Episode 338 – Simon Doonan

Virtual Memories Show 338:
Simon Doonan

“Drag has been the wallpaper in my life forever.”

Author, fashionista, creative ambassador, and recovering window-dresser Simon Doonan takes us on a guided tour of gender non-conformity with his latest book, Drag: The Complete Story (Laurence King)! Simon & I talked through his personal history with drag, how drag has evolved over the millennia, how the current moment is pushing drag in new directions, and why male British comics were so comfortable performing in it (a long-standing question of mine). We also get into his love of craft and how dressing windows at Barneys New York was the perfect venue for him, the value of having a day job and not making art the center of one’s life, how a kid who failed his 11+ wound up writing a shelfload of books, the joy of his crafting reality show, Making It, why he didn’t get through the auditions for Queer Eye, the TV skill he had to learn, his love of history and his abhorrence at the idea of being anyone’s role model, why it’s life-affirming to wear some color, what sort of drag I’d be able to pull off, and plenty more! Give it a listen (conversation begins at 7:53)! And go buy Drag: The Complete Story!

(NOTE: All of Simon’s proceeds from this book go to the Ali Forney Center for LGBTQ youth at risk for homelessness)

“I think it’s good for writers to get out and work. Like Simone Weil: she used to work in a car factory.”

“The message I got from my parents was that life’s just not that complicated. The idea that they’d have been involved in my college application is absurd!”

“I have the ability get very interested in things that are outside of myself. My windows were often based around that.”

“I thought about being an Artist, but realized how much more fun it was to be a window-display designer.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Writer, Fashionista and Author Simon Doonan is the Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York. His books include Saturday Night Fever Pitch: The Magic and Madness of Football Style, Eccentric Glamour: Creating an Insanely More Fabulous You, Confessions of a Window Dresser, and Gay Men Don’t Get Fat. Simon appears as a judge on the NBC television show, Making It, co-hosted by Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. His new book is Drag: The Complete Story.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at an undisclosed location on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photos of Mr. Doonan by me. It’s on my instagram.

Podcast: Theory and Practice

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Virtual Memories: Katie Skelly – Theory and Practice

“I’m never gonna be a parent, but if I were, I’d be like, ‘We’re skippin’ this Goodnight, Moon thing; you’re goin’ to Pale Fire.'”

cov175Cartoonist Katie Skelly joins the show to talk about her new book, Operation Margarine (AdHouse Books), which is really just an opportunity for us to talk about Barthes, Edie Sedgwick, and The Maxx, before getting to the moment when she was 15 and read the least “YA”-friendly book ever for all the wrong reasons. Along the way, we also talk about how she manages to work on her comics while holding down a (respectable) full-time job, why she’d rather hunt for a rare comic than buy something new, what it was like to belong to a high school anime club that only had two members. Go listen!

“6 o’clock hits, it’s time to leave the office; what are you going to do with the four or five hours you have before going to sleep?”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Katie Skelly lives and works in Queens, NY. Her first graphic novel, Nurse Nurse, was published by Sparkplug Books in 2012. Her latest book, Operation Margarine, was published by AdHouse Books in 2014. You can find her on her website, on Tumblr, and on Twitter.

Credits: This episode’s music is Katie’s Been Gone by The Band. The conversation was recorded in my hotel room during the 2014 Toronto Comic Arts Festival on a Zoom H2n (I had some weird distortion/flutter on my usual Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder, so I went with my backup recording). The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Ms. Skelly by Amy Roth.

Podcast: Mimi Pond – The Customer is Always Wrong

Virtual Memories: Mimi Pond – The Customer is Always Wrong

“With some of the people in the story, I thought, ‘What if they get mad? What if their feelings are hurt? What if they say, “That’s not the way it was!”,’ and then I thought, ‘Y’know what? Let THEM try to spend 35 years trying to figure this out! I’ve devoted my life to telling this tale that needs to be told.'”

oe_coverMimi Pond joins us to talk about her New York Times-bestselling graphic novel Over Easy (Drawn & Quarterly)! We talk about the book, which offers a semifictional version of Mimi’s life in art school and working at a legendarily kooky diner in Oakland, CA in the late 1970’s. We also cover her life in New York in the early 1980’s, how she met her One True Love at a puppet show, the big break she got from a paper described as “The Village Voice for the Upper East Side,” the difficulties of balancing mom-hood with art, the variety of ways she was screwed over by book publishers, her fixation on the Patty Hearst kidnapping, what she hopes young people get out of Over Easys rendition of its era, and more! (It’s kinda hard to believe we got to all that in less than 40 minutes!) Give it a listen!

“One of the great things about the ’70s was the liberation of both sexes. But the slut-shaming nowadays is such a double standard. . . . I made plenty of mistakes, but I learned from them and I married the right person. “

Mimi Pond on The Virtual Memories Show

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! Related conversations:

Follow The Virtual Memories Show on iTunes, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Mimi Pond is a cartoonist, illustrator and writer. She’s created comics for the LA Times, Seventeen Magazine, National Lampoon, and many other publications. Her TV credits include the first full-length episode of The Simpsons, and episodes for the shows Designing Women and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. She lives in LA with her husband, the artist Wayne White.

Credits: This episode’s music is Busy, Pretty Waitress by Stellavision. The conversation was recorded in a study room at the Toronto Reference Library on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones, feeding into a Zoom H4n recorder. The intro and outro were recorded on Blue Yeti USB Microphone. Processing was done in Audacity and Garage Band. Photo of Ms. Pond by me.

Unrequired Reading: Jewel Eye

It’s time for another month’s worth of my tweets from twitter! First the retweets (the ones that begin with RT) and then the marginally more original ones! Remember, you can get these regularly by following groth18!

In honor of July 4th, we’ll start off with a bang!

RT @felixsalmon (Felix Salmon):

 

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RT @radleybalko (Radley Balko) – Letter from Cory Maye

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RT @sharilynj – Read about @marcmaron‘s powerful keynote address, opening up this year’s #JustForLaughs #jfl

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RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk) – A bear. Made out of 20,000 zip ties. As you do.

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RT @susanorlean (Susan Orlean) – Wonderful!! “@NewYorkTheaterNiagara Falls lit with colors of rainbow on 1st day of N.Y.’s Marriage Equality

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RT @LettersOfNote – There’s so much to love about this photo of Jimi Hendrix

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RT FishbowlDC – Find out how the bridge of someone’s nose figures into The Atlantic‘s Megan McArdle’s (@asymmetricinfo) interviews.

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I don’t have kids, and that’s why I side with #GayTalese on dropping serious cash on clothes: #notthatIspendTHATmuch

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Because I don’t like kids, that’s why.

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Heartbreaking article about treating vs. screening #DownSyndrome

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Chinese govt. tries to disprove adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity: #weallcrashedthetrain

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The art of #RickyGervais.

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The #JewishAutonomousRegion sounds like the Off-World Colonies in Bladerunner: #Jewsinspace

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A Bentley SUV? But what if the NBA lockout doesn’t end soon?

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I’m disappointed the Hercules machine isn’t on this list: #pinball (Hercules is over here)

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Beetlejuice in NJ, via @nycscout

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I thought #PillowTie was the best Skymall product ever, but it’s no match for #DribbleBib

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Oh, look! It’s the scariest goddamned thing ever! #dummyland #ventmyrage

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Oliver’s Army is here to stay: #andiwouldratherbeanywhereelsethanheretoday #cromwell

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Timmy, have you even been in a Norwegian prison?

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The Midgard Serpent sleeps below Park Ave.

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Just #FranLebowitz and her awesome car

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@SimonDoonan on getting married to Jonathan Adler.

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A “thoroughly generic bookstore” (as per my 40th bday post) is closing: #bookberries

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Euroleague’s greatest hoopster is from West Memphis. #MarcusBrown

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Freelove: sister of Increase, mother of Wealthy: #nydutch

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“I’m looking for something hipster-y“: http://nyr.kr/p5opGB

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Can you tell us more often in 1 article that there was no internet in 1981, please? #shittywriting #tigerwoods

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Set taser to #KTFO: #zotz

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The #StopMakingSense fashion collection: #thisisnotmybeautifulcoat (does @davidbyrne know about this?)

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To quote #Nirvana, I think I’m dumb.

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(Hilarious) summer fashion trends, courtesy of @simondoonan.

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Leopard goes ape: #donotconfrontangryleopard

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5 major factors in the #Borders collapse: #bookswithoutborders

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Speaking of: Proving that people surrounded by books can still be total retards: #bookswithoutborders

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Bob Colacello, whose #Warhol memoir Holy Terror I enjoyed the heck out of, auctioned off his portrait by AW.

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On escaping and not escaping #Auschwitz

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Interview Your Own Damn Self!” the #Nabokov way: http://bit.ly/nrtMZQ

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Boy, #SeanBean sure does get killed a lot.

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Transocean: the “I didn’t do it” kid of the gulf oil disaster

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#WoodyAllen on Rilke, selling out Hannah & Her Sisters, and that new movie of his

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Lovely photos of writers & their dogs by #JillKrementz (no greyhounds, I notice)

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“Using .NET is like Fred Flintstone building a database”: Why #Myspace went boom

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Why is weed wacky? #potluck

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M(ormon)BA: Mormons are the new Jews? #wedressbetter

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Does the mind rule the body, or does the body rule the Ren? #renandstimpy

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Holocaust theory: #saturdaynightreading

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Busch-basching: http://buswk.co/pJrg9k

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Peter O’Toole on being awesome. #doublephallicname

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Nothing harder than getting laughs from a room full of comedy writers: http://bit.ly/poW20I

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I miss Karen Allen, but I’m still glad I skipped that last #IndianaJones flick.

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A stoic and a zen buddhist walk into a bar…

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Neat profile of @MaerRoshan that i missed till now: #offmyradar #harhar

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#Hitchens, on the Gandhi myth

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Mob scene: #mafiaTV

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Psst! It’s a secret bookstore! #brazenhead

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Pad See Yew Later, Addiction! #ThaiRehab

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Writer procrastination: (I bought a super-cheap PC laptop and deleted everything but @ommwriter) #mustdisablewifi

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Final meal . . . Cajun-style! (via @wadecortez) http://bit.ly/rukM1M

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Signal-to-noise and old-cooterism, by @binarybits: onforb.es/nRWJTq

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Crisis in Swedish Ballet Training: #WhyILoveMonocle

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The next generation of painkillers will come in small nuggets that you heat up in a pipe and inhale. #drugdelivery

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I still think that #CCTV building’s gonna tip over

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I guess it’s a good thing Brooding Persian isn’t on Twitter. #associationsanddisassociations

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Hegemony from column B: http://bit.ly/ott95H #SinoTheTimes

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Chimpanzee that! He’s a photographer! #GoApe #monkeynews

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@SimonDoonan on the Cute & the Savage: #notanewsoapopera

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Sometimes the gorilla gets the banana, and sometimes the banana gets the gorilla. #GoApe

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Nowhere, special: #NoUtopiaWithoutToddRundgren

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Orwell vs. God

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Building the perfect #KingLear: #Shakespeare

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#WinstonGroom on #TrumanCapote: #getyourmindouttathegutter

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I just want to stay ahead of my illiterate dad: http://bit.ly/kuJPUt (okay, here are all the books I’ve read)

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Chess computers are using PEDs?

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High school time capsule, courtesy of #BourgeoisSurrdender

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In this particular instance, I’ll chose NOT to #belikeMike, thank you: http://bit.ly/iYSriE

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The accordion market gets squeezed: #bwahhaha

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John Lindsay: one suave mofo: #mayorofcool

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To end this month’s installment, I offer 1 Lap of Manhattan in 26 minutes (soundtrack set to Underworld, of course):

What It Is: 12/13/10

What I’m reading: I sorta defaulted into reading Black Swan Green, by David Mitchell. I was feeling kinda meh one evening this week, and it was on my Kindle, and I thought, “What the heck?” I’m enjoying it, but I’m waiting for the bizarre structural trick that characterizes Mitchell’s novels. Since this one seems to be a novel about his childhood and his stammering problem, it’s possible there’s no pomo wackiness to it. I don’t want to look it up to find out, preferring to let the book unfold itsowndamnself.

What I’m listening to: Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, We Are Born, The Lady Killer, and the Monocle Weekly (from Helsinki!)

What I’m watching: More In Treatment (almost done with season 1), and Ric Burns’ American Masters documentary on Andy Warhol. It wasn’t as good as Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture, which I caught on PBS a year or two ago. There were a few problems with Burns’ doc: it grinds to a halt when it covers Warhol’s filmmaking (much as Warhol’s films were exercises in inertia), it has to mess with timelines for its segment on “casualties of the Factory,” it overemphasizes Edie Sedgwick and her death, and it spends about 15 minutes (of a total of 4 hours) on the post-shooting Warhol. After reading Bob Colacello’s book on the post-1968 era, Holy Terror, I think that phase of his career is immensely interesting, but Burns gives it pretty short shrift. That other doc I mentioned also does a better job of showing Warhol’s relation to his family, and the sheer weirdness of his mother living with him in NYC for 20 years. Anyway, the first half of Burns’ doc is pretty good, but I felt that it lost its way from about 1965 on.

What I’m drinking: Nyquil. Not for recreational purposes.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Posing for Christmas pictures.

Where I’m going: Nowhere!

What I’m happy about: An old pal got in touch with me for general shooting of the breeze on Friday. It was great to just catch up with her.

What I’m sad about: The way this year’s just whirled by.

What I’m worried about: Getting most of my year-end 500-page issue done by Friday.

What I’m pondering: Whether I’ll finally get around to writing that “favorite books of the decade” post that I delayed since January.