[QUICK VERSION OF THE NANCY THEME PLAYS]
KATHY: [SIGHING DEEPLY] Should we tell them what’s happened?
TOBIN: I think we should.
KATHY: You and I have decided to go back into the closet.
TOBIN: Yes, we are, in fact, the closet.
KATHY: But not just any closet!
TOBIN: No. We are in my closet at my house in Los Angeles, California!
KATHY: Yeah! Nice place!
TOBIN: Thank you, thank you. This is where I moved in July. I have set up a little home studio. It’s where I record all my stuff for Nancy.
KATHY: Yeah. There’s, like, some soundproof foam on the walls, there’s, like, clothes hanging behind us. There’s a little desk and a microphone and even — I would have to say — a very stylish lamp.
TOBIN: Oh, thank you!
KATHY: You’re stylish.
TOBIN: [MORE EMPHATICALLY] Oh, thank you! I have to say, also, if this closet were sitting in — were on the market in New York, it would be advertised as a spacious three-bedroom with a dine-in kitchen. [KATHY LAUGHS]
KATHY: Oh, totally. So, let’s tell the people why we’re in here!
[SWINGING, JAZZY MUSIC PLAYS]
TOBIN: Right. So, Nancy listeners, you may have noticed we’ve been gone for a just a little bit —
KATHY: A little bit!
TOBIN: — just a little! And that is because we wanted to take some time to try something different for next season. You know, we wanna do more deeply-reported stories.
TOBIN: We wanna take some adventures to interesting places, like wrestling rings and kid drag shows.
KATHY: Yep, yep.
TOBIN: Uh, you may even be hearing a little bit of audio fiction from us in the future!
KATHY: It’s all very exciting!
KATHY: But in the meantime, we wanted to stop in and say, “Happy Holidays!” and “Happy New Year!” — and also give you some exciting gifts!
TOBIN: Yes, very exciting. So! Today’s gift is like one of those big popcorn tins — you know what I’m talking about?
KATHY: [LAUGHING] Yeah, the kind that nobody ever finishes?
TOBIN: Yeah. Exactly. But they have all those different compartments. Like, there’s one with caramel corn —
KATHY: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
TOBIN: — there’s one with, like, the blue popcorn?
KATHY: The blue — [INCREDULOUS] what flavor is that?
TOBIN: Nobody knows.
TOBIN: There’s, like, maybe cheese puffs happening in another compartment.
KATHY: Yeah. Okay, yes. I fully know this thing.
KATHY: We never finish it.
KATHY: But the point is, this gift has a bunch of different, exciting parts. And we’re gonna kick it off by playing one of our favorite games:
[LIVE SHOW BEGINS, WITH PERCUSSIVE MUSIC AND KATHY AND THE AUDIENCE LAUGHING]
TOBIN: Is it called [DRAMATIC PAUSE] “Is It Canon?”!
KATHY: This is our favorite game to play, where we debate what should or shouldn’t make it into the queer canon. You know: the collection of people, pop culture, and literature are considered essential to the queer experience.
TOBIN: Except when we play, we only debate incredibly [LAUGHS] stupid things.
KATHY: Yes. Yes.
TOBIN: Uh, side note — please do not take us seriously.
KATHY: But, like, maybe sometimes take us a little seriously.
TOBIN: No. Don’t do that. Don’t do that.
KATHY: Okay, fine. [LAUGHS] This round of “Is It Canon?” comes from our live show that we taped in June at Dynasty Typewriter, here in Los Angeles. And it was put on by the lovely, lovely folks at KPCC.
TOBIN: And we started our spirited debate with the pinkest of Pokémon:
KATHY: Mhm. Okay. Go, Tobin. Pros?
TOBIN: Uh, okay. Pros for Jigglypuff making it into the queer canon. First of all — [EMPHATICALLY] look at her! [ALL LAUGH] Okay? A pink curl of hair, she’s an aspiring singer — I mean, come on. [PAUSE, LAUGHTER, TOBIN SIGHS] She’s also a Britney Spears-style breathless singer. [ALL LAUGH, TOBIN MIMES SINGING IN A BRITNEY SPEARS-STYLE BREATHLESS VOICE] Like, Jiggly-puff … [LAUGHTER] Umm, she is extra and self-assured in her extra-ness, we love that. Uh, maybe my strongest argument, she is literally a fairy-type Pokémon. [LAUGHTER] Also, [TOBIN LAUGHS A LITTLE] a light Google search before this, and on her page, it says, “Its vocal range exceeds twelve octaves, but its skill depends on the individual. Its song varies by region, and in some areas, it sounds like shouting.” [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] Uh? [MORE LAUGHTER] What gay person at karaoke does that not describe? [UPROARIOUS LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE] Okay. These are my points.
KATHY: Okay, alright, alright. Here’s some cons. Cons, coming at you. Jigglypuff is queerbaiting us. [SOME LAUGHTER, SOME SHOCKED SOUNDS] She’s — she is as queer as the Bank of America float at Pride. [SEVERAL AUDIENCE MEMBERS SAY “OOH!” AS IF JIGGLYPUFF GOT CALLED TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE] I said it. I’ve said it!
KATHY: I’ve said it. Alright. Jigglypuff is basically that person, like, you think for sure is queer. You spend all your time with them, they’re giving you all the signals, [AUDIENCE LAUGHTER] and then, like, when push comes to shove, they’re just talking to you about, like, their straight romantic woes. And you’re like, “Why did I waste all this time?” [LAUGHTER] I think I’ve wasted years of my life —
TOBIN: On Jigglypuffs.
TOBIN: Okay, fair enough.
KATHY: Yeah. So, yeah.
TOBIN: Alright, so, that’s the argument. We’re gonna do an Applause-O-Meter if you think it should make it in. Applause! [A MODERATE AMOUNT OF APPLAUSE, SOME WHOOPING] Okay. And if you think Jigglypuff should not make it in, applause. [A SLIGHTLY LOUDER AMOUNT OF APPLAUSE AND WHOOPING]
KATHY: I cannot tell.
TOBIN: Woah. I think you won that one.
KATHY: Did I? Barely, barely.
TOBIN: I don’t think Jigglypuff makes it in.
KATHY: Alright, cool.
TOBIN: Alright. Better luck next time, Jigglypuff. [KATHY LAUGHS] Um, okay. It only gets weirder from here. [ALL LAUGH] Our next debate item is [PAUSE] La Croix. [AUDIENCE GOES “OH!” AND LAUGHS]
KATHY: [LAUGHINGLY] Maybe explain what that is, in case …
TOBIN: Oh, yeah. La Croix is the bubbly water that, uh, you for sure have seen your friend drink if they’re incredibly cool. [ALL LAUGH, KATHY MORE SO THAN THE AUDIENCE] Um. Okay, arguments for why La Croix should make it in. I literally wrote, “I’m pretty gay and I drink this more than water.” [ALL LAUGH] There will be days when I’m like, “Why do I have a raging migraine?”, and then I’ll drink actual water and I’ll be like, “Oh, right, hydration.” [ALL LAUGH] Um. Oh, god. [TOBIN LAUGHS] I also wrote, “La Croix isn’t here for your heteronormative, full-flavored sodas.” [ALL LAUGH] “It prefers to be the flavor of a memory.” [LAUGHTER] “An afterthought, a whisper.” [MORE LAUGHTER] Also, like many gay men specifically, La Croix was born in Minnesota, then became a thing in New York after it adopted a French drag name. [ALL LAUGH, CLAP]
KATHY: God. That is a great tie-in.
TOBIN: Thank you.
KATHY: That was — [KATHY MAKES AN “OOF” SOUND] that felt, like, lawyered. [BOTH LAUGH] Well, okay. Here’s the only thing I really have. Despite claims that La Croix is completely natural and, quote-unquote, innocent, it, in fact, contains ingredients that are synthetic, and, one might say, toxic — as in “toxic masculinity.” [AUDIENCE LAUGHS, “HMM”S LOUDLY]
TOBIN: That was a reach. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
KATHY: The other thing is that font — that font looks like Papyrus, and Papyrus is the straightest font. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS, CLAPS]
KATHY: That’s it. That’s all I got.
TOBIN: I’ll give that to you. I’ll give that to you.
KATHY: That’s all I got. Why do we pick these? [AUDIENCE LAUGHS, KATHY DOES TOO]
TOBIN: Alright. Uh, okay. Lemme hear from you if you think it should make the canon. [AUDIENCE APPLAUDS A MEDIUM AMOUNT] Okay, okay. I’d say “medium.” [KATHY LAUGHS] And if it shouldn’t. [A ROUGHLY EQUIVALENT AMOUNT OF APPLAUSE]
KATHY: [LAUGHING] I can’t tell!
KATHY: I’m gonna say it made it in, Tobin.
TOBIN: [GASPS] Really?
TOBIN: Thank you! You know what? I will take that win!
KATHY: Yeah, you take it. [TOBIN LAUGHS]
TOBIN: But you know what, Kath? While we’re deciding on what makes it into the canon, something we’ve been talking about a lot lately is astrology.
KATHY: I mean, not just us — everybody is talking about astrology!
TOBIN: Mhm, mhm.
KATHY: Okay, quick arguments for and against — go!
TOBIN: Okay. I think astrology should make it in into the canon because every single day I see some queer person on Twitter retweet an astrology meme with the caption [WITH ALMOST-CURT CONVICTION] “WOW, ME.” [KATHY LAUGHS]
KATHY: [LAUGHING, BUT SOUNDING CONFUSED] Okay!
TOBIN: Do you have an against?
KATHY: Uh, okay. So, for against, I would say, I’m not still 100% sure what it is.
TOBIN: [LAUGHINGLY] Fair, fair.
KATHY: So, I just — I dunno.
[BOUNCY MUSIC PLAYS]
KATHY: Which is why we wanted to go a little deeper with one of the biggest names in the astrology world — Chani Nicolas.
TOBIN: If you are into astrology, you know Chani Nicholas: her monthly horoscopes have more than one million monthly readers —
TOBIN: — she’s been featured in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Rolling Stone — just to name a few — and also she’s got a new book, You Were Born for This, that’s all about reading your birth chart.
KATHY: And Chani is known for talking — not just about, you know, what to look out for this month or how your career is going to change. She uses astrology to talk about topics like social justice and queerness.
TOBIN: So we got to interview her a little bit about how she got into being a professional astrologer, and, also! She revealed one of her most shocking beliefs!
KATHY: So, how did you get into astrology?
CHANI: I, uh, had a reading when I was 12. Me and my dad and my new stepmother and her two children all got like, a family reading. So my second stepmom's mom was a Reiki master and was really into, like, alternative healing. And because I think we were a newly formed family unit, she was like, "Let me get you all something so you can kind of land,” in a way. And so, yeah, it was a gift from her. Yeah.
TOBIN: Hmm. What do you remember about that first reading?
CHANI: I just felt really seen for the first time in my life. I felt like someone looked down at a piece of paper and saw — not only me — but she also helped me — her name was Taina Ketola — she helped me to see each of these people. And I — I had a lot of different types of family units, and no real family units at all, and, so, I was this, like, young kid who was trying to find my way. Like, "Do I belong to these people? Are you my mom?"
CHANI: Like, I was always in that kind of situation. And, so, I didn't ever have a lot of reflection from the adults around me, which I think is really common. I think a lot of us feel unseen and unknown.
And, so, being 12 and being a really kind of serious, pensive, weird kid, um, this woman like looked at this piece of paper and she described me and how I function and how I work, especially emotionally. And then she described my stepsister and my dad and … You know, of course, we're all different human beings and we all worked really differently. And, so, the distinguishing was so incredibly healing to me.
CHANI: It would've been the same, I think, if we would've gone to a therapist or to anybody who could've kind of contextualized the way we were different. I don't know. When you're a kid and you don't have that, you just really need someone to be like, "Oh, you’re — you’re ... This is the outline of you." And not that she told me who I was, but she just talked about the style in which I took in life —
CHANI: — and like how I, you know, participated in it. And I just really needed it and it was so true for me. And it really helped me to understand how and why my stepsister was so different than me. Um, and she'd written a book and then I — I got the book and I devoured it. And then that's been it.
KATHY: And then you became an astrologer. [LAUGHS WITH CHANI] Is that — Is that what happened?
CHANI: I really didn't want to be an astrologer.
TOBIN: Wait. Why not?
CHANI: 'Cause it's like … not a real job. [ALL LAUGH]
KATHY: I'm sorry. We — we introduced you as astrologer. [ALL LAUGH]
CHANI: I know! But, like, I grew up in a — in, like, this really weird hippie town. And I don't know. Did anybody grow up in like a hippie commune out there? [AN AUDIENCE MEMBER SAYS YES]
KATHY: What? [LAUGHS]
TOBIN: Oh, really? We had a yes?
CHANI: We have one. [ALL LAUGH] Let's talk afterwards. [PAUSE] Um, and, so, like, there was no rules and there was no ... And, like, anything went and nobody cared about anything and we lived in shacks and up dirt roads and, like, barely any elec- Like, it was just — It was like wild, wild country. Is that the — that … ?
KATHY: Oh, yeah.
CHANI: I remember that. Like, that's very — I feel that. I'm like, I got you. [ALL LAUGH] I feel it. It's fanatic. I get it. Um, and we were just kind of, like, left to, like, roam around the countryside. So I, like, tried to, like, go into the world and be like, "I'm gonna be like, a real person and part of society,” even though I was always really alternative, like, that's how I grew up. Anyways, being an astrologer felt so, so, so, like, far out and niche that I was like, "Who's gonna talk to me?” and, like, “What am I gonna say when I go to parties?" Like, I think I wanted something that was more societally recognized.
CHANI: Now, this is also a long time ago, and I'm not a millennial so, you know — it’s like, I'm talking, like, twenty years ago. [SOME LAUGHTER] So it's different now. People are — know what astrologers are.
TOBIN: Right. Well, so then, how did you push past the anxiety of “This is not a real job,” to actually, like, pursuing it as a career?
CHANI: [A LITTLE JOKINGLY SCANDALIZED] I dropped out of three graduate programs. [ALL LAUGH OR ARE SURPRISED, SOME CHEER]
TOBIN: Fair enough.
CHANI: Racked up a lot of debt [PAUSE] and was finally like, “You know what, Chani?” [KATHY LAUGHS] You might as well just give this a fucking try.
KATHY: Right? You tried.
CHANI: Like, nothing else was working out. Yeah.
KATHY: You really tried.
CHANI: Yeah. I did a lot of things. I did a lot of jobs. And even though I was, like — I had, like, some talent for a lot of different things, I just never — it — nothing ever took. It was like — you know, when you’re, like, in the thing, it starts to move and you're like, "Oh, this is — I guess this is my thing now." And you go and you do it. Nothing was working.
CHANI: And astrology was the only thing that kept being like, "Hey, bitch. You're gonna, like, finally, like … ?” [ALL LAUGH] “I'm waiting.”
So, finally after, you know, racking up the last $10,000 in student loan debt that would never get me anywhere, I was like, "What if I just put all of this time and energy and money into my business?" And just was like, “Fuck it. I'll just —“ Can I swear all this much?
TOBIN: Yeah, absolutely. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
CHANI: Um — was like, stop trying to chase some, like, societally recognizable career and just, like, do what you know how to do, and what people love what you do. You know?
CHANI: I just gave in finally. But I was really stubborn and I — I, you know, must've liked being miserable for a while. [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH]
KATHY: Well, so, people think of astrology and they just think about horoscopes. But how do you think about what you do?
CHANI: I think about it in terms of how, throughout human history, we have, up until very recently, been very much in touch with the living world. And before we were indoctrinated with fantastic technology, which I love, and use all the time, and depend on, we were looking out to the sky and we were looking to fire and we were looking to water and we were looking to goats. [LAUGHS] We were looking to each other. Like, we were like, you know, in the dirt more, right?
We were really connected with the living world, and part of that are systems of divination. There's like thousands throughout all cultures of how you look at things. You look at the sky and you — there’s systems where you learn how to read it. You look at, like, goat droppings. [LAUGHS] Not to — I have a lot — I guess, a lot of goats. But, um … [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH, THE AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
But, like, you would look at, like, the — [LAUGHS] or you like, they’d do, like, entry … I don't know. 'Cause they were listening to nature and they were trying to be like, “Well, if the sun does that and it correlates with this, does this mean this?” And it — you know, like, all of our different cultures come from those kind of systems of knowledge. And just carrying through this, like, long lineage of people —
CHANI: — that were, like, looking at nature and being like, "Is there meaning to that? And, if so, what is it trying to say to me?" So I'm trying to be in conver- I'm in conversation with that stuff, which is weird. I don't know why it works, also.
CHANI: It's not — I don’t, like, believe in astrology. It just works, so I use it. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
TOBIN: That's amazing.
TOBIN: Hold up!
KATHY: I — This did not come up in our research. [ALL LAUGH]
CHANI: I’ve been saving it for you. [ALL LAUGH AGAIN]
TOBIN: What do you mean when you say you don't believe in astrology?
CHANI: Well, I don't need to believe in it because it's something that's actually really functional, and it — it does the thing that it did for me when I was 12, and I got that first reading.
CHANI: It helps people be seen, and that's all — that's what I'm after. If this is a tool for reflection that you can use and it's healing when you use it, then great.
KATHY: When you were figuring out your queer identity, did astrology figure into that at all?
CHANI: [SIGHS] Yeah, it did. It did. You know, I grew up in this really weird hippie town. It's called Nelson, British Columbia. Anybody?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yeah.
CHANI: Yeah. Right! [LAUGHTER RIPPLES THROUGH THE AUDIENCE]
CHANI: Anywhere — it’s, like, one of those towns. Anywhere you go. Like, I'll be in the Himalayas and somebody’s like, "I know Nelson." Um, so, I grew up with a lot of queers [PAUSE] and it wasn’t, like, pronounced, but … Nelson's a town of like — or, historically, it’s been a town of misfits. So if you didn't wanna fight in the Vietnam War, and you wanted a place to escape, a lot of people went to Canada.
CHANI: And Nelson was, like, kind of a place where a lot of folks like that gathered and — or if you were queer and you couldn't get to a city that was. — you could also go there and exist. So, I just thought that was a normal th- in a way, it was really normal for me. And, so, in a way, it wasn't really a question and, also, my stepsister's queer. Like, I have a lot of queer — we grew up — like, all of my stepmom's friends, and business partner. So it's kind of just, like, I always had this thought in the back of my head that was like, [ASSUMING A FANCY VOICE] "When I'm 60, I'll be with a woman.” [ALL LAUGH]
It's like, I'll become Georgia O'Keeffe and move to the desert. [ALL LAUGH] And instead of finding a young male photographer, I'll just find myself a lady. [ALL LAUGH MORE]
CHANI: Um, I don't know. I thought I could be free of the patriarchy at 60 or something. I was like, "I won't care anyways, so whatever.” [KATHY LAUGHS] I'll just do that. And then I went traveling at 20 and realized I didn't have to wait. [ALL CRACK UP] Many women around the world helped me figure out. [MORE LAUGHTER]
CHANI: Forever grateful. [YET MORE LAUGHTER]
CHANI: So, uh — but, yeah, there’s stuff in my chart that's like — I mean, I actually put this on a — a story. I was reading this, like — like, this kind of, uh, more traditional astrology book. It’s, like, one of the set-ups of my chart is like, “lucky with ladies,” [ALL LAUGH] and “lucky with the wife.” [LAUGHS] My wife found it and was like, [EXCITEDLY] "Oh my god. It says you're lucky!” [TOBIN LAUGHS]
Which is totally true, and my wife's name is on — like, there’s, you know, there — there's a, like, hundred thousand million asteroids and we’ve just, like, named them all these different random names. Sometimes random, sometimes about the person who found them. And, so, you can put those bazillion little rock particles in your chart and see if they, like, land. If, like, your name or your partner's name or the name of the city where you live or whatever falls anywhere important in your chart. And, so, I was looking at that when we met. I was like, "I wonder where Sonya is in my chart." And I looked it up and it's on this part — it’s called the part of fortune, which is literally, like, how you come into your fortune. So her name is right on there.
CHANI: And I would never have known that until we met and I actually looked for it. And she really is my fortune. [LAUGHS]
KATHY: Aww! [QUICK PIVOT] Follow-up question —
KATHY: Were there anything that were like, red flags? [LAUGHS] In her chart.
TOBIN: Oh. In your chart for each other!
CHANI: In her chart?
KATHY: Yeah! [CHANI LAUGHS, THEN ALL LAUGH]
CHANI: I mean, when we met, it was like, this really full-on, like, wild, romantic like, over-the-top, very queer, lesbian —
KATHY: Hmm. [AS IF SHE DOES, IN FACT, KNOW WHAT THAT’S LIKE] Don’t know what that's like. [ALL LAUGH]
CHANI: It was very — very typical. And, uh, see now I can sit back. Okay. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] And I was so, like, taken by her — [JOKINGLY] that’s never happened before in human history — um, and I ... and then I refused to give her a reading. She wanted — she wanted me to — I — we weren't dating yet and she's like, "Why don't you give me a reading?" And I was like, "I don't think that's a good idea. You should go to somebody else. 'Cause I don’t ...“ You don't look at people's charts if I wanna get to know them. And so, then — at — she’d given it to me so I was, like, having these experiences with her and I was like, "What the fuck is going on?" And then I glance at her chart and just like, snapshot. And it was like, even too much for me. And I was like, "Oh. She's just like this with everybody.” [LAUGHS]
KATHY AND TOBIN: Oh!
CHANI: She's an incredibly, like, charming … and she's just, like, somebody you meet and you're like, "Oh wow. This person means business and is also incredibly, like —“ She has a — she has one of those things, and I — it’s in her chart and I was like, "Oh, well, that's just you.” [TOBIN LAUGHS] And then I was like, "She's just playing me.” You know? It's just, like, a thing. It's just, like, an affect she has. And then, realized it was more than that.
KATHY AND TOBIN: Aww!
KATHY: So cute!
CHANI: Yeah. Yeah. But, also, she was going through her Saturn return so I was like, "Oh my fucking god.” [LAUGHS]
TOBIN: Wait, what does that mean?
CHANI: This is gonna take so long!
KATHY: We don’t know what any of that means. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
CHANI: Oh, sorry. Um. So when — who — who in the crowd’s, like, 27? [SEVERAL AUDIENCE MEMBERS CHEER]
So you're all entering into your Saturn return. It lasts from about 27 to 30 — around, roughly. And it's one of those corners in your life where you come up against yourself as an individual and you have to really kind of either, like, push past the boundary and the expectations of parents or sorrows of childhood. You have to distinguish yourself as an individual. You can no longer lean back into whatever strings are attached with parents. It's a time to define yourself as an adult in a different kind of way. Also, you know you're not gonna be 22 forever and it's not cute. [ALL LAUGH] It's not cute to be late so much or hungover so much. You gotta grow up.
CHANI: And Saturn's all about growing up. So, anyways, I saw that in her chart and she was about to go through a gnarly Saturn return and I was like, "Wow, we're gonna be in for a ride." And — [TOBIN LAUGHS] and we were, and it was great, and it — but it was exactly what I thought — what I thought it …
KATHY: Okay. Another follow-up question.
CHANI: Sorry. Sorry. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] Just opening up a can of worms.
KATHY: Do you ever —
CHANI: Not that yours will be like that! [AUDIENCE CHUCKLES]
KATHY: — do you ever feel like this is just, like, a superpower that you have? [AUDIENCE AND CHANI BOTH LAUGH]
KATHY: Like, my mind is already blown.
CHANI: [LAUGHS] It’s — it's a — it’s not a — it's not. I think it's a really — I mean, there’s — your brain either works like that — I think you either talk to — it talks to you, or not. It's kind of like, I cannot for the life of me do math.
KATHY: Mhm. Yeah. I — I can do math.
CHANI: You know what I'm saying?
TOBIN: No, no. I can't do math.
KATHY: I'm very good at math. [ALL LAUGH]
CHANI: To me, that’s a superpower.
KATHY: It is not a stereotype! It’s just true! [ALL LAUGH] All right? It is just true.
CHANI: But it's a language.
CHANI: And you understand its language. That's what astrology is for me. It just, like, imprinted on me and then it was something that I did. And, so, I — I feel that people feel that but — it’s like, I'm just reading. Like, I'm reading a piece of paper with writing on it.
TOBIN: Yeah. What do you think that cross section is of, like, why — why do queer people seem to gravitate towards astrology so much? [SOME AUDIENCE LAUGHTER]
CHANI: I think because, if you don't see yourself reflected in the world — and, of course, you know, representation is changing — but I think if you don't see yourself reflected in your family or in the world at large and this system is a reflection, I think that's really alluring.
CHANI: I think it's really satiating, even. Like, I don't — I was made the way — I was supposed to be made this way. It's marked. It's there. I'm supposed to be this odd creature with all of these different, you know, paradoxes.
And I think that when you live inside of — as we all most do — like, inside of heteronormativity, cisnormativity, it's so deadening to the senses. You know? It's so limited. It's so uncreative. And I think all of us — no matter where we are in the cross- or, in our identity — we're all craving to see more of humanity in a way or we're afraid of it and we're pushing it away and doing awful things around it. But I think astrology gives you those — the million different variations of being a human.
CHANI: And explanations for it. And it gives it context and I think it holds it. So how much — however much shame you have around — I think however much shame we have around who we are and however that's compounded by family, by culture, by location, by city, by whatever, um, I think when you look at your chart and someone else goes, "Oh yeah. Yeah. You're that way. You're wearing a jean jacket." You're like, "Yeah, I am.” [ALL LAUGH]
CHANI: “How do you know that?!” That’s — and that’s — and it’s —
KATHY: That’s true.
CHANI: — that’s exactly what you were given to wear. That's what you're supposed to do.
[BOUNCY NANCY MIDROLL MUSIC PLAYS]
CHANI: It's okay.
TOBIN: I love that. Well, Chani, it’s been so lovely to talk to you.
CHANI: Yeah, it’s been so fun!
TOBIN: Uh, everyone give it up for Chani Nicholas. [AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUDS]
CHANI: Thank you.
KATHY: Thank you!
TOBIN: Alright, Kath, what do you think now?
KATHY: Astrology absolutely, absolutely makes it into the queer canon.
TOBIN: Also, uh, I think we should be ready for so many angry tweets that are like, “It was already in there, you idiots!”
KATHY: It’s not true until we say so. Clearly.
TOBIN: Yes. Exactly. Also, I would argue, let’s add Chani in there too!
KATHY: Her as a whole being, in the queer canon.
TOBIN: In the canon.
TOBIN: Also, if you’re interested in learning more, Chani’s new book is called You Were Born for This.
KATHY: Okay. Coming up after the break, another very sweet treat. We get to talk to comedian Joel Kim Booster about what it’s like to be very hot.
[MIDROLL, MUSIC OUT]
[BOUNCY MUSIC COMES BACK IN]
TOBIN: And we’re back. Uh, how are you doing, Kath? Are you still comfy?
KATHY: I mean, aside from the fact that we’re, like, basically sharing a chair and a microphone in your closet, and just very close to you —
KATHY: Yeah, I’m good! I’m good.
TOBIN: We’re almost done, I promise.
KATHY: Okay. Great.
TOBIN: Uh, but first, something I think is definitely in the canon — for better or worse — hotness.
KATHY: Yes. I mean, okay. First of all, facts.
KATHY: All queer people are hot, therefore hotness is just in the canon.
KATHY: And no one is more an icon of hotness than comedian Joel Kim Booster.
TOBIN: So, Joel has written for shows like Big Mouth and The Other Two and he just finished acting on the first season of the sitcom Sunnyside.
KATHY: But I would say that both of us first got to know Joel as a stand-up comedian.
JOEL: To make matters worse, the flight attendant that was helping our rows, he was a male flight attendant who was both straight and rude. And I was like, [LAUGHTER] “Oh, you can’t do that!” [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] “Like, if you’re gonna be a male flight attendant, you could either be gay and rude, or straight and good at your job.” You know? [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] Like, you can’t have every option available to you. It’s just not fair, you know?
KATHY: [LAUGHING] Once again, facts.
TOBIN: Facts, facts. Uh, he’s so funny.
KATHY: Very funny.
TOBIN: So, here, now, our conversation with comedian Joel Kim Booster!
[AUDIENCE APPLAUDS AND CHEERS]
TOBIN: So we're huge fans of your comedy.
JOEL: Thank you.
TOBIN: And, um, you talk a lot about yourself. You talk a lot about your, um, well, I mean, like your —
JOEL: On and off stage, really. [ALL LAUGH]
JOEL: Can't stop. [ALL LAUGH AGAIN]
TOBIN: But one of the things, um, you have recently started talking about is the fact that you are just, like, empirically hot. [JOEL LAUGHS] Um, first question. When did you realize you were hot? And what is it like to be hot? [AUDIENCE AND JOEL LAUGH]
JOEL: Um, you know it's funny that, like, this is a — this is, like, a — like, my persona on stage as a standup, I've said it, it’s, like, a hot idiot, which is, like, a fun world to sort of, like, play in as, as, like, a comedic POV. But it's interesting, ‘cause the reason I'm able to get away with going on stage and being, like, "I know it’s, like, difficult to watch comedian who looks like me, because I'm so hot." Um … [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
And I think part of the reason that people laugh, and the — and — and don't immediately turn on me — is because, um, it's not [PAUSE] true. [LAUGHTER] I mean, for many years in my — the beginning of my career, I talked so much about my low self-esteem, and how ugly I was, and how undesirable I was, and how, um, that affected me in, like, the dating market, and stuff like that. And then, you know, through, like, therapy and just, like, self-growth in general, over the years, that started to change for me, but I was still doing those jokes. And it sort of became this thing of, like, “Oh, this is no longer honest.”
JOEL: “— and why don’t …” And my comedy is so much about, like, taking things to the most hyperbolic place. And, even though, like, maybe the balance is only, like, shifted a little bit over to the "I feel good about myself" range, I'm still gonna take it to the "I am am-a-zing,” um, sort of territory. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
KATHY: Okay, but —
JOEL: And that's sort of that explanation.
KATHY: — I’ve seen your Instagram.
KATHY: Empirically hot.
JOEL: I don’t — and see, the thing is though, I don't think — in society writ large, that is something most people would agree with you about. Um …
KATHY: Well, they're wrong. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
JOEL: I agree! I mean, I agree with you. Um, but — [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] — I think that the only reason I'm able to get away with it, though —
JOEL: — is because I don't think in society, like, I meet the markers of, like, an immediately, like, strikingly attractive person.
TOBIN: Well, I mean, is it partly — I mean, and you've talked a little bit about this before — but is there something radical-feeling about going out there as a gay, Asian man, and just being like, "I'm hot and we all know it."
JOEL: Yes. I mean that's certainly a part of it. It's like, it’s — I'm doing a couple of different things when I talk about it, but like, it is certainly, like — I never saw Asian men, growing up, talk about themselves that way. And I — I — and I think that's because, in part, humility is a big part of Eastern culture [LAUGHS] and it's not a part of Western culture. Um, so I'm sort of the — the melding of that, the amalgamation of those two things, but I am … Yeah, I think it’s, like, important that we, as a community, sort of, like, stop thinking of ourselves as less desirable just because other people say so.
JOEL: Um, but that's something that I've had to work out, personally. And so they're so lucky that they get to hear it in my standup. And for free! [LAUGHTER] Um, just so many co-pays you're not paying to get there. [MORE LAUGHTER]
TOBIN: Okay, I have to ask this. This is a totally personal ask.
TOBIN: I do follow you on Instagram.
TOBIN: You posted an Instagram story once that I could not tell if it was in jest or if it was what you actually do. [JOEL CHUCKLES MANIACALLY, AND THE AUDIENCE LAUGHS, TOO]
TOBIN: And it was, post-workout, you said, sometimes if you don't have enough protein, you will get a salad with, uh, grilled chicken on it, you will take the chicken off of it, put it in a blender, with room-temp water, [SOME IN THE AUDIENCE CHUCKLE, BUT ALMOST NERVOUSLY] blend it, and then drink it as a smoothie.
TOBIN: And I could not tell — [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
KATHY: Oh, no. Oh, no. [LAUGHS]
JOEL: Tobin, I did that truly just before I came here. Um …
KATHY: [GASPS] What!
JOEL: I now do it, like, every day, honestly. Because the thing is, is I don’t, um — I don't enjoy — like, I — I’m not, like, a food person. I don't enjoy the act of eating. Um, I need to eat a lot because I was blessed with a metabolism that [EMPHASIZING EACH WORD] will not quit! [AUDIENCE AND KATHY LAUGH]
And, um — and because of that, like, in order to, like, get big, like — I — I've been instructed to eat a certain amount and, like, my body doesn't want to look like this. Um, my body does not want to have an ass. Like, um, it has fought me tooth and nail every step of the way, um, in developing an ass. [LAUGHTER]
JOEL: And so, for me, like, I — I truly don't really care what food tastes like as long as it, like, sort of gets me there, like, nutritionally.
JOEL: And sometimes I'm, like — I'm a very busy person and I don't have time, and I don't have — I, like, I’ve — truly, sometimes, I’m, like, so full, and I'm like, "I can't eat any more." So I will blend … and now I've just taken — now I've started to go and get, like, the veggies and the potatoes and the chicken and just put them all in the blender.
AUDIENCE: Ooh. [LAUGHS]
JOEL: Um, and literally I can eat, like, 80 grams of protein — like, nearly a thousand calories — in truly 90 seconds. Um. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] And it just — it’s just soup. You know?
TOBIN: Yeah. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS AGAIN] You know what, it is just soup.
JOEL: It is just soup.
KATHY: But, does it taste good?
JOEL: I mean it tastes whatever.
JOEL: You know, it tastes what it tastes like.
JOEL: It tastes like the food that was in the blender. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] I'm not like a — [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] I'm not, like, a texture person either, so it doesn't bother me. Like, truly, if they made a pill that would — that all I had to do was eat that pill every day, and just not have to worry about anything else, I would eat the pill in a second.
KATHY: Hmm. I get that. I like that.
JOEL: See, today I ate, it was a kale salad with mac and cheese and chicken, and I just threw it all in the blender. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS AND CHEERS] Um, with a couple — a couple of cups of water, and then glug-glug-glug and you're all done! You know?
KATHY: Alright, maybe we can stop talking about the [PAUSE] blended food. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] If you want to. We —we saw you in ... [UNSURE] Tallahassee?
JOEL: Yes, you guys did see me in [PITCHING UP AT THE END OF THE WORD] Tallahassee.
KATHY: We just — we just somehow ended up in the same place at the same time.
JOEL: That was very strange.
KATHY: Well, so, we saw you do some of that — do you call that "audience work”? [LAUGHS]
JOEL: Yeah. Crowd work, yeah —
KATHY: Crowd work!
JOEL: — is the technical term, I think? [KATHY AND AUDIENCE LAUGH]
KATHY: Was — have people, like — have people had weird reactions when you — when you call them out like that?
JOEL: I'm doing one joke right now where I talk to couples and sometimes, like, I ask wives to tell me a secret that they've never told their husband. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS LIGHTLY]
JOEL: Um, and I have gotten — mostly in southern states — a few women who are very — get the … the wives get more angry at the — at the idea that they'd have a secret. Um.
JOEL: More so than the husbands do. 'Cause the whole point of the joke is that the — the man doesn't care, and I'm trying to see if he will. And they're like, "No, no, no. I don’t! I would never! I would never! I would never have a secret." Um. [ALL LAUGH]
KATHY: Oh my god.
JOEL: And that I find very odd. But, um. [AUDIENCE LAUGHS] But that's only happened like once or twice, I think.
TOBIN: Wait, so without giving away too many details, what's the craziest secret someone has whispered to you during that bit?
JOEL: Um, one time a woman told me ,”I cheated on all of my boyfriends, um, except for my husband and he doesn't know that I cheated every single time before him." And I was like, "This is heavy, lady. This is a comedy show!” [ALL LAUGH] It's like, this is — um, I guess you — you fulfilled the assignment, but also, woof. You know, like … ? [AUDIENCE LAUGHS]
[DRIVING BASS LINE PLAYS OUT THE LIVE SHOW]
TOBIN: Joel, thank you so much for coming to talk to us!
KATHY: Thank you.
JOEL: Thank you! Thank you for having me.
TOBIN: Everyone, give it up for Joel Kim Booster! [AUDIENCE CHEERS AND CLAPS]
[MUSIC PLAYS OUT]
TOBIN: So, I would say our legs are cramping, we should get outta here. [LAUGHS]
KATHY: Yes. But do not fret. We’ve got two more holiday gifts coming your way. So watch this space!
TOBIN: Uh, but for now, you wanna go eat? Should we get some food?
KATHY: I feel like … we always do that, so yes!
TOBIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Also, I promise this food will be unblended.
KATHY: [SHUDDERING] Ugh, I can’t do it. [TOBIN LAUGHS] But, like, on the flip side, should we give it a try?
TOBIN: No! I refuse!
[CREDITS MUSIC PLAYS]
TOBIN: Our staff includes Zakiya Gibbons and Jeremy Bloom.
KATHY: Special thanks this week to Neel Dhanesha, as well as Jon Cohn, at KPCC.
TOBIN: I'm Tobin Low.
KATHY: I'm Kathy Tu.
TOBIN: And Nancy is a production of WNYC Studios.