident model on the cover of magazines -- there were dark periods that at times he couldn't see any way to survive. In those times, he found the inspiration to go on in some unlikely places: a soap opera he wasn't supposed to see, movies he wasn't supposed to have, and a pride parade that changed his life.

Thanks to everyone who supports The Sewers of Paris with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the show on Patreon" to join the folks who make bonus episodes like this possible. Or if you can't pledge, you can still help out by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

You can also follow @sewersofparis on Twitter and Facebook -- I post clips of stuff we talk about and chat with listeners about the entertainment that you love. And join us for the next Sewers of Paris livestream on Saturday, April 28 at 2pm Pacific! We've been doing those livestreams twice monthly with special guests, and it's such a fun chance to hear about the movies and shows and books and music that you're obsessed with right now. 

Recommendation: Hairspray

Thanks again to Aydian for joining me. Those TV shows that he mentioned aren't always the BEST sources of representation -- Maury and soap operas can sometimes be pretty exploitative. But even at their worst, those daytime TV shows can still be a source of power for folks who are searching for any sign that they're not alone.

For my recommendation this week, check out two movies, both with the same title: Hairspray. First the 1988 version with queer icons Divine and Ricki Lake; then the 2007 one with noted heterosexuals Zac Efron and John Travolta. Both films are not without their problems -- the first can be a little slow in parts, the second not quite as daring as its predecessor. But together they make for a lovely experience, centered on the life-changing power of a daytime TV show.

The 1988 Hairspray was directed by John Waters, and though it's definitely startling and weird, it has much more of a moral center than his previous work. John's often commented on how shocked he was to have accidentally made a family film. 

In both films, a young woman longs to see herself on television -- she knows she's good enough to belong -- but a cold indifferent world isn't ready to accept people who look a little different from what they're used to. Ultimately of course she prevails, transforming the face of American television and proving that it's intolerance that's truly unfit for broadcast.

Stuff we Talked About

The Wrong Kind of Gay (Ep. 163 - Jem and the Holograms)

Apr 12, 2018 00:54:18

Description:

This Week's Guest: Drew Mackie drew promo image.jpg

My guest this week is Drew Mackie. You might know him from the podcasts Gayest Episode Ever, or Singing Mountain, or We Are Not Young Anymore. The point is that he does a lot of podcasts, generally about the art & entertainment that makes the world a more joyful place. It's a long way from where he started his career, as a hard journalist covering a quadruple murder in his college town. For years, he did the serious work that he thought was expected of him, even though it made him miserable, until he finally gave himself permission to walk away from his job and pursue his passion.

By the way, the next Sewers of Paris livestream is coming up this weekend! Join us on Saturday, April 14th for another live chat with me and other Sewers listeners. The theme this time is animation. Can't wait to geek out with you about Steven Universe, Korra, and Bugs Bunny's drag career. Head over to the @SewersOfParis twitter feed -- there's a pinned tweet with a link to the livestream. We go live Saturday, April 14, at 2pm pacific.

Thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are special rewards for patrons like early ad-free access to content, shoutouts in videos, and a copy of my book mailed to you with some cute Sewers of Paris buttons. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or if you can't pledge, you can still help out by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

This Week's Recommendation: Kidd Video

Thanks again to Drew for joining me. I try not to be too obnoxiously self-indulgent with my 80s nostalgia -- that's what Ready Player One is for -- but our conversation this week reminded me of one of my favorite stupid 80s opening theme songs. So my recommendation this week is to head over to YouTube and watch the opening theme of the show Kidd Video -- that's Kidd with who Ds.

Kidd Video is my favorite kind of show, in that its premise is extremely stupid and requires a song to explain what you're about to see, like Mr. Edd, and Gilligan's Island, and My Mother the Car. And yet somehow, even though the opening theme is an ambitious minute and a half, it barely manages to set up the premise and literally concludes with a character breaking out of song to shrug, "I'll explain later."

In terms of camp value, this minute and a half is beyond measure. It features loopy high school band archetypes -- the hot one, the nerd, the 80s hipster -- lyrics like "high tech just turns me on," and multiple smoldering gazes into the camera through a mirror. That would be enough to make for a goofy after-school premise. But then an evil corporate record executive transports the teens to a cartoon world where a magic fairy with leg warmers rescues them through the power of sneezes that confer super strength. I am not making this up.

The show itself is of course terrible. But the 90s seconds of disbelief that you will experience while watching that opening -- ahhh, priceless.

Stuff We Talked About

Zombies, Witches, and Talking Dolls (Ep. 162 - Passions)

Apr 5, 2018 00:50:58

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ira Madison ira promo image.jpg

Why is villainy so much fun? Whether it's cackling Emperor Palpatine or Joan Collins smirking smugly on Dynasty, bad guys invariably seem to be having such a good time ... and it can be hard to resist wanting to join them. My guest this week is Ira Madison, culture writer for The Daily Beast and co-host of the Keep It podcast. As a kid, he was quick to notice that the most fun part of his favorite soap operas were the over-the-top scene-chewing scoundrels. And during his time as a playwright in New York, he strove to give audiences experiences that were just as entertaining. Now, as a culture critic, he's approaching storytelling from the other side: searching for the most entertaining aspects of other creators' work.

By the way, the next Sewers of Paris livestream is coming up! Join us on Saturday, April 14th for another live chat with me and other Sewers listeners. The theme this time is animation. Can't wait to geek out with you about Steven Universe, Korra, and Bugs Bunny's drag career. We go live Saturday, April 14, at 2pm pacific.

Thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are special rewards for patrons like early ad-free access to content, shoutouts in videos, and a copy of my book mailed to you with some cute Sewers of Paris buttons. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or if you can't pledge, you can still help out by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

This Week's Recommendation: Theresa Chases Gwen

Thanks again to Ira for joining me and for pointing me in the direction of some deliciously dumb soap opera scenes. My recommendation this week is brief -- just thirty seconds. It's a clip from an episode of passions that you can find by searching YouTube for "Theresa Chases Gwen."

The clips takes place at a particularly tangled moment in a ridiculous plot, and for some reason the show decided that what was needed was for a character to suddenly and breathlessly recap the entire plot of the story arc, while in the middle of a chase scene, in one take and in under twenty seconds.

The result is a hilarious tongue-twister monologue of schemes and double-crosses, so ludicrous in its delivery that ... well, here, I'll just play the whole thing for you. 

I mean come ON. This poor actress, having to fit an entire scene's worth of words into a single breath and while sprinting across a set -- it's just a masterpiece of clowning. The intensity of the music, the desperation of her voice, the dire circumstances (which, even after watching the clip over a dozen times, I still cannot comprehend) are all so perfectly serious and perfectly stupid. 

Stuff We Talked About Fear Street Super Thriller: Nightmares: (2 Books in 1: The Dead Boyfriend; Give me a K-I-L-L) By R. L. Stine Fences By August Wilson The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Stories, Plays, Poems & Essays By Oscar Wilde James Baldwin : Collected Essays : Notes of a Native Son / Nobody Knows My Name / The Fire Next Time / No Name in the Street / The Devil Finds Work / Other Essays (Library of America) By James Baldwin

Evil Glamour (Ep. 161 - Anime & Maleficent)

Mar 29, 2018 01:07:00

Description:

This Week's Guest: Justin Saint

Is there some secret to turning pain into art? My guest this week is Justin Saint, whose artistic expression takes the form of makeup and cosplay. Justin's chosen medium involves costumes and disguises, but behind those beautiful facades are some struggles that are still pretty tender: periods of homelessness, parents setting his creative works on fire, and a relationship that nearly drove him past a point of no return. Now he's back on his feet and leading a community of like-minded creatives, charting a course by channeling his past experiences into artistic expression with his body a canvass.

Big thanks to everyone who helps keep the show independent and add free. If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, you can help keep the show going. Click "support the show on Patreon" to pledge a dollar or more a month.

And I hope you'll join us this Saturday, March 31, for a Dungeons & Dragons livestream! We're reuniting Bryan Safi (of the podcast Throwing Shade), Carlos Maza from Vox.com, Anthony Oliveira (aka Meakoopa, and also of the brand new podcast The Devil's Party), and LGBT film scholar Bryan Wuest, for an all-new D&D adventure played live. It starts at 1pm this Saturday, the 31st. Head over to Twitch to set a reminder for when we go live.

And speaking of D&D, we're in the last few days of our crowdfunding for Queens of Adventure, a new podcast featuring drag queens on an epic role-playing adventure. Thanks to folks like you, the first season of the podcast is fully funded and now we're reaching for stretch goals that include livestreams with the queens and a fully illustrated adventure that you can download and play. Head over to QueensOfAdventure.com to join us in bringing the show to life -- crowdfunding ends this Saturday, March 31, so if you've been waiting to join the campaign, it's now or never.

This Week's Recommendation: The Legend of Korra

For my recommendation this week, check out a show that Justin mentioned in passing: The Legend of Korra. It is a gorgeous, smart, and very fun show -- and don't let the fact that it aired on Nickelodeon fool you into thinking that it's just for kids, though they'd like it too. 

The show is set in a sort of magical version of the 1920s, where new technology like rattling cars and silent films exists side-by-side with ancient supernatural creatures and powers. Korra is a teenager with the power to manipulate the elements, and along with her friends she fights to protect the downtrodden and vulnerable in a bustling and often dangerous metropolis. As with any teen, she has her share of romances, some that feel a little predictable and others that might sneak up on you -- as they seem to sneak up on her.

Since it premiered, fans did their usual thing of imagining various romantic pairings. And marvelously, the series culminates in a connection between characters that validates those fan theories. After the series finale aired, showrunner Michael Dante DiMartino confirmed (on Tumblr, appropriately) that the romance was, in fact, real. It was an incredible gesture, given that the show aired on a children's TV network. It confirmed the existence of relationships that would have been considered completely taboo just a few years ago -- and in fact, in many contexts, still are -- and it was a revolutionary moment in television.

But that's not the only reason to watch, of course. It's a gorgeous show with wonderful characters and exciting adventures and inspiring ideas. The fact that it has a moment of powerful validation just adds to the appeal.

Stuff We Talked About Return To Oz Starring Nicol Williamson, Jean Marsh Dragon Ball Z: Season 1 [Blu-ray] Starring Sean Schemmel, Christopher R. Sabat Maleficent Starring Angelina Jolie, Sharlto Copley, Elle Fanning, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton

People Who Have Real Magic (Ep. 160 - Dune)

Mar 22, 2018 00:40:11

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ryan Kendall

We often talk on this show about escape, and it’s usually with the assumption that having an escape is a good thing. But there can be consequences to leaving the world you've always known behind -- even when that world is actively causing you harm. My guest this week is Ryan Kendall, whose parents subjected him to devastating homophobia, and dangerous "ex-gay" abuse. After Ryan legally emancipated himself from his parents, what followed was a period of homelessness and addiction that took years for him to overcome. 

I first met Ryan after he testified in the trial to overturn Proposition 8. As a witness, Ryan was called to provide evidence that sexual orientation isn’t something you can deliberately change. And as you’ll hear, he was able to provide particularly vivid testimony to that effect.

We recorded this week's episode during a thunderstorm in Colorado, so you'll hear some noise of rain in the background and a few rolls of thunder that were oddly perfect additions to Ryan's story. 

And I hope you'll join me for two exciting livestreams coming up. One is a Sewers of Paris livestream on March 25, and the other is a Dungeons and Dragons livestream on March 31.

That Sewers Of Paris livestream is happening this Sunday, March 25th, at 2pm pacific. It has been such a delight to chat with Sewers of Paris listeners about your favorite media and what you're watching and reading and listening to right now. I hope you’ll join us this Sunday, the 25th — you can find a link to the livestream in the show notes (it's at  https://youtu.be/Xp5u9rMSvW4 ) and on the @Sewersofparis twitter feed

The Dungeons & Dragons livestream is the following Saturday, March 31. I'll be joined by comedian Bryan Safi, writer Anthony Oliveira, critic Carlos Maza, and LGBT film scholar Bryan Wuest -- we’ll be playing an all new D&D adventure at 1pm pacific — head over to twitch.tv/prettyprettypixel to join us for that at 1pm on March 31st.

And we’re in the home stretch on the crowdfunding for our brand new upcoming podcast, Queens of Adventure, starring four drag queens playing an ongoing game of Dungeons and Dragons. Thanks to backers we’ve fully funded the first season of the show, and now we’re reaching for stretch goals, including livestream with the queens. Head over the QueensOfAdventure.com to help bring that show to life.

This Week's Recommendation: But I'm a Cheerleader

Thanks again to Ryan for joining me. For my recommendation this week, check out a movie he mentioned in passing — But I’m a Cheerleader. Just to prepare you, it is a movie that telegraphs intensely that it is a product of the late 90s. And as a low-budget indie film, it has a somewhat hand-made feel. But oh boy, it has a lot of feelings about queer love.

The story of the film is simple enough: a teenage girl exhibits signs of lesbianism, like a predilection for Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, and so her parents send her to an ex-gay camp. In the film, the camp is sort of John-Waters-lite — it’s over-the-top and, well, campy. The authorities are themselves living in a bonkers delusion that sexuality can be manipulated, and in a particularly arresting bit of casting, one of the most strident ex-gay characters is played by RuPaul.

Naturally, the young queers learn to break free from rigid gender stereotypes and accept themselves for who they are. The conclusion of the film is pleasant, not particularly surprising, but gentle and sweet and optimistic. Which is something queer people really needed around the time this movie came out.

But I’m a Cheerleader is a strange artifact from a very particular time. Watching it now feels like an outright fantasy, but when it came out, less then 20 years ago, it was common — even expected — that queer people would be subjected to treatments not too dissimilar from those in the film. At the time, ex-gay camps were just a fact of life.

But over the last two decades, we’ve experienced a sort of emperor’s-new-clothes when it comes to praying away the gay. Thanks to movies like But I’m a Cheerleader, and to real-life survivors like Ryan sharing their ordeals, gradually mainstream culture has come around to recognize just how ridiculous the practice is. 

Of course, for many people, ex-gay abuse is still a fact of life. But hopefully not for much longer, with more and more states banning the practice. Those legal reforms simply wouldn’t be possible without the voices that got the ball rolling and kept up the momentum. And a look at how much things have changed in the last 20 years is a reminder of how fortunate we are today.

Stuff We Talked About Dune By Frank Herbert Hellstrom's Hive By Frank Herbert

The Monster I Have to Beat (Ep. 159 - JP Brammer)

Mar 15, 2018 00:53:09

Description:

This Week's Guest: JP Brammer JP promo image.jpg

How do you forgive someone who won't, or can't, apologize? My guest this week is JP Brammer, who dispenses advice in the column Hola Papi on Grindr's news site Into. JP's made a name for himself by providing thoughtful insights into living your best gay life, but his understanding of life and love didn't just spring into existence fully formed. It's the product of some pain, some forgiveness, and a college club that he really hoped would present more opportunities for making out.

Thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are special rewards for patrons like early ad-free access to content, shoutouts in videos, and a copy of my book mailed to you with some cute Sewers of Paris buttons. If you're enjoying the show, click "Support the Show on Patreon." Or if you can't pledge, you can still help out by leaving a review on your podcast platform of choice.

And! If you're in San Francisco, I'll be in town to host a live show featuring drag queens playing Dungeons and Dragons. It's on March 20th at Oasis and features Erika Klash from Dragula; Kitty Powers, of the games Matchmaker and Lovelife; San Francisco stars Pollo Del Mar and KaiKai Bee Michaels; and past Sewers guest Pup Amp, the scantily clad co-host of the YouTube series Watt's the Safeword. Tickets are now on sale -- head over to DungeonDrag.com for the link. And if you're not in San Francisco, please pass the word along to anyone who you think might enjoy the show.

Also: I'm about to launch a brand new podcast featuring drag queens playing D&D! It's called Queens of Adventure, and we're crowdfunding throughout the month of March to pay for performers, music, art, and equipment. Visit QueensOfAdventure.com to join us in bringing this new podcast to life.

This Week's Recommendation: I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

And for my recommendation this week, pick up the Dr. Seuss book I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew. It's a quick read, of course, and it's about a young person -- or cat, or dog? Or whatever Dr. Seuss creatures are -- who's beset by troubles and does everything he can to escape from them.

On his way to a promised paradise called Solla Sollew, he endures bad weather, illness, war, cancelled bus routes. Nothing goes his way and the closer he gets to his destination the rougher life becomes. But he'd determined to make it because, he's convinced that all of his troubles will be over if he can just get far enough away from them.

And maybe that would work, if only Solla Sollew was a bit more accessible. Turns out there's no such thing as a place that's trouble-free, no matter how far you travel. And that leaves our hero with a choice -- keep running from his troubles, or turn back and deal with them... knowing now that troubles never really go away. But you can become trouble for them.

Stuff We Talked About

Like Getting Struck by Lightning (Ep. 158 - The Twist Queer Film Festival)

Mar 13, 2018 00:51:27

Description:

10-12_TWIST-festival_hero-1500x529.jpg Special Guests! Jay Bell, Grant Davis, Carlos Pedraza, Joe Appelbaum, and Stu Maddox

Welcome to a special bonus episode of The Sewers of Paris! On most episodes, I talk to a guest about the entertainment that changed their life. But tonight I'm speaking to five guests who create entertainment that they hope will change the lives of others.

I recorded these interviews at Twist, Seattle's LGBT film festival. You'll hear from folks involved in two projects that screened at the festival: the first is Something Like Summer, a romance based on the novel by Jay Bell; and the second is Queer Ghost Hunters, a docu-series about a group of investigators who believe in life and love after death. 

We talk about the books, movies, shows, and songs that touched their lives and inspired them to become creators. A huge thanks to the folks at Twist for helping to arrange these conversations. And thanks to everyone who backs The Sewers of Paris on Patreon, making it possible for me to produce bonus episodes of the show. If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, you help keep it going by clicking "support the show on Patreon" to pledge as little as a dollar a month. Or more, more is good too.

And! If you enjoyed my bonus episodes where I have guests playing Dungeons and Dragons, check out our live show where drag queens play D&D onstage for a live audience. The show's coming to Oasis in San Francisco on March 20th, featuring Erika Klash from Dragula; Kitty Powers, of the games Matchmaker and Lovelife; and San Francisco stars Pollo Del Mar and KaiKai Bee Michaels. Tickets are now on sale! And if you're not in San Francisco, I hope you'll pass the word along to anyone who you think might enjoy the show.

Also: I'm about to launch a brand new podcast featuring drag queens playing D&D! It's called Queens of Adventure, and we're crowdfunding throughout the month of March to pay for performers, music, art, and equipment. We just hit our first funding goal, and now we're heading towards a stretch goal of doing livestreams with the queens -- Visit QueensOfAdventure.com to join us in bringing this new podcast to life.

Recommendation: Put the Camera on Me

Thanks again to Twist for helping to arrange these interviews, and a huge thanks to Jay Bell, Grant Davis, Carlos Pedraza, Joe Appelbaum, and Stu Maddox for chatting with me about the entertainment that inspired them.

For this week's recommendation, take a look at the 2003 documentary Put the Camera on Me by Darren Stein and Adam Shell. You might know Darren for his narrative films like Jawbreaker and GBF. But Put the Camera on Me is comprised primarily of archival home videos made by him and a group of other kids in the late 80s.

You can see from the videos that even as a kid, Darren was a bit of an Ed Wood, in that he assembled a group of friends and somehow persuaded them to enact his own internal conflict. Stein was clearly had some things to say about homosexuality, and was unprepared to say them himself and so he planted his messages in extremely campy video art projects. 

The highlight of his oevre is the short "Gay as a Whistle," a three-ish minute story in which a pre-adolescent boy whispers to the camera about having the power to turn other boys gay. It contains lines of dialogue like "there's that gay guy, shouldn't we beat him up?" and speculation that gay people could end the world. 

Those archival shots cut to contemporary interviews in which Stein's friends reflect on just what the hell they thought was going on, and how there's still some lingering awkwardness amongst them. The more you see of Darren's early video work, the clearer the portrait of the artist becomes: a gay kid struggling to express something in a language he hasn't quite learned how to speak.

Stuff We Talked About Something Like Summer (Volume 1) By Jay Bell On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, Bk. 1) By Piers Anthony

Sign me up to be Stupid (Ep. 157 - Professional Wrestling)

Mar 8, 2018

Description:

pollo promo image.jpg This Week's Guest: Pollo Del Mar

For most of us, it's fun to speculate about the drag character we have hidden within. But what do you do if you've got multiple characters kicking around inside you -- and you suspect they might not get along with each other? This week's guest is Pollo Del Mar, who is both a drag queen and a professional wrestler. It took a long time for her to get comfortable making those worlds overlap -- and there were times that she had to call out other wrestlers for their homophobia. But now Pollo's happy to strut out in front of audiences in high drag -- whether it's at a gay bar or in a wrestling ring.

So if you're in San Francisco, you can see this week's guest Pollo playing a Dungeons & Dragons adventure live onstage with me, as well as Erika Klash from Dragula, Kitty Powers of the game Kitty Powers Love Life, and local star KaiKai Bee Michaels. It's drag queens playing an epic D&D quest with lots of twists and surprises at Oasis on March 20th. Tickets for Queens of Adventure: San Francisco Edition are now on sale now at DungeonDrag.com.

And if you can't make it to the live show, don't worry -- we've just launched a Kickstarter for a podcast featuring our Seattle queens playing Dungeons & Dragons! If you've enjoyed the D&D bonus episodes of Sewers of Paris, it'll be like that -- but more. And better. We're expanding the leg-and-dairy journeys into an ongoing game featuring death drops and death saves. There are some amazing backer rewards, like bonus episodes, an activity book, and a gorgeous foil-printed postcard by celebrated drag artist Chad Sell. Visit QueensOfAdventure.com to join us in bringing this new show to life.

Also, listeners, I hope you'll join me for another Sewers of Paris livestream on March 10! Last month's stream was a real delight, and I loved chatting live with Sewers listeners about the entertainment that changed your life. This time we'll be talking about queer role-playing games with past Sewers guests Carlos Maza and Josh Trujillo! Mark your calendar for March 10 at 2pm pacific. I've pinned a link to the livestream at the top of the SewersOfParis Twitter feed. You can head over there now to RSVP and get a reminder when we go live.

A huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are rewards for patrons who support the show, including early access to content, a signed copy of my book, and Sewers of Paris buttons. It's easy to sign up -- just head to SewersOfParis.com and click "support the show on Patreon." 

This Week's Recommendation: The Cream Always Rises to the Top

Thanks again to Pollo for joining me. And I hope to see you at our Queens of Adventure live show in San Francisco -- it's March 20th at Oasis and features Pollo, Erika Klash, Kitty Powers, and KaiKai Bee Michaels playing an epic D&D campaign before a live audience. Tickets are now on sale at DungeonDrag.com.

For my recommendation this week, I hope you'll become as obsessed as I am with this one clip of Randy Savage that I want you to look up on YouTube. Look for a video entitled "The Cream Rises to the Top." I've probably watched it about a hundred times: it starts with a very serious announcer named Gene who looks a bit like the blue-headed Muppet that Grover harasses in the restaurant on Sesame Street. 

With great dignity and professionalism, he approaches Randy Savage, who is wearing a lavender t-shirt and bandana, gigantic sunglasses, multiple hankies, and is for some reason carrying creamer packets. Randy launches into a growling manifesto about how he is the cream and will rise to the top, accompanied with some sleight-of-hand that produces additional creamer packets. 

Throughout this, Gene is completely unflappable, asking sensible questions about Randy's professional intentions. And Randy is completely flapped, staring and spinning and distributing creamers as he makes apocalyptic declarations regarding his skill.

It's an absolute delight. We have two professionals working in extremely different genres and yet perfectly complementing each others' performances. And although it's not what you would consider a drag show, I'd be willing to consider it one given that Randy is engaged in a hilarious and clearly intentional performance of gender. His nickname is "Macho Man" -- it's written in giant letters on his pink shirt -- and he is serving an extravagant critique of what it means to be macho. He's frantic, grasping, snarling, a trembling cloud of muscle and beard. It's as over-the-top masculine as Trixie Mattel is over-the-top feminine. And I'm enchanted by the idea that this fantastic joke about gender roles came from, of all places, 80s professional wrestling.

Stuff We Talked About

The Moment Where I Lost It (Ep. 156 - E.T.)

Mar 1, 2018 00:56:08

Description:

This week's guest: Andrew Putschoegl andrew promo image.jpg

Were you a free range kid? If you were lucky enough to survive growing up pre-2000, you were probably allowed to spend a lot of time outdoors on your own with little to no structured time. My guest this week is Andrew Putschoegl, whose childhood mirrored that of 80s movies where groups of weird neighborhood kids are thrown together by simply because they live in the same suburb. In those film, each kid tends to have one strange trait that sets them apart, and marks them as one of the outcasts. And for Andrew, it was that at the age of 9 he suddenly and for unknown reasons woke up to find his hair falling out. It was a medical mystery that made the already-awkward teenage years even more difficult.

Big thanks to everyone who helps keep the show independent and add free. If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, help support the show for as little as a dollar a month.

Also, listeners, I hope you'll join me for another Sewers of Paris livestream on March 10! Last month's stream was a real delight, and I loved chatting live with Sewers listeners about the entertainment that changed your life. Mark your calendar for March 10 and 2pm pacific. I've pinned a link to the livestream at the top of the SewersOfParis Twitter feed. You can head over there now to RSVP and get a reminder when we go live.

And! If you enjoyed my bonus episodes where I have guests playing Dungeons and Dragons, you might like my live show where drag queens play a D&D adventure onstage for a live audience. Now for the first time we're taking that show on the road -- it's coming to Oasis in San Francisco on March 20th, featuring Erika Klash from Dragula; Kitty Powers, of the games Matchmaker and Lovelife; and San Francisco stars Pollo Del Mar and KaiKai Bee Michaels. Tickets are now on sale -- head over to DungeonDrag.com for the link. And if you're not in SF or Seattle -- don't worry, we'll be announcing more shows soon. Get on our mailing list at DungeonDrag.com and you'll be the first to know when we're bringing the show to you!

This week's recommendation: Nerdgasm

Thanks again to Andrew for joining me. For this week's recommendation, check out his documentary, Nerdgasm. It's available on Amazon -- free if you've got Amazon Prime -- and it follows the delightful Tom Lenk as he nervously prepares his international one-man comedy show about learning to love being a geek.

Tom's a past Sewers of Paris guest (he's on episode 117) and he's a real delight to spend time with in-person and on-screen. You might remember him playing Andrew on the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but that's only the beginning of his long resume of nerdy credentials. In his live show, he reveals his very dorky childhood pursuits, such as the serenade that he wrote in a music theory class for Carrie Fisher; he shows off the elaborate feather-boaed and bejeweled hat that he made to stand out in marching band; and he shares his Beauty and the Beast collage work. 

To be fair, EVERYONE did weird dorky stuff when they were young. But a lot of us do our best to forget, or at least belittle the kids were were. So it's nice to see Tom turning that into a point of pride with Nerdgasm.

When someone confesses their obsessions to a roomfull of people (or to an even broader audience in a documentary) it gives everyone else permission to look a bit more gently on their own mortifying past. We can all forgive our own nerdiness, because at the end of the day enthusiasm is fun and funny.

At one point, Tom visits an enthusiastic collector of Buffy memorabilia, and in another context his collection might seem weird and off-putting. But when it's part of a celebration of geeky obsessions, suddenly weird isn't off-putting -- it's awesome. 

Stuff We Talked About

 

 

Excited and Scared (Ep. 155 - Ari Shapiro of NPR's All Things Considered)

Feb 22, 2018 01:00:20

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ari Shapiro ari promo image.jpg

My guest this week is Ari Shapiro, host of All Things Considered. These days, he tells other people's stories on NPR, but his own story was considerably is more winding than you might expect -- behind his calm journalistic voice is a man who spent some time as an illegal immigrant, who carried mace for protection in high school, who nearly became an actor, and who might never have found his place on the radio if a gay icon hadn't intervened on his behalf.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are brand new rewards for patrons who support the show, including early access to content, a signed copy of my book, and Sewers of Paris buttons. It's easy to sign up -- just click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can contribute -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And I love to get your feedback on the show -- follow @sewersofparis on Twitter or write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. 

And if you're in Seattle, I hope you'll join me for another live Dungeons & Drag Queens show, starring four fabulous drag queens role-playing their way through a custom-made, very queer D&D adventure. I'll be hosting the show and leading the queens on their adventure. It's happening March 2nd at 7pm at Kremwerk. You can get tickets at DungeonDrag.com. And you can also get on the mailing list to find out when we're bringing the show to you. 

This Week's Recommendation

Thanks again for listening. Into the Woods does seem to come up a lot on this show, and I don't think it's a surprise that a play about soul-searching and finding one's place in a hostile world speaks to queer people. Steven Sondheim's musicals certainly have a way of letting you know: Life's going to be tough. There are no easy answers. Now let's sing about it.

For this week's recommendation, take a look at another of Sondheim's shows, Assassins. It goes without saying that it's a play about moral gray areas and feeling adrift -- but this time, instead of fairy tales as a framing device, the play tells the story of people who have tried to kill presidents.

There's Leon Czolgosz, who wanted to kill McKinley; and Sam Byck, who had plans to kill Nixon. John Hinckley went after Reagan, and Lynette Fromme wanted to get Gerald Ford. Most of the characters you've never heard of -- when's the last time you thought about Sarah Jane Moore or Giuseppe Zangara? But this play excavates their stories, explores their motives, and turns them into real people driven by madness or desperation or a need to belong or dreams of being heard.

It's a hard show to watch, particularly given the politics under which the country is currently laboring. And there's a beautiful epiphany in the song Something Just Broke, when various Americans sing about where they were when they heard Kennedy had been shot. The violence of the assassination is so far away and to someone so symbolic as to be completely abstract and yet it jolts everyone out of their routine not with meaning but with a flash of ambiguity and bewilderment, confusion about why it happened and what it means and what comes next.

The show sets up a lot of questions that it doesn't answer. -- but it doesn't want to answer those questions. It's not an explanation, just a reflection. It's portrait of a country that, even after 200 years, is still struggling to make sense of its own dream.

Stuff we Talked About

Crazy Pirate Madonna (Ep. 154 - Tori Amos)

Feb 20, 2018 01:15:49

Description:

Beyond the Sewers of Paris with Cindy Howes cindy promo image.jpg

Thanks to everyone supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon, I'm able to bring you bonus episodes every month. We're going to go Beyond the Sewers of Paris, with special guests beyond just gay men, and deep-dives on topics I think you're going to love.

This month, I'm bringing you an unusual conversation with a very special guest: radio DJ Cindy Howes. I first interviewed Cindy about a year ago, for what I thought would be a fun, lighthearted chat about Tori Amos and how music empowered a young queer woman's search for herself.

But then after our interview, things unexpectedly changed for Cindy, both in her work and her personal life. A year went by, and when the dust settled we came back for a second interview about how Cindy had changed in that time, how her outlook on life and love had shifted, and how music helped her confront and overcome depression and anxiety.

I always expected that Cindy would have tons of great music suggestions for Sewers of Paris listeners. She's a fantastic resource when it comes to the singers and songwriters you should know. But I was surprised to also get some brilliant suggestions for coping with adversity, recovering from loss, and learning to love yourself.

I hope you enjoy this bonus episode, the first in the Beyond the Sewers of Paris series. Let me know your thoughts at sewerspodcast@gmail.com or @sewersofparis on Twitter. Huge thanks to all the Patreon supporters who help make the show possible. You can join them by  clicking "Support the Show on Patreon."

You can also leave a review of the show, that's a huge help. Or follow on Facebook and Twitter for clips of stuff we talked about.

And by the way, tickets are now on sale for our next Dungeons & Drag Queens live show. It's March 2nd at Kremwerk in Seattle -- a newer, bigger location than before! If you want to see drag queens playing a super queer D&D adventure, over to DungeonDrag.com to get tickets or sign up for the mailing list to find out when we're bringing the show to you.

This Week's Recommendation: The Evening Mix on WYEP

Big thanks to Cindy for joining me. If you didn't get enough suggestions for stuff you should be listening to, you're in luck: you can hear Cindy every Monday to Thursday from 6 to 10pm on WYEP in western PA. And of course you can listen online -- a few minutes before recording this, I checked in and Cindy had just put on the David Bowie song Heroes, a gorgeous lament that Bowie wrote about a doomed love affair. The song rises to a wail by the end because the producer was physically moving the microphone away from him as he recorded it, so he had to wail louder and louder as it went on. 

I'm doing everything in my power to make a metaphor here about how sometimes life demands that we wail louder and louder to be heard. Or a metaphor about how he wrote the song about two lovers kissing against the Berlin wall, with love protecting them however briefly from a war raging overhead. There's also probably a metaphor about how Bowie wrote the song just after he got off of cocaine and was in a period of artistic rebirth and also keenly aware of the hidden reserves of strength within us all.

I will resist ALL of those metaphors because this recommendation is not for that one song but instead for Cindy's show, The Evening Mix on WYEP! Four hours of music you'll love, assembled in a delightful playlist by the absolutely magical Cindy Howes who knows what you need to hear before you do. Give it a listen. You'll love it.

Stuff We Talked About Encore Low Country Sound/Elektra A Deeper Understanding Atlantic Records Slowmotionary Sire Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone By Brené Brown Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Shambhala Classics) By Sharon Salzberg There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate By Cheri Huber

Oracular Garbage Pile (Ep. 153 - James Bond)

Feb 15, 2018 00:48:11

Description:

This Week's Guest: Andrew Wheeler andrew promo image.jpg

How do you awaken your own untapped courage? This week's guest is Andrew Wheeler, writer of adventure and intrigue novels featuring defiantly gay characters. Though his stories are swashbuckling, Andrew tends to live a quiet, more domestic life than his globetrotting heroes. It was through his books that Andrew was able to explore beyond the town where he grew up -- in literature and eventually in real life.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Sewers of Paris livestream last Saturday to share stories of the entertainment that changed YOUR life! If you missed the stream, you can watch it on my YouTube channel -- I've also posted a link to it on Twitter, @sewersofparis. And we'll be back next month for another, so mark your calendars now for our next video livestream on March 10!

A huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are brand new rewards for patrons who support the show, including early access to content, a signed copy of my book, and Sewers of Paris buttons. It's easy to sign up -- just click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can contribute -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And I love to get your feedback on the show -- follow @sewersofparis on Twitter or write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. 

Thanks to those Patrons supporting the show, I'm able to release new videos and podcast episodes. Check out the video I posted this week about Blanche's gay brother on The Golden Girls. You can find that on the Matt Baume YouTube channel and there's also a link on the SewersOfParis twitter feed.

And I'm going to be sharing some big announcements very soon about our show Dungeons & Drag Queens. If you're into drag queens playing a super-queer Dungeons and Dragons adventure, head over to dungeondrag.com to sign up for the mailing list -- you'll be the first to find out when we're bringing the show to you. 

This Week's Recommendation: Barbarella

Big thanks to Andrew for joining me. Check out his Valentin and the Widow books on Amazon, and his new book The Twilight  Prince on Wattpad. And for even more fantastic adventuring, my recommendation this week is to watch the spellbinding 1968 cinematic masterpiece that is Barbarella.

Jane Fonda plays the extremely titular character, a 5-star double-rated Astro-Navigatrix dispatched by the President of Earth to locate a positronic ray stolen by a scientist named Durand-Durand who is hiding out in a city populated by leathermen, floating above a Matmos, and besieged by a resistance fighter named Dildano.

Based on a comic book, the film is extremely stupid, and I love it with all my heart. Barbarella careens through her voyages with more extravagant outfits than an entire season of drag race, and her approach to adventure is to greet the unexpected with an unconditional "yes." Despite facing dangers too bizarre and convoluted to comprehend, she charges into action with little more than her wits, her charm, her fantastic costumes, and legs that appear to be longer than her entire body.

As a role model, you could not ask for better: Barbarella is brave, compassionate, curious, and above all eager to share pleasures of the flesh. In other words, she embodies that values to which, as far as I'm concerned, all gays -- whether at home or in space -- should aspire.

Stuff we Talked About Valentin and The Widow: The Mandrake Machine By Andrew Wheeler

It Was Deeply Weird (Ep. 152 - Cats)

Feb 8, 2018 00:51:20

Description:

This Week's Guest: Tyler Coates tyler promo image.jpg

Have you ever found a monster beautiful? It's rare that something can be both gorgeous and grotesque, but when those two qualities overlap it can be hard to look away -- and hard to resist following it wherever it wants to take you, no matter how dangerous. This week's guest is Tyler Coates, Culture Editor at Esquire.com. He felt the allure of the arts emanating from what seemed like a threat: phantoms in an opera house, clawing cat people, and David Bowie in a massive codpiece. From the tiny town where he grew up, he couldn't say no to their pull -- though when he finally ventured out into the world, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first a quick reminder that we're doing a Sewers of Paris video livestream this weekend, on Saturday, February 10th at 2pm Pacific. I hope you'll join us and share stories about the entertainment that changed your life. We'll also have some special guests joining us throughout the stream. Hope to see you there.

A huge thanks to everyone who makes The Sewers of Paris possible with a pledge of a dollar or more a month on Patreon. There are brand new rewards for patrons who support the show, including early access to content, a signed copy of my book, and Sewers of Paris buttons. It's easy to sign up -- just click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can contribute -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And I love to get your feedback on the show -- follow @sewersofparis on Twitter or write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. 

And we're going to be sharing some big announcements about our show Dungeons and Drag Queens very soon. If you're into drag queens playing a super-queer Dungeons and Dragons adventure, sign up for the mailing list to find out when we're bringing the show to you. That's at dungeondrag.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Beetlejuice

Big thanks to Tyler for joining me. I love talking about beautiful seductive monsters like Jareth, Elvira, and dancers with teased 80s hair and cat bodysuits. Villains always seem to be having more fun than heroes, and it's so hard to resist an invitation to join them. For this week's recommendation, take a look at the movie Beetlejuice, starring Wynona Rider, Michael Keaton, and a bunch of Tim Burton stripes. 

The film concerns the justifiable haunting of an insufferable couple of yuppies with too much money and not enough taste. The couple's daughter Lydia, played by Winona, is in the midst of a gothic phase that is only heightened when she makes the acquaintance of the ghost who inhabit her new home. The ghosts are pleasant enough, certainly more tolerable than her annoying parents. But there's another more malevolent spirit in the home who wants to take the entertaining haunts to a dangerous place. 

Lydia faces a tough choice in the weird mayhem of the movie: how much haunting is too much haunting, and when does spooky stop being fun and become downright evil. It is of course a delight to see a sullen teenage girl brighten with enthusiasm when given the opportunity to summon the forces of darkness, even as the movie's moral pendulum swings between the two unpleasant extremes of the banal living and the horrifying dead.

By the end, we've settled someplace far more appealing: a sort of conscientious ghoulishness, macabre with a heart -- a sweet spot where people may die, but they can still go on dancing.

Stuff We Talked About

The Kentucky Derby for People (Ep. 151 - Drag Race)

Feb 1, 2018 00:42:29

Description:

This Week's Guest: Alberto Davalos alberto promo image.jpg

What would you do if your life's work turned out to be killing you? My guest this week is Alberto Davalos, a horse boy. His whole life he expected to work with horses. And fresh out of college, he was on a farm in Kentucky, wearing gloves up to his shoulders and helping multi-million-dollar animals give birth. But working his dream job came with a price he wasn't ready to pay.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, a reminder that as of this month February, I'm making monthly bonus episodes of Sewers of Paris, with livestreams and new YouTube videos about LGBT entertainment. Our first livestream is on Saturday, February 10th at 2pm Pacific. And I want to invite you, Sewers of Paris listeners to join me and share stories about entertainment that changed your life. Head over to @sewersofparis on Twitter -- the link to the livestream is pinned to the top of the feed. Hope to see you there.

A huge thanks to everyone supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon. Your pledges, starting at a dollar a month, make this show possible, as well as the livestreams, videos, and bonus episodes. As of February first, Patreon pledges are per-month, rather than per-episode. That means you'll always be charged the same amount, no matter how much stuff I put out each month. If you haven't pledged yet, now is a great time to start. Just click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can help -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And you can also write in to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. 

We're going to be talking about Drag Race this episode -- if you're looking for more conversations about the show, don't miss last week's conversation with Chi Chi DeVayne, and also Robbie Turner on episode 58 and Ben DeLaCreme on episode 63.

This Week's Recommendation: The Last Unicorn

Big thanks to Alberto for joining me. You can find a link to the essay he wrote about his mother and Drag Race on the @sewersofparis twitter, and on his, @albertodavalo.

My recommendation this week is the enchanting equine adventure The Last Unicorn, an animated feature made in the 70s by Rankin Bass -- that's the team behind Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and various other classics. The cast is amazing: Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, Christopher Lee, Rene Auberjonois (that's Odo from Deep Space 9), Jeff Bridges, and many more. It is visually gorgeous, showcasing the work of artists who would go on to found Studio Ghibli. And the story is beautiful and melancholy and very very queer.

The film follows a unicorn who fears that she is the last of her kind. Alone in the world, she wanders disguised as a horse, searching for others like her. As usually happens in fantasy adventures, she encounters a gang of misfits and they eventually find their way to a palace where terrible danger seeks to enslave and corrupt her pure beauty.

As the unicorn hunts for her kind, she discovers the pleasure of giving herself over to love in the mundane world of humans. But that's not where she belongs, and so accepting her true nature means leaving the work of ordinary, non-magical men.

That's a tough choice for anyone -- to maintain something comforting and familiar, or to give it up so you can be true to yourself. The Last Unicorn hinges on a tension between love and regret -- and ultimately finds that both can exist together, and may in fact require each other to exist. 

Stuff We Talked About

Hot Glue and Rhinestones (Ep. 150 - Chi Chi DeVayne)

Jan 24, 2018 00:51:00

Description:

This Week's Guest: Chi Chi DeVayne chi chi promo image.jpg

My guest this week is Chi Chi Devayne, who competed on Season 8 of Drag Race and is appearing now on All Stars Season 3. Despite having competed -- twice, now -- on the world's most prestigious drag show, there was a time when Chi Chi hated drag. That was before she realized that everything in life had prepared her to perform in heels -- from church to getting in fights to military training.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, a reminder that starting in February, I'm going to be making monthly bonus episodes of Sewers of Paris, with bonus livestreams and new YouTube videos about LGBT entertainment. Mark your calendars now for the kickoff livestream on February 10th -- I want to invite you, Sewers of Paris listeners to join us and share the stories about entertainment that changed your life -- I'll be announcing the details on how you can join us for that soon, just follow @sewersofparis on Twitter.

To everyone already supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon: huge thanks. And to everyone who hasn't pledged yet, February is going to be a great time to start. Just click "support the show on Patreon."

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can help -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And you can also write in to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. 

RockLobster52 wrote this review: "lovingly crafted show with an unique and fascinating concept." Thanks RockLobster for that very sweet review, and for not being a rock.

This Week's Recommendation: J-Setting

Big thanks to Chi Chi for joining me. You can catch her on RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars Season 3, along with past Sewers of Paris guest Ben DeLaCreme (that's episode 63 of the podcast). And don’t forget that starting in February I’ll be releasing monthly bonus episodes of Sewers of Paris, hosting livestreams, making videos about LGBT entertainment, and more. Mark your calendars for the first livestream on Saturday, February 10 -- you're invited to share your own stories of the entertainment that changed your life. I'll have details soon about how you can join us for that; follow @sewersofparis on Twitter for info.

For my recommendation this week, check out the dance style that Chi Chi mentioned at the start of our interview -- J-Setting. It's a style of dance featuring performers in meticulous formation, usually in tight clothes, moving with precise high-energy gestures that are often constrained to tight spaces. Picture Beyonce's dance in Single Ladies -- and then picture that but bigger, with more dancers, faster music, and a lot of muscle.

It's easy to find examples on YouTube. And after you've watched a few videos, you might notice a familiar overlap with dance styles you've seen elsewhere. The original J-Setters were majorettes at Jackson State University in the late 1970s, but their style was picked up by other historically black universities and also by gay men across the south, who adapted it to gay nightclubs.

Some moves bear a close resemblance to the voguing you can see in Paris is Burning in the 1980s, which eventually showed up in Madonna's work. And the influence can be seen in various communities and styles and media over the years -- including the episode of Glee where Kurt does his interpretation of Single Ladies.

In addition to being a gorgeous and thrilling style of dance, it's a great example of how culture gets shared and referenced between disadvantaged groups -- whether it's women, or people of color, or queer performers.

It's a real pleasure to see how these groups can be allies not just politically, but creatively. And a key component of that collaboration is acknowledging the contributions of creators who laid the foundation of the artwork... whether or not they had a chance to appear on Glee.

Stuff We Talked About

Gay Male Student #1 (Ep. 149 - Carol Burnett)

Jan 18, 2018 01:22:41

Description:

This Week's Guest: Justin Root justin promo image.jpg

It's a Hollywood cliche -- the pretty young face that moves to LA with no plan other than to get into the motion pictures. And yet it happened to this week's guest, Justin Root. He was a shy Ohio kid who feared the spotlight until he discovered how good it made him feel to be in it. A few weeks after graduating high school, he'd moved to LA. A few weeks after that, he was in movies. And not long after that, he had a recurring role on TV. It didn't take long for the entertainment industry to discover Justin, but it took another decade -- and some terrified cruising in the local video store -- for Justin to find himself.

We'll have that conversation in a minute -- but first, a reminder that starting in February, I'm going to be making monthly bonus episodes of Sewers of Paris, with bonus livestreams and new YouTube videos about LGBT entertainment. Mark your calendars now for a kickoff livestream on February 10th, where I'll be chatting live with Sewers of Paris listeners about the entertainment that changed your life -- I'll have more details soon about how you can join that.

To everyone already supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon: huge thanks. And to everyone who hasn't pledged yet, February is going to be a great time to start. Just head to SewersOfParis.com and click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can help -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful. And you can also write in to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. Listener Bojan Djordjevic writes that:

"Movies and TV shows have always shaped me, for better or worse, and they have always been a way for me to feel closer to the gay world ... the podcast helps me see how we've always been here and we've always been relevant whether others knew it or not."

Bojan also writes,

"My first idol was Lucille Ball. ... I didn't sleep much as a child and I had a TV in my room so I would watch any sort of old black and white movie on at 4 am. ... I remember a movie with Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance. It was in color and it was about them on the run and that's about all I can remember. I can't find it online."

So, listeners, if you know what movie he might be talking about, get in touch @sewersofparis on twitter or sewerspodcast@gmail.com. Let's reunite Bojan with that movie.

This Week's Recommendation: Two moments from the Carol Burnett Show

Big thanks to Justin for joining me. I cannot endorse his opinions on Judy Garland. But I absolutely agree that there are delights to be found in the Carol Burnett show. For my recommendation this week, take a look at my two favorite moments from her show. The first is the famous "Went with the Wind" sketch, particularly the moment when she enters wearing a dress made out of drapes.

It's a funny sight gag, but what's even more pleasurable is the audience reaction. They absolutely lose control, so much so that the show had to edit some of the laughter out because it made the sketch run too long. It's fun to see the dress but what affects me most about that particular moment is how the laughter rolls through the scene like a wave, and even though you can't see them, the unbridled delight of the audience is totally contagious.

My second favorite clip is from a sketch in which Tim Conway tells a story about an elephant. The story is clearly intended to be very short, but Tim Conway takes control of the scene and keeps adding one absurd detail after another. The other actors are clearly ready to move on with the scene, but he just won't end his improvised speech, and the ridiculousness of the entire cast being held hostage in this way becomes increasingly ridiculous as the minutes pass by, and one by one the cast starts doing their best to keep from cracking up. Finally, there's a pause in Tim's monologue, and Vicky Lawrence interjects with a placid yet hostile dig that nobody on stage saw coming, and they all explode in laughter, literally falling on the floor.

Once again, it's a moment of unbridled hilarity, with everyone consumed with laughter that they had no idea was lying in wait for them. Professional comedians know how to craft jokes, wield humor, and control the laughter of those around them. But there's a point at which the laughter takes over, at which point it's really in control. That feeling of pleasure says "I'll take it from here," and for some reason, we always let it. It may not last long, but when it's happening, what a relief it is to relinquish command to that drive to laugh -- it overrides all self-control, and somehow we all trust that exists for only one purpose: To make you feel good. 

Stuff We Talked About One More Time by Carol Burnett (1986-09-12) Random House

It's Worth it to be Passionate (Ep. 148 - Final Fantasy VII)

Jan 11, 2018 00:56:01

Description:

This Week's Guest: Johnnie Jungleguts johnnie promo image.jpg

When you need to get away from it all, how far do you go? My guest this week reached his fill of human interaction and so he did what so many of us have done: flew to South America to wander the forest for weeks while befriending a mountain lion. 

And just a reminder about what's coming up for The Sewers of Paris in 2018. Starting in February, I'm going to be making monthly bonus episodes, with even more personal stories about entertainment that's changed the lives of queer people. And on top of that, I'll be hosting livestreams that you can join, creating new YouTube videos about LGBT entertainment, and more. 

Of course, you'll still get a new episode of The Sewers of Paris every Thursday, just like always. The show's not changing -- there's just going to be more of it.

The Sewers of Paris is possible because of listeners like you who pledge a dollar or more to keep it going. Starting in February, those contributions will support even more content. There's also going to be rewards for people who pledge -- more information on that as we get closer to February.

To everyone already supporting The Sewers of Paris on Patreon: huge thanks. There'll be a few tweaks to the way pledges are charged, and I'll be in touch with you about that. And to everyone who hasn't pledged yet, February is going to be a great time to start. Just click "support the show on Patreon." 

If you're not able to support the show financially, there’s other ways you can help -- just by listening, tweeting about the show, following The Sewers of Paris on Twitter and Facebook, and by writing reviews. All of that is a huge help and I'm very very grateful.

This Week's Recommendation: Freaks and Geeks

This week we talked about outgrowing the safety of the suburbs, and so my recommendation is to check out the show Freaks and Geeks. Produced in the late 90s and set in the early 80s, the show follows the awkward lives of teenagers learning how to be human adults.

Like my recommendation last week, The Doom Generation, Freaks and Geeks leans heavily on the discomfort of living between childhood and adulthood -- the point in a person's life when they have the most freedom to make choices about who they are, and are also the least equipped to make them.

The characters of the show make the wrong decisions far more often than they make the right ones. And unlike My So-Called Life, where the struggles of the kids accompanies the struggles of the parents, the division between teens and adults in Freaks and Geeks is so pronounced they are seldom even able to comprehend each other. The world that they're approaching is befuddling and dangerous and hostile -- and yet they crave entry to it with a fearlessness that many of us lose once we've arrived in adulthood.

So I guess my recommendation here isn't just to watch Freaks and Geeks. It's to remember what it was like to be a freak and geek.

Stuff we Talked About

Glamorous but Homicidal (Ep. 147 - The Cure)

Jan 4, 2018 00:51:58

Description:

This week's Guest: George Alley george promo image.jpg

My guest this week is George Alley, a musician and choreographer who paid his does on the mean streets of suburban Cleveland, where he was the secretary for a local street gang. The son of a Detroit blues singer and a demolition derby driver, George often felt anger at the world and at people who tormented him. That anger, it turned out, would be a crucial element that shaped his creative work today.

This week's Recommendation: The Doom Generation

Big thanks to George for joining me. And check out his latest single, "Just Leave me Dreaming." I'll have an excerpt of that at the end of the episode.

Let's talk about the 90s, since it did come up quite a bit this week. Particularly that uniquely 90s feeling of nihilism and ennui that nothing matters, everything's ironic, and there's life is lonely, boring, and dumb.

That's the thesis of my recommendation this week, which I'm recommending with a caveat. Greg Araki's film The Doom Generation came out in 1995 and is you might call "peak 90s." It's the story of three disaffected youths sneering their way through a grotesquely violent America guided only by their hunger, their libido, and brief cameos from folks like Parker Posey and Margaret Cho.

It's not heavy on story, and even lighter on any sort of resolution. So you could read a lot into this story depending on what sort of personal baggage you bring. To me, it's a film about early-90s queer HIV anxiety -- there's a line early on about AIDS, and throughout the film the characters are surrounded by images of death as well as a fascination and wariness about the consequences of their own sexual urges.

Your milage with the film may vary of course, up to and including the choice not to watch. It is an aggressive bummer, and though you'll likely walk away with lots to think about you'll also probably have plenty of dark rain clouds over your head. But if you've got the stomach for some deep dark 90s nihilism, The Doom Generation is a rewarding watch -- and not just because of the sexy flashes of male skin and the perfect portrait of men's gazes lingering on each other's bodies.

The film is a perfect capsule of a period of aimlessness, disillusionment, despair, and fear ... and at this point I'm not sure if I'm referring to the 90s or just being a teenager.

Stuff we Talked About

On Top of Mount Sodom (Ep. 146 - The Dead Poets Society)

Dec 28, 2017 00:59:51

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jay Michaelson michael promo image.jpg

This show is supported by listeners who pledge a dollar or more per episode on Patreon. Huge thanks to everyone who makes the show possible!

We're coming up on a new year -- what are you going to change in 2018? My guest this week is Jay Michaelson, who several years ago found himself unhappy, unfulfilled, and disconnected from meaningful relationships, both with other people and with a higher power. So he decided to stop waiting for the life he wanted, and to start pursuing it -- through spiritual journeys in the Middle East and pagan dances in the woods.

This Week's Recommendation: Here Comes a Thought from Steven Universe

Big thanks to Jay for joining me. As we head into 2018, it's a good time for some mindful reflection about how our choices make us feel and what our feelings make us choose. And that means listening to yourself -- really listening, not just spending time with your inner monologue but asking yourself what you mean by the things you think. That's not always easy to do, but my recommendation this week is basically a 3-minute lesson: the song "Here Comes a Thought" from the show Steven Universe.

I won't spoil anything about the show, and you don't need to know anything about it to follow the song. You can find the video on YouTube, in which two character sing about being plagued by negative thoughts and how they can accept those thoughts, experience them, and then let them go. In the video, the thoughts that alarm them are represented by a swarm of butterflies that overwhelms them. And I think that's certainly a metaphor that's familiar to anyone who dwells on memories that hurt or who feel harassed by their own inner voice.

It's not easy to get those butterflies to disperse, but that's what mindfulness -- starting with this short song -- can teach. And that's not all... though the song focuses on dealing with negative thoughts, when you really listen to yourself you'll also hear positive ones. Memories about people you love, plans for making today a good day, pride in the things you've accomplished -- those butterflies are fluttering around inside you too, just waiting to be heard.

Stuff We Talked About The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path By Jay Michaelson Everything Is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism By Jay Michaelson The Counterfeiters: A Novel By Andre Gide God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice By Jay Michaelson

The 2017 Sewers of Paris Holiday Special Special

Dec 21, 2017 01:03:03

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2017 holiday logo.jpg

Hello and welcome to the Sewers of Paris Holiday Special Special! In the spirit of the season, I've invited some guests, past and future, to share with us their favorite seasonal entertainment. We'll have an appreciation of Batman Returns from Anthony Oliveira, aka @meakoopa. There's a tribute to Snow Miser from Glen Weldon of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. Performance artist Johnnie Jungleguts will explain why Eyes Wide Shut is his favorite Christmas movie. Carlos Maza from Vox.com will bring us tidings of Ariana Grande and gay men's choruses. There's lots more guests and lots more special -- we've got everything to fills your hearts with festive cheer at this, the darkest time of year. 

And listeners, I'd like to hear from you -- what's YOUR favorite holiday entertainment? Tell me what books and movies and songs and shows are keeping you occupied right now. Head over to @SewersOfParis on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation we're having about our favorite culture. Or write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com -- I love hearing from you.
 
And a big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. I could not make the show without all of you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support

Stuff We Talked About

Nothing Went Fine (Ep. 144 - Les Miserables)

Dec 14, 2017 01:06:23

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This Week's Guest: Michael Blutrich

According to the FBI, my guest this week was involved in one of the largest fraud schemes in history -- the nearly half-billion dollar failure of the National Heritage Life Insurance Company, which had 26,000 elderly policyholders. While Michael Blutrich was involved in the insurance scheme, he was also running a strip club called Scores that had mafia ties, and he secretly recorded conversations that helped the government convict numerous organized crime figures. Before his life took a turn towards crime, he was closeted, choosing to avoid the gay community during the AIDS crisis. Now after more than a decade behind bars, he's out of prison, out of the closet, and wondering if he has a place in society and in gay culture.

We'll have that conversation in just a moment. But first, a quick note: this show is supported by listeners who pledge a dollar or more per episode on Patreon. You might've heard that Patreon was planning to make some changes to the way that they process fees. But they've just announced that for now, those changes won't be happening. So, if you're a supporter, thanks for sticking with the show. Your pledge will continue to be exactly what it was before. The show is only possible because of that listener support -- huge thanks to this week's new and increasing donors, David, Michael, and Darren. If you'd like to join the folks who make The Sewers of Paris possible, head over to SewersOfParis.com and click Support the Show on Patreon.

This Week's Recommendation: Master of the House and Beggars at the Feast

For this week's recommendation, I asked friends on Facebook to suggest Broadway shows about crime and injustice. Thanks to everyone who suggested Sweeney Todd, Urinetown, Wicked, Assassins, Chicago, Parade, Ragtime, Batboy, and many more. And I'm going to recommend that you take a look at the beautifully produced 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis -- there's a link in the shownotes -- particularly two songs: Master of the House, and Beggars at the Feast.

In those songs, Matt Lucas -- you may know him as the only gay in the village from Little Britain -- plays Monsieur Thénardier, who calls himself "the best innkeeper in town," while running every moneymaking scheme he can think of. It's a very fun number, heightened by the comedic relish with which Lucas explains his dealmaking: "Glad to do a friend a favor," he sings, "doesn't cost me to be nice. But nothing gets you nothing; everything has got a little price."

At one point, the pure-hearted hero of the show, Jean Valjean, is captured by the Thénardiers. They discover his identity and inform on him to the law. Valjean narrowly escapes, as does Thénardier, who is able to survive by hiding himself in the sewers of Paris.

Our last glimpse of the character comes at the end of the play. Valjean has retreated from public eye, knowing that his criminal past threatens those he cares for; and Thénardier takes advantage of his absense to reappear under a new name.

In disguise, he tries once more to wring money from the heroes, but inadvertently reveals himself, reveals his deceit, and, crucially, reveals acts of kindness by Valjean that until then had gone unknown. At the last possible moment, our heroes learn of Valjean's great personal sacrifices, and are able to thank him before he dies.

The Thénardiers are ceaseless schemers. But ultimately they do illuminate a moral compass, providing clues as to what's right by showing what's wrong. Their voices may not be trustworthy -- but that doesn't mean there isn't be a benefit to thinking about what they choose to say.
 

Stuff we Talked About Les Miserables - The Musical Event of a Lifetime Starring Alfie Boe, Norm Lewis, Katie Hall, Nick Jonas, Lea Salonga Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History By Michael D. Blutrich

Surrounded by Death and Drugs (Ep. 143 - Sina Grace & Iceman)

Dec 7, 2017 00:52:40

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This Week's Guest: Sina Grace sina promo image.jpg

My guest this week set out to answer a simple question: how do you live a content life? Sina Grace is the comic author and illustrator behind autobiographical books like Self-Obsessed, and Marvel's current Iceman series. A few years ago, he reached a point of disillusionment with the American dream, discovering getting all the money and possessions you wanted isn't as fulfilling as family, health, and love. Isolated and literally wasting away,  Sina set in motion some changes that would eventually bring him happiness in ways he never even knew he wanted.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon, including new patrons Ryan, Michael, Chris, John, Jeremy, Tyler, Gareth, Brian, Jayblay, and the Indie Opera Podcast. I could not make the show without all of you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just click support the show on Patreon.

If you have a moment, please leave a review of the show on your podcast platform of choice. 

You can follow the show on Twitter and Facebook -- just search for The Sewers of Paris. I post clips of the stuff we talked about each week, and also chat with listeners about the entertainment that changed THEIR lives. You can also write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com -- I love hearing from listeners.

This Week's Recommendation: All-New X-Men Issue #40

Big thanks to Sina for joining me. You can pick up his issues of Iceman at comic shops and online, though whenever possible please do support your local comics retailer. For my recommendation this week, step back a few years to All-New X-Men Issue #40, when Iceman first came out.

I've seen a million coming-out stories, and it's rare to find a new angle -- but this one's really nicely handled. The story involves a bit of time travel and young Bobby talking to an older version of himself. No spoilers, but there's a confrontation and a dialogue between them that reads like an echo of the dialogue between generations -- younger gay men expressing themselves authentically in a way that older gay men simply couldn't.

For that conflict to exist within a single character is a particularly brilliant approach, and lends a very special depth to Bobby's relationship with himself -- both the himself that is him and the himself that is someone else. Ugh, time travel stories.

Anyway it's a really lovely approach, and very meaningful that Marvel was willing to permit this story for Iceman -- one of the original characters dating back to the 1960s. And I think it echoes something that Sina said in our conversation -- "the person you become can be just as valuable as the person you were."

Stuff We Talked About Nothing Lasts Forever By Sina Grace Not My Bag GN By Sina Grace Self-Obsessed By Sina Grace Iceman Vol. 1: Thawing Out By Sina Grace All New X-Men #40 Marvel Comics Iceman Vol. 2: Absolute Zero By Sina Grace

Everything is Queer (Ep 142 - Matt Rogers)

Nov 30, 2017 00:50:20

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This Week's Guest: Matt Rogers matt r promo image.jpg

Where do you learn where you belong? My guest this week is Matt Rogers, half of the comedy team behind the Las Culturistas podcast. Matt's upbringing taught him that there was only one acceptable way to be masculine, while deep down inside he longed to belt showtunes. So how did he get from sporty athlete to an arbiter of the queerest of New York homosexual culture? All it took were a few panic attacks, Neil Patrick Harris, and a crab shack.

Check out Matt's Christmas show here.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. I could not make the show without you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

If you have a moment, please leave a review of the show on your podcast platform of choice. 

You can follow the show on Twitter and Facebook -- just search for The Sewers of Paris. I post clips of the stuff we talked about each week, and also chat with listeners about the entertainment that changed THEIR lives. You can also write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com -- thanks to Dave who wrote that he found me through my YouTube videos and said "You're on my list of favorite podcasts on Stitcher." 

This Week's Recommendation: Las Culturistas

Big thanks to Matt for joining me. I have a link to his show, Have You Heard of Christmas, in the shownotes. And for my recommendation this week, check out the podcast that he co-hosts with Bowen Yang, Las Culturistas.

Each week on the show, the pair have a guest on to talk about the culture that means the most to them -- a format that may be of interest to listeners of this show. But instead of diving deep into personal histories, Las Culturistas zooms far and wide from one touchstone to another, and by the end of each episode you'll have your arms full of new recommendations to explore. 

Of particular interest is recent episode 58 with past Sewers guest Guy Branum. The three of them manage to get into a pop cultural rhythm in their conversation that's so syncopated in its references it's more of a song than a casual chat. 

Matt and Bowen's enthusiasm for culture is infectious, and not entirely a surprise, knowing how Matt deprived himself when he was younger. Like Matt, my own media diet was fairly controlled as a kid, which is probably what led to to me having such an appetite I had to start a whole podcast. Like denying your sexuality, denying your culture leads to can lead to an explosion of interest when you finally do give yourself permissions to indulge. And that's not always a bad thing, as long as you over-indulge safely, and joyfully, and remember to share.

Stuff We Talked About

A Britney-Whitney Gay (Ep. 141 - Best Little Whorehouse in Texas)

Nov 23, 2017 00:58:32

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This Week's Guest: Emerson Collins emerson promo image copy.jpg

When it's hard to find the words you know you need to say, can you use someone else's? This week's guest is actor and producer Emerson Collins, whose new film A Very Sordid Wedding is a sequel to the classic Sordid Lives. Growing up around the big hair and church bells of Texas, Emerson struggled to speak openly about who he really was. Until he got up on stage.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. I could not make the show without you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. It just takes a few clicks to support the show on Patreon.

This Week's Recommendation: Better Get to Livin'

Big thanks to Emerson for joining me, and for giving me a reason to recommend some Dolly Parton this week. Look up her music video for the song Better Get to Livin' -- and yes, that is Amy Sedaris playing various roles throughout the video, including a carnival barker, a fortune teller, and a sideshow attraction.

The song itself is sweet, and positive, an upbeat encouragement to keep your chin up and ignore the self-sabotage within. 

Dolly's advice in the song is to stop whining, to not sweat the small stuff, and to hang tough, whatever that means. And to be fair it's not harmful advice, it's just that it's easy to say all that from the outside. It takes very little effort to note when someone else is caught up in their head, and to encourage them to just buck up. It's a lot harder to diagnose yourself.

As much as I like this video and love Amy's weird cameos, I think there's one piece of advice missing from the song -- and that's to ask for help sometimes. Taking a long hard look at your life is scary and hard, but butting in to someone else's is fun. 

So when you're feeling stressed or down, just telling yourself "keep your chin up" may not be terribly effective. But when you're telling someone else, and they're telling you, and you've got a bunch of folks all supporting each other, suddenly it's a lot more helpful. It's not the words of the encouragement that've changed, it's just that they work a lot better as a chorus than a solo.

Stuff We Talked About The Best Little Boy in the World: The 25th Anniversary Edition of the Classic Memoir By John Reid, Andrew Tobias

A Sandbox of Weirdness (Ep. 140 - Jamie Pierce)

Nov 16, 2017 01:10:50

Description:

It takes about ten hours to produce each episode of The Sewers of Paris, so if you're enjoying the show please help support it with a pledge of a dollar or more per episode.

This Week's Guest: Jamie Pierce

How do you balance a need for solitude with a need to collaborate? This week's guest is Jamie Pierce, an actor, comedian, and dancer who's no stranger to career changes. Several years ago, he decided to transform his work and his  life after an experience onstage. And just last year, he reached another turning point in part because of this show.

I originally interviewed Jamie back in 2016, but then his episode kept moving around in the schedule and a few months went by before it was going to appear. But then Jamie contacted me to let me know that our conversation started him thinking, and eventually led to him making a pretty drastic decision about his career. So I interviewed him again about that experience. This episode starts with a chat we recorded last year, then you'll hear a new interview that we recorded more recently about how one of the pieces of entertainment that changed his life wound up being this podcast.

This Week's Recommendation: Pee Wee's Big Adventure

Big thanks to Jamie for joining me. You can follow him at JamiePierceNYC on Twitter to jeep up with his adventures, whether venturing out onstage as part of an ensemble or going it alone in a solo show. 

For this week's recommendation, take a look at another notorious loner with the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure. Like every Pee Wee project, it is utterly delightful, ridiculous, and queer. The plot concerns a stolen bicycle and a fever dream of a quest to recover it. Early in the movie, Pee Wee declares himself a loner and a rebel, a line that's funny enough on its own but is absolutely ludicrous given how many friends he has. At every step of his journey, Pee Wee wins over everyone, even the most hostile gang of bikers, by being completely bizarre, because that's just who he is. He is guileless, weird, not always polite but always honest about what he likes and what he doesn't. 

Back on episode 117, I recommended Pee Wee's Big Holiday and noted that he is, to be sure, a very strange boy: giddy, curious, playful, and sincere. And so is everyone else he encounters: they're all strange in their own way, from a phony psychic to a spooky truck driver to a sweet-hearted waitress. And in Pee Wee's company, they all seem completely comfortable to be strange, happy with whatever makes them weird. 

Everyone is uniquely bizarre, each a loner and rebel in their own particular oddness. But this movie has them all rebelling together -- they're loners but they're never alone.

Stuff We Talked About

Everybody Should Have Secrets (Ep. 139 - Imitation of Life)

Nov 9, 2017 00:52:49

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This Week's Guest: Tim Kirkman

What are the secrets you're carrying around, and what would happen if you dropped them? This week's guest is Tim Kirkman, a storyteller with a knack for exploring the things people don't say. His film Lazy Eye is about confronting secret loves, and his documentary Dear Jesse is about his unexpected connection with America's most notorious homophobe. What Tim's found, in his work and in his life, is that the information people withhold about themselves is often the key to understanding them -- provided you can open up about yourself.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. I could not make the show without you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

And you can also leave a review of the show -- thanks to DroidCX who wrote "My listenings leave me empowered" with a headling of "yasss queen" plus an emoji of a dancing red dress lady, which is a coincidence, because right now I'm wearing a red dress and dancing the flamenco.

You can also follow the show on Twitter and Facebook -- just search for The Sewers of Paris. I post clips of the stuff we talked about each week, and also chat with listeners about the entertainment that changed THEIR lives. And I love to hear from you -- you can write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Keith Haring

Big thanks to Tim for joining me. And check out his film, Lazy Eye, on all the major streaming and video services and at LazyEye.com.

My recommendation this week is as simple as doing a google search. Type in Keith Haring, click over to the images tab, and then just keep scrolling. You'll probably recognize Haring's more famous pieces -- two figures holding up a heart, a dog-headed DJ, that sculpture outside the Moscone Center. Early in his career, Haring would ride the subways in New York and draw chalk doodles in advertising space, which brought him a sort of cult following of commuters.

But you might not be as familiar with his later political art. That takes a bit more digging to find, since it's not quite so commercial: a man with a cross confronting a television, an anti-apartheid image of a large figure crushing a smaller oppressor, two men jerking each other off with the caption "safe sex."

Haring's work looks simple, but his causes weren't -- such as the time he painted unified figures on the Berlin wall in the colors of the German flag. His later paintings link capitalism to abuse. And then there's his collage work, accusing Ronald Reagan of being a killer -- made in 1980, a decade before Haring passed away in an epidemic fueled by Reagan's inhumanity.

If not for his political work, we might still remember Haring for his bright colors, his democratic approach to exhibiting art, and his whimsical figures. That stuff's all fun -- and, importantly, marketable. But it isn't urgent, and I have a feeling it might've gotten lost among imitators if he hadn't been willing to risk alienating casual observers with statements on HIV, racism, and economic exploitation.

The Haring we know from t-shirts and tote bags is simple, appealing, and pleasant. But Haring's best work is none of those things -- it's complex, challenging, aggressive. It's sophisticated -- despite being little more than a few outlines scratched in chalk.

Stuff We Talked About

Bonus Episode! The Lost Treasure of the Neverglades

Nov 9, 2017 02:25:25

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EL D&D TN.jpg

Welcome to a special bonus episode of the Sewers of Paris! Last weekend some familiar friends and I hosted a fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital, bringing together a group of gays to play a custom made Dungeons and Dragons adventure for a livestream audience. Joining me were comedian Bryan Safi, Carlos Maza from Vox.com, Anthony Oliveira, and LGBT film scholar Bryan Wuest, all-role playing a D&D quest together.

I thought you might enjoy hearing these past Sewers of Paris guests improv their way through an adventure while joking around and making deep references to queer culture. 

I know this is a little different from the usual Sewers of Paris fare, so let me know if you like having these occasional bonus episodes or if you'd rather not have them in the feed. You can get in touch @sewersofparis on twitter or sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

And patreon supporters, don't worry -- you're not getting charged for this episode. 

During this recording you'll hear occasional sound effects whenever a viewer donates. And I hope you'll join them. We're currently ninety percent of our way to our fundraising stretch fundraising goal for Seattle Children's Hospital, and there's still time to donate -- just go to bit.ly/extralifeseattle . As of recording, we're about 90% of the way to our fundraising goal of $3,456.78. 

You can also check out our live show, Dungeons and Drag Queens, where we get a bunch of drag queens up on stage to role play a D&D adventure for a live audience. Go to dungeondrag.com to watch past shows and sign up for the mailing list to find out when we're doing more.

If you'd like to hear more from these adventurers, Bryan Safi's episode of Sewers of Paris is number 64, Anthony's is 114, Carlos is 130, and I hope to bring you Bryan Wuest's in the near future.

Huge thanks to our adventurers, to James Morris who wrote the adventure with me, and to everyone who donated during the stream. 

Prefer to watch a video version? Well here you go:

Putting Your Body Through a Car Wash (Ep. 138 - Spirited Away & BDSM)

Nov 2, 2017 01:04:29

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Huge thanks to everyone who makes the show possible with a pledge of support on Patreon! If you're enjoying the show, help keep it going at http://patreon.com/SewersOfParis.

This Week's Guest: Ali Mushtaq ali promo image.jpg

If you could step out of your body and look at yourself from the outside, how unfamiliar would you look? It's impossible to evaluate yourself with complete impartiality, but my guest this week has found ways to get as close as possible. Professor Ali Mushtaq's preferred method for clearing his mind and achieving a meditative state: flogging, leather sex, and physical transformation.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. I could not make the show without you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

And if you've got a minute, a review would be super helpful as well. Head over to SewersOfParis.com -- there's a link right at the top of the page for writing a review. And I love to hear from listeners -- the show's @SewersOfParis on Twitter and Facebook. Or you can write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

Also, mark your calendars for the weekend of November 4th -- I'm going to be doing a 24-hour videogame livestream to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital. We're raising funds to help care for kids and conduct groundbreaking research -- go to bit.ly/extralifeseattle for details and to donate. The stream kicks off with a game of Dungeons and Dragons played live with some Sewers of Paris guests: comedian Bryan Safi, media critic Carlos Maza, writer Anthony Olivera, and LGBT film scholar Bryan Wuest will all be joining me for a very gay adventure. And then I'll be continuing the stream over the next 24 hours with more special guests popping in and out. I hope you'll join us and help us raise money fro a good cause -- go to bit.ly/extralifeseattle to help us reach our fundraising goal, to watch, and to chat along with us.

And one more note. We had to record the conversation for this episode via Skype, so it sounds a little tinnier than usual. But we touched on so many interesting topics, from bodies to sex to race and religion, I hope you won't mind the audio quality. Now, here's Ali.

This Week's Recommendation: The Secret Life of Human Pups

Big thanks to Ali for joining me, and for opening up about how sexual misadventures are sometimes about more than just sex -- it can be a way to clear the mind, to relax, to get a different perspective on your place in the world.

For this week's recommendation, take a look at the documentary "The Secret Life of Human Pups," produced last year by Channel 4 in the UK. If you're not in England, the official website may not want you to watch, but you can find the full half-hour program on YouTube with just a little searching.

The documentary gives you a 101 on human pups, introducing you to men who find it soothing and sexy to role play as pet dogs. And we meet a few main characters, like a shy fellow named Tom who ordinarily doesn't like when people notice him. But when he puts on his Dalmatian-spotted hood, he assumes the character of Spot, a pup who craves attention.

The real heart of the doc is a woman named Rachel, who was engaged to marry Tom until he Tom chose to focus his attention on being a pup. She still supports Tom, still sees him, still spends time with him and cares for him. But he ended their romantic relationship to spend more time cultivating a four-legged persona with a handler named Colin.

At one point, Rachel sits next to tom, watching him polishing his rubber suit, and sighs wistfully: "he's a lot happier."

Off camera, someone asks, "and you?" She just looks uncomfortable, and then says, "I'm always going to love Tom."

For his part, Tom says, "the problem is I'll never get rid of Spot...the pup hood needs me and I need the pup hood."

It's a moment of honesty that lays bare the choices these people have made, and the lengths to which they're willing to go for comfort. In his relationship with Rachel, Tom had love and support -- and in fact, he still does. But from pursuing BDSM and the pup persona, he clearly derives a greater pleasure, and so he made his choice.

Ideally, we'd all be able to shift between headspaces, switching up our habits to try new things and then switching back, having learned something. That's why I like movies and books and shows and songs -- as an audience, you can step into a character's place, walk with them, and then after the show's over return to your life carrying the lessons of that journey before embarking on another.

But you can also make the choice to remain in a story that you're hearing, or a story that you're telling -- deciding to stay in one place because it's comfortable. And being comfortable is very nice -- but staying in one place, one story, one headspace, one persona means you might never see who or what is waiting for you just a little further down the road.

Thanks again for listening.

Remember to visit bit.ly/extralifeseattle for our livestream fundraiser next weekend, November 4th at 1pm pacific. I'll be playing video games live on camera for 24 hours, raising money for Seattle Children's Hospital. We're kicking it off with a D&D adventure played live with comedian Bryan Safi, media critic Carlos Maza, writer Anthony Olivera, and LGBT film scholar Bryan Wuest, then I'll be continuing for 24 hours with more special guests. You can donate, watch, chat with me live, and with some of the games you can even join in and play along. Head over to bit.ly/extralifeseattle, all one word, for details.

If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, head over the SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the Show on Patreon" to pledge a dollar or more per episode. Huge thanks to all the patrons who keep the show going. And you can also leave a review on iTunes, that's super helpful. 

You can also follow the show show on Twitter and Facebook -- just search for The Sewers of Paris. I post clips of the stuff we talked about each week, and also chat with listeners about the entertainment that changed THEIR lives. And I love to hear from you -- you can write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

The theme song for the show is Parisian by Kevin McLeod of Incompetech.com, licensed under creative commons by attribution 3.0.

Stuff we Talked About

Underground Culture (Ep. 137 - The Smiths & To Kill a Mockingbird)

Oct 26, 2017 00:48:38

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Huge thanks to everyone supporting the show on Patreon! Help keep the show going with a pledge at http://patreon.com/SewersOfParis.

This Week's Guests: Walter Naegle & Matt Wolf walter-promo-image.jpg

How do radical movements for justice become mainstream over time? This week I'm talking to two guests: the first is Walter Naegle, the surviving partner of Bayard Rustin; and the second is Matt Wolf, who made a documentary short about Walter entitled Bayard and Me. Bayard was a key figure in the civil rights fight starting in the 60s -- he was a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr, worked on behalf of refugees, and became an LGBT spokesperson in the 80s. Because there was no relationship recognition at the time, adopted his partner, Walter, in 1982 -- and that's just one of the subjects explored in Matt Wolf's documentary.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. I could not make the show without you. If you're enjoying the show, please help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

And if you've got a minute, a review would be super helpful as well. Head over to SewersOfParis.com -- there's a link right at the top of the page for writing a review on Apple Podcasts. Thanks to Nordbon who left a review in Swedish -- they used the word "kulturparlor" -- that's culture pearls -- to refer to the books and movies and songs that guests talked about, and I love that term. Tack så mycket Nordbon!

I love to hear from listeners -- the show's @SewersOfParis on Twitter and Facebook. Or you can write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

Also, mark your calendars for the weekend of November 4th -- I'm going to be doing a 24-hour videogame livestream to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital. We're raising funds to help care for kids and conduct groundbreaking research -- go to bit.ly/extralifeseattle for details and to donate. 

This Week's Recommendation: Bayard & Me

Big thanks to Walter and Matt for joining me. This week's recommendation is to check out their short documentary, Bayard and Me. It's about 15 minutes long, and it's both tender and energizing. The tender scenes give a glimpse into the loving relationship of two men who cared deeply for each other. And the energizing scenes seize you with the passion they both shared for social justice.

One of the reasons Bayard adopted Walter was so that Walter could keep their home when Bayard passed away. There's a remarkable moment in the documentary when we see a photograph of Bayard standing on a balcony with some small plants, decades ago... and then it cuts abruptly to Walter watering large plants on the same balcony today. Bayard & Me pulls off a remarkable feat -- bridging activist causes across not just decades, but generations. 

It's so easy to forget the struggles that came before, or to assume that a struggle started when you became aware of it. Bayard & Me draws a line from Bayard's early work in India, with the followers of Ghandi, in the 1940s ... to the bus boycotts and marches on Washington in the United States  ... to the approach he shared with Walter in protecting queer rights ... and now to the activism advanced in Matt's documentary, and to the audiences watching the doc around the world. 

When Martin Luther King talked about the moral arc of the universe bending towards justice, I'd like to think that this is the sort of thing he meant. Ghandi's first major victory was 100 years ago, in 1917, and here we are a century later continuing to fight for what's right -- occupying just one branch of a family tree that grows continuously towards justice.

Stuff We Talked About Homosexual behavior among males;: A cross-cultural and cross species investigation (A Prism Paperback) By Wainwright Churchill To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee

Royalties and a Husband (Ep. 136 - West Side Story & Eric Marcus of Making Gay History)

Oct 19, 2017 00:57:40

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This Week's Guest: Eric Marcus eric-promo-image.jpg

Is it a problem that there's "sex" in "homosexual"? My guest this week is Eric Marcus, a writer and journalist who often found himself called upon to represent the model gay man on shows like Good Morning America and The O'Reilly Factor. For years, Eric strove to put across an image of respectability and harmlessness. But these days, as the creator and host of the excellent podcast Making Gay History, and he's ready to share the pieces of our past that are enough to make anyone blush.

This Week's Recommendation: Free to be You and Me

Big thanks to Eric for joining me. Check out his podcast, Making Gay History, for absolutely spellbinding interviews with the people who shaped the queer world that we inhabit today.

The more I listen to his show, the more I note just how pivotal the sexual revolution was in queer liberation. America entered the sixties uptight and anxious, and emerged into the seventies not quite understanding how to talk about sex, but at least eager to try.

And that newfound openness even extended to the way that gender was explained to children. For my recommendation this week, take a look at the 1972 project Free to Be You and Me. It is incredibly cheesy by modern standards, but unless you are completely cynical I think you'll be won over by its adorably earnest sincerity.

Free to be You and Me is an album, book, stage play, and TV special, created by Marlo Thomas to encourage kids to look beyond gender stereotypes. Through various folksy songs and stories, children are told that it's ok to cry, that boys and girls can grow up to be whatever they want, and that it feels good to like who you are no matter what you are.

To call the songs heavy-handed is putting it mildly. They basically bludgeon you with their message of tolerance. But consider the climate in which it was made. In the early 70s, gender roles were so entrenched that any message of equality HAD to be radical and impassioned to be heard. It's why Free to be You and Me has endured, and it's why we remember Stonewall.

Stuff We Talked About The Front Runner: A Novel By Patricia Nell Warren The Best Little Boy in the World: The 25th Anniversary Edition of the Classic Memoir By John Reid, Andrew Tobias

I Always Thought Your Father was a Bit of a Poof (Ep. 135 - Sonnet 20)

Oct 12, 2017 00:54:28

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This Week's Guest: Will Kostakis will-promo-image.jpg

What are the things you're not telling people -- and what's stopping you? My guest this week is Will Kostakis, author of award winning young adult novels and the upcoming book The Sidekicks. Growing up, Will and his best friend were as close as friends could be, or at least, they told themselves they were. There was something neither one was telling the other. 

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, you can help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support

And if you've got a minute, an Apple Podcasts review would be super helpful as well. Thanks to Marshlc who writes "Almost every episode, the guests say something like 'Whew, thanks for this, it was like a therapy session!'" That does sometimes happen. What you don't know is that I'm billing my guests $200 an hour. Just kidding.

I do love to hear from listeners -- the show's @SewersOfParis on Twitter and Facebook. Or you can write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

Also if you're in Seattle, I hope you'll join us for another Dungeons and Drag Queens show! We have four fabulous drag queens on stage for one night only, role-playing their way through a custom-made, very queer Dungeons and Dragons adventure. It's happening October 25th at 7pm at the Timbre Room.

This Week's Recommendation: Fraud Fraud: Essays By David Rakoff

Big thanks to Will for joining me, and for speaking and writing so openly about his experiences with pain. We all have a built-in survival instinct that turns us away from anything that hurts. Confronting a source of suffering is difficult enough, but processing it to the point that you're ready to share it with others is brutally difficult task.

For my recommendation this week, take a look at David Rakoff's 2001 book, Fraud. I can't believe it's taken me this long to recommend the book -- front to back, it's one of my favorite pieces of writing. It's a series of essays, all lush and hilarious but also frayed at the edges with pain like a leaf starting to turn. 

The whole book is a masterpiece, but ever time I read it, I find myself tingling with anticipation of its final two paragraphs. We've just spent 225 pages with David, accompanying him on bizarre adventures to yoga retreats, posing as Freud in a shopping mall window, and to Loch Ness, all the while feeling like a detached imposter. Sometimes he wears a disguise, sometimes he places a pane of sarcasm between himself and his subjects, and always he establishes an emotional remove.

But on the last page of the book, after describing the period in his life when he nearly died from lymphoma, he asks, "what remains of your past if you didn't allow yourself to feel it when it happened? If you don't have your experiences in the moment, if you gloss them over with jokes or zoom past them, you end up with curiously dispassionate memories."

David passed away in 2012 when his lymphoma returned, and I think about the words at the end of this book a lot. That survival instinct we all have to turn away from pain, to avoid it or decorate it or disguise it -- that impulse can keep us alive, but it can also keep us from living.

Stuff we Talked About The First Third By Will Kostakis Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology By Amie Kaufman, Melissa Keil, Will Kostakis, Ellie Marney, Jaclyn Moriarty, Michael Pryor, Alice Pung, Gabrielle Tozer, Lili Wilkinson The Sidekicks By Will Kostakis

Will's book The Sidekicks comes out October 17 in the US.

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Tina Turner Realness (Ep. 134 - Proud Mary)

Oct 5, 2017 00:48:05

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This Week's Guest: Tony Moore

What's it like to go from a fan to a friend? This week's guest is Tony Moore, who hosts celebrity interviews on his show Loungin' with Tony. For years, he looked up to actors and entertainers as role models. And he found that the more he worked alongside them, the more they opened up to him -- not just as personalities, but as people.

Big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, you can help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. 

And if you've got a minute, an Apple Podcasts review would be super helpful as well. 

And I love to hear from listeners -- the show's @SewersOfParis on Twitter and Facebook. Or you can write to sewerspodcast@gmail.com. Thanks to Tom, who wrote in, "I’m 57 and have been with my husband nearly 18 years now ... the podcast has helped me feel a little more connected to the community at large, especially people younger than we are.  And while I haven’t listened to every episode, I have to say that I’m shocked, SHOCKED that no one has mentioned Maria Callas yet!"

Oh Tom, you're in luck: you can find conversations about Maria Callas and opera on episodes 4, 87, and 105. And check out Tom's blog, First Vine, where he writes about the wine -- and look for his two-part series Out in the Wine Industry for conversations with queer vintners. 

This Week's Recommendation: Julian Clary

Big thanks to Tony for joining me. You can find his show at LounginWithTony.com, where he gets entertainers and artists comfortable enough to say things they never expected to.

We're accustomed to celebrities being so carefully controlled that they never have anything surprising or honest to say, which is why it's such a delight when a bit of truth slips out. My recommendation this week is actually a recommendation from a listener -- after last week's interview with Scott Flashheart mentioned the comedian Julian Clary, Jon Dryden Taylor tweeted @SewersOfParis to suggest I take a look at Julian's presentation at the 1993 British Comedy Awards. It's available to watch on YouTube.

On the show, Julian comes strolling out on stage at the awards show, on a set that's been decorated to look, for some reason, like a dilapidated public park. He jokingly thanks the show for recreating Hampstead Heath -- that was a notorious gay cruising spot -- and the audience laughs. Then you can see Julian looking around, deciding whether he should go for the joke he wants to tell about an idiot politician who was then the target of widespread derision in Britan, and who was also present in the audience.

Finally he opens his mouth and says it: "In fact, I've just been fisting Norman Lamont." The audience explodes into chaos at the joke, and there's a long minute of bedlam as nobody can believe what they've just heard. Just as the laughter is dying down, Julian makes a reference to the red ministerial briefcases common in British government, quipping, "talk about a red box."

Newspapers campaigned to have Julian banned from television, and he soon found that joking about fisting the Chancellor of the Exchequer was an excellent way to clear his calendar for the next few years. 

But despite that, Julian says he's never regretted the joke. It's certainly followed him closely over the intervening twenty-four years. But it also redefined who Julian was in the eyes of the public: previously, he was seen as a safe, polite, clean comic -- campy, but never campy beyond innuendo. 

But camp, as Susan Sontag has noted, is more than just gaudy lampshades and goofy drag. Camp is a reaction to the banal, combatting bland culture with ludicrous affectation. "It is a feat," she wrote, "goaded on, in the last analysis, by boredom."

Julian's said in interviews that he dared himself to tell the joke before walking out on stage. And watching it now, I wonder if it might have been a joke not at Norman Lamont's expense -- but at his own.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

How to be Awesome (Ep. 133 - Terry Pratchett)

Sep 28, 2017 00:53:46

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This Week's Guest: Scott Flashheart scott-promo-image.jpg

We all know life's short, so how do you make the most of the time you've got? My guest this week is Scott Flashheart, comedian and host of the podcast Probably True. He grew up in a tiny British mining town -- or at least, what WAS a mining town, before the mine was closed, sending the place he lived into a slow downward spiral. He knew he didn't belong there, but he also felt out of place among other gays. It took a lot of work -- and a major loss -- to steer him towards his true calling: telling dick jokes to the world.

By the way, you can follow The Sewers of Paris on Facebook and Twitter -- I post clips of stuff the guests talked about throughout the week, and chat with listeners like you about the entertainment that changed YOUR life. You can also get in touch at sewerspodcast@gmail.com. Listener Jim wrote in to ask for more details about the books that guests mention -- thanks Jim, I can definitely do that. Starting this week I'll include info about books in the shownotes over at SewersOfParis.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Dress to Kill

Big thanks to Scott for joining me. Head over to ProbablyTruePodcast.com to subscribe to Scott's show. For this week's recommendation we're going to go back in time, twenty years ago to the peerless Eddie Izzard comedy special Dress to Kill.

Eddie's an actor and comic who doesn't fit neatly into boxes. In his 1998 special, he comes out in ladies' wear and calls himself an executive transvestite, though these days he uses the term transgender, and in neither case is he who you might picture when you hear those words.

He's just who he is, standing somewhat to the side of easy labels and conventional wisdom. Not just in how he presents himself, but also in his comedy, which is at its foundation mischievous and very smart. In Dress to Kill, Eddie tackles religion, history, medicine, war, growing old, and it takes a bit of work to keep up but it's worth it.

One of the topics he touches on is puberty -- you know, the time in your life when you first want to attract people and are also feel more physically repulsive than ever before.

In his act, Eddie jokes about how nice it would be to get the drama of puberty over with in just one day. But in reality, it can last for years, long past the time when one's body has settled into whatever it's going to be. The self-consciousness and horror you feel when you look in the mirror may decide to linger like unwanted body hair, and for queers that can include uncomfortable realizations about who you love, how you dress, and what you want to be.

Some of these things we can change, some we can learn to live with, some we can remove by spending thousands of dollars under a laser. The angst of our teen years can set a path for the rest of our lives, and bits of that path can seem quite miserable. But whatever that journey is, you're probably not the first to make it. There's weirdos and outcasts who came before, and you might find some solace in the ones who acknowledged "This is who I am" and asked "what if I was okay with that?"

Stuff We Talked About

Here's Scott's favorite guide on reading Terry Pratchett.

Mort (Discworld) By Terry Pratchett

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Priests of Hollywood (Ep. 132 - Designing Women & Gone with the Wind)

Sep 21, 2017 01:17:41

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This Week's Guest: Jason Powell jason promo image.jpg

What are the excuses you make for not doing what makes you happy? It's so easy to come up with reasons that NOW is the wrong time to launch into that project or hobby or career change you've always wanted. So where do you find permission to make a change in your life? This week's guest, Jason Powell, has only recently learned to give that permission to himself. Jason's one half of the podcast Ladywatch -- I interviewed his co-host, Ryan O'Connor, a few weeks back on episode 122. Each week on their show, Ryan and Jason talk about their shared admiration for powerful women. But off mic, they both have struggled with self-imposed limitations. We'll talk this week about the great southern belles who helped Jason find the bravery to stand up for himself to himself.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Killing all the Right People

Big thanks to Jason for joining me. Head over to LadyWatchPod.com to subscribe to Jason and Ryan's show. And visit SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the Designing Women speeches featured in this episode. Just look for Jason's episode, number 132. Also at SewersOfParis.com, you can watch a video that I made awhile back about a 1987 episode of Designing Women entitled Killing all the Right People. My recommendation this week is to check out that episode of the show -- you can find Killing All the Right People in three parts on Vimeo, and it's about what it was like to live with HIV during the dark years before reliable medication.

Remember, even into the late 1980s, very little was known about HIV, much less how to treat it. And the suffering of people with the virus was magnified by the cruelty of a country that didn't seem to care and often exhibited open glee about the epidemic. This episode of Designing Women tackled the issue head on, with a character rejected by his family for being gay and by a medical establishment that refused to treat him with dignity. 

Not only did the episode provide useful information about what HIV is and isn't, dispelling widespread medical myths at the time -- but it also shone a light on HIV stigma. 

The villains of the episode are busybody neighbors who object to queer people and to sex in general. One of them crows that the best thing about AIDS is that it's killing people who deserve to be killed. This was not an uncommon attitude at the time -- Pat Buchanan wrote an op-ed to that effect in the New York Times, and was then invited to work for Ronald Reagan as Communications Director.

It's crazy that in 1987, exhibiting compassion for people with HIV was a revolutionary act, and that Designing Women was the best education available to some people about HIV. But what's even crazier is that in some parts of the country, that's still the case. Only a handful of states offer any form of sex education relevant to queer people -- and some states actually require the teaching of inaccurate information, like in Alabama where kids are taught that same-sex intercourse is illegal. 

When Killing all the Right People aired in 1987, it was clearly ahead of its time. It would be nice to think that thirty years later, times have finally caught up. But sadly that's still not the case.

Stuff We Talked About Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood's Darkest and Best Kept Secrets By Kenneth Anger Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Super Extra (Ep. 131 - Gabriel Fontana & Britney Spears)

Sep 14, 2017 01:12:34

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This Week's Guest: Gabriel Fontana gebriel promo image.jpg

How much are you willing to do for love -- and how much can love do for you? This week's guest is Gabriel Fontana, who grew up in violent crime-ridden Brazilian ghettos before escaping to Sweden, where he rose to pop stardom as the winner of a Swedish Idol spinoff. Gabriel's always been something of an escape artist, relying on a mix of hard work, talent, and love to pull himself out of places he didn't want to be. Now, with thousands of fans following his every move, he's feeling more intoxicating adoration than ever before in his life -- and an ever-growing impulse to pursue that attention wherever it calls him.

A big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, you can help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

And thanks to everyone who downloaded the Dungeons & Drag Queens bonus episode last week! I hope you enjoyed it and I'd love to hear your feedback about what worked, what didn't, and if you'd like to hear more like that -- you can get in touch @SewersOfParis on Twitter or sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

This Week's Recommendation: Stonewall (1995)

Big thanks to Gabriel Fontana for joining me. Keep an eye on him -- I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of Gabriel in the future. 

But for my recommendation this week, cast your gaze back to the past -- to 1969, by way of the 1995 film Stonewall. Do not confuse this with the more recent movie of the same title, which is not worth your time! The 95 film is a lovely and at times unbearably sad glimpse into the lives of queer outcasts at a time before Pride parades. The movie chronicles the lives of some down-and-out young gays in New York in the days leading up to the Stonewall riots, and while it takes a few creative liberties with chronology, the film humanizes our recent history in a way that will stick with you like no textbook could.

It seems incredible that our community was so vilified so recently. It seems like it must have been impossibly long ago. But just to put that in perspective: the distance from Stonewall the riot to Stonewall the movie is about the same as the distance from the movie to today.

Stonewall the place was something of a refuge for queers with nowhere else to go, a home for people who had to look out for each other because no one else would. Together, they managed to stand up against the world, and to inspire the pride that we relish today. And I love how the movie makes gorgeous use of music as the tension of that summer builds. Pop songs are as much a part of that gay culture as the slang and the wigs and the cruising, and seeing gays of decades past relishing the same songs we love today instills in me a deep sense of connection and melancholy for the pioneers I'll never get to meet.

Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Bonus Episode: Dungeons and Drag Queens

Sep 8, 2017 01:58:41

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20751319_10104075713783756_70612811_n.jpg

Welcome to a special bonus episode of The Sewers of Paris! 

A few days ago, some amazingly talented drag queens and I got on stage for a live show called Dungeons and Drag Queens. We played a custom-made Dungeons and Dragons adventure in front of a live audience, and I’m really excited to share it with you.

If you don’t know anything about Dungeons & Dragons, that’s OK. Some of the players didn’t either! Basically, we sit around a table, I describe a situation, the queens tell me what they want to do, and sometimes we roll dice to find out what happens.

I had so much fun trying to keep up with the queens on this adventure, and I hope you do too.

As always, The Sewers of Paris is independent and ad-free thanks to the support of listeners on Patreon. Patreon supporters, in case you were wondering, this one is a bonus. You’re not going to be charged. And to all listeners, we will, of course, be back next week with a regularly scheduled episode.

We had so much fun making the show, and I hope you enjoy listening to it. Let me know what you think on Twitter @mattbaume or at sewerspodcast@gmail.com.

Huge thanks to our fabulous performers:

Arson NickiInstagramTwitterFacebookHarlotte O’ScaraInstagramTwitterFacebookButylene O’KippleInstagramFacebookFraya LoveInstagramTwitterFacebookIan Hill/Irene DuboisInstagramDJ Robosexhomosex, aka Veronica ElectronicaFacebookMadonna vs. EveryoneBrendan MackSTAGEright Theatre

And you can watch video of the entire show below!

It's F*cking Tough to be Reasonable (Ep. 130 - Suikoden 2)

Sep 7, 2017 00:58:33

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This Week's Guest: Carlos Maza carlos promo image.jpg

If you were to form a band of adventurers, what role would you want to serve -- fighter or healer? My guest this week is Carlos Maza, who knows how to put up a verbal fight as the host of insightful explainer videos for Vox.com. But off camera, the role in which he's most at home is that of caretaker, looking after others and supporting the well being of those around him. But as he's found, that doesn't always leave time for taking care of himself.
 

This Week's Recommendation: The Adventure Zone

Big thanks to Carlos for joining me for this very nerdy conversation. We didn't even have a chance to talk about our mutual enthusiasm for Dungeons and Dragons, but fear not -- for my recommendation this week, check out the podcast The Adventure Zone. Originally started as a one-off goof, the show was an instant hit and has grown into a sprawling emotional years-long epic.

The Adventure Zone cast consists of three brothers and their dad playing D&D, role-playing adventures in a fantasy land, and bonding as a family in real life. Over the last three years of game play, it's expanded to include LGBT characters and some truly touching romances.

When they began the show, the McElroy family had no idea they'd make more than one episode, but here it is, wildly popular and spawning live shows, comic books, cosplay, and animated tribute videos. They just set out with a rough idea and not much of a plan -- proof that sometimes no plan is the best plan.

And speaking of D&D, keep an eye on the Sewers of Paris feed for a special bonus episode going up on September 8th. It's the audio recording of a live show that I just hosted with a bunch of amazing Seattle performers, called Dungeons and Drag Queens. A lot of people helped make the show possible -- including this week's guest, Carlos Maza. He helped us test the game before we performed it before a live audience.

The Dungeons and Drag Queens special drop into the Sewers of Paris feed tomorrow, right after this episode, and if you like it -- great! If not, we'll be back with a regular episode next week.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Glitter and be Gay (Ep. 129 - Julie Andrews)

Aug 31, 2017 00:59:16

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This Week's Guest: Kevin Clarke kevin promo image.jpg

What hidden worlds are waiting to be found right under your nose? My guest this week is Kevin Clarke, who grew up in a divided Berlin, so close to the wall he could hear the police threatening to shoot people who came too close. He was eager to leave as soon as he could -- but he was drawn back to the city years later. By then, he was old enough to discover and explore a bawdy underground gay culture that had always been hiding right in his own back yard.

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Join the folks supporting The Sewers of Paris with a pledge on Patreon.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Marlene Dietrich Live in Stockholm

Thanks again to Kevin for joining me. If you ever find yourself in Berlin, I highly recommend a trip to the Schwules Museum. And not just if you're Julie Andrews. It's an incredible glimpse into history and it's one of the great wonders of the queer world. 

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the work of another great queer icon: Marlene Dietrich. Specifically, seek out the full version of Marlene Dietrich live in Stockholm, a 1963 concert featuring some of her most iconic songs: La Vie en Rose, The Laziest Gal in Town, Lili Marlene, and of course Falling in Love Again.

But the song that moves me to tears every single time is her rendition of Where Have all the Flowers Gone -- a German translated version of Pete Sieger's great anti-war song. The song is moving even if you can't understand the words, in part because of how it's delivered: she stands resolute, staring tall in a single spotlight amidst darkness, and in her gaze into the distance and her beautiful deep voice there's a heartbreaking, mournful pain.

But of course there's pain. This was a woman whose career began in Berlin cabarets, who then watched the city she loved torn apart by war. She renounced her homeland and dedicated her career to fighting Nazis, turning over entire film salaries to funds that helped Jews escape. After the war was over, she learned that her sister had run a cinema frequented by concentration camp officers, and she disowned those family members. And many Germans never forgave her -- when she returned for a concert in the 1960s, she was met with protestors and bomb threats.

But she was absolutely a hero, at times performing for troops so close to battlefields her life was in grave danger. When asked why she would take such risks simply to boost the morale of those fighting Nazis, her reply was "aus Anstad" -- out of decency.

Standing up for what what was right meant sacrificing money, career, family, homeland -- but she did it anyway, and she remained standing even decades later, alone there in the dark at that concert wondering if a day will come when we will ever learn.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

The Doctor's Wife (Ep. 128 - The Witches)

Aug 24, 2017 01:06:17

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This Week's Guest: Jonathan Duffy jonathan promo image.jpg

What are you willing to sacrifice for your freedom? My guest this week is Australian-Icelandic comedian Jonathan Duffy, who's found a way to laugh through good times and bad, whether serving as Creative Director for Iceland's entry into Eurovision... to an unexpected calling tending to people near death in a small town the Australian Outback. There used to be a time when he just sat back and let the world pass him by. But his real adventures began when he started giving up the things he loved to get even more back.

Hey, if you're in Seattle at the end of this month, I'd like to invite you to two live events that I'm hosting. The first is a show we're calling Dungeons and Drag Queens, a live comedy show where four drag queens play through a D&D adventure on stage. It's happening on Thursday, August 31st at 7pm at the Timbre Room, and you can get tickets at StrangerTickets.com.

The second is a panel at Penny Arcade Expo -- that's PAX -- about how to create queer gamer communities. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, we've assembled a panel of experts with advice for LGBTQ geeks looking to organize. Tickets to PAX are sold out but if you're going, the panel's on Saturday, September 2nd at 12:30pm.

A big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. If you're enjoying the show, you can help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

This Week's Recommendation: It's Time

As Jonathan mentioned, it's so important to let people know that you love them. For my recommendation this week, I want you to check out an Australian ad called "It's Time." It's short, just two minutes long, and it's shot as an unseen person's point of view -- you're seeing through their eyes as they meet a boy, go on dates, fall in love, meet the family and start a life together. 

Because the viewer is watching all this unfold, with characters making eye contact into the camera as though they're looking into your eyes, it's easy to get lost in that gaze -- to feel as though you're there, experiencing the rush of caring for someone and being cared about.

The whole thing flies by as a fast montage, a whole relationship from initial meeting to growing close to moving in to proposal. What's beautiful about it is how ordinary and familiar it all is: buying dinner together, sure, we all recognize that. Nervously meeting parents, sure, we've all been there. it just feels so normal. Throughout the entire relationship, there's not a moment of disapproval or skepticism or resistance about the couple's gender. And even though the ad was made to persuade straight people that we all deserve the freedom to marry, it's also an amazing gift to queer viewers: this is what it would feel like to fall in love in world where nobody thinks your love is wrong.

And then the ad fades to black just as we see two men embracing, about to begin life together as a married couple. And it's like a punch to the gut. Because that can't actually happen, at least not in Australia, not yet, or even in most countries. We don't live in that a world where nobody thinks our love is wrong. Not yet. There are still lots of people who would see that ad cut to black before the relationship can even begin. 

And that's one more reason to tell the people we love how we truly feel, no matter who or what stands in our way.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I am Militantly Vulnerable (Ep. 127 - Sailor Moon)

Aug 17, 2017 01:05:13

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This Week's Guest: Gilda Wabbit

What's the future you want to see? My guest this week is drag queen Gilda Wabbit, who experienced a strange moment of internet fame thanks to a photo of her riding the subway in full drag next to a Muslim woman. What that photo didn't capture was Gilda's background searching for her voice -- literally, as for years she struggled as an opera singer to find roles that felt right. Turns out putting on a wig and a dress helped point her in the right direction.

This Week's Recommendation: Giant Woman

Thanks again to Gilda for joining me. You can find her on Twitter @gildawabbit, and you YouTube where you can see her singing Do it for Her from Steven Universe.

For my recommendation this week, check out another Steven Universe song: Giant Woman. You don't need to be familiar with the show to follow along -- thought it helps to know that it's a song song by a character who wants his friends to get along, rather than fight, because when they do they can combine to become a giant woman. 

I recommend this not just because Steven Universe is the most beautiful and pure television show ever made. But during a recent livestream, viewer FreeKillZero pointed out to me that becoming a giant woman is essentially what performer do when they get into drag. And although it might not have been the meaning intended by the show, there's a lovely parallel between the magic fusing of Steven's friends and the magic transformation of drag. 

Drag is something you wear on your outside but it's something you feel on your inside. It's a fullness, an achievement of inner potential that nobody could see until the wig and the makeup came along.

It's why, no matter how popular it become, drag will never become "mainstream," because it's an intensely personal, individual, political and rebellious act to declare that person everyone sees is wrong and persona that you feel is right.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Swept Away by Dracula (Ep. 126 - horror films)

Aug 10, 2017 01:10:10

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jeffrey Schwarz

We're noted from time to time on this show that many gay men hold a special place for horror in their hearts. But that's only a fraction of the story with this week's guest. Jeffrey Schwarz has made a lifelong study of film, starting with an early job editing the documentary The Celluloid Closet, right up to today with a new documentary about flamboyant producer Allan Carr. As a weird young gay man, he found kindred spirits in people who, like him, reveled in intensity and excess. And now as a filmmaker, he's reaching out a hand to invite others to join him.
 

This Week's Recommendation: The Lost Boys

Thanks again to Jeffrey for joining me, and no thanks to all the creepy horror stuff I looked through after recording this week's episode. I had some particularly unpleasant nightmares thanks to that title sequence from the show Chiller. But that obviously means that something's working -- something's speaking to me, even if I don't want to hear it.

I've always been squeamish about horror, because I'm easily spooked in general and also because it sometimes makes me confront anxieties I don't know how to handle. That's why it is with some nervousness that this week my recommendation is The Lost Boys, a 1987 vampire movie based on the lost boys of Peter Pan.

The film is set in a California coastal town and focused on a teen boy and his preteen brother. The older boy falls in with a sinister crowd of vampires, but they're not JUST vampires -- they're also extremely gay. In fact the whole film oozes with queer desire, probably because it was directed by Joel Schumacher. 

One young boy has a sexy pinup photo inside his closet; another signals that he's joined the vampires by wearing a single earring. There's a oily muscular saxophone player in purple tights who seems to have wriggled off of the pages of International Male, and the camera devotes a deeply uncomfortable amount of attention to a boy in a bathtub who sings about not having a man in his life. And that's all before we get to the extremely thin veil on the metaphor of a fraternal plague spread by the sharing bodily fluids in the 1980s.

For all its gleeful sexuality, The Lost Boys makes me a bit sad since it ultimately feels self-loathing. The band of brothers are evil monsters, killing without remorse. And they're ultimately defeated by child-heroes wearing uniforms of 80s action-star heteronormativity. Worst of all, the film attempts to shock with a predatory bisexual twist.

I want to root for the Lost Boys, both the movie and the characters. I want to be a part of the sexy, carefree young men living hedonistically on the beach. But no, the movie insists, you can't. Those guys are bad. The straight world is good. It really bums me out that the movie sees vampires this way, especially a movie made by a gay man.

But then again, in 1987, that is how the world saw gays. It was a story told about us so widely, so emphatically, and so convincingly that many came to believe it about themselves.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Everything but the Snakes (Ep. 125 - Worship songs)

Aug 3, 2017 01:03:43

Description:

This Week's Guest: Josef Krebs

What's the project of your life? My guest this week is Josef Krebs, who's done a lot of thinking about the impact he can have on the world, whether through the evangelical church in which he grew up, or the world of theater where he eventually found a more satisfying home. Josef's work has always been about chasing the feeling of ecstasy, not just for himself but for the people around him.

This Week's Recommendation: Katamari Damacy

I'm going to get very "big idea" for a moment here and assert that one of the primary functions of myth is to connect us to the cosmos -- that is, to make sense of the insensible vastness of the universe. But sometimes, the stories we tell make the universe make even less sense, and that's the case with this week's recommendation: the game Katamari Damacy.

The premise of the game is simple enough, and it's kind of Pac Man plus a snowball rolling downhill. You play the Prince of the Cosmos, whose father the king accidentally destroyed all the heavenly bodies. He wants you to go to Earth to collect material to remake the moon and stars. And the way you do this is by rolling a sticky ball around various places -- everything you touch sticks to the ball, and while you start very tiny you eventually roll up enough to gather paperclips, then small toys, then cats and dogs, then people and cars and buildings and trees. 

A line often repeated in the game is, "I feel it. I feel the cosmos." An indeed, it's hard not to feel as though everything is connected as you roll it all up, from the tiny bugs at the start to the giant cargo ships at the end. It is deeply satisfying to squish every object in the world together to make new stars. As Carl Sagan said, we're all made of star stuff, and there's a pleasurable democracy in seeing that everything, big and small, can get rolled up into a big sticky ball of celestial light. 

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Luxury Music for Surplus People (Ep. 124 - Madonna & Prince)

Jul 27, 2017 00:48:43

Description:

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This Week's Guest: Thomas Hårdell

What makes you feel ugly, and do you try to hide it or highlight it? My guest this week is Thomas Hårdell, a Danish student-teacher and musician. Growing up, he was told to blend in like a stalk of wheat, and to avoid standing out like an oak tree -- which is ironic, given that he's well over six feet tall. There were times that standing out put him at risk, like when a host family found out he was gay and left him stranded in a foreign country. But over time, he's learned that standing out and being an oak tree allows you to provide shelter for others.

By the way, if you're in London, come see me at Nine Worlds, the geek culture convention from August 4th to 6th. I'm doing a panel on cosplay and another on queer Star Trek characters. And then on Sunday, August 6th, I'm presenting video highlights from interviews with LGBT gamers -- that's part of my documentary project Playing with Pride, which is all about what happens when queer culture and game culture collide. You can get more info about the panel and the project at PlayingWithPride.com.

Also -- throughout the month of July, The Sewers of Paris needs your nominations to win a Podcast Award. Just go to PodcastAwards.com and nominate The Sewers of Paris in the LGBT category. It's open July 1 through July 31, so if you're enjoying the show I'd be very grateful if you could help it win a Podcast Award.

And a big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon, including brand new patrons Thomas, J, Patrick, and David. If you're enjoying the show, you can help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

This Week's Recommendation: Modelland

My recommendation this week is not going to be for everyone. But if the subject of beautiful ugliness and precious imperfection is of interest, you might want to take a look at Modelland, the fantasy novel written by Tyra Banks. Yup, as in America's Next Top Model Tyra Banks.

Modelland defies all explanation, expectation, and reason. It's long, and every page is more bizarre than the last. The story concerns a young girl named Tookie De La Creme who yearns to travel to a magical place called Modelland full of the prettiest girls, which are known as intoxibellas. Her mother, who is named Cremalatta Defacake, thinks she's ugly and imperfect because she happens to look just like Tyra Banks, which will doom her to a lifetime of being enslaved in a factory. But -- you can probably guess where this is going -- Tookie eventually discovers that her imperfections are what make her beautiful. 

But that platitude is not why you read Modelland. You read it for the legitimately batshit bizarre ideas of Tyra Banks, such as the magical power of being aged thirtynever. There's the time a character named Chris-Creme-Crobat blinds himself by bowing too deeply over a sword. Nurses have scissors growing out of their heads, and pretty boys live in a place called Bestosterone. Maybe the strangest thing of all is that Tyra said she worked so hard on the book her hair fell out.

Now, put yourself in her position for a moment: as strange as Modelland is, there's no denying Tyra's lived a bizarre life herself. She's been a profesional model since she was 15, which essentially means she's been paid exorbitant sums of money just to be looked at in strange locales all over the world since she was a child. What we get in her book is what she sees when she looks back at the world. And it's real strange, confusing, off-putting and imperfect -- but it's imperfections are what make it beautiful.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Going to Face the Dragon (Ep. 123 - Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Jul 20, 2017 00:54:22

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This Week's Guest: Drew Greenberg

We usually talk on this show about the entertainment that's changed the lives of gay men, but this week we're also talking about how gay men have changed entertainment. My guest is television writer Drew Greenberg, who's written romantic scenes between Willow and Tara on Buffy, helped introduce queer characters on shows like Warehouse 13, and is currently working on season 5 of Agents of SHIELD. Throughout his career, he was told his shows could never have queer leading characters. And throughout his career, he's refused to accept that that's true.

By the way, if you're in London, come see me at Nine Worlds, the geek culture convention from August 4th to 6th. I'm doing a panel on cosplay and another on queer Star Trek characters. And then on Sunday, August 6th, I'm presenting video highlights from interviews with LGBT gamers -- that's part of my documentary project Playing with Pride, which is all about what happens when queer culture and game culture collide. You can get more info about the panel and the project at PlayingWithPride.com.

Also -- throughout the month of July, The Sewers of Paris needs your nominations to win a Podcast Award. Just go to PodcastAwards.com and nominate The Sewers of Paris in the LGBT category. It's open July 1 through July 31, so if you're enjoying the show I'd be very grateful if you could help it win a Podcast Award.

And a big thanks to everyone supporting the Sewers of Paris on Patreon, including brand new patrons Andrew, Patricia, Gary, Cameron, Sidekick, and Robert. If you're enjoying the show, you can help keep it independent and ad-free with your pledge of support. Just go to SewersOfParis.com and click support the show on Patreon.

This Week's Recommendation: DS9 episode Rejoined

Thanks again to Drew for joining me. You can catch his writing on Agents of SHIELD -- he's hard at work on Season 5 right now. That show features the first openly gay character in Marvel's cinematic universe. And while it's a little frustrating that it took so many years for the MCU to have someone who's openly gay, that's nothing compared the how long it's taken Star Trek. For my recommendation this week, take a look at a complex queer episode of Deep Space Nine, Rejoined, from Season 4.

The show features a character named Dax who's quasi-immortal in that a part of her consciousness can move from one person's body to another before dying. She's lived for several lifetimes, and on this episode, she meets another of her kind to whom she used to be married, several lifetimes ago. Back when they were married, they were a husband and wife -- but now, both of them are inhabiting female bodies.

This is complicated, because their species strictly forbids interaction with individuals from previous lives. But the two women find themselves falling in love all over again, despite the cultural taboo, and they're faced with a choice: live openly and face exile and death, or repress their love to remain a part of ordinary society. The parallels to queer ostracism could not be more explicit, though the show never comments on the characters being either lesbian or bisexual -- even after they share Star Trek's first same-sex kiss. It's a weird omission that nobody talks about gender, given that everyone else around them in the entire known universe presents as heterosexual. I would have liked to hear Star Trek speak as boldly about same-sex romance as explores far reaches of space, and although it's tender and affecting, the episode falls tantalizingly short of what it could have been.

I have a lot of quibbles with the way that Star Trek handles gender and sexuality, and I'm not going to go into my rant right now other than to say that it's a crime they stopped having men in miniskirt uniforms after the first few episodes of Next Generation. As a franchise, Trek has been disappointingly silent on queer romance -- but that's something I expect to change very soon. The upcoming series Discovery has Bryan Fuller at the helm -- that's the showrunner who gave us explicit queer sex on American Gods, lesbians on Hannibal, and musical numbers with Kristen Chenowith on Pushing Daisies. Even as studies told him to straighten his shows out, Fuller embedded a queer sensibility so deeply that it simply couldn't be removed without erasing the entire show. 

Discovery premieres in late September, and I cannot wait to see how queers are woven into Star Trek at last. Until then, we can content ourselves with the adorable timid first steps of DS9.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Elizabeth Taylor is my Higher Power (Ep. 122 - Hillary Clinton)

Jul 13, 2017 00:57:17

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ryan O'Connor

We all have our sources of security -- it could be a career, a home, a relationship, a circle of friends. How would you handle the loss of all of those things? This week's guest is Ryan O'Connor, co-host of the outstanding LadyWatch podcast. A few years back, Ryan was pretty sure all of his goals were coming together like a tidy checklist. And then, one by one, they all fell apart, and he discovered that when you lose everything you have, you find out who you are.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Red Ladies

Thanks again to Ryan for joining me. Don't forget to subscribe to his show, Ladywatch, which he co-hosts with the delightful Jason Powell. It's a celebration of the amazing work of women, and I learn so much from every single episode. You can also support them on Patreon, where 10% of the proceeds go to The Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media.

For another master class on feminine power, my recommendation this week is that you go to YouTube and search for Red Ladies Sondheim. You'll find a playlist of videos from Steven Sondheim's 2010 birthday concert, including a show-stopping series of songs from women in red dresses. There's Audra McDonald singing The Glamorous Life; Patti LuPone is a lady who lunches, Bernadette sings Not a Day Goes By, and Elaine Stritch grabs I'm Still Here by the throat and throttles it into submission.

There is a full range of emotions across these performances -- some are sad and slow, others upbeat, others wry. Though the occasion was Steven Sondheim's birthday, the performances are more a workship of the performers than the songwriter. Himself a gay man, I'm sure Sondheim appreciates the pricelessness of a diva, and to have seven arrayed on stage is the greatest birthday gift anyone could ask for. 

And while the songs were written by a man, what's remarkable about these performances is just how much authorship is contributed by the women. They're not just singing the words on the page and hitting the notes. They're inhabiting the songs, adding to the story with this faces, with their breaths, with the places they chose to pause or add a sarcastic roll of the eyes. These women all have as much to say as, if not more than, the composition. And in this performance, it's impossible not to listen.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

  Support the show on Patreon

Support the show on Patreon

We've Cornered the Market on Mermaids (Ep. 121 - Joel Kim Booster)

Jul 6, 2017 00:53:19

Description:

This Week's Guest: Joel Kim Booster

When did you first escape your bubble? We all start life protected by adults, looked after and shielded from the harsh realities of the world. Some of us burst out of it as fast as we can, and others like to pretend they never have to leave. This week's guest is comedian Joel Kim Booster, whose parents tried so hard to control his life that when he finally did come out, it was with so much momentum he found himself homeless -- until a family he hardly even knew took him in.

By the way, Joel has a half hour special premiering on Comedy Central this fall. And if you're in New York, he's recording a stand up comedy album on Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week -- July 11 and 12 at Ars Nova. Tickets are fifteen bucks and you can get them at ArsNovaNYC.com.

Also -- throughout the month of July, The Sewers of Paris needs your nomination to win a Podcast Award. Just go to PodcastAwards.com and nominate The Sewers of Paris in the LGBT category. Nominations are open until July 31, so if you're enjoying the show I'd be very grateful if you could help it win a podcast award.
 

This Week's Recommendation: If...

For my recommendation this week, check out the movie If... -- that's the word "if" followed by three periods. It stars a super young Malcom MacDowell as a teenager chafing under the stuffy rules of a quintessentially old-fashioned British boarding school run on cruelty and discipline. It's essentially Hogwarts without the magic, and if the only house was Slytherin. In those circumstances, who wouldn't want to rebel? And that's just what happens, when a close-knit group of outcast boys decides to fight back against hundreds of years of tradition.

The film swims through a sort of middle-ground between reality and imagination, and it's never quite clear what's really happening and what's a fantasy. The whole experience feels like a daydreamy speculation, as suggested by the title -- a teenager's mind wandering into fantasies of sex and violence and frustration at a system determined to keep him down. 

Pushing back against the powerful isn't easy, and the boys of If... are essentially tiny specks in a giant machine of tradition. Of course, those in power insist that their rules exist for the benefit of all -- for the students, for the monarchy, for those tempted by homosexual flirtation. It's a brutal environment in which to learn a bitter lesson: that no matter what motives the powerful may claim, they're really only interested in protecting their own power.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Anita Bryant, God Bless Her (Ep. 120: Gore Vidal)

Jun 29, 2017 00:54:24

Description:

This Week's Guest: Albert Williams

What's the difference between an end and a beginning, and are they sometimes the same thing? My guest this week is Albert Williams, a longtime queer artist and activist who's seen the queer world transform over the course of his life. Throughout that time, there were periods when change just wasn't coming fast enough, and that's when he and his friends found ways to force one era to end and a new one to begin.

Also -- throughout the month of July, The Sewers of Paris needs your nominations to win a Podcast Award. Just go to PodcastAwards.com and nominate The Sewers of Paris in the LGBT category. It's open July 1 through July 31, so if you're enjoying the show I'd be very grateful if you could help it win this award.

This Week's Recommendation: The Fox and the Hound

Thanks again to Albert for joining me. As he pointed out, stories about young queer people and young straight people discovering their differences have been a part of our community for decades. And for my recommendation this week, take a look at a film that have an unexpected perspective on that experience: Disney's the Fox and the Hound. And make sure you have a lot of tissues around because it's one of those "you will cry" Disney films.

The story follows a young orphaned fox, and his best friend, a puppy being trained to be a hunting dog. As kids, they're inseparable -- until the expectations of their separate worlds intrude on their relationship. The fox wants to remain close forever, but the hound is being pressured to not just turn his back, but to attack his former friend. And the older dog who trained the hound is particularly determined that they should maintain their traditional roles as adversaries.

Who knows if anyone who worked on this movie intended for it to have queer subtext, but the core of the conflict -- two boys from different worlds -- is painfully familiar, particularly when coupled with the hostility of the older generation. And although the ending is pretty melancholy, there's a glimmer of optimism as well: in a climactic moment, a bridge is built between the world of the fox and the world of the hound. They're not quite able to cross it, but at least it's there -- and maybe future generations can go further than they did.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

He Found Out my Secret - (Ep. 119: Matchgame & Press Your Luck)

Jun 22, 2017 0:54:23

Description:

This Week's Guest: Mandel Ilagen

This week's guest is Mandel Ilagen, but it's not the first time his name's come up on the show. He's a ringleader of a group of gays who are obsessed with game shows -- you might remember past guests Louis Virtel and Randy West describing Mandel's house parties that are like TV show tapings mixed with cocktails and queens. Game shows might seem like frivolous entertainment, but for Mandel and many of his friends, they provided a way to prove themselves amongst their peers -- and, for the first time in their lives, have fun doing it.

This Week's Recommendation: Ferdinand the Bull

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the children's book The Story of Ferdinand. This was a pivotal text for me as a child, and after reviewing it for this week's episode, I found that it still is. It's the story of a gentle bull who prefers smelling flowers over fighting, and what happens he must confront the world's expectations about who he's supposed to be.

Looking back on this book, I wonder just how much it shaped my sense of right and wrong to this day. I know that I read it a lot as a child. It is a truly beautiful work that has filled me with joy since before I could read -- in part because the telling of the tale is as gentle as the main character. There's no judgement, no mockery, and no tragic end for the bull who just wants to live life on his own terms.

Ultimately, the story leaves Ferdinand in a place of incredible bliss: not having proven himself, and yet still completely satisfied -- because his failure to measure of up other people's expectations is their problem, not his.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Roll Yourself in Glitter - (Ep. 118: Justin Sayre)

Jun 15, 2017 01:09:34

Description:

This Week's Guest: Justin Sayre

My guest this week is Justin Sayre, whom you may know from the excellent Sparkle and Circulate podcast, or his delightful live show The Meeting of the International Order of the Sodomites. He always knew there was a big queer community out there, but he never quite felt a connection with it, so he decided to do something about that: by appointing himself its chairman.

This Week's Recommendation: Mae West in Myra Breckinridge

For my recommendation this week, I want you to take a look at a film that does everything it can to defy description -- Myra Breckinridge. And specifically, look up the YouTube video that's just excerpts of scenes with Mae West.

The movie was made in 1968, and it's a weird sloppy mess of a story that's pulled in all different directions by all different ideas. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's torturous, every now and then it's a little bit sexy. And never is it any better than when Mae West is on the screen.

By this point in her career, Mae is an undisputed master of feminine sexual glamour. The fact that she was 75 years old at the time doesn't matter at all, and it is with unbridled gusto that she delivers lines like "ah, the end of another busy day. I can't wait to get back to bed. And if that don't work I'll try sleep."

The rest of the film is a mixed bag at best -- it's a fumbling adaptation of a Gore Vidal novel by a creative team that lacks the sophistication to understand the queer source material. The result is a mess of ideas about masculinity, which on their own would simply be forgettable. But Mae West's campy vamping snatches defeat from the jaws of defeat, not quite redeeming the film or rescuing it from its downward spiral, but at least transforming it into a joy to watch on its day down.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I Was a Teenage Theater Tyrant (Ep. 117 - Pee-wee Herman)

Jun 8, 2017 01:09:57

Description:

This Week's Guest: Tom Lenk

Have you ever proved yourself wrong? My guest this week is actor Tom Lenk, who appeared as Andrew on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tom was convinced for years that he lacked the skills that seemed to come naturally to other actors -- and so he was terrified when cast in a show that demanded more of him than he thought he could deliver. Facing that challenge changed the course of his career -- thanks in part to confidence he absorbed at an early age from the most beautiful woman in Puppetland.

By the way, Tom's the subject of a new documentary coming out this month called Nerdgasm. The film follows his quest to stage a show in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and it's available to watch on Amazon starting June 16th. 

And the Sewers of Paris is independent and ad free thanks to the support of listeners. If you're enjoying the show, head over to SewersOfParis.com and click "Support the Show on Patreon" to help keep the show going for as little as a dollar per episode.

And one more note -- I'm going to be at the Lyst Symposium in Copenhagen this coming weekend, from June 9th to June 11th, presenting a talk about queer sex, love, and relationships in games. If you're in Copenhagen, come check it out, or follow along with my travels on twitter @mattbaume. I'll be visiting several European cities all throughout this summer to report on international LGBT issues -- and hopefully, to visit the actual Sewers of Paris.

This Week's Recommendation: Pee-Wee's Big Holiday

Thanks again to Tom for joining me, and head over to TomLenk.com to check out his work -- including the documentary Nerdgasm, available June 16. The doc's about what happens when you push through self-doubt and believe in your own abilities, and for my recommendation this week, I hope you'll watch another another movie about queer self-confidence: the Netflix special Pee Wee's Big Holiday. 

Now I am not a big believer in nostalgia reboots, which are almost always unable to live up to the unreliable memories of the original. But somehow Pee Wee's Big Holiday is a bundle of unmitigated charm and delight, just like Pee Wee himself.

The film is centered around friendship, and the lengths to which we're driven by feelings of affection. Pee Wee plays a small-town boy who's never vacationed far from home. But when he meet a famous hunky actor named Joe, he takes the plunge and goes on an epic journey to New York for Joe's birthday party.

The story tingles with queerness throughout, from the breathless interest of the male leads to the suggestive insertion of a fist in a friendship bracelet. But what makes it so joyful to me is Pee Wee's confidence, self-assuredness, and comfort in his own weird skin.

He is, to be clear, a very strange boy. And at no point does it even seem possible to imagine him being anything else. Even when he's in trouble and things aren't going his way, he is unswervingly himself -- giddy, curious, playful, and sincere.

And so are the heroes he encounters, from hairdressers to bank robbers to an odd heiress. Each one is a strange, happy caricature; each one unabashedly eccentric; each one -- as we all should aspire to be -- a Pee Wee in their own big holiday.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Queer Desire Has Always Been There (Ep. 116: Kurt Cobain)

Jun 1, 2017 00:56:08

Description:

This Week's guest: Hamed Sinno

What did you rebel against when you were a teenager, and are you still rebelling today? This week's guest is Hamed Sinno, whose Lebanese upbringing afforded him only brief glimpses of gay culture and queer voices in pop culture. In college, he formed a band with some friends and discovered to his surprise that his defiant songs resonated with other folks. But with that heightened visibility came new risks -- particularly when he came to America.

This Week's Recommendation: Once More With Feeling

Thanks again to Hamed for joining me, and if you're having trouble finding his band, you can try Googling the English translation -- Leila's Project. I do advise finding translations of the lyrics, because they're quite lovely: confessional, emotional, brutally honest. And so for my recommendation this week, check out the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More with Feeling."

The episode came a bit after a weird 90s trend of inserting surprise musicals into otherwise nonmusical TV shows, but unlike, say, The Drew Carey Show, there is an actual reason that the characters on the show burst into showtunes: a dangerous demon curse that forces them to confess feelings that are too hard to say without being sung.

As is par for the course with Buffy, the show is funny and clever but with a dark undercurrent that, when the music's over, leaves the characters to deal with the consequences of honesty. Some are brought closer together, others pushed apart, and some are closer but in a way that might not be an entirely good thing. 

What I love about this episode is how singing changes the act of communication. It comes at a point of crisis on the series, where the characters have, like so many families, spiraled into a failure to communicate. The opportunity to perform changes all that -- it turns difficult words into a show, introduces a level of remove that makes confession bearable. And then the music's over. And it's time to deal with what's been said, which may be painful for everyone -- but not as painful as the secrets they kept.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Impersonating Dinosaurs (Ep. 115: Jurassic Park, Queer as Folk, and Weekend)

May 25, 2017 00:58:36

Description:

This Week's Guest: Adam Smith

How do you make up for lost time after spending years in the closet? My guest this week is journalist Adam Smith, who avoiding coming out for years because he felt that he needed to maintain a sort of sexual neutrality for the sake of his family. Now that he's finally experiencing the world as an out gay man, there's lots to explore -- which has meant shedding his inhibitions, and occasionally, all of his clothes.

This Week's Recommendation: The Outcast

Thanks again to Adam for joining me. He mentioned Star Trek as being a particularly meaningful laboratory for testing ethical positions, and so for my recommendation this week I'm pleased to have an excuse to recommend the Next Generation season 5 episode "The Outcast," in which the crew encounters a race that has no gender -- or at least, isn't supposed to have a gender. Those that do express an unsanctioned tendency towards male or female traits are subjected to therapy intended to "normalize" them.

Even though The Next Generation never had an explicitly queer character, this episode is as on the nose as the prosthetics on most aliens' faces. Through the metaphor of aliens, it explores the nature of gender, the fear of being subjected to conversion therapy, and issues of consent. There's even a sci-fi metaphor for the closet in the form of a phenomenon known as "null space" where objects can undetectably exist.

Star Trek is at its best when it's a venue for us to explore contemporary ethical questions, which is why the show of the 60s is so different from the show of the 90s. It makes sense, given that the episode aired in 1992, that they would attempt to grapple with sexuality. But the episode is also notable for how timidly it explores the topic. It ends on a fairly neutral opinion of conversion therapy, and of attacks on queer existence. And though the characters are gender-neutral, the casting confines the romances to opposite-sex actors. It's disappointing that to this day, the Star Trek canon remains relatively silent on the topic of sexual orientation, despite its founding captain being a essentially a walking sex gland.

But there's a new series in the franchise set to debut in a few months, this time helmed by an openly gay man. So hopefully now, over fifty years after the series first aired, it'll finally be ready to make up for decades of lost time in its own sort of null space.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Failed Mystics (Ep. 114: Buffy, X-Men, He-Man, and Lwaxana Troi)

May 18, 2017 01:02:54

Description:

This Week's Guest: Anthony Oliveira

Have you ever been lucky enough to enjoy the sensation of villainy? My guest this week is Anthony Oliveira, who you might also know for his incisive tweeting as Meakoopa. Anthony's always felt a sympathy for monsters and villains -- or at least, the figures assumed to be monsters and villains -- even before he was old enough to realize that he might be considered one himself.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Bowser

Thanks again to Anthony for joining me and for his neverending stream of excellent tweets, which you can find at meakoopa. And that brings me to this week's recommendation -- not a book or movie or song or any kind of text, but a character. Specifically Bowser, the king of the Koopas, and an unlikely gay icon.

Let me explain.

Bowser's been around since 1985, and for those early first few years, he was depicted as your standard pixelated 8-bit monster. But as games moved into 3D and we started seeing him rendered in more detail, Bowser seems to have caught the eye of a certain fandom. He's big and burly, with leather spiked cuffs on his forearm and a perpetually wide stance. So of course, as Bowser entered his thirties, along with his earliest fans, he's become something of a heart throb.

This reached a sort of a peak in 2014, with a commercial where he was depicted in a cute polka-dot jacket with hipster glasses, and then again earlier this year when he was depicted as a responsible dad. 

As a result, it's now easy to find loving fan art, ranging from the chaste to the filthy, lovingly portraying Bowser as a sort of perfect boyfriend. My favorite is when he's styled as a "nerd dad," wearing dorky square glasses and a blazer, a tough-looking hunk with a secretly tender heart. But if you want something more explicit, I'm sure you won't have any trouble finding that, too. 

I'll always love when a character gets queered, but I'm particularly delighted by the queering of Bowser -- not just because big nerd dads are my type, but also because making him a dreamboat is about as queer as it gets. In his original incarnation, he was a literal monster, a mindless avatar for evil and fear. Turning him into various admirable gay tropes, from leather daddy to porn star to cool gay uncle, subverts every rule about what a bad guy's supposed to be -- namely, bad.

And if there's a sexy queer future awaiting the fire-breathing lizard as he matures, well, there's hope for any of us.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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I Was About to Lose my Mind - (Ep. 113 - Dave Holmes)

May 11, 2017 00:59:40

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This Week's Guest: Dave Holmes

My guest this week is Dave Holmes, who you might know from the podcast International Waters, or his articles in Esquire, or his book Party of One. I first saw Dave on MTV, in a proto-reality show competition to become a VJ back in the late 90s. On screen, it was clear that Dave was the most qualified, most knowledgable, and most engaging contestant, with an encyclopedia knowledge of music and an infectious passion for talking about it. But what nobody who was watching could know was that for Dave, entering that competition was an urgent bid to change the course of his life before he went absolutely crazy.

This Week's Recommendation: Mame

Thanks again to Dave for joining me. Check out his podcast International Waters, and his book, Party of One, now out in Paperback. The book's a memoir, structured around 21 songs that were pivotal in his adventuresome life. And as he mentioned, those adventures nearly didn't happen, since he grew up believing that his passion for art and culture and expression was something that had to be put away as an adult.

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the movie Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell, later remade with Lucille Ball. I think the original non-musical version is more fun, but the important thing is the message of both -- that famous line, "life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death."

Mame is a flamboyant New York socialite, the kind of woman who knows where every good party is happening because she's it's not a good party unless she's there. Her nephew Patrick is tragically conventional, and the story unfolds we see Mame's indomitable spirit gradually overtake Patrick's cringing conventionality, singlehandedly stoking the family's optimism and excitement for adventures that might lay ahead.

Like Peter Pan or Puff the Magic Dragon, Mame's a guardian to a world of imagination and curiosity. But unlike them, she doesn't shut the door to that world when you reach a certain age. Life doesn't have to stop being a banquet when you become an adult. And even through growing up does require some measure of responsibility, growing up doesn't have to mean giving up.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Beauty in Trash (Ep. 112 - Bruce Vilanch)

May 3, 2017 01:05:03

Description:

This Week's Guest: Bruce Vilanch

Have you ever surprised yourself with what you were able to get away with? This week's guest is writer and comedian Bruce Vilanch, who's been slipping sly queer jokes into our entertainment since before some of us were even born. Starting out as a writer for great divas of the 1970s and then moving on to variety shows, the Oscars, and a notorious holiday special, Bruce provided a subtle queer infusion into American showbiz for decades. And this week we'll talk about how he managed to get away with it.

Bruce's big showbiz break came when Bette Midler came to town. As an arts reporter in Chicago, he reviewed her show -- and was surprised to get a call from Bette thanking him for his coverage.

"You should talk more," he told her.

"You got any good lines?" she asked. He did, and she hired him.

From there, it was on to Hollywood, where he was delighted to slip subtle gay innuendo into programs like The Brady Bunch variety specials. The Star Wars Holiday Special was a particularly bizarre assignment, coming to him with outlandish requirements that he did his best to accommodate and that have now elevated it to cult status. 

"Did you feel exasperated that you couldn't say gay?" I asked him during our chat.

"It was challenging," he replied. "It wasn't frustrating because it hadn't been done. ... That was a couple years off."

Nevertheless, he still delighted in the sly gay references he was able to place in shows like Hollywood Squares. "It was 'inside,' we called it," he said. "The ones who get it will laugh and the ones who don't will say 'what was that?' Because you knew that, you had to apportion what you did, you had to pick where you did the jokes."

This Week's Recommendation: Rose's Turn

Thanks again to Bruce for joining me for what was an extremely enjoyable chat. I recorded this interview on a brief trip to Los Angeles, a city that has a reputation for conversations that are not always entirely straightforward. So I really appreciate how unguarded and open Bruce was when we spoke.

Personal honesty of any kind can be a challenge -- especially when taking stock of your whole life. For this week's recommendation, check out Bette Midler in the 1993 version of Gypsy -- and pay particular attention to the show-stopping song Rose's Turn, the culmination of a life spent repressing desires. Without giving away too much, Gypsy is, to me, a show about women with dreams that aren't always apparent to those around them, and the different ways that those woman answer or refuse the call of those dreams.

When Bette belts out her meltdown in Rose's Turn, it comes with a fury of having spent a lifetime denying herself, breathlessly realizing that denying herself has been torture not just for her, but for those around her who are ultimately driven away.

There are various ways that different productions of Gypsy have concluded: some bleak, with Rose's growing madness, and others optimistic with the possibility of reconciliation. The Bette version is my favorite, I think because it suggests that there's power in catharsis, in honesty, and admitting out loud the things we've always been scared to hear ourselves say.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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I Made 30 Rock my Home (Ep. 111 - Talk Shows & Game Shows)

Apr 27, 2017 01:08:14

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This Week's Guest: Randy West randy-promo-images.jpg

Last week's guest was Jeffery Self, a relatively young actor and writer who's broken into the entertainment industry often on his own terms. This week, I'm speaking with Randy West, an industry veteran whose experience was vastly different. From sweet-talking his way onto sets to chasing big breaks with a single-minded determination, Randy learned to play the game at a time when the rules were very unforgiving.

This Week's Recommendation: The Music Man

Thanks again to Randy for joining me. And although he said that he considers a lot of his career faking it, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing -- in fact, there's a nobility in making it up as you go along. For this week's recommendation, check out the movie The Music Man, starring Robert Preston (who played gay in Victor Victoria) and Shirley Jones, the mom from the Partridge Family who off-camera had a remarkably wild sex life.

Her character in The Music Man is comparatively prim. It's the story of a con man who lands in a small Iowa town, planning to cheat the residents out of their money before vanishing. But fate has other plans, and as so often happens in a musical he finds himself falling in love with the wrong woman -- in this case, the prim town librarian who accidentally makes an honest man out of him even while he's doing his best to be a swindler.

Minor spoiler warning -- the story ends happily, with the con man becoming a hero to the town despite never really being the musician he claims to be. He's just faking it -- but here's the thing: so is everybody. We're all just making it up as we go, in constant terror we'll be caught. And just because you're not sure what you're doing doesn't mean you might not create a thing of beauty along the way.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Serial Killers Shake Things Up (Ep. 110 - Torch Song Trilogy & Steel Magnolias)

Apr 20, 2017 00:58:46

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jeffery Self support-the-show-on-patreon-2017.jpg

Do you have an inner performer lurking just below the surface -- or has your inner performer burst above the surface, resolutely refusing to ever be ignored? My guest this week is the fantastic Jeffery Self, who has for his entire life been every inch an entertainer -- whether forming a rebel theater troupe as a teen in his small southern hometown; testing his capacity for sass in the various TV roles where you've probably seen him; and creating the books and shows and circle of friends that he knew he needed in his life.

Also, just a quick announcement: after two years of doing this podcast, The Sewers of Paris is finally on Twitter and Facebook. Follow @SewersOfParis and search for the Sewers of Paris Facebook page. I'll be posting video clips of stuff we talked about, previews of upcoming episodes, answering questions and listening to your feedback.

And big thanks to brand new patrons James, Joe, Kyi, Mark, and Grant. The Sewers of Paris is independent and ad-free thanks to the folks supporting the show with a dollar or more per episode. If you like to listen, you can join them by going to SewersOfParis.com and clicking "support the show on Patreon."

This Week's Recommendation: Waiting for Guffman

There are always approximately five billion interesting Jeffery Self projects happening at any particular time -- his book Drag Teen is currently being made into a musical, he's also occasionally the host of a wildly popular show on Facebook called Jeffery Live, and he was also recently on Drew Droege's magnificent podcast Minor Revelations. There is simply no end to Jeffery's capacity to entertain, and I'm so grateful he has the platform he does to share it with us.

But not every great artist needs a large audience. For my recommendation this week, check out the documentary Waiting for Guffman, the one-hundred-percent definitely-true story of a small-town theater troupe that comes together against incredible odds to discover the performer within.

The documentary follows a man who looks uncannily like Christopher Guest, and chronicles the staging of a sesqui-centennial show for the town of Blaine, Missouri. Cast in the musical revue are local travel agents, a Dairy Queen queen, a taxidermist, a dentist, and a fancy choreographer who assures us he has a wife, though we never seem to see her.

And sure, their performance is goofy and hilarious. But as the town dentist who looks a lot like Eugene Levy says, the experience has taught him something he was never quite sure of before: that he does have talent. Our talents might not be what we expected, they might not be what we wanted, and they might not make sense to everyone who sees them. But when you do find something that you can do, something that you love, there's no greater feeling than letting that talent run wild, and refusing to wait for anyone.

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Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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I Walked on Coals (Ep. 109 - Janet Jackson)

Apr 13, 2017 01:06:20

Description:

This Week's Guest: Gordon Bellamy

If making others happy makes you happy, what do you do when their happiness puts you in danger? My guest this week is Gordon Bellamy, one of the kindest and friendliest people I've ever met. For years, he went to great lengths to get along with people, even when he was sure those people would reject the real him. But of course, true friendship and love only came once he'd working up the nerve to be truly honest ... with the help of a song or two.

And by the way, Gordon and I will be on a panel at the upcoming DragCon -- that's the convention built around RuPaul's Drag Race. We'll be talking about LGBT gamers and queer games, joined by Pandora Box, YouTuber Will Shepherd, and Twitch streamer Dylan Zaner. It's at 2pm on Sunday, April 30th at DragCon in Los Angeles, and if you're in town, I hope to see you there.

Also, listeners, I have a question for you: have there been any episodes or guests or stories on The Sewers of Paris that you found particularly memorable? I'm going to be featuring some highlights from past episodes on the Sewers of Paris website, and I'd like to hear from you if there's anything you think is particularly worthy of sharing. Let me know your thoughts @mattbaume on Twitter.

This Week's Recommendation: I Am What I Am

No matter how early any queer person comes out of the closet, they almost always have the same lament -- that they didn't do it sooner. For my recommendation this week, take a look at a song that helped nudge me out of the closet: I am What I am, from the show La Cage aux Folles and about a billion other covers.

In our conversation, Gordon talked about the power of a song to psych you up and make you feel brave. In La Cage, this particular song comes at a point of crisis at the end of act 1, and begins on a fearful and timid note. But as the music begins to swell, so does Albin's courage, and what the audiences witnesses over the course of three-ish minutes is mounting bravery leading up to a defiant explosion from the closet. It's an anthem of honesty and self-love and pride triumphing over everything that's ever held you back.

A quick search on YouTube reveals that you can spend hours watching various versions and interpretations of the song, and I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon. 

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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This is the Story of a Homosexual (Ep. 108 - Twin Peaks)

Apr 6, 2017 00:52:27

Description:

This Week's Guest: Glen Weldon

How much thought have you given to what your secret identity would be if you were a superhero? My guest this week is Glen Weldon, host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour -- a lively chat about books, music, movies, TV, and more. As host, Glen's renowned for his encyclopedic knowledge of heros and comic books. But for a long time, that comic geek was just one of his secret identities.

By the way, Pop Culture Happy Hour is coming to Chicago next week for a live show on April 12. You can go to HarrisTheaterChicago.org to get tickets.

This Week's Recommendation: Black Books

I suspect that Glen's memories of being a surly, resentful bookstore employee will be deeply familiar to many of us who have worked retail. It certainly reminded me of the time I worked at a certain one-hour photo chain, and gave up even trying to meet that deadline for orders. If someone complained, I told them, "one-hour photo is just the name of the store, we don't actually do it in an hour."

And that brings me to my recommendation this week: the British TV series Black Books. It's set in bookstore owned my a man who is comprised entirely of misanthropy and ill will, moving through life with so many defenses raised it's difficult to tell if there's even a person at the center of them.

Bernard, the misanthrope character, is a lot of fun -- witty, sardonic, ridiculous and aloof.

And ultimately, that's the most that defenses will allow a person to be -- defenses let you be fun, but they tend to get in the way of anything meaningful, or honest, or insightful. To write something that resonates, or to have relationships that last requires a dropping of those defenses, that you make yourself open, give away your secrets, allow yourself to be read. To be like an open book.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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You Can be Sad or You Can be Gay (Ep. 107 - Guy Branum)

Mar 30, 2017 01:22:18

Description:

This Week's Guest: Guy Branum

Why is "gay" the word that the world seems to have picked to describe us? My guest Guy Branum has some thoughts on the topic, and on many more. You can see Guy as the host of "Talk Show the Game Show," debuting April 5 on TruTV, where celebrities compete to be the best guest on a talk show. There could be no better environment for Guy, a brilliantly funny comedian with a superpower for first breaking rules, and then reassembling them into something far more fascinating. 

This Week's Recommendation: Talk Show the Game Show & My Fair Lady

Please do not commit the crime of missing the debut of Talk Show the Game Show on TruTV, April 5. I've seen it when it was a live show, and words cannot describe how fortunate the world is that you no longer have to fly to Los Angeles to see it -- though it woudl be entirely reasonable to do so. It's that good.

Guy mentioned his love of Pygmalion stories, and so of course my recommendation this week is for the musical My Fair Lady. It's the story of a poor rag-tag young woman who dreams of finding someplace better, and is then plucked from the street by a man of high society who wishes to trains her be a cultivated lady for his own amusement. 

As she struggles to move from grimy streets to wealth and excess, Eliza quickly becomes a person of overwhelming contrasts. She's torn between the place that she's from, the person who she is, and the world that she's entered. She finds her feet planted in two very different realms, and as they slide further and further apart she begins to lose her footing in each.

I often wonder what my life would be life if I were born in different circumstances. How much of me is me, and how much it is the house where I grew up and the city I moved to as an adult? We're all made up, to varying extents, of pieces of everywhere we've been and everyone we've met. It can be hard to fit those pieces together -- say, combining the streets of London with an ornate ballroom, or a dusty farm town with a flamboyant TV game show -- but ultimately, those pieces don't define us nearly as much as the unique connective tissue that we grow to attach them to each other.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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A Giraffe Gynecologist (Ep. 106 - Opera)

Mar 23, 2017 01:12:35

Description:

This Week's Guest: James Jorden

Longtime listeners may remember way back in episode 4 of The Sewers of Paris, my guest Greg talked about picking up copies of an unofficial queer opera zine called Parterre Box in the men's room of the Metropolitan Opera. The publisher of that zine is this week's guest. James Jorden always wanted to direct, but when he first moved to New York the closest he could get to the stage was in a low-paying job sweeping up bobby pins. That's when he had a a stroke of inspiration: if his career wasn't advancing through official channels, maybe more underground measures would bring him success. There's no way he could have imagined how right he would be.
 

This Week's Recommendation: What's Opera Doc

Thanks again to James for joining me and for bringing so many enlightening cultural references. But somehow, we neglected to discuss my favorite opera singer: Bugs Bunny. For my recommendation this week, take a look at the masterpiece What's Opera Doc, where Elmer Fudd chases Bugs through Wagner's Ring Cycle. Of course, there is drag.

But there is also a real affection for the source material, with references to Sigfried's horn, and the horse from the actual opera, and Valhalla and the opera The Flying Dutchman. If you find opera intimidating or confusing or dry, you couldn't ask for a better way in to the actual music and characters and story. 

That mismatch of tone -- tragic opera and goofy cartoon -- could have been a disaster, but What's Opera Doc (and the similarly brilliant Rabbit of Seville) create a perfect blend of high drama and campy slapstick. And I think it works so well because of a principle that Elmer Fudd never seems to learn: the more serious and imposing a force tries to be, the better it pairs with the absolutely ridiculous.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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I Always Wanted to be the Pretty one (Ep. 105 - Miss Universe)

Mar 16, 2017 00:55:42

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ben Fede

How do you know when you're home? Is home a place you find, or a place you make? My guest this week grew up in the US, but never quite felt like he belonged. That all changed after a chance film screening, a lucky visit to a chat room, and a surprise visit to Ireland. After a lifetime of trying to figure out where he belonged, Ben took a gamble on international romance -- and won.
 

This Week's Recommendation: Leather Pageants

As we make our way into springtime, we're coming up on what is, in many cities around the world, leather season. Atlanta Leather Pride starts April 7, Minnesota's starts March 31, Washington's is March 16, Los Angeles is March 26. Chances are good that there's leather pride happening somewhere near you in the next few weeks.

For my recommendation this week: get yourself to a leather contest. If you're not familiar, they're basically beauty pageants for masculinity. They're generally held at a bar, and there's usually a talent portion, a Q&A with judges, and some kind of jockstrap posing competition. 

There's a lot of beauty on display at these events, and not all of it physical. In addition to benefitting charity, many Leather Pride pageants celebrate diverse bodies, community service, and social support. Many contests are growing more adventuresome with gender and sexuality, pushing at the boundaries of what masculinity can mean. One of my favorite winners in recent years was Pup Tugger, who marched out on stage in a corset and high heels.

Leather competitions manage to combine the best things about beauty pageants and raunchy filthy sex -- the contrast is stark and ridiculous and super fun, especially because it's such a tiny community, so everyone knows everyone else. 

I often tell people here's nothing like live entertainment, and it's hard to get more live than a parade of hairy men bending over for a cheering crowd.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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It Makes Every Gay Bone in my Body Vibrate (Ep. 104 - Broadway)

Mar 9, 2017 00:52:32

Description:

This Week's Guest: Stephen Oremus

My guest this week started his musical career at a neighborhood friend's piano, hanging out and playing showtunes. These days he's doing pretty much the same, but he's accompanying Broadway stars and winning Tonys. Stephen Oremus worked on The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q, Frozen, and 9 to 5, among many others, and was music director for the 87th Academy Awards -- a role that became a little tense when one of the winners had an unexpected message to deliver from the stage. 
 

This Week's Recommendation: Showgirls

It was a real delight to reflect on musical dreams coming true, and so for my recommendation this week, I'd suggest taking a look at another story of an artist who reaches for the stars in the big city: Showgirls.

It is incomprehensible to me that I have not recommended this movie already, though episode 28 of Sewers of Paris features Patrick Bristow, who appears in the film as a choreographer with a short fuse. If you haven't seen this film, let me just prepare you: it is not what you would call cinema verite. Its proximity with reality is as close as that of some of director Paul Verhoeven's other films, like Starship Troopers and Robocop. It's the story of a woman who arrives in Las Vegas with dreams of dancing and glamour and fame, and she achieves it all -- but at the price of... well... her dignity, maybe?

I love Showgirls because it is weird and extravagant, and sexually sideways in a way that feels like the script was a mad lib. But it is not, I don't think, accidental. I don't believe there's anything on the screen that isn't supposed to be there, and as with Starship Troopers and Robocop, I suspect that the filmmakers knew exactly how insane this vision was. There are those who claim that Showgirls is a failure of seriousness, a fiasco of bad taste, and a train wreck of glitter.

But I don't think it is those things. I think it's about those things.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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A Weird Thing From Outer Space Having a Love Affair (Ep. 103 - RISK's Kevin Allison)

Mar 2, 2017 01:15:41

Description:

This Week's Guest: Kevin Allison

Imagine this riskiest thing you could do -- and then imagine what would happen if you did it. My guest this week knows something about taking a chance -- Kevin Allison is the host of the Risk podcast, a show where people tell true stories about the times they put everything on the line. It's a concept that came to him after he'd spent too many years playing it safe, from tiptoeing around his sexuality to his mild-mannered persona on the sketch comedy show The State. It was on the advice of his fellow troupe-member Michael Ian Black that Kevin finally decided that some risks are worth taking.

This Week's Recommendation: Richard Simmons

Thanks again to Kevin for joining me. You can check out his podcast at risk-show.com, and support the show at patreon.com/risk.

There are all kinds of risks in life -- just the other day, I served a cucumber salad made from a recipe I'd never tried before. (Don't worry, it came out fine). But there's another form of risk that many of us don't dare attempt, and that's honesty.

For my recommendation this week, I'd like to you take a look at Richard Simmons. Really any video of his is a pleasure to watch, but in particular I recommend searching YouTube for his name plus CNN for a video called "Richard Simmons breaks down in tears and cries." For most of the interview, Richard exhibits impeccable message discipline, focusing on the products he's selling and his advice for others -- in particular to be kind to yourself in the mirror. But when the host asks him what he says to himself in the mirror, the persona slips away and you see a moment of real vulnerable honesty.

I've interviewed a lot of people, and asked a lot of really invasive personal questions. Sometimes -- most of the time, in fact, people deflect or avoid or make a joke because it's weird to open up to a stranger, especially if you know you're being recorded. Giving an honest answer to a personal question feels tremendously risky -- but it's also the one risk that anyone can take. We can't all go skydiving, or elope, or make a new cucumber salad, but opening up, telling the truth, that's one risk that universal.

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Where's the Coming-Out Advice for Somebody in a Chair? (Ep. 102 - Narnia)

Feb 23, 2017 00:44:55

Description:

This Week's Guest: Drew Gurza

Most gay men have had the experiencing of needing to decide just how open and honest we're going to be about our lives, even when that openness is difficult for some people to hear. This week's guest makes openness about difficult topics his life's work. Andrew Gurza is the host of the podcasts Disability With Drew and Disability After Dark, in addition to being one of the organizers of a recent accessible sex party in Toronto. His mission: to demolish cultural taboos around disability and sex -- taboos that have been a nuisance ever since he first found himself attracted to masculine figures on TV.
 

This Week's Recommendation: The Princess Bride

Thanks again to Drew for joining me. Check out his podcasts Disability After Dark and Disability with Drew, both part of Cripple Content Creations. And you can find all his work at AndrewGurza.com.

I think everyone can identify with that longing to slip away into a fantasy realm, and so my recommendation this week is for the movie The Princess Bride. I'm of an age that it's simply expected that my cohorts can quote this film at length, but if it's somehow passed you by, stop everything -- everything -- and see this movie.

It's a story of love and violence and swashbuckling and pirates and giants that takes place inside a book inside the movie. And while the book is swashbuckling adventure, the movie around takes place within the bedroom of a boy home sick from school. Simply listening to grandfather read to him, the kid finds himself changed without ever leaving his bedroom -- at least, not physically. In his mind, he departs for a fantasy world. And when he comes back, he's still himself, but changed. Or maybe the world he comes back to is changed. Or maybe both. 

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Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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I Met my Husband in Divinity School (Ep. 101 - The Hours)

Feb 16, 2017 00:52:28

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jason DeRose

How do you cope when everything seems sad? And how do you move on and find happiness? My guest this week is Jason DeRose. His background in divinity school taught him pastoral care, and his career as a journalist taught him how to look difficult news unflinchingly in the eye. It can be tempting to let dark feelings become overwhelming, to let them control us, or simply to run from them. But whether counseling people or reporting the news, Jason's challenge has been confronting those dark emotions, and then still feeling free to experience joy. 

This Week's Recommendation: Six Degrees of Separation

Thanks again to Jason for joining me. The plan for our conversation was to talk about The Hours, a Single Man, and Six Degrees of Seperation, but we never managed to get to that last one -- so it's my recommendation for the week, a 1993 film starring Stockard Channing and Donald Sutherland as a wealthy couple and Will Smith as a surprise guest who claims to know their son. It's not much of a spoiler to reveal that Will's character is hiding more than he initially lets on, and the truth begins to emerge after an incident with a male hustler. But Stockard Channing's character has some secrets of her own -- secrets she was keeping even from herself.

In their guest's hidden depths, she finds depths of her own re-awakened -- a dissatisfaction to which she'd long grown numb, but once alerted to, can no longer ignore. The title of the film, Six Degrees of Separation, refers to how interconnected we all are. You're never far from knowing anyone else, and finding something of yourself in them. A chance encounter with a stranger can change not only your life, but what you expect out of life, and what makes you happy.

There's some ambiguity to the movie's ending, but ultimately I like to see it as a story about no longer waiting for permission to be free, to be happy, to be fulfilled, even when you thought all the doors to those feelings were closed -- or that there weren't even any doors worth looking for.

Thanks again for listening. The show takes about ten hours to produce each week, and it's thanks to the support of patrons like Wilfredo and Radio Free Qtopia that we're able to keep the show going. Support the show on Patreon here.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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My Life is Drama -- Make me Laugh (Ep. 100 - Dan Savage)

Feb 9, 2017 01:10:42

Description:

This Week's Guest: Dan Savage

If, like me, you are a huge fan of Dan Savage's work, you've probably heard him speak at length about sex and love and news and politics -- but this conversation is going to be a little different as we dive into 8-track tapes, secret bike rides, family arguments, and a rule-breaking theater troupe where Dan honed his sense of shock and showmanship long before he was known for dispensing Savage Love.

"Album covers in the 70s ... helped me figure out who the fuck I was," Dan recalls, thinking back to Leif Garrett records, the Rolling Stones cover with a zipper, and even the Solid Gold Dancers in the 1970s "when the objectification of male bodies was seriously really getting under way."

But it was musical comedies that had the biggest impact -- specifically from his parents' collection of 8-track tapes. His favorites ranged from Camelot to Cabaret to Carousel to shows that didn't start with a C. He heard songs like "There's a Place for Us," laments about finding a safe place to fall in love, and knew there was something speaking to him.

The film The Boys in the Band was pivotal as well. Though the characters are cruel to each other, he saw it and thought "oh -- you can be gay and have friends. I'll just have better friends." Dan was fortunate enough that his family encouraged argument and standing up for yourself, a sort of debate-club where he learned to defend himself if he was confident that he was right.

Still, he knew he was different, and it scared and intrigued him. As a teen, Dan would ride his bike through Chicago's gay neighborhood, gawking at men who walked comfortably in public while holding hands. In hindsight, he says, that was risky -- he was eager enough to dive into the world of bars and clubs that he could easily have been taken advantage of, especially since he wasn't sure he fully knew what sex was. "I knew how to put a dick in my mouth by the time I was fifteen," he laughed. "Maybe I'd have known what to do."

Like many queer people, he was drawn to the theater. "We grow up acting," he says, and as he learned that it could be an actual career, "it was all I ever wanted to do." In college, he did a lot of plays that bored him, but it was in Seattle that he was able to take risks and try new things on stage. He and some friends approached a bar and said they wanted to stage some shows, and from that emerged the Greek Active Theater Company. ("Greek active" was slang for a top.)

Their resources were few, in part because they prided themselves on pricing tickets just below the cost of a movie. By luck and scrappy talent, they managed to assemble ramshackle costumes and sets, often making creative choices based on the circumstances in which they found themselves: They staged The Miracle Worker in a gay bar, for example, because that was simply the venue they had to work with.

Dan's intention was to challenge audiences, to surprise them with works they thought they knew. During a production of Richard III, he delighted in an actor's decision to confront a disruptive audience-member with dialogue from the scene. His gay-bar Miracle Worker was shocking when it showed Hellen Keller spelling out "VODKA."

"You have to take stories people are familiar with and make them strange," he says. Audiences are "vulnerable when they're laughing," and as a director, he was able to draw viewers into the scene with comedy before startling them with real emotional catharsis. 

It was important to surprise audiences, he says, because "theater is going to die if it can't do something for us that film and television aren't already doing, and doing better." And he succeeded -- but then his sex-advice column became a huge hit, and he had to drop his drama career.

"I really miss it," he says, confessing that he'd still love to direct The Boys in the Band. But of course, in his trademark style, he'd do it strangely, by "setting it on Mars or something."

It's a little surprising to hear that like everyone, Dan has some as-yet unfulfilled dreams. But who knows, maybe they can still come true: "It's crazy that theater is my fallback career," he laughs, "in case sex-advice-columning doesn't work out."

I just want to add, this week, that I'm so excited to bring you this interview because Dan's work has been a major influence on my own. The very first time I read one of his columns, I was sitting at a desk at my first job, taking a break from alphabetizing video tapes and envying the people who get to write words for a living. Since then, Dan and a handful of other writers have been signposts for my work, inspiring me to write better, to write smarter, to write funnier, to write not just for myself but to use words to shine a light on ideas and connect people to each other.

So it means a lot to me that I could bring you this conversation for episode 100 of The Sewers of Paris. And it also means a lot that you, the listeners, have kept this show going for 100 episodes of interviews and insights and stories and confessions. I do the show because I love exploring the different languages of art and culture, and I'm so grateful to my guests who generously invite us into their stories, and I'm grateful to my listeners for accepting that invitation week after week.

This Week's Recommendation: Cabaret

For my recommendation this week, you have two choices. Either hop on a plane and come visit Seattle to attend the brand new production of Cabaret in the Unicorn theater, or just watch the movie Cabaret -- but with a twist. You see, this new Seattle production of Cabaret has been adjusted for modern times, moved out of pre-war Berlin and into modern-day America. What was previously a reflection of a gay man watching Nazis rise to power is now... strangely familiar.

We've talked about Cabaret on this show before, and it's become vital in a way I really never anticipated. If you can't make it to Seattle, just watch the film and watch for the parallels -- the oblivious young person insisting that politics has nothing to do with her; a woman singing "maybe next time I'll win" at the Democratic National Convention; a crowd singing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" while a party official insists they can be controlled. It's not difficult to find contemporary meaning in the song "Money Makes the World Go Around."

For fifty years, Cabaret has been a reflection on the past, but now it's a shout of alarm about the future. Or at least A future. Whatever happens next still hasn't been written.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Lies That I Felt too Queasy to Tell (Ep. 99 - Game Shows)

Feb 2, 2017 00:51:56

Description:

This Week's Guest: Caleb Nelson

To what lengths are you willing to go to prove yourself? My guest this week is Caleb Nelson, who's had a lifelong fascination with game shows as a way to prove mastery and skill. As he got older, he discovered that despite always working hard to prove himself to others, he faced a far greater challenge when it came to believing in himself.

This Week's Recommendation: Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly

For my recommendation this week, I want you to do a YouTube search for two names: Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde. Both were fixtures of various gameshows throughout the 70s, a time when audiences were happy to watch fancy men lounging around playing leisurely games. Charles and Paul were the gay princes of this genre, always ready with a witty retort and a florid outfit.

Watching what clips of them exist on YouTube is like taking a peek into a time portal, when you could be as extravagantly gay as you wanted as long as you never said the word gay. It's a fascinating queer tightrope walk -- Paul makes jokes about fairies and foreplay, Charles jokes about streaking -- and throughout it all they trace a delicate path around homosexuality, queering every quip and costume but never, under any circumstances, confirming what Lord Alfred Douglas called "the love that dare not speak its name."

Charles and Paul and TV personalities like them managed to slip a gay performance under the closet door. And its subversive, creative naughtiness is at times queerer than anything you can see in the media today. I'd never suggest that things were better back then, that I'm nostalgic for the closet. But the ingenuity, the inventiveness, is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

It just goes to show -- even when closeted, silenced, and rendered invisible, it would be a terrible mistake to underestimate a man with a pink bowtie and extra-wide paisley lapels.

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Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Screaming on the Inside, Placid on the Outside (Ep. 98 - Mary Tyler Moore)

Jan 26, 2017 01:07:55

Description:

This Week's Guest: Chris Schleicher

How will you make it on your own? This week's guest is Chris Schleicher, who moved to a big city all by himself with some dreams, some talent, and a determination to stop living for other people. He started his career inspired by sitcoms like the Mary Tyler Moore show, and now he makes sitcoms as a writer on The Mindy Project. Season 5 starts February 14 on Hulu, and you can catch Chris on episode 513, playing "Nurse Chris."

This Week's Recommendation: Mary's Incredible Dream

We all felt the passing of Mary Tyler Moore this week, and I'm overflowing with recommendations for her work. Go to IMDB to see a ranked list of the best episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, or listen to her interviews on Fresh Air to hear about her big break on the Dick Van Dyke Show. You can find some of her more obscure appearances on YouTube, such as the variety show The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, where she begins the pilot by shrugging to the camera, "So, variety. Okay, let's give it a try."

But at the top of my list is an incredibly strange special called Mary's Incredible Dream. It aired in 1976 and stars Mary, Ben Vereen, and the Manhattan Transfer, and it's an hourlong quasi-religious musical dream sequence that is absolutely bananas, and also very very catchy. On the show, Mary and Ben and the band drift from song to song, vaguely suggesting a narrative that always seems just out of reach. My favorite part is when she talk-sings, a la Rex Harrison, through "I'm Still Here" while standing next to giant hand with a nail in it. 

It's kitschy and campy and weird and jaw-dropping and also great great fun. You might feel some guilt for laughing at what was clearly a passion project for all involved, but as Mary Richards was once reminded, don't try to hold it back. Go ahead, laugh out loud.

Nothing would have made her happier. 

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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Going to the Beach with John Waters (Ep. 97 - Peaches Christ)

Jan 19, 2017 01:10:37

Description:

This Week's Guest: Joshua Grannell

My guest this week is Joshua Grannell, but you may know him as Peaches Christ -- the host of San Francisco's wild midnight mass shows and creator of outlandish drag exploitation films. Even as a kid, Joshua orchestrated elaborate halloween shows that his whole family got in on. And as an adult, he's crafted an entire media empire dedicated to exposing the uneasy frights that hide just below the surface of suburbia.

You can see that media empire at work on the west coast -- Joshua has an upcoming show called Legally Black, starring Bob the Drag Queen, and it's coming soon to Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. Tickets are at PeachesChrist.com .

Also, check out the podcast Gayme Bar -- that's Gayme with a Y -- I'm on the episode posted Wednesday, January 18th, sharing stories about my queer gamer community and Nintendo's gay cowboys.

This Week's Recommendation: Nightmare on Elm Street II

For this week's recommendation I hope your delicate constitution can withstand a few frights, because I'd like you to take a look at Nightmare on Elm Street II, a film that's half about a murderer invading your dreams and half about the real-life torment of the gay actor who starred in the film.

Mark Preston plays Jesse in Nightmare 2, and he is the most budding homosexual teen who ever budded. I won't itemize every homoerotic symbol in the film, because spotting them is a fun scavenger hunt. But remember, in the mid-1980s, seeing clues that you might be gay was like something out of a horror film. You could be rejected by your family, lose your home, and there was a scary epidemic just getting underway.

When I watch this film, I can't help thinking that Mark the actor must've been as afraid of his sexuality as the character Jesse is about his deadly dreams. It's not a very gory film, but the secrecy is frightening -- especially when it's a secret that could be a danger to everyone around you. 

Behind the scenes, Mark's manager was telling him that he had to lie and stay closeted. He wasn't allowed to go to gay bars, or do interviews with The Advocate. He was told to dress straighter. This was at a time when many of Mark's friends and colleagues were dying of AIDS, and after a while he finally decided that he'd had enough of giving in to fear and simply walked away from acting. He came out, he became an activist, and he learned what a lot of us have discovered: that being gay is only scary if you let it be.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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A Big Purple Man in a Loin Cloth (Ep. 96 - Gargoyles)

Jan 12, 2017 01:07:07

Description:

This Week's Guest: Fazaad Feroze

How far up your family tree would you have to go before the way your family lives became unrecognizable? My guest this week is Fazaad Feroze, whose parents grew up in huts in Guyana before moving to the United States. As you can imagine, assimilation into American culture wasn't always easy.

Check out Fazaad's lovely artwork at FazaadFeroze.com.

Also, check out the podcast Polygamer -- I'm on the episode posted Wednesday, January 11th, sharing stories about my queer gamer project PlayingWithPride.

This Week's Recommendation: Coraline

 We often talk on The Sewers of Paris about the enduring appeal of dark, scary stories, so for my recommendation this week, check out the movie Coraline. It's based on the book by Neil Gaiman, and tells the story of a young girl who's dissatisfied with her boring parents. Coraline discovers a portal to an Other World, complete with copies of everyone she knows from real life, and with its bright colors and attentive adults this Other World seems better in every respect.

But of course, not all is as it seems, and Coraline's temptations are soon revealed to lead to danger -- namely, plucking out her eyes and replacing them with buttons.

I love a lot of things about this film -- namely that it's one of those kids' movies that is so creepy and alarming that it will frighten adults as much as children. There are some creatures in this movie that are truly terrifying, but what unsettles me is the reminder that happiness sometimes comes at a price, and that price is blindness. 

It's the corollary to the saying that ignorance is bliss -- bliss requires some measure of ignorance. And I don't think that's something you need to feel guilty or ashamed about. It would be impossible to make it through life if you didn't anesthetize yourself every now and then. 

So despite it being a super creepy movie, I actually find Coraline comforting. It reminds me that a little darkness can be good, and that closing your eyes can make you happy -- as long as you don't let them be plucked out altogether.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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A Need to be Doused in Black Culture - (Ep. 95 - Sonari Glinton)

Jan 5, 2017 00:53:25

Description:

This Week's Guest: Sonari Glinton

When you look back on your life, who are the adults who were wiser than you realized at the time? My guest this week is NPR's Sonari Glinton. He grew up in Chicago, surrounded by amazing artists and curators who managed to steer him in the directions that were exactly what a little queer kid needed.

This Week's Recommendation: Frank Sinatra's letter to George Michael

For my recommendation this week, do a search for Frank Sinatra George Michael. Sadly, you will not find them doing a duet together, which would have been awesome. But you will find a letter that Sinatra wrote to George Michael in 1990. At the time, George had just done an interview with a magazine about how he didn't like the pressure of celebrity. Sinatra, in response, wrote a letter (on a typewriter!) expressing his disbelief that "he wants to quit doing what tons of gifted youngsters all over the world would shoot grandma for."

Sinatra's advice was to "loosen up" and "be grateful to carry the baggage we've all had to carry since those lean nights of sleeping on buses and helping the driver unload the instruments." 

The letter concludes "talent must not be wasted. ... Those who have talent must hug it, embrace it, nurture it and share it lest it be taken away from you as fast as it was loaned to you."

Now, to be fair, Frank didn't always take this advice to heart. When he married Mia Farrow, he famously demanded that she give up her acting career to be a wife. Her response was to be in the movie Rosemary's Baby, and that was the end of that relationship.

So I guess we should take Frank's advice like Mia Farrow did -- and like George Michael, whose solo career was just launching when he got that letter. Whatever your talent is, you can either choose to pass it up, or pass it along to everyone around you.

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Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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The Best Gay Entertainment of 2016

Dec 29, 2016 01:25:24

Description:

This Week: 2016 in Review

Hello friends, and welcome to a special year-end edition of the Sewers of Paris. On this episode, I've invited some of my favorite gay podcasters to recommend their favorite entertainment of the year, from Lemonade to Difficult People and Moonlight and Reba. If you've been feeling down in the dumps about 2016, now's the time to take a deep breath and remember that it's actually been a great year to enjoy some amazing art and culture, and the next few years could be even more fertile.

Guests this week include Dan Savage of Savage Lovecast;, Kevin Allison of RISK!; Ryan O'Connor of LadyWatch, Tomefoolery with Cody Melcher; Daniel Krolik and Bil Antonio of BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men; Marc Felion of Feast of Fun; and Dave White & Alonso Duralde of Linoleum Knife podcast. I couldn't be more grateful to them for joining me this week.

Among their picks:

Dan Savage loved Moonlight. “I was forced to confront my own privilege and bias and expectations," he said. Mark Felion liked Moonlight as well, and also had a blast working on the show Cooking with Drag Queens.

Kevin Allison of the RISK! podcast got into Game of Thrones this year -- and was surprised by how seductive the show made the emotion of revenge feel. From the Linoleum Knife podcast, Dave White liked the contemplative Cemetery of Splendor, while his husband Alonso Duralde liked Take me to the River -- a chilling take on family secrets.

Bil Antoniou and Daniel Krolik of BGM: Bad Gay Movies/Bitchy Gay Men appreciated the movie Elle and the show Difficult People, respectively. From LadyWatch, Ryan O'Connor raved for Sally Field in Hello My Name is Doris, and also suggested that we might be entering a film renaissance: "We're just an Easy Rider away from this generation's 9 to 5," he said. (Which triggers a whole conversation about who you would cast in a 9 to 5 remake.)

And Cody Melcher, from the podcast Tomefoolery, went back to the basics. Rather than wallow in 2016, he found comfort in the show Reba, and also in celebrity editions of The Weakest Link. "None of them know anything!" he laughed.

This Week's Recommendation: Inferno A-Go-Go

I hope that in 2017, you'll have an opportunity to experience MY favorite thing of this past year: BenDeLaCreme's live show, Inferno A-Go-Go, a one-drag-queen adaptation of Dante's Inferno. It may look from the outside like a kooky colorful literary joke, but the show develops layer upon layer through musical numbers, groany puns, and inventive puppetry; and by the time you get to the stunning halfway point, it's clear that what you're actually seeing is an incisive, sophisticated, and darkly funny exploration of the nature of Hell itself -- not just the biblical place, but the very ideas of cruelty, punishment suffering, and inhumanity.

The wacky concept of Inferno A-Go-Go may sound like a gay book report, but BenDeLaCreme's divinely comedic cabaret journey winds up plumbing far deeper questions than you might expect. Why did humans come up with the concept of Hell? Why do people suffer? And what can we do to escape the Hell that we live in -- or at least enjoy our time there?

The show is at some points hold-your-breath serious, and at others hilarious. But no joke, I believe Ben to be not just one of the greatest drag queens in the country, not just one of the greatest gay performers in the country, but one of the greatest living American artists period. I see a lot of drag shows, and I love recommending them because they're inventive, or surprising, or hilarious, or heartfelt. Inferno A-Go-Go is the first one I've ever recommended for being all of those things -- and also important.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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A Telemundo Reaction (Ep. 93 - Santa Claus Conquers the Martians)

Dec 22, 2016 00:47:12

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jose

Have you ever experienced a Christmas miracle? My guest this week has. His whole life, Jose longed to experience a magical snowy wonderland like he saw on American TV specials -- not exactly an easy thing to find in Venezuela, where the one snowball he ever saw was scraped together from a frosty puddle and carefully passed from person to person.

But that all changed on a on a trip to New York, where in the span of just a few days he  went on his first date with a boy, grew closer to the dad he'd never really known, and found himself retracing the footsteps of Kevin in Home Alone 2.

This Week's Recommendation: Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse

In our conversation about strange 80s Christmas specials, we were remiss in leaving out one of the strangest... He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special. It is not my recommendation this week, because it is almost an hour long and really not good. But I do recommend looking up the one scene where Skeletor has to escort two children and a cute animal to safety, and argues with them about whether fights are fun. 

My real recommendation this week is for something that is actually good, and that is Christmas at Pee Wee's Playhouse. It's my favorite holiday special -- chaotic and weird and unpredictable, it features unmitigated cheer, a strangely relaxed Cher, hunky construction workers, and surprise guests emerging delighted from boxes like visiting angels.

Although its origins are religious, the rules for celebrating Christmas certainly have changed over the years, which is why we no longer celebrate with Yule goats. And the changeable, mystifying, bizarre fun of Pee Wee's special is, I think, the best encapsulation of what makes Christmas great: a time to gather together with people you love, to practice some silly ancient rituals, and to invent new traditions that, if they're fun, can be continued from year to year.

Because Christmas isn't frozen in time -- it's a party that for hundreds of years has been growing, evolving, and in Pee Wee's case, rapidly mutating. 

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Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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That Really Felt Like Christmas Magic (Ep. 92 - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

Dec 15, 2016 00:52:04

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jonathan Renteria-Elyea

Growing up as in atheist home, December was the closest I ever came to having a religious experience -- not because of actual religion, but the beauty of the snow and gifting and carols and lights just overwhelmed and transported me, years before I had any inkling that there was any kind of churchy component.

My guest this week came to Christmas from the other side of the looking glass. Jonathan grew up in a deeply religious family, and similarly found himself swept up in the pageantry of the season. These days, he's distanced himself from the faith. And now Christmas has become spiritual for him in a far more personal way.

This Week's Recommendation: A Muppet Family Christmas

My recommendation this week is A Muppet Family Christmas, a somewhat overlooked Muppet special from 1987, in which the gang shows up unannounced at Fozzie's mom's house. And by the gang, I do mean everyone -- the Sesame Street characters come caroling, there's a hole in the wall that leads to Fraggle Rock, and at one point Sam the Eagle leans into frame to ask "why am I here?"

There is a pureness to the special that will be instantly recognizable to any fan, from casual to the most seasoned toughpig. This episode features real Muppet magic, not the pale imitations that the characters became in the 90s. And this Christmas special throws them all together in an irresistible alchemy. But beyond just being the perfect showcase for the characters, it's also a beautiful celebration of family, both biological and chosen. Fozzie's brought his weirdos home, and though his mom isn't sure what to make of them, she opens her doors and welcomes them with open arms.

And even if you're not physically near your family at this time of year, you're still surrounded with happy memories, stories, movies, songs -- whatever entertainment you love is a little capsule of the season, each one a little bond with someone else you can enjoy it with. So among the gifts you give at the end of this year, I hope you'll also give the gift of sharing the culture that gives you joy with the people who give you joy. Doing that on the Sewers of Paris has been my great pleasure, and I hope in the new year it can be yours as well.

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Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Tragically Ludicrous and Ludicrously Tragic (Ep. 91 - Reality Shows)

Dec 8, 2016 00:49:01

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ross Semple

How do you think you'd come across if someone made your life into a reality show? My guest this week is Ross Semple, who grew up in a sort of fishbowl where the presence of family was constant and privacy didn't exist. And so naturally the round-the-clock surveillance of reality shows resonated with him, particularly as the medium evolved and the term "reality" became euphemistic.

But as young as the genre may seem, Ross eventually discovered that hysterics, outlandish costumes, and the ludicrously tragic have a long and noble history in queer entertainment.

This Week's Recommendation: All About Eve

I hope that you'll respond to my recommendation this week by saying, oh, I've already seen it. Because everyone should have seen All About Eve already. In case you haven't, I suppose we can still be friends but here's what you need to know:

It came out in 1950 and stars everyone you hope it stars: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Marilyn Monroe in a brief appearance -- the kind of actors who make you think "now THIS is a black and white film."

The story is a delicious melodrama: aging actress takes in a young ingenue and soon everyone's scheming and fighting and sobbing and blackmailing. This is the movie that invented countless catty catchphrases, but also perfected a certain way of being, a way of carrying oneself with a ferociousness that is at once dignified and absurd.

The film is wall-to-wall with tough dames making sweeping pronouncements, dueling sarcastic asides, and even occasionally an insultingly weak slap to the face. It is a crowning achievement of camp, in part because it was never intended to be. It was, after all, a more innocent time -- Susan Sontag was just 17 when it came out -- and by the time we got to the slapping fights on Dynasty, the gossip of Desperate Housewives, and NBC's Hairspray Live, the entertainment industry had developed a sort of assembly language for mass-market camp, distilling it down to just its tastiest ingredients. 

But All About Eve boasts a more complex bouquet. Its not have confessionals, drinks thrown in faces, or even a single high school musical number. But I wouldn't say it suffers for their absence.

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Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Don't Ask Me Out Again Until You've Written Chapter Two (Ep. 90 - Tootsie)

Dec 1, 2016 01:04:22

Description:

This Week's Guest: Steven Rowley

When it comes to costumes, some of us have a greater-than-average appreciation for layering. My guest this week is writer Steven Rowley, whose debut novel Lily and the Octopus is touching and familiar and funny. It is also one of the gayest stories he's ever told, after a career spent in what was a sort of disguise, writing rom-coms about heterosexual relationships. But by the time his deeply personal book was complete he knew that he was done de-gaying his stories. So he told his publisher as much, unsure how they'd respond.

This Week's Recommendation: Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride

Thanks again to Steven, and don't forget to check out his book Lily and the Octopus. Or my book, Defining Marriage. Just the thing for the readers in your life.

I also highly recommend following Steven and Byron's dog Tilda on Instagram -- her handle is tildaswintondog, all one word.

I am delighted to be talking about dogs because they are the best. Humans are fine, I guess, but it's our animal friends help us to be our best selves. For my recommendation this week, take a look at the strangely beautiful South Park episode Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride, in which Stan worries that there's something wrong with his dog because he's gay.

The episode is notable for various reasons, among them its Emmy and GLAAD Award nominations. Given the time that it came out -- 1997 -- it's a remarkably affectionate and empathetic portrayal of gay characters. It might have been challenging to talk about homosexual people on TV at the time but you could talk about homosexual animals.

Ironically, Ellen's sitcom was cancelled a few months after this episode aired. She had just come out in an hourlong special called "The Puppy Episode," so named because a producer suggested that she get a dog instead of pursuing romantic interests.

Anyway, the South Park episode concludes on a 100% optimistic note about human compassion and our ability to see the good in each other, which is not bad for a raunchy cartoon. And it might be tempting to credit the writers or the animators or the actors for this lovely piece of television history, but I think that overlooks the true heros: dogs. So, thank you, dogs, for this episode of South Park. It may help us all be better people. But we'll never be as good as dogs.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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You Can Only Be Young and Dumb for So Long (Ep. 89 - Mama Tits)

Nov 24, 2016 01:34:38

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This Week's Guest: Mama Tits

This year's Thanksgiving seems like a particularly important time to reflect back on the good things in our lives, the positive advances we've made, and the people we love and trust -- in fact, times given what they are, our very sanity may depend on it.

Life's a balance of good and bad, and there's never so much of one that there's none of the other. My guest this week has certainly had his share of ups and down, going from an opera prodigy to Idaho's foremost producer of raves to living in a tiny room just upstairs from the off-Broadway debut of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Throughout his adventures, Brian -- aka Mama Tits -- has always been a survivor, toughening himself through the bad news so he could be ready for good news.

This Week's Recommendation: Party Girl

Thanks again to Mama Tits for joining me. And if you'd like to join her, pack your bags for Mexico: Mama now winters in Puetro Vallarta from November to May. Her new show Sweet Like Candy is every Monday and Thursday at Act II Stages. And while she's away, her drag troupe holds down the fort in Seattle every weekend with the show Mimosas Cabaret. Now through the end of the year, they're performing the fabulous original show A Boob Job for Christmas.

It sure is tempting to escape from real life into a fantasy world, now more than ever. And I love an escape as much as anyone, but as tempting as those fantasies may be, eventually real life has a way of intruding since it is, after all, where we actually reside. 

For my recommendation this week, check out the movie Party Girl, a 1995 film starring Parker Posey as a free spirt named Mary who'll do anything she can to live her own life. She throws parties, takes drugs, and avoids work of any kind, just barely keeping everything from crashing down around her. But crash things must, and when they do, she finds herself evicted, jobless, and alienated from her friends.

And that forces Mary to take a long hard, painful look in the mirror at a woman she's been refusing to see: a woman capable of being responsible, taking care of herself, worthy of self-respect.

Taking a long hard look at yourself can be tough, a lot tougher than looking away. But if you're constantly looking away into some escape, that often means there's something wrong, a problem that only you can fix, a problem that'll keep chasing you in real life until it catches up and your fantasy can no longer provide a place to hide.

So as tough as it is, we all need to pop out of our escapes now and then, whether they're parties or movies or roles that we play. Look around, look at yourself, look at your real life -- and if there's something you've been avoiding, deal with it. So that way, when you disappear back into whatever your escape may be, you're doing it for fun instead of self-preservation.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Put on Your Lipstick, Make a Martini, and Go (Ep. 87 - Paul Curran)

Nov 17, 2016 01:09:52

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This Week's Guest: Paul Curran  Photo: Christopher Bowen

Photo: Christopher Bowen

At this point, we're all very familiar with the foundational queer story that many of us have lived: feeling like outcasts, fleeing from small towns to big cities, and searching for our tribe. 

But what happens once you get to that big city? What can you create once you're free to create the life you've always wanted? My guest this week is Paul Curran, who hitchhiked from Glasgow to London in search of something better at the age of sixteen. There he trained as a ballet dancer until an injury ended his career on stage, and launched a whole new career as a director.

By the way, I've made my book Defining Marriage free to download as an ebook this week through November 18th. The book's full of personal stories from people who fought for marriage equality over the last forty years, and some lessons that might be particularly relevant today about how queer people stood up for themselves in the face of cruel leaders and unjust laws. Just head to DefiningMarriage.com to download a copy -- it's free through Friday, November 18th.

Also, you might've heard that my partner and I broadcast a livestream last weekend of our queer gamer video project, Playing with Pride. If you missed it, don't worry -- we're keeping the recorded livestream up at PlayingWithPride.com through November 19th. If you like the stories on Sewers of Paris, I think you'll enjoy the stories and interviews with LGBT gamers and allies in Playing With Pride. And because it's a work in progress, your input can really help us shape this project. The presentation's about an hour long, and then there's a feedback form that takes just a minute or two to fill out. Head over to PlayingWithPride.com to watch the video and let us know your thoughts.

This Week's Recommendation: Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat

Thanks again to Paul for joining me. Keep an eye out for the show he directed with the Dallas Opera, Becoming Santa Claus, coming soon to DVD. And he'll be directing the Golden Cockerel this coming summer at the Santa Fe opera.

I'll confess I'm not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to opera. But the times that my guests on the show have brought it up, it's not hard to see the appeal in shows that create a heightened reality, an imaginary world, a place where voices become surreal. The extremity of the opera provides the same sense of escape that many of us get from explosive special effects in movies, or steamy love scenes in a novel.

That escape is at the heart of great art and culture, and sometimes, great art and culture is about the escape itself. For my recommendation this week, check out the music video for the song Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat. Even though I've seen it countless times, I watched it right before editing this episode and it still has the power to move me. The video follows a young man as he makes the difficult decision to leave home and strike out in search of something better -- someONE better -- and its ambiguous ending lets you write your own ending for the main character after the final freeze frame.

Of course, the ending that you write will probably reflect your own experience, your own escape. It's a heightened reality that, it turns out, was a mirror all along.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Jesus Wants You to Find a Nice Man (Ep. 86 - Final Fantasy)

Nov 10, 2016 01:04:52:00

Description:

This Week's Guest: Andrew Slade

If you're like me, right now you're searching for something -- anything -- to lend you comfort. We've just ended a horrifying election season, and are about to embark on four years that will likely be even worse. How do we even start to recover from this, how do we get out of bed for the next four years, what can we do to move forward?

Well the future, good or bad, starts with us. We can shape it. The world in which we live begins in our imaginations, and then through our work we bring it to life. And that's why art and culture and ideas and entertainment and daydreaming are all so important, particularly at moments like these.

I spoke to this week's guest, Andrew Slade, before the election about his passion for escape, whether it's into a video game or a drag character. We talked about how imaginary worlds can become real, how a fantasy can become reality, and how one person's late-night idea can blossom into a collaboration and then into a performance that changes lives. Back when we recorded our chat, we weren't thinking about politics. But as you listen this week, I hope you will.

This week's Recommendation: Chaka Corn

Thanks again to Andrew for joining me. I cannot recommend highly enough that you go to YouTube and type in his drag name -- Chaka Corn -- and watch him perform. His acts are even more strange and geeky and fun than you can imagine, and half the pleasure is listening to the audience roar with approval. 

It's not easy to connect to a room full of people, especially when your references are to 8-bit videogame characters that may be older than some of the people watching. But Chaka corn isn't just referencing culture -- she's making something new, from love stories to revenge fantasies to declarations of queer power. And even if you don't exactly know who Megaman is, or which Pokemon does what, the story they're telling is clear. And seeing the pleasure of the show spreading from the stage to the far corners of the room is magic. Pure magic.

If you, like me, feel like any hope of recovery from this election is so far away as to be imperceptible, remember we have magic. We tell stories, we make art, we share the books and music and movies and shows that have moved us. And in so doing we have the power to transmute ideas into messages and messages into movements.

So my recommendation this week is also to make stuff, watch stuff, go to stuff, share stuff. And make that stuff count. Don't squander your magic.

Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

 

Things You Thought Were Evil (Ep. 85 - PJ Harvey)

Nov 3, 2016 00:57:16

Description:

This Week's Guest: Austin Bull

My guest this week is Austin Bull, also known as the performance artist The Bearded Femme. His stage persona is eye-catching and weird, from vibrant green beards to dressing up as sexualized religious figures. Creating creatures onstage is his way of making sense of a darkness that once threatened to overwhelm him -- and standing up to his own fears.

By the way, this Saturday, November 5th, you can catch me and my partner James livestreaming video games for 24 hours straight. It's a fundraiser for Seattle Children's Hospital, and you can watch and chat and donate as we play Skyrim, Final Fantasy, Smash Brothers, and lots more. While we play, we're asking viewers to chip in a few bucks to support research into childhood diseases. Just go bit.ly/extralifeseattle to watch and donate. We're starting at 9am pacific on November 5 and going straight through to 9am on November 6th. Wish us luck.

Also, James and I are working on a documentary project about queer gamers, and on November 12th we're going to be livestreaming a sneak peek and responding to viewers' questions and comments.  If you enjoy the storytelling on Sewers of Paris, you'll want to join us live for Playing with Pride. It's a work in progress, so feedback at this stage can have a huge impact on its future. Just visit PlayingWithPride.com to watch, and to sign up for the latest news on the project as it evolves.

This Week's Recommendation: Dragula

I have seen a lot of drag, and it takes a lot to make me turn my head at this point. So I'm 100% in support of any artist who's embarking on something daring and weird. That's why my cautious recommendation this week is Dragula, a brand new drag-queen elimination show that's kind of Drag Race plus Addams Family plus Marilyn Manson. It's pretty rough around the edges -- but that's kind of the point.

The show just premiered online, and it's the work of LA nightlife creatures The Boulet Brothers and upcoming Sewers of Paris guest Johnny McGovern. Each half-hour episode brings together drag queens of a sort you're unlikely to see on Logo: messy, scary, upsetting, and downright baffling. The show is set in a cemetery, and on the premiere they're challenged to present their best witch looks. The performers come out on stage cackling with skulls, fangs, and spikes, and they're then doused in water to demonstrate their best death.

The judgement begins with a Boulet brother reminding them that "In the Dragula family, we pride ourselves on being outcasts and losers." And there is therefore no winner. There is, however, an extermination, with a few queens called out for their unacceptable use of items like sensible black pumps. Three contestants are then buried alive in coffins and showered through a tube with live insects in pitch blackness until one actually urinates on camera.

If the bright lights and beauty of Drag Race have always rubbed you the wrong way, you'll probably love the catacombs and creatures on Dragula. After being showered in mealworms, one of the contestants explains why she enjoyed herself: "the only thing to do was what I've done my whole life, take something shitty and nightmarish and make it something to laugh about."

That line reminded me of something I once read by Annie Proulx, the author of Brokeback Mountain. Explaining the message of the story, she said, "if you can't fix it, you've got to stand it."

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Nicest Debt Collector Around (Ep. 84 - Great British Bake Off)

Oct 27, 2016 00:54:09

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This Week's Guest: Edd Kimber

Why is food so important? I mean, other than the whole keeping-you-alive thing. My guest this week found his life forever changed by food when he won the first season of The Great British Bake-Off. Edd Kimber was a shy, unhappy banker when his cakes, cookies, and pies catapulted him to national fame. It was all a bit much for a young man who once dreaded attention -- but it also meant a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him to pursue his dreams of baking for a living.

This Week's Recommendation: Stirring the Pot

Thanks again to Edd for joining me. If you liked hearing from him, check out his new podcast, Stirring the Pot, where every episode he talks to a different chef, food writer, or celebrity about how food has touched their lives. It's kind of The Sewers of Paris, but with food.

Edd's conversations on Stirring the Pot are lovely and heartwarming and funny and familiar. Like the entertainment we talk about on this show, meals are something we craft and consume for each other.

And maybe I'm giving away too much by telling you this, but the truth is that this show, The Sewers of Paris, isn't really about entertainment. It's about people, and the ways that we connect. Often, it can be difficult for us mostly-hairless apes to relate to each other, but our shared experiences can provide a universal language where words fail. Whether those experiences are a book that two people loved, or a dessert that they shared, they provide nourishment and inspiration.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Vagabonds Like Me (Ep. 83 - Stand by Me)

Oct 20, 2016 00:57:40

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This Week's Guest: Robert Roth

How do you know when it's time to stop wandering and put down roots? This week's guest is Robert Roth, who spent years looking for the right place to call home. After he ran away from home, his journey took him to some dark, dangerous places. It took a lot of work to pull himself back up to where he could create a home not only for himself, but for those on a similar journey.

By the way, if you're in Seattle, a semi-autobigraphical play written by Robert is debuting in November. It's called When There Were Angels, and it runs from November 10 to 13 at the Calamus Auditorium at Gay City.

Also my partner and I are working on a documentary project about queer gamers, and this November we'll be livestreaming some highlights of the stories we gathered. If you enjoy the storytelling on Sewers of Paris, you'll want to see our project Playing with Pride. Just visit PlayingWithPride.com to sign up for updates -- you'll be the first to know about some exciting news we're about to announce.

This Week's Recommendation: A Supermarket in California

In his travels, there are a lot of places that Robert could have settled down, so I'm grateful that Seattle was able to claim him. And for this week's recommendation, take a look at the Allen Ginsberg poem "A Supermarket in California," in which the Ginsberg, seeking inspiration, wanders into a supermarket where he encounters gay poets of the past: Walt Whitman, from the 1800s, and Garcia Lorca, from the early 20th century. In the poem, Ginsberg wanders the store with Whitman, then contemplates a stroll through America, a country unrecognizable to those with whom he shares a spiritual bond.

It's a poem about walking, and exploring, traveling together with a kindred sprit to what Ginsberg calls "our silent cottage." He asks Whitman "what America did you have?" and "where are we going, Walt Whitman?" and "which way does your beard point tonight?" He notes Whitman's eyeing of the grocery boys and dreams of lost love.

If you like, you can join their rambling journey, picking up from where Ginsberg left off, and where Lorca left it, and where Whitman left it to him. We recognize something of ourselves in them, even though we can't understand the times in which they lived. And reading the poem sixty years after it was written means that Ginsberg would today be as out of place as Whitman was to him.

Still, the act of wandering hasn't changed, the search for home, the search for love.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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The Moon's About to Fall (Ep. 82 - Majora's Mask)

Oct 13, 2016 00:47:13

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This Week's Guest: Enrique Quintero

This week's guest has seen the end of the world. Enrique's favorite game growing up gave players a choice about who they could save before an impending apocalypse -- and of course, you can't save everyone. It was a dark obsession for a little kid, but playing through the end of the world got him through some tough times as a kid -- and even tougher times as an adult.

This Week's Recommendation: Fragments of Him

I'm so grateful to all my Sewers of Paris guests who open up and share their pasts -- I know it's not always an easy thing to do, especially when the past hurts.

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the game Fragments of Him. At least, I think it's a game -- Fragments of Him is one of those genre-bending experiences that pokes at the rules at what's a game, what's art, what's a story, and what's a presentation. I played it a few months ago with my partner, and though there are no puzzles to solve or enemies to shoot, I still found myself immersed in whatever it is you want to call it.

In the ... game, you navigate through the memories of the people who loved and lost someone they cared for, reflecting with melancholy on the ways that their lives intersected. The whole thing is about two hours long, and very somber. Your experience, and indeed everyone's experience, will be different, layered with whatever history with with loss and grief you bring. I found myself grateful to be playing it alongside someone I loved, and grateful that he was there to share it with me. But it was also a reminder that even though none of us will be around forever, those around us will go on after we're gone. Death and loss and grief aren't an end -- they're just steps in a process that loops continuously, and always has been, and always will.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Where's the Pazow? (Ep. 81 - HR Pufnstuff)

Oct 6, 2016 00:58:47

Description:

This Week's Guest: Sam Pancake

For many of us, going home to the place where you grew up can be, at best, stressful. But what if you could recreate just the good parts of your childhood home -- the TV shows that kept you company and helped you shut out the rest of the world?

My guest this week is Sam Pancake, who you may know from Arrested Development, Legally Blond 2, Where the Bears Are, Last Will and Testicle, and the fantastic film You're Killing Me.

Sam grew up on a steady media diet of 70s cheese that had, by the time he moved to LA to be an actor, grown a bit stale. So imagine his shock when he discovered a troupe of actors who'd found a way to remix the schlock of his childhood into something new and absolutely insane.

By the way, Sam's doing a one-man show in LA on Wednesday, October 19 -- it's called Hot Sweet and Sticky at the Cavern Club Theater, and you can get tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com. You can also see him on Season 3 of Transparent, and coming soon on Documentary Now, Bajillion Dollar Properties, and Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.

This Week's Recommendation

Thanks again to Sam for joining me. You can currently see him on Season 3 of Transparent, and coming soon on Documentary Now, Bajillion Dollar Properties, and Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. He's also doing his one-man show, Hot Sweet & Sticky, at the Cavern Club Theater in LA on October 19.

My recommendation this week isn't necessarily gay, but it is deeply queer: a 1980s children's safety video called Strong Kids Safe Kids, starring our old friend Henry Winkler. It is completely well-intentioned and sincere, but unfortunately the whole thing is deeply troubling and bizarre due to a combination of weird dialogue, dream-like editing, disastrous advice, and guests that range from John Ritter to Yogi Bear. The result feels more like an art film than a public service announcement.

If I had to guess how this strange project happened, it would be that a group of adults thought that it would be an effective way to talk to children. That's why, for example, Henry Winkler cautions characters from Pac Man not to follow strangers into the woods, and a man in childish overalls sings a song about penises and vulvas.

But in trying to overcome the language barrier between kids and adults, somehow Strong Kids Safe Kids manages to become gibberish to everyone, advising children to make honking sounds at abductors and giving lines about disclosing abuse to Baby Smurf. And this is why grown-up attempts to talk to kids so often go wrong -- our memories of what it was like to be young are often wildly inaccurate. That can turn into something fun when it's a campy adaptation of The Brady Bunch, and everyone's on board with it being a silly tribute. But Strong Kids Safe Kids is exactly the opposite -- sincere and earnest and utterly clueless about what a non-stop train wreck it is from beginning to end.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I Have To Tell You Something Really Bad (Ep. 80 - Howard's End)

Sep 29, 2016 01:19:37

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jason Merrell

My guest this week is Jason Merrell, who was desperate to leave his repressive religious community. Finally, he thought he'd found a way -- it just required that he make a deal with his parents. That seemed easy enough. But it was a deal that wound up nearly costing him his life.

This Week's Recommendation: Clueless

Like Jason, I missed a lot of the 90s, not because I was nearly dying in South America but because I was a child shut-in. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered one of my favorite artifacts of the 1990s -- my recommendations this week, the movie Clueless.

Watching it years later, it's hard to believe it was actually made in the 90s, because it's so aggressively of its time that it feels like a postmodern parody of the decade. Of course, if you listened to the recent episode with John Federico, you'll know that the story is actually based on the novel Emma. So it's not just of the 90s, it's also of the eighteen-teens.

This probably tells us something about ourselves -- that although the corsets and hats might change, people themselves really don't. Youthful pride always has been and always will be a thing, as well as stubborn lovers and social awkwardness.

Entertainment can serve as a sort of universal language, a way to talk when you don't know what to say or you don't understand what you're hearing. For instance, it might be hard to get to know someone new, but start a conversation about, say, Ghostbusters and you'll probably learn everything you need to know about each other pretty fast.

Current culture is a rich vein for making those kinds of connections, but there's also value to be found if you mine for pop culture that's no longer popular. Digging down to something old or obscure means you'll be a bit lonely when you bring up the novels of Jane Austen or the contralto of Alison Moyet. But it's all worth it for those moments when you find someone else who's wandered as deeply as you have, following paths dug by explorers decades or even centuries before you were born. 

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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A Kid Who Had Powers in Japan (Ep. 79 - Sailor Moon)

Sep 22, 2016 01:11:02

Description:

This Week's Guest: DJ Kirkland

Now I don't mean to alarm you but there are evil forces within and without, teaming up to take you down. I'm referring of course to the cruel collaboration between our outer critics and our inner saboteur. DJ Kirkland was an accomplished artist in grad school when some cruel comments from an instructor took up residence in his brain, persuading him to give up on his passions and his dreams. But fortunately, he was able to pull himself out of a years-long spiral, thanks in part to the inspiring power of some very pretty guardians.

By the way, I'm moderating the panel at the upcoming GaymerX convention. It's called "Playing with Pride," and it'll be a one of a kind forum to hear people from very different sectors of the game industry share their experiences as queer fans and creators. Today's guest, DJ, will be on the panel, along with the wonderful Tanya DePass from I Need Diverse Games and Lauren Comp, a producer who works on same-sex romances.  It's on Saturday, October 1 at 2pm at GaymerX. If you're in the San Jose area, I hope you can join us for a fun, enlightening conversation.

And if you can't make it to GaymerX on October 2nd, sign up for updates at PlayingWithPride.com and we'll let you know when you can see the panel online.

This Week's Recommendation: House

Thanks again to DJ for joining me. I'm so excited that he's working a book with Oni Press and I cannot wait to see his work on Black Mage.

But until then, if DJ's love of Sailor Moon has but you in the mood for some schoolgirls and magic from Japan, allow me to recommend the movie House. It's kind of the anti-Sailor Moon: instead of having magic powers and defeating evil, the un-magical girls in House are easily dispatched by evil forces.

The premise of the film is fairly standard haunted-house: a group of high school students trapped in a house in the country with a sinister old woman and a cat that can both open and close doors. There are entertaining ghosts and decapitations and gore and floating heads, as well as my favorite horror trope, a skeleton dancing on strings.

And while the girls are the main characters of the film, it's the villain who's the real treat. No spoilers, but head boss in this movie is having a ball. She's eating eyeballs, floating through the rafters, plunging the girls into a pool of blood, and at every moment she is loving her life.

Last year around Halloween I wrote about gay men's affection for witches, from Ursula to Hermione Gingold. You have never seen a more delighted witch than you will in this film, a strangely compelling aspirational villainess for whom you are solidly rooting by the time the last girl is lamented.

Villains and enemies and saboteurs can't exist by themselves -- they need victims to keep them entertained. At least one victim, but preferably a whole team. And in their tormenting, the bad guys become as much of the team as anyone else, assuming a role in the mayhem alongside their prey. On a well-balanced team, everyone does their job in harmony, but every now and then you get a situation like House, where one person decides they're just taking over, and get out of the way, because this show belongs to them now.

In real life, that's a miserable situation to be in, and you're best off extracting yourself from the team as fast as possible. But in a movie, it's so much fun to sit back and watch just how bloody things can get.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

All Mothers Know (Ep. 78 - Clueless)

Sep 15, 2016 00:42:46

Description:

This Week's Guest: Jonathan Federico federico.png

Who can you trust to keep your secrets safe? Well that might depend on the secret. Jonathan Federico wasn't sure the people in his life could handle the truth about him, so he entrusted the truth to fictional figures, disappearing into alter-egos on stage. Occupying characters was comforting to him -- but it wasn't until well into adulthood that he was ready to discover how much better it felt to finally be himself.

This Week's Recommendation: Cole Escola and AB Soto

As for my recommendation this week, I don't even know where to begin so I'm going to give you options -- two queer artists Jonathan's worked with. The first is the mind-altering comedy of Cole Escola, who you might know from Jeffery & Cole Casserole, or his live shows, or a neverending cavalcade of strange and hilarious YouTube videos where he plays everyone from Bernadette Peters to someone's mom.

And then there's AB Soto, an incredible dancer whose music videos feature hypnotic visions of strange gyrating creatures. Watching him perform feels a bit like that moment right before you fall asleep and then wake back up and you're not sure if the thing you were just thinking about actually happened or was a dream.

Cole and AB are really really different from each other, but there is something that ties them together -- they don't just create characters, they create entire alternate universes. Cole's weird Joyce character cannot possibly exist in the same dimension as us, and the same goes for the AB Soto, whose entire life seems to be one big sexy exploding dance number.

And while they may seem to have singlehandedly created fantasy worlds of their own imaginings, that's not actually the case. Like Jonathan said, queer artists need help, they need support, they need each other to bring their ideas to life. Visionaries needs more than their visions -- they need an army of like-minded creatives behind them. So that way they'll be ready when there's an audience in front of them.

Clips of Things We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Little Mouse in a Big World (Ep. 77 - Furries)

Sep 8, 2016 01:03:49

Description:

This Week's Guest: Mouse

We all have alter egos -- most of us more than one. There's the person you are at work, the person you are online, the fun person you are when splashing around at the beach, the responsible person you are when your parents are visiting, and the unique kind of angry person that only exists when you're waiting for everyone ahead of you to get off the airplane.

But for some, those alter-egos aren't people at all. My guest this week is Mouse, a furry artist who never felt like he fit in with other humans. Fortunately, times being what they are, you no longer have to fit in with humans. There's a whole big wide world of cartoon animals out there you can join instead. And as Mouse found, sometimes those people who are animals are better people than the people who are people.

This Week's Recommendation: Pinocchio

Thanks again to Mouse for joining me, and also for the lovely illustration that he drew depicting me as a rabbit. As a slightly nervous, always listening, mostly-herbivore, no depiction could possibly be more appropriate. 

For more of Mouse's work, check out his latest project, Mice Making Love, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's at MiceMakingLove.tumblr.com. The art spans all genders and sexualities, kinks, partner arrangements, body types, and, just to warn you, there is one cat.

For my recommendation this week, I'd like to you turn your gaze to another character with large ears: Pinocchio. Specifically, give the Pleasure Island scene a watch. If you dare. It is full-on dark Disney, a fantastically scary form of body-horror that will stay with you whether you want it to or not.

I'm sure you're familiar with the scene -- Pinocchio and Lampwick and the other bad boys have found their way to an island where pleasures await, but when they indulge too much they're turned into donkeys and sent to work in salt mines. The scene where Lampwick struggles and screams as he changes is unforgettable, no matter how you interpret it, and it culminates in Pinocchio's body starting to change as well. He drank and smoked, and as a result our hero grows ears and a tail.

In the movie, this is depicted as horrifying, and yes if it goes any further and he's confined to bestial labor in the salt mines it is indeed a troubling fate. But Pinocchio's changes really stop at the ideal point: subtle enough that he can hide them in a hat or down his pants, but still an unmistakable badge of his adventure. A reminder that it's not necessarily a bad thing to have some fun, to go a little wild, and be disobedient -- just as long as you can keep it under your hat.

Thanks again for listening. If you're enjoying the show, I hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon -- it's quick and easy and your support keeps the show alive. Just visit SewersOfParis.com and click the Patreon button to sign up. And check out the shownotes at SewersOfParis.com to watch video clips of everything we talked about on this week's show.

Or you can support the show for free -- just tweet or facebook about it, or leave an iTunes review. I'm really really grateful to all the folks who have helped spread the word about The Sewers of Paris. Because of your tweets, I've booked some high-profile guests who saw online praise for the show and reached out to say "hey, can I be on the show too?"

Remember to head over to PlayingWithPride.com to find out when you can see the stories we've gathered from queer gamers. And say hi if you'll be at GaymerX in October.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Clam Diggers and Mussel Suckers (Ep. 76 - Coco Peru)

Sep 1, 2016 01:09:08

Description:

This Week's Guest: Coco Peru

What happens to fussy little boys who love musical theater and have lots of feelings? If they're lucky, they grow up to be fearless women. My guest this week is the fabulous Miss Coco Peru, who you've seen in movies like Girls Will be Girls, To Wong Foo, Trick, and as a guest star in the greatest cold open in the entire run of Will and Grace.

Like most sensitive boys, Coco grew up feeling as though she was on an island -- but in her case, it was literally true. Fortunately, she had records to keep her company, and occasional trips to the bright lights of Broadway.

In fact, it was while riding the train in New York that she discovered what she now calls the key to her career -- and her liberation.

By the way, if you live in New York, you can see Coco live at the end of September in her show "A Gentle Reminder: Coco's Guide to a Somewhat Happy Life." Head over to cocoperu.com for tickets.

And if you're in Seattle, you can see me live with my partner James. We're presenting a panel about LGBT gamers at the Penny Arcade Expo on September 5th. It's called "Playing with Pride" and we'll be sharing personal, intimate stories shared by queer gamers all over the country. If you enjoy the storytelling on Sewers of Paris, you'll probably like this panel. And if you can't make it, don't worry -- sign up for our mailing list at PlayingWithPride.com to get updates about our gamer interview project.

And one more announcement: I'm going to be at the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist's Association annual convention in Miami from September 8th through the 10th. If you're going to be there, or just in the area, drop me a line @mattbaume on Twitter.

This Week's Recommendation: Wigstock

For my recommendation this week, check out the 1995 documentary Wigstock. The entire thing is on YouTube, and it's a mid-90s snapshot of New York's gigantic drag festival that started sometime in the 80s and at its height drew thousands of people. 

It's an amazing artifact of the time, joyful and defiant and weird -- a testament to queer determination to throw a party. Remember, by the mid-90s the gay community was at the apex of a health crisis, enduring unbearable loss and years of mainstream indifference. 1995 was the year that promising new treatments emerged and everything started to change, and there's an optimism to everything the film touches that makes the epidemic seem like it was all a bad dream.

These days, Wigstock the festival is gone, and exists as an occasional modest cruise. Maybe things have been going so well that we now have time, rather than a party, to put distance between us and the hard times. And it certainly feels good to reflect on the progress that we've made over the 21 years since the documentary came out. 

But -- and I'm sorry to be a bummer here -- bad news is always lurking around the corner, as we've seen with recent politics. In the event that times get tough once again, and at some point they probably will, it's worth remembering how we coped with adversity in the past. With music, with dance, with each other, and with really big hair.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About  Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

A Gateway Drug to Fabulous (Ep. 75 - 80s Cartoons)

Aug 25, 2016 01:00:18

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ted Biaselli

How far can passion take you? My guest this week is Ted Biaselli, a TV development executive who's had a hand in shows from My Little Pony to Elvira's Movie Macabre. I've had the lovely pleasure of knowing Ted for a couple of years, and from our first meeting -- at a Dr. Who themed Halloween party that he threw -- it was clear this this is a man who lives to entertain. It's kids' shows where his passion lies, ever since he was, well, a kid. And when he moved to LA as an animated art-school gay, he brought with him an infectious enthusiasm for the weird shows he watched as a child. And now these days, the spirit of the shows that filled his youth are what animate the shows he puts on TV.

This Week's Recommendation: Kubo and the Two Strings

Adults love to complain that today's cartoons are nowhere near as good as the cartoons we had when WE were kids. Often we're remembering our own childhood shows more fondly than they might deserve. Not to mention, that grousing overlooks the truly wonderful, strange, risk-taking new entertainment that's still being made for kids today. And for this week's recommendation, please tell everyone you know to go see Kubo and the Two Strings. It's playing in theaters right now, and I've been describing it to people as The Wizard of Oz plus Alice and Wonderland as directed by Miyazaki. You just have to see it.

The movie takes place in a fantasy version of Japan, with monsters and gods and magic powers. The hero, Kubo, is a boy with a gift for telling stories. And as he tells his stories, they come true, sort of. It's a movie with a lot of ideas, but the one that I keep coming back to is the power that a good story has to shape the world around us. The mortal realm is messy and chaotic and disordered, and storytelling converts that chaos into -- well, not quite order, but sense. It gives the mess meaning.

Getting enough people to agree on the same story, the same meaning, can be a powerful force for good or for bad. But stories aren't just made to be told. They're made to be listened to. And its through listening that we find people whose stories complement our own.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About  Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Women and the Monsters (Ep. 74: Drew Droege)

Aug 18, 2016 00:59:15

Description:

This Week's Guest: Drew Droege

Why do villains get to have all the fun? Surely you've noticed that Darth Vader has a better time than Luke Skywalker, that the Joker relishes his misdeeds, and that Skeletor lives in a party house. One of my favorite movie lines ever is when Magneto tells Rogue "we love what you've done with your hair."

Drew Droege may have come to your attention on YouTube, performing as the character Chloe, but he's been inhabiting colorful characters for years. In fact you can see Drew onstage in his new show, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns. It's running from September 16-18 at the Barrow St in New York, then Monday nights at Celebration Theater in LA starting September 26.

His whole life, Drew found himself unable to resist the devious charm of over the top villains, particularly women like Divine and Eartha Kitt as Catwoman. There's just something irresistible about the way they chew/claw the scenery, and when he moved to LA to be an actor, he discovered that he could put their colorful turpitude to use as inspiration in service of his career.

This Week's Recommendation: I'm So Beautiful

Thanks again to Drew for joining me. And don't miss him in New York and LA -- his show Bright Colors and Bold Patterns is running from September 16-18 at the Barrow St in New York, then Monday nights at Celebration Theater in LA starting September 26. The show's about a gay man who's scared that with the onset of gay marriage, he'll become respectable and boring -- the worst thing that can happen to anyone -- and if you're worried about the same thing happening to you, allow me to make a recommendation: head over to SewersOfParis.com and look for Drew's episode, which I'll be posting along with a very special music video.

The video's called I'm so Beautiful, and it stars Divine singing ferociously about her incredible beauty. Now, just to set the scene here: she is wearing a dress that looks like uncooked ground beef, a wig that looks like an albino tumbleweed, and the rouge on her cheeks is so emphatic it looks like a sunburn. And there is simply no way you could dress Divine that she would not be a strange sight. But she's made up her mind about how she looks: she is beautiful, as she sings over... and over ... and over ... in a tone so aggressive you don't dare argue.

The song's a nice little pep talk -- if this vision can determine that she's beautiful, surely so can we all. And what I love about it is that it's so sincere. Divine is definitely not the butt of the joke here, an ugly drag queen meant to be laughed at. No, her incredible boast, her flaunting of her body, and the room of mirrors she's in makes it clear that she knows precisely what she looks like and if you don't agree that she's beautiful, there's something wrong with you.

In all of her roles, Divine exhibits a power to create a strange alternate reality, and to then insist that you join her inside. She makes it so easy to play along, to agree, to be a part of her weird world. That's an amazing gift, because if you ever feel too boring or too respectable or too much of a stereotype, all you have to do is nod your head along to this bellowing drag queen, and agree, yes, you are beautiful, and suddenly you're as otherworldly as she is.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

We Were Our Own John Hughes Movie (Ep. 73 - Voyagers)

Aug 11, 2016 00:49:56

Description:

This Week's Guest: AK Miller

Would you rather travel the world to seek out new experiences, or create new experiences in your own home town? My guest this week is Chicago theater person AK Miller, who couldn't wait to leave his small town and find the big-city gay communities he'd always read about.

But before long, he discovered that being part of a gay community can go way beyond simply moving to a major metropolis. He could go even further, not just joining but creating a community, the likes of which he'd only ever read about.

This Week's Recommendation: Jobriath

Thanks again to AK Miller for joining me. You might've noticed that he mentioned Caffe Cino in New York, an experimental theater that changed performance in the 1960s. I interviewed one of the playwrights who worked there, Robert Patrick, on episode 66 of The Sewers of Paris. So if you'd like to hear about what it was like to be a gay playwright in Greenwich Village in the 1960s, just hop back a few episodes and listen to Robert Patrick's story. It's pretty incredible.

My recommendation this week is a Google search. Go look up a man named Jobriath and just start clicking and reading and watching and you will discover an incredible performer who was going to be the next David Bowie until he went too far, was too gay, and the world turned its back on him.

You owe it to yourself to learn about this man. Just click everything that comes up. Read his wikipedia article. Watch the few youtube videos that exist. Find the documentary that was made a few years ago called Jobriath AD. He was an amazing, groundbreaking artist, the first openly gay musician signed by a major record label, an early casualty of HIV, and for some reason we've allowed him to be almost completely forgotten by history. 

Well it's time to rediscover Jobriath. He was extravagant and strange and he created elaborate queer performances, such as a planned show where he would appear as "King Kong being projected upwards on a mini Empire State Building. This will turn into a giant spurting penis and I will have transformed into Marlene Dietrich."

He called himself "rock's truest fairy" and maybe it's statements like that that explain why mainstream audiences just weren't willing to embrace him. It was the 1970s, and gay musicians winked -- they didn't climb spurting penises.

But while his memory faded, his influence still lives: you can feel his fingerprint in the music of The Pet Shop Boys, Gary Numan, Siousxie Sioux, and Def Leppard. Morrissey cites him as an inspiration. So whether he's recognized or not, Jobriath's still with us. He's all around us. Like so many great artists, gay and straight, he gave us a gift when he was alive. And we're only just now figuring out how to unwrap it.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

A Bomb Went Through the Wall of the House (Ep. 72 - Sondheim)

Aug 4, 2016 00:51:58

Description:

This Week's Guest: Daniel Krolik

Is it better to hope for the best and risk disappointment, or expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised? My guest this week is Daniel Krolik, one of the hosts of the podcast Bad Gay Movies Bitchy Gay Men. On each episode he and his co-hosts select one bad gay movie to pick apart its flaws, and maybe if they're lucky discern some kernel of potential.

Finding flaws is a skill that Daniel unfortunately honed on himself, with a habit to be overly self-critical. Not too surprisingly, he found comfort on stage as an actor, where he could disappear into the personas of other people. That was a comfortable place for him to hide -- until the night that the character he was playing appeared in the flesh in front of him.

This Week's Recommendation: The Ladies Who Lunch

Thanks again to Daniel for joining me and for giving me any excuse to talk about Stephen Sondheim. For my recommendation this week, I want you to take a look at my two favorite versions of the Sondheim song "The Ladies Who Lunch." One is sung in  the movie Camp -- I'm not a big fan of this film but this particular scene, featuring a bitter, snarling little pre-teen Anna Kendrick accompanied by squeaky amateur band is so bizarre and uncomfortable it has to be seen.

But the other, and far superior version, was sung by Elaine Stritch in the 1970s, with a bitter acidic intensity that verges on terrifying. I'll have links to both at SewersOfParis.com. The reason I love this song is that it's both angry and forgiving; it's an indictment of the idle rich who waste their days, but also a resignation that they're never going to change. 

As the audience, you can read the song in a variety of ways -- maybe with smug triumph, looking down on the ladies. Or maybe by defiantly identifying with them, rising proudly with a swagger at the end, because after all everybody dies and you might as well have a meal and a drink before you go.

And that's a little disorienting -- do we want to be ladies who lunch or don't we? And maybe that's why, when I watch Elaine's performance of the song, the emotions that resonates most with me is fear. Not fear that the ladies are right and I'm wrong, or the ladies are wrong and I'm wrong with them. But fear that there's no way to know who's wrong and who's right.

Stuff We Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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Go and Love Some More (Ep. 71 - Harold and Maude)

Jul 28, 2016 00:43:54

Description:

This Week's Guest: Joe

Do you ever find yourself engaging in self-sabotage? Maybe you avoid important work or important people. Or you dismiss your potential. Or you lie about yourself to yourself. Or you surround yourself with people who undermine you.

My guest this week spent years working for Republicans, wavering in and out of the closet. Inside, he knew who he was. But he also desperately wanted to be accepted and to belong, even among people who might reject him if they knew the truth.

Eventually, Joe managed to shed those secrets, the sabotage, and self-medication that could have easily turned fatal. Now he's feeling a lot more free, and he works for nonprofits that expand freedoms instead of restrict them.

It's Joe's way of hopefully sparing others the pain he went through. And also working through his lingering guilt.

This Week's Recommendation: You Can't Take it With You

For my recommendation this week, I was at a bit of a loss. I wanted to find a gay movie -- or at least gay-adjacent movie -- where a character learns to kick loose and have a good time. For some reason, the only one I could think of was Overboard, with Kurt Russel and Goldie Hawn. So I asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter for their ideas. 

By the way, if you'd like to be in touch and suggest recommendations for future episodes, you can follow me @mattbaume on Twitter, or under the same name, Matt Baume, on Facebook.

Unfortunately, when I put this question to the internet, the very first suggestion I got was the movie Overboard. But then dozens more came in, from Desperate Living to A Christmas Carol to Mame and Fried Green Tomatoes. I haven't seen Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day but so many people suggested it that I think I probably need to. Same goes for Now Voyager.

But it was friend of the show Alonso Duralde from the Lineoleum Knife podcast who nailed this week's recommendation: a wonderful and often-overlooked film called You Can't Take it With You.

The movie's based on a play by Moss Hart and George Kaufman, and as is so often the case, I do believe the book is better. But the movie's no slouch: it's the story of a quirky live-and-let-live family of weirdos who don't care about money and follow their dreams. When the story opens, the family's being pressured to sell their home so a millionaire can build a weapons factory in its place. Yeah, it's a little on the nose.

Jimmy Stewart plays the son of the capitalist, and because this is the era of screwball comedy, he falls in love with a company typist who just so happens to be a member of that household of crazy free spirits.

I love the movie and the play for the snappy comedy, both physical and verbal. But the meaning of it is what sticks with me -- and conveniently enough, it's encapsulated right there in the title. You can't take it with you.

Money and power sure is nice, and for some people it's all they need to be happy. That's fine -- in fact, it's a good thing, because if everyone was running around chasing their heart's desires, we'd be living in a hippie commune with no running water. We need big-picture power brokers to fight with each other over who can build the biggest, bestest infrastructure.

But for other folks, money and power just isn't enough. For them, gathering resources is meaningless if you can't spread it around, give it away, share it, and improve the lives of others.

The key is for there to be a balance of those two types: the big-picture power brokers driven to build the world up; and the folks who are happiest when they have happiness to give away.

Your job is to figure out which one of those is you. And if you realize you're in the wrong game, to find a way to switch sides.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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I was Fresh Meat and a Hustler (Ep. 70 - The Kids in the Hall)

Jul 21, 2016 00:49:58

Description:

This Week's Guest: Brent

You know that saying about finding a job where you love what you do, and you'll never work a day in your life? My guest this week did just that when he became a country radio DJ and a sex worker in a tiny midwest town.

Brent was a fresh-faced young cub, just out of college, and somehow word got around to all the closeted married men that he was available -- for a price. And while the hookups were fun, it was a relationship he wanted. But he couldn't possibly have imagined the form that some of those relationships would take.

This Week's Recommendation: A Hairy Prone Companion & Brain Candy

Thanks again to Brent for joining me. And guess what -- in the time since we did this interview, he actually did start that podcast! It's call "A Hairy Prone Companion" and he shares weekly stories about fascinating kinky sex. You can find it everywhere podcasts are podcasted.

I should probably just warn you that A Hairy Prone Companion is an unflinchingly frank look into some particularly intense practices and undergarments, to the point that at times it may be challenging for those with a delicate constitution to listen. But I do recommend that you give it a listen, even if you're the type to clutch your pearls, because pushing your boundaries is how you grow as a person.

And that's why my other recommendation this week is for the movie Brain Candy, from the Kids in the Hall comedy troupe where the character Buddy originated. It's a brilliantly funny and woefully under-appreciated film about an anti-depressant drug that forces the brain to focus solely on the happiest moment of their lives to the exclusion of all else. But as it turns out, a constant good mood is not without its consequences.

The fear of feeling unhappy, or uncomfortable, or afraid can hold a lot of power over us. We'll sometimes go to great lengths to avoid those feelings, whether it's altering our brains in the movie Brain Candy, or trying a new fetish you heard about on a podcast, or how I will hide in the grocery store to avoid talking to someone. But those feelings only have power over us if we let them by ignoring them. Like a bad infection, negative feelings have a way of spreading out the more you ignore and avoid them.

And confronting those feelings -- doing something you don't want to do -- is the best way to rip up the roots of that weed. I'm not saying you should step outside your comfort zone because you might learn you like it. Chances are, you're going to suddenly enjoy being sad, or start sounding every night, or look forward to making grocery store small talk. If you think you're not going to like something, you probably won't.

But liking negative feelings isn't the point. The point is to get used to them, to lose your fear of them, to learn to control them so they don't control you.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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What's Gayer than Plinko? (Ep. 69 - Body Heat)

Jul 14, 2016 00:55:38

Description:

This Week's Guest: Dennis Hensley

One of the most generous gifts you can give someone is listening to them. It's a habit that some people just never picked up. But others have refined it to an art form. My guest this week is Dennis Hensley, who you might know from My Life on the D-List, from Girls Will be Girls, or from countless celebrity interviews in just about every magazine ever. These days, among his many hats, he hosts a podcast called Dennis Anyone, where he interviews creative folks about their work; and he's also the host of The MisMatch Game, a live gameshow fundraiser for the LA LGBT Center. The next MisMatch game is coming up, on July 23 and 24, and I highly recommend the experience of seeing a bunch of celebrity-impersonating comedians running circles around each other. 

As an interviewer, a listener, and a host, Dennis sometimes disappears behind the glitter of the people whose talent he's showcasing. That's a problem he's always been happy to have, whether interviewing Carrie Fisher in her bed or Celine Dion in her limousine. But these days, Dennis' industry is changing, and he's faced with a new challenge: stepping out from behind the luminaries and standing in his own spotlight.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About This Week's Recommendation: Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste

It's always a pleasure, and also a little awkward, to talk to a fellow interviewer. Journalists are often accustomed to prompting, rather than talking; to steering conversation instead of just participating in it; and to analyzing people so we can explain them to others.

But then sometimes you meet someone who simply defies analysis. For my recommendation this week, check out the book Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. It's the book I was trying and failing to remember during my conversation with Dennis, the one about why people love Celine Dion and what Celine the phenomenon has to teach us about human taste.

This book had what seemed an impossible impact on me: it changed my appreciation of Celine Dion from ironic to sincere. How could such a thing happen? Well in part, because it's about much more than just Celine -- author Carl Wilson tackles such questions as "why do we like what we like?" and "is it ok to like it?"

Anyone who loves winking at camp owes it to themselves to give this book a read. We all carry around a lot of assumptions about what it's ok to enjoy, and more importantly what it's ok to admit we enjoy. Meeting Celine's fans, diving into her unexpected relationships with other artists, and the depths of schmaltz may not change what you enjoy. But it might change how you enjoy it. 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Girlie Show (Ep. 68 - Madonna)

Jul 7, 2016 00:52:08

Description:

This Week's Guest: David Russell

What is it about strong women that gay men find so irresistible? Whether it's a golden girl or Bayonetta or, as is the case for this week's guest, Madonna, there's something extra inspiring to us about the women who run the world.

So it's no wonder that David Russell's dedicated his career to supporting fabulous lady performers. For the last few years, he's managed Sia, the Australian singer-songwriter, and his path to success was paved with heroines like Wonder Woman, Belinda Carlisle, and an extremely understanding family. A family who stood up for him when he wanted to dance, and stood up to school officials who were so scared of having a gay student that they wouldn't even allow David to talk.

This Week's Recommendation: 20 Years of Madonna in 20 Minutes

Thanks again to David for joining me. In talking to him, I realized another reason gay men might love powerful women: their ability to adapt, to transform, to reinvent themselves and always stay one step ahead of everyone else.

Speaking of quick changes, for my recommendation this week I suggest you run to YouTube and look up the incredible drag act, "20 Years of Madonna in 20 Minutes." I've also posted the video in the shownotes for this episode, which you can find at SewersOfParis.com

It's an incredible costume-changing lip sync medley of Madonna's entire career, performed by a San Francisco artist named Kimo. Half of the pleasure of the show is hearing one greatest-hit after another, and the other half is witnessing the dizzying, frantic exchange of costumes and dresses and wigs and completely different looks within seconds.

It's easy to forget just how many Madonnas we've had from the 80s to today, from Starlight to Material Girl to Open Your Heart to Like a Prayer to Vogue -- and that barely even gets us into the 90s. Watching Kimo rocket through Madonna's career is an incredible reminder of just how many times she's changed.

And I think that knack for transformation is one key to Madonna's ongoing success. When you hit on something that works, there's a temptation to keep riding it, and riding it, and riding it, and riding it. After all, if something you did worked, if people love it, that seems like the riskiest possible time to change.

But risks can be won. Not every time, and you may need to adjust your definition of what winning means. But imagine if Madonna never moved on from Material Girl -- those furs would be pretty threadbare by now. You may not love all the risks she takes. But if you don't, so what? There'll be another quick change soon enough.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
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The Lost Year in Argentina (Ep. 67 - 80s Pop Songs)

Jun 30, 2016 00:49:16

Description:

This Week's Guest: Gustavo

Many of us grew up with some kind of authority who kept us from exploring gay culture -- it might've been a parent, or a priest, or school. Now imagine if that authority was a military dictator. And imagine what you'd do the day that dictator fell.

My guest this week grew up in post-Peron Argentina, living under a military junta until a war ended their rule. Seemingly overnight, Gustavo's country was opened to international arts and culture, and he discovered an entire world he'd been missing -- a world to which he instantly knew he belonged.

Gus has several Spanish-language podcasts you should listen to!

Here's La Podcast, Gustavo's show: http://theargiehome.blogspot.com.ar/Alfred Pennyworth Presenta, the podcast about Batman http://posta.fm/alfredpresenta/ And here's 1982 , the music podcast about the "lost" year in music in Argentina http://www.lunfa.fm/1982/ 

 

This Week's Recommendations

Many of us have had to undergo a process of discovering that we're different, putting a name to that difference, and hoping against hope that there might be someone, anyone, else out there like us.

As lonely as it was to be gay in decades past, there was a certain magic to discovering that there existed an entire community waiting to welcome you. And one of the ways that we discovered that community -- and still do -- are through clues that we leave for each other in pop culture. Like chalk marks hidden in plain sight, those of us who've found our tribe leave hints that others might follow.

The songs that Gustavo mentioned are perfect examples, and they don't stop there. Over on Facebook and Twitter, I asked folks to recommend more songs that were coded messages for queers, and I got a ton of great suggestions, from It's a Sin to The Boys of Summer to I'm Coming Out to everything The Smiths ever sang.

I've gathered up as many of those suggestions as I could, and those are my recommendations this week. We have hours of queer-coded music videos from the 1980s embedded below. Some of these songs are just on the edge of queer and open to some debate -- like I Think We're Alone Now -- and others are a little plainer, like Go West.

But of course everyone's experience is different, and we're all putting together the pieces of different puzzles -- so the shapes that make sense to some of us might not make sense to others. Together, though, these songs paint a pretty amazing portrait of gay life from one end of the decade to the other. From being an outsider all alone to finding an inner strength to declaring your existence and resilience and survival, it's all there. If you know where to look.

 

Clips of Stuff we Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

My Slumber Parties Were Notorious (Ep. 66 - Greenwich Village)

Jun 23, 2016 00:46:31

Description:

 Photo by Cat Gwynn

Photo by Cat Gwynn

This Week's Guest: Robert Patrick

Before Pride, before gay marriage, before disco, before most of what we recognize today as gay culture, there was Greenwich Village. It's the gay enclave that invented gay enclaves, a place where you went to reject mainstream after the mainstream had rejected you. My guest today is playwright Robert Patrick, who wandered into the Village as an unsuspecting young gay man in the 1960s. He was only supposed to be there for a day, but he wound up staying for years, witnessing -- and participating in -- one of the most important periods in American theater history.

A quick note: when I interviewed Robert, there was a cement mixer pouring a foundation right outside his window. There are some huffs and puffs in the audio, but I've removed the worst of it so I hope the occasional noise doesn't distract you from Robert's incredible story.

This Week's Recommendation: The Boys in the Band

The week that this podcast comes out is the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that overturned marriage bans across the United States. (A topic that, BTW, I wrote a book about -- it's called Defining Marriage and you can pick it up on Amazon right now if you like moving stories of queer love.)

Legalizing marriage meant an end to one of the biggest, most visible ways in which queer people are oppressed. But there's more that we have in common than just our history of oppression. There's our friendship, or brotherhood, falling in love and falling into bed. 

The energy that we once had to devote to hiding we can now devote making noise, being out, being proud, and being good to each other.

For my recommendations this week,  set aside some time for The Boys in the Band. You can find the movie on YouTube, but you might enjoy reading the play on which it's based instead. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking story set in the late 60s about a group of men who assemble for a party. Over the course of the evening, we see how they use their own pain to inflict pain on others. In The Boys in the Band, we seek each other out for comfort and companionship, but we come so battered and abused by the world that we can't help battering and abusing each other.

I recommended this play and movie last year, in my episode with actor Ray Miller. And as I prepared to write this recommendation, I was thinking about how far we've come in just those twelve months -- how in only a year, it seems as though LGBTs have become even more warmly welcomed into the quilt of the country. Of course, in that time, we've also endured a horrible tragedy -- a reminder that even in our safest enclaves we're vulnerable to attack. But even in the aftermath of that tragedy, the outpouring of love and support has been nothing short of breathtaking. 

There was a time not so long ago when all we knew was rejection and abuse. We were so used to it that it's the only way we knew to treat each other. Those times are over. But let's never let them be forgotten.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Earthquakes Are Fine, I'd Just Rather not be in Eugene (Ep. 65 - Tokyo Drag Queen)

Jun 16, 2016 00:42:45

Description:

This Week's Guest: Tatianna Lee/Taylor

How far would you go to find your chosen family? Some of us are lucky enough to find our tribe in the town where we grew up. Others had to travel to the nearest big city. And my guest this week moved across an ocean. 

By Day, Taylor's a mind-mannered english teacher from Eugene, but at night, he becomes Tatianna Lee, the leader of an international band of Tokyo gender rebels. It's a long way from where he grew up, and a long way from the outcast loner he was as a kid. 

A quiet anime nerd, he used to dream of being part of an incredible family like the ones he saw on screen -- especially after suffering a series of academic failures and rejection from the gay community.

It was then that Taylor stopped dreaming of finding that family, and started making it real.

This Week's Recommendation: Bioware Needs More Gay

I don't know how many listeners I have in Japan -- hopefully a lot -- and if you happen to be in Tokyo, please check out the Tokyo Closet Ball and let me know what you think! From the sound of things, it's one of the most diverse drag-type performances in the world, pulling from all different kinds of performance.

When you have a show that's so international and so diverse, it's hard to know what to call it. But that's good problem to have -- being so unique there's no word to describe you.

For my recommendation this week, check out a YouTube video that involves two of my past Sewers of Paris guests, David Gaider and Jamie Mauer. You might know Jamie, aka Rantasmo, from his YouTube series Needs More Gay, where he talks about queer representation on screen. On a recent episode, he addressed two of the Bioware franchises that Taylor mentioned on this week's episode -- Dragon Age and Mass Effect, both of which feature writing from my past guest David Gaider.

Dragon Age and Mass Effect have been steadily improving their LGBT inclusion for years, starting with a few minor characters and blossoming into complex romance storylines. Jamie's video tackles the specific issue of tokenization -- the idea that we might be included, but only in the most perfunctory, superficial way. 

Watching Jamie's video, you can see that Bioware's approach is basically a how-to manual of avoiding tokenization. It's kind of amazing to see just what lengths the company has gone to to include us -- and how that inclusion started well and got better with each new game over the years. 

After all, these games are fundamentally about balancing a party, assembling a group with varied traits that all enhance and complement each other. And romance is built into the games as part of the mechanic. For years, we've had elves that can shoot lightning, seven-foot tall aliens with four testicles, and club-wielding gnomes. 

In worlds like those, it's a little weird that two men kissing would ever have seemed far-fetched.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Villains and Hairdressers (Ep. 64 - Bryan Safi)

Jun 9, 2016 00:55:47

Description:

This Week's Guest: Bryan Safi

As a flamboyant kid in Texas, humor was Bryan's protection in situations where standing out might otherwise have been risky. He escaped to the big city he'd always dreamed of to become an actor, and for a time he tried to peel off that funny armor by taking on serious roles. But stripping down revealed something he didn't expect -- underneath the humor that he once hid behind was a man who was even funnier.

PS: Bryan's podcast, Throwing Shade, is going on a 21-city tour! Tickets are on sale at throwingshade.com/tour.

This Week's Recommendation: A Confederacy of Dunces

I'll confess that when I first started listening to Throwing Shade I would get a little frustrated when one of them got a fact wrong, or broached a topic with what I thought was insufficient gravity. But being silly is kind of the point of a comedy show, and if you try to take it seriously, well then, you're the one the joke's on. Generally speaking, the more seriously you take yourself, the funnier you actually are.

For my recommendation this week, take a look at the book A Confederacy of Dunces, written by John Kennedy Toole in the 1960s. It's the story of a man who considers himself very important, and is in fact very ridiculous. His name's Ignatius Reilly, and he's by turns a hot dog vendor, a pants manufacturer, a revolutionary, and a serial masturbator. His grasp on reality is not the strongest, but his plans are terribly grand.

For example, one day while dressed as a pirate, Ignatius makes the acquaintance of a gay man named Dorian Greene. As Ignatius learns about the basic tenets of homosexuality, it occurs to him that he might be able to achieve world peace by infiltrating the nation's army with gay men, transforming all future wars from conflicts into orgies. He commands that Dorian assemble all of his gay friends for what he expects will be a political rally, but what winds up being somewhat less sober.

This is but one of many memorable escapades in the book, all of which involve Ignatius's increasingly grandise plans and increasingly chaotic failures. The title is a reference to a Jonathan Swift quote -- "When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him." For Ignatius, this explains everything: all his failures simply confirm his genius, and motivate him to attempt ever more serious endeavors. 

When things aren't going as you might've planned, you basically have two choices. You can either panic about your wounded pride and convince yourself that the world's out to get you. Or you can just laugh about being wrong. And you might as well laugh -- expecting that you're going to be right about everything is funny. 

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

You Don't Want to See Minnie Mouse Take Her Head Off (Ep. 63 - Ben DeLaCreme)

Jun 2, 2016 01:05:27

Description:

This Week's Guest: Ben DeLaCreme

This week's guest specializes in breaking boundaries, upending order, and causing mischief. You probably know Ben DeLaCreme best from those couple of months when you were rooting for him to win Season 6 of Drag Race, or maybe from his live shows that tour the country. As it happens, can catch him onstage in his new show, "Inferno A-Go-Go," a delightful romp based on Dante's Inferno -- I'll have details at the end of this episode, or follow him on twitter @bendelacreme.

I'm so grateful to Ben for sitting down with me to talk about how Bugs Bunny and Jessica Rabbit made him the man and woman he is today, the strategy that he devised for making the most of Drag Race, and why the producers of that show hated him.

Highlights of this week's episode: Ben's early forays into showmanship and drag, starting with news reports he'd stage as a child about what was happening around the house. Later, he appeared onstage in his boxers, and as Tina Angst in Chicago -- an angry punk-rock drag girl with pink and black dreadlocks. "I had such a crazy temper then," he said.

Anger was his weapon of choice at first, but then he stumbled across something far better: the devastating power of well-aimed niceness.

He resisted Drag Race for years, but when the time finally came, he crafted an unusual strategy: when in drag, he'd never break character. "I wanted to represent myself in a way that I felt good about," he said.

That proved exhausting, not just for him but for the producers who desperately wanted him to engage with the other contestants as a cutting bitchy gay man. "They hated it," he said. "They wanted me to stop so badly."

And though it might've come off as a little strange, there was a method to Ben DeLaCreme's madness. 

This Week's Recommendation: Labyrinth

I cannot recommend Ben's live appearances highly enough, and you lucky thing you can see him live in a brand new solo show! It's called "Inferno A-Go-Go," based on Dante's Inferno, and it opens at the Laurie Beechman in New York in July, then Provincetown at the Crown and Anchor in August, Seattle's West hall in September, and Oasis in San Francisco in November. If you don't live in those cities, please make arrangements now to hitchhike to whichever one is closest.

There's nothing quite like seeing DeLa live, and the only word I can think of to sum up the experience is "romp." The character creates a bizarre alternate universe in the theater that grabs hold of you, pulls you in, and enchants you to the point that you're not sure why you would ever want to leave.

That's why, for my recommendation this week, I'd like you to check another gender trickster: David Bowie as the goblin king Jareth in Labyrinth. I hope you've seen this film, but if not, a quick synopsis: the otherworldly Jareth seduces young Sarah into a magical kingdom where none of the rules of everyday life apply, and to reach the center of the Labyrinth she must master the bizarre rules of a fantasy realm.

A couple of years ago, I went to a Q&A with some of the Muppet performers in the film, and one of them described the film as "having a lot of space." I think that's a fair critique, and not necessarily a criticism. Like the Labyrinth itself, the movie leaves you with plenty of mysteries and obscured connections to puzzle out on your own. It's an invitation to use your imagination, to fill in gaps and wonder what was real. 

That's what the best trickster characters do, whether it's Bugs Bunny or Jareth or Loki or Groucho Marx or Ben DeLaCreme. Spend a little time in their weird upside-down worlds, and you'll start to pick up a little of their magic yourself.

Then once you're back out in the real world, you can always recharge your imagination by calling on a little of that magic you picked up.

You know. Should you need it.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About

 

Music:

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I'm Going to San Francisco to be a Porn Star (Ep. 62 - Conner Habib)

May 26, 2016 00:51:11

Description:

This Week's Guest: Conner Habib

You may think you already know a lot about Conner, given that you've probably seen him naked in such films as Dad Goes to College, Hot House Backroom Volume 18, and Brief Encounters.

But Conner actually holds his cards pretty close to his furry chest. Though you might've seen him naked in porn, you probably know less about his background growing up in Mennonite country, dabbling in the occult, getting lost in the Pennsylvania punk scene, and his secret super power.

"There was something appealing to me about being a kid with superpowers," he says, reflecting on his childhood obsession with Superfriends. He'd fantasize about having powers of his own (something he still does to this day). Back then, he longed to be able to control animals -- maybe because he had severe allergies that prevented him from even being able to touch the family dog. "It kind of just shows that I was really lonely," he says.

Later on, he stumbled across a book on the occult in the school library, and his new obsession became spells and hexes. Alone in his room -- or sometimes with a friend -- he'd open the stolen book and chant incantations and make voodoo dolls. And even when the spells seemed to have no demonstrable effect, such as when he tried to turn himself into a cat, he was confident that at least something was happening. "I look back now and think maybe I shouldn't have messed with that stuff," he says, but "I just wanted there to be more magic."

It wasn't easy being gay in his small town. There was one neighbor who he'd have sex with, then berate himself endlessly. At school, he'd beg male friends for sex, and they'd all laugh it off as a joke.

As he got a little older, he fell in with the Pennsylvania punk scene, which was a good fit for his strangeness and rule-breaking. Even though he scene was pretty homophobic, the punks that he met seemed to respect that queer people were doing something that freaked out the mainstream, and they respected him. 

Eventually, he decided, he was going to move to San Francisco to become a porn star. He was teaching at the time, and his students thought it was awesome. Once again, he was going to dive into a world outside the mainstream -- whether fantasizing about superheroes, chanting spells, listening to punk rock or slipping away for gay sex. Throughout his life, he realized, he's been an outside.

But after a while, if you're an outsider in enough ways, "you're no longer an outsider. You're a bridge."

By the way, Conner's hosting a live online course on Sunday, June 5, called Pornworld that's all about what porn teaches us about sex. I'll have more details on that at the end of the show, or head over to ConnerHabib.com to find out more about the course. 

This Week's Recommendation: The First Nudie Musical

Even though these days Connor only takes off his clothes on an infrequent basis, there's still plenty of porn to be enjoyed in the world. And for this week's recommendation, I suggest you find a movie called "The First Nudie Musical." 

The film was made for a couple of bucks in the late 70s and stars, of all people, Cindy Williams from Laverne and Shirley. The story is that a low-budget porn studio is about to go out of business, but the owner -- who inherited it as a legitimate movie company from his father -- wants to keep the family business alive. His secretary, played by Cindy, suggests that they make a pornographic musical extravaganza called "Come Come Now." And there you have it: an excuse for a series of bosom-bearing scenes set to song.

As musicals go, it's, well, fine, with numbers like "Lesbian Butch Dyke" and "Dancing Dildos." As porn goes, it's probably not going to win any Grabby awards. But there's something about the blend of the two styles that's hard to look away from.

And in a way, it's a bit like sex: occasionally hot, mostly messy, sometimes funny, a little serious but mostly really really really weird. There's nothing profound about the movie, no deep truths revealed by the sight of Cindy Williams wearing a hat shaped like a middle finger, no philosophies explained by the actress who brags at an audition that she's done some minor bestiality. Like a good roll in the hay, a sexy film doesn't have to be deep or penetrating -- sometimes the best ones are just a bit of silly, harmless fun.

Music:

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

What Sets You Apart is What Makes You Stand Out (Ep. 61 - Buffy)

May 19, 2016 00:49:14

Description:

This Week's Guest: Terry Blas

You might be familiar with the work of this week's guest. Terry drew a comic that everyone was passing around a few months ago called "You Say Latino," that's all about the differences between Latino and Hispanic. He has a new comic up this week on Fusion.com called "Ghetto Swirl," about coming to terms with being gay and Mormon.

If you haven't seen his work, check them out -- they're both quick reads, and they're helpful guides for how to describe people around you, or yourself. And Terry knows a thing or two about labels. Nerdy, Hispanic, Mormon, gay, comic illustrator -- he's worn a lot of hats. Or at least, he's tried on a lot of hats. Some fit, and others didn't. They really really didn't.

This Week's Recommendation: Buffy

Thanks again to Terry for joining me. And also for reminding me what an amazing show Buffy is -- it's been a while since I watched, but gathering clips for this week's episode sent me down a YouTube spiral of some amazing episodes. And you should do the same -- my recommendation this week is to clear your calendar for a month or two so you can watch all seven seasons.

Now season 1 is a little rough. The touches of brilliance are all there, but you'll have to be a little patient while they all come together. Season one is very much about standard teen drama, but the show hits its stride soon enough and before long you're watching something so sophisticated that there is now an entire academic discipline known as "Buffy Studies."

One of the most amazing things about the show -- and there are a lot, but no spoilers -- is how much it changes over time. You can binge watch all 144 episodes over the course of two months, if you watch two a day. But when it aired, the story played out over seven years. And we didn't just watch Buffy journey through adolescence, we followed the show into its own adulthood, growing increasingly dark as it grapples not with popularity or parental pressure, but with life, death, the purpose of existence.

Also, in case you haven't heard, there's a musical episode, so that's pretty great.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About Music:

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Secrets and Family (Ep. 60 - Soap operas)

May 12, 2016 00:45:46

Description:

This Week's Guest: Conor Patrick

Do you know all of your family secrets? And is it possible that you might be one of them? My guest this week is Conor Patrick, whose work you can catch right now on on Cinemax -- he's a script coordinator on the show Banshee, which is about sinister mysteries hiding in a small town.

As a kid, Conor obsessed over the convoluted family plots of soap operas. His parents were prominent local celebrities in the town where he grew up, which meant his family was always in the spotlight. And that meant HE was always in the spotlight. And the secrets he harbored might someday be exposed as well. 

This Week's Recommendation: Billy Elliot

Thanks again to Conor for joining me. You can catch his work as script supervisor on Banshee -- the show's reaching its series finale on May 20th, so it's a perfect time to binge watch.

Banshee's all about hidden secrets and coded behavior in an isolated town, and if you like that sort of story I cannot recommend highly enough the film Billy Elliot. Set during the UK miners strike in the 1980s, it's the story of a rough rural family and a boy who, when sent to learn to fight, instead discovers his gift for dance. 

There are a lot of feelings happening in this movie. But at its core is a boy who wants to be appreciated, and a parent who isn't sure he knows his own son. Throughout the movie, they orbit each other, drawing closer and further, experiencing moments of honesty between periods of distance.

As obvious as it is that Billy has a gift, it seems just as clear that his father, a miner, will never understand it. But the most beautiful moment of the film -- and no spoilers -- is its last five seconds. Don't skip to the end, because it won't mean anything unless you've watched it through. But there comes a point at which both characters, Billy and his father, take a leap. For Billy, it's a leap to becoming the man he'd always wanted to be. For his father, it's meeting his son in midair -- despite being at a physical distance -- to finally see someone he thought he knew for the first time.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

 

Music:

Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

She Made me Dress up as the Pink Carebear (Ep. 59 - Boy Bands)

May 5, 2016 01:02:32

Description:

This Week's Guest: Kevin Yee

What would you do if you sacrificed everything for your dreams -- and then your dreams change? My guest this week is Kevin Yee, who's been a professional performer almost as long as he's been alive. As a teenager, he got the chance of a lifetime when he was cast in a late-90s boy band. Three years later, things hadn't quite turned out as he'd hoped, and he thought his dreams of performing were over before he had even reached adulthood. 

These days things are looking a bit better -- you can catch him performing at the Cafe Fear Comedy Festival in Wilmington NC from May 18-21, and the Highlarious Comedy Festival in Seattle this August. You can get details on the performances at KevinYee.com... and you can get the story of his journey from boy band to stand up right now in our conversation.

This Week's Recommendation: Double Life

I met Kevin a couple years ago, long after he put the boy band and clothing store behind him and found his calling in comedy. He is even more fun and funny in person than he is on stage, and I'm so glad I know THAT Kevin, the real Kevin, and that as awful as his time in the band surely was, that it only strengthened his resolve to live a life that's genuine.

And as glitzy and glamorous and gay as showbusiness is, it's long had a way of forcing people to repress their true selves, forcing queer entertainers to adopt a straight facade. That a disservice not just to artists, but also to audiences -- whether and actor or a singer or painter or a poet, art need honesty in order to work.

For my recommendation this week, I'd like to check out the book Double Life, by Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine. The two men met in June of 1958, when Norman spotted Alan onstage on the Broadway show Jamaica. And over their six decades together, they've worked onstage, in television, in advertising, in visual arts -- and the memoir they wrote a few years back is a meticulous chronicle of how their lives were shaped by the various closets they endured.

Double Life is a fascinating glimpse at the ways that the entertainment industry forced gay men to remain closeted, to deny their own existence. It's also a tender love letter between two men who shared each other's lives, often through times when only they and their closest friends could know what those lives truly were. And it's a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a time when artists and their art can be honest, and are no longer forced to wear a straight face.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About This Week

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I'm in the Whore Houses and the Leper Colonies (Ep. 58 - Robbie Turner)

Apr 28, 2016 01:20:04

Description:

Listener alert! If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, could you nominate it in the "GLBT" category for a podcast award? Deadline is April 30th!

This Week's Guest: Robbie Turner

Who taught you how to be beautiful? My guest this week made a lifelong study of the most beautiful woman he knew, his mother, even going so far as to transform into a character who bears an uncanny resemblance. You might know Robbie Turner the character from this season's Drag Race, or from her regular appearances at shows in Seattle and around the country. She might've hosted your Pride, or officiated your wedding. But on today's episode we're going to get to know Robbie Turner the man.

As a child, Robbie wanted to become a minister, and to carry on the religious traditions of his family. Instead, today he's carrying on their hair and makeup. But without meaning to, he's also managed to cultivate an unlikely flock of his own. But it wasn't an easy path.

Robbie always knew he was different -- as young boy, he loved to color his fingernails red with sharpies, much to the chagrin of his mother, who would confiscate any markers she found. But his grandma thought it was adorable, and kept him well-stocked, slipping sharpies to him every Sunday at church.

The day he was to graduate from high school, Robbie woke up and knew that he would either have to change his life or die. He was deeply closeted, terrified of being found out by his religious family and his tiny rural town. That morning, he waded into a river holding a giant stone, planning to drown himself. "We didn't have 'it gets better,'" he said. "As far as I knew, it got worse."

Even underwater, he could feel his tears welling up as he mustered the courage to stand up out of the water and walk back to shore. He made it to graduation, broke up with his girlfriend, came out to his parents, and bid his small town goodbye. "I need to find out who I am," Robbie told them, and hit the road.

He planned to be a serious actor, and took roles in various Shakespeare shows -- but then he found himself cast repeatedly in female roles, and something just seemed right about it. When a friend asked if he'd fill in for a last-minute cancellation at a drag show, Robbie was taken aback. What did he know about drag? The two of them ran to a thrift shop, grabbed whatever couture they could find, and suddenly Robbie found himself transformed into Liza Minnelli. He walked out on stage with no time to rehearse and nailed a lip-sync to Liza with a Z. That led to another booking, and another, and another -- and then he was on Drag Race.

Telling his mother what he does was particularly difficult. Robbie had idolized her for his entire life, and she received the news as he thought she might -- with hysterics. But his father surprised him. "I expected him to be like 'get out of the house,'" Robbie said. But instead, his father took a moment to compose himself, and told his son, "I'm going to level with you. You're not going to get a fair shake in life. But I'll always be here for you."

It took some time for his mother to come around. They certainly didn't understand his drag career. But when Robbie got a call that his mother was dying, he knew he had to drop everything and return to the small town he'd left years before. 

Here are some photos that I took of Robbie just before her Drag Race debut:

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This Week's Recommendation: Polyester

This week's episode was all about drag and moms, it would be a crime for my recommendation to overlook Divine, the mother of modern drag queens. She's sensitive and sweet in Hairspray, and she's long-suffering in Polyester, but I think her greatest role is in Pink Flamingos. In that film, Divine plays Babs Johnson, a trailer-dweller who lives with her mother and son and has just been named the filthiest person alive. That enrages two other filthy Baltimore residents, who scheme to seize the title from Babs by any means necessary, but soon find themselves in filth far over their heads.

Divine's portrayal of maternity has never exactly been what you'd call typical, but even in this incredibly disgusting role, there's a motherliness that borders on touching. Divine's family is gross -- they engage in acts with chickens and with eggs that will leave you trembling -- but they're HER family, and she refuses to apologize for the way they live, the way they kill, and the way they eat.

There are remarkably few films about heroic moms, since strong women are so often made into villains, from Cinderella to Carrie to The Manchurian Candidate to Ordinary People. Even Divine might look at first like the bad guy in Pink Flamingos -- after all, she's responsible for a variety of grandiose murders over the course of the film. But she's not filthy just for fun, she's filthy for a cause -- that of her family. Yes, she's disgusting, but disgust is what nourishes her egg-obsessed mother and her chicken-fucking kid. 

Being a mother in this context may be exhausting, and the world may never fully understand her. But Divine never flinches from the role as matriarch of her horrifying clan, of caretaker, protector, and provider. She'll do whatever must be done to preserve her family, or eat shit and die trying.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

I was in Fantasy Worlds with Quests and Wizards (Ep. 57 - Dungeons & Dragons)

Apr 21, 2016 00:58:38

Description:

This Week's Guest: David Gaider

If you could create your ideal fantasy world, what would it looks like? Who would live there? And would it include you?

My guest this week is writer and game developer David Gaider, whose work appears in Baldur's Gate 2, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, several novels. He's been telling stories his whole life, with one early experience involving a game in which he gave his friends the Black Death -- in a role-playing context, of course.

Games were always David's hobby. He worked in hotel management and never planned to get into the game industry, even going so far as to turn down the job that would eventually change his life. 

"One does not make a job out of things you do to creatively satisfy yourself," he told himself. But there were surprises awaiting him that gave him the nudge he needed toward creative fulfilment -- though not without taking a great risk.

For David, games were an escape from real life, and his fantasy worlds never included anyone who was quite like him. The games that he wrote were always about other people, adventures that he told for and about about someone else. "People say 'write what you know' and that just wasn't something I did," he said. "I didn't think I had a story to tell that other people would be interested in."

It wasn't until his company, Bioware, included a lesbian storyline in the game Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic that it even occurred to David that he could write queer characters. "I was blown away when I heard that this is something we were doing," he said. "I didn't know that it was something I could even question or want."

And so he wrote a mage named Dorian for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Dorian's backstory involves a disapproving father and attempts at being "ex-gay" -- in the context of magic and spells. To write Dorian, David reached down deep to tap into personal experiences he'd never used in his writing before. "I finished writing it and I burst into tears," he said.

Once he collected himself, he gave the script to his editor. She came into his office crying as well. It was his first indication that he hadn't just opened a door for himself -- he'd unlocked an undiscovered realm for players everywhere.

This Week's Recommendation: Dragon Age (and Ass-Slapping)

Thanks again to David for joining me. Not just on this episode, but every time I play Dragon Age. It's a single-player game, but just as with a book or a movie or a song, when you connect with a work of art, you're doing it in the company of the people who made it. And knowing that folks like David invited us into their creations with characters who are queer makes the fantasy all the more rich.

That's why my recommendation this week is the series that he worked on, Dragon Age. There are three games, each released about two years apart, and the most recent one -- Dragon Age Inquisition -- has tons of queer content. I've been spending the last few weeks wooing a character called The Iron Bull, a giant hulking warrior who commands a group of mercenaries and whose love for your character deepens if you kill a dragon together.

Among Bull's entourage is a trans man, and there's a scene in which the game unflinchingly explains the character's connection to his gender. Later, the player's relationship with Bull can take a turn towards BDSM, and you explore safe words and consent between fights with monsters deep underground. After a grueling adventure, your can opt into being tied up and roughly sexed in the safety of your bedroom. One character observes that in your relationship with Bull, you submit, but Bull serves, explaining BDSM terms that are clearer than you'll hear at most actual bondage events.

In one scene that I've probably watched a dozen times, Bull slaps your character on the ass, hard enough that you're seen rubbing it tenderly afterward. The scene caught me by surprise at first, and then the next time it played, I made sure my partner was nearby. "Like THAT," I told him.

Not every work of art needs to accommodate every fantasy -- and in fact, they'd be pretty messy if they did. But what I love about Dragon Age is the extent to which it invites different fantasies in.

If I could only play a straight romance, or if I couldn't negotiate power roles with my partner, then I wouldn't be playing my fantasy. I'd be playing someone else's. 

The conversations and assignations of Dragon Age happen in a imaginary setting, but they could just as easily take place in a bedroom or a bar or a basement here in the real world. And at first that might seem like reality intruding into a fantasy realm. If the game's meant to be an escape, a place where your imagination can go free, isn't it distracting to be reminded of the issues of our real lives?

Well -- no. No fantasy exists completely on its own. We all bring a bit of our real lives with us when we escape into a story or music or game, whether it's a wish to be a hero or bad guy, to be important, to be loved, to be something scary or to make something beautiful.

We carry some measure of ourselves into every escape, and some measure of the escape back with us to real life, like returning to base with an inventory bulging with treasure.

From adventures like these, you might return with life-changing loot, like the courage to come out, or a deeper understanding of those you love. And sometimes even little rewards catch you by surprise, like instructions for a good hard smack on the ass.

"I think in many ways the industry is maturing," said David, who just recently became creative director at the game company Beamdog. "Sure, we're offering escapism, but to whom, and to where? And what other sorts of stories can we tell?"

Please join me for a livestreaming of my Dragon Age: Inquisition playthrough! I'm at http://twitch.tv/matthewbaume.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I Needed to Feel at Home in my Home (Ep. 56 - Matilda)

Apr 14, 2016 00:41:38

Description:

How old were you when you first realized that no adult has any idea what they're doing? When you're a kid, it's easy to look up to your parents and teachers and bank tellers and taxi drivers like they have all the secrets about how to get by in the world -- but the truth is nobody's got a clue.

"I never felt safe enough to come out," John says on this week's episode. his religious upbringing made coming out a painful experience -- his mother broke down and cried, and that very same night he called called a girl he knew to ask if she'd be his girlfriend in the hopes of undoing his mom's pain.

The next few years were hard, and marked by occasional attempts to run away. John would look at his mom, who was once his best friend, and think, "my mom doesn't love me as much as she did."

"More than anything, I wanted my mom to look at me the way she did before," he said.

Finally, he was old enough to move out of the house for real -- but being on his own turned out to be harder than he thought. Two years of couch-surfing and unsteady employment convinced John that he'd failed as an adult.

But his eyes were opened by a chance re-discovery of a movie he loved as a kid, and a lesson he'd forgotten as he grew up: that making mistakes is a very adult thing to do. The movie Matilda showed him that just because a person is an adult doesn't mean that they're right about everything. His past mistakes didn't make him a bad person; and his mother's disapproval could maybe change. "Maybe one day I can pull her out of it," he thought.

John moved back home and attempted a reconciliation that stretched out over years. He wasn't sure if it was working, until one day his mother unexpectedly found a way to let him know that ever since she pushed him away, she'd been silently holding onto a lot of regrets.

A few clips of things we talked about this week:

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

My Cat Makes Me Laugh a Lot (Ep. 55 - Bette Midler)

Apr 7, 2016 00:58:14

Description:

My guest this week is writer and comedian H. Alan Scott, whom you may know as co-host of the fabulous Out on the Lanai podcast. But he first came to my attention when I was working as a nightlife photographer in LA. There was this one guy I'd photograph at a bar every now and then who was shy, who hung back from the dance floor, and who whenever I took his picture would have something to say that made me laugh.

And that man ... was Howie Mandel. Just kidding, it was H. Alan Scott.

I never told him this, but I didn't just look forward to photographing him because he was funny and friendly. H Alan was a pleasure to shoot because he never posed. It may not come as a total surprise that in Los Angeles, many people are very concerned with how they are seen, and so whenever a camera is nearby they contort themselves into an improbable shape that they believe is the most flattering, and as a result, pictures of them are often more about the posture than the person. 

H Alan, on the other hand, always looked into my camera honestly, sometimes with a smile and sometimes not. I didn't know it, but at the time he was emerging from a long and difficult ordeal that had changed his life. And when I pointed my camera at him, I was pointing it at a man who had no use for putting on a happy face.

Here are some clips of things we talked about on this episode:

 

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Don't Follow Rules (Ep. 54 - Indie Rock, Chiptunes, and Video Games)

Mar 31, 2016 00:56:11

Description:

How can you tell the difference between a rule that's best followed and a rule that's best broken? Some guidelines are there to help, like, stay out of the lion pit. But others are just rules for the sake of rules, like no white after labor day. And sometimes, one type looks deceptively like the other.

My guests this week are Daniel Culp, and his husband Stephen Van Doren. We'll mostly be hearing from Daniel, a musician who also goes by Aethernaut, and whose musical influences have veered from Pentecostalism to Duck Tales. Daniel grew up bound by rules, from what he should believe to what games he could play, until he made a clean break both in his life and in his songs. These days, he's enjoying some new-found freedom ... with the help of some familiar structure.

Here are some clips of stuff we talked about in this episode:

 

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

My Land's Only Borders Lie Around my Heart (Ep. 53 - Chess, Mariah, and Wicked)

Mar 24, 2016 00:55:29

Description:

My guest this week is Jean-Paul Bevilacqua, who's probably best known for appearing on the show One Girl Five Gays. But he's more than just a fifth of a panel. He's a bundle of raw emotions. Despite the calm, cool, collected exterior, JP can't resist chasing after intense feelings, whether it's by listening to love ballads, or by playing the devil in an opera, or by cultivating youtube playlists of people on the verge. His favorite entertainment is the kind that explodes, that overwhelms, that dares you to endure. It's a dare that for many years JP literally hid from.

And hey -- come join us for a Sewers of Paris live video chat this weekend! We'll be talking about classic TV shows and who knows what else. Hope to see you there!

A few clips mentioned on this week's episode:

 

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

If You Can Survive it, do it (Ep. 52 - Gay New York in the 70s & 80s)

Mar 17, 2016 00:52:55

Description:

My guest this week is Mark Finley. Again. I spoke to Mark last week about his career as an actor and talent coordinator, fleeing his small town and meeting his heroes. Mark shared so many incredible memories that I invited him back to talk more about his time in New York, traveling around the country, and how he survived after doctors told him six months to live.

As you'll hear, the audio of our conversation is a little echoey -- it's quite not as clear as a normal episode. But the memories Mark shared are just so incredible I had to share them with you, echo and all.

For my recommendation this week, I'm going to give you a choice: if you're feeling up to it, watch Longtime Companion. But be ready for a devastating experience. This is not a film that tells its story from a distant vantage point. It is embedded deep in the most painful suffering and heartbreak of the epidemic, down to its final scene. The last few moments of Longtime Companion are a reunion, of sorts, but a reunion that reminds you that sometimes you can never go home, because home has become unrecognizable. And so have you.

If that's too much for you to bear right now, take a deep breath and watch The Gang's All Here, one of the movies Mark gave me to watch. It's an all-star musical romantic comedy from 1943, and it is about as upbeat and trouble free as a movie can get. It's a perfect escape from any worry you could possibly have, and it's probably no coincidence that it was made at a time when the whole country really needed some cheering up.

It is also, of course, wildly unrealistic, as musicals usually are. So take your pick: a devastating story that's unflinchingly honest, or a cheerful romp that's unachievably cheerful. I recommend balancing both.

 

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

That's a Life in the Theater (Ep. 51 - Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett)

Mar 10, 2016 00:49:42

Description:

"There was an incident and I was found to be insane," Mark reveals on this week's episode, "because my flamboyant behavior was disruptive."

Mark's been around long enough to remember when being gay was assumed to be a mental illness, and the very presence of an openly gay teenager was too much for anyone to bear. He fled his small hometown as quickly as he could, spending time in Japan, Cal Arts, and for a time at Brigham Young University where he says "I felt mighty comfortable. But apparently they didn't."

An unannounced exorcism made him aware that his presence might not have been entirely welcome at BYU. "I was sleeping with a lot of guys," he says. "Always there to lend a helping hand. I haven't been called 'The Golden Throat' all my life for nothing."

His wild life in the theater eventually took him to New York, where he took some advice given to him by Carol Burnett to heart: "you sound like you really love theater," she told him when he was young and wrote to her for advice. "And if you love it, keep doing it."

Some clips mentioned on this week's show:

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I Embrace Being High-Strung (Ep. 50 - Louis Virtel & Jeopardy!)

Mar 3, 2016 00:57:13

Description:

"For trivia people, Jeopardy! is The Hajj," Louis Virtel says on this week's episode of The Sewers of Paris. "You don't know what The Hajj has in store for you, but you have to make it once in your lifetime."

Louis' infamous snap, captured and deployed in countless GIFs since he appeared on Jeopardy!, happened in the spur of the moment. But in the lead up to his appearance, he was one big bundle of nerves.

"There was a week when I read every Jeopardy! board in existence," he said. Some categories of information, like economics of football trophies, presented a challenge. "But then you look up the movies of Sandy Dennis and do a little backflip."

In the midst of cramming, he had to take a step back just to relax. "Louis," he told himself, "you better enjoy this while it lasts, because you're going to be on Jeopardy! and then it will be over. Eat up this excitement while you have it."

Appearing on the show was more than a lifelong dream -- for Louis, it approached something like a religious vision. 

The earliest childhood photographs of Louis feature him rapt with attention before the spinning Wheel of Fortune, and his family were all trivia buffs growing up. "When I think about my childhood and playing games with people, that's when I was happiest," he said. "It was cooperative and social, but you weren't just talking to each other. You were learning about the other people from how they played."

At school, he shunned all computer games not based on game shows. Even as a kid, he was a master of memory and accessing arcane knowledge. "It's so cool to trust yourself in front of other people," he said. "It feels like a superpower when you memorize something that nobody else knows."

His appearance on the show was possibly the most stressful day of his life. During rehearsal, "there was a woman she beat me on the buzzer like three times in a row," he recalled. "As somebody who grew up playing video games, that was pretty grim. Why is this woman who is like my mom's age destroying me on this thing where I feel genetically programmed to operate a button better than she does? It was pretty tough at first."

Then the show taped, the snap happened, and the rest was history. He didn't realize at first that he'd done something that would become meaningful to millions. But as soon as the episode aired, Louis noticed that people began to treat him differently than they had when he was best-known for his YouTube series, Verbal Voguing.

"Because of Verbal Voguing, I'd have people come up to me in a bar, like, 'you're funny.' After the Jeopardy! snap, some guy came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'thank you.'"

When we say "gay pride," we're usually talking about a loud parade. But Louis had demonstrated a form of gay pride that was more fundamental: a personal feeling of self-worth for being gay and accomplished and earning recognition.

So now what? He's certain it won't be the last time he's gay on television. As surely as he knew for years that he'd be on Jeopardy!, he knows that "I will host a gay version of Jeopardy! And I want it to be deep, hard knowledge that you basically have to have a drag queen teach you."

His hope is that he can keep showing the world what successful gay men look like, and how different they can be from one another. After all, the key to trivia success is diverse knowledge. When it comes to quiz shows, "your differences are your assets," he said. "There's a level playing field, and the only thing separating you from victory is a buzzer."

Some clips mentioned in this week's episode:

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

You've Got to Appeal to the Queens (Ep. 49 - Judy Garland & Shelley Duvall)

Feb 25, 2016 00:48:01

Description:

My guest this week has been putting out a podcast of his own for years, and yet listeners have never heard his voice. Or at least not his real voice. They've heard him as Judy Garland, or as Carol Channing, or as Bernadette Peters or as Gollum. But today I'm just talking to Bill, the creator of Judycast: the Entertainment Beat with Francis Gumm.

Bill's always had lots to say, but was too shy to say it out loud. So he kept quiet, kept to himself, buried his true self so he wouldn't cause a fuss. Until one day he opened his mouth to speak and someone else's words came out.

A few clips from this episode:


Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Being Gay is Hilarious (Ep. 48 - Dawson's Creek)

Feb 18, 2016 00:52:26

Description:

"I didn't come out," says comedian David Morgan on this week's episode of The Sewers of Paris. "I confirmed rumors."

British listeners will know David from the show Safeword, where a panel of comedians takes over the social media of a celebrity to tweet embarrassing or revealing messages.

It's probably not a coincidence that David thrives in an environment where everyone's expected to expose their deepest vulnerabilties. "I'm very good at picking up on somebody's insecurity and then weaponizing that," he says. "I think I have that because when I was little I was constantly trying to mask mine. You become so heightened at how you are presenting yourself to people that you start being able to read what people are presenting to you."
 
As a kid, it wasn't much of a secret that he was gay, even if he hadn't yet mustered up the courage to tell anyone. Somehow, his classmates all just seemed to know.

Still, the fear of coming out weighed on him. That's probably why, when I asked him what entertainment changed his life, the first thing he thought of was Dawson's Creek and the character Jack. When Jack comes out to his dad, he's despondent -- but his father comforts him. "I didn't ask for a gay son," says the dad, "but boy am I glad I got one."

David had similar support waiting for him when he came out to his parents. On this week's episode, he tells the story of an incident at school that involved some bullying (a bunch of boys harassed him for dancing). The headmaster's response was to out David to his parents, and then call them in for a meeting where he suggested that David resign as a student body leader.

"If you do that," his mother cooly responded, "if you say that my son must step down, what I will do is phone every newspaper and television outlet that exists in the UK and get them on your front lawn because you're a homophobe."

David was allowed to keep his post -- though his mother didn't tell him what transpired in the meeting until years later. In fact, without telling him, she'd spent weeks calling support groups and reading up on parenting gay children, so that she could be prepared in case he had any questions.

Over time, David's grown more comfortable being out. When his standup career started, he would never reveal his homosexuality to audiences. 

"When I started, I didn't talk about being gay onstage at all," he says. And then: "a few months in, I let slip that I had a boyfriend onstage and the audience audibly went 'ohhhh,' as if that's what I'd been hiding from them. Like, 'that's what it is, we get him now.'"

He added, "Before then I'd just been lying to them, and I realized that I'd been locking off a whole lot of my life that I could talk about it onstage. Now I talk about it a lot."

In fact, we talk about it so much on the podcast this week that he eventually reveals his wedding plans, and the ongoing the dispute with his boyfriend over how to get married. And then he jokingly proposes to me. (At least I think it was a joke. I'm not sure. Listen and let me know if I just crushed his heart.)

Some things we talked about on this episodes:


Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Sewers of Paris Valentine's Day Special (Ep. 47 - Love Stories)

Feb 11, 2016 00:50:25

Description:

On most episodes, we're on a search for entertainment that changed the lives of gay men. But this week, for Valentine's Day, I'm doing something special. Join me this Saturday, the 13th, for a live video chat with some friends about our favorite love stories. You can chat along with us on my YouTube channel, at 12 noon Pacific this Saturday. And you can follow me @mattbaume on twitter for a heads up when we go live.

Also on YouTube this week, I'll be posting some love stories sent in to me by listeners, twitter followers, and commenters. I asked folks to tell me how they met the people they love and I got some great responses. So check out my YouTube channel or twitter feed, @mattbaume, for that video -- I'm posting it on Friday, the 12th.

So in the mean time, I've decided to go for a little romantic paddle through the sewers on this gondola, just me and my two friends the alligator and the rat. And hey, who knows -- some more friends might float by. Friends like Louis Virtel, Edd Kimber, Kevin Yee, Terry Blas, Conor, and Terrence Moss.

A few of the movies mentioned this week:


Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Doing Cosplay my Whole Life (Ep. 46 - X-Men & Cosplay)

Feb 4, 2016 00:54:07

Description:

What part of your body are you the most self-conscious about? For me, it's my forehead, which every time I look in a mirror seems to be bulging out over my face like it's trying to tear itself away from me. But something I've learned from my work as a photographer is that everyone has some aspect of their appearance that they consider a flaw and that nobody else can see. For some it's the ears, for some it's the way they smile, other people hate their posture or their freckles or their feet -- and in almost every case, nobody else notices what that person considers a defect.

My guest this week is Aedan Roberts, who spent years feeling self-conscious about his body, which is a bit of a surprise given that his favorite thing is attending geeky conventions wearing next to nothing. His sexy costumes put on quite a show, baring more flesh than they cover. But getting to a point where he was comfortable exposing his body required that he also expose his insecurities.

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Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Joke of Being Gay (Ep. 45 - Polyester & Arrested Development)

Jan 28, 2016 01:01:03

Description:

So many of us grew up in a sub to some city's urb. Close enough to know that there's life beyond the split-level ranches and strip malls, but not close enough to know what that life actually is.

My guest this week is Richard Day. Even as a kid, he could detect a mismatch between himself and the nice, normal, heterosexual world he'd grown up in. It's a gay cliche to find the suburbs boring, or oppressive, or hostile. But Richard discovered that they can also be funny. You just have to pull back the veneer -- sometimes way back, as he learned to do as a writer on shows like It's Gary Shandling Show, Ellen, and Arrested Development, and with his films, Girls will be Girls and Straight Jacket.

It was in projects like these that Richard discovered a rich vein of comedy runs directly through normal.



Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Person I was in Namibia and the Person I am Now (Ep. 44 - Desperate Housewives)

Jan 21, 2016 00:50:24

Description:

Suburban housewives, high school glee club, moving away to college -- these are all icons of normalcy. Nothing could be more ordinary and boring and familiar. But what if things were flipped, and the things that Americans take for granted as mundane became unfamiliar, explored, a source of constant strangeness and discovery?

My guest this week is Fabian Igiraneza, who became a refugee at the age of three when his family fled the Rwandan Civil War. He grew up in the relative peace of Namibia, but as he grew older, the culture's emphasis on masculine ideals became harder and harder for him to uphold. He knew that he belonged somewhere else -- somewhere more like the foreign TV shows he saw with strong female characters and sensitive boys. He knew he didn't belong where he was. And so he formulated a plan to get out.

 

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Best Smut You'll Ever Read (Ep. 43 - Anais Nin)

Jan 14, 2016 00:48:48

Description:

Steven Reigns by Jenny Walters

Steven Reigns by Jenny Walters

On any average day, how many people are you? There's morning-you, when your eyes are just barely open and your mood is grumpy. There's work-you, proficient and capable. There's going-out-you, relaxed and maybe a little reckless. There might be family-you, and artist-you, and shy-you and brave-you. So many yous in just one body!

My guest this week is Steven Reigns. Among his many yous is the first city poet of West Hollywood. There's one writer who's had a profound impact on Steven's artistic identity, his personal identity, and even his sexual identity. He discovered Anais Nin work at a pivotal time in his life, when he felt pulled in multiple directions and was unsure what direction his life could take. It was thanks to a lucky loan of a book that Anais appeared to point the way.

And hey -- I'd love it if you would join me for a live online videochat this weekend. I know there are a bunch of folks listening, and I'd really like to get to know you. It's going to be this Saturday, January 16, at noon Pacific Time on my YouTube channel. You can follow me on Twitter @mattbaume to get the link. Hope to see you there!

And if you'd like to see my guest Steven Reigns, he's performing with four other artists at the show "The Allure of Anais Nin" on January 29 at 7pm, at Antioch Community Hall in Santa Barbara.

By the way, you might've noticed that unlike most episodes of Sewers Of Paris, this episode is flagged as "explicit." Just a heads up that our conversation starts off tasteful, but we really earn that rating by the end.

And here are some delightful photos of Anais, courtesy of Steven:

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When publishers were not interested in her work, Anais Nin bought a foot operated printing press and published books herself.jpg

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

I'm not an Expert, Except that I Have a Heart (Ep. 42 - Captain Kirk)

Jan 7, 2016 00:48:25

Description:

What's the biggest chance you ever took? In a perfect world, risk would be unnecessary, and we'd know the outcome of every action before we took it. But as the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained -- and sometimes we find ourselves leaping before we look.

My guest this week is Michael Schneider, a Portland writer and artist whose work you can find at Blcksmth.com -- that's spelled with no vowels -- and whose photos you should absolutely be following on Instagram

Michael's always been drawn to the security of sure things, known quantities, and predictable patterns. But lately he's been experimenting with the idea that when life gets chaotic, sometimes you can respond with a little chaos of your own.

A few clips from this week's episode:

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

My Mom Had to Look up "Homosexual" at the Library (Ep. 41 - Carol Burnett)

Dec 31, 2015 00:55:29

Description:

If you could pick any era to live in, which would it be? For my guest Jack Plotnick, the answer's easy: the 1970s, when he was a happy gay kid growing up in Ohio and startling the neighbors by belting out showtunes. He thought he was destined for Broadway, but his life took an unexpected turn thanks to a little luck and a lot of talent. You might know Jack from his many TV appearances, ranging from Murphy Brown to Glee to Reno 911. He played the gay elf Xandir on Drawn Together, the deputy mayor on Buffy, and he was openly gay on Ellen before Ellen. He's created countless characters, but stepping behind the camera has allowed him to create entire worlds, and take audiences back to the era that meant to much to him. And it's prepared him for his next challenge: creating his very own Broadway show.

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

The Sewers of Paris Holiday-Special Special

Dec 24, 2015 01:31:02

Description:

Oh dear, I'm spending Christmas all alone in the sewers with no one to keep me company -- but wait! What's this? Santa seems to have delivered me a sack full of guests to talk all about their favorite holiday specials! How special.

Watch video clips from this episode and support the show on Patreon here: http://patreon.com/sewersofparis

Huge thanks to John Coons for arranging this episode's music, to everyone who rates and reviews in the iTunes store, and to everyone who pledges on Patreon! Check out Cody Melcher's podcast Tomefoolery, Dave and Alonso's Linoleum Knife and Linoleum Knife TV, Bil and Daniel and their friend Dan on Bad Gay Movies Bitchy Gay Men; and Bill and Judy on the marvelous Judycast. Look for Brady in the documentary Coming Out; check out Alonso Duralde's books Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas and 101 Must See Movies for Gay Men; and get Dave White's book Exile in Guyville. You can find Zach Stafford's writing in The Guardian. Phil Dawkins' show Le Switch runs from January 15 to February 21 in Chicago. Jonathan Blalock is in Turandot with the Pacific Symphony in Costa Mesa this February. And if you're in the Toronto area look for Bil Antoniou in the Confidential Musical Theater Project on January 29th. 

 

Opening Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Just be Gay, It's Fine (Ep. 39 - The Cosby Show)

Dec 17, 2015 00:51:08

Description:

This week's guest is Terrence Moss, who learned to dream big when he saw characters achieving great things on The Jeffersons and The Cosby Show. Obviously, looking to the Cosby Show for inspiration these days can feel problematic, given what we've been learning about its creator. But is it possible to separate the man from his work? After all, for folks like Terrence, Cosby was about more than just one man. It was about envisioning a better world. And then envisioning your place in it.

You can catch Terrence most Monday nights at Rage in West Hollywood, performing and just hanging out as part of Musical Mondays, a musical theater-themed bar night. At Musical Mondays, they don't just show a bunch of clips on the monitors. Oh no. Instead, when certain numbers come on, a loosely-organized troupe of devotees lip-syncs and dances along with them, turning the bar into a sort of Broadway flashmob. It is both the strangest and the most wonderful thing you'll ever see. And it's where Terrence and I met, years ago -- in an environment where so many people are acting strangely with such dedication and regularity that it almost seems normal. Almost.

For my recommendation this week, check out Will and Grace -- yes, I know, you've already seen it. Many times. But I hope you can take a look at it from a slightly different perspective. One of the things that made The Cosby Show so amazing was that it presented an idealized world, where racial strife and barriers were dismantled, where equality was the most ordinary, unremarkable, achievable thing in the world. 

And that's what I want you to keep in mind when you watch Will and Grace -- and if you need a place to dive back in, I suggest season 4, episodes 9 and 10, "Moveable Feast," in which the characters have to race from one disastrous family function to another over Thanksgiving. Throughout the episode, they all have to deal with various silly sitcommy problem that need resolving, but being gay isn't one of them.

When Will and Grace premiered, I remember queers complaining that the show made us seem so ordinary and unremarkable. There were no radical fairies, the sex was sanitized to the point that it was nonexistent, and everyone's homosexuality seemed to exist in a world where it had ceased to be shocking.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. Back in 1998, it took a real stretch of the imagination think that being queer could ever be so safe, so tolerated, so celebrated. But of course, once the show was beamed into millions of homes across the country, you didn't have to imagine anymore. You could see it every week, a half hour at a time, no matter where or who you were. And the more we saw it on TV, the more we saw it in real life.


Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

When You Don’t Have Words to Say, You Sing (Ep. 38 - Angels in America)

Dec 10, 2015 00:54:30

Description:

What is it about our brains that makes us like music? It’s so weird that a series of repeating vibrations produced by hitting or rubbing or blowing through various objects could trigger such intense emotions.

My guest this week is actor and singer Jonathan Blalock, who’s appearing this weekend with the Dallas Opera in the show Becoming Santa Claus. Texans, I expect you to be there. Jonathan was swept up in the power of music at an early age, experiencing deep spiritual raptures triggered by the religious music of his church. For years, he assumed that the feeling originated with some divine force — a belief that grew increasingly painful as he realized his homophobic surroundings were turning on him. But as an adult, he finally gave himself permission to explore music without the religious accompaniment. He discovered that the intense emotion he’d always felt when surrounded by music didn’t have to come from a church. It could come from him.

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Flamboyant Before I was Ready (Ep. 37 - Moulin Rouge & Big Brother)

Dec 3, 2015 00:54:39

Description:

How do you tell the difference between good attention and bad attention? Or is ALL attention good, as long as they spell your name right? Some of us prefer a life of quiet dignity, but others are addicted to the spotlight and being noticed.

My guest this week is Brad Gilligan, who's spent time on both sides of that divide. As a member of the Air Force before the repeal of DADT, he had to go to great lengths to keep anyone from finding out too much about his past. Flying under the radar was his top priority, and the pressure was overwhelming. So when the ban on open service was lifted, it's no wonder he didn't just burst out of the closet. He exploded onto the stage in heels and a wig. He was military by day, drag queen by night. He even got his fellow officers to attend a show and cheer him on.

But like most addictions, getting hooked on attention had its risks. And as good as it felt to be the star of a show, Brad started realizing there's a difference between being noticed and being liked.

A few select clips from this episode:

This may be the first time Roger and Me has ever been programmed next to a Madonna performance.

Music:
Parisian Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Not a Fan of Hanging Around in Reality (Ep. 36 - Steve Kmetko)

Nov 26, 2015 00:55:08

Description:

This episode comes out on Thanksgiving, and this year I hope you'll remember to offer your thanks to the brave pioneers who came out of the closet at a time when doing so meant putting yourself at great personal and professional risk. We're able to enjoy the freedom we have today because of the people who were openly gay in decades past, who demanded acceptance, and paved a path for future generations. 

My guest this week is Steve Kmetko, best known as the face of the E! cable network from 1994 to 200