On Point With: The Nobodies

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Thotyssey has been lucky to speak to the three ragtag Brooklynites (Ariel Italic, DJ Eric Accident Report” Shorey and Lady Bearica Andrews, pictured above left to right) who comprise the nightlife supergroup The Nobodies individually in the past. But so much has happened with the threesome–wresting fame, a GLAM-nominated pageant, brunches and recording sessions, to name a few–that it’s about time we sat these three down to play catch up. 


Thotyssey: Hello, Nobodies! Thanks for talking with is today! How were your
Thanksgivings?

Accident Report: Fine! Had some un-interesting but lovely family time!

Lady Bearica Andrews:  It was okay. I ate a lot.

Ariel Italic: I had a wine spritzer with Bearica, and then went home and played
a lot of Hollow Knight. So all in all pretty successful. I hope yours
was good as well.

It was! So okay, let’s catch up: first of all, you’re all quite Niche Famous now,
thanks to the success of your Nobodies Watching Wrestling franchise. You’ve got
a YouTube show and a podcast where you regularly critique professional
wrestlers in their matches (notably on the fashion end of things), and you make live
appearances hosting watch parties of matches as well. You even brought the
brand to DragCon this year! How did this whole association with wresting begin
for you all? And were you all fans of the sport to begin with?

AR:  I’ve been a lifelong wrestling fan.

AI: I blame Accident Report, who subtly forced his fandom onto me by making us watch Monday Night RAW before Drag Race, back when Drag Race wasn’t scheduled on a homophobic-ass Friday night.

AR:  Ariel was hosting Drag Race viewing parties (before those were, like, a thing) at her house. I used to put on Monday Night RAW before Drag Race started, and Ariel begrudgingly began watching with me until she started knowing all the characters’ names. Eventually, she developed a huge crush on CM Punk.

When the WWE developed their own streaming service, I immediately bought it and started having a bunch of friends–including Ariel and Bearica–over to watch the Pay-Per-Views. Our buddy Jordan Olds (AKA Gwarsenio Hall from the heavy metal talk show Two Minutes to Late Night) was so amused by our ridiculous commentary, he decided to make it into its own show. He gathered us all at Ariel’s house and, to our surprise, brought an entire crew of straight punk dudes with cameras. A week later, the episode went up and immediately went viral in the wrestling world. The video garnered, like, 30k views in a few days.

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That’s amazing!

LBA: I was at Gold Sounds for STR8 to DVD the night the video came out. I kept refreshing the feed, reading the comments and watching the count go up, thinking, I guess this is what we’re doing now.

AR: Ever since then, wrestling fans have become our biggest supporter–which is pretty ironic, considering we’d been doing shows as a nightlife trio for like three years before that. A lot of people are surprised that wrestling dudes are so accepting of us–and I think we were too, at first–but considering the obvious similarities between pro-wrestling and drag, it sort of makes sense!

LBA: In my mind it would be a one-off thing… no one would watch, and we’d go about our business. But now wrestling IS our business.

AI: The whole idea of us reviewing wrestling started as a joke, or at least I thought it did. But here we are more than a year later still doing it, so I guess the joke is on me. I’m thrilled that we’ve found an audience, even if I would never have guessed that this is the audience we’d find.

Despite all the fascinating similarities between wrestling and drag, I still think of wrestling’s fanbase as being primarily hyper masc straight males.  Is that an unfair assessment? And as Gorgeous Gays, do you get some pushback from that end of the fandom? 

LBA: GORGEOUS GAYS! Lol! Love you! We don’t get a lot of pushback. Our fans are awesome. Though my favorite comment ever on a video is just a bunch of emojis of the finger. Most of our fans want to get Ariel’s Jush.

AR: The misperception of wrestling as the chosen entertainment of bigoted rednecks is warranted considering the artform’s truly shameful history of racism, sexism, and homophobia. However: wrestling has the most liberal fanbase of any sport. Wrestling fans are primed to appreciate the artifice and over-the-topness of drag, and there’s a long history of celebrated LGBTQ people in the wrestling business. I would say that the wrestling community’s response to us has been 99.9% positive.

AI: The stereotypical hetero meatheads are out there, but the wrestling fanbase is pretty diverse. I think that our show taps into a pre-existing pocket of femme, queer, or just open-minded viewers who are eager to break away from that ultra-masculine view. We didn’t create an audience, we just found one that was being underserved.

AR: As opposed to working in drag, where audiences are mostly queer and already quite liberal, it feels like our stupid little show is doing a lot to change hearts and minds about LGBTQ people. We get a lot of messages from more conservative fans about how we’ve opened up their minds, which is so wonderful to hear (but also kind of astonishing considering our show is like 60% dick jokes).

AI: I was shocked at how long we went without receiving any kind of homophobic pushback from the broader internet, and even now it’s surprisingly infrequent. People who want the basic dudebro perspective are more likely to ignore us than to waste time fighting with us.

AR:  For every video we post, there’s always, like, one asshat on Reddit who calls us mentally ill or something; but the wrestling community at large is very eager to defend us. It’s really heartening.

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And on the other end of things, are fans of your drag and your drag sisters like, “Gurlz, what’s with all this wrestling?” 

AR: Oh, big time. In my experience, I feel like the drag community is way more judgmental about wrestling than the wrestling fanbase is about drag. I sort of get why: to a lot of queens, it must feel like the dudes who like wrestling are the ones who beat them up in high school. But, like, lighten up! It’s all fake and covered in sequins! That being said, we’ve had a few closeted queens approach us like, “I’ve actually been a huge wrestling fan my whole life!” And we’re trying to figure out how to get more queens involved in our wrestling stuff in the future.

AI: I’ve had plenty of queens light up when I tell them about the show. Lots of people like wrestling. Hell, RuPaul had a whole wrestling episode way back in Season 4. Queens like  Catrina Lovelace, Kimberly Smallz LaBeija and Misty Mountains have told us they watch wrestling; when we did a show at Lucky Cheng’s, I talked to Digna backstage and she was super into the idea. There are of course always people who are not interested in what we’re doing, but if I was in it to be popular I would have quit drag a long time ago.

LBA: I think they’re still like “Gurl, what’s with your Drag?“ lol. Really our closest friends are always supportive, no matter what.

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Jaymes Mansfield is also a wrestling fan, and she even appeared on your YouTube show!  Was that a surprise, getting love from her?

LBA: Not really. She’s always trying to get my Jush.

AI: We couldn’t believe it when her manager approached us. The first time meeting her was kind of a whirlwind: she came in, sat on the couch, filmed her segment, and bounced.

ARShe powered through filming after an entire day at DragCon. She’s easily one of the nicest, most professional, and wittiest people I’ve ever met in my life.

AI: We’ve gotten to work together a few times since then, and she sometimes crashes on my couch when she visits New York. I can’t say enough about what a sensation she is: in addition to being one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, she is a total professional and an insanely hard worker. I don’t think Drag Race was a fair showcase of her wealth of talent. Also, she’s a total sweetheart.

AR: We love Jaymes so much!

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The Nobodies were just in the house for Lucky Chengs’ recent anniversary, which was wrestling-themed and featured the gay wrestling league  A Matter Of Pride

AR: I wasn’t involved in that, but I was in the audience; everyone was fully freaking out.

LBA: Everyone at Lucky Chengs was amazing. Like, welcoming in a way I’m not necessarily used to in a drag space.

AI: It was a really fun night. We met a bunch of really incredible wrestlers and some excellent Manhattan queens. The whole night had this super supportive feeling.

LBA: And the wrestlers are always fun. It’s such a close-knit community, especially when you consider that there aren’t that many spaces for Queer Sports Entertainers to be themselves. It was nice to see. The locker room (backstage) was like the reverse of a high school locker room, where the Queers were snapping towels and quips back and forth, while the one straight dude recoiled in the corner. Poor guy.

AI: I thought drag queens had dirty minds, but wrestlers are straight-up FILTHY. I mean, these are people who dangerously slam their sweaty bodies into each other for a living, so the level of comfort and trust they have with each other is next-level. So they are all super nice to each other, because you need to feel that sense of closeness if you’re going to put your safety in someone else’s hands, but also it’s just a bunch of young, horny, often queer, mostly naked people making fully unwholesome jokes and dry humping each other. It was like a supercut of The Real World.

AR: A Matter Of Pride shows are really special and important. A queen named Boy Diva
(who has also guested on our YouTube show) has been gathering LGBTQ pro-wrestlers for all-inclusive cards and we’re such huge supporters of her and her promotion. Our friends like Effy, Jamie Senegal, Billy Dixon, Maria Manic, Eddy McQueen, and Penelope Ford have all been spreading a message of love and inclusivity in the pro-wrestling world and they need more gay people encouraging and supporting them so GO GIVE THEM A FOLLOW!

Ariel and Bearica, you arm-wrestled each other that night! Who won?

AI
: I won. Some would say that I “cheated,” but I would say I was resourceful.

LBA: She cheated….

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You all host one of the best and most interactive Drag Race viewing parties in the city, at Brooklyn Bazaar

AI: Thank you for saying so! We do our best to keep the crowd engaged. It’s a constant struggle: people are there for the queens on the show, not the queens in the bar. It’s a fact of life you have to accept. Our job isn’t to outshine Trinity Taylor. We’re there to fill the commercial breaks and make it worthwhile for the handful of people who decide to hang out after the credits roll.

AR: [It’s a big challenge] figuring out how to keep audiences from leaving as soon as the credits on the episode start rolling. From talking to all our friends also hosting Drag Race parties, this seems to be something we’re all facing. It’s truly sad that audiences only want to see the famous TV queens instead of local talent.

That being said, we’ve got a spooky group of weirdos and punks that always hang out and party with us throughout the night, and I sort of missed having a weekly gathering spot for all of us. So I can’t say I’m not excited to be back, even though I’m less and less interested in the show itself.

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To make matters worse, those miserable people at VH1 / Worlds of Wonder have decided to return the show to Friday nights, once again fucking over venues screening it who could’ve used the mid-week attendance boost. Did this scheduling throw a wrench into your All-Stars 4 viewing party hosting plans?

AI: Bazaar has been incredibly generous with us, but of course it gets a little more intense when you’re negotiating for a Friday night. At that point, there are a lot more competing events who want spaces. Again, the management there has been stupendous in prioritizing us and I can’t thank them enough, but I know that it would be easier for them to say yes to us if we were asking for a Wednesday.

LBA: As someone who still has to have another job to support themselves, having the show on Fridays has really thrown a wrench in my plans. Unfortunately, I will not be able to co-host the All Stars viewing party this year. I’m hoping to be back for Season 11, but we shall see. In the meantime we have been able to book some of our faves to co-host, including Chartruice, God ComplexShanita BumpTheydy BedbugKrymson Scholar, and starting with Catrina Lovelace on December 14.

Sorry we won’t see you there, Bearica! As far as AS4 goes, who are you all excited to see on the show? 

AR: I know this is a shitty answer and sort of contradicts what I just said, but I’m excited for all of them! The show itself has catered increasingly to mainstream audiences (and straight women) and that makes it kind of a (pardon the pun) drag, but everyone who is cast on the show is so immensely talented that I can’t even pick a person to root for. I guess Latrice is my fave? But also Jasmine! And Monique! And Naomi! And Monet! And Gia!

AI: They’re all phenomenal in different ways. The great thing about the show is that it’s a regular season on steroids: everyone has a better budget, a stronger sense of confidence, more experience being a full-time queen, and a clear set of expectations about what it’s like to film a reality series. Seeing drag performers at the absolute top of their game is always a joy. That said: it’s between Latrice and Manila for me.

LBA: I’m rooting for Latrice, Jasmine, and my Kansas City babe, Monique! But like AR and Ariel said, everyone is a talent. I’m stoked to watch. It’ll be sort of nice to just enjoy the show for once.

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At Brooklyn Bazaar, you all produced and hosted the third annual Mx. Nobody pageant this year, and it was another highly successful and much-observed enterprise. Pinwheel Pinwheel was crowned the winner! The pageant is an extraordinary labor of love on your part, and really emphasizes the different levels of talent and diversity that nightlife performance has to offer.  What motivated you all to create this pageant? 

AR: A lot of the competitions in NYC are so excellent, and have such highly talented people. But my idea of drag has always been more informed by misfits like Divine and James St. James, and artists like Christeene, than what’s presented on TV and a lot of what you see in the Manhattan competitions. The goal of Mx. Nobody (for me at least) was to provide a space for the rejects of the rejects, the outcasts of the outcasts. And, unfortunately, a lot of people are outcasted because they aren’t a certain gender, or don’t have a certain look.

AI: We have always welcomed the performers who didn’t necessarily see a space for themselves. I think back to the people who gave me a space when I was first starting:  Tina Burner, letting me get on stage at Star Search, or Bob the Drag Queen having an open stage for Look Queen. That kind of generosity taught me how important it is to always give a new kid a chance. We’ve tried to pay it forward in letting anyone get up and strut their stuff at any Nobodies show, and that ethos extended naturally into the idea of a larger event.

The pageant was a way to recognize all the people who wouldn’t fit in the more mainstream competitions. The work that the contestants do is so inspiring.

AR: We wanted to give people of all races, genders, sizes, styles, and aesthetics a chance to showcase their unique visions of drag (and burlesque, and other assorted performance art), and I think we’ve actually succeeded in doing so.

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Y’all put so much work into it each year!

AI: Planning it can be a lot of work and a lot of stress, and being a judge is a nightmare because how can you even say who’s better when they’re all so amazing, but the finale is my favorite night of the whole year, hands down. Seeing these brilliant, insane, brave, innovative acts is what motivates us to keep doing this competition, because those contestants need to be showered with praise and prizes.

AR: The irony, of course, is that for a long time we considered ourselves some of the least respected people in Brooklyn, so the idea of us hosting was all sort of an elaborate in-joke. But now we take it really seriously, and all three of us keep it really close to our hearts. I think we all cried when this year ended.

LBA: I’m still crying. I don’t think people in nightlife realize how much talent there truly is in this city. Take a chance on someone new for Chrissakes!  Like Ariel said, it’s always
been important to pay what was given to me forward, and expand on that idea. If
it weren’t for TNT, specifically Scarlet Envy and Aja, Tina Burner, Holly DaeMitch Ferrino and Bob, there would not be a Lady Bearica… maybe not even a Mx Nobody Pageant.

The thing that strikes me the most about Mx. Nobody is the extraordinary amount of love and support support in the room. That is what I wanted. A space free from the cunty behavior that some people in this industry call Shade.

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Do you have any favorite standout memories from any of the 3 Mx. Nobody years, as far as performances or other moments? 

AR: Oh my god, so many.

LBA: I think the one I talk about the most is Thedy’s performance in the first season, where they deconstructed the character of Jessica Rabbit.

AR: The final battle between Kandy Muse and Elle McQueen in the first year of the pageant remains one of the most intense experiences of my life. I’ve never seen a venue truly explode with energy like that.

AI: That was pretty epic. And I still tear up when I think about Azraea getting on stage in year two to tell us how important they thought it was that we were carrying on the legacy of Brooklyn underground weirdness. It felt really momentous to have a legend like that give us their blessing.

AR: Emi Grate’s legendary deconstructed performance [from the second season] of “4:33″ (in which she sat in a chair and did literally nothing for four minutes and thirty three seconds, as a play on the notorious John Cage silent composition) was one of the most
avant-garde drag performances in history.

This year, I was obviously stunned by Shanita Bump pulling raw meat out of her nether regions (and then eating it). But a standout for me was Kiko Soirée, who did an ecstatic performance of a space-opera pop song about eating assholes. In the finale, her ten-minute lip sync of a spoken word nightmare (which included disapproving voice mails from her mother) hit that perfect combination of hilarious, precise, and emotionally vulnerable. The audience started chanting her name after–like at a wrestling show!AI: If I start going into the performances that I liked, I’m going to have to list every single one. I can’t choose a favorite among these beautiful babies. I don’t do drag children, but I feel a special bond with Mx. Nobody contestants. Each and every one of them blows my mind.


LBA
: All of the above, really.

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Congratulations on Mx. Nobody’s GLAM Award nomination for Best Competition Show! GLAM producer Cherry Jubilee surprised us with the creation of that category this year, and y’all are so well-deserved! How happy and excited are you?

AR: I was so shocked by that! The GLAM Awards are such a fun family reunion, where you get to see all your nightlife cousins who you don’t normally work with but love from afar. It sounds stupid and cliche to say this, but it really is an honor to have our name and event listed amongst real legends!

LBA: I’m so excited. This nomination means more to me than any other I could’ve gotten. That pageant really means the world to me. Thanks, Cherry, and everyone who voted!

AI: I’m slowly learning to get over the feeling of being a total imposter when stuff like this happens. I am obviously hugely grateful for the recognition. These nominations mean so much because they come from our peers, and the acknowledgement is felt and appreciated. I’m also glad to see the awards diversifying their categories. Nightlife and queer culture are changing, and I applaud the steps Cherry is taking to give more people the chance to have their work recognized.

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Mx. Nobody celebrates the best elements of Brooklyn nightlife, but in general the scene can get very cutthroat there. There are very few well-paying gigs in BK and lots of competition, and it probably gets increasingly difficult for individual performers to express themselves uniquely. Do The Nobodies get caught up in all that, or do you stay above the fray?

AI: I don’t know about “above,” but we are definitely “outside” the fray. The nice thing about working in the fringes is that we can do what we want. We’re often not working in explicitly queer spaces, and we’re often carving out niches that others aren’t interested in competing for.

AR: The Nobodies have always been in a really unique position when it comes to the nightlife world, especially after the wrestling stuff happened. Even before that though, the three of us were performing in underground art parties in Bushwick, not nightclubs. We tend to get booked in punk venues like Brooklyn Bazaar and Saint Vitus (and now sports bars like The Skinny) more than gay bars. As much as there’s competition in BK nightlife, I think it’s really sad when people act like there isn’t space for everyone here. We love when our No-babies get new gigs!

AI: That said, I think that nightlife is less cutthroat than it appears. We’ve had so many positive interactions with so many people and forged a lot of amazing friendships. We’ve sought supportive spaces and have been met with support. Also, we made a pact that 2018 would be The Year of Minding Your Business, which has been a huge help. It seems like most of the fighting between queens happens online, and taking the moment to pause and decide not to comment on someone else’s status has saved me a lot of trouble.

LBA: I’ve been a welcome host/guest at parties such as Hot Fruit and Wallbreaker, and various open stages all over Brooklyn and Manhattan since the beginning. We’ve been working to find a space for a monthly Mx Nobody Showcase, which is proving to be very difficult. No matter what, you constantly have to prove your worth to this community, whether you’re selling out a drag brunch every week or hosting one of the biggest competitions in the city every year.

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Eric, besides being a Brooklyn Nightlife Award-nominated writer whose work appeared in Rolling Stone this year (gag), you also helped produce music for Aja’s album! What was it like working with her through that process? 

AR: Aja is one of my favorite people in the entire world and always will be, and I continue to be astounded by their talent, commitment, and brilliant, enlightened politics. We’ve known each other since we used to throw a party called “BANJEE REALNESS” at a since-shuddered bar in Bed Stuy, along with the rest of the Haus (but it was before they were called that). We recorded “Level Ya Pussy Up” in my co-producer WNNR’s bedroom shortly before they were cast on Season 9. I remember right before WNNR hit record, Aja handed me their phone and was like, “If I get a call from LA, we have to stop.”

Me and WNNR then basically took all the noises from “LYPU” and redid them into an entirely new song for “Finish Her!” and threw in some samples from 2D fighting video games along the way. Aja nailed the entire thing in essentially one take. We recorded in the studio that one of my favorite trap songs ever, “Pop That,” was recorded in. I felt
blessed by the rap gods.

Ever since they’ve been on the show, it’s been harder to find ourselves in the same city at the same time. But when we do, we always have a fucking blast in the studio together, even though we have to edit their burps out of every take because, fun fact, Aja is the gassiest drag queen in the world. We work a lot over email and text nowadays. But we’ve got some big things coming out soon, so stay tuned.

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Ariel and Bearica: aside from your Nobodies duties, you are hosting “Get Your Panties In a Brunch” weekly Sundays at Bizarre Bushwick, alongside Emi Grate! What are the joys and sorrows of being brunch queens?  

LBA: I love it. It’s a completely different vibe and audience during the day. Every one is there to have fun. And we get to just be stupid.

AI: The only sorrow is waking up at 8:00am to start getting ready. But I’m a Basic Girl at heart, and nothing makes me happier than spending a few hours lip syncing to pop songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Brunch is an easy, fun gig that pays well. What’s not to like?

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The brunch has its first anniversary on December 2nd! What do you all have in store for us? 

More of the same shenanigans with guests Lacy Stoner & Vivien Gabor… and as
always, an open stage for any performer!

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By the way, is it ever confusing for you that you work at Brooklyn Bazaar and Bizarre Bushwick?

AR: YES! Basically every single show we do at either place, I get a text from a friend being like “I’m here, where are you?” and I have to be like “Girl, you’re at the wrong one.” I haven’t ever shown up at the wrong venue myself yet, but I know it’s inevitable.

AI: We know which show is at which venue, but we have to be VERY careful when
booking guests to tell them which location to go to. It’s definitely a consideration.

LBA: I think people get it more now. But we do have to be VERY specific.

Who is a great Brooklyn performer we should not be sleeping on in 2019?

AR:
First of all, the old guard of BK needs to be watching out for everyone who came through the Mx. Nobody Pageant. There were so many standouts that don’t get as much credit as they deserve: Chartruice is the first one that comes to mind. But really, EVERYONE from the 2018 pageant. Also, I’d be regretful if I didn’t mention the interdimensional pervert we accidentally birthed: Sweaty Eddie.

AI: Don’t make me choose just one! Any of the Mx. Nobody finalists for sure.
Shanita Bump is a force of nature. Chartruice is a knockout performer and her
Facebook page is like therapy for me at this point. But I’m literally just going to list all the finalists because I can: Richard DiCocko, Kiko Soiree, Yoya, Logan Laveau, Agent Wednesday, Fritzi Valkyrie, God Complex, Le Petit DumDum, Theydy Bedbug, and of course our reigning Mx. Nobody, Pinwheel Pinwheel. Each and every one of them is incomparable.

LBA: Also, outside of the Mx Nobody realm: Crystal Hart, Lacy Stoner, Gassy Bordeaux, Senerio. BUT I must repeat: CHARTRUICE CHARTRUICE CHARTRUICE! You can see her filling in for me at Brooklyn Bazaar for All Stars on December 21.

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Ariel, you’ll be doing Vivica Galactica’s show at REBAR on Tuesday!

AI: I rarely perform in Manhattan, and rarely perform without the other Nobodies, so doing Vivica’s show (alongside Mx. Nobody finalist Le Petit DumDum) is going to be a real treat. She was known for booking outsider-y shows in Denver before she moved here, so she shares our whole ethos. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of trouble we can cause together in the city.

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What else should be said here?

AR: We’ve got some HUGE stuff coming up for Wrestlemania weekend (April 5-7) so
keep an eye out for that. We’re really going to be pushing the boundaries
between drag and wrestling, and hoping to see more synergy from those two worlds
in the future.

AI: If you want your picture taken, Jessye Herrell Photography is the way to
go. She has an incredible eye, but also knows how to make her subjects feel
comfortable and get the best out of them. She does most of our event pictures,
and her ability to make me look good constitutes at least half of the
foundation on which my crumbling self-esteem is built.

LBA: If You love our RASSLIN Show think about supporting our Patreon.

Finally: What do you all think the average result for a game of “Fuck Marry Kill:The Nobodies Edition” is?

LBA: I think the more interesting question is: “Who taught you Love? Who taught you patience? Who taught you pain?” Try not to laugh at these answers.

AI: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Twitter: asking a question of our fans does not elicit an average answer. There’s definitely a subset of questioning straight-ish dudes who would put me in the Fuck category. I think Bearica would get the Marry vote because I’m best taken in small doses, and Accident Report literally begs me to kill him every time I see him, so that one’s a no-brainer.

AR: Kill me, please.

Thank you, The Nobodies! Good luck at the GLAMs!


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Check Thotyssey’s calendar for when The Nobodies are performing, and follow them on FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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