The queers be­hind the genre blur­ring pod­cast on what they like to read, and who they like to read.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Yety Aki­nola Styling as­sis­tant Bria Can­non Words Jack Pen­gelly

We meet the lovely queers be­hind the widely pop­u­lar pod­cast Food 4 Thot on their unapologetic blend of crit­i­cal thought with de­bauch­ery and sala­cios tales of all out ‘thot­tery’.

In an age where big­otry runs ram­pant, or­ange ogres scream bile into world­wide mega­phones, and trans peo­ple are STILL fight­ing for their mere ex­is­tence, it’s im­por­tant to high­light the lighter sides of our com­mu­nity. Start­ing back in early 2017, Food 4 Thot is an ir­rev­er­ent pod­cast that aims to do just this, com­bin­ing po­lit­i­cal, crit­i­cal, an­a­lyt­i­cal thought with sala­cious tales of queer de­bauch­ery. Fran Ti­rado, Joe Os­mund­son, Den­nis Nor­ris II and Tommy Pico al­low lis­ten­ers into their world as they sip (read: gulp) rosé and re­gale each other with sto­ries from their favourite au­thors to tips on re­mov­ing pop­pers stains from the back seat of your car.

As queer peo­ple know all too well, re­shap­ing the mould of our at­tribut­ing stereo­types - or sidestep­ping them com­pletely - is a dif­fi­cult and daunt­ing task. There’s safety in com­mu­nity and the ‘tribe’ we as­so­ciate our­selves with, and this is of­ten far more invit­ing than the soli­tary al­ter­na­tive. That’s why this pod­cast is so re­fresh­ing: an eclec­tic cock­tail of wit, sass and a heavy em­pha­sis on sex pos­i­tiv­ity runs thick in each unique con­ver­sa­tion. We sat down with the four Thots them­selves to talk all things thotty, the land­scape of queer broad­cast­ing and what’s next for this wildly suc­cess­ful pod­cast.

First of all, how did the four of you meet?

DN2: We were all stu­dents at a week-long writ­ing work­shop. Tommy and I were in the same dorm and met im­me­di­ately, and he in­tro­duced me to Fran.

TP: So what you’re say­ing is that I dis­cov­ered you. DN2: There was a wel­come cock­tail party and the three of us walked in, frankly, own­ing the place with our out­fits. Ob­vi­ously, we were the queers, and Joe found us im­me­di­ately.

JO: I knew that I ei­ther needed to make them love me, or they would de­stroy me.

DN2: Both hap­pened in short or­der! The magic hap­pened in­stantly.

FT: And Lemon­ade had just come out.

DN2: And we were truly not in­ter­ested in any­thing other than pros­e­ly­tiz­ing Lemon­ade, and danc­ing to it. Any­thing else was quite frankly a waste of our time.

FT: Each night, we would gather out on the pa­tio and drink rosé and talk about sex and race and gen­der the­ory and ev­ery­thing in be­tween, and those were the pri­mor­dial episodes of Food 4 Thot.

In hon­our of your pod­cast tagline, what are you read­ing at the mo­ment, and more im­por­tantly who are you read­ing the most at the mo­ment? TP: I’m read­ing Weike Wang’s novel Chem­istry, and I’m read­ing Joe on Twit­ter as of­ten as pos­si­ble. You’d think his ac­count was hy­per­bolic but no. The binch is a cry­baby.

DN2: This might be the gayest sen­tence I’ve ever said, but I’m read­ing Sally Field’s mem­oir, In Pieces. It’s spec­tac­u­lar and I love her! As far as read­ing goes, I try to carry the man­tle of read­ing Joe in per­son. He’s a white cis-man with a PhD. He needs to be read.

FT: Ok I skimmed that mem­oir and it is great. I’m read­ing an ad­vance copy of Ja­cob To­bia’s Sissy, and I am read­ing Joe as well, al­ways and for­ever – it’s like breath­ing to me.

JO: I read Fran in a half a day and to be hon­est the jokes I read grow­ing up in Reader’s Di­gest had more depth.

DN2: Bloop!

Whose idea was it to start the pod­cast, and how did you turn it into re­al­ity?

TP: I ini­tially came up with the idea as an ex­cuse to see each other on the regs post-Tin House. You al­ways make th­ese plans like,’ “oh yeah we’ll def meet up when we get back to New York,’ but it never hap­pens. I promised them fame and for­tune - JK - as a ploy to get them to hang out with me.

FT: I took the of­fer pri­mar­ily for the fame and for­tune. DN2: And I took that of­fer for the free wine.

JO: It’s not free, Den­nis! We pay for it ev­ery week... DN2: What you call ‘pay­ing for the wine ev­ery week’ I call ‘repa­ra­tions.’

Why do you think that pod­casts have had a resur­gence in pop­u­lar­ity re­cently?

JO: Cap­i­tal­ism, specif­i­cally of the ven­ture type.

TP: He means smart­phones.

DN2: Au­dio sto­ry­telling and con­ver­sa­tion has an in­ti­macy to it that I think other forms of me­dia lack. There’s a close­ness there.

FT: A close­ness that man­i­fests in a lot of dick pics in our email in­box.

DN2: Okay yes, but at the same time, the stakes aren’t as high as other medi­ums, like TV for in­stance, so there’s more free­dom, which I think means that some peo­ple feel as though their lives and sto­ries are bet­ter rep­re­sented, mean­ing th­ese folks are, iron­i­cally, more seen, in the pod­cast realm.

And why do you think your unique blend of de­bauch­ery and crit­i­cal, lit­er­ary thought has been so pop­u­lar?

TP: There’s some­thing sort of sprightly al­chem­i­cal about the con­ver­sion back and forth be­tween ‘high’ and ‘low’ cul­ture that comes nat­u­rally to the four of us be­cause (and cor­rect me if I’m wrong) we don’t ac­tu­ally see a dis­tinc­tion be­tween the two.

FT: Ex­actly. Slut­tery de­serves its seat at the in­tel­lec­tual ta­ble.

TP: I think we’re all hip to the fact that dis­tinc­tions like ‘high’ and ‘low’ are there to up­hold a clas­sist, pa­tri­ar­chal white supremacy. The peo­ple who fuck with us know that too. Our chem­istry aside, we’re all smart, cu­ri­ous, move­able, am­bi­tious, funny, car­ing, whores. Come sit with us!

DN2: I at­tended the after-party for the Na­tional Book Awards a few nights ago, and there were so many peo­ple of color that came up to me and thanked me for the show, specif­i­cally be­cause of this el­e­ment of the show. Tommy’s right in that that false dis­tinc­tion seeks to nar­row the sto­ries that are con­sid­ered valid. But our very ex­is­tence, as in­di­vid­u­als, negates that boundary. We ex­ist, our sto­ries ex­ist, that alone is enough. That makes us, and our sto­ries, valid.

FT: Also queer and marginal­ized folks — who are his­tor­i­cally just less afraid of pro­pri­ety and clas­sist

rules of good be­hav­ior — just hadn’t seen them­selves rep­re­sented at all in the au­dioscape. The av­er­age pod­cast-lis­tener has a higher house­hold me­dian in­come, is white, is straight. Our lis­ten­ers were not get­ting con­tent be­cause that just isn’t the space. Turns out, they were thirsty for it!

As queer peo­ple, we’ve been told most of our lives that sex for us was ei­ther sin­ful or lit­er­ally a cause of death. How im­por­tant is sex-pos­i­tiv­ity to you, and why do you speak on it so openly? DN2: Real talk? Sex-pos­i­tiv­ity is an ev­ery­day struƒle for me, for the ex­act rea­sons you’ve men­tioned.

JO: Well also be­cause you are a lit­eral nun as of late. DN2: No re­ally! It’s easy to get caught up in sham­ing our­selves and oth­ers as we ob­serve the thot­tery of the gay world. But it’s cru­cial we cel­e­brate sex be­cause we have ev­ery right to fuck as much as ev­ery­one else! We speak on it openly and fre­quently be­cause some­times shame and fear are so deeply in­grained that they take prac­tice, ef­fort, and af­fir­ma­tion to un­learn. We should all be liv­ing our lives like they’re golden!

FT: And tak­ing it up the ass so hard your glasses fall off in an al­ley­way off West 17th street!

TP: And fel­lat­ing mics like Jill Scott.

DN2: Lis­tennnnnnnn .... The flip-side to wait­ing a long-ass time to lose your vir­gin­ity (I was 27) is mak­ing up for it real-ass quick!

Speak­ing of sex-pos­i­tiv­ity, who’s the thot­ti­est of the Thots?

FT: Joe.

DN2: Joe.

TP: Joe. I been on tour with this binch and let’s just say most nights mama was not at the Airbnb.

JO: I de­cline to com­ment at this time.

Has there been a fan favourite / stand­out im­pure thot?

JO: Two words: Taco Bell.

TP: Yeah, I think Taco Bell be­cause it was a mir­a­cle of mod­ern thot­tery.

DN2: I mean, if Cheesy Gordita Crunches could talk. FT: I de­cline to com­ment at this time.

What has it been like on the ground in Tr*mp’s Amer­ica, and how do you keep your re­solve?

FT: Go­ing to the movies alone.

JO: Live Tweet­ing my men­tal break­downs. Ther­apy. Gin.

TP: Delet­ing so­cial me­dia reg­u­larly. Myvid­ster. IPAs. DN2: I drink a cold glass of chardon­nay in the shower.

In an age where be­ing overtly queer is in­her­ently a form of ac­tivism, how do you re­main true to your­self and your mis­sion whilst also tak­ing care of your own men­tal well­be­ing?

JO: Sur­vival is rev­o­lu­tion­ary, but I don’t think be­ing queer is a form of ac­tivism.

FT: Right. Be­ing queer is in­her­ently po­lit­i­cal, per se, but not ac­tivism.

JO: I just want to make sure we’re honor­ing the peo­ple out there risk­ing lit­eral life and limb to do that spe­cific type of work, go­ing into dan­ger­ous spa­ces for queer peo­ple to make them safer, or spend­ing hours do­ing emo­tional and phys­i­cal la­bor to change vi­o­lent poli­cies.

FT: Ex­actly. And maybe in a per­fect world be­ing queer would be less of a bi­par­ti­san is­sue but right now, not so much. For me, I set aside time ev­ery morn­ing to thing about my long term goals to cen­ter my life and not get lost in the noise.

JO: I’m a writer. I write. I’m a teacher, and so I teach. I im­bue this la­bor with an ac­tivist spirit, and lift up the work of organizers as best I can. That helps me bal­ance out the on­slaught of never-end­ing hor­ri­fy­ing push no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Also, run­ning 10ks and suck­ing dick is bad for your knees but good for your spirit. DN2: I have to con­stantly check my­self to re­mem­ber what my mis­sion is some­times, to be hon­est. It’s so easy to get caught up in mere sur­vival, as op­posed to try­ing to thrive, and it’s also too easy to spend too much time away from my mis­sion be­cause the world is a garbage fire. I can ad­mit that I am still very much fig­ur­ing out that bal­ance.

TP: I go to the butt doc­tor.

Do you think the queer rep­re­sen­ta­tion is where it should be in the broad­cast­ing sphere?

DN2: No. Not even close. So of­ten the white cis gay male life is tan­gen­tial to the straight nar­ra­tive. So then, think what it’s like for those of us who are work­ing class, of color, femme, trans and GNC. I need our sto­ries to be cen­tral and for that to not be re­mark­able.

TP: I think once peo­ple like us are in charge of

mak­ing the de­ci­sions in the broad­cast­ing sphere, more peo­ple like us will be rep­re­sented. The great thing about pod­casts though is there is more room for in­de­pen­dent voices to be heard.

FT: Yes! Pod­cast­ing is a true democ­racy a lot of the time.

TP: Our first sea­son was com­pletely in­de­pen­dently pro­duced. We paid for our own stu­dio time, our pro­duc­ers were peo­ple who re­ally wanted this pod­cast to be in the uni­verse... ba­si­cally we each cashed the good will we’d de­vel­oped in our pro­fes­sional lives to get a bunch of like minded peo­ple into what we made, and it paid off.

FT: But un­til queer and marginal­ized peo­ple get the ex­act same green lights, the ex­act same re­sources as white straight peo­ple, our work will al­ways be harder! That’s just the fact of it.

Who are your queer icons?

DN2: James Bald­win and Langston Hughes. Rudy Galindo. The char­ac­ter Em­mett Hon­ey­cutt from Queer as Folk.

JO: Fran Ti­rado

Fran: Aw! I would say you, but in­stead I’m gonna say Cher.

TP: Garfield

FT: Oh! Also Miss Piƒy.

How do each of you thrive at the in­ter­sec­tion of your var­i­ous iden­ti­ties?

TP: My strat­egy is to sat­u­rate my­self with my var­i­ous iden­ti­ties, in­dige­nous/queer/city mouse/poet etc. so that I can’t be re­duced to a sin­gle one. You’d think it would make some­one more frac­tured but I’d like to think that it makes for dis­tinc­tion. Then I let some­one mo­tor­boat my cakes.

FT: I thrive, in that I eat bur­ri­tos mul­ti­ple times a week.

DN2: I have a prayin’ Mama, so that helps. I al­ways tell peo­ple I’m not a pie. You can’t just cut a slice of me to make me more palat­able. I think that to my­self on an al­most-daily ba­sis. I also say to my­self on re­peat “Who gon’ check me boo?” (a la Sheree Whit­field) when I’m try­ing to shift my think­ing from sur­vival mode to thriv­ing mode.

JO: You’re ask­ing me if I thrive .... in my white­ness?

Do you have any ad­vice for peo­ple who want to start their own pod­cast?

JO: Lol, don’t.

FT: Sec­onded, please don’t make any more pod­casts.

TP: Make it be about some­thing that you al­ready do, and get started yes­ter­day. Don’t ob­sess too much about hav­ing the per­fect set up or the per­fect chem­istry or the per­fect flow. Lit­er­ally just start, and keep go­ing. It took us sev­eral dummy episodes in Joe’s apart­ment (that you will never hear) and prob­a­bly for or five stu­dio ses­sions before we re­ally got into our groove. DN2: Be brave at the mic. It’s an in­ti­mate thing, so be real.

When are you bring­ing F4T on tour to Europe? JO: When my ex doesn’t live there any­more.

DN2: When some­one duct tapes Joe’s mouth shut? TP: When some­body slides into the direct de­posit. FT: Yes some­one please pay us to go to Italy and make fun of Ital­ian ac­cents live on stage.

What’s next for the Thots?

TP: I have a new book com­ing out next year and I’m writ­ing a few fea­ture scripts, fin­gers crossed! Also I think I’m on the verge of wanting one of those re­la­tion­ship things? I dunno, it’s like how ppl’s joints ache before a storm. It’s weird for me be­cause I’m such a solo binch so, you know, reach out (if yr freak­ishly tall).

DN2: I’m work­ing re­ally hard to fin­ish my de­but novel and there are some re­ally ex­cit­ing things hap­pen­ing with that so that is my fo­cus. I’m also sin­gle AF, and while I’m not re­ally look­ing .... I’m look­ing. Just a lil bit. FT: I’m work­ing on a book of es­says, a screen­play, a hand­ful of se­cret projects, and I just took on the task of re­brand­ing and re­launch­ing Out mag­a­zine as their Deputy Editor, which will take over my life in the best way pos­si­ble.

JO: Please con­tinue to fol­low my sad Twit­ter jour­ney @re­luc­tant­lyjoe!

Tommy wears shirt & flip flops by Vile­bre­quin; denim shorts by Top­man; t-shirt by Calvin Klein Jeans; sun­glasses by Raen

Den­nis wears terry cloth polo shirt & flip flops by Vile­bre­quin; sun­glasses by Raen

Joe wears shirt by Vile­bre­quin; sun­glasses by Raen ; slides by Nike

Fran wears sun hat by Stella Dal­las; sun­glasses by Raen

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