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 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



Parisian Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 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



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

This is the Story of a Homosexual (Ep. 108 - Twin Peaks)

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 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.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About


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