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The Sewers of Paris


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?

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?


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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?




Wanting to Be Him and to Date Him (Ep 410 - Noah/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

This week’s guest is Noah Adams, a researcher investigating the experiences of people who are trans and autistic. Noah’s understanding of himself began with cartoons in childhood, with characters that drew his interest in ways that he wouldn’t fully understand until years later. By the way, in our conversation, Noah mentions a fundraiser that he’s doing to help queer people relocate to safety — here’s the link for that if you’d like to chip in. Also, a big thanks to everyone who supports...


Driving a Jeep at 90 Miles an Hour (Ep 409 - Brini Maxwell/Auntie Mame)

My guest this week is Ben Sander, creator of the character Brini Maxwell, a drag hostess who’s helmed shows about crafting, cooking, and homemaking, for decades. It all started with a little cable access show that he produced with some help from his mother, before becoming a cable TV series, with live shows that continue to this day — with Brini the character continuing to evolve as Ben her creator explores new artistic frontiers. (Also: if you’re a fan of pop culture history — and I think...


Maybe I'm Not Gay, Maybe I'm a Skater (Ep 408 - Edgar/Tony Hawk)

My guest this week is Edgar Gomez, author of the book High Risk Homosexual. Edgar spent years trying to figure out who he was, bouncing from one group to another — which took him from skater cliques to an encounter with a sex worker in Nicaragua to enrolling in school to become a cop, until he was expelled after being falsely accused of being a drug dealer. Edgar auditioned a lot of identities before he found one that felt right — one that allowed him to continue infiltrating and exploring...


Beware of the World (Ep 407 - Josh/My Best Friend's Wedding)

My guest this week is Josh Weed, who ten years ago became a minor online celebrity after writing a blog post about how he was gay, Mormon, and happily married to a woman. Well, things have changed a bit since then. In 2018, Josh and his now ex-wife decided that it just wasn’t working, and they parted ways to pursue new relationships. Since then, they’ve both re-married, and remain close friends. And Josh has had some space to reflect on the cultural forces that gave them a distorted view of...

The Actual Mayor of Emeryville (Ep 406 - 90s Alt-Rock/Mayor John Bauters)

This week I’m talking to Mayor John Bauters — yes that’s right the actual mayor of Emeryville, which are the words on the sash that was made for him by Pixar studios, just one of the constituencies in his East Bay town. John never planned to become an elected official, and he doesn’t care if people vote him out. Which is maybe what makes him such an unusual leader. We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a reminder that I’ve got a book coming out next year about queer sitcoms! It’s...


I'm Going to Read About Murders (Ep 405 - Agatha Christie/Paul Baker)

My guest this week is Professor Paul Baker, a writer and linguist whose work includes some FASCINATING explorations of Polari, the secret 19-century queer language that existed in England a century ago. He’s also delved deep into the history of British don’t-say-gay laws, gay seafarers, and in an upcoming book about campy queer culture. Given his expertise in campy sitcoms, drag stars, and celebrated actresses, I have a feeling that he speaks a language in which listeners of this podcast...


I Get a Kick Out of Freaking People Out (Ep 404 - Interview With the Vampire/Levi Hastings)

Over on YouTube, I just released a new video about the long queer history of vampire lore — from Victorian novels about killer lesbians and undead seamen to early motion pictures and then the groundbreaking novel Interview With the Vampire in the 1970s. A new adaptation of Interview just premiered on AMC this week, and so in honor of that we’re diving into the Sewers archives to revisit my 2015 interview with Levi Hastings. Levi’s an illustrator who grew up feeling like a misfit in his tiny...

All Monsters Are People (Ep 403 - Attack of the Killer Tomatoes/Michael Varrati)

For this week’s episode, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to run an interview about horror movies, since October’s about to begin — or about romantic comedies, in recognition of Billy Eichner’s new rom-com Bros. So I decided to run an episode about horror AND romance. It’s a revisit of my 2018 interview with Michael Varrati, Hollywood screenwriter responsible for such films as From Hell She Rises, and Seven Dorms of Death … and also A Christmas Reunion and A Christmas in Vermont. Michael's...


My Second Life (Ep 402 - Phantom of the Opera/Chris Geidner)

My guest this week has two lives — his theater life and his law life. By day, you may know Chris Geidner for his reporting and writing on some of the most pressing legal issues of the day. But he’s just as passionate about musical theater, going all the way back to the time he was enthralled by Phantom of the Opera. In fact, it was one little twist of fate that led him to a legal career instead of a life in the theater — but, as he discovered, the two careers aren’t as different as one might...


Giving Myself Permission to Get a Little Bit Sexier (Ep 401 - French Comics/Josh Cornillon)

You might know my guest this week from his saucy art on Twitter, but there’s much more to his work than X-Men in Speedos. Josh Cornillon grew up reading sophisticated graphic novels in his native France, and those books infuse the writing and illustration that he does today. We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, hey in case you haven’t heard, I’ve got a book coming out next year about how subversive queer comedy transformed the American sitcom over the last half century! It’s...


I Think I Quit (Ep 400 - The Front Runner/TJ Klune

TJ Klune’s childhood grew up reading books in a forest under the trees, which sounds idyllic … minus the part about how he was mercilessly bullied. Literature and libraries were his safe haven, and in fact a librarian was the first person he ever came out to. In his adult life, TJ found himself working a grueling job in the insurance industry, longing to tell the stories in his head. But nobody was more surprised than he was when, one day, he walked into work and declared the he was quitting...


Jewels and Gold and Butts (Ep 399 - Pink Narcissus/Ian MacKinnon)

Fifty one years ago this month, a strange and beautiful art film called Pink Narcissus had its San Francisco debut, and went on to forever change the life of my guest Ian MacKinnon. I spoke to Ian back in 2015, and this week we’re revisiting that interview to mark the half-century birthday of one of his favorite films. Growing up in the midwest, Ian couldn't even picture what life as a gay man even looked like. And he certainly couldn't have pictured what his life would become: parading up...


The Taste of an Old Queen (Ep 398 - Kyle Turner/Bringing up Baby)

Kyle Turner was one of those weird little kids whose tastes were more like those of a middle-aged gay man than those of his peers. He was raised on a steady movie diet of golden-age black-and-white comedies, and the resulting perspective that he gained set him apart from the other kids at his deeply conservative private school. He always believed he was destined to writing about classic film, and though a mix of hard work and good connections, as an adult those dreams have come true. We’ll...


Like I Was the Star (Ep 397 - Kevin/Reality TV)

My guest this week was present for some of the earliest days of what we now recognize as reality TV — he helped produce Gay Riviera, a 2001 Bravo series about queer dating. Kevin Haddad never expected to find himself behind the scenes of a series that helped developed the rules of reality television — a few months earlier, he was a waiter at a family restaurant in Connecticut, and before he knew it he was staying out all night at New York’s hottest nightclubs and possibly getting picked up...


Morbid Curiosities (Ep 396 - Disaster books/Chris Steadman)

My guest this week is Chris Steadman, an author and professor and podcaster whose childhood obsession was very grown-up books about disasters. Even as a kid, he took a very serious view of the world, placing on himself the burden of understanding and — hopefully — finding a solution to humanity’s greatest troubles. That led him down some unexpected paths, and now he helps guide other folks who are on similar explorations. We’ll have that conversation in a minute. First, a quick reminder...

My Heel Connected with his Jaw (Ep 395 - Tomie dePaola/Trung Le Nguyen)

My guest this week — and apologies for the slightly late post, it’s been a busy week! — is Trung le Nguyen, author and illustrator of the award-winning book The Magic Fish, among many other graphic works. Trung’s family made their way to the US from a refugee camp, and he grew up obsessed with cozy picture books. A sensitive boy, Trung could have been the target of a lot of bullying — but he wasn’t, thanks in part to a moment at a birthday party that involved his father, his friends, and a...


Climbing a Mountain Every Day (Ep 395 - Stephen/Ballet)

Last week I spoke with Bret Shuford, one half of the couple known as the Broadway Husbands. This week I’m talking to his husband, Stephen Hanna, about leaving home to pursue a ballet career and discovering just how physically grueling that world could be — not to mention surprisingly hostile to sensitive young guys like him. The work took a heavy toll, and for a time Stephen found himself going down a dark path … until he found a way to change course and find the life he’d been looking...


Musical Theater on the Subway (Ep 394 - Brett/Broadway)

My guest this week is Bret Shuford, one half of the couple that calls themselves the Broadway Husbands. Bret met his husband Steven while they were both working on Broadway, and they started a blog about their lives together before embarking on their latest adventure — raising a kid. I’ll be talking to Bret this week about his childhood in Texas, his viral video career, and a problem that he steadfastly ignored until it threatened to destroy everything — and next week I’ll have his husband...


Becoming Real (Ep 393 - Wyatt/Velveteen Rabbit)

Before we start this week, I want to thank you for your patience — as you might’ve seen, I’ve been recovering from a balance issue that left me in a state of constant dizziness. As a result I had to cut back on editing for a few weeks, since that involves staring at a screen full of objects constantly scrolling left and right. But the good news is that I’m getting better and will be back to my usual Sewers schedule soon. Thanks again for bearing with me while I get back on my feet and back...


Demons & Ghosts (Ep 392 - Hamish Steele/Dead End: Paranormal Park)

Maybe you’ve seen the new animated series on Netflix entitled Dead End: Paranormal Park, featuring a cast of queer characters working at an amusement park that might be a portal to hell. I spoke to the show’s creator, Hamish Steele, several years ago when his comic book Deadendia was in the early stages of being adapted into a show, and now that Dead End has been completed and released, we’re revisiting that conversation this week to hear about the real-life friends who inspired the story…...