In this all new episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin (@Gilligan_McJew on all socials) is joined by Mike Moon (@freemoonman1982), as they discuss Disney versus Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida, feel #queerjoy in the new teaser for the animated movie Nimona coming to Netflix, and talk about what they’re getting Down & Nerdy with in pop culture.
KEVIN: In move against DeSantis, Disney cancels moving employees to FL, where a teacher is under investigation for showing Strange World
In this all new episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin (@Gilligan_McJew on all socials) is joined by NYCGaymers (@officialnycg) President, Raffy Regulus (@raffyregulus), as they discuss the Michelle Yeoh renaissance we’re living in, the new trailer for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, and what they’re getting Down & Nerdy with in pop culture.
In this new episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin (@Gilligan_McJew on all socials) is joined by Geeks OUT President, Nic Gitau (@cocodevaux), as they discuss the trailer for the new Barbie movie, the new digital/print comics publisher DSTLRY, and what they’re getting Down & Nerdy with in pop culture.
KEVIN: Comixology founder starts new digital/print comics publisher DSTLRY
In our brand new episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin (@Gilligan_McJew on all socials) is joined by Tana Ford (@tanaford on Twitter & @tanaford.designs on Insta) as they discuss some of the winners announced at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards, the trailer for the new sapphic thriller series Dead Ringers, and catch up on what they’re getting Down & Nerdy with right now.
KEVIN: Shazam 2, D&D Honor Amongst Thieves, Yellowjackets, Wolf Pack, It’s Only Teenage Wasteland, Tim Drake: Robin
. TANA: The Last of Us, Dimension 20, D&D posters (!!), Florence and the Machine has a newish album DANCE FEVER (May 2022 – it’s almost a year old damn) that I love (My love & Free are incredible songs) and I recently discovered Maggie Rogers (Love You for a Long time & Back in My Body)– not queer but I’m digging her musical vibes.
After taking a much needed break, the Geeks OUT Podcast is back! Kevin (@Gilligan_McJew) is joined by special guest Bobby Hankinson (@bobbyhank) as they discuss the news about this year’s DC Comics Pride lineup and get #DownAndNerdy as they talk about all the pop culture they’re consuming right now.
KEVIN: Scream 6, Star Trek: Picard, The Last of Us, Poker Face, Servant, X-titles, Specs, Blue Book BOBBY: Vanderpump’s #Scandoval, Wrestlemania season/WWE 2k23, XMEN 97, Black Adam, MCU Phase 4 rewatch, Mandalorian
Diana M. Pho is a queer Vietnamese-American independent scholar, playwright, and Hugo Award-winning fiction editor. She has over a decade of experience in traditional book publishing, including Tor Books, Tor.com Publishing, and the Science Fiction Book Club. Diana currently works as Lead Creative Executive for Co-Productions & Partnerships at Realm developing thrilling and innovative audio dramas. Additionally, she has a double Bachelor’s degree in English and Russian Literature from Mount Holyoke College and a Master’s in Performance Studies from New York University. Diana’s academic work includes critical analysis of the role of race in fashion, performance, and the media, in addition to pieces focusing on fan studies and fan communities.
I had the opportunity to interview Diana, which you can read below.
First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Salutations, Geeks OUT, and appreciate you having me! I’m a Hugo-winning book editor, podcast producer, playwright, and academic who’s been in and around fandom spaces for much of my working life, and even earlier!
How would you describe what you do professionally and creatively?
What I’ve done is help creatives tell stories professionally for about 15 years now. I’ve had the pleasure of working across novels, comics, theater, and audio. I strongly believe in the power of language and entertainment. Whether it is working as an editor in prose, a playwright for the stage, or a producer in podcasts, what I’m focused on are exciting, insightful, character-driven tales that make an impact.
What drew you to storytelling, and how did you get into editing and podcasting specifically?
I was the bookworm who read the kidlit shelves in at the library in alphabetical order—or depending on how cool the cover art was! (Note to authors: young readers DO judge books by their covers!) I was a daydreamer, kind of spacey, and admittedly a nervous and introverted child. I also wrote a lot of fanfiction growing up! Eventually, I got out of my shell more in high school: I edited the literary magazine and the school newspaper. The theater bug bit me, but I did mostly crew work and wrote some plays for the state competition (and won some prizes). Somehow, by the time I was a junior in college, I got it in my head that I wanted to work on books, and the endgoal was becoming a SFF editor. After a decade in books, I wanted something different and landed in audio at Realm, which luckily checked all of the boxes I was looking for at the time.
I only recently got into podcasts, what do you think is the appeal of this medium? What are some of your favorite examples?
Podcasts are portable stories that you can experience while multitasking. In our busy world, we’re still looking for that little bit of entertainment while commuting, doing housework, working out. I’ve gotten lots of joyful reviews from listeners working the graveyard shift of their job, and how Realm shows keep them company. I know many friends who play YouTube videos or TV shows in the background while they’re doing something else. Podcasts fit that same niche.
Podcasts are also extremely intimate form of storytelling. There’s a level of immediacy and visceral feeling that sound can get in ways prose cannot. The characters of fiction podcasts, especially, can lead you into a soundscape that feels like our real world. Even if that world is a fantasy with dragons or out on a space colony; it’s transportive!
I’m a regular listener of nonfiction and journalistic shows too: Sawbones, Code Switch, The Ezra Klein Show, and of course, The Daily, NPR, and the Journal. I read newspapers but I don’t have broadcast TV at home, so most of my news I pick up via podcasts.
What would you say goes into making a great podcast?
Having a point of view is the most important part: knowing what your show is about and having the confidence, commitment to research, and attentiveness to create a very distinct take on your subject. That counts for fiction as well as nonfiction. Fiction shows must know what they are, what listeners they appeal to, what kind of markets they can reach.
And of course, having a strong production team behind you can be great, but good production doesn’t always mean expensive equipment. It means knowing how to use it well, and to be invested in constantly learning about the craft of production, sound design, acting, etc as much as the words in the script.
As a queer Vietnamese-American creative, were there ever any times in which you saw yourself in pop culture/literature? What would you say representation means to you?
I never saw myself in pop culture exactly, but I will also have a special love for Tina Nguyen, the Vietnamese-American character from the original PBS Ghostwriter series. That’s the first time I’ve seen any Viet people on TV that didn’t have to do with the Paris By Night variety shows my parents watched, or the Vietnam War dramas you see for US audiences. I thought that was very meaningful to me, to see a kid like myself who lived in the shadow of war, but never personally experienced it. But was also just a normal teen girl trying to balance high school problems and solve mysteries with a ghost!
Over the years, there have been more Vietnamese creators of queer art: Ailette de Bodard, Nghi Vo, Ocean Vuong come to mind. I feel so lucky to be living in a time where I get to see these creators bloom.
As a creator, who or what would you say are some of your greatest creative influences and/or sources of inspiration?
I am a big believer in interdisciplinary work and draw from different creative formats into one giant storytelling toolkit. That’s what made my career exciting; a sense that I’m always learning more ways to express and communicate artistically. So far, it’s been novel writing, playwriting, comics, audio drama… and screenwriting is next on the docket, I think.
At the moment, I’m a big fan of Matthew Salesses’s Craft in the Real World—I’ve read that book a few times and still am learning new takeaways. I picked up a lot of audio drama tips from KC Wayland’s Bombs Always Beep. Writers who I’m always returning to include Ted Chiang, Walter Mosley, Ekaterina Sedia, N.K. Jemisin, Alexander Chee, Ray Bradbury, Jun Mochizuki, Suzie Lori Parks, Tom Stoppard. I have an undying love for really cheesy supernatural drama and anime.
What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives/writers?
Find your community, and always pay it forward. Being a creator – especially being a writer – can be a very lonely experience. Being an artist can make you question your ability, your art, your working relationships, everything all the time. It can be hard finding financial support, free creative time, or emotional wherewithal to continue. But knowing you have people who can relate to your experiences – or non-artists who can offer an outside perspective – can really help support a career for the long-term.
Are there any projects you are working on or thinking about that you are able to discuss?
Things are in the pipeline that people will be hearing about in early 2023 ☺ I can’t wait for the announcements to come!
What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?
LoL, what is my favorite tea? It’s lavender earl grey. ☺
Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/ podcasts/ media would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?
Cher Martinetti is an author, writer, and founder of SYFY’s FANGRRLS, the female-centric genre vertical syfy.com that ran from 2016-2020. She co-hosted & executive produced its flagship podcast Strong Female Characters. Cher has also frequently written, developed & appeared in various videos for SYFY, including the 20 Women to Watch in 2020 special during Women’s History Month. She’s the creator, executive producer, and former cohost of the popular podcast The Churn—the official post-show wrap-up podcast of the critically acclaimed space opera The Expanse. Cher’s hosted panels at ATX festival, New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con, & has interviewed celebrities on the live stage for ECCC, C2E2, & NYCC. Her work has also been seen on Cracked, Playboy, Death & Taxes, Uproxx, and IFC.com.
I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Cher, which you can read below.
First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Thanks! And I can try. I was the founder and EIC of SYFY Fangrrls, which ran from 2016-2020. We were a multi-platform vertical under SYFY’s digital site and focused on celebrating female, non-binary & LGBTQ+ creators and fans within the geek space. Right now, I’m working on what I hope to be my next book and mostly hanging out with my three rescue dogs, Grover, Rizzo and Fozzie.
How did Pop Culture Pioneers come to be?Did someone reach out to you about the project or did you generate the idea on your own?
We (Fangrrls) had a flagship podcast called Strong Female Characters, which I hosted with two of my editors, Preeti Chhibber – who is now a full-time author and has probably written like 20 more books since I started this sentence – and Courtney Enlow. I had come up with the idea for us to do a special project for Women’s History Month called Forgotten Women of Genre where we would tell the story of a different woman within the geek space whose work was vastly under celebrated or just ignored. Britny Pirelli, my now editor at Running Press, reached out because she had heard the podcast and thought it would be a great concept for a book.
How did you get your start in pop culture journalism? What drew you to this field?
I always wanted to be a writer and was given an opportunity to write for IFC’s now defunct “blog”. From there, some of it was luck and some of it was me deciding “I’m going to do this thing” and then being relentless in figuring out how to do said thing. I quit my job at the time and decided I was going all-in on freelancing, which pretty much everyone told me I was crazy to do. I think I was drawn to pop-culture just because, for me, it was something I naturally kept up with. I can’t say I specifically dreamt of being a pop-culture journalist, because I didn’t really know that was a thing. I just knew I wanted to write and could write about this stuff. But in the beginning, I would’ve written almost anything anyone paid me to write. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do.
What have been your favorite fandoms to cover, and who are some female characters/ content creators you currently admire?
Oof, this is a tricky question because some fandoms can get a bit…intense, and not always in the best way. I think any time you find fans that genuinely love something and have these personal and meaningful connections to a story or character, that’s the best. It may not even be a property or franchise that I’m very knowledgeable or active in, but that fan’s pure joy and appreciation is such a special thing to witness. The Expanse has a group of fans that are lovely, called the Screaming Firehawks. Wynonna Earp probably has one of the most fun fandoms I’ve ever witnessed. I’m sure there are more, but those two just pop into my head because I was obviously more exposed to or aware of them because they were both SYFY shows.
As for female characters, I will always and forever love Leia Organa more than anyone. She is definitely my main girl. Miss Piggy is also an icon. And I love me some Kara Thrace, flaws and all. For female creators, there are just so many! A good start is every woman mentioned in my book.
I had recently started reading your book and it reminded me of another pop culture centered book called The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, which discussed the almost forgotten legacy of Milicent Patrick, the creator of the creature from the movie Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as the legacy of female erasure from genre fiction. Why do you think so many people find it so hard to believe that women are interested in genre fiction, even when so many of us have innovated the damn field?
Mallory O’Meara did a great job with that book, and we actually referred to it in an episode we did on Milicent for our Forgotten Women of Genre podcast.
I mean, to be totally honest, it’s not just that women are interested in genre fiction, they oftentimes were the ones at the forefront. I think in the last decade or so, it’s become a lot harder to hide information from people, for better or for worse. It was a lot easier to rewrite or whitewash history when people didn’t have the ease of access that the internet affords them. There’s that saying about the history of events being written by the winners, and just that expression encapsulates why people believe all sorts of stuff. When one group of people have “conquered” or named themselves the leaders of a thing, they basically just tell everyone their version of how it came to be.
Many would argue that pop culture isn’t that important a subject to discuss, serving merely as shallow entertainment. What would you say is the significance or function of pop culture in our culture?
I would say that is bullshit, because everything is part of pop-culture. And pop-culture reflects and often parallels the bigger issues happening in society, which I try to show examples of in my book.
What advice would you give to someone looking to break into your field, or hoping to write a book of their own one day?
Everyone’s journey is totally different. I’m a high-school drop-out, I didn’t go to journalism school, and I didn’t become a professional writer until my late 30s. Being a writer was always my dream, but it took me a minute to really go for it. I honestly think I wouldn’t have been ready if I tried to accomplish any of this earlier. But that’s me. The best advice I can give is know yourself, know your limits, have a good support system, and nothing happens nearly as quickly as people may make it seem. Also, prepare to fall often and get back up even more. And have a day job. Don’t judge yourself or your trajectory based on other peoples, or even what you see them posting on social media. Do work you’re proud of, do work you enjoy, and try to work with people that make you laugh and whose work you admire. It makes you a better writer and editor.
Since Geeks OUT is a queer pop culture site, could you tell us about some of the queer figures featured in your book?
There’s several of them. Joanna Russ, Alice Bradley-Sheldon, Alison Bechdel, Rachel Pollack, to name a few. Some people may already recognize or know those names, but more people should know them and their work.
Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?
Not that I can divulge at the moment.
What LGBTQ+ books/media would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?
Truthfully, I would want to know what the readers recommend to me! I’m always on the lookout for new, cool stuff. I feel like I’ve lost my mojo a bit since Fangrrls closed down, so bring it on!
In a special “live” episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, recorded at FanExpo Denver, Kevin is joined by special guest Chris Shehan as they discuss his/their work on “House of Slaughter”, the leaked first looks at the “Barbie” movie, the trailers for “Conjuring Kesha” and “They/Them” and what they are getting Down & Nerdy with right now.
In this new episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Jon Herzog, as they discuss the new reveals from the Thor: Love & Thunder trailer, Laverne Cox’s new Barbie doll, and celebrate the new trailer for the final season of Love, Victor in This Week in Queer.
In this new episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Christopher Murray, as they discuss the Stranger Things season 4 premiere, new trailers for Westworld and Love, Death + Robots, and celebrate our first look at the queer horror movie They/Them in This Week in Queer.
KEVIN: The networks cancel 17 series in the span of 48 hours