Finding Life at Queer Virtual Sex Parties
S1: Hello and welcome to Outward for the month of April. I’m Christina Ritchie, a staff writer at Slate and host of the Slate podcast, The Waves. And I recently celebrated a major life milestone after three weeks of home quarantine.
S2: I finally, for the first time in my life, felt a physical urge to put on a bra. I’m recording this in the presence of and being held by a real life bra.
S3: You’re welcome.
S4: I haven’t seen it. That’s impressive because I haven’t worn shoes or carried a bag or done any of those things that I thought laughs. That’s so much money on. So good for you. It’s a little dose of formality.
S2: I also wore my little patent leather slides to take out the compost yesterday and I felt so sexy.
S3: I didn’t know what to do with myself.
S4: I’m Ramona Long and one of Slate’s Karen Feeding parenting advice columnists and I have my health, so I’m not complaining, but I have been feeling so powerless or something and I’ve just thrown myself into a life of quiet domesticity, of cooking and cleaning and looking after my kids and trying not to count the days. And I am not this Zen by nature. And I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the five o’clock glass of wine that has done this to me.
S5: Five o’clock is is late.
S3: Yeah. That’s really admirable restraint. Yeah, I’m impressed. Thank you.
S6: I’m Brian Loutre, the editor of Outward. And I am simply bowled over by all the bread baking I’m seeing out there during quarantine.
S7: Normally, I’d rise to the occasion to offer you novices some crumbs of wisdom from your posts. I can see that there’s no need.
S8: Brian, I’m the dad in this group, but this is like the jokey est intro.
S7: I now I I was feeling dad today. I also am feeling all the browed. It’s very exciting to see everybody getting into the situation. Although I’ve heard that their yeast shortages. So if anybody is hoarding the year, stop doing that because we all need need some.
S9: Well, listeners, you’re listening to our second episode recorded from our homes. We hope that you all are staying safe and healthy out there or at least hanging in there where you can. We have a great episode planned for this month. We’re going to start off with a segment on queer socialization and sexualization during coronavirus and quarantine. We’re going to talk to Andrew Khan, our beloved former colleague, who was an Interactive’s designer at Slate. He’s going to talk to us about a Xoom sex party he attended.
S10: Should be a spicy combo. Then we’re going to talk about Tiger King, the Netflix show that launched a thousand unfunny tweets and about good ones. We all watched it. It’s got a marvelous gay villain at the center of the story. We’re going to talk about the queer politics and aesthetics of Tiger King. But first, let’s start off with some prides and provocations. Brian, how are you feeling this month?
S11: Well, I am just feeling pride.
S12: I watched last night the season finale, series finale, I should say, of Shits Creek.
S13: And what a wonderful show that was. It had such, I think, organic, complex, queer representation, especially in the characters of David and Patrick, who were sort of at the center or part of the center of the show.
S6: And then also you had this wonderful camp icon and Moira Rose. And seeing the series wrap up was really Rapp’s actually on there on David and Patrick’s wedding.
S14: And I won’t say more so as to not spoil it, but it’s just a beautiful show, a beautiful series. And they did just that. It’s such a good job. I think dealing with queer and bi, especially representation in that series. Did you watch it?
S10: Oh, yes. I love that show. Yeah, yeah.
S15: I didn’t watch it. And I now feel like they really need to I sort of like watching things when they’re concluded. And so you’re not hostage to when they are being you know, you’re waiting for the next season or whatever. And also, as Christine mentioned in the intro, Tiger King Love launched a thousand unfunny tweets. And I feel like this shows that everyone is watching often launch these spoilery tweets. And so it can be so irritating. Like just a couple years ago, we watched The Sopranos has the like for the first time. And it was so great to watch it at a moment when no one else was talking about it and able to spoil it for us or undo it for us, you know?
S14: Yeah, I totally think you could go back and watch Schitt’s Creek now would be a great, great way to watch it.
S9: Now, it doesn’t make me a little while to get into it. I think it rewards commitment like once you really get into the characters and recognize them and fall in love with them. That’s when I really started to enjoy it.
S16: Now we certainly have time on our hands. We’ll pick that one. Yeah.
S2: What’s your month been like? Ramen. What do you. Are you proud or provoked?
S8: You know, I. I really wanted to come up with a pride. But in fact, I ended up being provoked. And you’re going to have to walk down a little path with me. But I’m sure you’ve heard and a lot of the reporting about Corona virus, this idea of a patient zero. And I had not been familiar with the extent to which that is actually a fallacy or like not really a thing in immunology. And there was a there was a review published at the New Republic of a book by Richard Mackay called Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic. And Mackays book looks at the case of Gaitonde. You, Goss, who was the flight attendant, who was isolate, who was talked about in Randy Shultz’s in the band, played on as a patient zero of the AIDS epidemic and. The book and this this review, which is by a writer named Scott Bushist by the writer Scott Stern, really talks about how this is just a way, a myth that we tell ourselves to make herself feel better about the moral dimension of disease, that you could sort of blame it on a Typhoid Mary kind of figure and that that person could be shunned. And this disease that is affecting all of society could therefore be blamed on one person. And I find that very useful. I mean, we’ve heard the president try to label this the Chinese virus, like we’ve heard all of this language trying to fix blame for this thing that’s happening to our society on a single person or single group. And we know better than that. And so this review of this book really clarified for me that I’m still provoked by that language around the way it’s unfolded in this country. And I think it’s still worth interrogating what that trope is and what that says about our desire to have the bad guy to fight against.
S10: Yeah. Yeah, that was the article that you mentioned. What provoked you or or would you read?
S8: I know. Highly recommended. Actually, I suppose what provoked me is just remembering that Schulz had done that and had done that in his book, because disease is very abstract and virus is very abstract, and it’s actually very helpful for human understanding to say like this is the bad person in the story. And that doesn’t always and that’s not fair. It’s not fair to get him to guess it’s unfair to anyone who we talk about in this culture right now with respect to coronavirus. And I think it’s just my it’s good to have that in mind as we talk about something as abstract and complex as disease.
S9: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. It also provides a sort of false comfort to be able to think about disease as something that happens to someone else or that someone can be blamed for instead of something that has a very unsettling degree of randomness to it.
S8: That’s absolutely right. And I think that we’ve seen. I mean, I’m sure I’m sure you guys have seen I have seen on Instagram all of my well-heeled friends retreating to country homes and sort of this idea that you can insulate yourself from something. But actually, I don’t think this works that way. And I think immunologists like that’s what immunologists are telling us constantly, that it doesn’t work that way. It’s not about morality and it’s not about means disease doesn’t care about those things. And, you know, not have not having access to means can certainly make you more susceptible to disease. But the morality component of it is just not prevalent. And it was worth remembering that that came into play with AIDS and it was worth remembering. I think that we need to avoid a language of patients. Zero generally. Yeah, definitely. Christina, how are you feeling this month?
S9: I’m feeling proud this month for two reasons. The first, just quickly, I want to call out Republic Restorative, which is a queer old distillery here in D.C., which has been making hand sanitizer for the past month or so to give to frontline responders and workers here in D.C. I highly recommend their burro bourbon.
S2: If you are interested in drinking alcohol. But the main thing I want to recommend. The main thing that’s been giving me pride over the past couple weeks.
S3: Roomand called me out for having a very horny morning on a day to eat it like three things in a row about like things hot people were doing.
S2: So I want to highlight one of them. I don’t know if y’all are familiar with the don’t rush challenge. It was started by and taken up by black women around the world who do a thing where like you’re wearing one outfit or maybe it’s like before you put your makeup on or you’re wearing just sort of like a casual outfit and then you put something on the camera. And immediately when you pull it back, you’re like in a totally different outfit or dressed up more or something like that.
S17: So I’ve seen this. Yeah.
S2: And then you sort of pass something on like maybe throw something off screen and the next person picks it up. It’s a really, really clever use of the Tick-Tock medium. Right. Right. And there’s this one that’s all androgynous lesbians and non-binary people. It was tweeted out by Niger. Abdullah II it came across my feet because a friend of mine tweeted it and there’s just a whole bunch of really good looking people passing a do rag around and changing from like their sports bra and boxers to a Full-On look.
S3: And I think I probably watched it like 30 times. I mean, I watched it. It’s it’s hypnotic.
S18: I’m so glad that you shared it because it’s really it’s clever and funny and like wholesome and, you know. Yeah. I also think they’re all really great looking.
S9: You. Right. And it’s like the choreography and the editing is so precise and just done so well. But then also it’s just an array of incredible beauty.
S2: And I learned that apparently all of these people had never met in real life before. They just like orchestrated this online. But they’re planning on meeting up at New York City pride whenever that happens. But they’re from all over the country. So I really hope that they get to meet together and do some sort of choreographed photo. Oh, my God. Idea that can then be shared with the rest of us. So you can find this video on Twitter. Nigel Abdullah is the one who tweeted it out. And her handle is Save it, bruh.
S9: That’s B R U H. So that’s what I’m proud of this month.
S19: Excellent. Wonderful.
S4: We’re all sitting inside right now, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s spring outside. I feel very lucky to be shut up a husband. But spring fever comes for everybody, right? I spent way too much time on Twitter and I’ve seen more than one person allude to using Zoom or one of the other video chat unconference platforms for sex. I first found this hard to believe. And then I found it really admirably clever. Necessity is the mother of invention, and sex is a human need. In the ongoing series of virus diaries on Slate’s Andrew Kahn wrote frankly about his experience a virtual sex party. I’m just going to read one of the a couple of the lines that I liked so well, he writes. Like all my other videoconferences and stretched out phone calls this week, playing games with friends, cooking with my parents, letting the Shabbat candles of my grandmother. There was a sweetness to it, real substance mixed with the painful awareness of uncertainty and separation. I thought that was such a lovely line and such a beautiful way to think about what sex provides in any community. And I’m so glad that Andrew is here to talk to us a little more about his peace. Andrew, welcome.
S20: Hello. Hello. Thank you for having me.
S18: I wouldn’t want to say that. So when I when I read your piece, I I got like super contrarian. And I went on Twitter and I said, do people really have sex on Xoom? Yes or no? And they made a poll. And the results, Enberg dead 50/50. And so you wrote this piece. So you’re telling me that this happens. So tell me how. Tell me everything first.
S21: First, I’m going to say that I wrote the piece a couple of weeks ago, which is now like a million years ago and quarantine time. And so at the time, I think it was like a super novelty that it was happening.
S22: But because we’re now all like in Rip Van Winkle zone, it’s just like it just feels so much more normal. And I think there have been a lot more groups doing these virtual sex parties outside this particular one. I know this one has continued in that period of several weeks after I wrote my piece. The party that I went to was the second in their series and they’re now on like week three or something.
S23: I talked to the host this afternoon and he said that like, attendance peaked at some point a while back and has been like steadily waning. But like the for the first thing that came to mind as I was thinking of maybe we talk about doing this interview is just like that, that time warp aspect of how quickly the norms shifted in one direction and then we’re normalized.
S13: Yeah. Yeah, I wanted to. Can you just describe for us and for our listeners, like what this looks like?
S12: Like what what on your end sort of as a as a participant. And then also like what you’re seeing, maybe not like in graphic detail, but just to sort of, you know, General, it looks like zoom, it looks like a pitch meeting.
S21: One of the things they said in the article is that, like, I indelibly have this, like, anxious association with them and feel like I’m about to be put on the spot to be given my opinion or state an idea. And and and so that was how I felt at first.
S23: It’s like a grid if you choose to view it as a grid full of people masturbating or taking things up there or offices or just like looking on and making like this kind of face like the to describe the phase.
S3: You’re me. Yeah.
S21: Well there’s an audience that I’m furrowing my brow and relaxing my jaw. And there has to be like a little bit of like particularly hand motion of the frame. Yeah.
S24: And the host, the guy who hosted it was like very, very active in like em seeing the whole thing and being like, are you going to come now?
S25: You go like, I’ll spotlight you if you’re going to come now. He could control who was the featured speaker.
S21: I think he could. Yeah, like he could like he could like pin somebody if they were about to bust a nut. Wow. Yeah.
S26: I mean, like every good meeting used to be led by someone who knows what they’re doing. So yeah. Yeah, I like sitting in a corporate meeting. Right. Although at the same time it is.
S2: Does this person. Does the facilitator take such an active role in the IRS sex party because you’ve been to this in real life too, right?
S24: Yeah, I’ve been. I’ve been to it in real life and it overlaps with the real life experience.
S23: And like several striking ways, the facilitator is like a genuinely very smart, socially apt guy.
S22: And he’s just like very good at managing queer sex spaces, which is not a small feat. There are other sex parties in New York that are in all other respects like this one, they take place in the same spaces, they have similar attendees, but his particular way of managing things helps everything go smoother.
S15: Could you say more about that? Is it? Is it because, like, he’s warm and funny or is it because he’s encouraging or welcoming or what exactly?
S27: What’s the sort of personality type that makes you adept at something?
S24: Well, he’s very good at articulating behavioral standards in a way that does not feel Skoal day at all. And that’s just like linguistic facility and social facility being able to just like talk about the importance of consent and not making other people feel bad. The IRS space generally tries to be really, really inclusive along multiple axes of race and age and gender. It’s mostly gay cis male focused, but there usually are some trans participants as well.
S23: And he is pretty good, at least from my perspective, at making people feel welcome. And then beyond that, he’s good at making people feel sexy. And that was particularly in evidence in the Xoom version where he was, you know, making helpful, horny comments to to keep momentum going. And it started with just small talk. It started before anybody took their pants off. It was just like, how’s everybody doing? Like, let’s have a brief, like, group therapy session.
S28: So there are two things that I thought about a lot as I was thinking about Xoom as a venue for group sex.
S9: One of them was the fact that I think unless you change your settings, you’re looking at yourself, too. There’s a little square Runcie yourself, which is not you know, even though you might be thinking about your presentation and your performance of sexuality, when you’re in a place like this, you’re not usually looking at yourself or if you’re if you’re, you know, having sex in front of a mirror or like there’s a very like deliberate act you have to take to want to look at yourself. The other thing is that you can’t make eye contact with people unless you stare into your camera, which at that point it’s like how you know, in like 2001, A Space Odyssey you’d like, you’re just staring into the void, which seems creepy to me. How did those two aspects play into your experience of this space?
S29: I agree. That really goes into the phenomenology of sex.
S17: That’s what we’re all about on this. Yeah.
S20: Yeah. So, yes, I could see myself. And it was kind of fun and felt necessary because, you know, by the point that I was taking my clothes off, I did want to be very careful in how I was presenting myself. And I would use special lighting. By the way, I like. Did you did you like. I didn’t do special lighting, but I did, like, move my laptop around my house a million times. That was right. There was like a very long wind up. I was a little self-conscious at first and wary of like being naked on camera in a way that people could screenshot and then realized that, like, I was actually writing an entire article about this. And so that wouldn’t exactly be surprising for that two merge. Evidence of it. And I’ve done plenty of other more reckless things in the past. But if I was going to appear on camera, I did like want to know how I looked and make it look really hot.
S13: So I feel like there’s been a little bit of an emerging discourse around this idea of like whether we should or shouldn’t try to replicate, you know, all of these experiences that we’re used to having in our real lives online.
S12: So through through Zoomer or whatever, you know, people have been having dance parties where the deejay is like spinning alone in their bedroom. And you’re supposed to sort of like equate or make that into a substitute for for going to the club. And there’s many other things like that. Do you feel like this sex party or the idea of these sex parties is actually satisfying the same sort of itch that you might have had to participate in them?
S13: Or is it is it something lesser or different or weirder?
S30: Like I would say, it’s different and a little bit lesser. And I’ll try to answer Christina’s eyecontact question along the way here as well. I hadn’t started going to sex parties until last year and I was like a tiny bit diffident at first and then discovered that I really liked them. And part of what’s exciting about the IRS sex parties is that they’re kind of like this sort of microcosmic hyper.
S31: Theatrical version of cruising, where there is a sense of spontaneity in your eyes, meet across the room and you don’t know what’s going to happen and it’s fun and you meet people. I’ve met real friends at these and they’re really dependent on a kind of heightened openness to experience and a heightened trust of other people. Trust around your own privacy and a trust around around sex. And one of the things that amazed me when I first started attending these was that that openness could be there at the same time as a very high level of respect that people reciprocated the trust. And when you’re on a Xoom sex party looking at a grid of people that’s sort of eyecontact across a crowded room is is not the dynamic at all.
S30: It was much more a dynamic of like group therapy.
S23: But everybody has their dick out.
S32: That’s like and that’s a different animal.
S33: And so I like I think it’s a great thing that the host set this up. And I think it it does provide an outlet emotionally and sexually for people.
S31: And it’s important to continue being creative about these things. But I definitely do not think that this format, whatever, replace the in the flesh version.
S28: One thing that has surprised me in in terms of my own experience of social isolation is I don’t think I realized how much my own understanding and experience of being in like a gendered and sexualized body depended on my interactions with other people.
S9: Like there is no getting dressed up to go out to see and be seen.
S2: There’s no, you know, concern or awareness that I’m being looked at. And that’s both good and bad. Like when I’m walking around outside, sometimes I don’t want to be looked at because I don’t want to be harassed outside. Like that’s happening a lot less because I’m not going outside as much. But I also, you know, love to get dressed up and love to express my gender visually and in what I wear and how I walk around. And that’s impossible for me now, too. And also something that’s not easily replicable over a video chat. And so I’m feeling a little bit less myself in that way.
S3: And I think that’s why I had the urge to put on a project that was just going to say, yeah, I say I showered just for this call.
S2: Schol has has zoom now become a more sexualized space for you, like when you were drawing up the app to get on this call like it’s sex time. The opposite happens from when you first got on the workspace.
S20: No, I would say I still had the very strong workspace flashback. I would say that that is interactive goalball.
S32: That’s that’s always gonna be there.
S30: But yeah, like I think that’s one reason phone calls don’t always do the job. And I love phone calls. Even in the pre quarantine era, there is something important about having a public square where you’re seeing people in all their three dimensionality, not just with your ears.
S29: And that’s that’s a way that we locate and create ourselves.
S13: How quickly after, you know, the quarantine is lifted, do you think you will find yourself at a real sex party? Is it something you’re really craving or are you sort of.
S31: I I want to say very, very quickly.
S20: I mean, it depends on where things are epidemiologically, though, right?
S34: Like I.
S29: I mean, there have been other countries where outbreaks have seemed contained and then have sort of burst back. And I have generally it’s just happened in Singapore and I’ve generally been on the very cautious side. And and how I’ve handled myself during this. And so I I desperately hope that there comes a time soon when it like feels safe and fun to go to a sex party and to, like, shake hands with people just unless unless we’re going to get rid of that custom as Doctor Factory is recommending and a time where it just like is fine again, we’re fine enough again to have these kinds of connections with with strangers and in the most admiring sense of the word stranger.
S30: But I just.
S4: No know how the world is going to look well into you for your sake, for all of our sakes. I do hope that things get back to that old normal really soon. And I also hope that you stay healthy. You mentioned that you were not feeling great, but I hope that you are on the mend. And thank you so much for joining us to talk about this.
S19: Thanks a lot. Be well. All right.
S6: I am so excited today to talk with you all about Tiger King. If our listeners have somehow avoided it until now, Tiger King is Netflix’s newest documentary hit. It tells the story of Joe Exotic, the flamboyant impresario behind a wild cat zoo in rural Oklahoma who describes himself as a queer, gay gun carrying redneck with a mullet. In addition to tigers and lions, Joe also maintains a human menagerie featuring a troubled Polly Kewl of young husbands. That’s right, polical of young husbands, a team of devoted park workers and sketchy outside investors who eventually play a part in Joe ending up in prison over a failed murder for hire plot against an animal rights activist named Carol.
S35: Who? Oh, and then there are also the country songs. A few songs, Daniel. Could we hear a little of. I saw a tiger to set the mood, then stand back and.
S35: Well, there’s that, so there’s a lot that we could talk about in Tiger King like endless, endless things. But for the purposes of our show, we wanted to focus on the series Queer Elements. So I think the best place to start is thinking about Joe himself. What do we make of his gayness? Did it strike you all as odd to see a man be so loud about his sexuality and his cultural move? You. What did you make of Joe?
S27: I mean, I. First of all, this show is insane. And the way that you just described it, it’s like, if anything, it’s like downplays how insane it is. But I really struggle to think of a person analogous to Joe Exotic. And the person who I came up with was Little Richard, actually. There’s some things almost defiant, like he takes his homosexuality and turns it into a cudgel.
S15: He’s sort of weaponized as and youth, whereas as this proud armor. And it’s it’s pretty remarkable that he does that and literally like sequin like chainmail Joplin chainmail beautiful, like platinum dyed hair, mullah like his. Just everything about his the way he presents himself is it’s very loud and very theatrical and very confident. Obviously, I think that has a lot to do with being a man. I think there’s a lot to do with being a white man. I think it’s a kind of like what I mentioned Little Richard before. I think a little witchers of all the more remarkable for being a black man in that particular moment in history when he began his career. But I do think there’s something really analogous in the way she turned being a sissy into kind of like this show stopping performance that you almost couldn’t turn away from. Because he embodied it so fully.
S27: And I think that Joe, talking about Joe and his homosexuality in a weird way, distracts from what an obvious like what a flawed person he is and what a cruel and maybe dangerous person he reveals himself to be. Over the course of that show, he’s like, he’s truly a villain. But the thing that troubled me about the show’s lens on him was, I mean, I felt like the show.
S8: I felt like it kind of makes a spectacle out of somebody who is from a rural place or is not like doesn’t have the polish that we might associate with like the people who made the program. It felt to me like it looked down at him and in many of the people on the show that it looked down on many of the players.
S15: And I don’t know how you I don’t know how to articulate what that what that is like, what that perspective is of condescension or and I also don’t know how you correct for that, how you look a population that maybe you don’t always see reflected on the television and that you do it in a way that is respectful and not sort of gawking. Did you guys feel that to me?
S28: That really became clear when Joe Exotic starts threatening Carol, who is his nemesis. And this is you know, she portrays herself as an animal rights activist who runs this sanctuary for tigers.
S2: It’s unclear how different that sanctuary is from all of the other exhibitions of tigers. So it’s not clear whether she’s you know, they call into question whether or not she’s actually an animal rights activists anyway.
S9: The way he threatens her and demeans her is extremely gendered and sexualizing.
S2: And so, for instance, Joe rapes her in effigy more or less. He he takes a blow up doll, names it, Carol, and puts a dildo in it. He posts a picture of one of those blob fishes and says, you know, calls it her vagina. Meanwhile, I don’t see him talking about the genitals of like the local sheriff who comes to give him a citation or something. And that part of the that aspect of the harassment wasn’t explored as fully as I would have wanted it to be, especially because I think it’s interesting and clarifying because it comes from a gay man. You know it. Yeah, this isn’t a person who is who has women around him like the the other the other people in the Tiger exhibit in community. They all kind of have the same aesthetic or vibe. Like, I don’t know what it is about the Tiger Millia that is that has all this like visible and palpable.
S6: Duality like it’s the very same people who would have attacked Tiger Rogge in front of a fireplace.
S37: Yeah, right. Yeah, it’s very swinger or something. And I also I wondered. I don’t know if the filmmakers are gay or not, but I felt like there was some kind of there was some fundamental misunderstanding of Cho’s relationship to his two spouses.
S15: He has these two husbands who are quite a bit younger than him.
S38: And over the arc of the show, it is revealed that they know that neither of them really identified as gay until meeting him. And then after leaving him, one of them is with the woman.
S37: I don’t know. I didn’t finish. He goes off to correct me if that’s wrong, but that his first husband actually it was having an affair with a woman who works at the park and his second husband, who died under terrible circumstances, was also possibly not really gay. And that it seemed clear that what was happening is unclear to me, that what was happening was some kind of transaction involving drugs and that there. And I just I wish that the show had probed that a little more explicitly.
S16: I just I mean, if this if if the documentary had been probing the life of like a political science teacher at New York University who is married to two 19 year old men and sort of had this sort of over the top relationship with them and then sort of cast them aside, I think that it would’ve been to what would interrogate that a little more deeply. And it just felt like it somehow, somehow the perspective was like, look at this guy getting away with this thing and Oklahoma like getting away with this thing in plain view. But then the documentary itself perpetuates that by not pushing deeper into it.
S13: You know, there are other queer folks in the show around this sort of an addition to the husbands anyway, around Joe. And I think one of the most interesting is this park manager called SRF, who actually loses, who’s trans and who loses a limb, an arm to a tiger and a really horrible accident. But even Sarah remains loyal pretty much to Joe throughout the show.
S5: What do we what do we think about? About Soph. I found him really fascinating.
S16: It’s another disappointment, I think, with the production is that the film that the series seems to miss gender him. Yeah.
S15: Now, which is disappointing again. It just feels like that’s a fairly is in 2020. It’s a fairly straightforward thing for and there’s a responsibility on the shoulders of someone making a film to to be mindful of that kind of stuff.
S27: And I you know, self loyalty to Joe after being mauled by an animal is really something.
S16: But you can also understand the psychology at play of, you know, somebody who becomes kind of a father figure to, you know, people who may not have access to that.
S37: You know, so, you know, some takes care of them with money and comfort and drugs and a place to be and work to do.
S16: And it’s very culty and it’s very sad. And I feel like the show wants you to be amused more than it wants you to be horrified. And that was my disappointment with it. And it’s sad. It made me very sad. And I worried about him, too. Like, I mean, he lost his hand, you know, and that’s. Yeah, it’s a sad show. It’s a much sadder show than I think the jokes and names may have Shia believe, you know?
S28: Yeah. At first, again, it it seemed almost like, oh, is this a queer community? You know, is this like a little family that takes care of each other? And that’s the way it’s described a little bit that, you know, Joe exotics crew is his family. He takes care of them. He gives opportunities to people who are just out of prison or who don’t have anywhere else to go but at. Like, there’s two sides to that coin and the other side is that that gives somebody a lot of leeway for exploitation. And, you know, I would have loved to know more about SAFF’s background and what led him to work at the Tiger Park. I mean, it seemed like one of the most chilling parts of the documentary to me was after SRF gets his arm ripped off and Joe says, I’m never going to financially recover from this. Like that’s his first instinct. And it seemed like such a betrayal of the trust that that I know to exist in so many communities like that, where it’s queer people who who don’t always have their opportunities were relying on somebody for support and just to be. To see that sort of relationship that I relate to on one hand be turned into an area of like violence and exploitation was really disturbing to me.
S14: How do we sort of I mean, I think we’ve touched on this, but how do we feel as as quieres about a figure like a bad gay figure like this becoming so sort of famous in this meme? I mean, as you say, there’ve been so many means and jokes. And I think I think a lot of viewers did sort of basically take this as as, you know, amusing, but with, you know, a dash of like concern for the animals. But but like otherwise sort of funny. I don’t know. I’m like grappling with it still. Because because it’s like you, Christine. I think I was really I really was taken in by a certain sense of like, you know, unique queer community that was happening. And then it like was ripped out from under me. So I don’t know, it’s it’s strange to have this person, like, be so popular, you know?
S17: Are you asking, like, is it good for the gays or bad kind? I mean, I think it’s bad for the gays, but like.
S35: But, yeah, I guess maybe put it that way. What what’s your what’s your feelings about it?
S16: Somebody said to me, and this really like I mean, I’m tired of this. I’m tired of reading Donald Trump into everything, right? We all are. But it’s impossible not to notice a resonance here between the sort of like the bravado and the sort of brash like this is who I like.
S15: I don’t like this unapologetic brashness, especially as contrasted in the documentary with Carell, who is just nemesis and her kind of like sort of reasonableness, sort of like an interrogator reasonableness. It just felt like you’re watching Hillary and Trump all over again.
S3: Oh, my God.
S6: Can I have a quick a quick note for Carol, by the way, what we’re talking about? Yes, please. I fell down a rabbit hole.
S13: She wrote a long, long response to the documentary on her. She did Web site. And I think it’s worth reading because, of course, you should take it with a grain of salt, too.
S12: But she some of something you said earlier, Christina, about like not being sure about the nature of her park that is seems to be pretty much a menu, a fiction of the show in terms of it being like a comparable.
S13: Oh, well, yeah, they’re pretty different different places. And so it’s worth reading Carol’s side of the story because also she says that the and I’ve read this two or three places now that the documentarians sort of approached with this idea of doing a a real animal rights piece sort of in the line of things called Blackfish, the one about SeaWorld. Yeah. And then they were very surprised to see it turned into this like character study. So anyway, just we’ll post that on the show page, but it’s worth reading her her rebuttal a little bit, too.
S8: I think I’m going to guess that’s another way in which this thing we think of Trump, it’s like this sort of like the idea of this like outsized performance trumping, so to speak, and a discussion of like substance like instead of having like an interrogation of animal rights or, you know, with the effects of drugs in rural communities or what it is to be gay or different in a rural space, it’s just like, oh, look at this crazy persona.
S10: Yeah. And in general, in that in the context of like the difference between irony and earnestness in culture, it’s really clarifying to me to think about Blackfish as a potential model for what this documentary could have been. And to and you know this you can arrange and rearrange the footage in any number of ways. And the way the footage of these people and these animals were arranged for this documentary seems to lean more toward like detached irony than the sort of the actual statement making that documentaries can be really valuable for. But even if it was just a a a look at these characters, this like strange queer community in Oklahoma. I don’t know as far as whether it’s good for the gays or bad for the gays. I always like to see diverse representation of the LGBTQ community. And this was certainly a flavor of queer you don’t see very often, but it because it seems to invite a little bit of mockery.
S9: And because so many of the sort of toxic elements of gay masculinity fails to be interrogated, I’m going to say bad for the gays.
S11: Yeah, I think I think bad for the gays ultimately, too.
S3: I mean, and also bad for the tigers and worse for the word for the word gay. Did you guys catch that in the first place? Now, what do you what do you mean?
S10: There were two tight tigers like humping each other and Joe Exotic was like, we don’t discriminate here.
S35: Oh, my God, I forgot. Well, that’s a happy note. And hopefully those tigers are somewhere better now than than where they were. But being gay.
S6: Well, that’s Tiger King. I think it is worth I think it’s worth giving a little watch to just to know what people are talking about, but maybe not finish the whole thing if you don’t feel like.
S19: Because it is it is kind of a lot antic. Bring your critical queer eye watering, your salt shaker being your salt shaker. Yeah, definitely.
S10: All right. I think that’s about all the time we have for this month. But before we go, we have a special edition of the gay agenda this month. We’re all going to share our favorite gay villains, Brian Hoosiers.
S35: So. Well, what I want to do is I’m I have a fear because what I’m going to recommend. I want to recommend this podcast, fellow podcast called Bad Gays is a very apropos.
S14: It’s now in its third season and each episode it covers about gay from history. So they have done. They did recently did actually a special episode on our friend Peate, British judge. But they also have done James Buchanan recently.
S6: J. Edgar Hoover.
S5: Frederick the Great Roy Cohn. So you can sort of see see the type of person they’re looking at. But yeah, it’s it’s a wonderful sort of I don’t wanna call it academic, but very smart, like sort of cerebral podcast from the makers who look at who look at these figures and sort of discuss gay villainy over time. It’s really fun to check that out. That sounds great.
S16: Christina, who is your gay villain?
S9: So I watched the movie Mary Queen of Scots recently is from 2018 featuring Sir Sharon in and Margot Robbie among another among other.
S3: You really have been really in front of you really have been fought for and you have had quite an effect. Why do you know this? You’re not going to talk. But once you said, seriously, Ronan and Margot, Robbie was like, OK, I see where they don’t hook us up in the movie.
S10: The villain is the gay or there are actually many villains in the story. The main one, of course, is monarchy in general. But that’s not queer. The queer villain is Henry Darnley, who’s Mary’s second husband. He’s played by Jack Loudon. Who? Oh, my God, the sexual energy this man brings to the screen. Everyone can appreciate everyone of any sexuality you can appreciate. So I think I can spoil this because it’s the movie came out in 2018. And, you know, it’s historical. So all the historical things have already happened, although part of part of the plot that’s queer is not necessarily supported by historical record. But just to give a short synopsis of the queer part of the movie. You know, Mary, Queen of Scots, played by Sir Sharon in is a very determined queen, wants to marry for love and not just for status, and is also excited to bring an heir to the throne into the world. She’s seduced by Henry Darnley, and the sex scene that they have together is extremely hot.
S2: Then as soon as they get married, he sleeps with her gay confidante, who is who’s sort of is like part of her little group of ladies in waiting. He’s the character. The historical figure is David Riccio, played by Ismael Cruz Cordova in the movie. And it I don’t want to totally spoil this, but it it ends in violence in one of the most heartrending scenes, actually, pretty much the only scene in the movie that really got my blood boiling. There was the sex one and then the violent one. Really, I am just a total archetype of the 21st century media consumer here. But it was the queer villainy and the queer betrayal and backstabbing. It was unexpected to me. I didn’t know what to expect going in. And it’s even more perfect because you don’t see it coming at all.
S3: Except now you will, because you listen to this Ramon, who’s years.
S4: So I really struggled with this. And I thought of kind of the people I came up with are kind of the opposite. I’m so exotic. But have you ever seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope?
S15: Oh, it’s an extraordinary story about a young gay couple who kills somebody, put the body in a chest as their coffee table and have a party. And the two actors in the movie are super handsome. And like, they’re very, very. Everything about their presentation is so gay. But like, it’s never discussed and it’s a really remarkable since they’re very sinister and very creepy and they are like maniacs because they killed somebody. And but the context in which you’re seeing them is so civilized and beautiful. It’s almost like if Frasier and Niles Crane killed somebody. Like what? And and and so I think it’s a really. Look, I love the kind of campy. Like Ursula of the Sea, which like those go for all the James Bond villains who all feel really gay to me. Like, I love those performances. But there’s something about Roke that is very restrained and very civilized and becomes all the more chilling because of that. It’s a really good movie.
S5: I love the sound of that. We’ll have to watch it during our downtime, during quarantine. Okay. I think that is about it for this month. Please send us feedback and topic ideas to outward podcast at dot com or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook at Slate outward. Our producer is Daniel Schrader. June Thomas is the senior managing producer of Slate Podcasts and the undisputed queen of our exotic Queer Menagerie. If you like our please subscribe in your podcast up, tell your friends about it and write and review the show so that others can find it and join Armin Ottery as well outward.
S39: We’ll be back in your foods on May 20th. Until then, bye, Christina. Bye. See you, Reman. See you guys. Stay safe and stick. Everybody.