Part of me thinks it’s too soon to be writing about this because I don’t think I’ve completely processed how I feel, but I also think maybe this has happened to other women and I should talk about it in as raw a way as possible. I’m still really embarrassed and ashamed and garbled up inside, but maybe this can start a helpful discussion in terms of women and comedy.
Last night, I was on a stand up show in the East Village. The show started out with a small crowd and the host did an amazing job interacting with them and riling them up. By the time I got on stage, there were about 20 or so more people in the audience and the place had really filled up. The show was still kind of loose because of the back and forth between the host and the audience, so when I got on stage, I riffed a bit about the stuff that had happened before and then talked to one guy on the side of the audience who the host had dubbed “Banana Republic.” All joke-y. All in good fun.
Then, I start my actual set and do my first two jokes, which go pretty okay. I start another joke that is vaguely sexual - not crude, not crass - mainly silly and that goes well too. The next joke I do is about my boyfriend.
At a comedy show, when you’re on stage, usually you can’t see the audience because of the bright lights. So I’m looking into pitch darkness. As I start the joke, someone yells, “Does your boyfriend know?” referring to the sexuality joke I’d just told. I stop, laugh and say that he does because I think it’s just more of the loose environment that’s been going on at this show. I attribute it to an audience member just having fun.
I start to tell the joke about my boyfriend again, and at the midway point, the same voice yells something else derogatory about my boyfriend, homophobic and misogynistic towards me. I stop, confused. I can’t see who is talking to me so I make a HUGE mistake and say, “Sir, if you’re gonna talk to me, you need to come to the front because I can’t see you.” I think calling him out like this will shut him up.
I thoroughly enjoyed your interview with James Deen. It was fun and personal with your own self-conscious thoughts interspersed. Thank you for writing it. -20 something straight male who likes NPR and good interviews
Thank you! I tried to be as truthful as possible as to what I was feeling - even if my parents ended up reading it. Meep.
Hi Gaby, Just discovered your wonderful project half an hour ago via Alyssa Milano on twitter- funny world we live in! Anyway, I've read 3 so far and am really enjoying your work. Having just finished your James Deen interview I feel compelled to ask: did you ask him about how he feels about the women in the porn industry? Specifically examples of Linda Lovelace and Hardcore? I'm curious and would love a reply! Many thanks! Georgia Stride
Hey, thanks! I didn’t really ask him about women, though he did have this to say:
“I am happy-go-lucky,” he says. “It’s a misconception that porn is just a lot of drugs or that everyone is doing it out of necessity. I mean, people do jobs they don’t like no matter what their job is but it’s really rare that someone is doing porn because they have to. Most of us are having a lot of fun. I’ve never been on a set where if a girl doesn’t want to do something, she was forced to.” Like any movie, he says, the director would have to replace her. Even if she changed her mind, James says he would feel uncomfortable going forward knowing his partner had reservations. “I might then say, ‘I’m not doing this’ because then I’d be a creepy rapist with some girl who doesn’t want to do it,” he says.
See, I'm particularly shy and an introvert, how did you get the courage to ask people for interviews?
First, I’d say to accept that some people are going to say “no.” It sucks, but if you go into it knowing that, it’ll sting less when it does happen. I had a few people turn me down - one by saying he’d prefer not to be a part of a project he wouldn’t show his children (not that my interviews are particularly raunchy but okay). It sucks. It hurts. It’s embarrassing. But in the end, you did all you could and it’s up to them. If they don’t want to be part of your interviews, then you don’t need ‘em.
I’m not sure if I’m being at all helpful here because I humiliate myself all the time and just kind of expect it, so when it doesn’t happen I’m thrilled. More people than not will say yes and you don’t lose anything by asking!
One Hundred Dates' Evan Barden on Dating, Sex, and Not Being a "Creep"
By: Gaby Dunn
Evan Barden is like the Eve to my Adam.
Okay, he’s not. But his project One Hundred Dates is spawned from the rib of my blog baby 100 Interviews. Where I interviewed 100 people in a year, Evan is currently seeking to go on 100 different dates this year - in an effort to meet new people, write more, increase his confidence and find out why people just don’t date anymore.
He’s a dapper fellow (see photo above), a deep thinker and a funny fellow improviser so naturally I’ve set him up with some friends along the way.
Six months into One Hundred Dates, Evan and I did a little catch-up Q&A about dating, women, sex, blogging and a man’s fear of being called a “creep.”
When Gawker first posted links to individual stories, mocking writers for Thought Catalog, I felt confused. How does it benefit them to make fun of TC? Do the two sites’ audiences even converge that much? What do they have to do with each other? The post was…
Duane Lawson is a Jay-Z super fan, but it wasn’t the rapper’s catchy hooks that hooked him; it was Jay’s deeper, cutting lyrical game.
Plenty of people draw inspiration from Shawn Carter’s life story — he came up a poor kid in the Marcy projects whose father abandoned him, got caught up in drug-dealing, and finally, redeemed himself through music. Duane was a year out of high school when Jay-Z released his debut album ‘Reasonable Doubt.’
"That album spoke to my ambition, my desire to hustle in life and succeed," Duane says.
My dad’s family is blonde and European, but the maternal side has strong features that manifest in fiery red manes, sharp schnozes and body hair so dark it grows back instantly after it’s shaved, like in a Chia Pet commercial.
My nose isn’t large so much as it’s a little bit crooked with a small, distinctive bump. From the front, no problem. From the side, ‘Hava Negila!’
While my mother’s genetics shaped my beak, my father’s borderline negligence had a hand in it too. As a kid, I fell on my face from the top of a tree branch while I was camping with my dad. My nose was probably broken, but we didn’t want to cut the trip short so he helped me ice it and that was that. It just sort of healed on its own.
All this hardly makes me Owen Wilson, whose nose I actually find quite charming. It’s not even that I’ve got a bad nose: it’s just not the up-turned All-American ideal. Over the years, a few blunt individuals have mentioned it to me with weird compliments like, “Your nose is so distinctive and ethnic” and “Is it weird that you kind of remind me of Anne Frank?”
Tom Bull has been perfecting the Portland Lager recipe for 15 years.
“I started brewing when I was 19 with my Dad. I saw a demo at the Common Ground Fair and thought it looked fun.”
I met Tom Bull of Bull Jagger Brewery at the Great Lost Bear in Portland a month ago. I was feeling tired, just coming off a 5 day Halloween binge in Vegas. I needed to rest.
However, anyone who knows me at all knows that I have difficulties saying no. So, when my friend invited me to a beer event, out I went.
GLB was hosting Bull Jagger for Brewers night. By the time I got there the beers were being packed up. The Bull Jagger team set a record for the most cases demolished on a single night. An acquaintance happens to work with one of the guys at Trader Joe’s and brings him over to talk with me. I tell him about my blog and that I’ve wanted to interview a local brewery for a while now. He asks me to hold on and comes back with one of the owner, Tom.
The first thing I did was complain about missing out on the beer.
Samuel L. Jackson is a cool guy. He was involved in the civil rights movement. He was in Jurassic Park. He has impeccable hat style. As teenagers, my cast of oddball Jewish friends and I gravitated to his movies largely because of his insurmountable cool. He brings swagger and poise to each of his roles. Even when he’s not playing a “cool” role, he does it in a badass way (Case in point: “YES THEY DESERVE TO DIE, AND I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL!”)
Twitter, on the other hand, is not cool. It’s fun, sure. At times, it’s even useful. But cool? No way. It’s too accessible. Anyone can tweet. And most Twitter feeds are pretty mundane affairs. Things like: “Three hours at the DMV? #FML” or “Chicken confit with a red wine reduction! Best boyfriend ever!” Shaq has the closest thing to a “cool” twitter feed, but his charm is less hip tastemaker and more jovial uncle at this point. Other celebrity twitter feeds range from promotional (@KimKardashian) to embarrassing (@kanyewest).
Moans and bass pulse on the stereo and suddenly Raymond Ejiofor’s long, lean leg flies upward. He is so close to kicking himself in the face but stops, with perfect control, merely an inch from his nose. His lithe body leans backward in a perfect arch, leg still extended, as moans continue from the speakers. The song is “If This Pussy Could Talk” by Ken Doll. The moves are choreography by Raymond himself.
Imagine a future where no one would feel a simple itch.
Whether you find it soothing or annoying, itching isn’t usually a topic studied in the medical world or one that healthy people consciously think about. It’s neurological, dermatological and psychological — and now, for the first time, itch is going under the microscope.
I first read about Dr. Zhou-Feng Chen’s research into itching in the July issue of Scientific American. I was fascinated by the idea of studying something so commonplace and yet still so mysterious scientifically. Chen is the director of the first Center for the Study of the Itch, which opened at Washington University in St. Louis last spring.
Dr. Chen first came to Wash U to study pain, and stumbled into studying itch by accident: when a receptor thought to be for pain, ended up being for itch.
It was fate. As a child, Dr. Chen has suffered from debilitating atopic dermatitis. From the time he was six years old to the time he was ten, he itched so much that his mother, every night, tied his hands to his bedpost to prevent him from scratching himself.
Those terrible years stuck with him, and so though Dr. Chen didn’t set out to devote his life to itching, it seems it was one area he just couldn’t scratch.
This is a new column at 100 Interviews wherein two people interview each other over the Google chatting mechanism, GChat. Then, we post the nearly unedited conversation and expose their crazy. Because GChat saves everything. GChat knows.
The first in this series, Dorkwad on Dorkwad, is with 100 Interviews founder Gaby Dunn and HelloGiggles blogger Meghan O’Keefe. They are both writers and comedians in New York City, and knew each other prior to this interview. Sometimes in this column, the people will not know each other! Isn’t that quirky? This is not one of those times. Also, this is split into three parts. The first is about comedy.
On the corner of Brookline and Franklin Streets in Boston, there’s this fence.
It is almost six feet high, and spans half the block in either direction. It is painted purple and yellow and green, and begs passersby to stop and read it, even if they’re rushing to catch the T or lugging bags of groceries.
"Be aware," it says, in painted white letters. "Everything has two sides and everything is alive."
These sorts of sayings are written all over the fence, weaving around grizzly bears, moose, and starburst cutouts which showcase the wild garden growing behind it. It surrounds a three-story brown apartment building that, on an otherwise typical Cambridge side street, looks almost out of place.
I entered my first anime convention as an “outsider.” That outsider never re-emerged from the crowd.
When I go on a road trip and/or attend an event, I often recap the day’s occurrences in a humorous vein.
Whether I truly loved the main subject matter or utterly despised it, I nevertheless have raked my collegiate alma mater, bad dates, the city of Philadelphia, and even several movies across the coals in various essays and blog posts. I had plans to do the exact same thing to my first anime convention.
His name was Stuart Kaminsky. He wrote over 80 books, including mystery novels, biographies, graphic novels, text books and even a collection of interviews. In addition to books, he also wrote screenplays for film and television.
His list of credentials and honors is impressive, perhaps his greatest being the given the Grandmaster award of the Mystery Writers of America. My father died two years ago last month.
Just how Jewish are you? Culturally, sure, but do you actually still practice/observe?
I celebrate most of the holidays, but I’m definitely not observant in a religious sense. I observed Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (services, dinner, prayers), but I don’t go to services for Shabbat all that frequently, and I use electricity and such. I speak Hebrew. I know the prayers and laws. I grew up religious. So it’s hard to say how “Jewish” I am. It’s kind of like asking, “Right, but how black ARE you?”
The focus of the new 100 Interviews is people. Your submission should be a piece about people. What that means is broad, open-ended and mainly up to you.
What I want: Interviews, articles, personal essays, poems, photos, short stories, Q&As, funny pieces, creative lists, drawings, ideas for columns, etc.
I’m looking for anything that showcases an undiscovered or under-appreciated aspect of humanity. By the time I’m done reading your piece, I want to have learned something about people.
That’s right. The word “interviews” in the title is now a bit metaphorical. What you submit does not have to be a copy of the previous 100 Interviews style though it can be similar if you believe that’s the best way to convey the subject.
100 Interviews is also about the person doing the writing. I want a lot of your personality to shine through in the piece you submit.
If your best friend is a tight-rope walker, I want to know why she loves what she does. If you interview an author you absolutely love, I want to know what they mean to you. I want to know if someone on the subway platform changed your life, why the forensic scientist enjoys working murder cases, how the homeless person ended up at the shelter, what drives the filmmaker to keep making movies. I want to know about your influences, your environments, your passions. If you want to write about a type of person (like feminists or vegans or roller derby enthusiasts), I’d love to see it. If you want to write about yourself, go for it.
If your piece explores the idea of personhood, 100 Interviews is the place for it.
Every person has a story and every person is important. Equal precedence will be given to a piece on someone with notoriety and to a piece on the average person. For example, if you interview R.L. Stine, the piece will run equal with an exploration of why your high school science teacher made you want to be a chemist.
Teach us all something about people!
100 Interviews accepts primarily non-fiction. However, fiction can be pitched. I’m mostly interested in character studies and stories that focus on individuals. Please state in the subject line that the piece is fiction.
If you submit photos, please provide a caption of about 50 words describing it. Be creative! Be mysterious! Be cool! Don’t upload photos you don’t have the rights to.
Eventually, I’d like to be able to take any length of writing. For now, 400 to 1,500 words should be your guideline.
Suggest a headline for your story. If you want to provide a photo too, I will love you forever. Photos should be at least 555px × 228px. If you’re using a Creative Commons image, make sure to provide the photographer’s name and the original source. If you don’t want to submit a photo, that’s cool too. I’d love it if you took the photo to go with your own story. That’d be neat as hell.
Everything you submit belongs to you, however 100 Interviews reserves the right to use the piece for promotional purposes such as linking on other sites and in advertisements.
When I finished interviewing 100 people in a year, I wanted to write some kind of glorious wrap-up.
I thought maybe it could rival the Gettysburg Address in brevity and poignancy, or prove once and for all that journalism isn’t dead. It could bring hope and comfort to struggling writers and journalism majors everywhere: A sort of 100 Interviews fireside chat.
Alas, none of us are Lincoln or Hunter S. or FDR. We don’t have good enough beards, drug habits, or lap blankets.
#56. MICHAEL ROSENBLUTH - "Someone who has had a lot of reconstructive surgery."
Photo courtesy of katu.com
When officer Michael Rosenbluth was in the hospital, two Haitian aides came into his room to pray over his injured body.
They wanted to touch his hands as they spoke to God, they said, because Michael was a miracle.
The story of what happened to Michael, who goes by “Rosey,” in July of 2006 garnered some media attention in South Florida, where I grew up. That’s how I first heard about him. Rosey was “that cop that was hit by a car so hard he went over the highway overpass.” He dangled there, near death.
Around the same time, Rosey and my father were becoming friends. I heard the story about the cop in the news, and then my dad told me it was Rosey. For years, I kept Rosey in the back of my mind. His story broke my heart and fascinated me. I wanted to interview him, but always felt too awkward to approach him about what’s probably the worst moment of his life. He was my dad’s friend and he’d suffered a lot. It felt intrusive. When he heard about 100 Interviews, Rosey told my dad he’d be interested in telling his story in full for the first time.
#82. DYLAN THOMPSON AND DAWN THOMPSON on children with neurofibromatosis
When Dylan Thompson was six years old, he found out he was sick.
His parents had known since he was 18 months that he’d been born with neurofibromatosis (NF 1), but they didn’t know how to tell him.
During a routine doctor’s visit, his pediatrician asked them if Dylan knew the extent of his illness. NF 1 is a genetic tumor disorder that causes non-cancerous lumps, and side effects like vision problems, epilepsy, and sometimes cancerous tumors.
His mother, Dawn Thompson, told the doctor they planned on breaking the news to him later that year, when they felt he was old enough to understand. Without much warning, the doctor brought Dylan “The NF Book.” It had pictures of children with neurofibromatosis and said, “Children with NF go to the doctor’s more than other children” and “Sometimes children with NF get MRIs and X-rays.”
Dawn and her husband were nervous, but Dylan was fascinated by the book. He pointed to the pictures and told his parents, “I did that. I went there. I have that.” Dawn says it seemed like a positive way to learn about his disorder.
Steph Wilkins wasn’t scared until 1997, when Jeremy was born.
After her commitment ceremony to Maureen Keene six years earlier, Steph had considered herself married. Now, their baby was in the Intensive Care Unit. Maureen had had a difficult time delivering Jeremy. Steph was barred from being with him because she didn’t have a suitable answer to the question, “What is your relationship to this baby?”
“As far as they were concerned, I wasn’t anything legal to Jeremy and it was horrible,” Steph says, with a mother’s worried tone. “It was like, ‘This isn’t right. This is so scary.’ As far as I was concerned, I was his mom. Period.”
The couples’ doctor intervened and Steph was allowed to visit her son, but the idea that the hospital staff could legally withhold her child really frightened Steph. She’d never thought about getting married to Maureen in the government’s eyes after their small Massachusetts ceremony with friends and family. Their love mattered to them more than an official piece of paper. But Jeremy’s arrival signaled a need for her and Maureen — and now their new son — to be protected under the law.
The terror of potentially losing their new son didn’t end there — for either of them.
Barbara Heidenriech’s 24-year-old pet parrot Tara cleans her owner’s eyelashes and eyebrows every night.
“It’s called allopreening,” Barbara says. “It’s very intimate in a way because the bird’s right in your face.”
Allopreening is part of a familial grooming practice for parrots. The birds usually do it for each other, but after all the time they’ve spent together, Tara uses her sharp beak and claws to preen her human friend’s lashes very gently.
Barbara is a zoologist, parrot expert and founder of Good Bird Inc, so she finds maintaining a positive relationship with an animal to be the utmost reward.
“You smell the way they smell so for me the smell that an Amazon parrot has is ‘love,’ you know?” she says. “When I smell an Amazon parrot, it’s like, ‘Aah warm and fuzzy.’”
In fact, in the free e-book ‘Modern Buddhism’ by Geshe Kelsang, it’s defined as “scientific methods for improving our human nature and qualities through developing the capacity of our mind." This is not the scientific method I remember from grade school.
After work a couple Fridays ago, I head to an office buidling in Chelsea and take the elevator to the fifth floor. There I find Geshe Kelsang’s Chakrasambara Kadampa Meditiation Center and its resident teacher, Kadam (or “Teacher”) Morten.
The center is a few rooms used as a kitchen, an office, a bookstore and a big carpeted meditation and prayer “temple.” Golden statues of the Buddha line the walls, above them are paintings of the different Buddhas, representing different aspects of the enlightened mind. There’s also a platform with a pillow, from which Kadam Morten leads meditations and classes like “The Key to Happiness” and “Understanding the Mind’s Potential” while students sit on the carpet or in folding chairs. It’s a simple, beautiful set-up.
It’s Mark’s job to appear at pivotal junctures in people’s lives.
A Russian businessman is gunned down and Mark wrangles a full-size motor-coach of 75 relatives to the funeral home. A friend’s 22-year-old daughter is killed in a car accident and Mark is there, crying with him and making arrangements. A 17-year-old boy dies in his sleep for no reason at all while his mother is at work and Mark comforts her and the boy’s brother.
For me too, Mark has been behind the scenes of a lot of formative events. He’s not unlike the Jacob character from Lost: So good at his job, I never even noticed him.
When I was a sophomore in high school, “Tim,” a boy I was acquainted with, died in a plane crash with his father on the way home for our Winter Formal. When I was a senior, “David,” a fellow classmate I’d been briefly tutoring was killed in a suicide bombing in Israel. Both deaths were huge, immeasurable tragedies in my hometown’s Jewish community.
Mark was the director for Tim’s funeral. A recommendation from Tim’s mother led to Mark directing David’s funeral as well. Thousands of people attended David’s funeral. It was the largest I’d ever attended and the largest Mark had ever worked. The Israeli consulate gave a speech. His mother, father and sister huddled in the front row. His best friend told the crowd, “He wasn’t a pawn in a war. He was just David.”
#89. JIM SHORE - Someone born on a Native American reservation."
Photo courtesy of tribalgovernmentgaming.com
Jim Shore, the General Counsel for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, is completely blind behind his dark sunglasses.
One eye was blind at birth and the other lost sight after a car accident in 1970. In 2002, Jim survived being shot three times, once in the chest. He was the first Seminole Indian to attend law school, and he helped negotiate the first acquisition of an international corporation by a tribe of Native Americans, a $965 million dollar deal that handed the entire Hard Rock casino, hotel and restaurant franchise to the Seminole Tribe.
Jim Shore’s story is remarkable, but Jim Shore would be the last person to tell you that.
A couple weeks ago, my father and I went to the Seminole Tribe’s South Florida headquarters for an official meeting with Jim. Everyone from the security guard to the office assistants was in awe of him. “His story is amazing,” we heard over and over. We’re directed to a conference room and soon enough, Jim enters. My father and I are instructed to stand and introduce ourselves when he arrives, so he knows from our voices where we’re sitting.
Jim is 66 years old. He has a round face, dark skin, and graying hair. He speaks with a mix of a Southern and Midwestern accent that sounds like he’s a John Wayne character. He’s a self-described hard worker and never takes vacations unless it’s traveling for work. He’s not married. Other than the occasional smirk, he doesn’t make any facial expressions. He’s extremely matter-of-fact. In the beginning, interviewing him is unnerving. It’s not that he’s distant or unfriendly. He’s just all business.
#55. Reef McKeithan - "A child prodigy (who started under the age of 10)"
Imagine a tour bus pulling up outside of a popular rock club.
There are exuberant fans lined up around the block, all geared up for a sold-out show. You’re probably expecting Axl Rose or Robert Plant to step off of the bus. But now imagine that the musicians filing out onto the sidewalk are eleven and twelve years old.
What you’re picturing is the School of Rock’s All Stars summer tour.
The All Stars are a group of kids ages 10 to 18. They’re the best of the best of the regions of 69 Schools of Rock across the United States and Mexico. Student musicians from the area audition to get in and if selected, participate in a summer-long tour around Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. No parents allowed. (Except for four chaperones.) The twenty-odd gifted kids live on the bus, go from venue to venue, and occasionally stay at hotels.
Reef is the most talented drummer at the Manhattan School of Rock. When I called the school’s General Manager Joanna Erdos to ask if there was any kid at the school she felt fit the definition of “child prodigy,” she was happy to set me up with Reef. His answers to my questions are exactly those of a twelve-year-old boy. He’s a man of few words, let’s say. I don’t know what sort of candy was involved in bribing him to chat with me, a boring, old adult, but I’m glad Reef granted the interview.
Because Reef is a prodigy. He’s a drummer, currently in a band with people mostly five years older than he is. Joanna tells me the guitarist for ‘The Roots’ once came to see Reef play and just kept asking, “How old is he?! How old is he?!” in disbelief.
#99. RAAM (of Hypernova) - "Someone who is banned from their home country."
Raam is leaving for Ecuador later to go on holiday with his parents.
He apologizes profusely because he needs to Skype with them to figure out some logistics for the trip. I tell him it’s cool, that I’ll wait and then I watch him argue with them in Persian for ten minutes. I don’t speak the language at all, but I know they’re fighting because of the tones of voice alone. It ends with Raam saying what I imagine is Persian for “Fine, okay” over and over.
He hangs up and apologizes to me again.
"Were you fighting?" I ask. He says they were, over the choice of hotel. I laugh. Fighting with your parents sounds the same in any language.
Raam looks like the Iranian Buddy Holly, because of his glasses and cropped hair. I joke that Brooklyn, where he lives, has really done him in. It’s a far cry from his home: Tehran, Iran.
Raam is the lead singer and one of the main songwriters of the Iranian punk band, Hypernova. He was born in Iran and moved to Eugene, Oregon when he was young so his father could get his PhD. When Raam was 10, his family moved back to Iran until he was around 18 years old. Then, Raam went to Canada for college and then back to Iran in 2000.
In Iran, Raam’s father is a professor and his mother is a housewife and cooking teacher. They’re also environmental enthusiasts, taking people on treks up the mountains for weeks at a time. His father leads the group and his mother cooks. Raam says his parents support his work 100 percent, despite the inherent dangers of making punk music in Iran.
His girlfriend also calls him during the interview. She and Raam, who never thought he’d sing in his native Persian, collaborated on a song called "The Hunter" for Raam’s new solo project “King Raam.” The song, a beautiful, dark tune that has been tied to the recent Iranian protests, combined her poetry and his music. It became the most popular Persian song of the year.
Before all that: His band Hypernova's big break came when they were accepted into Texas's South by Southwest Music Festival in 2007. Because of trouble with their visas, the band members weren't able to make it to the United States in time.
But what seemed like a huge disappointment actually skyrocketed Hypernova into music superstardom — and got Raam banned from ever again visiting the country where he was born.