TOBIN: It is time to shake shit up and try something new.
KATHY: Maybe try several new things?
TOBIN: Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
TOBIN AND KATHY [SIMULTANEOUSLY]: It’s the Nancy Variety Show!
[DRUMROLL STARTS, EXCEPT IT SOUNDS LIKE SPOONS ON A CUP INSTEAD OF A FULL DRUM SET]
TOBIN [WITH A DEEPER, BRITISH-ISH VOICE]: From WNYC Studios, this is “Nancy.”
TOBIN [NOW WITH A VERY HIGH VOICE]: With your hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu.
[DRUMROLL ENDS AND THEME MUSIC PLAYS, BUT ON A PIANO IN A CLASSICAL STYLE — IT’S THE ACOUSTIC VERSION]
KATHY: I just want to remind you that I play the drums, so you could have just [SINGING] asked for help!
TOBIN: It’s okay, I got it. [BOTH LAUGH]
KATHY: Okay. So, up first, it’s a game I’m very excited about!
TOBIN: Yes, yes! It’s a game we’re calling:
KATHY: “What Are The Straights Up To?”
[TOBIN SINGS “What Are The Straights Up To?” FOLLOWED BY A KAZOO VERSION OF THE SAME MELODY]
KATHY: [LAUGHS] It’s a jingle!
TOBIN: That’s the theme song. [BEAT] So, in this game, we’re gonna dig into the nonsense that straight culture seems to love.
KATHY: Alright, Tobin, what ridiculousness are we talking about today?
TOBIN: Today, Kathy, we are talking gender reveal parties.
KATHY: Oh … my … god!
TOBIN: Mhm, mhm. [LAUGHS] If you are unfamiliar, gender reveal parties are where parents-to-be gather their friends and family to reveal the quote-unquote “gender” of their baby.
KATHY: Right, so the example I always think of is, like, there’s a cake, and it’s — the inside is, like, either pink or blue but the outside, you can’t tell. And then they cut into it to reveal the color.
KATHY: Blue means boy, pink means [PAUSE] girl. And, umm … it’s so problematic! I hate it! [TOBIN LAUGHS] It reinforces the idea of the gender binary!
TOBIN: Totally! Y’know, it’s like, you’re either a boy or a girl, and whatever you’re assigned at birth is just it. And, over time, how couples do these gender reveals has gotten wild. So, Kathy, here is the game for today. I am going to tell you about different ways that couples have revealed the gender of their baby and you have to guess whether it’s a real thing that a real couple has done —
TOBIN: — or if it’s something I just totally made up. [KATHY CRACKS UP LAUGHING]
So, Kathy, if you get the question, correct, you will hear this noise. [HAPPY KAZOO NOISE PLAYS] And if you get it wrong, you will hear [A SAD KAZOO NOISE PLAYS].
TOBIN: Couple Number 1 — this couple has made a giant piñata in the likeness of the mother-to-be. Inside that piñata is the father-to-be dressed as a giant baby. He then bursts out of the piñata, spraying pink Silly String, and also [TOBIN LAUGHS WHILE SPEAKING] terrifying the children at this party. Is this a real gender reveal party or not?
KATHY: This did not go the way I thought it was gonna go. I thought that it was gonna be a piñata and which you had to hit the mother’s belly with stick — with sticks —
TOBIN: No …
KATHY: — and then the candy would be one color or the other.
TOBIN: Right. In this case, no, it's much worse than what you think.
KATHY: It’s much worse! So I'm gonna say … not true?
[SAD KAZOO NOISE PLAYS — WRONG ANSWER]
TOBIN: It is a real gender reveal party.
KATHY [SHOCKED]: How big was the piñata?
TOBIN: It was a giant piñata. [TOBIN LAUGHS]
KATHY: Oh my god. Was there any candy in there?
TOBIN: No. Just a father. [LAUGHS]
KATHY: Okay, not only did they violate that rule, they also made a giant piñata for no good reason. Anyway! Sorry.
TOBIN: Kath, sorry. You're losing. Uhh, first one wrong.
KATHY: God damn it.
TOBIN: Next couple! Are you ready?
TOBIN: This couple happens to be the owners of four beautiful golden retrievers. The father-to-be also happens to be a scientist who has mixed together a clear gel-like substance that turns a predetermined color when wet. The couple covers their dogs in the substance, and — in front of friends and family — hose down the dogs, turning them a bright blue. The couple later said they regretted this decision as it took about four months to get the blue [LAUGHING] out of their dog's hair. Is this a real gender reveal party or not?
KATHY: I don't know. [DISTRESSED] This is like animal abuse, isn't it? [TOBIN HUMS IN AGREEMENT] Where the dogs covered completely?
TOBIN: Head to toe.
KATHY: Ugh. Not true.
[HAPPY KAZOO NOISE PLAYS — CORRECT ANSWER]
TOBIN: You are correct! It is not true. It did not happen. I made that up.
KATHY [UPSET]: What sick mind?!
TOBIN: I knew it would cloy your heartstrings because you now have a dog. [TOBIN LAUGHS, THEN KATHY LAUGHS TOO]
KATHY: Evil! Alright.
TOBIN: Very good, Kathy. You’ve got one right.
KATHY: Okay. Is there another one?
KATHY: Okay. Here we go.
TOBIN: Next couple. Okay. I want you to close your eyes for this one.
KATHY: Alright, here we go.
TOBIN: Okay, ready? Picture it. A group of people are standing in a circle —
TOBIN: — and in the middle of the circle is a full-grown alligator. [KATHY CRACKS UP LAUGHING] The father-to-be steps into the circle, opens the mouth of the alligator, and puts in what appears to be a hollowed-out coconut. The alligator chomps down to reveal a blue Jello-like substance. Is this a real gender reveal party?
KATHY: What?! [BOTH LAUGH IN DISBELIEF] How are they okay standing around an alligator?!
TOBIN: Listen [KATHY LAUGHS] you are asking the wrong person. I would be a hundred miles away from this party.
KATHY: Oh my god, I want it to not be true, but it sounds like something someone would do.
TOBIN: Final answer?
[HAPPY KAZOO NOISE PLAYS — CORRECT ANSWER]
KATHY [LAUGHING]: Oh my god!
TOBIN: This really happened, people. Sad news for life, but good news for you! You finish strong with two correct answers, so I'm going to say you won.
KATHY: I am proud of myself, almost. [TOBIN LAUGHS] But, really, who won? [TOBIN LAUGHS]
TOBIN: Well, that brings me to my question. What did we learn today?
KATHY: That gender reveal parties are dumb and the binary is nonsense!
TOBIN: Thank you, agreed. Agreed. But you did super well! I'm impressed.
KATHY: Yeah, thank you. [TOBIN LAUGHS A DEVIOUS LITTLE LAUGH]
TOBIN: Alright, next segment time. Are you ready, Kath?
[ROMPING PIANO MUSIC STARTS]
TOBIN: This segment is called:
KATHY: “Ask A Queer Professional!”
[PIANO STOPS, THEN TOBIN PLAYS A SALSA RHYTHM ON BLOCKS WHILE TALK-SINGING “Ask a queer! Ask a queer pro-fessional!”]
TOBIN: That's the theme song for that one.
[PIANO FLOURISH ENDS THE THEME SONG MOMENT]
KATHY: So, it turns out … queer people are everywhere!
KATHY: I know! [TOBIN LAUGHS] For pretty much every job you can imagine, you can find queer people rocking it. So we thought, why not ask some of them for some advice?
TOBIN: Yes! We’re gonna be talking to rad queer professionals about the jobs that they do, and they’ll answer your listener-submitted questions with all their knowledge.
KATHY: And today, we are talking [PAUSE] cars!
[TOBIN SINGS “Cars, cars, cars cars cars cars” TO THE RHYTHM OF THE SONG “SHOTS” BY LMFAO]
TOBIN: That was pretty good, right? [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH] On the phone with us is Chaya Milchtein. She runs the website “Mechanic Shop Femme” where she offers advice to women and queer folks on everything from maintaining your car, to being smart about buying a new ride. So, let’s welcome to the show … Chaya!
KATHY: Hi, Chaya!
CHAYA: Hi, Kathy and Tobin! So excited to be here today. [KATHY AND TOBIN LAUGH]
TOBIN: We’re excited to have you! I'm going to start by asking, where are you right now? Where are we talking to you from?
CHAYA: Right now, I'm in Brookfield, Wisconsin. I'm parked a couple blocks away from [PAUSE] the collision shop that I work at.
KATHY: Fun fact — my dad owns an auto body shop in Los Angeles.
KATHY: I mean, I couldn't tell you any more than that about cars. [ALL CHUCKLE]
KATHY: So you've built this career around all things fixing cars. What's your favorite kind of car problem to fix?
CHAYA: I always find it interesting when people come in and they have, like, noises in their vehicle that they like, “Oh, I’ve had this going on for a year.” [KATHY AND TOBIN LAUGH] “I've had this going on for a year and nobody can figure it out.”
TOBIN: Well, we actually asked people in our Friends of Nancy Facebook group to submit their car questions, and we would love to run some by you and get your advice.
ZOHAR: Hi Nancy, my name is Zohar. We recently got a new car and I'm wondering, what sort of gas should we use on it? The manual says 87, but is it better to use a more premium gas? Thanks!
CHAYA: So AAA actually did, like, a survey or a study on folks using different types of fuel in their vehicle than what's recommended —
CHAYA: — and they say that 16.5 million drivers use premium fuel, despite their vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. [KATHY GASPS, TOBIN LAUGHS] They have run tests on it. There's a huge gap in price and there's absolutely no reason to use premium fuel or anything besides 87 in your vehicle. Unless you have a vehicle that requires it. If you have a vehicle that requires it, that's a different story, though. You should definitely use the correct fuel.
KATHY: Wow. So I'm going to put my dad on blast for a second here. [CHAYA AND TOBIN LAUGH] Because he owns a body shop, and he does great work. But this is the one thing I yell him about all the time. I drive a Toyota Prius —
KATHY: — and when he first got his hands on it, he immediately put premium gas in there. I was like, “Dad! This is unnecessary!” [TOBIN LAUGHS] Anyways, okay.
TOBIN: You’ve just been vindicated.
CHAYA: Well, you know, 16.5 million people in 2010 made the same mistake. [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH] And, according to AAA, it cost them — it cost them 2.1 billion dollars.
KATHY AND TOBIN [SIMULTANEOUSLY]: Oh my god!
KATHY: Um, okay. Next up is Sarah.
SARAH: My ABS light has been on all through the bitter Chicago winter and I'd gotten some work done replacing the brakes and, um, some stuff on the suspension in January. So I mentioned it and I was told that it was very likely just the cold, and it probably go away in the spring. So it's spring now — no longer cold — and it hasn't gone away and I have no concept of what this means or how concerned I should be about it.
CHAYA: So the ABS system is the Anti-Brake Locking System. Basically, it's there to — to better brake for you in a situation where you are shortstopping or when you are hydroplaning.
KATHY AND TOBIN: Hmm.
CHAYA: So it's definitely an important safety feature in your vehicle. If your ABS light is on, it could mean several different things. It can mean the ABS is not working. It could mean the computer is not communicating to the ABS sensors, which are in the wheels. It could mean that one of the sensors in one of the wheels is bad, and only one of the ABS [PAUSE] components is not working. I would definitely get the ABS light diagnosed, probably by somebody that did not do your brakes and suspension, because it doesn't take a whole lot of work in order to diagnose that.
CHAYA: And then you can make an educated decision about what you want to do with the ABS. Sometimes it's really expensive to fix.
KATHY: Oh, I see.
CHAYA: If you need the computer for the system, it may not — it may you know, it may be a calculated risk that you take, because it's only used in specific situations.
KATHY: Well, I feel like I've been in many, many cars of friends with a light on — like a warning light — in their car on and everybody says it's always fine. Is it always fine, Chaya? [TOBIN AND KATHY CHUCKLE]
CHAYA: Not always! Different lights — like, if you have a “Check Engine” light, it could come on for over 600 different reasons.
KATHY [BAMBOOZLED]: What?!
CHAYA: It’s connected to eight self-diagnostic computers — minimum eight self-diagnostic computers in the vehicle. And each of those computers testing many, many different components. And if any of those components are bad over two trip cycles — which, it depends on the computer how long that is — it will throw a diagnostic code to “Check Engine” light. So not always is there an actual [PAUSE] problem that is, y’know, drastically immediately has to be taken care of, but often the problems, y’know, get exacerbated the longer you wait.
CHAYA: And the other thing I would wanna mention is that one of the many things that the “Check Engine” light test for is emissions. So if you have a sensor that's bad that's testing, you know, the fuel mixture or testing the exhaust that's coming out, it may not specifically impact your vehicle immediately, but it is impacting the environment around you.
TOBIN: So we're going to move on to our next question. You mentioned before that you like car noise problems. [KATHY AND CHAYA LAUGH] So I think this one will be right up your alley. This one's from Sherry. She says:
SHERRY: So, I drive a 97 Pontiac Grand Am and it makes this random clicking noise. I'll be driving, or sitting at a stoplight, or whatever and from somewhere within the dash — maybe towards the passenger side, ish — there’ll be a rapid series of, like, three to five, maybe seven clicks. It's never, like, continuous but it just goes [MAKES TONGUE CLICKING NOISE]. And then it just stops. The clicks alternate in tone, high-low-high. This has been happening for years. A friend of a friend said their car did the clicking noise too, but they also didn't know what it was. So why is my car clicking?
TOBIN: Chaya, what is the clicking noise? [KATHY LAUGHS]
CHAYA: So obviously I can't diagnose the car over a podcast, but I can tell you that that clicking, especially from the passenger side, often happens from the blend door actuator, which is part of the blowing system — so, like, your fan and your AC — sticking. So it's supposed to open and close fluidly, and if it's sticking it will cause that clicking sound, especially when the AC or fan are working or when you just turned it off. So it's not necessarily has to get fixed right away —
CHAYA: — um, but that's probably what it's coming from.
KATHY: Well, I mean, especially since it's been happening for years and she seems to be fine. [KATHY AND TOBIN LAUGH]
CHAYA: It’s really annoying though.
CHAYA: Sometimes people fix things because they're annoying.
KATHY: I’m one of those people. [TOBIN LAUGHS] I would have taken this in and been like, “I am gonna die unless this is fixed.” Okay, wait, before we let you go, I want to ask a question.
KATHY: I drive a Toyota Prius, and I grew up in LA, and I'm thinking of bringing my car over to New York. Is it going to be okay? [TOBIN LAUGHS]
CHAYA: It will be okay, but after the first winter you may notice that there are — so there's a lot of rubber components in your vehicle, gaskets and things of that nature. Sometimes you do find that the vehicle will develop fluid leaks, um, or things of that nature after, like, the first winter in a cold climate. So I would definitely keep the vehicle maintained and check it out during the process, but the car is going to be fine.
KATHY [BREATHING A SIGH OF RELIEF]: Okay.
CHAYA: It will probably do better than it would have done if you would have bought it and used it in New York the whole time. Because it's not going to develop the — the rust just as fast and it was probably driven in roads that don't have as many potholes and …
KATHY: It’s true. It's true. [TOBIN LAUGHS] And also my dad's favorite thing to do in the world is not talk to his children, but to maintain his cars. [PAUSE] Including mine.
TOBIN: Ah, so it’s beautifully maintained. [CHAYA LAUGHS, THEN ALL LAUGH]
KATHY: It’s beautifully maintained. [TOBIN AND KATHY LAUGH]
CHAYA: Then it’ll probably treat you very well in New York.
KATHY: Okay. Perfect.
KATHY: Chaya, thank you so much for talking with us. This was so much fun!
CHAYA: This was awesome.
KATHY: I never thought my dad's knowledge would ever make it into my head, but turns out some of it has.
TOBIN: Alright, Chaya, I'm gonna play you out with some music.
[TOBIN BEGINS TO PLAY “CAMPTOWN RACES” ON THE KAZOO]
KATHY: Alright, well, while Tobin continues to kazoo music, I’m gonna say that we’ll be right back after the break with an update on queer rights. And we make a very important decision for the future of queer people everywhere! [KATHY TAKES A SHARP INHALE] Tobin, is that “Camptown Races”?
TOBIN: I had to pick something with no copyright! Uh, you’re listening to “Nancy.”
TOBIN: That’s my miserable whistle to say that we’re back!
KATHY: With the Nancy Variety Show!
KATHY: Okay. Let’s move onto the next segment.
TOBIN: Okay, so, here on “Nancy,” we’ve done a lot of reporting on queer rights here in the U.S. And lately, there’s been so much happening that could really change what protections queer people have in this country.
KATHY: Which is why we’re calling this segment, [A LITTLE BRO-Y] “Hey, What’s Up With My Rights?”
TOBIN: You did that really well.
KATHY: Thank you. Today, we’re talking about protections at work. You might remember from our “Out At Work” series that, back in 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. And part of that law — called Title VII — says you can't discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.
And the way the courts have interpreted it has evolved over time. It’s been used to protect women from discrimination. It’s been used to say that sexual harassment is illegal. And in some cases, it has also been used to say that you can’t discriminate against LGBTQ folks in the workplace.
TOBIN: Right. So an example of that is the case of Donald Zarda. He was a skydiving instructor in Long Island who alleged that he was fired after he told a client he was gay. Donald sued, and his case has been working its way through the court for years. He actually died tragically in 2014, but his estate is continuing to pursue the case. And now, the Supreme Court is going to hear it, along with two others involving LGBTQ workers.
KATHY: Which means they could decide, once and for all, if Title VII does or doesn’t protect queer people in the workplace.
TOBIN: So, I decided to call up a friend of the show, Mark Joseph Stern. He covers the Supreme Court as well as LGBTQ issues for Slate. I wanted to ask about what to look for as the Supreme Court agrees to hear these cases.
TOBIN: Hi, Mark!
MARK: Hi. So glad to be making my return. [TOBIN LAUGHS]
TOBIN: So, Mark, what’s the current state of protections for LGBTQ workers on the federal level?
MARK: So it's basically a hot mess.
TOBIN: Right. [CHUCKLES] The “tldr” is, like, it's all over the place depending on where you live.
MARK: Exactly right. Truly — and this is not how federal laws are supposed to work — but whether or not you are protected against anti-gay, anti-trans workplace discrimination, under federal law, depends on which state you live in.
TOBIN: Um, the last time we talked we were talking about this case of Donald Zarda who was a skydiving instructor, um, who said he was fired because he was gay. What are sort of the circumstances of the other two cases?
MARK: They are very interesting, and in some ways kind of heartbreaking.
So the other sexual orientation case is Bostock versus Clayton County Georgia, uh, which involved an employee, uh, of the county, uh, who joined a gay softball league called “Hotlanta.” And essentially because he joined this gay softball league, he was terminated. And he then sued and said, “Look, you only fired me because I'm gay!” and the county turned around and said, “Well, that doesn't matter because you aren't protected.” And the case went up to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the eleventh circuit sided with the county and said, “You know what, Congress did not intend to outlaw anti-gay discrimination in 1964. You are not protected under this law” and throughout his case.
The third case, uh, which is also very interesting, is called R G & Gr Harris Funeral Homes.
So it involves a — a — a trans employee, uh, of this funeral home in Michigan who — when she started working — presented as a male witch was her sex assigned at birth.
She worked there for a number of years presented as a male, but eventually told her boss, “Hey, listen. For much of my life, I've been struggling with gender identity, and I — I now recognize that I am a woman and I'm going to begin the process of transitioning, umm, which will mean — among other things — presenting as a woman at work.” And her boss was very, very religious and very anti-LGBTQ. Said, “Well, that's too bad for you. I'm going to have to let you go.” And so the employer very, very clearly fired her on the basis of her transgender status. [BREATH] She wound up winning a unanimous victory in the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which disagreed with some other conservative courts and said, “Yes, of course! Discrimination on the basis of sex encompasses anti-transgender discrimination. And so we're going to rule in her favor.” And that case was appealed! And the court took all three. So we're going to have a big ol’ blockbuster term next year, when the court’s gonna decide all of these cases at once.
TOBIN: So, for — for those arguing that Title VII doesn't cover LGBTQ workers, how does that argument play out?
MARK: So what they say — basically — is that no one who voted for Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 thought that the law that they were passing protected gay, bisexual, or transgender people. Uh, and I think that that is probably true. But the — the problem with that argument is that no one who voted for that bill, or at least few people who voted for that bill, had a very clear idea of what sex discrimination meant. This provision banning discrimination because of sex was added kind of at the last minute by a very racist congressman who did not want Black women to have more protection in the workplace than white women. So he said, “Well, if we're going to ban race discrimination at work, we also need to ban sex discrimination at work.” And so there wasn't really much floor debate at all about what this meant. And so it's easy to say, “Sure, of course, no one in 1964 thought that sex discrimination encompassed anti-gay discrimination or anti-trans discrimination.” But it's much harder to say what they actually thought the bill did. And so we have to focus instead on text and precedent. We can't really get anywhere useful if all we do is try to take a time machine back to 1964 and figure out what the congressman meant.
TOBIN: So is it just LGBTQ workers who would be affected if the court rules that Title VII doesn't cover sexual orientation and gender identity?
MARK: Not at all. Although it does depend on how they rule. But another factor here is the doctrine of so-called “sex stereotyping.” Um. So the court ruled long ago that a form of sex discrimination is sex stereotyping where an employer says, “I don't like this female worker because she's too masculine. She's too butch.” Y’know, “She doesn't present herself as sufficiently feminine.” That is sex discrimination and it is illegal under Title VII. If the court rejects those theories … if the court cuts back on sex stereotyping doctrine, or overrules it all together, then it is not just LGBTQ people who are in serious legal trouble. Because the sex stereotyping principal protects us all. It's not just gay people and trans people. It's also a woman who doesn't want to present as super feminine in the workplace. It's a straight man who might be a little effeminate, to use a stereotypical term, who might present in a way that's not traditionally masculine. It's any kind of individual who doesn't perform gender the way that his or her employer wants them to perform gender. If the sex stereotyping doctrine is all overruled — if the Roberts Court just throws it out the window — then a whole bunch of people are going to be in legal jeopardy because there are no longer going to have the right to express their gender however they want it work and their bosses are going to be able to police their genders, police their gender expression, and get away with it in court.
TOBIN: Right. Right! Mark, thank you so much for making time to talk to me.
MARK: Always a pleasure! Thanks so much for having me back on.
[PIANO FLOURISH TO SIGNAL SEGMENT CHANGE]
TOBIN: Okay, Kathy. We are at the last act of our show. I want us to shake out our shoulders a little bit. Deep breath in, deep breath out. [KATHY BREATHES IN AND OUT WITH TOBIN’S WORDS] This is a silly one.
KATHY: Okay, great. Here we go!
TOBIN: So, as we all know, queer history is full of rich, iconic moments; people; treasured objects … It all adds up to this amazing collection some might call “the queer canon.”
KATHY: Right. Shows like “The L Word,” “Noah’s Ark.” Books like Stone Butch Blues. [TOBIN HUMS IN AGREEMENT] All in the queer canon!
TOBIN: But, Kathy, how does one decide what makes it into the canon? What hurdles does something need to clear to be enshrined forever? And does the canon have room for silly things?
KATHY: Great question, Tobin. I think we’ve found the answer in a segment that we are calling “Is It Canon?”.
[A GONG PLAYS, AND TOBIN SAYS “Is It Canon?” IN A DEEP VOICE BEFORE LAUGHING]
KATHY: We’re going to debate if something should or should not be considered part of the queer world forevermore. This time around, the object up for debate is …
TOBIN: Succulents! [TOBIN LAUGHS]
KATHY [EXASPERATED: Oh god.
TOBIN: They are the super on-trend plants you see on desks and Instagram feeds everywhere.
KATHY: So Tobin, you’re arguing for. I’m arguing against. And then we’re also going to hear from you, dear listeners, about what you think. Okay, Tobin, make your case.
TOBIN: There’s no presentation. [TOBIN STIFLES A CHUCKLE] First of all. Succulents. They are made to last in dry-ass temperatures with limited resources. [KATHY LAUGHS] Tell me something that is more queer than being able to survive harsh climates and atmospheres that are not built for you.
KATHY: Okay, okay.
TOBIN: To me, that is very queer.
TOBIN: Okay, also, a lot of succulents are, like, hard and spiky on the outside, but soft and squishy on the inside. So many queer people I know are like this!
KATHY: Wow! Name four.
TOBIN [WITHOUT HESITATING]: Uh! Myself, you, Temi who’s sitting in the booth [KATHY LAUGHS HEARTILY], Zakiya our producer, Jeremy. Literally all of us are like this!
TOBIN: Okay, and also, I didn’t wanna bring this up, but Instagays fucking love succulents. [TOBIN LAUGHS] Like, when I imagine an Instagay, I imagine a torso surrounded by succulents. Just like, plants, plants, plants, nipples, plants, nipples. [KATHY LAUGHS] So this is my argument for why succulents should be added to the queer canon.
KATHY: Okay, some … decent points.
TOBIN: Mhm. Kathy, you are not for succulents making it into the queer canon.
TOBIN: Can you tell me why?
KATHY: Point number one —
KATHY: — Plants die. Succulents also die. Like, I know that succulents are supposed to be able to survive harsh things …
KATHY: But I know more than a couple people — at least a handful of people that claim to be succulent-killers. So …
TOBIN: Are you talking about yourself?
KATHY: I am one of those people. [TOBIN LAUGHS] It’s true.
KATHY: I’m not 100% sure what I succulent is.
TOBIN [WHISPERING]: I’m not either!
KATHY: Right? How can it be in the canon if nobody knows what it is?
TOBIN: I just imagine if it’s in a beautiful little pot, that’s a succulent. [KATHY LAUGHS] Okay, clearly we have no idea what we’re talking about.
TOBIN: Let’s hear from our listeners. Do you think succulents should be added to the queer canon?
[SLOW, BUMBLING PIANO MUSIC PLAYS UNDERNEATH]
LISTENER 1: Okay. Plants are queer, caring about nature is queer, gardening is queer, and therefore succulents are hella queer. They’re resistant, but they need gentle care. They’re beautiful. And nature and plants have been used as symbols of queerness for … ever.
LISTENER 2: All I can think of when I think of succulents is a Kimberleigh marrying a Bradlee with the succulent aesthetic they swiped from Pinterest boards by Mormon moms. Don't get me wrong — I love succulents, I'm an Arizona bitch! But, like, [PAUSE] the straights have tainted this one, folks.
LISTENER 3: We need more asexual representation in our cultural lexicon. And what non-human screams “Asexual!” more than the low-key ace succulent.
LISTENER 4: Succulents are definitely a hipster thing, not a queer thing explicitly. We’re more than a West Elm catalog.
LISTENER 5: However, many in our community have small living spaces, because most of us may not be homeowners. So a lot of us bring smaller plants inside of our living space, and succulents definitely fit that bill.
[LISTENER MONTAGE AND BUMBLING PIANO END]
TOBIN: Alright, the listeners are divided, Kathy.
TOBIN: This is up to us. What do we think?
KATHY: I dunno. [TOBIN SNICKERS] I still don’t think so.
KATHY: What do you think?
TOBIN: I’m gonna say [PAUSE] that I’m gonna declare a winner, and say that succulents should make it into the queer canon!
[HAPPY KAZOO FLOURISH]
TOBIN: And with that, Kathy, we did it!
KATHY: We made it to the end of the Nancy Variety Show!
TOBIN: Okay, personally, I loved it so much. We laughed, we learned, we loved —
KATHY: Did we love?
TOBIN: We did love! We absolutely loved! It was so good!
KATHY: Mhm. Tobin, why don’t you play us out so we can do credits?
[TOBIN PLAYS A CREDITS MUSIC BIT ON THE KAZOO]
KATHY: Our staff includes Zakiya Gibbons, Stephanie Joyce, Temi Fagbenle, Jeremy Bloom, and Paula Szuchman. I’m Kathy Tu.
TOBIN: [INHALES, STOPS PLAYING KAZOO, AND SAYS QUICKLY] I’m Tobin Low. [RESUMES PLAYING KAZOO]
KATHY: And “Nancy” is a production of WNYC studios.
TOBIN: Juilliard trained, motherfuckers!