Clam Diggers and Mussel Suckers (Ep. 76 - Coco Peru)

This Week's Guest: Coco Peru

What happens to fussy little boys who love musical theater and have lots of feelings? If they're lucky, they grow up to be fearless women. My guest this week is the fabulous Miss Coco Peru, who you've seen in movies like Girls Will be Girls, To Wong Foo, Trick, and as a guest star in the greatest cold open in the entire run of Will and Grace.

Like most sensitive boys, Coco grew up feeling as though she was on an island -- but in her case, it was literally true. Fortunately, she had records to keep her company, and occasional trips to the bright lights of Broadway.

In fact, it was while riding the train in New York that she discovered what she now calls the key to her career -- and her liberation.

By the way, if you live in New York, you can see Coco live at the end of September in her show "A Gentle Reminder: Coco's Guide to a Somewhat Happy Life." Head over to for tickets.

And if you're in Seattle, you can see me live with my partner James. We're presenting a panel about LGBT gamers at the Penny Arcade Expo on September 5th. It's called "Playing with Pride" and we'll be sharing personal, intimate stories shared by queer gamers all over the country. If you enjoy the storytelling on Sewers of Paris, you'll probably like this panel. And if you can't make it, don't worry -- sign up for our mailing list at to get updates about our gamer interview project.

And one more announcement: I'm going to be at the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist's Association annual convention in Miami from September 8th through the 10th. If you're going to be there, or just in the area, drop me a line @mattbaume on Twitter.

This Week's Recommendation: Wigstock

For my recommendation this week, check out the 1995 documentary Wigstock. The entire thing is on YouTube, and it's a mid-90s snapshot of New York's gigantic drag festival that started sometime in the 80s and at its height drew thousands of people. 

It's an amazing artifact of the time, joyful and defiant and weird -- a testament to queer determination to throw a party. Remember, by the mid-90s the gay community was at the apex of a health crisis, enduring unbearable loss and years of mainstream indifference. 1995 was the year that promising new treatments emerged and everything started to change, and there's an optimism to everything the film touches that makes the epidemic seem like it was all a bad dream.

These days, Wigstock the festival is gone, and exists as an occasional modest cruise. Maybe things have been going so well that we now have time, rather than a party, to put distance between us and the hard times. And it certainly feels good to reflect on the progress that we've made over the 21 years since the documentary came out. 

But -- and I'm sorry to be a bummer here -- bad news is always lurking around the corner, as we've seen with recent politics. In the event that times get tough once again, and at some point they probably will, it's worth remembering how we coped with adversity in the past. With music, with dance, with each other, and with really big hair.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About



Parisian Kevin MacLeod (
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