Comedy writer Kirker Butler has written for Family Guy and the Cleveland Show, but his most recent work is a satirical novel called “Pretty Ugly,” about a Southern family whose child is involved in beauty pageants.
Butler grew up in Ohio County, Kentucky, where his mother was in charge of planning the annual pageant. And though the novel is set in Kentucky, and the family is dysfunctional, Butler says he isn’t worried about offending folks from his home state.
We talk to Butler about his TV work, and that always-elusive line between edgy and offensive. He said the Family Guy writers benefit from the show’s reputation for anything-goes humor. “We always kind of took the attitude that nothing is off-limits, and we would go after everyone equally.”
In this week’s Juicy Fruit, we talk about a recent police shooting in Louisville, and why Police Chief Steve Conrad was so quick to point out that both the officer and the man he shot were white.
We also cover Madonna kissing Drake at Coachella, and how it reminds us all of the importance of consent—even if you’re “Madonna, b****.”
Sabrina Butler Porter was 17 when she found her baby Walter unresponsive, not breathing. Her attempts at CPR to save his life resulted in bruising that lead police to accuse her of child abuse. She was wrongfully convicted of her baby’s murder and spent more than 6 years in prison – nearly three of those on death row.
“Being on death row, I wasn’t told that the state had to exhaust all remedies before they could actually carry out the death sentence,” she explained. “I paced the floor every day,” she remembers, “trying to figure out when they coming to kill me.”
Porter’s conviction was overturned when new lawyers took her case and it was discovered that Walter had died of kidney disease. She now works with Witness to Innocence, an organization that helps death row exonerees become advocates against the death penalty.
Between her speaking engagements in Kentucky last week, she stopped by our studios to tell her story and talk about how her experiences shaped her view of the criminal justice system.
“I didn’t have anybody in my corner,” she says. “They knew that I was a young black girl, really didn’t know nothing, so they took advantage of that.”
In our Juicy Fruit segment, we talk about whether Jamie Foxx crossed the line with his jokes about Bruce Jenner at the I Heart Radio Awards. Foxx’s remark that Jenner would be “doing a his-and-her duet, all by himself,” drew accusations of transphobia.
And these days, a week just doesn’t seem complete without another head-scratching gaffe from Raven-Symoné. This time, she claims her ancestry is from “every continent in Africa but one.” Jaison tries to break down why “new black”-touting personalities like Raven and Don Lemon are so captivating to the public imagination, while Dr. Story just wants Raven to “read a book or two … hundred.”
And we pause to acknowledge the murder of Walter Scott in South Carolina. Scott was pulled over for a broken tail light and ran away from Officer Michael Slager, who then shot him in the back, killing him.
The officer initially claimed Scott had taken his Taser and tried to use it against him. But a bystander video showed otherwise, with Slager appearing to drop the Taser next to Scott’s body after he’d been shot.
The officer has been fired, and charged with murder. Does this mean the tide is turning in favor of consequences for unnecessary use of force by police? We talk about it at the close of this week’s show.
David Sedaris never liked Chinese food. Then he went to China, and he really didn’t like Chinese food. His essay about it, Chicken Toenails, Anyone? was published in the Guardian and was criticized as disrespectful, xenophobic, and even racist.
This week we listen back to our chat with Sedaris, from when he’d just released his book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. He said if he were worried about keeping his humor PC he couldn’t be an honest about his experiences, and wouldn’t get as many laughs. “I always figure that the thing you can admit that’s most embarrassing is the thing that most people can relate to,” he explained. “Because we’re not that different, really.”
We also asked whether he considers himself an LGBTQ activist. He told us, “the way I write about my relationship is just about trying to make a life with somebody, and anybody can relate to it. It’s not important that I’m trying to make that life with another man. It’s just important that I’m trying to make that life with another person.”
We also spoke more broadly about his life and work, LGBTQ visibility in pop culture, why speech therapy classes are full of gay children, and whether marriage equality will lead to an increase in annoying destination weddings. “I think gay people should get the right to marry,” he said. “And then I think none of us should act on it.”
And last week we told you that friend to the show Aisha Moodie-Mills was named Executive Director of the Victory Fund. This week we bring you an excerpt of our conversation with her, and her wife Danielle Moodie-Mills.
This week we introduce you to a new member of the WFPL newsroom, political reporter Ashley Lopez. Ashley joins us to talk about Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” act, Louisville’s attempt to appeal to LGBT tourists, and a recent poll showing Kentucky’s opposition to marriage equality.
We also hear Ashley’s recent report on the Kentucky marriage equality case that will go before the Supreme Court late next month. She fills us in on where that case stands, who might make oral arguments, what experts think will be the outcome, and she introduces us to some of the Kentucky plaintiffs.
And a group of Louisvillians are bringing a Juneteenth Festival back to the Derby City for the first time in years. Juneteenth celebrates the freeing of enslaved Africans and African Americans in the United States in 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation became the law of the land.
Organizer Gary Brice takes a break from festival planning to stop by the Strange Fruit studios and let us know what’s in store for festival attendees, and how our listeners can get involved.
This week we also give a shout out to friend-to-the-show Aisha Moodie-Mills, who this week was named the new president and CEO of the Victory Fund, a national organization that supports LGBTQ political candidates. Moodie-Mills is the first woman, and the first African American, to hold the job.
And our colleague Devin Katayama, political reporter and midday host with WFPL, is heading to KQED in San Francisco, to cover poverty and other issues affecting Oakland, California.
Finally this week we say a sad goodbye to teen trans activist Blake Brockington, who ended his own life last week. Despite suffering rejection from family and friends upon coming out as trans, Brockington went on to become homecoming king at his North Carolina high school.
Brockington was a tireless fundraiser and activist for LGBTQ issues, and was also an outspoken participant in the #BlackLivesMatter movement against police brutality.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis, please reach out to The Trevor Project’s Lifeline at 866-488-7386, or visit thetrevorproject.org for more ways to contact their counselors, who are specially trained to help LGBTQ youth. Stay safe, Fruitcakes.
Food writer Ashlee Clark Thompson’s new book is all about Louisville Diners (the places, not the people). She joins us this week to dish about some of Louisville’s most iconic eateries – trendy brunch places, soul food spots, and a certain streetcar-shaped establishment in Old Louisville, whose quirkiness is part of its charm.
“It’s almost like Halley’s Comet to catch Ollie’s Trolley open,” she says (the walk-up-style lunch counter is open 11-5, only operates on weekdays, and only accepts cash). “It started out as a chain, and Ollie’s was supposed to be the next KFC.”
Thompson says diners started out as, essentially, food trucks, where hungry third-shift workers could stop by and pick up a bite on the way home. They were seen as men’s establishments, prone to trouble, either with no seating, or later, maybe a row of stools at a countertop.
Eventually, proprietors realized they were missing out on revenue by only catering to men. “They tried to attract women by adding flower boxes outside of windows, and adding tables and booths,” Thompson explains. “Because ladies did not like to sit on stools in the early 1900s.”
It would take much longer for diners’ race politics to catch up with their gender politics. “Diners in the 1900s weren’t the most inclusive places,” she says. “In fact, they were segregated.”
In researching the book, she found resources that focused on the diners of post-WWII, which were white, and suburban. “And so my question was, where did black people like me go to eat at this same time?” The answer, she found, was soul food. So the book includes the soul food restaurants that co-evolved with diners and catered to African Americans.
In our Juicy Fruit segment this week, Jaison joins us from the Big Apple, fresh from a taping of The View. And the timing is appropriate, given our lead story.
After Univision host Rodner Figueroa was fired for saying Michelle Obama “looks like she’s part of the cast of ‘Planet of the Apes,'” Raven-Symoné was guest-hosting The View earlier this week and defended Figueroa, saying, “Some people just look like animals.”
Doc wonders, “Are her and Don Lemon brother and sister maybe, and we didn’t know it?”
We talk about black and queer celebrities whose work or aesthetic suggest an edginess that is not reflected in their politics, and whether it stings more when racism, sexism or homophobia come from someone inside the affected group.
The Kentucky General Assembly just wrapped up its 2015 session, and some LGBTQ-related bills were under consideration. Chris Hartman from the Fairness Campaign joins us this week to talk about the proposed legislation—what passed, and what didn’t.
Hartman also fills us in on a Fairness vote in the Bardstown, KY city council. The city council opted not to add gender identity and sexual orientation protections to the city-county human rights ordinance.
And you may have seen a Buzzfeed article last week about Louisville murder victim Sherman Edwards, and whether the LMPD is trying to cover up Edwards’ identity as a trans woman. Chris Hartman has seen the court records and says, while police statements may have been insensitive to trans issues, the truth about Edwards’ identity and the motivation for the crime is not so clear cut.
And in our Juicy Fruit segment, we address the racist chant that got Sigma Alpha Epsilon ejected from the University of Oklahoma, and how a morning show panel blamed the incident on hip hop music. In a development that happened after we taped the show, the fraternity is now considering suing the university for its dismissal.
Earlier this year, Kate Brown made history by becoming the first openly bisexual governor ever to serve in the U.S. The Oregon governor was also the country’s first bisexual statewide officeholder. But just as Obama’s election doesn’t mean we’re post racial, Governor Brown’s election doesn’t mean bisexual people are welcomed with open arms.
Even in queer spaces – some would say especially in queer spaces – our bisexual brothers and sisters still face discrimination and stereotyping, or simple erasure. That’s our focus this week.
Our guests are Perry Green, a political operative and activist, and Imani Uzuri, a composer and musician – both bi people of color. Both say they’ve been excluded from queer spaces, been presumed to change orientation to gay or straight when in a long-term relationship, been assumed to be promiscuous, and more.
“I also get women saying they can’t date me because I sleep with men and have diseases,” listener Dawn Logan said on our facebook page. “[P]eople assume us bi’s are out sleeping around with everyone. And let’s not forget the assumption that we’re up for threesomes.”
We spend most of this half hour talking with them about their experiences with biphobia and how they combat it with visibility and self-acceptance, and get their advice for other bi folks who are struggling with whether to come out, or how to deal with being stereotyped.
In this week’s Juicy Fruit segment, we bring you updates on the murder of trans woman Islan Nettles, and the Department of Justice’s investigation of the police department in Ferguson. And, as promised last week, some thoughts on the Kanye/Kardashians/Amber Rose beef, and why Kanye is trying so hard to make America love his wife.
This week we meet Haydee Canovas, the director of a Spanish-language play called “Emigrados,” running March 12-21 in Louisville. Part of the theater of the absurd tradition, the play observes two immigrant men, in a basement, on New Year’s eve, and explores their relationship.
While the actors in this production are both Mexican, the script itself doesn’t specify a country of origin for its characters – nor does it tell us the country they’re currently in. Canovas says this allows the play to comment on the experiences immigrants have in common.
“Immigration is a universal theme,” she says. “It’s been happening since the beginning of time. If somebody doesn’t feel safe where they’re living, they’re going to preserve themselves and their family, and they’re going to move to a place that’s safer.”
We talked to Canovas about the theater company she co-founded, Teatro Tercera Llamada, and their mission. She says not only is it theater with a social conscious, but, “theater that Latinos are experiencing.”
(For information about “Emigrados,” which will be presented with English supertitles, click here. If you’re interested in getting involved with Teatro Tercera Llamada, contact them at 502-386-4866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We’re also joined this week by Marion Dries, whose voice you may recognize from our sister station, WFPL. Marion is a bookworm with lots of connections to the world of LGBTQ publishing houses, so she’ll be joining us periodically with book reviews and author interviews. This week we hear a snippet of her conversation with KL Rhavernsfyre. Here’s the whole conversation:
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And in Juicy Fruit, it’s been a bad week for white women. Patricia Arquette used her backstage Oscars interview to suggest that LGBTQ and people of color owe their support to the wage equality movement. Giuliana Rancic of E! Network’s “Fashion Police” implied that dreadlocks smell like patchouli oil and weed. And a news anchor from Ohio said Lady Gaga plays “jigaboo music.”
Author Frederick Smith knew he wanted to be a writer since he was a little boy, watching soap operas in Detroit. But folks around him didn’t necessarily see him as the writer type. “I had friends say, ‘Black boys from Detroit don’t write soap operas – we go to work at the auto plant like our dads did.'”
Luckily he kept at it, spent some time in Academia, and eventually made the move to writing novels. His writing tells the stories of black and brown people, he says. “[P]eople living lives that don’t make the six o’clock news.”
His new novel, “Play It Forward,” centers on secrets. The leader of an organization for mentoring gay youth has to deal with an embarrassing part of his past, and a closeted R&B singer and professional basketball player hide their relationship to preserve their careers.
In Juicy Fruit this week, you know we had to talk about all the tea from the Grammys! From Ledisi and Bey to Kanye and Beck, we cover the winners and the losers (with a pit stop to chat about Kanye’s bravado and why white America finds it so alarming).
Speaking of winners, charges were dropped this week against Louisville activist Shelton McElroy, a Louisville activist who’d been arrested after being asked to leave 4th Street Live for violating their dress code. Shelton says plenty of (white) people were violating the dress code, but he was the only one asked to leave (and the club let him come in for long enough to collect his cover charge, which they would not give back). Local listeners will know this is just the latest in a long line of racism accusations against the Cordish-owned entertainment complex.
After spending January looking back at some of our favorite conversations, we’re back this week with a brand new episode — and we have a lot of hot topics to catch up on!
So this week, we’re doing an all-Juicy-Fruit episode, and we’re joined by PR guru and friend-to-the-show, Walter Walker (you might remember him from WFPL’s Defining Fairness series).
We talk about a Huffington Post article last week by Mike Alvear, which looked at racial dynamics in gay porn. The piece, “Why Are Whites Always the Bottom in Interracial Porn?” says the porn industry caters to white people, who they say are their highest-paying customers. We talk about the ways in which we’re socialized to view black men as hyper-sexual and aggressive, and how those images are perpetuated (and even exaggerated) in the fantasy world of porn.
Also, remember Mary Cheney? She’s the conservative lesbian daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and she is apparently confused about drag and blackface. She wrote on her Facebook wall, “Why is it socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for men to put on dresses, make-up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) — but it is not socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans? Shouldn’t both be OK or neither?”
As a public service to Mary (because our Fruitcakes already know) we break down the differences between subversive and oppressive entertainment, and talk about the roots of each phenomenon. We’re also not sure what kind of drag shows she’s been to; when we see drag done in queer spaces, it doesn’t tend to poke fun at women at all.
And finally, while we were on break, Empire took television completely by storm! We talk about the new resurgence in scripted black television, and the importance of three-dimensional characters of color with complex relationships and lives.