Welcome to High Drama
In which I try to make sense of my three seemingly disparate interests, stan Faith Prince, and alienate fans of Carole Radziwill.
|Louis Peitzman||Feb 28, 2019||9|
The question I get asked the most by writers and editors since getting laid off is, “What do you want to write about?” That’s a lot easier to answer than the next most popular question, “What are you going to do about health insurance?” Which, like, yikes, give me a moment to breathe without worrying about that. (Have I really been asked that question often, or is it just one that sticks out? Has anyone actually asked me about health insurance outside of my parents? Honestly who can say.) But the “what do you want to write about?” question is easy, because I’ve had the same answer for at least a couple years now, back when it was my BuzzFeed News editor asking me: “Theater, Housewives, and horror.”
This is only an odd answer if you don’t know me. These are my areas of expertise, however disparate they may sound. Theater is a lifelong passion: When I was a kid, my parents took me to New York every year to see Broadway shows, an invaluable experience that taught me the healing power of live performance and how to be an insufferable little asshole. (My go-to review as a child was, “It was good, but it wasn’t Guys & Dolls,” because I guess the 1992 revival left a lasting impression. Even at six, I knew Faith Prince was that bitch.)
Horror I discovered later in life when I took a summer course on the horror film for fun, in part because I’d always been fascinated (but terrified) of scary movies, and in part because I didn’t have a lot of friends and taking summer courses for the thrill of it was a real thing I used to do. The instructor — Amy Rust, absolute fucking legend — screened A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge for us, and my life has truly never been the same. Horror was exciting and queer and worthy of analysis that it was rarely afforded. I couldn’t get enough.
And Housewives — I don’t even know where to begin, and when it comes to anything Andy Cohen has touched, it’s usually best if I don’t start speaking because I... will never stop. (Invite me onto your Bravo-centric podcast, and listen to me spend 45 excruciating minutes explaining why I was Team Bethenny over Team Carole. I have already lost several of you, and I respect that.) These shows are my comfort food, my safe space, my whatever metaphor reflects that I often feel like I could not survive without them. Is that healthy? Perhaps not, but climate change is real, and I will take joy where I can find it, thank you.
But as different as theater, horror, and Housewives might seem on the surface, they’re literally all the same thing. OK, not really, but there is real overlap, and all three push some of the same buttons for me. These are forms of entertainment that depict heightened realities — yes, Housewives is purportedly a reflection of actual reality, but... whose reality? They celebrate the cathartic release of spectacle, whether that’s a kickline, a table flip, or a geyser of (fake) blood. These commonalities are part of what draws a notably queer fanbase to three otherwise wildly divergent genres. I’m calling this newsletter High Drama to underline the high energy, the high stakes, the high body count, and the high camp value. And I’m hoping there will be something for fans of any or all of my three areas of focus.
The goal for this newsletter is two posts a week, each with some blend of the aforementioned categories. For theater, you can expect my thoughts on theater news, informal reviews of the shows I’m seeing, and recommendations. For Housewives, there will be loose recaps (read: rants) on recent episodes and hot takes on the unavoidable gossip. For horror, reactions to movies new and old, along with my suggestions of what you should be watching. It’s going to be loose but thought through... flexible but balanced... brave but chicken shit. Basically: not the same thing every week but consistent enough so that you know what you’re getting, and hopefully a semiweekly arrival in your inbox that will keep you entertained.
Even though I’ve been conditioned to reject paywalls with every fiber of my being, this will soon become a paid newsletter: the paywall goes up the week of March 11. As much as I would love to ramble at you for free — and will continue to do so on Twitter dot com! — I like getting paid for my writing, and I’m hoping to provide a product that makes you feel comfortable throwing some dollars my way every month. If you aren’t or if it’s not in your budget, I obviously understand completely. Asking for money directly from readers is a new thing for me, and it’s something I’m still learning to navigate. (I should probably be less honest about this, but when have I not made it awkward by putting it all out there. Shockingly enough, some people find this charming!)
I’m excited to have a space where I can celebrate my passions and go a little more in depth without having to scare off all my Twitter followers with a 400-tweet thread, and I hope you’ll join me in this brave new world. If you have questions, comments, concerns, you can always email me or slide into those DMs — I welcome feedback while I shape High Drama into the best newsletter it can be. (Don’t be a dick.) But if you’re a fan of theater, horror, and Housewives, or if (bless your heart) you’re just a fan of my writing, I hope you’ll subscribe and stick around.