« WTF with Marc Maron Podcast

Episode 659 - Gloria Steinem / Kliph Nesteroff

2015-11-30 | 🔗
American icon Gloria Steinem visits the garage to talk with Marc about her journey on the road as an activist and cultural leader. They discuss how the feminist movement has deepened throughout the years while the challenges facing the movement evolved. Plus, Kliph Nesteroff returns to celebrate the release of his long-in-the-making book about the history of comedy in America.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
A guy. Far I'd words. Do those. How are you what the bloggers, what the fuck bodies, what the fucking years, what the fuck stirs? happening. I mark learn. This is doubly tee. If this is my podcast, I'm back, I made it back. I made it back from flower I was there for thanksgiving out. Everyone. Do everybody. Ok, let's say hi to some of the folks out there who are working in different environments. Shall we, I mean it's hard for me to know we're everyone's working, whether urine labs or on train or on a bike, and I know sometimes I go through a list of things. I can't represent everyone, but I am always surprised when I get an email like this, a mark of a huge fan, not literally my weight, is acceptable. Writing to you from the turkish side of the syrian border. We have twelve hours
our duty in the trenches every night, it's dead, silent outside freezing cold. It's just was waiting under the rain and a haze of dust deputy have helps pass the time so fast. after out a couple of times, which was not good as it gives way your position immediately, I just would you to know that your work reaches all the way over here and it's been an incredible source of emotional support. For me, it's a mind, wrecking experience to be here during war there isn't much to hold onto, and Make you abandoned and forget everything back home being forced to obey orders that your ideologically and politically against takes a tall and dry you into an existential crisis and frustration. So I guess I wanted to say thank you. anxiously waiting for new episodes here, cheers. How- How could I know that you know it just it's amazing I get so many emails and I know you're all doing you gotta do or what you want to do in I'm I'm happy you are enjoying the show I seriously em
today on the show I gotta up We're gonna go with a little congress, and I have with quick nestor off the cliff nest rob. I introduce you to cliff nestor off a few years ago he's a rider. He writes about show business he's. One of my favorite show business writers, and now he has, book out called the comedians drunks thieves, scoundrels in the history of american comedy and it's a great book. When I talk who, if I had not read the book, but I know and I know is writing read a lot of his writing and and now I'm in the book, I'm reading it spectacular. But if this is a and a history of comedy. It's a history written by the losers. It's it's a deep, our history of a show busy. You may not know about influences on contemporary comedy and an end no business in general that you may not be aware of its it's a beautiful book.
our beautiful losers and a few winners, and nobody has a prose style quite like cliffs and quick, and I will talk in a bed and after that- I had a relatively short conversation for art for our show here with the glory. steinem he's got her book out called my life on the road it's available now, and we kind of talked about that on exclusive? We were tied on time, man. Sometimes people come over here and there I'd on time tat will get into those talks in a minute which is what some kind of like regroup together. Let's take a beaten, and it's what's process. What's happened us ok, We are all home for thanksgiving. Perhaps some of you not home, perhaps some of you with friends. Perhaps some of you do in that first, thanksgiving away from families and try to make that, oh hey presto me I'd people over that included family, but we'll say this: god, in a nick of fuckin time, got out
just under the wire all that stuff, I said to you the monday before giving I honoured the best I could myself, I respected the fragility of my mother and her boyfriend and- and I tried to us to be tolerant and his loving as possible which doesn't come that easy to me I held my mother a couple times and I patted her on the back once and I said nice things to her- it was as easy as it should be I tolerated her boyfriend John, who is above and far like, probably You know- and I say this with a certain amount of humor arguably, the most annoying man, I've ever met my life and and I say that you know with respected in a degree. I understand you come from a comes from a different time where people needed to talk constantly. I think there must have been a tie. He keeps he refers to this time a lot this a back in the day and I'm starting to assume that back in the day, people at a higher tolerance for people that just the din list.
and can't shut up like I don't know, but maybe there is a different time without was we're everybody. We just competing to be heard you know in in real time with no social networking. Just a lot of men in hats talking quickly, and probably about nothing, some self salvatore diet, I rant or glorification of their place in the world, and then there was very little listening and there is a lot of deals negotiating. I think that there are. time in america were the only time that men stop talking about cells was to sell whatever wears a were involved in selling or talk, neither boss or listening perhaps I was the only time there was an I dont know, I didn't live in that time. Pow would look out just copy that co up is where that comes from the up. I did you shit my pants, so now I guess what I'm saying is I'll buried what well with you and
and I hope, you're ok and I hope your easing back into eating properly. Okay so who have nestor off thy story about jackie, green. the great story, this one, the first encounters I had with quick, because I appreciated his writing when he wrote for the data let em you blog and now She had a wonderful book, the comedians I appreciate him so much. I had him on the show, because I wanted to talk comedy within these. He isa is agreed. active mind. But when the first counters I had I'd, read an article, he wrote on the deaf and dumb dubbed dub let em you blog thing about you. Green. It was this great article about noise. Depression is drinking, is driving the his car into that found it Caesar's that there was a gun some on play, almost gone play embody hack, it was involved and you just did the whole portrait dark portrait, a shaky green and I let that be reminded me that I wanted
interview shack agree. I may have told this story, but mostly haven't heard it. It reminded me that I'd reached out to check agree once before I'd reached out I'd written an email to a website that looked like it. Hadn't been visited in decades one of the original website, Jackie green dot com. Maybe I emailed the contact, I said: look I do a radio show kind of thing I want to interview Jackie. Is there any possible way? I can do that. I would come to him like weeks later, I get a any mail back. You shackles, interested. This is his cell phone number. Don't tell anybody like you know, there's a pie, me, I'm on checking green cell phone number, so I gotta put in back in my head night forgotten about it, and then I read cliffs peace about. She. Hacking reminded me that I need to get in touch with Jackie that had this phone number I call this phone number I go hide is mark. Maronite written did shaq green as a shaky grim written about doing an interview checking and on the other, and this guy goes no more interviews, I'm not right any, not doing any more fuckin interviews, and my scares me. did you write that peace and unlike
yeah night in writing, my guy? Why? How do they garden? They did. Nobody says anything about the charities above the good stuff, I don't know whether how he got his stories is information where the hell get that shit, I'm not doing any more interviews. Horrible conversation, I e this contact equip cliff and I say, looking I I just talked to were to shaky green. and I think you'd, referring to your piece he once in a where the hell, you got your information where'd. You get those stories, and within an hour cliff rights back. He told me it's very funny, and that was why experience, Wickliffe and then I met him in Vancouver Andy, and then I had him on the show and the rest is history. This a conversation with cliff about the release of his new book, the comedians drunks thieves, scoundrel, The history of american comedy it's available now it's a beautiful book, so here's me
cliff nestor off with a nest what it seems just a few years ago you were The guy right in a blog, barely anybody red yes, and and- and I met you up in vancouver, yes and we established, who you were- and we agree on this- show a comic that quick doing it. The last time I saw your were riding around your bike and you're like I can wish. I was doing comedy well. I still that debt that impulse that inclination yeah, but now that I'm on this publicity blitz for the book. I get that gratification without having to do an act. Yeah everybody exe the author historian to be really boring. So I generally like kill because people ex a dullard who can't speaking
microphone is up there and then I go up there and I tell things are only like half funny and they you'd laugh. So it's a very gratifying book audiences. Are you kill him with book on dealing with book audiences, I'm getting more press than everybody. I know who did stand about my level, so that's kind of cool. We You won somehow I want in Canada there's yes, weird obsession with people who come to america and get press in america and then suddenly in canada than they want to give you press but van so now, I'm getting all this canadian press to so it's kind of a kind of fun and I keep getting asked. Well, my stand back from canadian press when I was doing stand up in canada, Nobody'D ever was interest in talking about what you're doing a stick right. You do and the the character I was doing to stick I was doing the character which was like in an old comic, characterise com, a character in that stick was popular and then, as do mother, stick with drew me my own voice and nobody like yeah,
so it was weird. Does he found your voice in this writing business because, like now that you are cited me in the book. I was happy to work the book. The comedians drunks theme scoundrels and the story, american kommeni, because I think that One thing: people who who read the book and people who who have whatever petitions it may have on you, you have a morbid and and would say, darkly perverse fascination with the parts of show business, that get glossed over darkly, perverse, I'll just perverse but darkly perverse. Well, I think that is instead, inherently what's interesting about it, you know and when I wrote sir book. I think what s Is it from other history books? A lot of historians think they need to include every single detail right in a linear, chronological fashion. Right, you know a bob hope biography will talk about his contract negotiations in nineteen thirty nine. He asked for twenty five thousand. They only gave him twenty thousand. Who can
there's. Nobody cares. You know so with this I cut out all the shit that I thought was boring kept all the stuff I thought was interesting and so some things that be considered by some people more historically important may not be in their ride, things that are important but more interesting like say Alber brooks, is comedian, father dying on stage. That's in there, that's an interesting story, but in the grand scheme here, father harry einstein is maybe not the most famous or influential comedian, but europe find those guys it we're pivotal that nobody really knows about. I mean there's. Two cats. It you're right about that. who the hell is that guy and also you able to track the roots of modern company, and I mean obviously, they could go further back than involved those pretty far back. That's really where it starts. Yeah yeah! You know they asked me the publisher, Yeah grove press. We asked one of the old time, legendary, subversive publishers who published naked lunch track of answer, one all the censorship battles during the degeneration and I'm thrilled to be with them they asked me if I would write a
three of comedy that went back further to the days of vaudeville, and I had pitched a book about comedians and the mafia, the out that was kind of the form that, from that one story, right, that's right! The island drake story. How many pages you did you give them? How me did you write about four hundred pages this is about four hundred pages, but this is what half of what you wrote: quarters of what euralia we cut out of tat? Yeah, of course, now? What is on the things that a? Why was certain things cut out? You just couldn't make a book that big money. It was for purposes of space yeah and a lot of the stuff was cut out for flow through the narrative had to move quickly. I don't like boring books, so I wanted to make sure it's an now if you were to was up a certain pace. You were to go beat for beat with the with the personalities that lead us to where we are now cause. You go from vaudeville to now. Yes, yeah, what is it we could you? Could you sort of skip a rock through the people that you think with that? We have I've where we are now well, I don't know if I could skipper rock with the people I sort of But it's more about the media.
The eight hour, so it starts with vaudeville. Right, and I only really talk about the people that you would still know today. W c fields, the marks brothers, Bob hope, jack penny, whose forgotten now milton burn the people that became the in the next generation or who I talk about right at first generation and much of the book chronicles people's careers right before they become famous So there's lots in a book about Larry David, but the Larry David stuff ends in nineteen, eighty right and theirs it's in there about lorn Michael's, but it in nineteen, seventy four, so I kind of chronicle all the stuff that dont know about, but really one of the themes of the book is struggle. So it's all about these people struggling and failing and me comments about how their never going to make it a may should kill themselves because she, that is kind of something that we can all relate to write it just means they can rely. I certainly comic can relate to it. But let's talk about Jackie gleason, because, like he's one of these guys, it's sort of reputed to be this. This had an amazing appetite for all things: fun right right
where did like. Where did he started? What was his dark? Jackie gleason is interesting as early careers, interesting because he was managed by this guy named willie weber, neil weber, was the grandfather of Stephen weber from wings really here and willie weber was also don. Rickles is first manager Weber had a reputation for taking on in a comedian that nobody else would handle because they were shit, so he handled don Rickles at a star, Jackie gleason, at a start and a bunch of obscure guys that nobody would know this guy mickey shaughnessy, who was a philadelphia, stand up comic, who played police officers, the area all the time, the sky, tat henry who was like a stephen edi opening act, but he handled on rickles early on and Jackie gleason early on, Jackie gleason was considered a terrible stand of comic, but he got booked at this place called the clubs. keen in new york, which I write about in my book in those days
or an insult comic near. It was very dangerous because most of these clubs or owned by the mafia right, oh, if you insulted the wrong person, you could get hurt. So Jackie gleason got book to this place called the clubs Yang and the club. teen was an insult club owned by comedians. Untold purpose was so that insult comedians could go and profit. Freely without fear of getting murdered was a popular. It was very popular. Was the early forties in new york on fifty second street, which was known as jazz street, where all the jazz clubs, haha club eighteen and had I've insult comics, roving the audience with wireless mike's, insulting everybody me out in one of them with gleason increasing. Became a substitute comedian there when anybody else couldn't make it they needed a fifth of what the other guys a pat herring. in senior the father of the guy from one day at a time a guy named vince curran, a guy named Frankie hires, a guy named jack White started it they're all very, very obscure, but Frankie hires invented a catchphrase club. Eighteen
At the start of every show. You go into the audience preparing to insult nobody in say and away. We go yeah which might sound familiar if you ever watched, the Jackie gleason show Jackie Gleason stole that phrase, and it became his catchphrase that happened. Tire and Frankie hires became a broken destitute and Jackie gleason didn't care and by and help them at all, not at all, not at all I don't know these people I gave its it's it's a week thing I mean it. That's all that guy had to go on vestry, that's just what you nobody, it's it's it's in seeing that there's always these these, these questionable compromises of the soul. At the same time, Jackie Gleason became a gazillion ere. He could have at least given emma a gig as a p, a rosetting on his. You know, you're not just as a little hand out, but nothing now did you find- It's a recurring theme, the sort of weird heartlessness of people that, to step over other people to become successful. Ah, no. I didn't really find. That is a theme, but theft we definitely a fee
there's? This is one of the more interesting stories about vaudeville, in sixteen there was a company union called the national of variety artists or vaudeville artists, which was disconcert, circumvent, actual unions. andrea, vaudeville, so vaudeville, so the vaudeville moguls created this company union envy ape and a thing called the mature protected material because everybody was saying this guy stealing my routine disguised you on my return. So it was the old fang, the all cliche, about mailing, a thing to yourself which generate stamped envelope. So they had. Is he The file at the envious of every routine and joke in vaudeville been claimed by individuals now at the end, twenties, when the stock market crashed, vaudeville, folded right and the national vaudeville artists union was no more, but those filing cabinets were still there. So this car- a team olsson and johnson who yes known for a movie, called hell's a pop and went and took all the material and claimed it as their own and then too, for the next twenty years on stolen material aid, rift on
call them honest people call them on it, but there is no recourse. There is no way to to prove it are defended anymore. They took the material like I was impression that there was a time like shortly after vaudeville, where guys would knew that they were doing the same bit well in a way, I mean thing is that in those days material was generic. It written generically. You didn't write from your point of view. You told jokes like Do you hear the one about the giant illegally walking down the street so very easy to steal, because it's not about you in the fifties one! lenny, bruised and jonathan winters and more saw. Then it became very difficult to steal because a guy like norm, crosbie or jack carter, if they're talking adley stevenson like mort Saul. It's not going to work, it's not going to translate they're not going to get loud. Is it interesting that the two types of comedies that the two types of comedy still coexist? Yes, yeah? I mean that's sort of a fast anything that year, your point of view guys or mess,
guys or guys are willing to take those risks emotionally, but you're always gonna have just a joke eyes and they they, I think, probably what You say: would you say that they still do just as well or better? They probably did better find Actually, it's like today look of a top ranking comedians financially the amount that they get paid, the level of fame. The level of adulation does not equate to our food. comedians not really right, right or not pushing any boundaries, not to say the comedian, has to push boundaries but there boys, their point of view is, is kind of like middle of the road sure it's a well it's it's entertainment product for the most people possible and it's a mainstream mac, yeah yeah. To try and guess you want to succeed in show business. You have to shoot for the middle and also like in the book you sort of track. You know the the race records and also you know black comedy sort of from it's begin
and then the evolution of that of from minstrelsy through a boy who were here comes a judge horses, and why am I taking me married you all the way through to dick gregory and red fox red fox figures. All over my book he's very, very important. One of the funniest guys ever lived. I mean he's still popular with a contingent, but it's mostly because of sanford and son reruns. He does not get the credit he deserves as a groundbreaker and he had a club here. In hollywood he was the first black club owner in in in midtown, los angeles, west hollywood. Beverly hills, the very first he took over a club called the slate brothers club, which is essential in the history entered. factory of Lenny Bruce and don rickles and red fox took it over and sixty seven before when it was the slate brothers club were lenny. Bruce got fired for using the phrase cocksucker on stage where they pull the plug on him, and it was the first this club, the slate brothers it was unless you wanna go and Lenny Bruce was gonna, be
big star. They brought any already been arrested. Soul was like big news items this guy had club, and so the club was full celebrities who had come to see when a boost for the first time, but it was really loud that may they wouldn't be quiet, he went up there and nobody could hear and he was furious, so we all them a bunch, a cock, suckers everybody went quiet and the slate brothers fired him he had to do. show that night at ten p m at the same club, but now they had no comedian and a lineup around the block with celebrity clientele, so they got on the phone, they are looking for an emergency replacement that weak his fur. time in LOS angeles, don Rickles was doing no business. At hollywood and vine at a club called zombies. We see there was a jazz club. Nobody was coming to see this guy don Rickles, so they found over there this that we need a comedian for ten p m. This at all, wish Wilson this kid whose fluent from miami don rickles Don
It goes in at ten pm. The whole audience is celebrities Annie, he nails every single one of them with an insult. He becomes the biggest thing in la so good story. Lenny Bruce saying cock sucker at the slate brothers club may don rickles a entity here, and then he ended up in a clark gable movie. Because of that that same venue is the club that red fox later bought red fox, Ex started, stand up and allay forties, I'm doing a show soon, wrongly projecting some rare images and clips. One of them is a variety of peace. I found and when I was researching the book, it's from nineteen, forty, nine and it says- friends always wondered how John foxy sandford forward a cadillac on whose meagre stand up salary they found out? tuesday night, when he was busted with two pounds of marijuana at a newark, newark new jersey, nightclub
as early as the late forties, red fox was kind of an underground, subversive guy, and he was sellen marijuana with malcolm x before either than were famous around harlem. They would break in at night to this dry cleaners play steel, the suits and sell the suits the next day on the roof of this building for a cut rate per you know he was always a sword a hustler? slur, subversive guy and then throughout the fifties. I mean he performed in accommodating with sloppy white guy named Johnny Otis, whose very important rhythm and blues in los angeles, took red fox there's weighing let em rap all night long on his late night radio station, but the big first important, historical distinction for red fox happened in nineteen fifty six, a guy named, duty williams, who was a do up mogul here in los angeles, who had made a lot of money with a hit song called earth angel by the penguins
was putting at all this rhythm and blues and do our music all this great black music. What on earth angel thing yet exactly? He saw at five at a place called the oasis club in south central los angeles. He said: read I'd like to record your and put it out as an album and red fox words like you're, crazy cause. Then people won't come and see my actual That's ridiculous here and he said well, I can give you five hundred bucks red fox it get out of here Two days later, I read foxes broke and issues of eta. Doozy Williams is office and says: hey man, what we don t dare recording that record, so they recorded the record and it was a weird novelty and nineteen. Fifty six a stand up, comedy record ever been done. But- and this was the first party record- it was the first point. Record. It was the first stand up record period, really really ever ever for that there were novelty songs by stand. Freeburg spike Jones there had been radio shows on seventy. Eight. There had been like talk,
seeing their routines with music. In the background bert, william. Seventy eight, but nobody had just recall their stand up act. So red fox did that in nineteen fifty six it became a huge underground hit with with black record buyers, but because it was the black market places like dollar records in south central los angeles, the mainstream white record publications like billboard and cash box, ignored it and that in practice, sales by duty williams knew how much were selling so recorded another one and another one and another letter like ten before any white, Gideon, put out a comedy record red fox, put out ten l, peas and for a peace fourteen releases, but between fifty six and fifty eight and then more all put went out and fifty eight show berman put, went out and fifty nine when you talk to those guys more saul, be like I was the first guy to do. Call you First, I do everything according to have yeah according to him, and so all these white comedians through history have taken credit for the comedy record boom. The came in the early sixties. What you said
Fine in every thrift store area, but red fox is the reason could sold so well that capital deca verve. They saw that and there like, we gotta, get in on this and they started recur, and comedians and created this huge craze, but red fox fourteen records released big sellers before anybody. And I think it's uh. It's also like. I think people forget just how how much comedy record sold a mean. Some of them sold a lot well being fuckin money. Well, the famous one is the first family by von meter, yeah, which, to this day you still seeing every antique story, junk store every record store its worthless by when it I'm out in in sixty one, it was
best selling record of all time did not end well for VON meter and wasn't the best selling comedy reckon the best on record. Of all time now is about the J f k was about Jeff, cape and in his family, yeah and actually von meters. How I got into this shit because his story is insane, it's a movie it so crazy, with debates are what he does the huge record and then Kennedy gets assassinated, well ease, sort of left without a angle you, while he wasn't even really much of a comedian to begin where ya, but he was from new england. He looked a little bit like j f k, they had the same haircut, and so he was a kind of recruited by these disk jockeys. Who said, let's do a J, f k, spoof on record here and so he was, it became a huge sensation. They sent him on a country wide we're, but it was like sending an amateur comic on a country wide too and booking human carnegie hall. So I thought, review of his carnegie hall. Apparently I am a headline: is meter bombs and only positive thing. They say is that his opening act, stanley, myron handle men was hilarious, who's that who that turned out to be-
ended up being a writer fer a rodney dangerfield and was on Johnny Carson in the seventies, a million times by VON meter, kind of bomb than J f k dies, and now he has no act. Guzzle act was just impersonating jfk here this record, that's all six million copies after the ass nation cadence records, who put it out, sent out a nationwide recall all the lps were recalled, and von meters engagements were cancelled. He was cancelled off the joy makeshift. A long time, though didn't he didn't die until two thousand, and I shall two thousand so what happened? Was he try to reinvent himself? Nobody wanted it. Nobody like tat, he did another record for verve. He did to other ones for verve. Actually one was like a christian one. You started doing a lot of ass. It alot of pay yoda used by his lsd off pelt pollack Radner in the attic cities he started wandering the desert. It became a born again christian and invented himself as a country and western barroom piano player in maine and then died by
So that's the story. That was your portal in to what the type of stories of fast May you about comedy well because I used to go to thrift stores- and I would find these records by guys like von meter and I go- who the fuck is this guy, and why is he in every record store because I've never heard of them never seen him on tv but I but I've never quite big, but still there's a sort of. I I dunno if it's a morbid fascination, but in the same way that I'm a mate you know like I am captivated and enthralled by by drew friedman's work I am I'm sort of you sorting had a long kind of fascination with them human anomalies of sorts of circus, freaks and re rad kind of stuff that there's something about going into the comedy store, and you feel a ghost of something there's that there is an electricity that seems to be have a hit three to admit a dark electricity that not everybody sensitive to it. Have you ever been able to really track that in your psyche? What that is what that the compulsion to
to being part of that or to or to to look into. It is ah my compulsion to look into. I mean I'm trying to find out what mine is like being part of it, and I, like the idea I can't quite put my my finger on- It's not evil, but it's sort of adults most of the human spirit, that that is the core of of some of the most profoundly entertaining and sing begin comedy that we like there's something like when I was a kid I had pictures of of of entertainers they ve tabloid. Pictures of people, even no activity are buckle liking. It goes back to that that there there's something. I can't quite grasp. What it is, the vulnerability and the the The weird portions of people that that, Entertainers you in their private lives is, is morbidly fascinating. Well there's something very unnatural about it. So it's it's paul, even more fascinating for people who don't do it because they cannot imagine going up on site age to me, I don't
I have trouble relating to people who say they would never want to go on a stage and or that their biggest fear is going in front of an audience. I like well, what's what's the big deal like? What's the I'm with you. Why would you not right want be the centre of attention with name some of the names of the people that you talked over this book. How many were there? I think we are rounded, the two hundred for the for the press release, but I mean I talk to everybody and even over the course of the book, it was interesting to some people. I didn't interview efficiently for the book, but to spend time with, like millbrook seer Alber broke, spread willard, but yeah about hundred people. A lot of them are very obscure a lot of them. You know different generations. Obviously it's easier for the more current people, because they're all alive, I talked everyone we still live basically from the forties and fifty's, like professor when corey people of that ill commend moving into more modern generations. People like richard louis I talk to you
too many comedy store people from the seventy eight there's only so many argus hamilton anecdotes, one needs yell by its a huge book, into the nitty gritty. We talk about stories that have not previously, told before how jack benny was accused of plagiarism in his early years and to circumvent the pleasure plagiarism accusations. some interesting things. He changes named jack penny by four one. Name changes because he was tainted with these accusations of joke thievery, and furthermore, when he was accused of stealing from certain comedians what he did was he hired? Those comedians is writers to write for him and he became jack so a lot of kind of hidden history about comedy heroes is in this book about how milton birds dressing up in drag on the texaco star. Theater was inspired by the gay clubs that he frequented and studied the drag queens at the same time, a lot of comedians, like this guy bourbon, who was a gay comic, was getting arrested for dressing as a woman.
milton rules on the cover of time magazine hairdressing, like a woman. So there's a lot of hidden history and their gets. It depends on the venue. I've Well, not not only that it depends on on your status within the business. Re bourbon was very obscure, and he would dress and drag you go up on stage talk about being gay and you get busted for obscenity simply for sale that he was gay in one of the things he was thrown in jail for was the charge. This was a crime, in LOS angeles, merely fifties. He was charged with impersonating a woman and thrown in prison from milton berle, was impersonating. A woman became the most pillar and loved entertainer yoyo busy ass, a great job cliff. Thank you very much, and I did it man. Thank you MA am. The guys that isa thinker he's a talker, is a historian. The commission
is drunk thieves. Scoundrels rules in the history of american comedy it's available now, wherever you get books, be a great gift for comedy fans, Let's get into this very interesting, show diverse glue. Real steinem as a true icon as a as somebody who I remember from my childhood, because ms magazine happened when it in their own seventies right mid seventies, Remember her on television on the news on magazines. When I was a kid she issue, two main impression on my brain, a mature? I knew exactly what that was Ah, but I remember one this magazine first appeared, I remember the surely cheers I can't see in her on the cover? I remember allowed these things from the other stuff. was pouring into my brain is always gravitated towards yo counter culture and an exciting stew yeah. I don't know why, but that was where I wanted to live through. I remembered her from that shit, over here to the house and we had
less than an hour and I thought it savvy I believe that the word do. I want to call myself savvy and smart to sort of focus on the book that that just called my life on the road it's available now knew you'll you'll hear her. Tell me He doesn't consider this a memoir. I will talk about that in a few minutes, but I I decided to keep it focused on the book. a year because we were you know, that's you, she's had a big life and there's a lot of things talked to glorious steinem about, and I have in an hour, and I thought it was good and now our let's go to MIKE frustration with the amazing gloria steinem. It's crazy how you ve met president yeah, it's its intense when you meet them because their you bring so much to it in terms of your perception of them. But then
something slightly after the excitement. There's theirs disappointment, but there's a realisation that they're just people wars and that's it north korea is the good news so I was born in sixty three, so nineteen, seventy two when I guess MS magazine started you in my mind, like all of that stuff in the late sixties, nearly seventy was just stuff on new staff. His stuff on t v. I remember my mother bringing me to a mcgovern rally in albuquerque. I- and I remember seeing your face. I remember the cover the first ms magazine so we're coming in and I knew it was a world I wanted to be involved in, but I was near nine nine year as smart as you're ever going to get. Is that true, I think so I think so too. You do gravitate towards something. You know you feel something I think you're already who you're going to be re. I e or take right. I guess you can meet obstacles when hopefully evolve a little bit. I'm trying not to be emotionally nine at fifty two but tat.
But like when I read the book and I realized I was embarrassed at because, come from a generation in the Oh they're bet I miss most of the sixties that it was. This sort of bits and pieces. It was images I saw next on television. I knew he was bad, but tat, but I missed all of I'm reading your book and I'm like. Oh, my god, I'm a moron like how my not educated, Do you even know this fairly contemporary history? Now you, you don't need to know all that you have instincts that will tell you what is bullshit and we re isn't right, you're an and that will work. When you read history, it will work when you are living in the present yet it ends okay, it is okay, yeah because like there, there is part of me that you know when, when like, when you wrote this book, I mean after you know, written as much as you haven't. Having represented there, ism for as long as you have was this book away. To sort of
name your entire life's work around a memoir in a way to sort of now it's it's not a memoir. It is a road book. Ok, I think it's two different thing. Ok, what's the difference? It's not all that I'm not talking about love affairs. Marriage They didn't happen on the road rights. I'm you write that book. I have occasionally puts er. Yes, I know I have and the the reason my father is. There is because he was such a gypsy and traveller, and probably you know, gave me my tolerance for insecure That is very helpful and also the spirit of adventuring and looking towards the new and in having a certain amount of optimism. Yes, absolutely, but if you think about it, would Jack Kerouac have called his book more. I don't know but like you're right, it's probably not, but I mean
there seem to be moments like there, you seem to use experiences at you. Sort of went back to in your life is pivotal moments in and sort of dropping the way you saw the world and an e on looking. your father's career or what or lack thereof you are able to identify him in in a positive way a debt identify with him and see your own spirit within it. Now that's true. I really was harking back to what spelt rout the relevant to what I was saying about road, so my falling in love with political campaigning via had a lot to do with my mother's habit of of getting tears in her eyes whenever she heard the word Roosevelt. Then you remember Roosevelt, I kind of just very human landing of it. I e other. I remember it through her words- and I remember Elinor, of course, after the death of roosevelt the right and then do you
one I, as I read this book, I realize it it's not about feminism. It's about democracy. It's about america! It's about people, but wait a minute wait! A minute whereby we wait. You can't have democracy without feminism thing. Ok, absolutely here, fertilize, really all the same subjects. Would that? Well, that's what I like you, because I come to the book. You know be As someone who knows a view through some writing. But most we threw up you represent, but when reading the book it is funding anti about struggle and about people and about democracy. Working and I yes agreed- you can have democracy without ghana, like you, can't have it with racism, and you jack leah bite, but initially, I think what it seems to me
how'd. You was the struggle of people. Yes, they was understanding. How shall I say was understanding that I wasn't less important than any one else, but arising more important either right. It was very helpful to live in india for while, because that was suffused with that kind of spirit, it was only a decade or so after the independence of india. Ah, so I've. I realized that movements from the bottom up were possible right and you didn't see in america relay there was a latin and I'm sure, obviously it existed here yeah, but but I wasn't available to me. I thought you had to fit into the current hierarchy right, which was what what did you see that as then the current hierarchy?
well in my terms yet over those terms that were addressed me yeah, it meant that I would go to college and get educated in order to be an educated mother, and I woods Mary and my life from that time on would be decided by the needs of my husband and children. It not not that a husband and I might state our needs equally. That didn't exist now. Well, it probably existed, but it wasn't in the culture- and I didn't hear it, but isn't the the power of of that of your the. I guess it would be a patriot, system, but also just what what was taken for granted as the middle class, that time was was so limited and it's hard for media. picture you have just because I grew up and different time that it was. It was rarely questioned and then that was what you were up again? Well, it's still with us
in ways that mean, for instance, the efface woman has children via its harder for her to get a job, because she is considered distracted. If a man has children it's easier because he considered responsible the these, judgments are so deeply ingrained in and by when you like. I think what was fascinating about the book and about your experience in india, because what you like, what was exactly the thing sort of turned your mind in india about the power of car of talking to people. It was the complete accident of king through an area called rom nod, which was then very him being destroyed by caste riots, and I had gone to see the ashram of a of a man named win over baba who was a disciple of gandhi, who of course was no longer living, and it happened that, because the riots were going on, they had sent teams walking through
area in order to say to the people we care about you. You know that you're not is abandoned by every one outside and they were shout of women were saved. So they needed by women to become part of this team, and I said, do you know it's not the kind of crazy? it's an american woman, and they said you know, wouldn't be anymore odd. If you came from new delhi, so I there. I was with the serie a cup and a comb period, yeah walking through villages of being given food and shelter by the villagers, because, as the gandhian I was with said, you know, if they, if they want peace, they will support you and take care of you and if they don't there's nothing you can do anyway. ha so that the fact I like it just having new human interaction, representation in and also sort of move through you're, getting rid of of of the lies
or the fear by telling people that things are going to be okay and that this is what was going on? Not yet, while I abandoned add that they people of course had taken shelter in their houses in their compounds in their huts and so for them to come out at night. in sit around a kerosene lamp and even talk to each other, because the rumours are always are frequently worse than the reality here too, and now I don't know the reality is pretty bad and just to watch this process, in which the point was that everybody gets tell their story. Everybody listened and came to some consensus, and that was more important in the time spent right right right. It was it because you're engaged as well. They I need might not frame it. That way, like you know like this, is going on a while, or you know, how do we get to the bottom that wasn't? Let's have a meeting for an hour. No, it was let's say: let's have a meeting and and find out.
It's really happening and support each other help each other can from each other's reality. It was about the girl. Not about the time right now how much yeah. I know that you wrote your relationship with your mother was was difficult because she had some mental illness where I think she had now even even when she was a mental hospital. I asked the doctors how they would diagnose her and they said she had an anxiety neurosis and I said what would that it could you say her spirit was broken and they say it is as though it wasn't exactly what you would call something that, in the dictionary of riot riah, rack alike, actual depressive stated earlier. It was something environmental, an internal they had to do with with sad. Yeah sadness ever mean everything she loved. That was her
her own talent. we're own ability to just tell our own story to be a writer to be a reporter had she had given up because she had had a nervous breakdown. She couldn't make it all work together and then she had got hooked on early tranquilizers. That is the there was something else sodium pentothal, which was a very early for having analyzer, yeah yeah and end. Were you look I didn't when did you first sort of identify that that she was your heart broken cause of her inability to pursue her her own south What how old were you when you start to put that in? I read it. It took me a long time because we tend to just accept our parents are, is inevitable and I had not been borne yet when she was being a newspaper reporter in doing what she loved. So I wasn't until she came out of the hospital for the second time
and well really one. I was seeing her there and I suddenly realized how like we were and end and I realized who she had been and who she still was inside and did when did you identify some of the common of fears that you knew you had to transcend or overcome at I think I was still to be frank. I I was still in the I'm not going to be anything like my mother phase, in which causes us to blame, or at least a tribute, the problem to our parents, because We don't want to admit it could happen to us too right. So I I I wasn't quite there yet I'm right. I know now realise that its quite true and if she had a mental illness, it was called patriarchy but right, yeah, yeah yeah and I'm just lucky that I'm able that its diminished More than that I am able to. You know, have my own voice
it is interesting liking and in terms of the timeline that, before you, the vietnam war and before all the the sort of progressive and and and revolutionary activities in an and activism of of that time. I mean you were. Writing your writing magazine pieces. I mean you saw this all unfold before you. for the idea of feminism really took hold. While I was doing what I think we often do is that if we are in one somewhat marginalized group, we fi with every other marginal his right. So I was working for Caesar Chavez and the farm workers as a volunteer. I had, for instance, written long interview and a profile of James Baldwin, because I was in love with his writing, for I didn't understand. Why exactly I mean you know my part. But I didn't understand. I just knew I was magnetized by them, and also with the whip, with the struggle of Anybody who seemed you know miss
I presented or, or or or actually oppressed, yeah. I think Even now, people accused me of being a foul weather friend. What does that mean means that I am right there in a crisis, things are going well, I may be hard divide why you would be. How do you take me? Well, I recognize it. It's true I think, if things are going well, I'll get a need be right. After move, I'm wrecked orders crisis, and now I mean it's not quite that. No, no, I mean I love to dance and make jokes and neo hang out, and all of that which is good stuff, but but I have been achieved. being a foul weather for it. Go where they help is needed, to be way. I m, I think, also there were alive This is in my childhood, so I think I got into a kind of what they would now call Christ.
Management is right. Why mean when you deal with an sort of erratic, slightly irresponsible father, it's cool and you're travelling constantly, and you have no home. I would imagine that there is a certain amount of panic, and and in some one asked to be the grown up well and also I was his friend and his body and part of being his friend and his body was as the child going to open the door. Instead of him in case, it was built elector. I mean I can rep, but still, I think, recognise bill collector right, oh and also there were some con games going on. These guys had sort of a racket. Great, that's true, and did you know like like you're he he was jewish right Otherwise we brought up with any religion is not what people would call religion. Probably, although my mother kept telling me she tried to get
a jewish agenda? They, my father, didn't care about it at all, and my mother loved her mother in law adored, her mother in law. So she she kept telling me, against all evidence of my father, that jewish men made better husbands under the dream, Iraq. I did. You know your grandmother justice. by the end only thanks to feminist sky is who have done monographs about her. Have I come to realize I mean she died when I was about five, a hot it. She would what an important suffragists she was. A really there you have it in your genes for maybe and- and she had founded the first vocational high school until they don't. She also was elected as a member of the school board, the first woman to be so elected, which I realize she did in a very smart way because women were kept from voting, because there were gangs of men and boys who had set what we now call sexual harassment when they went to the polls ia and she
organised women to vote together, go and is one area where there are a lot of you do not. it bother you if they do bother. You just keep moving right. Well that well, that sort of became a theme of what you talk about in organizing as well. Yes, yeah that with that with the power of numbers and communication that you you are sort of an unstoppable for well, not a hundred percent. That is to happen. How'd you less, let's see the less stuff about. Let's put it, though, I like your wary to be too optimistic or or unrealistic. About a valuable about the fight so Your father never spoke of his mother. In these ways, are you do you have to wait until some yeah now in a family brag about there? forebears in ways that are seen as admirable so
I was told that how wonderful it was that my grandmother had for sons that she kept her kosher table, not right that she will. An educator that was good idea, but not that she ran for bored on a coalition ticket with the anarchists and the socialists that that was that worked. Family mythology. That was the downside. You know, I don't know why. I don't think it was concealed it just that it wasn't admired right, but it must have been a fairly I mean I'd. Imagine your father had some memories of the kind of chaos of campaigning and being part of a that he had probably, but he he was not. I mean I think that my father was rebelling against the super, not conformity, certainly but security that his parents had provided because they were both immigrant, so it mattered to them a lot, but to my father he was growing up in a completely quiet household, with a ticking clock on the mantel piece.
and he wanted adventure. I also he didn't care if he graduated from the universe, they are not. He was running all the dances running the humor magazine, right, oh, he was ill for day to day adventure and how did he influence? You think you're europe, your concept of of, if, if, if at all Your concept of you'll entity or what men were our or anything else. You know in retrospect eyes I was very super. lucky and yet way, because he was really was a nurturing father and he was patient and he loved my company. Any treated me like a buddy yeah, so I realized there were men who were kind and patient and treated you think about rhinos by referendum had places to live
I think it. You know, I'm grateful to him yeah. No, I I it seems to me that you sort of an attribute a lot of your your sort of spirit to to his his compulsion to I'm still friends with my old lovers, you know who are wonderfully oh really is probably all over now has a hand germany to build to him. I thought that letter in the book from yoda kid who, whose father was actor. Who knew your dad when when he passed was, is really touching, There are several points of the book where we now I gotta know I had on over my age or what, but I did but weepy very easily, and their results, get yeah even there, like the the taxi drivers, that you know, you're, sort of defence your lifestyle is really about having the experience of engaging with people. all kinds, a year sort of spontaneously and yet the stuff you earned from taxi drivers was like. Those are great story. Well, I
I realise that I had to, and I have to say to you that it was on after I've been working on the book. For while the that, I realized that, since I was writing and on the road book, perhaps I had to explain that I didn't dr yeah yeah I don't know how, even even though I later discovered the jack kerouac didn right I'm going either we gg of cassidy to drive around no Well, are you guys on campuses? I had a lot of neo. Cassidy's did right, sure serves excited student, but the reason I the way I travel is because The moment I leave my door, the journey begins, righty, I'm isolated in a car by myself, I'm taking the subway suit the train or I'm getting the taxi you're a meal. Italy. In a communal situation, a taxi is really like somebody's house, now they have their photographs up and so on. And you end up in conversation so ear. Your trip starts right.
Yeah and well, but how do you travel so the you don't take buses across country, though? Do you well I have I have occasionally taken buses and certainly trains mostly by by plane, though right and that has turned out to be great because the flight attendants are flying girlfriends right because because they have their own and huge job problems over. I'm and they were organizing. In fact, they were the first group to take a discrimination case before they eat Oh see the equal employment opportunities commission so because they had to stop working, at a certain age. They had to look a certain way rather worth all kinds. There were hyper, perceptual and gratified and and men couldn't be hired his flight attendants as they are now are so when they were getting activist in politicized. At the same time that I was wandering around taking planes,
so literally, I had flying girlfriends right Also, you had those those talk circles about issues that affected. People's wives and women's lives. Yes, and we we had them in the galley are ready for anyone and one woman said to me, leaving saint louis that she had her Phyllis lively on her flight, and she said I put her in the middle seat. You will get villa sharply as your mortal enemy for life. Now now. I would like, as a There are these. I have to assume that somebody who has been you know you're antagonist in a way for what the for decades to have you. Have you talked to her? Have you ever had a talk circle with fill a shaft, a hidden? I used to try to correct her facts, but she would just say thank you very much and then go on saying the same writing of in. I think
That is a standard and right wing ideology. Here I think that she was kind of selected to be the lead person against the equal rights amendment because they rightwing did have that many women she actually was much more interested and in military policy issues that had been concern beforehand. But do you think that your didn't go for for most your wife and her resistance or her being an opponent of equal rights amendment. How did you even if you could have any empathy for her position, what the hell can it be? I mean could a woman think that way? Well, I've, I think, if you have a system with pretty clear differences in power, then you create, a situation in which to sell out your group. That is,
less powerful one we'll get you favours from the more powerful and that's just the way it is. You know so there. always your gmail, some people who look like you and behave like them right in the end, there's also internalize depression. Is psychology say you know it's possible that you really believe what been told, all your life, that your group is slightly less than dependent on russia. just moment in the book about the black man who saw the black pilot. And had a moment of like what have lazy Secondly, I can you do that yeah? No, I mean because if we do what we see way more than what were told, so we too have grown up in a world in which we haven't seen people who look like us. If the us is the less powerful group right in positions of control or power, and we too come to doubt whether you know it's really possible should maybe maybe we should go to her it later
After all male reactor right, the brainwashing is, is tat. These were subject to a too though it sharply was a power thing. I mean you know she. She write cheap. She catered to favours in and maintaining power within her party, and that was that. so, although apparently after I'm trying to think what election it was. I think she'd, been very instrumental in electing reagan and they still didn't give her a job in the administration. I felt kind of sorry for actually really she made. Although we re going to sell out you might as well get sensitive zone about your entire gender, you, you might well these geared to sit with that with the president yeah. That's that's in but also I have to say that that she was much more than window dressing and, if you're writing about zero feet of the equal rights amendment, it way more defeated by the insurance industry, because the insurance industry is one of the very few may be the last big big big industry that is governed
and regulated by state legislatures, not by the federal government right and there, for their very deep into state. Legislatures infected one point in the area struggle. I notice that the most frequent occupation of a state legislature was insurance and they I want to take sex out of there, actuarial tables, which they would have had to do, because that would have What are you call them a lot of money right so so, even now, even even though thanks to a bomb here, there's been some small regulation of the insurance industry. If you are a woman who doesn't You may still pay more premium higher premium than a man who does smoke on the theory, that you live longer, interesting its insurance, as it is a very sort of evil sort of business? yeah, I know it is. I m very if a lobby but a very evil business, because therein
business of making money not helping people they're they're playing the odds against you, yellow they're they're, trying to well win understand, but I think the reason I came to believe we didn't have the democracy. I thought we had maria was that in the state legislatures in holding in every state, the equal rights of women had the majority support and majority royal opinion, none ass. We would lose because of the economic interests in the state legislature, but it seems that if you do still have a faith in the power of the of the electorate of of people. No, I do I do it takes a lot of organizing it's not easy to on the ground defeat big money, but you can do it. The voting both is re, actually the last place or the only place I can think of anyway, where the least powerful and the most powerful are equal right In any event, it is a private decision that that's what,
I like? I was talking somebody about that about the size of the guys. I talked to Michael more about the number of women who are gonna, be voting any restocking spaces I agree about that as darkness them for who are sort of cynical about it about near the wives of conservatives are the wider issue of the women who were in your christian organisations or whatever, but you know they're gonna boat with new and there they don't have to tell you. That is true. That's true, and actually I once met a woman who told me that she was so tired of her husband, cancelling out her vote every year that she locked him in the bathroom. Can vote right body weight, afraid she put food in their locked him in the bath? That's very area that has only one such woman right, very, very intimate voters, suppression. What can we talk a little bit about some history and in in the evolution of of modern feminism day. You know you were instrumental in and how it sort of came out of the sick. he's in what was going on in the late sixties,
the environment for for active. to really take hold in this country. When did it start for you, were you start to realise that your agenda was what it was? Well there there was very ill. wardens part of the move that came along a little bit earlier say in the mid early sixties because of the feminine mystique, which was written by betty for dan talking about women who were college, educated white women living in this herbs and just not using their talents, and I had a right to be in the labour force right. I thought that was absolutely true. I just didn't think it applied to me because I was already in the labour force and not getting paid equally himself right. So for me it was more the women who had been
in our still were in the civil rights movement or in the anti war movement and loved those movements with all of our hearts, but still were not making policy, but coffee instead in a right, but still at that time, you know the the I guess it would be. The last In terms of you know, the fighting answer vietnam war, raising awareness of the ie, the injustice of that war and and some momentum of the civil rights movement at some point, magic and you are sitting with into talk circle with other women and said that, while I mean we ve got to make these two civic about there must have been some resistance from the laughter it s another. What there was I mean it at the time. It just seems to us that we, he did and additional movement right, but
who, to some guys on the left. They felt we were being divisive because that we were bringing up the subject of women's equality, which they didn't take seriously, I go get their coffee, so there's that there is a brilliant essay by robin morgan called goodbye to all that, in which she says goodbye to the left, a real area, get good bye, men who were rebel, for the moment and then going back to their fathers business. Goodbye to I don't know, I mean it's at one while a funny, and when was europe, one was ever in cash and after the very ended the sixties. I knew it, but you wrote a peace and sixty nine called after whack power women's liberation and that they did that specifically speak to you know the. momentum that had come through activism now had to be applied directly to to the issues of equal rights yes, and also in my own life experience. It was because I had gone to cover a hearing
held in a church basement. Town in manhattan by war who were protesting a stir, the legislative hearing on liberalizing abortion was. This was before roby way before the supreme court yelling at said there, the legislature in Albany was supposed to. decide trying to decide whether to liberalize abortion laws and they invited fourteen men and one none to testify. So some of these you know activist wonderful women said wait a minute. Let's hear from women who really had this experience, I went to cover them as a rapporteur for new york magazine, and that was a moment of revelation, because I thought wait a minute. You know this is we're not represented a well then if one in three women as needed an abortion at some time in her lifetime. Exactly why the criminal and dangerous? Why and you had your own experience with it? Yes, I did it for from from
being in london on my way to india after I graduated from college is in, and you're, a your experience of it and how that affected your life was that a if we was to some sort of dramatic, emotionally scarring or or immoral thing no not at all at all it just. It was very clear to me that either either. I gave birth to someone else and gave up my life right and went back married the wrong man right, a nice guy, but only the wrong man if you have been banned for both of us. I gave birth to myself, and yet when did you frame it like that? Did you know that in intuitively then? I certainly know it intuitively. I don't know if I would have said it in quite those that way, but it was You know I mean. Obviously the same act can be very negative. If, if somebody wants a choice,
held in an economically and afforded or is being forbids me you know, but its infused with the reasons why you are going through this and for me it was very limp laboratory right shore and any. I can a a bit about about. You know campaigning a lot for four days. Credit candidates, and that it was you I just finished reading that, part where You know no matter how emotional yo defeats victories might have made Then, along the course of doing that for mccarthy Kennedy or Johnson is well there when you are at that rally for Nixon the the ets like that moment, sorted dictated to you, the future, but it did because so much had gone into it, murder of martin luther king, the murder of both, I loved kennedys, so the debt
the future was very inundating in our for all of us and We were too, we were in a huge kind of amphitheatre something in florida here, and there was this rally for nixon was just so much by rote and so machine made and jobs and and just over overwhelming yeah. It was like being under a steamroller right and I think the the other journalists were feeling it too, but I could I could sense that you know because the for instance they were singing the battle him of the republic, and I remember one of the other reporters saying they can't they can't sing that that's Bobby's hobbies. Read him. They can't saying that it was just a very emotional mom, and that was sixty eight and now is the beginning of. You know what the four dead, how many years for six years of just how, in a way
but those were empowering times too for the opposition as well, because when he had something to really fight against it became clear to people that might know what the not know what the fight is to really push back. Well, it's as well because the draft rhino me so many people vulnerable. That's it build the movement in and of itself right and cause people to leave the country caused well to arming of all kinds of of caused some people to become violent, and in opposition to the war or created the the happy movement, the air, the sd ass, they re all of it was built around The reason is that war, yes, radio and and I I had a kind of weird special attachment. That all issue, because having in india for a couple of years. I had heard
I hoped you men and I had actually read his poetry and, and I kept thinking you know, They aren't we on the wrong side. Here I mean because he It seems to me that he wanted an autonomous, independent vietnam and that he was not. going to lead to a takeover by china, in fact that he was quite. You know he didn't want to be taken over by China either. But this this was not a popular view. As you can understand, I mean who he was our enemy, but it didn't lead need to doing the first story. I did for new york magazine, which we route just then starting, which was about hokey men in new york because it I had heard from reporters who had interviewed him that he was very effects about new york and then he had lived there as a young man. So, since
we're starting new york magazine. I thought: okay, let's I'll research HO chi minh in new york, via which I think delighted clay felker, just because it was outrageous. The editor of new york mag and push some button array of- and you know I I de. I didn't do this story and even though I got cut to shreds and was you know like a tenth of what I had written Was there pushback was there? Was there a backlash to it? Did did it or did it caused controversy? You know that took it I, If it did, I wasn't really exactly privilege I dont think, although you never made or digital it led to surrealism, I mean in a railway because I remember trying to fact check with the but about his time in new york with HO men and getting on the phone with western union operator. Of that in know, setting
why are you so you're gonna send a wired idea in and she was saying you know: do have a street it s dress in Hanoi, honey, and I was saying just how'd you may then residential per mile ballads will probably be did you get. It then were at war and ease the leader of the other side. To do. Did you get back to you now but when did you really start feeling that that feminism men and the women's movement was can really starting to pick up momentum well when I started to two things and one was that I couldn't get the editors. I was then working for us, a freelancer in stood in this contagion of excitement. The called feminism that was, you know they mean. Either they just for an interested or if they were interested, they would say. Well,
We published an article saying women are equal, then we'll have to publish one next, it saying there not in larger, determining hits be objected, so was pretty discouraging At the same time, because I had written a little bit in magazine about movement. I was getting invitations to speak, I had devoted. I mean I was in my late It is, I guess by then, and I had devoted all of my life to never speaking in public writing the edges. Writing I mean I think in a way you choose to write me here. I don't wanna talk earlier, go of distance, so oh, but I realized that that was the only way to get the word out. And fortunately I had a friend, dorothy footmen hughes, whose no, my friend and she was a she was running. A choice care center, so she had an and she was married and had and so she had all these experiences that I did not have
and she's african american than I am european, american or whatever color, so it's so in every way. It seemed like a good thing to do. I just couldn't go by myself. Men had seemed like we would be a good pair and it turned out to be amazing, even though people in new york were telling us we would be stoned to death in dubuque. Now, when we, when we got to the equivalent of dubuque sure there would just be a you, know her, it's even thousands of people in a stadium. You know you could see that it was just. King fire, and I never would have known that if I hadn't travelled in that way that there was this this this desire to to have equal fair representation in a voice. Well, and justice justice speak your experience right and are you created an environment where they could do that? Yes of one of the good
about not wanting to talk as you leave a lot of time for discussion again for organizing right and in what did organizing look like, then I mean what was the primary: what were the initiatives wealth depended dino, somebody would get up in the audience and say you know there's no child care on this campus and what it means is that the imf, you don't have to students, don't have it. You know why don't we demonstrate and try to get it on. There is no health care. for women that dispenses birth control, we're really in know with women. Maybe you know: how can we pressure to get that or where are they were? They were issues on campus universal issues. But you could You could organise around on campus now if these students didn't go to class. And demonstrated nobody cared to much right. But if I am
some extent. If the professors at an issue about Trying to initiate new courses are trying to get the tenure world build beloved professor who write and, and they produce protein. Didn't do too much and if the what and would have been the clerical work and and people on the switchboard and so on, wanted needed, better pay and they but when you did it together right, then, actually worked because they might care when the students didn't go to class. But if now phone call winner of that campus for fifty three right away or do they hired? So if we organised together we could get something done in india and due to take action in a massive way that had an impact yellow didn't have to be massive. Adjust had to be enough, peep organized sow's ear, so they they couldn't be.
Spelled right, right, right and things would stop working without right. So I looked in the last minutes or so that we have here, tell me about because now there there is a lot of theirs, a kind of I don't know what you would call a redefinition or or a renewed momentum to feminism, but the devil culturally. There seems you're a resurgence of of of activism men and consciousness, and I guess what think are the biggest he was now. Are they the same issues? Is the progress being made, you know when you're out there talking to people around reproductive rights, obviously, and around dumb, fair pay and equal rights stuff, but how is it changed in in for better or for worse? I think its deep and widened. So when, in the past week I've been trying to name domestic violence which didn't you
have a name right and try. to reform police procedures and keep them from thinking that their goal was to get the criminal and the victim back together again, that was that was their definition of success. We worked it out right, she'll, get used to it so there came to be better at a definition of domestic violence, better laws to educating the police department having shelters in of a kind of safety system with just people who were willing to me bedroom available to re affects women in her so who were in emergency but actual shelters, so that that that can You done continues now sexual assault as well and sexual assault that too too define rape in in that it was understood to be violent.
not sex men too and degrees of sexual assault, punishing that sexual solid men too, so that has continued? And now you see it in very specific ways, say: sexual assault, on campus, every sexual assault in the military, using those definition right too, to really address what had what was invisible before right and in terms of reproductive rights. A what damn is it. Is it an ongoing disappointment that it has become a state by state issue and not a national issue. not exactly because the the so called right to life groups, banned in washington because they couldn't get what they want they want. Would they wanted a so called human life amendment to the constitution, as they did get
they were successful in restricting federal funds for poor and so now the system greatly discriminates against poor women, none They couldn't outlaw abortion, all other as they wanted. So that's why so they re so they so they so that now they were and also they discovered. I guess to their shock that murdering abortion, doctors and burning down bombing clinics did and popular. So instead now they're going to state legislatures, especially those controlled by right wing forces which No state legislatures in general are much more likely to be controlled by conservative forces, even then congress and its they kind of legislative redistricting themselves into perpetuity? So, in our view, already got the insurance industry ends and people building prison?
instead of giving money to universities and so on, in control of the legislature that much more likely that you're gonna be able to put such draconian terrible restrictions ridiculous restrictions on clinics that they will be able to close them down, and that's what they're trying to do now write em and weird, Where do you stand on on there? The other is. How are you you in your career, you ve done satire eve you ve used. humor listen. I love. I was so happy when I was being a comedy writer for Saturday night before The lad that wear the week that way as I was in Heaven, there's a power to it yes making people laugh and and worn, and and raising awareness that white right now, you feel about that. The sensitivity you know around language around what what gets called political
correctness around the you know, sort of your hostile and even of the idea that that certain language should be off limits terms, have whether it sexist or or the idea of rape jokes in this type of stuff. Do you think that there is a wait where there is an overreaction. Well, maybe but in a political correctness, is a term we invented to make fun of ourselves right in but I think what kind of boils down to is that outsiders are key to be Beware of tender feelings when they use terminology that could be over generalizing are insulting right, but within the community that you're talking about the the humours is there that question Who has a right to to say this, who, as the the expense
Is that really lived experience right right here? That's always the way it works within. You know certain communities yeah. I mean I, you know. Jewish humor is great right, but not everybody can do it. Yes, it's wasps doing. Jewish humor is not so great, but it's not illegal. It shouldn't be illegal, but if you're something you're going to take the hit me yeah right right now, it's not about the law, but it is about, except ability in protest, and what are you Well, how do you feel about the sort of like it? It seems to me that in the eightys there was a right wing reaction to pornography, and now it seems to be the biggest business in the country in a certain respect and end. There is a full pornography location of of the war, all through the internet, do you think that that is is destructive too to women to intimacy to die it as it is destructive. I mean, I think, that we have six
as fully said, rape, is not sex, it's violence, but what we haven't yet successfully said is that for It is not erotica poor name means female slaves, oh has an idea of love and mutual pleasure and free choice, and I fear that porn. if he is taking over sex when aunt, when in fact it's way more about domination and also about about there there is its complete We devoid of of a story or or poetry anything else, and it does feed a certain compulsion. But but is a. There was sort of a subset of of of feminism that felt empowered if they were able to appropriate pornography or the sex industry. that it was somehow empowering well but it usually turned into erotica right
yeah that yeah, that's because quite different, I mean a niche and not general porn in a way. You know it's it's it's it's hard to, you have to let everybody self defines as because, if somebody has been profoundly sexually abused as a child. It may I have so entwined, sexuality and pain that you can get on an twined and you may when they know that and in order that it a while. So it is about, you know, respect where, where we are but in forever. That is, but in a general way, sure tells us what's good for us by making a pleasurable and what's bad for us by making it painful. So it's port into disentangle those two things Also two. To say there is such a thing as erotica. You know not not to let pornography
and to be the only form of sexuality, much less of an acceptable form. is really about domination and passivity and what in terms of them like, I feel that in the book in hand. Certainly talking to you that you feel there has been progress. On all fronts, no I'd eyes. Yes, it just not enough. While they do, you think you're ever be a national equal rights. Amendment yes, it's coming back, actually there's a very good book by jessica, new worth about the equal rights of members and how it could and should and why we needed a people. the barrier now is that people think we already have it. They don't understand that say in a we lost the laws, against Walmart because we didn't have in the end, we that's an education issue in terms of
I imagine that you're sort of propulsion to to can you to go out there and talk to people. Imagine that you meet a lot of yeah, not not necessarily ignorance, but just people who are consumers wives and may not be that's that's it is an education issue, but is also a power issue right, because the fact that women are still paid unequally is contributing to the massive profits of a lot of corporation. And I don't want to pay women equally, but there's a lot of barriers, for instance in new york state. I dont know about california, but we had to get a piece of desolation, free speech, legislation, in order to protect people against getting fired if they told each other what they were earning power. Is that me? That's the one thing we know how much we're making and then you had to go through those hoops just as you're right, so that nobody can get fired just for sharing the fact of their salary. It's what it do
way, the governments it do. You believe democracy can and does or will again work properly. Yes, because it work, four columbus showed up. So maybe we we gotta get back there. Really I mean the the consensus, circles of of governance, fear that the iroquois confederacy in this six huge nations that covered much of amerika. It was very sophisticated form of governance, which our constitution imitated, but unfortunately left out women and left in slavery, so We we have a way to go to get back to the level of sophistication that was here in the first place. What was great talking to you and I enjoyed the book in india safe travels. Thank you so much and quite quite an overview. I was brought up myself got a lot in and
That's our show. I we enjoy that hotels attack the honour on thursday. Ok, go to deputy, I've got gambro you w p pod needs things to do We still do not play a little guitar, yeah more or.
Transcript generated on 2022-09-13.