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Backlash & in Heels (with Abraham Josephine Riesman)

April 23, 2023
Notes
Transcript

Abraham Josephine Riesman, author of The New York Times bestselling book, Ringmaster, joins Tim and JVL to talk WWE wrestling and the latest attacks on trans Americans from the right.

Plus, Tim and JVL talk the $5 million Mike Lindell has the pay for his disproven election fraud claims.

Watch the gang record this episode here: https://youtu.be/49J9j55tPzo 

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:09
    Hello and welcome them to the Bulwark next level Sunday show. I’m Tim Miller here with my BFF, Jonathan V Last. We’ve got a great guest today Abraham, Josephine Reisman, Josey wrote a book about Vince McMahon and the parallels between wrestling and politics It is so good. It was mentioned by a previous guest who wrote Diaz as the book he was reading and J. B.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:35
    On our big wrestling people. So we had to get Josie on I will tell you, even if you don’t know anything about wrestling, a, this is a great book to read because it’s really about culture and b, it’s still a good part guests because we get a lot into trans and LGBTQ politics, Josie is trans. We also get into Donald Trump and his relationship with wrestling, it’s gonna be really good. The book, by the way, is called The Ringmaster, then Spider Man in the Unmaking of America. But before we get to Josie JBL, get a little triad this week on Mike Lindell.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:05
    He’s got some WWE vibes about him? He sure does. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:09
    mean, he looks like Paul Bayer. To start with. Yeah. He looks like a slightly slimmer pallbearer. And Mike Glendale, about a year and a half go when he was doing his big do you remember his big confab where he was gonna give the the information to show everybody how the election was hacked?
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:25
    And he presented data that he he claimed proved unconveratively that the Chinese had hacked the election for Joe Biden. And he said he would give five million dollars to anybody who could prove him wrong. And so one guy, one guy was a computer forensics expert, who’s a Trump supporter and Trump voter? Look at this data. Since this is garbage.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:50
    And he submitted a a a proof for you. You know, he sent in a big, like, you know, hey, look. Mike, this is I’m sorry. This is we this this guy was there because he really wanted it to be true. And so he submitted a proof and said this is not on the level.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:03
    None of the stuff shows what you say it shows. And this is the equivalent. Every once in a while, there would be in wrestling like the gimmick wear. And this is more in the old days. The promoter would say, you know, would anybody wanna come in and face the Mongolian monster, you know, and And everyone told me to get a plant from the crowd who would jump like the one two three kid.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:24
    The one two three kid who would jump in and Oh, yeah. I remember that. Sure. And then, you know, they’d fly off the top rope and stun the world by the and that’s what happened. He said Mike Glendale stiffed this guy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:36
    And wouldn’t pay. So this dude took him to arbitration. And on Wednesday of this week, twenty four hours after the Fox and Dominion case settled the arbitrator found in favor of of this gentleman. And Mike Lindel is outraged and is going to appeal this decision from the biased deep state arbitrator and take them to you can’t make it up. This is why everybody needs to read Josie’s book.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:00
    Because that’s what it’s really about. It’s not just about wrestling. It’s about politics in America. Here’s the thing of the pillow man, which would have been a great wrestling name, by the way.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:07
    You want to not take it seriously. Because it is so unserious. But here’s the thing. We broke this at the Bulwark. During the period of the coup attempt, he went to visit Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:19
    Like, the president And do I know he’s yeah. Attempting to try to encourage him to seize the machines. And Trump was looking into this, like he wanted to devil lawyers meet with him. And to hear the Pillow Man’s pitch for seizing voting machines. You know, as if we’re, like, a a third world within our public, which I we were really for a couple of weeks.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:37
    That’s first. Number two, I think the most damning discussion in the whole, you know, all of the emails that we got from the Dominion filings. You know, was Rupert defending having Pillow Man’s ads on? That was the context of the not red, now blue, but green.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:54
    Is there
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:55
    some more understanding? Like, Mike, there’s lunatic that is out there trying to overturn the the government. And it is like the leading purveyor of of false information about the election, Fox was taken on the take from him. And felt like his money was so valuable that they that they couldn’t get rid of them. I I thought that was one of the most compelling elements of the whole deal.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:18
    And, you know, this week Fox gonna loses their seven hundred eighty seven million. Michael Lee loses the five. But
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:22
    that comes out of, you know, corporate coffers and they have machine to print money. And Mike Glendale that’s gonna come out of his pocket and he is not fox. He does not have a machine that prints money. I think he winds up gonna hear. Here’s my question to you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:33
    Is Mike Glendale a mark Yep. Or is he a smart is he a smart mark, which is in in wrestling parlance. Does Mike Lee think it’s real? Right? Does Mike Lee look at all of this and say, oh my gosh, that piledriver.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:46
    I believe
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:47
    it didn’t break his neck. Or or is Mike Lee on the joke? And he knows that it’s all k Fave. Well, Mike
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:54
    Lee is a smart.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:56
    Sorry. Mike Lee is a smart. Mike Mike Glendale is a smart mark. Mike Glendale.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:02
    I mean, he was a crack addict. Like that’s an important piece of information to consider. You know,
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:09
    so his
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:09
    brain you know, that has to be restored. You know, I I’ve done some operational drug use in my day, but, boy, you know, being addicted to crack, that that puts some holes in the old cranium. So I think if I had to guess, I think he’s a smart, there’s no way somebody could really believe all the shit that he says. Like, if you wanna really punish yourself this weekend, spend an hour on Lindell TV. I mean, this stuff
  • Speaker 3
    0:05:34
    is like
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:36
    another universe level stupid. I mean, this is so I think he’s a smart. That’s where I’m laying. What about you?
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:43
    I think he’s a straight mark. I think he is, like, the grandmother who would who would stick a wrestler with a hat pin because she’s so angry at how mean Buddhist the Barbara Beefcake is and She’s on the side of the other. I think this guy buys all of it. If he’s not, it’s the greatest act I’ve ever seen in the history of the world. Pretty compelling.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:04
    If he really is in on the joke, then boy howdy, I’ve never seen anybody sell the way he has sold this this gimmick. Up next, author of the Ringmaster Abraham Josephine Reesman, you are
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:17
    going to enjoy it. We’ll be back on Wednesday with me, JBL, and Amanda. We’ll be in for Sarah this week. We have a great guest also for next Sunday. Stick around the next level.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:27
    Go and make sure you’re checking out the other podcasts. The Daily Bulwark podcast, the Charlie Sykes, Mona Charen Beg to Differ, Sunny Bunch’s Secret Podcast. They’re all great. Up next, Joey Reesman, but first, our friends that ask the tongue. Hey there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:59
    We’re here with my new hopefully friend Abraham, Josephine Reesman and JVL for your Sunday next level. Josie, you know that, I guess, it was two weeks ago now. As you know Diaz was on. That’s correct. And we asked him when he was reading.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:14
    And it was the ring master.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:16
    Oh, really? He he said that about that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:18
    Yeah. And so I guess I my first question is, do you have someone you wanna pay it forward too. You know, maybe that we can have. Who are you reading
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:24
    now? I’ve been thinking a lot about old dead authors lately. Let me think. Who’s somebody who’s living? Oh, someone whose book came out a few months ago but didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved is my friend, Emily Tampkin’s bad Jews.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:37
    Bad Jews, which was a really interesting panoramic look at the different I mean, it the title was deliberately provocative, but the book is sort of about all the different kinds of Jews in America. It’s a beautiful panoramic look at what it is to be Jewish in this multifarious way. I love the title. I think the title may have ended up turning people off because they thought it was gonna be a book that chastises people and it doesn’t at all. It’s just a really interesting and beautiful look and analysis at jewelry in America over time.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:14
    Should’ve set up a table at CPAC. Right. You got a little
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:17
    bait and
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:17
    switch. For those people. You got my hat. Okay. So it’s Abraham Reisman on the book jacket, but your trans — Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:26
    — yeah. We got an x your name here. You’re I’m so sorry. I’m wondering, did you submit the book? And then you’re like, yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:32
    You know what? I’m I’m becoming my true self two days after I’ve submitted the book, and it’s too late to changed the top. Yeah. What happened there? It was terrible timing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:41
    We had gone through a bunch of iterations of
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:44
    the cover, and I was being very picky. I wanted it to look nice. And my editor, God bless him. It said I had permission to be picky. But after a while, I was starting to get a little nervous, So when we finally got the one that worked, I was so elated with it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:59
    And then, like, two weeks later, I realized, you know, I wanna live as a woman now. And it was just not great timing. Most importantly, because the graphic design had not been done with three names, including a long middle one in mind, And it was too late to really go back to square one. Like, we were already kind of up against the whatever. And so it was a matter of graphic design winning out over me being fully representative of my true self.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:28
    That said, on the jacket cover, it says Abraham Josephine Riesman. So and as my pronouns. But, you
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:34
    know Not to be too foot, but, like, two weeks is really kind of close like, do you feel like living in Vince’s head? Like, had something to do with it?
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:40
    Yeah. Well, you think that wild. We were looking at the covers before I was done with the first draft. I was, like, almost done and we were already looking at them. When I finished the first draft, It was, like, two days after I had come out.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:55
    Like, I didn’t plan on coming out that it was one of those sort of surprise things where I just went you know, I realized this about myself and I had a few pops and tweeted about Yeah. Basically, I realized it and was just sort of like, you know, I it was something I’d been sorta running over in my head for a long time. But when I finally sort of had the moment where I was like, you know what I wanna do this, I just sorta did it and then finished the first draft, which is not that that’s not that big of a problem. The bigger problem was, like, right in that week, I might be getting it was, like, within a three day span, I, like, came out, finished first draft, and Vince McMahon got hit by The Wall Street Journal with a bunch of new sexual misconduct allegations, which triggered me being like, okay. Well, I was planning to do this article about Rita Chatterton, the first female referee in the WWF, who claims that Vince raped her in nineteen eighty six.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:48
    But I was planning to put out that profile when the book was about to come out. And then all of a sudden, it was like, well, I feel like now is the time people are finally paying attention to this stuff. So I did this article for New York Mag very quickly. It was a very quick turnaround and I had already done all the research because she’s in the book. But it was really wild because I had, like, just made this identity change and was not planning on writing anything in the immediate future.
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:15
    The plan was I was gonna come out and then, like, the next big thing would be the book and that was not gonna be until, like, March or something. The timing was what it was, but I was really gratified by the fact that when that Rita Chatterton article came out, a shocking number of people, including lots of wrestling fans, were just immediately onboard with the name and pronoun. I didn’t even alter my name at the beginning. I just was like, I don’t know what to do with my name, so let’s just talk about the gender. Anyway,
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:45
    I could talk about this all day, but it was weird timing. Yeah. I would like to do a little trans politics stuff. First, if you don’t mind, this is a politics show off or all. We can we can do the wrestling candy at the end for the wrestling fans, but some of the people and some of the listeners might not actually, you know, like, know who superfly Jimmy Snoke is or whatever and might not, you know, might get bored.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:04
    That’s not me and JV. No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:05
    So let’s start with the stuff that’s spicy and in the headlines. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:09
    here’s my, like, my big question. And we talked with Dan Savage and James Lynch about this in a more of a gay focused context, but I’m interested in your view of it from transcriptive. It’s twenty sixteen when North Carolina tries to pass that bathroom bill. Mhmm. And this is like ends up being like a political albatross.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:27
    For Pat McCrory, who is the governor at the time. Right? And and, you know, Democrat ends up winning in the state. A bunch of companies decide they’re not gonna go there. I think March madness pulled out or, you know, some sports sporting event.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:39
    If I recall correctly, yes. It it was a big to do. Yeah. And basically, the conventional wisdom people like hard to remember this because things have changed so much. But, like, five years ago, I was like, don’t touch this issue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:49
    Like, it’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:49
    No. The culture war has been lost. Yeah. Like, we already have gay marriage. And then the tide really returned.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:54
    What happened? Like like, how what is your
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:56
    assessment? Like, why that has changed so quickly? I will venture a guest which is I mean, there’s a lot of factors, but I think a big factor is you eventually from about twenty sixteen ish onward, start to get this trickle that becomes a flood of commentators who are ostensibly liberals and make a big deal out of being Liberals or at least about being anti fascist conservatives, you know, the Andrew Sullivan’s of the world. You get a lot of these liberal pundits or liberal leaning pundits sort of getting on board with the Jesse Single Train where it’s like, okay, Trans people in theory are fine, I guess, but we have to stop mutilating our children’s genitalia. The context starts to change.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:45
    Once Jesse Single writes that cover story for the Atlantic about trans kids and medical care for trans kids, I think that and the attendant gossiping about trans people that was demonstrably, you can look it up going on on these little journalism listservs among these sorts of centrist to liberal pockets, you end up having the opinion at the sort of elite liberal level change. You get this thing where people really do, I think, believe that they are okay with trans people in theory. But once they start talking about any specifics about trans rights or trans politics. It’s immediately keep your hands off my kids. If they don’t call them groomers, they just call them you know, activists or whatever coded word they wanna use.
  • Speaker 3
    0:14:37
    So that’s not the only factor. Another huge factor obviously is just the general onward progress of fascism in this country where one thing that the fascists have realized is trans stuff because it has this grip on the sort of liberal imagination, even among people who are progressive on a lot of other things, they’ve realized it’s an in road. I mean, being anti trans is the sharp tip of the spear for getting a lot more reactionary views into your head. There
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:07
    can be reasonable disagreements about, you know, Jesse signals writing. I think that, like, I hear you on the influence of, like, liberal Pondits making, you know, kind of creating a permission structure for saying, okay, Trans is an issue. Right? But, like, people in Raleigh, North Carolina aren’t really reading the New York magazine, you know, the Atlantic magazine cover on this. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:26
    So, like, my question is, so what is happening with those people? Like, I I think it’s like No. It’s true. Maybe TikTok. I don’t know, like, their this is more in their face.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:34
    Like, maybe the trans bathroom thing in sixteen felt more like, I don’t know. Right? Like,
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:38
    it felt like distant it’s kind of mystifying. I’m afraid to venture too much of a guess because I haven’t spent a ton of time hanging out with I mean, I went to North Carolina for this book, but I was not out yet. Like, transness was not an issue when I was interacting with the old timers at the Bojangles. You know. And I don’t know what it would be like now.
  • Speaker 3
    0:15:59
    I genuinely don’t. The reason I was defaulting to talking about liberal stuff is because those are the waters that I swim in. So I see where Transphobia is rising there. I don’t know what’s necessarily influencing people who would vote red anyway. But I do know that once you have that permission structure set up, it bleeds out into things like the legal system.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:21
    You know, you get stuff like Emily Baselon’s New York Times article about TransCare ending up in all of these legal cases and pushes for legislation as proof that, you know, children are being abused by all these this care. So I don’t know. I love talking about this stuff. You you can ask me anything. I may think that you’re completely off base, but feel free.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:42
    Let me give you a more realistic possibility. I’m I’m eager for this. Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:48
    The only reason this has become an issue is because Republicans lost in twenty twenty. Mhmm. And we’re casting about for something new.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:54
    Yeah. That’s probably true
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:55
    because this grass timeline wise pretty much with, you know, the the end of the Trump administration. And if if not for that, right, if the, you know, seventy thousand votes swing the other way or whatever it was and
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:07
    Trump wins,
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:08
    then they don’t need to find a new culture war. Right? They just stay with the anti Vax COVID stuff because they think that works for them. And otherwise, this is purely opportune. That’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:17
    really interesting. I think that that you’re probably right. I think there’s a critical mass of people who are grossed out by the very idea of transness or gender trader dumb. That you can have a base that will get behind. You’ll be able to film a crowd cheering for that sort of thing.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:34
    Sure. But the polling that’s coming out now is showing that majority of Americans, at least based on whatever question you ask, don’t seem to have that much of a VM and issue with trans people. Is the drag show and the trans stuff are they the same? I just mean it’s a political matter. The only reason they’re the same I mean, if you ask a trans person and like a gaseous male who does drag.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:55
    If they are the same, they would say probably not. But in the eyes, of an absolutest view about gender where just deviance from, you know, the norm in any way is is punishable. I think it sort of puts drag queens and trans people somewhat awkwardly into the same boat because we’re all being targeted for the same reasons. Which is where gender traders. You know, my my spouse has this great theory which is that the anti gay movement didn’t really stop.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:27
    It’s not that it stopped. It’s that the anti gay movement was always an anti gender trader movement. It was the gay men were gender traders. It’s just that that the target of who counts as a gender trader has moved, but it’s the exact same rhetoric. I don’t even have to delineate it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:18:42
    You know what I’m talking about? I
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:44
    agree with that. And I think that I think that there’s a realistic political view that accounts for eighty percent of this that is like we think that this is an opportunity. Yeah. Like, our gay marriage and our don’t ask, don’t tell heads didn’t land anymore, and we feel like we have some some runway here when it comes to kids being, you know, dressing up as — Mhmm. — Tinkerbell or whatever, getting a drag queen reading a story to them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:06
    And, like, we’ve got a whole runway here, so we’re gonna run on it. And it’s like, this was this dormant anti LGBTQ sentiment that that now is back because it’s politically convenient. The other ten percent that I just would like your opinion on. The, like, the one thing that I ever hear from that crowd that resonates with me slightly on the gender trader side of things is there’s an notion that if you’re a third grader and you are a typical third grader is gonna be a gay boy, you know, you wear your mom’s heels You like Doziotat, you play princess and and Mario Kart. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:40
    Like and that now there’s like pressure that oh, that means that you might you’d be a girl actually. Mhmm. And I I think that this is what you get now. I have plenty of issues with Sullivan, but, like, So my question is then you get gay men thinking, well, man, the people that were calling me a girl and a gender trader when I was growing up because I wanted Princess in Mario Kart were the bigots. You know?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:05
    And now there are, you know, kind of progressive people that are a little heavy handed saying, well, maybe that kid is actually a girl. And it’s like, well, maybe they’re not and they should just let them figure it out. That, like, lands with It’s just something that I worry about a little
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:19
    bit. But what is a gay man? That’s the thing that I counter with. I mean, have you seen Paris as burning?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:24
    Yeah. Sure. There
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:25
    was time when gay man included trans women. Right. You know, gay man just meant you were a gender trade. Right. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:32
    Like, I would love for this hypothetical kid to experiment with either one, see what works see if it’s some combination of both. Yeah. I mean, I think the thing that we have to keep in mind as old people
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:47
    is speak for yourself, Abraham, Josephine, Reese.
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:51
    No. No. We are. I have a
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:52
    Snapchat show. Oh,
  • Speaker 3
    0:20:53
    okay. There you go. But I’m saying compared to the teens, like, I have a six year old half sister and who’s who’s cis and a sixteen year old nibbling, my my sister in law’s kid, who’s wonderful, who’s gender fluid. And their conceptions of gender and sexuality are so completely removed from the discourse that I had, not just like oh, it’s advanced or whatever. It’s just they have a it’s a different matrix.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:17
    They’re plotting in a different x y z axis. And I don’t get it, but that’s okay. Like, I don’t care. It’s not my business. If they wanna experiment Great.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:29
    You know, I’m not a grade school teacher, so I don’t know what the protocols are for, like, if somebody’s putting on heels, whether you should suggest they might be a girl or not. That’s above my pay grade. But I do think it’s the equals the opposite scenario is equally likely, which is like you find that you are a third grader and you have a crush on a boy and somebody goes, oh, well, you’re a gay boy, you’re gonna grow up and you’ll be a gay man. And maybe it’s that you’re a straight woman on the inside. Like, I think the labels start freaking people out when in reality, these kids, not every kid in America, of course, but the kids who are growing up in the bubbles where this stuff is more acceptable, I just don’t think our definitions are worth imposing on them.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:14
    So I don’t know. I I I wanna see them thrive and figure stuff out. And you suggest things and maybe you don’t demand them. You know, you can say maybe you’re a girl, maybe you’re a gay man. I don’t I don’t know that there’s that pressure to say, like, no, you’re not a gay man.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:29
    You’re a girl. Or maybe you’re nothing. Yeah. Maybe you’re not maybe you’re just a person.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:32
    Maybe just a third grader who likes being, yeah, who likes being princess for a while. And in fifth grade, you all like being something else. Right? When
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:39
    I try to convey to people is, like, it’s so easy to just say this is not my business, like how kids are being raised. If you don’t have kids yourself, that you are influencing directly, which I don’t. I don’t feel like it’s my place to tell you people how to raise their kids except to say, like, don’t raise them in an abusive environment. And I think the abusive environments are not the ones where people are saying, hey, you might be a girl. They tend to be the ones that say, you’re just a boy and you’re straight and you’re cis.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:10
    And I can’t believe I used the word cis, get back in your breath. You know? It’s like, I I don’t I don’t see the abuse coming from the left, if we’re gonna use the term the left to describe this sort of thing. I
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:22
    wanna transition now into the wrestling. You know what’s just our title? You wanna
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:25
    transition now. Well, congratulations.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:27
    Yeah. You know.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:28
    Okay. Yeah. Sure. We’ll train this big.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:30
    It’s a life group life is a transition. Yes. It is. The the gay stuff in the wrestling not all the way into the dressing up, but I gotta tell you the most disappointing part of the book for me, devastating, personally devastated, not disappointed in your writing. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:43
    Yeah. Yeah. Go on. You know, the ultimate lawyer like Colin People Faggots and stuff.
  • Speaker 3
    0:23:47
    Yeah. That was right. I’m sorry. You were surprised by this?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:49
    Well, yeah. I guess then I shouldn’t have been. I guess that’s what I wanna ask about. I don’t I There was something about, you know, now speaking of imaginary third grade gay boys. Here’s a non imaginary one.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:00
    Me. Like, I’ve decent group of friends who I kind of have this in through wrestling, through something that we just couldn’t detect inside of our brains. Like, I don’t know if I had a crush on the ultimate warrior or if I just liked the grappling or if it wasn’t anything to do with any of that at all? I don’t I don’t know. But there is, like, a trend of of, like, as I know that, like, we’re really in duress Maybe it was just that it was everywhere when we were going up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:21
    It was. I blocked that out. Like, in the nineties, I’m going through the book and it wasn’t just the ultimate lawyer. It was, you know, Brett, the hitman. Heart does a heel turn, where he’s doing anti gay stuff.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:31
    And yet, meanwhile, Vince, in very a trumpy and fashion like a lot of gays in his life. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:36
    Pat Patterson knows notably his dad to camp was gay openly and a real pioneer for that. What
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:42
    was your
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:43
    sense for like how that developed over time. How he feels about queerness? When we’re talking about Vince himself, the sense I get is that He likes individual queer people, but he doesn’t feel any quames about stepping on queer values or sacred cows. He doesn’t feel any restraint when it comes to making fun of queer people. I think these days maybe he does because it’s bad for business, but for a very long time, I think it was this real dichotomy of they’re a gay man I like.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:20
    But also the interests of gay men as a collective population mean nothing to me. You know, gay liberation was not on Vince’s agenda even if a meeting with Pat Patterson was. And I think broadly speaking, you have a lot of queerness and transness that’s embedded, or these things that resonate with queer and trans people, embedded in wrestling. And today, I see a huge effluorescence of queer and trans wrestling fandom and participation. I mean, Just in the past few years, you’ve seen the rise of trans wrestlers like Dark Sheik and Nyl arose and a number of other people, you know, eat a surreal and Go ahead of other sports.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:04
    Yeah. I know. Ahead of other sports in some ways in that way. Although they’re not in WWE, you know, you’re seeing them in the Indies and in AEW. And you have a lot of these indie leagues now that are just for queer people or gender, you know, from marginalized genders, whatever.
  • Speaker 3
    0:26:22
    You have these leagues that are dedicated to having performers who are not straight cis men, which is traditionally what you come to expect from wrestling as straight as men grappling. And I think a lot of these people, some of them come in to wrestling just in their adulthood, but a lot of them watched as kids we’re seeing this stuff that was on its surface completely homophobic or transphobic or whatever. But they could pick up on the fact that there is this transgression and transcendence of gender roles that happens in wrestling. I mean, the thing I always point out is we teach young cis boys that they should not show weakness. Maybe they do now.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:03
    I don’t know. But when I was growing up, we certainly did not teach cis boys to show much weakness. Even if the teachers said you could, the Bulwark made sure you didn’t. And yet you watch wrestling, which my bullies were watching, And what’s the fundamental ingredient of a wrestling match? It’s not strength.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:19
    It’s weakness. The ability to project weakness and pain. Because if you have two people in a ring, who actually have no physical strength. They can still have a wrestling match. It can be a silly one, but they can have one because you can just go oh, I poke you.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:34
    And the person who gets poked goes, ah, god. I know what a horrible poke. It’s it’s I’m in agony. And the point is you have to show convincingly that you’re really hurting and vulnerable. There’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:45
    also costuming. There’s weakness in costuming. I mean, Jesse Jesse Ventura could have been, you know, on on the main stage at Dragon.
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:51
    Well, I know. I say in the book, Jesse Ventura was a perfect example of the long standing day taunton wrestling between machismo and camp. You know, you have both of these forces colliding in this glorious spectacle that a lot queer and trans people even if they didn’t know that that that about themselves yet were really enjoying. Throughout modern history, wrestling’s modest operand I is to find where, like, the dead center of popular culture is
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:21
    and to to put itself there. Right? To an extent, sure, that’s an interesting way of putting it. Go on.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:26
    One of my favorite gosh, and forget his name. The masked man who wrote a great history of wrestling called the squared circle.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:33
    Oh, David Schumaker. Sure. Yeah. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:34
    David Schumaker. Thanks. He notes that for decades, In southern territories, promoters would never book African American wrestlers as heels because the racism was so out of control that the audio
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:49
    Whether by Ryan Right. Heels being the bad guy for our amateur service.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:54
    Heels being the bad guys. Right. And so it was a a sign of funnily enough racial progress when the temperature had come down enough that black guys could play bad guys down
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:05
    in, you know,
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:05
    in New South wrestling, in in or in North Carolina or Memphis. Sure. So I wondered, you know, you look at from Adrianne Donnis to Gold Dust and Billion Chuck that you’ve had gay characters booked as heels. For a long time. Long
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:22
    And I’m
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:22
    not sure if that means that they were in a weird way safe as discriminated class because you wouldn’t have to worry about, like, you know, nobody didn’t worry about Adrian Adonis getting mobbed. After, you know, outside the Pontiac Silver Dome, after WrestleMania three. Right. Right. Or if conversely that there is a modern moment like with Nyla Rose getting booked by AW, which signals a a shift.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:44
    I
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:44
    guess what I’m asking is, like, do you see any shifts in that? Or or no? Well, I think you can’t get away now with being, you know, I I’m going to use a term I hate, but this is what it’s termed that’s used within wrestling or at least it used to be. You can’t just be a faggy heel anymore. You know?
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:03
    Right. That wouldn’t get over. What it? Well, no. I don’t think that alone would.
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:06
    But like, gorgeous George, No one talks about this, but that was the essence of the gorgeous George phenomenon. Yeah. It that was the idea was he is a preening gender trader who clearly loves the male form more than he should even if it’s his own male form. And that used to be George George was a it’s soundingly successful wrestler. And it really was based on this real gender panic about, like, you know, guys aren’t supposed to act like that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:34
    You know, if a guy acts like that, tells you something about him, you know? And more importantly, it’s an antisocial factor. Like, you see gay men in the fifties when gorgeous George is big. As this sort of threat to society. It’s something that can erode the fundamental foundations of the family, the legal structure, etcetera.
  • Speaker 3
    0:30:52
    I think you actually could have in certain places a like trans heal. You’d be excoriated by the media. You would have to be like a really ardent right wing place that is trying to make a message known. And — Yeah. — the trouble with that is, no, trans people are gonna be watching that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:13
    The thing you’re saying that is amazing is, like, I look back and watch gold dust segments and, like, The only thing that offends me is that the person playing Gold does wasn’t really queer or trans because the character I actually love. Like, As a character, Gold Dust is kind of a hero for me. Like, was being played as a heel a lot of the time, but it’s much more nuanced. You can really reclaim something like that. When as you say it’s kind of pitching itself to the middle, you know.
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:43
    If you’re pitching yourself as an exclusively sort of culture war right wing thing, then you’re not gonna get the queer people sort of reclaiming the stuff that you’re putting
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:54
    out. I guess, I’m getting it. It’s almost like a mirror image of the American experience in wrestling where
  • Speaker 3
    0:31:59
    things were like that. Oh, you know. So
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:01
    black black wrestlers had to be booked as faces unkilled racism diminish enough that they could be healed.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:07
    They could be ill. And
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:08
    here, you know, gay and trans characters have to be booked as heels until the Transphobia and the the Gateway
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:13
    are phobias. Yeah. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:15
    So that recedes enough that they can be they can be faces.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:18
    I really like that. I I’m only just hearing that now, and it’s it’s a really interesting theory. I’m struggling on my feet to come up with something brilliant to say about that. Boy,
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:29
    be interesting to
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:30
    have somebody who knows a whole lot of our wrestling, write a piece for the Bulwark dot com about that. Oh, I guess I could. Alright. We’ll talk. We’ll talk.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:37
    You know, it’s welcome. I don’t know if we’re paying your rates. No. I know. That’s the trouble.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:41
    Once you get to the best seller list, you have to get picky, I guess. Then do it for New York Magazine. You have my my dispensation. I’ll do it for somebody. But I’ll be stealing it from you.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:50
    It’s your premise with blessing. It’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:51
    a gift. Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. But it’s a really interesting point. There’s so much in the book.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:56
    You’ve explicitly said that that you wanted people to take away from this book, like, kind of the parallels between the k fave, what’s happening in wrestling and k fave, which I’ve mispronounced for years. I appreciated your etymology of rhymes with haybab. In the book. I was like, that really helped. It was it was nice and, you know, that that It does hit me on a number of levels.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:15
    So okay. So the k phase, which is this pretend this game ofpretend that you’re playing with Russ and
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:20
    everything. A mix of fact and fiction. Yeah. The mix of fact
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:22
    and fiction and, like, the the the ways that Trump has used that. So I I wanna explore that, but Like, really even more on the nose than that before we get into the k phase. It’s just the dough the the WWE and Republican Party Sarah Longwell. Which I think that you put in the book intentionally are just so so astounded.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:40
    I mean, I did. But what are you? I did. Okay.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:42
    Alright. I put a couple of them bullets here. I just wanna remember Okay. So that it moves from with Hogan. We have the, like, eat your vitamins.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:50
    Yeah. Broader kind of wrestling. You know, sort of the good, all, you know, the socially conservative, you know, all American boy. So now we have, like, love to eat it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:33:59
    And I in a clean way. Yeah. Exactly.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:02
    Yeah. It was the now we have an x rated kind of, you know, Monday night raw no. Not now, but then you moved to that. You have this patriotism of Hogan that’s, like, waving the flag shining city on the hill
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:12
    that kind of evolves more into, like, brown people or brown. Brown people are bad, but also Will Saletan heal get up. You know, I loved the nation of domination, the fake, nation of Islam, a black radical group that they had some of the rest of his portray. Because you would have Ron Simmons Farooq, just standing in the middle of the ring, saying true facts. He’s like, this is a racist institution.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:35
    There’s never been a black man as the world champion. And you’re like, I mean, he’s right. You know, he’s booing him, but that’s a true fact.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:45
    Unintentional true fact.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:46
    Well, no. It isn’t Let’s point, it’s all cynicism. It’s like Vince is aware of that criticism. And it’s like, sure. If that criticism will juice up the crowd and make them feel embarrassed, and then they’ll boo him harder.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:59
    Great. You know, that’s what matters. It’s not it’s much like a lot of people in the contemporary Republican party the ideology has become, let’s poke buttons, you know, and see what happens. Like, let’s see what we can do to tick people off. Right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:16
    And that’s that’s what that’s what WWE have been most successful at. When they are most successful, it’s because they’re poking people at places in their lizard brain that they can’t quite have full control over. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:30
    And I mean, you even have the direct point, which was maybe too on the nose, but I loved it. It was Ellen Hart, you know, calling everyone at the WWE deplorable before his death, right, like using that word. To floorable. I I I put that in there. I was
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:43
    like, you can’t make this up. I’m not gonna draw too much attention to it, but he did have that parcel were over and over again. He kept saying everything in the WWF was deplorable.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:51
    So to me, like, the main takeaway from all that, and I don’t know if this was unintentional with Trump or just Trump’s lizard brain to your point is, like, the thing that really parallels it the most is that WWE gives the audience the, like, kind of a hall pass to be bad. Mhmm. Right? It’s like
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:10
    it’s like
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:10
    Oh, you can be
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:11
    bad. Like, you can scream at the nation of Islam guys and like, you can yell at the right, like, that people that you can yell at the, you know, Russians or whoever the bad guy was at the moment. Yeah. And this is Trump. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:24
    Like, this is Trump’s insight. Right? Like, the the Republicans before him were kind of the — Yeah. — hulk Hogan, eat your vitamins. Like, there’s k Fave, there’s other bad stuff underneath it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:32
    But, like, they’re at least trying to bring up people’s better angels. And Trump, like his insight, it’s like, actually, people don’t want that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:36:39
    No. Trump is this you know, he’s almost like Brett Hart in ninety seven when Vince was having him be a heel in the United States and a face everywhere else that they went, you know, because he would just disamerica all the time. Yeah. That’s the closest parallel I can think of to Trump in that he’s the ultimate face for a huge portion of this population. And then for everybody else, he’s the ultimate heal.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:01
    And both work. I mean, as long as the crowd is getting riled up, you know, the people for whom that is beneficial still win.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:12
    So do you think that was intentional for him? Like, he thought about it like that? Which part? What do you mean? Trump, that he’s like, I’m gonna cultivate this Like, I watch this.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:20
    I don’t think so. I think he learned the skill of working a crowd from wrestling, but I don’t think he sat down and said, here’s my theory of k Fabe and Neo cave things. I don’t think that that was part of it. I think what he learned was, oh, if I press this button, I get this response. If I press this button, I get this response.
  • Speaker 3
    0:37:38
    When a crowd is riled up, if I toss them obscene truths, they’ll go crazy. And if I toss them obscene lies, they’ll go crazy. You know, I think it’s it’s as simple as the input output of he wants to have the crowd cheering. And he’s realized that certain things will get that done. And I think he learned a lot of that from working a wrestling crowd because you You look at him, gives speeches prior to his involvement in wrestling and, like, he gave a lot of speeches, but they tended to be with relatively subdued crowds that knew not to scream and yell.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:10
    You know, that was not his usual milieu. But you see him doing it at then the lead up to WrestleMania in two thousand seven in his whole storyline with Vince McMahon and he’s picking it up, you know. He doesn’t have the mastery of it yet, but you can see him almost in real time sort of going, oh, this is what this feels like. Because he’d been watching wrestling since he was a kid. You know, he’d been watching McMahon Family wrestling since he was a kid in the nineteen fifties.
  • Speaker 3
    0:38:37
    I know he really likes pro wrestling. Of the athletic events that America cherishes, pro wrestling is the one that Trump has the deepest affinity for and intuitive knowledge of of how to do it. I mean, he really does
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:51
    have, at the deepest level, an instinct for the importance of heat Oh, yeah. He and this predates him. You can see this going back in his entire public persona, you know, back into the eighties. That this is a guy who understands that the way to draw money is to draw heat. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:07
    I don’t know that there has been a mainstream figure in American pulp six who approached their political career purely in a heat seeking manner, which is
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:17
    what she
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:17
    did. Right? Everybody else who’s who’s done it has always been very care well, you know, I have to perm my viability. And
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:24
    I am super I am corresponding
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:25
    my legacy and responsibilities, and and Trump just throw
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:28
    all that away because he’s like, it doesn’t matter. I just need to No. Trump and Vince both understand that your moral valence can shift in the public eye, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for your brand or for your bank account. You know, you can be Trump and go from times of people being like, oh, look at that wrap Scallion too, oh, that bad man. And everywhere in between, and as long as people are talking about you, you win.
  • Speaker 3
    0:39:57
    That was Trump’s philosophy. And Vince has had a similar philosophy there. You know, we can talk about the eighties when the wrestling was all about superheroes and drink your milk and eat your vitamins. You know, that was the mode that Vince was comfortable with then. And then when the world sort of turned on him in the nineties, and he was under investigation and then trial with the federal government, all of that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:20
    He emerges from that and has this different attitude, which is let’s be defiant. Let’s be the bad asses. And eventually, the moral valence of w w f in the public consciousness really changes from, oh, this is superheroes too. This is you know, bad asses who do what they want. But either way, you’re talking about —
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:41
    Yeah. — the
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:41
    peak in the eighties and the peak at the turn of the millennium were both massive successes for Vince despite the fact that the company was viewed in
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:49
    radically different ways between those two peaks. The big difference is, though, that in wrestling, you have turns all the time. Right? Like, every few years a character has to take a turn, you you wanna refresh the character, you can turn face for a meal. In politics, that’s not how it works.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:05
    Right? In politics, you get one term. More or
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:07
    less true. You
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:07
    know, you you become face once or become a heel once, and that’s it. Right? Then you’re baked with the with the crowd. I
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:14
    mean, to an extent, I think you can change. You don’t
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:17
    think Barack Obama could turn heel? Well,
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:19
    I think people would actually really love it if you went stone cold Steve Austin, like, tweener, as they say, where he came out. I mean, I’m not saying he’s ever gonna do this, but if there’s a section of America that would go nuts, if Obama came out and just became like the Andrew Dice Clay or the Hollywood Hogan of, like, clowning on on Republicans. I think there might be like, oh, Barack Obama shouldn’t say that. That’s really naughty, but people would generally be going either screw that guy because they’re Republicans or if there is base, they’d be like, yeah, he’s really sticking it to them. You know?
  • Speaker 3
    0:41:55
    Like, people wanna have a politician that really sticks it to the other side. And Democrats generally don’t provide those kinds of politicians. You know, Republicans to a great fault, that’s kinda what they do. But to get back to your point about, yeah, you can only it’s hard to have too many turns of, like, outright, I’m a good guy. Like, I’m fighting for you or I’m fighting against you, but you can have turns in politics of I’m like fighting for you in a like, morally questionable way or I’m fighting for you in a really cleanhearted way.
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:31
    And you do get politicians going back and forth on that. Sometimes they wanna be seen as, like, tough Maverick’s who are and then sometimes they wanna be seen as, like, states people who are above politics, you know. Those are the turns. For me. You know?
  • Speaker 3
    0:42:45
    It’s not so much that you switch parties, although that has happened. It’s much more about, like, switching whether you’re coming across as goody toos shoes or a bare knuckle fighter.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:56
    The biggest parallel I saw from the book that I’d like to get your opinion on is There was this phrase about Trump — Mhmm. — that was popularized in twenty sixteen in Republican circles, which was his own voters take him seriously, but not literally. Right? And that, you know, the whokes
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:13
    go over that mean he says
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:15
    yeah. Take him literally, but not seriously. Not seriously. As I’m reading your book, it’s like, that is the essence of what you’d called Neo k fit. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:23
    I got this essence of Bulwark shoot. Right? It’s like this idea that Oh, I don’t exactly you know, you don’t everything that you say might not be true per se, but like, the idea is true.
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:34
    But it means something. There’s meaning there and the meaning makes me feel good. Right. Yes. The meaning may be hidden to the average viewer, but I see it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:44
    Yeah. What’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:43:44
    your question? I feel like I
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:45
    No. No. No. I guess I can ask my question is that is another example of Trump. There isn’t really a good example of another politician doing that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:52
    Before Trump. Like, that type of cave it. Right? Like, there are other types, there’s other types of show, you know, fake fighting, fake arguing, that you do in politics —
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:01
    Right. —
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:01
    this notion of, I’m gonna cultivate a character essentially. Right? That, like, is gonna go out and say crazy shit.
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:08
    Right. And
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:08
    that I don’t want my audience to even think I necessarily a hundred percent mean at all. Like that was to me like a breakthrough. And that was a direct wrestling you know, Sarah Longwell.
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:19
    Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, the the thing I always say is, like, this is a totally broad generalization and all my academic historian friends would get mad at me for it. But broadly speaking, the Trump revolution takes us from what was a k phase since to a neo k phase system.
  • Speaker 3
    0:44:37
    The k phase system in politics in America was we all have one big, flat, solid foundational lie, which is This is a representative democracy where the will of the people is enacted and minorities are protected. That was something that we all sort of said. And maybe we really believed it. Maybe we half believed it. But it was a noble lie.
  • Speaker 3
    0:45:01
    And we were all sort of in our own way trying to pursue it. And now what we have is politics that operates from this assumption that what you’re seeing is not democracy. But what you’re seeing, in fact, is a corrupt system being exposed for what it is. Like politicians who win these days are not the politicians who come at you with I mean, this is, again, the generalization. There are certainly exceptions to this, but The politicians that really juice people up are the ones who say, hey, look behind the curtain.
  • Speaker 3
    0:45:31
    Everything’s all messed up. America isn’t a good country. Maybe we could be a good country, but I’ve looked into the guts and I’m showing the guts to you. And this is the essence of Neo k wave. You’re always saying, I’m giving you a peek behind the veil.
  • Speaker 3
    0:45:44
    And you can always manufacture what’s behind the veil. That’s the thing. You can show the truth, but people are just as satisfied if you show them something that feels like the truth and makes them feel like they’ve seen how the sausage is made. But you can totally invent how you are saying the sausage is made. WWE does this all the time.
  • Speaker 3
    0:46:02
    You watch their, like, quote unquote, documentaries that they produce, and there are a lot of them. And it’s all saying, like, Oh, behind the scenes. Here’s what was happening. And it’s all made up or completely distorted. They never mentioned the writers.
  • Speaker 3
    0:46:15
    They never mentioned, like, why the storylines happen. None of that. None of the backstage politics, it’s just a different made up story beneath the existing made up story. But people go down one level and they think they found treasure. You know?
  • Speaker 3
    0:46:30
    If you find something buried in the ground, you think it’s treasure. Not just something that somebody dug up and put down there. You know? The human mind doesn’t really know how to handle being told secrets and then being told, well, that secret was made up. Too.
  • Speaker 3
    0:46:43
    So I don’t know that I
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:44
    believe this, but I just want to say it and try it out first time. Mhmm. Everything you’re talking about in the okay phase is the essential machinery and toolbox of the demagogue?
  • Speaker 3
    0:46:56
    Yeah. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:56
    And and what is a good wrestling promoter good promoter is a demagogue who is using those thing those tools, not for the pursuit of political power, but for business success. Right. And it’s when you take those tools and you turn them on the, you know, the machinery of democracy that you wind up with with demagography.
  • Speaker 3
    0:47:17
    I don’t know. I think the distinction between political power and business power, financial power, whatever right now is so I mean, just look at Harlan Crowe, you know. I mean, it’s like there’s so little distinction between who has financial power and who has political power, not to sound like a vulgar Marxist, but it’s just true. I don’t think you can really separate those two. And I think trying to separate them obscures what really happens, which is this is just how image management works.
  • Speaker 3
    0:47:44
    Right now. And image management, you know, you have the same image management consultants working for politicians as you do for musicians and for, you know, titans of industry. Like, these sets of conventionalisms about what you’re supposed to do in order to manipulate the public, get the you know, you can call it manipulation, you can call it getting them to buy your product, whatever you want, I think once you’ve introduced Neo K Fave tactics, it’s sort of like nuclear power. Like once it’s out there, you can’t go back. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:48:17
    You can’t convince the population of America now that America is a really great place that isn’t having many problems. You
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:27
    know,
  • Speaker 3
    0:48:27
    like, either side is not gonna buy that right now. You know, we’ve
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:32
    gone too far. Bulwark Marxism is not welcome on the Secret Podcast, by the way. So we we’re gonna mute that part out. We’re the finest, most cultivated Marxism. Exactly.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:40
    Exactly. Okay. I assess a little bit different like the k fave evolution, which I think looks poorly on myself. I wrote about this and my book about how kind of the Republican Party got here. And I think that we had a period of time where there was another type of k favorite different from what you were talking about about representative democracy, which was, you know, the sort of union party, basically.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:01
    Where we fought and it was fake. But, like, it was real in the sense that, like, yeah, there were some policy differences that people
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:07
    have. Yeah. Yeah. But, like,
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:09
    bush people tried to say that the clintons were were, you know, lizard eaters. And, you know, like, I would get on fake Twitter fights with the Obama spokesperson when I was working at the DNC, and me and Liz had fake pipe. But me and Liz are b f f.
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:20
    Right? Like, we’re we’re pals. Like, we’re drinking at the end. People could sense that. Right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:24
    That’s the biggest vape is the media and consultant verse. And politics.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:28
    Right. Like, so, like, people could sense this,
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:31
    I think. The like,
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:32
    our version of Kate. Right? And it was, like, a bad I was reading the book, and I was, like, what me and most are doing is it was, like, eighties wrestling. You know, where it’s like everyone could tell it was kind of fake. Like, the wrestlers thought
  • Speaker 3
    0:49:43
    they that
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:43
    people thought it was real, but, like, people could tell it was fake. That can trip it out. Yeah. And then Trump comes along. And Trump’s version of it is also fake, but it’s, like, more believeably fake.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:55
    Because he does hate those people. And those people do hate him. And, like, the particulars are still fake, but Right. The
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:00
    particulars are made up. And the character is exaggerated, but it’s all rooted in real resentments and longings. And that’s the best kind of most effective kind of k fave or neo k fave.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:14
    And I just think that we played a role in warming people up.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:17
    Oh, I agree.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:18
    You see this of in the resting, where you heated peep you were it’s like you’re talking about the concept of heat, which is like this air towards the character. And and it’s like we were warming people up.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:26
    We are eating
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:27
    heat against other politicians that we didn’t even believe. A journalist are very guilty of this as well. I am not going
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:33
    to sit and throw stones too hard. I was not a political journalist. But I certainly was working at places where I saw things that were, you know, the way things were covered and how fake it all was, and I didn’t do anything about it. You know, I didn’t, like, try to stop articles that were probably doing active harm to the country. Like, I wish I had.
  • Speaker 3
    0:50:53
    I didn’t have the clout then. I don’t think it would have accomplished much. But I I get what you’re saying. Like, a lot of people who shaped public opinion, be they political consultants or journalists or both as some people are. We all warmed people up by having these sort of last gaps of the system where we could pretend that things were not what they were.
  • Speaker 3
    0:51:18
    You know? And I think Twitter is a huge factor in that. What’s the one place where journalists and politicians go to most show their ass? You know, it’s Twitter. And Twitter hopefully will die soon but it the damage has been done.
  • Speaker 3
    0:51:32
    I mean, I think Twitter was kind of the neo k fave moment for journalism because we had some journalists who were just exposed as complete idiots or or bigots or whatever. And then you have the journalist who were more clever and able to figure out how to project a behind the scenes image that was equally manufactured and just as much of a protective armor. You know? And — Yeah. — I don’t know.
  • Speaker 3
    0:51:56
    Like many things, I don’t know where the system is headed when it comes to this this total brain screw of reality. I I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know what comes after Neo k favorably.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:09
    What is it dark? Alright. Last thing before we move on. One of your insights is that people tend to become their characters.
  • Speaker 3
    0:52:17
    And
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:17
    we certainly saw it during the Trump administration. Right? You know, with with Sean Spicer and Reince Prius and Kellyanne and Mike Lee and people just they thought they had to pretend to be a certain way and Now, why is that? What is the human psychology behind that?
  • Speaker 3
    0:52:34
    You know, I wish I had a psychology degree and could tell you the exact neuroscience of it, but my educated amateur opinion from having talked to lots of wrestlers and wrestling personalities and read about even more, and then just being a human in life is fake it till you make it. Unfortunately, it goes both ways, you know. You can start out being like, oh, I wanna get this place where I really am this way that I’m faking, or you can start out going out and just faking it. It’s not real. But either way, the more you fake it, the more you make it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:08
    If more and more of your life is taken up, acting in a certain way, I do think that sort of thing works rich actively. It starts influence who you are inside. I don’t think we’re complex enough creatures to really compartmentalize easily in that way. Some people can but I think a lot of people find it really difficult to act and do certain things and then just put them away. Because I think for a lot of people, it comes down to you say something in a script or a metaphorical script, like, if it’s the talking point.
  • Speaker 3
    0:53:43
    And then you find out to your surprise, it actually thrilled you to say it. You know? Even if it was something that was or especially if it was something that was offensive, that you previously never would have said. Once that talking point gives you the license to say that, you may surprise yourself and find that you really enjoyed it, much as when a professional wrestling heel gets to go up there and just say abhorrent things to the audience, they may be surprised to find that it was actually quite enjoyable to do so, and sometimes you find yourself then doing that in your private life. So there’s a lot of ways this can work.
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:15
    Do you
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:15
    talk to any wrestlers that you’re like, oh my god, you really are Brew to the barber beef cake.
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:20
    Right. You really do cut people there all the time. Yeah. Exactly. No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:23
    But, like, people really can end up
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:25
    adopting
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:27
    aspect. It’s like, you know, nominal determinism. Like, your name will end up telling you a lot a lot about how your life is gonna go. Unfortunately, your name, like, shouldn’t really mean anything, but it does. And it it affects how people see you, how you see yourself, and same with your wrestling character.
  • Speaker 3
    0:54:46
    It’s something that you think you can compartmentalize, but the human system is too integrated to really allow that. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:51
    Well, you’re gonna get to rapid fire, but one really pre rapid fire, I have to ask you. Yeah. There are two things in the book you seem to imply without saying it. Trump maybe stole the year fire tagline from Vince McMahon who was using it earlier, one and two that Trump was a mark for a while who thought wrestling was real potentially.
  • Speaker 3
    0:55:10
    Right. Right. So both of those I couldn’t prove, because I couldn’t get an interview with Trump basically. I really tried. I tried very hard to get an interview with Trump.
  • Speaker 3
    0:55:19
    I was in touch with, like, five different inner circle access people over the course of the reporting of this book. And I got close a couple times, but the big problem was Trump doesn’t keep anyone round long enough to, like, have them be the gateway person too long. I have heard that he was a mark and that he is a mark, that he doesn’t quite know what real and what isn’t on wrestling. But guess what? Guess what?
  • Speaker 3
    0:55:44
    Nobody does. That’s the magic of pro wrestling.
  • Speaker 1
    0:55:46
    If he called Vince McGran, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said this in the book, Richard. Yes.
  • Speaker 3
    0:55:49
    The story was In two thousand seven, Vince faked his own death in a storyline where they made it look like his limo had blown up. And Trump, according to Vince’s son-in-law, triple h, who was an exec there. According to triple h, Trump called the next morning and said, is Vince okay? Did anything happen to him?
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:10
    This is too good to check.
  • Speaker 3
    0:56:11
    It’s too good. I know. But but the point is, like, I think
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:14
    Trump he’s
  • Speaker 3
    0:56:14
    probably like every other wrestling fan. He knows it’s fake, but does not know what that means. He accepts that wrestling is fake on some level, But I don’t think he has any conception of where the fake and real things begin and end, which is true of everybody. It’s just that Trump is a little more credulous than some probably. And you’re fired stealing?
  • Speaker 3
    0:56:35
    You know, I don’t have a conclusive answer, but my guess is Trump stole it. My guess is Trump stole it. Alright. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:40
    Why not? He’s still having the house. Okay. To the rapid fire, everybody gets one first. Something you change your mind on as a grown up or maybe in your case something you change your mind on since your transition?
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:50
    I don’t know. You’re we’re all changing. Yeah. Well, wrestling
  • Speaker 3
    0:56:53
    is what leaps to mind because that’s what we’ve been talking about. I really used to see it as this relic of my past, and now it’s something that I’m actively engaged in again. You know, when I started this book, I thought it was gonna be sort of like mining history. When
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:07
    did you quit watching wrestling? Like, I’m gonna guess
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:10
    around the rock. I stopped watching wrestling after my initial fandom when I was a teenager. I didn’t watch wrestling for twenty years. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:15
    the rock was when you were two
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:16
    years. Yeah. The rock was just my he was my guy. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:19
    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:57:19
    What’s your what’s your all time favorite Bulwark? And why is it c m punk’s pipe bomb?
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:24
    Actually is my favorite work. I can’t believe you guessed it. Really? Yeah. No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:28
    I I would have picked that even if you hadn’t said that at the end part. I think it’s genius. The pipe bomb promo for me is probably the ultimate Neo K phase moment because — Yes. — it really was something that people just bought because they thought they were seeing beneath the surface. All you have to do is scrape away some dirt and you can put anything under there and make people think that they found treasure.
  • Speaker 3
    0:57:53
    The pipe on promo I could talk about all day, but I do think that’s one of the best work shoots that’s ever existed. People can YouTube
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:59
    it. Most shocking thing that you found. Researching the book, especially if you didn’t get to include it?
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:05
    Yeah. The defense was a nice kid. That was the biggest shock to Vinnie Lupton. Vinnie Lupton. Young Vinnie Lupton by all accounts from every person I talked to who knew him when he was young, not that much of a troublemaker, you know, not really a big fighter or maybe wanted to be fighter but didn’t get into that many fights.
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:21
    No. I was genuinely surprised to learn that none of the stuff that he said about being a little scrapper seemed to be backed up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:58:28
    One of mine then. My the thing I liked the best of the book that you discovered was that another nice kid was that I’m Hussein. It was also a mark and a nice kid.
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:38
    Yes. Young Saddam Hussein makes an appearance. Also a mark I mean, he’s a nice kid. Very bookish. Give me your wrestling in Mount Rushmore.
  • Speaker 3
    0:58:47
    Oh, god. I haven’t thought about that. Probably Sammy Stein, the Hebrew champion. Jack Feffer, the gay Jewish wrestling promoter who outed wrestling as fake in the nineteen thirties. Paul Hammond, the greatest court Jew in the history of wrestling.
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:03
    And I’m trying to think. I guess I might as well toss m j f there because I can’t think of another prominent Jewish rest but I just decided to go with all Jews from my rush more.
  • Speaker 1
    0:59:12
    All Jews. I was like, I can’t I don’t know a second one of those. Okay. Great. This is gonna be this is your final one, then it has to be a higher degree of difficulty, which is your queer American mouthbrush mode.
  • Speaker 1
    0:59:21
    Oh, if you combine that with all Jews, then you really have
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:24
    no idea. I could. I could. But I’m an oh, let’s see. We’re American.
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:29
    I don’t know. Tony Kushner I love Tony Kushner. Justin Vivian Bond. Pepper La Beja, and let’s say, Abraham Lincoln. Totally get.
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:44
    Your
  • Speaker 1
    0:59:44
    ability to pull deep cuts. I love that Abe has made Gabriel and Lincoln made it on both. A great drag queen. Yes. And not not not my favorite which I just keep begging somebody to do.
  • Speaker 1
    0:59:54
    Rhonda sand tips.
  • Speaker 3
    0:59:56
    Oh, that’s good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:59:57
    Right out there for you. Rhonda sand tips. I’ve pitched multiple drag queens on this.
  • Speaker 3
    1:00:02
    My favorite drag name that I’ve ever heard, I only heard a couple weeks ago. I was at a drag king show. In Los Angeles called them Bay Tal, and there was a performer who had this was a person who was performing as a drag king named Christian Rock. That’s really
  • Speaker 1
    1:00:18
    good. That is good. Isn’t
  • Speaker 3
    1:00:21
    that your Christian
  • Speaker 1
    1:00:22
    rock. We’re gonna leave it there. They performed take me to church. It was great. Abraham, Josephine Reesman, that’s been so lovely.
  • Speaker 1
    1:00:31
    I’m I disabled the audience, but you and JBL could do a separate podcast with all names of people and things that no one else has ever heard of.
  • Speaker 3
    1:00:40
    You’ve never
  • Speaker 1
    1:00:41
    tried to prove to save the audience from that. And maybe we could maybe that could be a bonus addition. Thank you. You didn’t ever want you to go and check out the ring master if love wrestling. If you don’t love wrestling, a very insightful look at our culture, and it was a great walk down memory lane for me.
  • Speaker 3
    1:00:56
    So thanks very much. Ring master the book dot com is where you can go to find them.
  • Speaker 1
    1:01:01
    We’ll see you on Wednesday with JBL, Sarah Longwell. Thanks again for being here. Peace.
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