Looking for something to do during the end of the world as we know it? Start a podcast with your best friend—or, better yet, listen to mine!
When I looked outside and saw the world was ending, I knew my only option was to launch a podcast with my best friend. How else would I find an excuse to wield my highly specific brand of pop culture and fashion knowledge before some deranged world leader pulled the first trigger? Where else was I supposed to document the two billion stray opinions in my brain before the sea level rose well above the San Francisco skyline? Which other way could I find a captive audience to practice my best jokes on when global warming was going to fry my loved ones like an egg before I could ever turn 40? A podcast was my only solution!
Now, I’ll admit—I thought starting a podcast was as simple as recording yourself and uploading it to Soundcloud. If only! By the end our first episode, my cohost and I had gone through audio mastering bootcamp, learned to code websites, memorized the complicated nature of an RSS feed, wrangled 13 different podcasting platforms, dived into various editing softwares, produced a musical remix, studied ad copywriting, and researched over 20 articles and book sources. Insanity—both a feat of gay achievement and a true testament to human ingenuity! But before I continue, maybe I should tell you a little more about this podcast I’ve spent 200 words alluding to.
Born of our mutual dissatisfaction with both the state of the world and pop culture, Eating For Free is part celebrity roast, part investigative journalism, and part wine-induced gossip session with your best friends. It’s everything I’ve ever loved and looked for in the content I consume. And the best part is? I get to create it with one of my best friends.
You see, my favorite hill to die on is the unwavering belief that the study of celebrity gossip is a necessary function of any healthy society. Our fascination with the rich and famous and attractive dates back as far as humans have had the ability to write. The entire idea of historical figures exists because of gossip and the exchange of opinions. While the rate at which we consume information has certainly sped up since the stone age, the core fascination with these people has never changed in the slightest.
I mean, to put it as plainly as possible, I’ve always found it odd that we believe the military strategists and world leaders are the only ones worth paying attention to when looking back at the past. Because let’s face it: when has any decade in the last 100 years ever been solely defined by the presidents inside it? Our times are defined more by the personalities than by the politicians: the culture-makers, the artists, the movie stars, the musicians, the revolutionaries in both idea and practice—these are the true history makers. They may not shape the policies of the world, but they do shape the minds and hearts of those that pay attention to them.
As I said before, it is my firm belief that celebrity gossip, and the investigation of it, is a necessary function of human society. A love of pop culture doesn’t make you vapid or shallow; it makes you informed and contemporary. Politics without pop culture is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no bread. It’s a car without wheels. And so, with this extremely specific conviction, I enlisted my best friend Matthew Lawson to journey deep into the intersection of both in pursuit of some deeper understanding of the world around us.
As with any passion project, this new adventure was built from a melting pot of drive and commitment and blood and sweat and more tears than I can remember. Whoever said that doing what you love would be easy was a liar. Let’s face it: nothing should come easy, because easy means your not pushing yourself as far as you can go with any given project. If everything came easy, every writer would be published in The New Yorker, every artist would be in MoMA, and every director would win Best Picture at the Oscars.
I have learned so much about myself and the way I work through this podcast. I’ve learned that I have a structure of self-sabotage in place that holds me back from giving anything my all. I’ve learned that, however dedicated I might feel, paying attention and focusing is difficult. I’ve learned just how funny I really am, and my knack for speaking to an audience without flinching. I’ve learned that my convictions run deep. I’ve seen my ability to recall obscure facts and relevant examples strengthen. I’ve seen myself pick up at least three unique, brand-new skill sets along the way. I’ve learned how to work as part of a team and to respect my partner’s needs as much as I do my own. It’s bettered my communication skills, business acumen, and creative abilities.
And none of that was easy—not in the slightest. I’ve failed along the way more times than I can count: I’ve stumbled, and made the wrong choice, and not always given it my all. But more than anything, I’ve grown within the very core of myself. I’ve seen the limits of my capabilities expand in ways I never thought possible. Easy? Never. But fulfilling in every way? Absolutely.
Pour yourself some wine, roll a swisher, and sit back with Eating For Free—dropping Mondays weekly on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and Stitcher. You can find also find us on our website, Instagram, and Facebook.
Ting Ting Chen