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.