Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Revolution Will Be Dirty, Fabulous and Live on the Air

My activism has taken many forms, I’ve been a street fighter, a journalist, a speech maker, just about anything you can imagine. But I never thought I’d take my fight to the airwaves as I have over the last several months.

I’m the co-host of a weekly show called The Rainbow Asylum, along with Arizona activist Mike Shipley (aka Head Nurse Mikester). We started the show back in September after I was a guest on Mike’s weekly political talk show Outright Arizona. The both of us had such a blast on the air that I suggested we do our own show.

But it had to be something different, Outright AZ, the radio network Mike had his show on, was mainly political shows, all of them with a libertarian bent and a few focused on LGBT issues. Mike and I were both serious political junkies and insanely driven activists, we needed a break from the constant work we were both engaged in.

So that’s how it started, a weekly break from the insanity that consumes most serious political addicts (and hence the name “The Rainbow Asylum”). But we had to go further than that; Mike and I are both cultural radicals, often scorning mainstream gay culture. We had to attempt to reinvent it.

We went for it, Mike adopted the stage persona of Head Nurse Mikester and became a sharp tongued androgynous king bitch, liberally lashing celebrities, politicians and yes, even yours truly. I became the Soundmaster, spinning gems from the queercore underground, including mainstays like Sister George, the Tom Robinson Band, and Pansy Division, but also digging deeper and airing bands like Maris the Great & the Faggots of Death, Le Sexoflex, Hunx & His Punx, the Strong Boys, and Closet Burner.

Slowly, but surely we started to get somewhere with it, people dug our crass humor, the records we were playing, and our first weekly bit “Slut of the Week”, where we pick a celebrity that’s being particularly asinine and officially end their careers. Most of our targets have been musicians or actors, but we have taken a few political swipes, such as when we declared the entire US Congress as “Slut of the Week” over the government shutdown.

Our first break happened with our Halloween show, we had Maris the Great on as our guest and he was insane, discussing his habit of eating the brains of his lovers, the danger that mere mortals face in his presence and during our “Slut of the Week” bit, he ate the brains of our chosen loser. People tuned in to hear the King of the Gay Undead growl with two weird activists.

Shortly after Maris was on, we expanded our show to an hour and a half and added a new cast member, Sandra Furr. I knew Sandra back when I was in college and knew she would be perfect for the show. With her sharp drag persona, she started doing a bit called “Sandra Furr’s Concrete Carpet” where she would dig up a queer artist who was more pop than what I normally played and highlight one of their songs.

We were growing and quickly becoming the highest rated show on the network, we had our own on-air personalities and were getting a fairly regular cast of callers, who would dial in to make crass jokes, tell us they loved the show, or tell embarrassing stories about either me or Mikester.

But even though what we were doing was meant to be non-political, it was revolutionary in its own right. Mike and I both came out of the underground music scenes, we were used to digging for our own culture and identities and with the mainstreaming of American gay culture, a lot of that raw, dirty edge was rapidly disappearing in a haze of Top Forty pop radio and drag queen reality shows.

So we set out to tear it down and rebuild it in our own image and encourage our brothers and sisters to rediscover their own queer cultural roots and find what was going on that The Advocate wasn’t talking about.

And I think so far we’re succeeding…

Tune into the Rainbow Asylum, Sunday Nights at 10:00 PM EST (9:00 Central, 8:00 AZ) on the Outright Arizona Network at BlogTalkRadio:

Find the Rainbow Asylum on Facebook:

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