I have a real special place in my heart for the guys from Seattle Gay Scene. Bill W, the founder, was very supportive of events that myself and my business partner, David "D$" Richey were throwing. Even when others weren't. Despite how successful those events were or how noteworthy the talent was that we were working with. He developed a platform that is supportive across the spectrum and connects the LGBTQ community in a way that no other platform in Seattle had until that point. There are new Sheriff's in the SGS offices. Les Sterling and Michael Strangeways continue to carry the torch that Bill W lit. With style, grace, snarkiness, and, um, goat meat? I had a chance to Q & A with these new Sheriff's recently. I pick thier brains on a number of issues. Read on!
LAK: Let's start with this: What are your official roles at Seattle Gay Scene?
LS: Creative Director -I take care of the site design & techie stuff, and produce and procure multimedia content.
MS: Editorial GOD Like figure. Which means I write 90% of the posts (Note: figure not mathematically calculated). And, I edit the contributors and try to find new contributors and marketing and the one billion other things associated with trying to make a blog/website into a business. Which is happening...slowly, but surely.
LAK: How did you come to be involved with Seattle Gay Scene?
LS: Michael and I had met at SIFF, and he mentioned one day over a cigarette that he was working with this new-ish site that covers all things gay in Seattle, and that they were looking for contributors. I'm a photographer and I love to write politics and art, so I thought it sounded like a cool, and different opportunity.
MS: Bill W. the founder of the site and I were casual web friends via The Stranger's Slog site...he liked my snarky style. One day I commented on an SGS post about the locally made gay marriage documentary "In-laws & Outlaws" and while I love the film, I rather snarkily commented that I was sick of it constantly being screened all over Seattle. Bill apparently thought his site needed my brand of "sass" and asked me to write for the site...much to his eventual chagrin I'm sure. (Also should note, Bill is STILL contributing to the site, just not as much due to real job and family commitments.)
LAK: I understand that neither of you are originally from Seattle, what brought you here?
LS: I'm originally from Kansas City, and I lived in Chicago until 2004. I was working a corporate marketing job, and after I turned 30, and did the whole "Gosh, what do I want from my life?" drama that happens when you turn 30 - I ran away to London for a week by myself, and did a lot of soul searching - actually I bummed around and drank a lot. But when I returned, I decided that I didn't want to live in a climate where blizzards were common, and I didn't want to work for corporate America on that scale anymore. I loved the salary, don't get me wrong, and working in the John Hancock Building in Chicago is pretty sweet. Even artistically, I loved Chicago - I had an almost endless supply of models, and the city itself provided so much texture and color to play with photographically. But there were 4 or 5 months out of the year where I was pretty much relegated to the indoors - I learned to love studio photography in that time, but I really do like the outdoors. That much time indoors, and spending a lot of time preparing yourself when you did have to go outside was making me nuts, and I knew that it was time for a change. I had entertained the idea of Los Angeles a few times - I'd spent chunks of time there for work, but I don't know if I have the correct temperament for LA. I'm too inclined to be direct and honest - apparently that's not good to do in LA :)
But, I had a couple friends in Chicago who were also considering Seattle, and we collectively had friends who had already moved to Seattle who were selling it pretty hard. I liked the climate, and (some of) the laid-back attitude, and really dug the creative world here. Actually, I lived in Tacoma for the first 5 months I was here in 2004 - I really loved Tacoma, but I was spending most of my time in Seattle working and playing that I just decided to move myself to the city. If I’d found work in Tacoma, things might have been very different :).
MS: I'm from Nebraska via Minnesota, Missouri and Kansas. My original hometown is the same town featured in the movie "Boys Don't Cry" about Brandon Teena and his murder. Fun place! I finally managed to escape Red State Country in 2000.
Also, I like clouds, mold, banana slugs and passive aggressiveness.
LAK: Personally, I think the Seattle Gay Scene is pretty responsible about covering a diverse cross section of Topics & Happenings throughout the Northwest. Bill W was super on top of this in the beginning, and you guys have continued. Is this something you guys strive for, or is this happening naturally?
LS: Oh god, yes! I have to confess, I did get spoiled in Chicago, culturally. I think there was an open studio, experimental theatre or gallery event every night there.
But, after living here a few years, I had become rather exhausted by (what seemed to be) a lack of art, events, theatre, happenings that were outside the mainstream. It turns out, that the mainstream was really all that was getting attention in the other media outlets. I'm so glad Bill came along when he did - the calendar has become invaluable. Honestly, that was why I was so keen to get involved. Seattle Gay Scene was where I could find out about stuff that wasn't mentioned elsewhere. Of course, we can't talk about it if we don't know about it - so hopefully people continue to advertise their stuff on the site, and keep us posted so we can share it with the world.
MS: We try to mix it up and I seriously try to include events that are not specifically designed for LGBTQ audiences. I want to talk about stuff that's not 100% queer. There are many gay people who like Nirvana, and Sci Fi Conventions, and Monster Truck Rallies, and Mexican Wrestling...it shouldn't JUST be about Glee, drag queens, muscle bears and Lady Gaga. And, yeah, it's something I strive for AND something that just happens naturally to reflect our own personal interests. Queer life doesn't only revolve around queer things. We're very, very diverse just like everyone else.
LAK: How many contributors do you guys have at Seattle Gay Scene?
LS: There's only a few of us at the core, and a half-dozen or so folks that contribute regularly. We're always looking for people who want to work with us, though! It's tough, because no one is getting paid yet, but as we expand, and more advertisers come on board, we're looking to change that. People should always be paid for their work in some way.
MS: It varies. Many people sign on, then get busy and move on. Blogging is harder than it looks. But, we add people all the time and we're always looking for people to feature. Especially different kinds of contributions...video, comics, animation...all are welcome. And, we have some exciting new people contributing...Mark "Mom" Finley is coming out of journalistic retirement to do Celebrity Interviews for us, like he used to do at SGN. And, we're working on some more new folks as well. TBA.
LAK: This year, we've seen Seattle Gay Scene start to host parties. Can we anticipate more of this in the future?
LS: I hope so! We're not really in the party production business, but they are an awful lot of fun aren't they? I like being able to showcase talent of all kinds! I'd love to do some art showings, movie nights, or micro-film festivals. Isn't it about time we had a small festival devoted to the early experimental queer filmmakers? I can see it "Early Homo-Erotic Experimental Works" and a screening of The Killing of Sister George for the lesbians :).
MS: Yup. We're doing some co-sponsoring things in the fall, and we hope to do some more party/theater/performance/fundraiser events next year, to be determined and announced.
LAK: David and I have been guests on your podcast, and we've had a great time! When did you guys start the podcast, and what were your intentions behind it?
LS: For about 5 years, I've loved the podcasts I've found online, but it's taken this long for it to come into its own as a medium. When I got involved with SGS, I was looking for a cool way to do a weekly roundup of some sort, and have another outlet to bring voices out to the world. Michael and I can talk all day long, but we also wanted to have folks out in the community come in and share their perspectives and thoughts on what was happening out there. Then adding the video/SGS-TV component was just a visual extension of that experience. I read a lot and listen to several podcasts, but at my heart, I'm a visual artist and tech geek - I love media of all stripes and I don't think I'm alone in that. We want to offer a multimedia experience to satisfy many tastes, not just the written word.
MS: We started the podcast this last spring. The podcast is just another way to get info out there...and, it's fun to do. Also, we've added SGS-TV and plan on doing a lot more video in the future as well...some of it to be announced shortly. AND, we LOVE having you guys. You’re fun guests! You have OPINIONS and you're not afraid to share them with the world. AWESOME!
LAK: What are your goals for Seattle Gay Scene looking forward?
LS: I think for me, creatively, expanding the multimedia offering is what I'd love to see more of. I want more original photo, audio and video content out there, as well as content from contributors. I want to see what the Queer experimenters are doing. I want to see work without boundaries. I want us to be able to continue to inform and entertain using any medium possible - we just need to hear from the creatives out there. It would be easy to promote myself and my own work, but I want to see the broad selection of work out there. I think the creatives in Seattle who are doing really awesome things tend to be too shy about talking about themselves - I'd love to help cure them of that shyness.
MS: Bigger. More content. Better content. Different content. More video and podcasts. Full media domination. (not really kidding there.) More ads. Bigger community presence. Reach out to other cool artists and business people to work together and help each other out. Continue to promote deserving new talent. Financial viability. Hot, otter boys as our personal assistants. Fighting the good fight against the Daleks and the Borg. The works, baby!
LAK: Biggest challenge for you in covering Seattle's "gay scene"?
LS: Probably having enough time and resources to get to everything and cover it. There's so much happening, and I hate the thought that stuff might fall through the cracks. We're getting there, but we are in the same boat as a lot of folks - needing more time, needing more technology and needing more money.
MS: People confusing us with SGN. Getting our brand out there. Navigating between all the various factions of LGBTQ society. Dealing with a few morons. People getting butt hurt over stupid shit. Trying not to get butt hurt over stupid shit that doesn't matter. My ability to constantly irritate people. Digging up info from uncooperative sources. The usual. Oh, you only asked for one challenge...oops!
LAK: You just moved in to new digs in the Central District. Proof that the gays are migrating. Can we expect an "office warming" party soon?
LS: I'm so excited about the Cherry Street Studios :). Originally, I was just looking for an artspace for myself, but when it turned out that there was space aplenty for rent, it became an opportunity to create a new community, and have a home for SGS as well as a lot of other creative folks. We're working with the other folks at the building to do an open studio day/building warming party - hopefully in October some time :).
MS: Sure. We're near Twilight Exit and several Ethiopian restaurants...it'll be a helluva party. Hipsters and Goat Meat for EVERYBODY! And, plenty of cabs to make sure people make it home safely. Every Ethiopian cab driver in Seattle hangs out over here.
Photos by Shauna Hargrove. Big ups to Pony for the shooting location!
I, for one, cannot wait for that party! Bring on the goat meat!