Fashy Traggots: Kenny Neal Shults Gathers a Mighty Gay Bundle

I’ve always kind of adored Kenny Neal Shults, even before I met met him in a comedy club on West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. I’m a bit of a nerd for comedy for the same reason I’m a nerd for good drag, because the best way to challenge people and make them think is to make them laugh while you do it—thus I am a big nerd for Kenny. When I heard that he had gathered together two more of my favorite comedians for a show on April 14 at the Warsaw (not to mention the hilarious and dangerously sexy Cazwell) , I needed to know what was behind this evening of fag-focused funny business. – Brenden

Brenden Shucart: So what was the impetus for Fashy Traggots, (other than the great name)?

Kenny Neal Shults: *laughs* Fashy Traggots was born out of the idea that in this sort of New Gay Spring, it made sense that the gays did [our] own version of Kings of Comedy or Queens of Comedy. I love the idea of any group of marginalized people getting together to celebrate the comedy in their struggle. I think smart fans of comedy really appreciate what a powerful social force comedy can be. It provides both the marginalized population an opportunity to laugh, but its also educates a lot of people on the other side, and i think we’re kind of in an interesting place you know us gays because everyone…. I think its so crazy how fast it all changed.

I remember 20-something years ago, seeing a little sticker that said “in 10 years it will be as uncool to hate gay people as it is to hate black people.” It definitely took at least another decade—i think that George W. Bush didn’t help, he honestly set us back quite a bit—but i think it’s so bizarre! When i started doing comedy, which was like five years ago or more, things weren’t like they are now, things were very different.

There’s still a lot of bullshit out there, but its been so fascinating to see how significantly things have changed. I mean, it’s literally just not cool anymore to hate gay people. 15-year-olds are now like ‘dude its not cool.’ You’re really the odd-guy-out if you’re still propagating homophobia and it’s fascinating.

And I think that this is a great first step, but now it’s time to really get in there and do some educating on in the best way we can; to do comedy on what it means to be gay and to have our voices heard in a way that i think we haven’t yet.

I think that show Modern Family is a good example of sort of an old school version of ‘hey lets everybody love gays’ because everyones favorite character is the one who’s a giant stereotype, [the actor] isn’t even gay—which is the equivalent of blackface in my opinion—and thats everybody’s favorite thing. Ironically, i think Modern Family has had at least some small role in this sea of change, but now it’s come to represent sort of an old school way of how gays represent themselves and i think we have yet to see what gays can truly do when they join the mainstream and the voice that they can have.

So what Fashy Traggots is about is really embracing that name, which for me it’s very powerful, and that’s why i really wanted to conjure up peoples relationship to the word “faggot.” I think it is every bit as powerful as the n-word…it still kills me that [straight] people think it’s okay to use it.

fashytraggots

BS: What is the next step?

KNS: The next step, i think, is a very honest depiction of the other part of our lives that people don’t get to see or that people don’t want to see. You know, i have lots of jokes about this whole sort of notion that ‘we love gays as long as they’re married and adopt kids’ and embrace a heteronormative lifestyle.

Now, if you’re still a trashy whore who sucks dick in the bushes… that’s not cool with us. So my whole thing is: Trashy Faggots deserve respect too, you know what i mean? Why can’t the guy who sucks dick in the park bathroom get the same respect as Mitch and Cam? I mean don’t get me wrong, i’m a total snob when it comes to nasty anonymous texts, (i much prefer glory holes.)

My fantasy is that sitcom about the gay guy who is recovering from drugs and alcohol, who’s had shit-tons of fucking sex in his life, who’s got a deep relationship with the HIV epidemic and how much it’s changed… I think there’s so much room for amazing dark humor and that’s my fantasy.

BS: Do you see any examples of that in other subcultures?

KNS: I haven’t really watched it that much but the show Blackish for example. I think Looking is kind of cool and it weirds me out that people criticize so much. Gays love to attack when other gay shit comes out and its just really annoying.

BS: What do you think thats about?

KNS: It’s crabs in a bucket. It’s ‘Where do you think you’re going? You ain’t crawling out of this. If i’m still in this you’re gonna stay here with me.’ There’s ways different minority groups internalize their aggression; i think some of us are more obsessed with some things than others, it depends on what kind of shit gets thrown at them. I think what [gay men] suffer from is something akin to internalized sexism, where we’re encouraged to be really nasty to each other, to put each other down.

BS: I want to talk about Sampson and Matteo. How did they come to your attention? Why did you ask them to do the show with you?

KNS: I met Sampson at a show i did in L.A. and i just fell in love with him, he’s just so confident and owns who he is and gets up there and is just so relaxed, i really envy him. I’m just so neurotic and terrified all the time! He has such a completely different voice than mine, which is wonderful. He’s more of a storyteller and he comes from a cultural experience that’s very different. Being both black and gay is obviously it’s own unique experience. I knew immediately I wanted do Fashy Trggots with just a handful of gay comics and definitely wanted Sampson to be one of them.

BS: And Matteo Lane?

I love Matteo for just being fun and silly and singing a bunch of opera and just going for it, saying ‘yeah i like to be called a faggot.’ In its own way it is totally liberating. And he is just such a fucking good comic. He’s just so good.

We wanted it to be this particular trio is because we balance each other out pretty nicely, and I’m getting ready to look at HIV so i wanted to get some very different voices and much lighter voices than mine and those two just seemed like the perfect match. I’m just super excited to work with them and i feel very honored.

BS: So let’s talk about circumcision now-*laughs* (and the award for best segue goes to…)

KNS: That’s the problem, there is no delicate way of… There’s no other word for it. The second you bring it up your defenses go up and you kinda cross your legs and you start to think ‘oh I’m glad I’m circumcised,’ because what choice do you fucking have? And if you’re a woman who just thinks about it from her own perspective, which is basically someone who’s been conditioned to think a body part is sexier because a part of it has been amputated.

So part of the joke I’m writing is about this like this guy that I’m dating who asked me if i was a “foreskin fetishist” and I’m like ‘Well, I feel like a fetishist is someone who needs to lick shoes to cum, or perhaps someone who needs a body part removed in order for them to consider it sexy, you know… people who want to be fucked by an amputee stump are fetishists not the guy who thinks its hot when people have all their fingers and toes.’ *laughter* I’m the fetishist when you’re the one that’s like ‘yeah cut that thing off, then i’ll think it’s hot’? And frankly, that’s like every woman who says that ignorant phrase, “I prefer them cut.” You just don’t know what that body part actually looks like, and thats you’re fucking problem… and obviously the second i start talking about it I just jump down peoples throats! Its hard to get people to hear you.

BS: Let’s pull back a bit. I want to talk about your history with this issue.

KNS: I think i came into consciousness the way a lot of gay men do, which is by looking at lots of dicks and going ‘hey this seems weird.’ Also i started to develop and appreciation for a penis in it’s natural state and started to really like it and prefer it and try to look for pictures of it. I suppose i started to sort of fetishized it… and then I moved to San Francisco and i discovered this movement.

What’s sort of ironic about the movement is I think a big part of why they’re so angry is not necessarily the circumcision itself, I think the reason they’re all so angry and militant and in your face is not because of the act itself, it’s because of how people start to regard you when you talk about it. People act like you’re a fucking nutcase, or they treat you like a pervert, and everyone thinks you’re the crazy one because you don’t think a baby boys first experiences should be having a part of their penis cut off without anesthesia. People think you’re crazy and they treat you like something is wrong with you, and that is so fucking infuriating that it makes you into one of those crazy activists.

I wrote a letter once to a friend of mine who was having a baby, and apparently he and all our parent friends got together and read the letter i wrote to him and laughed. Over time it’s those experiences that make you into a lunatic … and now I’m going to make the best, most earth-shattering, most awesomest movie ever.

BS: Where are you at with it now? Is it a matter of editing or a matter of shooting?

KNS: We’ve got about 60% of the footage shot. It’s really great stuff and we’re really excited about it. We still have a doctor in Australia who’s an expert in why circumcision is not a viable HIV prevention strategy, but of course he’s in fucking Australia. lSo we have to get that interview and we have to get another interview from this guy at Oxford who’s a researcher into the ethics [of circumcision].

We’re going to hire local crews and remotely do the interviews, but we’re still raising the money to do that. The fun part is at the heart of of the documentary we’re featuring this young man who’s now the the face of this organization Foregen. They’re growing foreskins in the lab with stem cells. He’s a straight guy who’s super personable and super smart, your all american cute guy. We want to introduce him as a new face of intactivism because a lot of young people are conscious about this issue to a degree that they never have been before and they’re questioning it, and i think he really represents that movement.

The film is really about humanizing intactivists and finding out why they’re so angry.

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Posted on: April 11th, 2015 by Brenden Shucart

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