The Priests of Hollywood (Ep. 132 - Designing Women & Gone with the Wind)

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 to subscribe to Jason and Ryan's show. And visit to see clips of the Designing Women speeches featured in this episode. Just look for Jason's episode, number 132. Also at, 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


Parisian Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Super Extra (Ep. 131 - Gabriel Fontana & Britney Spears)

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 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

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



Parisian Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Bonus Episode: Dungeons and Drag Queens


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

Huge thanks to our fabulous performers:

Arson Nicki

Harlotte O’Scara

Butylene O’Kipple

Fraya Love

Ian Hill/Irene Dubois

DJ Robosexhomosex, aka Veronica Electronica

Brendan Mack