Jill Soloway is the Best Ever.
I really really really really really love Jill Soloway. So much so that I tried to put a heart emoticon in the title of this post, but WordPress is too sophisticated and won’t let me geek out like a twelve-year-old about it. But truly, I have hearts in my eyes and on my sleeve for this writer. Her book Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants is a really funny collection of feminist humor. Yes, bitches – feminist humor. It’s super engaging and intelligent and provocative and real – it’s one of those books that makes you feel like you’re besties with the author, and when you’re done with the book you want to call her up right away and have coffee so you can keep the excellent vibe going. Jill was a writer and producer on one of the best tv shows in history, Six Feet Under. She is sort of the soul of Claire, so that’s magical as well. She’s written for bunches of other shows, she’s was one of three writers included in Susie Bright’s Three Kind of Asking For It mini-anthology, she has fought the good fight of organizing feminist art and performance events in Los Angeles, and she is basically a font of genius ideas and stories. Oh yeah and she wrote that crazy Courtney Cox’s Asshole piece that blew up all over the internet and beyond. Is this woman a national treasure? Yes she is. And she’ll be at RADAR May 11th at the Luggage Store, as well as coming to the Radar LAB this summer as one of the guest artists. Let’s talk to her!
Michelle Tea: Your book Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants is so funny, and its feminism is really boundless and beholden to no particular agenda, which I really love. Like one chapter is an application for a womyn’s separatist commune and the next it’s about how hot a bar full of cops is. Who do you think are some really funny feminists?
Jill Soloway: My favorite funny feminists are you, Lisa Carver, Diablo Cody, Sarah Thyre, Becky Thyre, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Morgan Murphy, Ali Waller, Jessi Klein, Michaela Watkins, Sarah Silverman, my sister Faith Soloway, and Jessica Chaffin. They’re not necessarily F-waving Feminists, meaning Womyns Studies Types, but they are ladies. And they are not un-proud of their vaginas. Most of them. So I guess that makes them feminist.
Faith Soloway. Being extraordinarily cool runs in the family.
Michelle Tea: And what’s the most embarrassing or strangest thing that is attractive to you right now?
Jill Soloway: I am embarrassed by the fact that I am emotionally attracted to playing Scrabble on my iPad. And I’m spiritually attracted to the Real Housewives television franchise and Tavi Gevinson’s blog http://www.thestylerookie.com, as well as this woman A. Ann’s blog http://resolved2worship.xanga.com. If you click on that link you’ll have that song in your head for the rest of your life. If you mean sexually attracted, I am in a monogamous relationship with my beloved husband Bruce, so the answer would only be Only Bruce all the time.
Michelle Tea: From your feminist perspective, what is the coolest thing going on in our culture right now, and what is the stupidest?
Jill Soloway: Tina Fey’s book Bossypants is a huge hit. Bridesmaids comes out any minute. People are starting to get rid of that whole Women Aren’t Funny thing. That’s pretty cool. It will take forever for it to truly shift in a huge way, though. Or maybe never. And it’s not because men are trying to “keep women down”. It’s only because only a certain percentage of women feel compelled to contribute creatively to the culture. Many women get their satisfaction from being a mom or through their relationship with an awesome or powerful man.
The stupidest thing going on is probably that TV show Gigolos. You gotta watch it.
He’s just a gigolo.
The truly stupidest thing, as I see it, has nothing to do with feminism. The stupidest thing I can see is that the internet gives us the ability to do EVERYTHING. And so now we’re doing everything. All day long I can move a mountain just by sitting my ass in front of this screen. I can raise money and send emails and reach out but my body and my soul is atrophying. I feel incredibly busy in my brain and sluggish and a little miserable everywhere else.
And as long as I said it, I will reiterate, I am SICK AND TIRED of everyone saying “reach out”. Seriously, people say it all day long.
Also, I think it’s weird when people answer questions by starting with the word “so”. It happens in the not-for-profit world a lot.
Michelle Tea: You were organizing a sort of feminist culture events gang a few years back, when you helped Sister Spit come to Los Angeles. What was it like trying to make those sort of DIY moments happen in LA?
Jill Soloway: So, our girl gang was called OBJECT, meaning you can pronounce it like the verb or the noun. I wish we were still doing that. It was kind of awesome. I like starting things. I’ve started a lot of things, groups and plays and reading series, non-profits. Some things just have their own momentum and energy and take off on their own. Other things I feel like I’m bopping everybody in the head and reaching out all day long and forcing people to do stuff and I just wonder why. I sort of realized that Jezebel, Bust and Bitch were really filling the niche that I was trying to fill. I guess not with live events but certainly with gathering a certain kind of lady together, branding and naming a way of seeing the world.
Oh but if for the existence of time travel I should see this amazing performance.
More recently I tried to take the idea behind OBJECT and turn it into a talk show, called HOT BOX. Sorta Bill Maher plus The View but about topics like porn, consent, strippers, plastic surgery, mistresses vs wives, rape, etc. I wanted to take the post-feminist conversation and make it compelling and pop and fun and interesting to young girls and women. Again, really hard to get off the ground. I just find very little interest in the TV world– or even Hollywood generally– for the kind of storytelling that allows for collaboration between different kinds of women instead of competition. The idea that women could enjoy a good argument but not try to kill each other is not telegenic, apparently.
Michelle Tea: You were a producer + writer on Six Feet Under? And all of your characters died! What was that like for you? And did your perspective or feelings about death, including your own death, shift in the course of working on that show?
Jill Soloway: I’ve never been into death. Death was one of the hardest parts about working on that show for me. I had to really push myself to deal with it. I still shy away from anything too dark. One of the comments I’ve gotten about my writing is that I have to be careful about always writing about good things happening to good people. I avoid conflict in life and in my work, I think. I inherited from my mom this sort of Pollyanna-ish, rose-colored-glasses-way of looking at the world. It’s good because it allows me to naively move forward with big ideas (hey! let’s start something called OBJECT!) but it’s bad because I think I miss some of the more complex, deeper stuff.
I miss all those characters. I miss Claire and Brenda. Nate, David. But I do run into the actors from time to time so I know they’re not actually dead.
Michelle Tea: What is your favorite show right now? Also, what book are you reading? And what song has been stuck in your head?
Jill Soloway: I love LOUIE, Louis CK’s show. And I love Portlandia. I just bought Sasha Grey’s nook, Neu Sex, but there’s not much writing in it. I wish she’d write more. And the song that is stuck in my head at this very moment is the song NO MOUNTAIN from that blog above, plus that horrible Katy Perry song Hot and Cold.
Michelle Tea: What’s your sign? Do you believe in that crap?
Jill Soloway: Libra, no.
Michelle Tea: You have kids! What’s that like? I don’t have them. Have they said anything hilarious lately?
Jill Soloway: They say hilarious things all day long. Isaac, 14, is much smarter and funnier than me and my husband. He pwns us daily when it comes to the high-larious zinger. Felix, 2, never stops being funny. There’s nothing better than having kids. You get to relax knowing that they have to take care of you when you’re old.
Michelle Tea: When you were up here for LitQuake this fall you spoke about working on a show based on Pamela Des Barres-I’m With the Band / groupie ladies of the canyon. How is it going? What drew you to this project? Have you met Pamela Des Barres – what’s she like (I love I’m With the Band)! Please give as much information about this as you can, I’m so excited about it!
Jill Soloway: The project is still alive! Pamela is absolutely awesome. There are a couple of studios that might make it and if they do the world will be better for it. I cannot imagine a more fun show to create/write/watch. I wish I had more info to give but that’s sort of it, it’s a little shadowy and exciting right now. It feels really sort of meant to be with me and her. I remember reading her book when I was in high school and it having a huge influence on me. She really was one of the earliest sex-positive feminists I came across when I think about it. Just being adorable and likable yet sexually free and unpunished was sorta unheard of.
Okay, now I love her even more, and you do, too. Come see her live and in person May 11th at RADAR at the Luggage Store Gallery, Market @ 6th Street, 7pm, FREE ya’ll!