I Made 30 Rock my Home (Ep. 111 - Talk Shows & Game Shows)

This Week's Guest: Randy West

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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.

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/

Serial Killers Shake Things Up (Ep. 110 - Torch Song Trilogy & Steel Magnolias)

This Week's Guest: Jeffery Self

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.

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 Walked on Coals (Ep. 109 - Janet Jackson)

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. 

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/