If you're a frequent reader of the AV Club (Ha! "If." Obviously you are) then you'll immediately recognize today's interviewee. If not, then please get to know her as the author of the funny, smart and cutting column known as The Hater, where she takes on the things in pop culture that need taking-on. In addition to the Hater she writes the Tolerability Index and now runs the Hater's eponymous podcast. Like me, she also contributes TV reviews and other ephemera to the AV Club and beyond.
What's on your daily blogroll?
I read the whole Internet every day. All of it. More specifically: People.com, CNN.com, The Daily What, Movieline, DListed, NPR's Monkey See, TV Squad, THR Live Feed, Salon, PopEater, Gawker, Slashfilm, Buzzfeed, I Watch Stuff, LA Times blogs, MTV news blogs, NY Magazine's blogs, The Awl, Ad Freak, Goop.com, Margene's Blog on HBO.com, Kirstie Alley's Organic Liaison Phitter, etc., etc. Oh, and Zulkey.com.
Typically where do you find your topics for the column or podcast?
This is a boring answer, but from things I see (in life or on TV, which is part of life) or things I read. There's no one place or even collection of places. It's just whatever I see or read and think I can make into a column worth reading, or a podcast worth listening to. (More exciting answer: All of my topics come from inside a magical banana peel.)
Do you get writers block often? What do you do to bust through it?
I do sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. I think everyone does. To get through it, I just run the movie The Cutting Edge in my mind till I get angry at myself and start writing again.
I'm curious to know how, when and where you do your TV reviewing? (For me it's in the living room, on the couch, Macbook on lap, ideally with some sort of calorie-free sodie pop at the ready, in front of our big red-tinged TV, greyhound twitching his feet in his sleep on his tuffet).
When I'm actually writing the review, I sit on my couch with a big blue cushion in my lap with my Macbook propped on top. But I take notes during the show longhand on this ridiculous jotter thing my little sister got me two Christmases ago (it's basically a hard leather slab with loose paper on top), usually while hunched over on the armrest. Like a lady. Generally, I have a giant bottle of water sitting nearby because I'm all about hydration.
Are there many columns you published that you wished you could take back in any way? (This isn't the same as eventually changing your opinion on something).
No, not really. Or none that I can remember, anyway.
Have you ever heard back from anyone on whom you've hated?
Yes. I once got an email from Robert Davi, an actor in Showgirls who thought I had marginalized him by pointing out that he had been in Showgirls. I wrote something making fun of a political ad he had been in, and I called him "Robert 'It must be weird, not having anybody come on you' Davi." According to the giant unwieldy block of text he sent me, he took issue with this--which seemed strange to me because that's one of the best lines in a movie full of great lines. I love Showgirls. I wouldn't know who Robert Davi was without Showgirls. But he really, really didn't want to be known as Al from Showgirls. He ended the block of text by saying I could have called him "Robert, the man who once saved a young girl's life, Davi."
Obviously, I printed the email out, enlarged it to poster size, and wallpapered my office with it.
Who's your favorite contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race this season? How do you think it compares to last season?
I think this season is awesome. Last season was awesome as well, but this season has the advantage because there are more contestants and therefore more lipsynching for lives. My favorites are Raven, because she's mean and pretty, and Jessica Wild, because she's nice and not so pretty. My favorites appeal to both sides of the dichotomy of man! Also, Jessica's chicken impression was one of the funniest things on that show ever.
I still feel good about our decision not to review it on a weekly basis: do you agree and please illustrate our rationale for our readers.
I feel great about our decision.To Our Beloved Readers: Claire and I both decided that we love RuPaul's Drag Race too much to scrutinize it and write about it every week for your eyes. This might seem strange. After all, if a writer enjoys a TV show, then wouldn't they enjoy writing about that show every week? Surprisingly, no. Writing about something removes you from the pure experience of watching, because you're sitting there, jotter in hand, taking down thoughts about what's going on, instead of simply taking it in. Obviously, the last thing Claire or I want to do when watching RuPaul's Drag Race is think (The only thought in my head when I watch is "Yesss!" anyway), and so we both decided to hoard the show for ourselves. Basically, we're selfish. I think we're gonna liveblog the finale though.
What magazines to you read?
NY Magazine, Esquire, Details, Glamour, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Us Weekly, People, In Touch, Star, and, of course, anything else I can get my hands on.
You must get some unintentionally hilarious press releases--what have been some standouts lately?
Whenever someone dies, I get a handful of press releases pitching terrible people who are somehow experts on celebrity deaths--which sounds vaguely interesting, but believe me it is not. It's like watching vultures pick at bleached bones. Other than that, I get a lot of press releases for MTV/VH1 people who are appearing at various nightmare uber-clubs on Long Island or New Jersey. I'm only on the best lists.
Why aren't you on Facebook or active on the Twitter?
Short answer: I'm lazy. Long answer: I'm too lazy to go into it, but basically because those things feel like work to me. I think I have about 400-something followers on Twitter now. If it got over 500, though, I'd probably feel obligated to fully (or at least halfway) engage with the Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, here's a question from a reader: "Do you ever stretch to find things to hate, or is it all genuine?"
It's all genuine and by that I mean I am genuinely annoyed at a shocking amount of things. But it's also far more lighthearted than I think people realize. It's not like I'm purple-faced and frothing at the mouth every time I write about, say, Goop. Really that only happens when I'm writing about Dr. Drew.
What have you written or produced lately that you're proudest of?
The Hatecast. I think it's a fun extension of the column, and I'm very happy that people seem to like it.
I'll be heading to your home town, New Orleans in a few weeks for a wedding: is there anything I absolutely must see, do, eat or drink? Beignets are already on the list.
If it's not too hot when you're there, you should really go to City Park. It's huge and great for exploring, and you can take the streetcar (Canal St. Line) there. From there you can walk along Bayou St. John, which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city...and it just so happens that's where my favorite po-boy place in New Orleans, Parkway Bakery, is located. Highly recommended. (On the other side of the park from Parkway, there's also a thoroughly creepy, totally hidden potter's field that we used to call 'The Voodoo cemetery,' if you're into that sort of thing.) As for drinks, if you're going to be in the Quarter (and you probably will be) the old Carousel bar at the Hotel Montelone is always fun/weird for a drink--and the drinks there are pretty good. The bar rotates, so you should probably go there for the first (or the last) drink of the night.
I'm always working on this but do you have any tips on building thick skin towards unnecessarily rude online comments?
Just don't take any of it seriously--and that means good comments as well as bad comments. (But, you know, mostly the bad comments.) Also, I find self-flagellation really helps.
Do you get the sense that AV Club/Hater readers have a certain perception of what you look like and your personality that's at odds with the truth? What does their Amelie look like?
I think they definitely have a perception of what I look like. I imagine it's basically a female Gargamel. I know that some people think I don't even exist, or that I'm a character made-up by the Onion editors. The weird part is that all of that is true: I'm a female Gargamel character made up by the Onion editors. That's why we're being sued by The Smurfs.
Tell us about your piece in the forthcoming Reality Matters anthology--how did you come to contribute it, and what's it about?
Anna David, the anthology's editor, emailed me and asked me if I'd like to do it. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to actually use my abundant knowledge of reality television for something that my parents could point towards in book stores. My essay is about curtsies, growin' up semi-debutante in New Orleans, and the British reality series Ladette To Lady.
How does it feel to be the 253rd person interviewed for Zulkey.com?
It is beyond words. Can I get an "Amen" up in here?