Gay Sluts Who Read
John Walker gets to know the crew behind Food 4 Thot, a new podcast discussing things like sex and race, and what and who the thots like to read.
Fran’s raincoat is black and reflective, perhaps PVC. It’s very “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” which honestly, same. We all took a different path to get to this studio on the industrial side of McGuinness Boulevard in Brooklyn, New York, but every one of us is thoroughly soaked from the lower thighs down. I’m here to sit in on a recording session for Food 4 Thot, a new podcast created by and featuring four queer writers from different backgrounds who live in New York. Joe uncorks a bottle of rosé. I’m here for that, too.
“Our itineraries are very moist,” says Fran as he hands out a particularly gay agenda.
“Ugh. Moist.” Dennis places a half-eaten McNugget back in its carrier, which sits atop a coffee table next to his copy of Zadie Smith’s Swingtime. “My favorite word.”
“Moist,” Tommy riffs without looking up from his compact. “It’s really a state of mind, don’t you think?”
A two-tone cackle bounds up from the bottom of his throat as Tommy and friends leave the room, taking their mugs of wine and moist itineraries with them. They make their way into another room nearby where their mics are set up around a circular dinner table. I hang back with their producer and their engineer. We can’t see the boys, but we can hear them through the speakers on our side of the studio’s sound system. “THIS. IS MY VOICE. ON TEE-EE VEE-EEEE,” Tommy shouts through the speakers in his best Homer Simpson. He softens his voice but keeps it playful to record the intro. “Hey! Welcome to Food 4 Thot…”
At the top of every transmission, Food 4 Thot announces itself as a space where “a multiracial mix of queer writers gather ‘round the table to talk about sex, identity, culture, what we like to read, and who we like to read.” That’s all true, but it doesn’t quite capture the perversely joyful and joyfully perverse experience of listening to an episode. It’s like wandering into the stockroom of a dusty old gay bookstore and finding the owner and the manager slicking one another’s taints with candle wax. (The safe word is “Cheryl Strayed.”) It’s like hurtling down a Sliquid Slip ‘N Slide and landing face first in a pile of fellowship applications. In 60 minutes or less, Food 4 Thot speaks truth to publishing industry power and laughs in the face of bottoming anxiety. In short, “it’s [a podcast] for gay sluts who read.” That’s Fran after a couple glasses of rosé. And maybe a beer or two after that.
The co-hosts and creators of Food 4 Thot – Dennis Norris, Joe Osmundson, Tommy Pico, and Fran Tirado – met last summer at a Tin House writers’ workshop. Dennis, a reformed figure skater turned fiction editor at Apogee Journal, tells me that he’d wanted to do some kind of roundtable podcast with other gay men for a long time but that he hadn’t found the right people. Night after night at the workshop, he found himself staying up late and drinking and giggling with these three new friends. Their conversations segued from thoughtful literary discussion to thotful threesome horror stories without missing a beat.
“Everything was so natural and brilliant and beyond anything I’d ever had,” says Dennis. He soon realized that “this is the group.”