Welcome to Obsessed, a weekly series featuring everything the KQED Arts gang can't stop talking about. We're bringing the conversation from the water cooler to cyberspace! This week, we're freaking out over the world's worst Kickstarter campaigns, drag queens, a nasty little short story, and more!
If you're like me, you couldn't stop grousing when Kickstarter became a thing and your friends started begging for money on the internet so their band could go on tour. Or so they could start a kombucha company. Or so they could write a book, design clothes, develop an app, or adopt baby goats or whatever. Somehow, this unmitigated gall clogging everyone's Facebook feed managed to be accepted as “innovative disruption,” a “way to connect with fans,” or “a new platform for creativity.” I still call it déclassé, which is why the site Kickended provides me no end of catharsis. A hilarious collection of failed Kickstarter campaigns that ended without receiving any funding at all -- like, not even one dime -- Kickended is a window into the truly terrible ideas conceived in the world and the audacity of those who post them to Kickstarter.
Pictured above is a campaign asking for $10,000 to glue rhinestones on existing photos. Another campaign wants $10,000 to put jewelry inside of candles. Another campaign declares that $15,000 is needed to carry out God's musical will ("God blessed me with a gift for music... but unfortunately it takes money”). There are campaigns for "the safest baby diapur out there," "Leif Garrett - The Musical," "Were gonna rap with 2 Chainz," "'Born to Tears' a book of life changing poetry," and oh, so much more, all very misguided and all 100% unfunded.
This week, I’m obsessed with dancer, choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham. I will preface this with the fact that I am not usually a "dance person," but after seeing Pavement, Abraham's show at YBCA, I was super inspired by his politically minded, genre-bending style of dance theater that consistently looks at the state of Black America, civil rights and freedom. His choreography and sound-scaping are mesmerizing and immersive, feeling more like a play than a dance performance, blending hip-hop sensibilities and modern dance to a soundtrack of opera, blues, electronica and even N.W.A. The Pavement tour has left town, but you can still get hooked on Abraham's work by watching the clip above!
A Nasty Little Short Story From Hilary Mantel
My history nerd heart is most excited for the BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Tudor intrigue-a-thon Wolf Hall. To sate myself until its premiere on U.S. TV next month, I just re-read Mantel’s strangest, most compelling short story from her Assassination of Margaret Thatcher collection: "Winter Break." Barely skirting 2,000 words, this nasty little shocker about a vacationing couple in their airport cab is what the phrase “sting in the tail” was invented for.
Her writing is typically flawless, but something’s up: its revisiting of the frequent Mantel theme of childlessness is so on-the-nose, the inevitable “gotcha” so blatant that I suspect (to borrow a line from one of my favorite guilty pleasures) it’s all “so overt it’s covert.” Even on second reading, I can’t quite work out exactly what Mantel is up to here, and I look forward to cracking it one day. Read "Winter Break" online!
The Return of RuPaul's Drag Race
It's been nine whole months since a new Drag Race episode has aired, and this week saw the birth of 14 new drag queens! If you've never seen an episode of this show (best described as a cross between America's Next Top Model, Project Runway and Pink Flamingos), I feel sorry for you and want to help you see the light! The show in a nutshell: drag queens participate in ridiculous challenges (turning straight dudes into brides, for example), while verbally sparring with one another. Each week, the bottom two girls are forced to lip-synch to the death.
If you don't think drag is an art form, you'll change your mind after watching how these men paint their faces and use costume and body illusions to become Amazonian queens. Oh, and did I mention it's f-ing hilarious? I don't watch other reality shows because this is all of them combined (think of all the space you'll have on your DVR!). So here's your mission, should you choose to accept it: marathon all previous six seasons and we'll meet back here to discuss, okay? Okay.
Want more? Check out our past obsessions!