Special Guest: Aydian Dowling
Hello, and welcome to a bonus episode of The Sewers of Paris! Thanks to the support of everyone on Patreon, I'm able to bring you extra episodes with guests beyond just gay men. This month, we're going beyond the Sewers with a very special guest: Aydian Dowling, the first trans man to appear on the cover of Men's Health.
You might know him as the physically fit model who appeared on a special cover of Men's Health a few years ago. Aydian Dowling's made a habit of breaking barriers, refusing to back down, standing up and being seen. But he wasn't always the beaming, confident model on the cover of magazines -- there were dark periods that at times he couldn't see any way to survive. In those times, he found the inspiration to go on in some unlikely places: a soap opera he wasn't supposed to see, movies he wasn't supposed to have, and a pride parade that changed his life.
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You can also follow @sewersofparis on Twitter and Facebook -- I post clips of stuff we talk about and chat with listeners about the entertainment that you love. And join us for the next Sewers of Paris livestream on Saturday, April 28 at 2pm Pacific! We've been doing those livestreams twice monthly with special guests, and it's such a fun chance to hear about the movies and shows and books and music that you're obsessed with right now.
Thanks again to Aydian for joining me. Those TV shows that he mentioned aren't always the BEST sources of representation -- Maury and soap operas can sometimes be pretty exploitative. But even at their worst, those daytime TV shows can still be a source of power for folks who are searching for any sign that they're not alone.
For my recommendation this week, check out two movies, both with the same title: Hairspray. First the 1988 version with queer icons Divine and Ricki Lake; then the 2007 one with noted heterosexuals Zac Efron and John Travolta. Both films are not without their problems -- the first can be a little slow in parts, the second not quite as daring as its predecessor. But together they make for a lovely experience, centered on the life-changing power of a daytime TV show.
The 1988 Hairspray was directed by John Waters, and though it's definitely startling and weird, it has much more of a moral center than his previous work. John's often commented on how shocked he was to have accidentally made a family film.
In both films, a young woman longs to see herself on television -- she knows she's good enough to belong -- but a cold indifferent world isn't ready to accept people who look a little different from what they're used to. Ultimately of course she prevails, transforming the face of American television and proving that it's intolerance that's truly unfit for broadcast.