Like Getting Struck by Lightning (Ep. 158 - The Twist Queer Film Festival)

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Special Guests! Jay Bell, Grant Davis, Carlos Pedraza, Joe Appelbaum, and Stu Maddox

Welcome to a special bonus episode of The Sewers of Paris! On most episodes, I talk to a guest about the entertainment that changed their life. But tonight I'm speaking to five guests who create entertainment that they hope will change the lives of others.

I recorded these interviews at Twist, Seattle's LGBT film festival. You'll hear from folks involved in two projects that screened at the festival: the first is Something Like Summer, a romance based on the novel by Jay Bell; and the second is Queer Ghost Hunters, a docu-series about a group of investigators who believe in life and love after death. 

We talk about the books, movies, shows, and songs that touched their lives and inspired them to become creators. A huge thanks to the folks at Twist for helping to arrange these conversations. And thanks to everyone who backs The Sewers of Paris on Patreon, making it possible for me to produce bonus episodes of the show. If you're enjoying The Sewers of Paris, you help keep it going by clicking "support the show on Patreon" to pledge as little as a dollar a month. Or more, more is good too.

And! If you enjoyed my bonus episodes where I have guests playing Dungeons and Dragons, check out our live show where drag queens play D&D onstage for a live audience. The show's coming to Oasis in San Francisco on March 20th, featuring Erika Klash from Dragula; Kitty Powers, of the games Matchmaker and Lovelife; and San Francisco stars Pollo Del Mar and KaiKai Bee Michaels. Tickets are now on sale! And if you're not in San Francisco, I hope you'll pass the word along to anyone who you think might enjoy the show.

Also: I'm about to launch a brand new podcast featuring drag queens playing D&D! It's called Queens of Adventure, and we're crowdfunding throughout the month of March to pay for performers, music, art, and equipment. We just hit our first funding goal, and now we're heading towards a stretch goal of doing livestreams with the queens -- Visit QueensOfAdventure.com to join us in bringing this new podcast to life.

Recommendation: Put the Camera on Me

Thanks again to Twist for helping to arrange these interviews, and a huge thanks to Jay Bell, Grant Davis, Carlos Pedraza, Joe Appelbaum, and Stu Maddox for chatting with me about the entertainment that inspired them.

For this week's recommendation, take a look at the 2003 documentary Put the Camera on Me by Darren Stein and Adam Shell. You might know Darren for his narrative films like Jawbreaker and GBF. But Put the Camera on Me is comprised primarily of archival home videos made by him and a group of other kids in the late 80s.

You can see from the videos that even as a kid, Darren was a bit of an Ed Wood, in that he assembled a group of friends and somehow persuaded them to enact his own internal conflict. Stein was clearly had some things to say about homosexuality, and was unprepared to say them himself and so he planted his messages in extremely campy video art projects. 

The highlight of his oevre is the short "Gay as a Whistle," a three-ish minute story in which a pre-adolescent boy whispers to the camera about having the power to turn other boys gay. It contains lines of dialogue like "there's that gay guy, shouldn't we beat him up?" and speculation that gay people could end the world. 

Those archival shots cut to contemporary interviews in which Stein's friends reflect on just what the hell they thought was going on, and how there's still some lingering awkwardness amongst them. The more you see of Darren's early video work, the clearer the portrait of the artist becomes: a gay kid struggling to express something in a language he hasn't quite learned how to speak.

Stuff We Talked About