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The Sewers of Paris

Author: Matt Baume

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Revealing stories about the books, movies, tv, music and more that have changed the lives of gay men. Each week, a guest plucks a piece of entertainment from their past, and answers the question: how did it change your life?
348 Episodes
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My guest this week is Fran Tirado, who you might recognize as the host of the Food 4 Thot podcast. Fran grew up in a sheltered religious community, and it was a chance encounter with gay Greek myths that helped him break out. Now he’s dedicated himself to a different kind of scripture — one of powerful femmes, radical queer liberation, and sex without shame.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First — Muppet fans, I just released a new video about the gay history of the Muppets. Check out my YouTube for that, and head over to Patreon to see some bonus videos.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
My guest is writer and comedian H. Alan Scott, whom you may know as co-host of the Out on the Lanai podcast. I first met him back when I lived in LA, and worked as a nightlife photographer — H. Alan was one of the people I looked forward to seeing most, because he never posed. He just let me photograph him candidly, honestly, sometimes with a smile and sometimes not. I didn't know it, but at the time he was emerging from a long and difficult ordeal that had changed his life. And when I pointed my camera at him, I was pointing it at a man who had no use for putting on a happy face.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First — Muppet fans, you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve got a new video coming out about the gay history of the Muppets, from sly queer jokes slipping onto the Muppet show to Ernie & Bert’s relationship to the story of how one puppeteer became the most famous gay man in the world … who nobody recognized. Join me for a livestream and then the new video this Sunday, July 25 at 11am pacific. And head over to Patreon to see some bonus videos with extra stories that didn’t make it into the final video.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
My guest this week might sound a bit familiar, because you’ve almost definitely heard his voice before — even if you didn’t realize it. Carl Bishop is the voice you hear on countless commercials. He’s been the voice of hardware stores, he’s warned you about medication side effects, he’s sold shampoo and razors and laundry detergent and cars and pizza. When Carl got his start as a radio personality, many years ago, he avoided coming out for fear of the impact on his career. But as he found commercial success, and particularly as a video game voice actor, he decided it was time to overcome that fear.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, I want to let you know that I just posted a new video over on YouTube. It’s about the most iconic gay couple of the 24th century, Garak and Bashir from Star Trek Deep Space 9 — and how fans were ultimately responsible for bringing these star-crossed lovers together. Check that out at YouTube.com/mattbaume — and head over to Patreon to see some bonus videos with extra stories that didn’t make it into the final video.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
My guest this week is TV writer Stan Zimmerman, whose credits include episodes of The Golden Girls, Gilmore Girls, The Brady Bunch Movie, and the gay kiss episode of Roseanne, among many many more. As a kid, Stan created a fantasy television network in his bedroom, giving a weekly variety show to his idol Lily Tomlin; something that he was able to tell her years later when they became colleagues. We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, I want to let you know that I’ve got a new video going live on YouTube this weekend. It’s about the most iconic gay couple of the 24th century, Star Trek’s Deep Space 9’s Garak and Bashir — and how fans were ultimately responsible for bringing these star-crossed lovers together? Join me for a livestream leading into my new video this Sunday, July 11, at 11am pacific at YouTube.com/mattbaume.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
Hello, I’m Matt Baume, and welcome to the Sewers of Paris. We’re on a podcast search for the entertainment that changed the lives of queer people.My guest this week is author Benji Carr, whose novel Impacted comes out next week, and is the product of a lifelong obsession with soap operas. It’s not entirely surprising, as his own life was often more dramatic than he knew how to handle. It was shows like Melrose Place, Knots Landing, and Desperate Housewives that helped him make sense of the chaos in his own life, and eventually, deal with it more productively than the fictional characters he’d grown up watching.And just a quick heads up: This week’s episode includes mention of childhood sexual abuse.
My guest this week is Ravi Roth. You may know him from his travel series Ravi Round the World, or his new show Gaycation, where he visits queer hotspots across the globe. Ravi knew from an early age that he loved performing, and for a time he was laser-focused on making it to Broadway. But once he was there, he found that he had a talent for travel, and found himself journeying far from the city he once thought was where he’d always call home. Now, rather than performing in character, he fills his time by exploring queer bars, enclaves, and at least one unexpected nudist camp.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, I want to let you know that I’ve just posted a new video over on my YouTube channel, where I talk about queer milestones in the pop culture that changed the world. The latest video is all about Disney villains — specifically, what makes them all so extremely gay? Check that out at YouTube.com/mattbaume.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
This week, to celebrate Pride month, we’re heading into the Sewers archives for a chat with a man who was present for the Stonewall Riots. He earned the nickname Tree thanks to his six-foot-five stature, and he’s been a part of New York’s gay community going back to the fifties, when he didn’t even know a community existed. Tree’s been a member of Brooklyn street gangs, worked with the mob, and counted among his friends Buddy Holly, Bea Arthur, and Rock Hudson. We talked one year ago, as we were heading into a lot of uncertainty around COVID, quarantines, and the future. And now that many of us are finally in the process of re-emerging out into the world, it seemed like a perfect time to reflect on his stories of endurance and liberation.
My guest this week is comic artist Joe Glass, author of the just-released Pride Omnibus which collects several years of his queer superhero stories. Joe’s work is heavily influenced by his youthful love of heroes from X-Men to Buffy, and like those heroes, there were times when people tried to stop him from pursuing the work that he knew was right.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a reminder that I just posted a new video over on YouTube that’s all about John Waters, Divine, and three films that I like to call the Trinity of Trash — check that out at YouTube.com/mattbaume.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
My guest this week is a legend — the amazing Justin Vivian Bond, or just Vivian — an actor, singer, performer, icon. You may recognize their name from the act Kiki and Herb, or from performances ranging from La MaMa to Carnegie Hall, or from collaborations with Jake Shears, John Cameron Mitchell, and Rufus Wainwright. Vivian knew they wanted to be a performer from an early age, and their journey to the stage was an adventure that brought them from a small town to experimental theater in San Francisco and New York to international acclaim — and now, a new project about to debut.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, I want to let you know that I’ve got a new video coming this weekend — join me Sunday June 6 for a livestream and brand new video about the John Waters and his Trinity of Trash, three early films that changed the face of film. That’s at YouTube.com/mattbaume.And just a quick reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on. Sign up for that at mattbaume.com.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
This week’s guest is John Epperson — also known by his stage name, Lypsinka, who you might’ve seen in the documentary Wigstock, in the movie Black Swan, and gracing New York stages from the legendary Pyramid Club to Lincoln Center. John moved from small town Mississippi to New York to chase a dream of a life in the theater, and found fame with his drag alter-ego in the wild 1970s and 80s, all while awash in radical revolutionary queer culture of the East Village.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a reminder that I’ve got a little newsletter where I share sneak peeks at what I’m working on — the most recent featured a recommendation for a FASCINATING documentary on the history of Nickelodeon. Sign up for that newsletter at mattbaume.com.And speaking of the history of Nickelodeon, check out my YouTube channel for deep dives into pop culture history — my latest video is all about Rocko’s Modern Life and the secret gay history of 90s animation. That’s at YouTube.com/mattbaume.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
Listeners, I’ve got a handful of interviews coming your way that you are going to love, with some Broadway drag icons. They’re not quite ready yet, but this week I want to prepare you for what’s coming with a conversation about someone who chased his dreams all the way to New York, and then followed his heart back home. This week, we’re diving into the archives to hear my 2016 interview with Mark Finley — a conversation that zooms from Japan to Cal Arts to a stint at Brigham Young where he earned the nickname “The Golden Throat,” and not for his singing. Mark’s stories are so unbelievably fascinating that we spoke for two hours, and I originally released our conversation as a two-parter. But on this episode, you’re going to get both parts of our conversation, including the story of Mark’s brush with death and his miraculous survival.Also — mark your calendars for this Sunday, May 23rd at 11am pacific. I’m releasing a new video over on my YouTube channel about Rocko’s Modern Life and the secret gay history of 90s animation. Head over to YouTube.com/mattbaume for that — it’s this Sunday, May 23rd at 11am pacific.Also a big thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.
We’re just a few days away from the start of Eurovision, the giant extravagant celebration of over-the-top music and outrageous costumes and, every now and then, taste. Eurovision is a big ball of fun, and it was the subject of the very first episode of The Sewers of Paris. So this week, we’re revisiting my 2015 interview with Jānis, who first introduced me to the joy of Eurovision, along with the German version of American Idol, gay-adjacent Hitchcock, and hard-core camp.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. I recently posted a new one about The Nanny. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume. And I’m currently working on a video about the queer undertones of 90s animation, from Nicktoons to Disney villains. Patreon backers get a little sneak peek at what I’ve found so far.Also, a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see more stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com.
On last week’s episode I talked with James Sie about the importance of one well-placed Bette Midler album, and this week I want to dive into the Sewers archives with another guest whose life was changed by Bette — in his case, when she called him to offer him a job. Today we’re revisiting my 2017 interview with Bruce Vilanch, a writer an comedian who’s been slipping sly queer jokes into mainstream entertainment since before some of us were even born.  Starting out as a writer for great divas of the 1970s and then moving on to variety shows, the Oscars, and a notorious Star Wars holiday special, Bruce provided a subtle queer infusion into American showbiz for decades. And this week we'll talk about how he managed to get away with it.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. I’ve got a new video about The Nanny, and how Fran Drescher managed to set the show apart with its treatment of queer characters at a time when TV was not quite so inclusive. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume.Also, a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com.
My guest this week is James Sie, whose voice you may recognize from Kung Fu Panda, Curious George, King of the Hill, and as an unlucky cabbage merchant on Avatar. He’s also the author of Still Life Las Vegas, and a new queer young adult novel called All Kinds of Other, which will have a launch celebration next Friday, May 7, to benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center. As a young gay man entering college, James wasn’t where to look for community — but he started to pick up some clues thanks to a Bette Midler album. We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com.Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. I’ve got a new video coming this weekend about The Nanny, and how Fran Drescher managed to set the show apart with its treatment of queer characters at a time when TV was not quite so inclusive. That’s premiering this weekend, Sunday May 2nd, with a livestream starting at 11am before the video premieres. I hope you’ll join me for that over at youtube.com/mattbaume, and there’s a link on my twitter @mattbaume. And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over at Twitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon!
You may recognize my guest Brian Falduto for his music, his coaching, or his role in the 2003 movie School of Rock as Billy, the stylist kid. When he shot his scenes, Brian had no idea what gay even meant, but as soon as the movie came out, it seemed like the whole world was telling him who he was. That pushed him deep into the closet, until another musical experience helped him find his authentic self again in an unlikely genre — country.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. Last week’s newsletter was about how I came to realize how wrong I’ve been about Fran Drescher and Steve Urkle. You can sign up at mattbaume.com.Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume. I’ve got a new video in the works about the show The Nanny!If you like weird old pop culture nostalgia, I livestream a lot of my research for my YouTube videos. Join me as we dive through old archives, discovering obscure clips and news articles — the next of those streams is coming up on Sunday, April 25 — not Saturday, as they’ve been in the past — at 11am pacific. There’s a link on my twitter @mattbaume. And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over atTwitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon!
 A few years ago, this week’s guest Steven Wakabayashi lived to party. His gay agenda centered on nightlife and a relentless fitness routine, but that all came to an end when the physical toll became too much for his body to bear and he found himself hospitalized for months. To recover, he had to completely change his life and set himself on an entirely new path — one that’s led him to film and literature he would never have otherwise known.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com.Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume. I have a new video up this week about the gay secrets of the show Friends.And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over at Twitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon!
This week I’ve got a very special guest — the wonderful Kristin Russo, whom I’m sure you know from the podcast Buffering the Vampire Slayer, the YouTube channel Everyone is Gay, the book This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids, all-ages Pride in New York, and oh my God so many great projects. And it all started with a young queer woman watching My So-Called Life, wondering if she was more like the free-spirted Rayanne or the teen-angsty Angela. When you watch My So-Called Life, your favorite character never winds up being the one you think it’ll be.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. Last week’s newsletter shared a discovery about Hollywood’s Agnes Moorehead vortex, and next week I’m going to show you the cutest, ugliest mascot in the world. You can sign up at mattbaume.com.Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume.And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over at Twitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon!Now, here’s Kristin.
This week’s guest spent time on the front lines of a revolution in the 60s and 70s. Steve Bull is an activist who fought for gay liberation in Los Angeles, and then brought those tactics to his small town in Maine when it was time for him to retire and move back home. Now he teaches the radical queer tactics that he learned to young organizers who want to follow in his footsteps.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com..Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume.And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over at Twitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon!
Back in 2015, one of the very first guests on The Sewers of Paris was my friend Amp, who was then just getting started on his career as a kink educator and adult performer. In the years since, he’s built a huge following for his podcast and YouTube series, Watts the Safeword, and on Friday of this week he’ll appear on the Epix TV show Sex Life, a documentary series about sex-positive households.For this week’s episode, we’re revisiting our 2015 conversation about Amp’s quiet Catholic upbringing, and the childhood he spent hiding from constant teasing by playing videogames in his basement. Early in his life, Amp learned the value of re-inventing himself when it was time to move to a new school, turning himself from a shy nerd to a true star.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got a newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com..Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume.And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over at Twitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon at 5pm pacific!
A few years ago, the Royal National Theater in London recorded an amazing production of the play Angels in America, starring  Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Russell Tovey, and more. And they just made that recording available to stream at NTatHome.com. For this week’s episode, we’re revisiting my 2015 interview with actor and singer Jonathan Blalock, whose life was completely changed by Angels in America, in part because of his religious upbringing. Jonathan grew up surrounded by spiritual music that at first filled him with joy, and then pain as he realized that his homophobic surroundings were turning on him. But as an adult, he finally gave himself permission to explore new forms of performing and song, and discovered that the intense emotions music always gave him didn’t have to come from a church. They could also come from him.We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick thanks to everyone who supports the Sewers of Paris on Patreon. And to everyone who’s reviewed it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.And just a reminder that I’ve got newsletter where you can see the stuff I’m working on and fun surprises I’ve discovered. You can sign up at mattbaume.com..Also check out my YouTube videos for deep dives into queer pop culture history. That’s at youtube.com/mattbaume.And I hope you’ll join me for regular videogame livestreams over at Twitch.tv/mattbaume every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon at 5pm pacific — a new later time!
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Comments (2)

Neropatti

I have been a listener for a few years now and I can't get over what a great interviewer Matt is. Over and over again the people he talks to compliment that the talk has been like a therapy session. Highly recommend!

Jan 18th
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Arthur Stowe

me

Jul 16th
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