pop culture, feminist, BUST magazine, women, humor, reviews,

  • RickiandAbby 32418

     

    Ricki Lake is a woman who has lived a million pop cultural lives. She first found fame in John Waters’ most commercially successful films, Hairspray, Cry Baby, and Serial Mom. She then took over the small screen with her own daytime talk show from 1992 to 2004. And today, she’s known for making documentaries alongside her filmmaking partner Abby Epstein—first with The Business of Being Born, and now with their new film, Weed the People. In this episode, both Ricki and Abby reveal what its like to change the world by capturing life’s most intimate moments.


     

    About: BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by BUST Magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience.

    Check out every episode on iTunes, and don't forget to rate and review!

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Rachel Withers.

     

     

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    Showgirls. It’s a bad movie. The world is full of bad movies. But what does it take to make a really great bad movie? One that inspires a cult following and Halloween costumes and theme parties and ongoing public screenings and full-on fan obsession? Whatever that special magic is, Showgirls has had it for 25 years. And on this episode of BUST's Poptarts podcast, we are joined by Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen— founders of the THNK1994 museum and curators of GODDESS: The Immersive ShowgirlsExhibit—to discuss why the film’s popularity endures despite it being truly terrible.


    About:  BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Cait Moldenhauer and Jessy Caron at More Banana Productions and was recorded by Logan del Fuego.

     

  • Audible Original The Baddest Bitch in the Room Sophia Chang cover art f04d4

     

    For decades, Sophia Chang worked behind-the-scenes helping famous men advance their careers as a record exec, producer, and manager, including for the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA, GZA, and ODB, A Tribe Called Quest, Raphael Saadiq, and D’Angelo. Her relationship with the Wu-Tang Clan led her to a transformational journey studying Shaolin kung-fu. And now, in her new Audible Original memoir, The Baddest Bitch In The Room, she shares all the lessons she learned in the trenches of the music business and reveals how she finally put her own talents center stage. In this episode of BUST’s Poptartspodcastshe teaches us all how to boost our own inner bad bitch to make our dreams come true.


     

    About:  BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by BUST  Magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience.

    Check out every episode on Apple Podcasts, and don't forget to rate and review! 

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Cait Moldenhauer and Jessy Caron at More Banana Productions and was recorded by Logan del Fuego.

     

     

  • Mamie Van Doren  Photo: photofest

    Discovered by Howard Hughes at 18 and poised to become Universal Studios’ answer to Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren made a name for herself in the ’50s playing big screen bad girls. Now 90 and as daring as ever, Van Doren opens up about sexism, censorship, and that time she almost hooked up with Marlene Dietrich. 

    Mamie Van Dorenis a Hollywood icon. Tough as diamonds, she is the very last of the platinum blond studio starlets—appearing in 41 films between 1951 and 2002—and she is, at this very moment, casting her spell on me.

    “Do you like one-night stands?” Van Doren asks sweetly over the telephone from her home in Newport Beach, CA. She says exactly what she means and isn’t waiting for a permission slip. After decades of rebelling against ageism and gender norms, today she still poses as a nude model, and her desire to destigmatize female sexuality is ever-present. Within minutes, she’s uncovered my peculiar fetish for pencil mustaches and begins to dish. “Clark Gable had that mustache, you probably would’ve liked it,” she says, giggling, then goes on to describe how his signature facial hair tickled her in the kissing scenes for their 1958 film Teacher’s Pet. “We had to shoot 10 takes [because of it]. I had such a crush on him.”    

    A complex and provocative woman, Van Doren is the star of numerous midcentury films centering around counterculture and rebellion, including Untamed Youth (1957), High School Confidential (1958), and The Beat Generation (1959). Her performances made her the subject of juvenile delinquent fantasies for decades to come and gave her a reputation as the ultimate bad girl.

    Often captured bewitching audiences beneath a shock of icy blond hair, the points on her bullet bra sharp as daggers, there was nothing safe about Van Doren, and the censors knew it. A decade before the sexual revolution, she had the nerve to prioritize her own pleasure, saying and doing what she wanted, and she’s still that way today. 

    The press crowned Mamie Van Doren, Marilyn Monroe, and Jayne Mansfield the “Three M’s” in the 1950s. Hollywood’s “It” girls, they were considered the cream of the honey-haired crop. But while her peers would go on to die tragically in 

    their youths, further glorifying and commodifying them, Van Doren would not, outliving the combined ages of both Monroe and Mansfield decades ago. Her survival has spared her legacy the tacky adorations sold at tourist traps next to Van Doren’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But it also keeps her from the same degree of deserved recognition. 

    "I guess I’m known for fucking. That’s become my favorite word.” 

    bluesweaterrocks

    Photo: Thomas Dixon

     

    summer, 1975

    Photo: Still fromUntamed Youth, 1957

    “Can you imagine? I’ve been here almost a hundred years?!” she exclaims, laughing. “Imagine all the crap I’ve been through!” In fact, when I catch up with her she’s just celebrated her 90th birthday and is busy working on the follow-up to her 1987 memoir, Playing the Field. “How you treat your age depends on your attitude, so try to fucking forget about how old you are,” she muses before adding, “life doesn’t even start until 40.”

    Born Joan Lucille Olander, she grew up on a farm in South Dakota during the Great Depression. Her family had no electricity or running water and scarlet fever, polio, and tuberculosis were rampant in her community. “Only the strong survived,” Van Doren recalls. “Every day, I saw a hearse taking someone away. The whole family [next door] was wiped out from scarlet fever.”

    As a child, she was weaned on golden-era greats like Mae West and Jean Harlow, who helped her develop a taste for the sultry more than the sweet. And when her family moved to L.A. when she was 11, her interest in Hollywood grew. Taking her cue from her favorite femme fatale Carole Lombard, she paled her blonde to platinum and set out to see her name in lights.orn Joan Lucille Olander, she grew up on a farm in South Dakota during the Great Depression. Her family had no electricity or running water and scarlet fever, polio, and tuberculosis were rampant in her community. “Only the strong survived,” Van Doren recalls. “Every day, I saw a hearse taking someone away. The whole family [next door] was wiped out from scarlet fever.”

    Her ambitions almost ended before they began, however, when she eloped at 17 and found herself in a violent marriage. One evening, her husband attempted to throw her off their second-story balcony in a drunken rage. She fought for her life, escaped that man, and recommitted herself to creating a career. “I really wasn’t interested in getting married,” she says of her outlook after that. “A woman had to cook and be a prostitute for [her husband]. They had to do everything for him, and all he had to do was go to work in the morning. I don’t think so, that’s not my scene. I did what I wanted to do. I always have.”

    Van Doren marched on, landing a gig modeling for famed pinup artist Alberto Vargas and winning the Miss Palm Springs pageant when she was 18, which brought her to the attention of producer Howard Hughes. Through Hughes, she eventually made it into the pictures. But even in the small roles the studios assigned her at the beginning of her career, she always seemed to draw focus. “Oh God, the [studio executives] were afraid of me,” she recalls. “They wouldn’t put me on certain shows because they didn’t want women copying me and being independent.”

    And as her screen time grew, her voluptuous figure and provocative moves soon provoked the ire of the censorship board trying to make films of the day adhere to the “Hays Code.”According to the Hays guidelines, “no picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it.” This meant no “unnecessary passion,” interracial relationships, homosexuality, and of course, none of Van Doren’s signature pelvic thrusts. “I couldn’t do a forward bump when I was doing my dancing,” she recalls. “It wasn’t acceptable. Elvis was acceptable but women were not. Well, I just said, ‘Fuck that noise,’ and I went for it.” 

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    Photo: Photoplay magazine, 1958

    Rock ‘n’ roll was just making its way into the mainstream as Van Doren’s career was taking off. But fearing the havoc her hips would create, censors insisted she stay seated while singing during certain televised performances. “I was constantly a target,” she says of that time. “I was banned from TV because I was too sexy. I was giggling and wiggling, and they didn’t want women to do that. So, I was bad, and Marilyn was good.” 

    The Catholic church would come for her, too. The “Legion of Decency” was a rating system created by the Church to censor films they deemed indecent and immoral. And Van Doren’s film Untamed Youth was the only American film condemned by the Church in 1957. “They wouldn’t give me The Legion of Decency because, I guess, my breasts were too large, or I wore a cute sweater,” she quips. “That’s why he hated me, because I was a woman.” The “he” she’s referring to is Cardinal Francis Spellman, the enraged archbishop who personally condemned Van Doren and did his best to destroy her career. (Though it’s interesting to note that credible allegations of child molestation against Spellman eventually surfaced in 2019.) “He thought he’d stop me, and he did for a while. You have no idea, I was fighting the studio, fighting the Hays office,” she says with both pain and pride in her voice. “I was really having a problem. But I managed to pull it off. I’m glad I could help others in the future. Mae West opened the door for me. I opened the door for Madonna.”

    In the 1960s, Van Doren began transitioning from film to live performances. In one memorable brush with fate, she was unable to perform a gig down South, so Jayne Mansfield was offered the job instead. It was on her way to this show that Mansfield was killed in a fatal car crash. Profoundly affected by the tragedy, Van Doren decided to give back by making her first of two trips to Vietnam to entertain the troops. “Nobody knows what war is up close until you witness it,” she says. “For three months, I flew around in a helicopter wondering if any second I’d be shot out of the sky.” Then one night after a performance in the Mekong Delta, it looked like her fears might come to fruition. “All of a sudden I saw a red light...they were shooting rockets off, and the rockets were really coming after us. We nearly didn’t make it.”

    Another very close call would be in Saigon. After dinner one evening, she surprised a group of children attaching grenades to her jeep. Shortly after visiting multiple army hospitals, she would find herself admitted to one, spending three months bedridden with dysentery. “I nearly died in Vietnam,” she recalls. “I came so close to death.” In recognition of her service, Van Doren was made an honorary Colonel in 2015. “I sign certain things Colonel Van Doren,” she says, humbly.

    But even the horrors of war couldn’t prepare Van Doren for the date she went on with Burt Reynolds not long after returning home. In a misguided attempt to seduce her, he  invited her to his set to watch him perform his own stunts. “That, to me, wasn’t very impressive. I had just gotten back from Vietnam. That’s the genuine thing,” she says. “He jumps through a window and gets lots of applause and I’m thinking, ‘I’m bored to death.’”

    But then he said something that made her decide to give him a chance: “You know,” he told her, “I’ve been considered the male Mamie Van Doren.”

    She decided to indulge her curiosity. “Well, I found out when I got to his apartment, he was no male Mamie Van Doren,” she recalls. “One of those lady cigarettes would have covered itnicely.”

    Reynolds, however, was far from Van Doren’s only celebrity lover. She and music mogul Quincy Jones actually met as teenagers and quickly became sweethearts in the 1940s when racial segregation was overt, not implied. “We started to go out, making out, and going to all the Black places,” she recalls. “We weren’t allowed to go to any white places, they wouldn’t serve him. They wouldn’t serve me, either. It was really bad. We’d have to hide.” This was at a time when studios contractually controlled everything about an actress—from dictating their diets and monitoring their weight to managing their sex lives, pregnancies, and marriages. The studio executives were clear, dating a Black man would mean the end of her career. “I didn’t care,” she says, “he was perfect for me.”

    Other celebs the press has romantically linked to Van Doren include Clark Gable, Johnny Carson, Elvis Presley, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, and Warren Beatty. But for Van Doren, there will always be one star she will think of as the one who got away. It was a rainy day in 1956. Van Doren was in a powder blue suit and fox fur stole on her way to a fitting at Columbia Studios. When she arrived, a German accent caught her attention. “Oh my God, I’m thinking to myself, it’s Marlene Dietrich,” Van Doren tells me. “I felt so, I’m just, I’m just shaking.” Dietrich perched herself above Van Doren, her rain hat dapperly covering one eye. “Well, that was enough to do me in,” she tells me. “I knew she kissed women in her movies and that really turned me on.” Dietrich was oozing confidence. “I never had anyone flirt with me like that, and it was Marlene Dietrich on top of it! She acted like she was interested!” Van Doren explains she had just given birth—to Perry, the son she had with her second husband, bandleader Ray Anthony—and wasn’t sure what to do. “Today, it would’ve been a different story. Now that I’m older, I would realize being with Marlene Dietrich would be very sensuous, and she must be very, very, good at what she does,” she tells me with the only hint of regret she reveals in our entire two-and-a-half-hour conversation.

    Van Doren would go on to finally find the love of her life in her fifth husband, actor and dentist Thomas Dixon, whom she has been married to for the last 42 years. “I’m very sexy, even now. My sexual desires run really good about once a week,” she says of keeping that romance alive. “The feeling is even better than it was when I was younger because I enjoy it more.” Dixon is 17 years her junior and Van Doren thinks that is part of what makes them work. “It pays to be with somebody younger so when you get older you have somebody to help you. Generally, it’s the other way around, the men expect the women to take care of them.”

    When it comes to passions, however, Van Doren isn’t single minded. She’s also deeply invested in politics. During the last administration she reveled in using her Twitter account to troll Trump and she campaigned hard for Kamala Harris, whom she believes will be our next president. “We will have a woman, a Black woman, president. Isn’t that something?” she exclaims. “I never thought I’d live to see that. I hope I live that long to see it. I mean, I really do.” 

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    Photo: Born Reckless poster, 1958

    It’s clear after meeting her that the real secret to Mamie Van Doren’s eternal glamour is her unwillingness to self-destruct. Many forces tried to stop her, but she just continues fighting for the right to be herself. And at 90, she remains unjaded, unfiltered, and deeply inspiring. She would, unlike so many others before her, survive the double-edged sword of Hollywood starlet stardom, only to emerge stronger than ever. “You can do anything you want to do,” she reassures me before we say goodbye. “If you want to do it bad enough.”  

     

    Words by Kelly Kathleen

    This article originally appeared in BUST's Summer 2021 print edition. Subscribe today!

     

  • Yellow Bathtub 408c6

    For decades, many Japanese offices have mandated that women employees wear high heels. But an online petition, which has already amassed over 20,000 signatures and continues to gain momentum, is seeking a ban on such dress code requirements, Reuters reports.

    The petition, known under the hashtag #KuToo (a blend of #MeToo and the Japanese words for shoe—“kutsu,” and pain—“kutsuu”) was submitted to Japan’s health ministry by Yumi Ishikawa, a 32-year-old artist, writer and feminist activist.

    The campaign began in January after a viral tweet, in which she wrote that she was required to wear 2-3 inch heels for her part time job at a funeral parlor. “I’m hoping to get rid of the custom that someday women have to wear heels and pumps at work,” she relayed.

    In response to the petition, Health Minister Takumi Nemoto argued that such dress code expectations are “within the range of what’s commonly accepted as necessary and appropriate in the workplace.” However, Nemoto mentioned that it could be considered “power harassment” if employers required their injured employees to wear high heels.

    While not all Japanese companies explicitly decree high heels, women still choose to sport them due to societal pressures of adhering to Japan's especially gendered corporate culture. As stated by the Guardian, "high heels have long been seen as a female equivalent to the businessmen's necktie. They're a sartorial accessory that, when worn in a business setting, send a message of formality and professionalism."

    Ishikawa told Reuters, “It seems like men don’t really understand that wearing high heels can be painful and lead to injuries. But even if women aren’t hurt, I’d like such expectations to be considered power harassment.” She also expressed hope that Nemoto’s comments on abuse of power might inspire women to raise the issue with their bosses, stating, “this might spur that kind of action, so I think this is going in a good direction.” Japan’s health ministry is still reviewing the petition.

    Reconstructing women to fit into a work enviroment that wasn't intended for them in the first place has been a backwards attempt at "female empowerment." Countless articles, thinkpieces, and even books written by successful women are solely focused on the additional labor women are forced to abide by in order to be worthy of an employer's respect. Six years ago, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg debuted her hugely successful book, Lean In. Part auto-biography and part feminist manifesto, Lean In promised that women could rise up the career ladder without having to sacrifice other areas of their lives as long as they changed their approach to work and negotiated harder.

    The implication of this "lean in" philosophy in the workplace is that the responsibility to fix gender inequality lies solely on women. But shouldn't companies, historically built to accomodate men's needs, be more compliant towards those of women? Placing the resonsiblity on women to solve workplace gender inequality absolves institutions from any accountability. And, additionally, allows them to perpetuate a culture where women are forced to work twice as hard for a seat at the table. 

    The #KuToo movement is a significant step towards reconfiguring the workplace to meet the needs of women—and a significant step towards gender equality in the workforce. 

    Header photo courtsey of Kelly Samuel via Pexels

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    Nike’s “Dream Further” Shows Just How Empowering Women’s Soccer Can Be

    Kamala Harris' Interruption By A Male Protester Disrespects Black Women's Voices 

    Why "Good Boys" Need To Stop Getting Away With All The Bad Things They Do

     

  • gossip girl reboot teaser 525cf

    The original Gossip Girl filled the early 2000s teens and young adults with yearnings for sprawling skylines, the temptations of big city living, and the privileges of old money. The Gossip Girl reboot once again launches us into a world of high school drama, betrayal, forbidden love affairs, and an insider look at the lives of Upper East Side elite but with a 2021 glow up. Rather than centering around frenemies Blair Waldorf and Serena Vanderwoodson, this reboot throws the spotlight on high school junior and affluent social media influencer, Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander), and her half-sister, high school freshman and activist in the making, Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak).

    The Gossip Girl Reboot boasts a pretty diverse cast with the characters hailing from all different racial backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities. In the main cast alone, there is pansexual play boy, a "bitchy" lesbian, a queer/questioning boy with a pink buzzcut, and a transwoman with killer style. This is really exciting, especially when you consider the all white main cast of its 2007 predecessor. Backlash for this choice in casting was definitely heard and there has been an obvious and mostly successful effort at fixing past mistakes with the reboot.  It was this diversity that drew me to watch the reboot in the first palace. That being said, as entertaining as the show is, it misses the mark in some major ways. 

    gossip 36e29Screenshot Via HBO Max

    Other diversity points aside, the reboot really missed an opportunity to cast either a brown skinned or dark skinned actress in a leading role. The show explicitly makes Zoya fully Black while Julien is mixed white and Black. The pair share a Black mother but Julien’s father is white and Zoya’s is Black. Zoya is canonically fully Black and yet is played by someone of mixed race (Whitney Peak is Ugandan and white Canadian). Historically, due to colorist beauty standards,  in TV and movies mixed race Black women have been chosen over Black women to act as fully Black characters. Mixed race actresses Zendaya, Yara Shahidi, and Amadla Steinberg are common casting choices for characters made to be young Black women. They are often cast alongside fully Black families and usually every other member of their family ranges from brown skin to dark skin. This reinforces the colorist idea that, in order to be considered beautiful (and worthy of the lead role) Black women need to have European features i.e. a looser curl pattern, lighter skin, and a slim nose. Julien is also played by a mixed race actress but that makes sense because her character is canonical biracial. 

    There is no reason why a Black actress who reflects fully Black beauty with dark skin and African features couldn’t have been cast as Zoya. By making casting choices that play into colorism, the Gossip Girl reboot is continuing and upholding a legacy of Black women’s beauty being limited to features deemed “white” enough. Upon further investigation, I also found that Monet (Savannah Lee Smith), a friend of Julien’s who also acts as her publicist, is played by a mixed race actress. Monet’s parents have yet to be revealed and her character may also be intended to be mixed, which is fine. However, the fact that there are three Black women in the main cast of eight, and all are played by mixed race women makes me question whether the diversity on this show is legitimate or surface level and performative.

    who plays zoya lott in gossip girl whitney peak 1625607527 view 0 8d45bScreenshot Via HBO Max

    The show is hyperaware, as many in 2021 are, of cancel culture and trying to flex it’s woke muscles so it isn’t ridiculed as so many past shows of the early 2000s were for being problematic. This fear is how we ended up with lines like “private school teachers get paid substantially less than public school ones. It’s criminal how little they make. Less than customer service representatives, executive assistants, retail salespeople,” which reads like something out of an afterschool special. Being associated with the legacy of the OG Gossip Girl comes both with name recognition and a shady history. 

    The show attempts to counteract past complaints by pumping up the diversity and inclusion this generation is known for. Unfortunately, the dialogue makes the characters sometimes seem like three millenials stacked on top of each other in a trench coat. It’s all name-dropping and references to the pandemic and throwing in random words 300-year-olds think teens use. Spoiler: they don’t. No one uses “unsubscribe” as an attempting-to-be-witty one liner, and I pray that it never catches on.

    But the real problem is that the reboot wants to keep the conniving rich people doing terrible things to each other while making them weirdly self aware. It doesn’t make the characters empathizable, it just confuses the audience and gives them emotional whiplash. The problematic shit wasn’t taken out, they just think that if they have a girl with a buzz cut pointing out that it’s not politically correct then they can get away with doing it anyway. Any attempt the show makes at being morally above comes off as forced, insincere, and preachy. 

     

     

    One of the most glaringly obvious and painful examples of this performative wokeness is Julien’s “I Am a Bully Speech” in episode 4. Julien decides, after a day of trying to sabotage Zoya’s birthday, to share a video on a huge projector at Zoya’s birthday party of Zoya vandalizing her old school. The video spirals into Zoya being traumatically bullied and called a “mother killer” by a group of girls, ultimately ending with Zoya setting a fire after being locked in a room (it’s a lot). Julien, who hadn’t seen the second part of the video, immediately realizes the error of her ways and makes the following speech: 

    “Hey everyone. I know that video was traumatic. You’re probably wondering why I played it. I’m wondering that too… I didn’t know she was being bullied but I guess when you’re a bully yourself you don’t see that. Since I can’t turn back the clock, the very least I can do is tell the truth. I’m a bully. And whether I do it to your face or through your phone without you realizing, it’s the same thing... But never again. Take out your phones. Do it, hit record. I am a bully. I bully my sister, I bully my friends, my fans and I’m never gonna do it again so long as I live. You have this video. Dubsmash it, DeuxMoi it. Gossip Girl it for all its worth. Now how about we put this pain behind us and bow down to the princess. She's why you’re all here. Z, I love you.”

    This is supposedly meant to make up for what she did and has been doing up until literal seconds beforehand. Not everyone gets immediate forgiveness if they ever get it at all. Acknowledging that you fucked up isn’t a cure all. The only thing that could possibly explain this speech would be that maybe the writers wanted to teach a lesson to young viewers. Showing kids that bullying is inexcusable is important but I must remind you that this isn’t aimed at kids. Gossip Girl has shown full frontal nudity, a student performing oral on a teacher, and minors doing hard drugs. This is a show about teenagers for adults and rated TV-MA. I’m sure that there are some teens bingeing this show on their family’s HBO Max account, but even if they are, the “I Am A Bully” speech was so silly. In no world would people pat Jullien on the back for that shitty apology. She did a terrible thing, acknowledged it 15 seconds later, and pinky promised that she learned her lesson. 

    eric daman gossip girl reboot costumes outfit7 88e5eScreenshot Via HBO Max

    Rather than Julien telling us that what she did was wrong, we could have figured that out for ourselves.  A better way to make this scene more believable would have been showing the fallout and having Julien face consequences for being a bad person. She’s an Instagram influencer, she should have lost followers and been cancelled. Instead, not only was she praised for her “bravery,” she actually GAINED followers.

    As clueless as the show seems at times, the writers do actually know how to broach controversial topics in a way that doesn’t sound like a PSA. They did it wonderfully with the “love” story between Rafa (Jason Gotay), a teacher at the school, and Max (Thomas Doherty), his flirty socialite student, and it turned out to be one of the best parts of the show. 

    Rafa and Max are both hot, played by adult actors, and have incredible chemistry and sexual tension. Hollywood loves a good student-teacher fantasy evidenced by shows like Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, and the original Gossip Girl.  Audiences often find themselves pulled in by this titillating if extremely problematic trope, yet things like laws and abuse of power and predatory behavior linger in the back of their mind. The Gossip Girl reboot seemed to understand this very well.

    The thing that sets the Gossip Girl reboot apart is how they resolved this plotline. Max and Rafa didn’t run off into the sunset, instead, Rafa is revealed to have had sexual relationships with several other students in the past. Far from being the charming man who couldn’t help but fall for Max’s advances, Rafa turned out to be a repeat offender. This is far more realistic than other examples of the trope. The tea is, if your high school teacher is trying to fuck you, they are probably a predator and you may not be their first victim. 

    Screen Shot 2021 08 17 at 2.30.18 PM 89a1fScreenshot via Youtube

    The reboot managed to give us everything we actually want from a student-teacher love story: tension, forbidden romance, hot sex, and moral comupance. We get an edge-of-your-seat scandalous love story wherein the story comes to a dramatic (and arguably more entertaining) end when it is revealed that Rafa “I don’t fuck my students” Capparos does, in fact, fuck his students. A lot.

    But the villain didn’t give a speech about the dangers of talking to strangers and they didn’t turn this into an after school special. They let the story speak for itself and didn’t try to spoon feed us. This reboot needs to take notes from itself because it is capable of some really great things.  They need to educate themselves on the nuances of race and representation and trust that their audience doesn’t need to have everything spelled out for them. I know it saves time to just have the characters throw out half baked apologies, and it’s easier to just go along with current backwards beauty ideals, but it is certainly worth the effort to commit to being groundbreaking.

    Top Image: Screenshot Via Youtube

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  • Ronettes 2077e

     

    Whoa oh, oh oh…. Girl group music is literally the BEST and it never gets the respect from rock critics that it so richly deserves. Joining us to tackle this tasty topic is one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject. DJ Sheila B hosts Sophisticated Boom Boom on WFMU, an amazing radio show that celebrates female-fronted pop from the past, present, and future, and from all over the globe. She’s brought her legendary record collection to girl pop dance parties from New York to London to Tokyo, was recently featured in the book, Dust & Grooves, about hardcore vinyl collectors, and she’s also a longtime friend of BUST magazine! Listen in as we dig in to our faves, from the Ronettes to the Shangri-Las to the Crystals and more!

    NipponGirls Sheila 299x299 0c007


     

     About: BUST's Poptarts  is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by BUST  Magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience.

    Check out every episode on iTunes, and don't forget to rate and review!

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Rachel Withers and recorded by Logan del Fuego.

     

     

  • bust beejohnson chronicillness color hires 7966c

    It was early summer, and I’d been sitting on the sofa, sort of reading a novel, when the text came. “Do you fancy going out sometime?” it asked. I was thrilled; it was from a guy I’d recently met who I was hoping would ask me out. But before I could answer, another text came through. “Maybe grabbing some lunch?” he asked. That’s when I freaked out.

    Severe anorexia had taken over my life for a long while, and although I wasn’t better yet, not by a long shot, I was firmly in the recovery phase. I was just starting to expand my horizons and do all the things a normal woman in her 30s does—including dating. But it was fraught with challenges. Who would want to date a girl who cries over hermeal? And while many women struggle with body image, I struggled with the fear that someone would like my body—I still had weight to gain, so what would they think when I did?

    Meeting someone for lunch, in a restaurant, posed all sorts of additional problems. For one thing, we’d have to meet at exactly 11—after my pre-planned snack, and before my pre-planned lunch. Because my meals have to be prepared by me and eaten at home, we’d have to go someplace near enough for me to get back in time to eat. That left one specific café, where we met for coffee instead of a meal—mine black, the only way I’d drink it.

    As it turned out, the date was great. We soon began a relationship, and I was able to be upfront about my anorexia early on. But my boyfriend faces challenges due to my illness, too. Like the time I had a mini meltdown when he lent me some jogging pants that didn’t fall down, prompting me to panic that I was fat, and him to wonder how his kind action had ended in disaster. He has had to adapt to a much more structured approach to eating, and become more aware of the language he uses around food because the smallest slip can trigger me. And everything we do has to have my meal plan as a key consideration.

    I’m not the only one whose illness, current or past, makes dating difficult. Dating comes with numerous emotional, practical, and social considerations, and a long-term illness can add additional challenges to a relationship—such as making it difficult to arrange a time to meet up due to medical appointments, or not being able to afford a nice dinner out if your condition prevents you from working. That’s not even mentioning the emotional vulnerability that comes with opening up about the effects of an illness. Both physical and mental illnesses can take their toll, but dating while managing or recovering from an illness can also be rewarding.

    Many women with long-term illnesses say that it has a major effect on their self-esteem. It’s this that stops Karen, ayoung woman in her 20s with chronic fatigue syndrome, from dating. “I know that I struggle with internal dialogues of self-worth with having a chronic illness, and the thought of dating—it’s a battle of feeling like no one would want to buyinto that from the beginning,” she says. “When I think about marriage and stuff, even though it’s the whole ‘for better or for worse, in sickness and in health’ thing, it’s hard not to feel like, ‘well yes, that’s true, so if I became chronically illafter we were married, that’s when that would kick in, but to invoke that before you even begin is too much of a price to ask someone to pay.'"  

    “To be honest, I’ve never met anyone who cared enough to be attentive and gentle enough to make sex enjoyable.”

    Clare, who is in her early 50s and has Parkinson’s, does date, but deals with similar thoughts. She has a hard time even getting dressed for dates, she says, “and then when I’m there, things can be going well, but I will start trembling and feel self-conscious and stupid. I’m very aware of my left arm. It hangs in a way that I think makes me look very sick, and I’m so aware of it, that I spend the whole date worrying about it.” Clare has also had to manage depression in the past, and during one low period, she broke up with her boyfriend. That’s probably not a surprise to anyone with depression—it can cloud your thoughts and judgment, leading you to make rash decisions that are not based on the realities of your relationship.

    In a society where we’re often defined by our careers, a chronic illness can have a major impact on identity. One of the main questions we ask anyone when we meet them is, “What do you do?” By that, we don’t mean, “What do you do with your time that lights you up and makes you feel like you’re living?” but rather, “What do you do for paid employment?” Many people with chronic or long-term illnesses are unable to work, or can only work limited hours, and as work is one of the ways that we define ourselves, this can have a significant impact on identity. Karen isn’t a fan of that “very first icebreaker of a question that makes me want to curl up and die—‘So, what do you do?’” she says. “Straight away, you have no other option than to explain that you’re actually sick and can’t properly work, so nothing right now...which ties really nicely into the self-worth stuff, the realities of not wanting to be a burden physically and financially, as well as not wanting to appear weak.”

    Both Clare’s and Karen’s fear that potential dates will judge them based on their illnesses aren’t unfounded; many women have faced prejudice and cruel comments about their illness while dating. Helen suffers from chronic pain, as well as chronic depression (dysthymia) and body dysmorphic disorder. She has tried online dating, and is open and honest about her illness in her profile. Whenever she speaks to someone new online, she tells them that she has to walk with a cane. Not everyone responds, showing how judgments are quickly formed. “One man said to me, ‘So, you are limited—what are your solutions?’ as I couldn’t travel far to see him due to exhaustion,” she says. “This made me feel inferior and an inconvenience.” People form opinions based on her appearance, and not always nice ones. “I recently went to a traffic light party [an event where you wear red if you’re in a relationship, yellow if you’re up for persuasion, and green if you’re single and want to flirt], and was pointed at and called out by men,” she says. “I was embarrassed and hurt.”

    There are also the physical effects of an illness to take into account. Helen’s chronic pain impacts all aspects of her life—to put it bluntly, sex hurts. “To be honest, I’ve never met anyone who cared enough to be attentive and gentle enough to make it enjoyable, so yes, there are struggles there,” she says.

    Chronic illness can test a relationship financially, as well, when one person is unable to work—or is restricted in the length and type of work they can do—and therefore can’t contribute as much to the household budget. It’s not only that people are missing out on working in the present, but also that they won’t be contributing to retirement funds, and so will continue to rely on the other partner. Chronic illnesses also cost a lot to manage, as doctor visits, medication, and support all add up. A smaller—or no—income and increased expenses take a financial toll, and place stress on a relationship that may already feel out of balance. There’s also the emotional toll financial inequality takes on a relationship. Partnerships where one person has an illness can feel unbalanced, and the couple can risk moving from equal partners to the carer and cared for.

    “When you’re sick, 
you spend a lot of time being cautious about who you show the realities of the illness to.”

    All this means that many women may be reluctant to be open about their chronic illness while dating—you don’t want a new and exciting relationship to collide with the grim realities of your limitations. “It feels like, when you’re sick, you spend a lot of time being cautious about who you show the realities of the illness to,” Karen explains, “so it’s a massive vulnerability to have to bare your deepest insecurities very quickly. To let down that mask even a little bit is a real risk. There’s no way around ripping that plaster off early on, and so for me I’d probably rather steer clear of the situation.”

    Dr. Michelle R. Hannah is a relationship coach, and has worked with many people tackling dating with an illness. Hannah’s experience as a cancer survivor informs her work, and she has also had adenomyosis, endometriosis, fibroids, and pudendal neuralgia. After Hannah’s first cancer diagnosis, her partner pulled away from the relationship due to being unable to deal with her illness. This is, unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Cancer, women who were diagnosed with a serious illness were seven times more likely to become separated or divorced as men diagnosed with similar health problems.

    After a period in which she took time off from work and dating to focus on her own needs and health, Hannah met her husband, and chose to have the illness conversation early on. “It was a tough conversation, but his compassion and commitment made it easier,” she says. “Knowing we could both be transparent with each other helped immensely on the days that I was at a pain level of nine on a scale from one to ten. After four major procedures before we were married, I knew that we were both committed to the traditional wedding vows before we took them.”

    Hannah says that it’s important to consider the status of the relationship before sharing many details. If it’s just about having fun, perhaps there’s no need to divulge, but if you’re planning on long-term commitment, then both partners need to be aware. Once you realize that you are both on the same page regarding the direction of the relationship, it is a good time to introduce the topic. They obviously have to be the right person. Hannah has a few questions that she thinks are important to ask: “Are you both committed to vulnerability? Is your partner compassionate and considerate? Is your partner dedicated to doing the research in order to be educated about your condition? Are you committed to doing the things necessary for you to live your healthiest life regardless of not being clinically healthy?” She explains, “When two people are vulnerable, they are dedicated to honesty; therefore, there’s no need to hide information about your health that is sensitive or that can feel embarrassing to share.”

    Your illness doesn’t have to be something to be ashamed of, and your partner can become a support and help you and your relationship be healthy. “If your partner is compassionate, they will understand the side effects of medicine, your capacity, and your emotional state,” Hannah says. “Two heads are better than one when you’re both dedicated to the goal being optimal health, and that’s why both of you educating yourself is vital to the health of the relationship.”

    Having an illness as part of your life can force you to address issues in your relationship head on, and fast—which can be a positive. “Chronic illness, or recovery from one, is one of the toughest challenges that one can go through,” Hannah says, “but when you have someone who is dedicated to assisting you to achieve optimal health and who wants to love you through, it makes the journey so much more meaningful.” People who are happy to support you in recovery or management are likely in for the long-term. “Oh yeah, I wouldn’t do this if it was just a fling,” my boyfriend said when we were discussing this article. It helps you weed out the ones who matter—and who think you matter.

     

    By Francesca Baker

    Illustration by Bee Johnson

    This piece originally appeared in the January/February 2019 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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    Women’s magazineslove ‘em or hate ‘em, these publications have been bossing women around for over 300 years. But centuries later, its still hard to tell if they are a harmless form of entertainment or an insidious method for advertisers to undermine the self-esteem of an entire gender in pursuit of profit. And what even is the role of lady mags today in a world now ruled by Instagram? Helping us unpack all this and more on the latest episode of BUST’s Poptarts podcast is Molly Simms, Senior Editor at O: The Oprah Magazine and Eliza Thompson, Senior Entertainment Editor at Cosmopolitan.com.


     

    About: BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by BUST Magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience.

    Check out every episode on iTunes, and don't forget to rate and review!

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Rachel Withers.

     

     

  • Ada Calhoun c Gilbert King f1495

    Ada Calhoun is the author of the memoir Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, named an Amazon Book of the Month and one of the top ten memoirs of 2017 by magazine; and the history St. Marks Is Dead, one of the best books of 2015, according to Kirkus and the Boston Globe. She has collaborated on several New York Times bestsellers, and written for the New York Times, New York, and The New Republic. And in this episode of BUST's Poptarts podcast, she talks about her brand new book, Why We Can't Sleep: Women's New Midlife Crisis, and examines tons of fascinating sociological data that helps to explain why so many Generation X women are having big time issues as we enter middle age.


    About:  BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Cait Moldenhauer and Jessy Caron at More Banana Productions and was recorded by Logan del Fuego.

     Photo By Gilbert King

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    Winona Ryderis a peerless pop cultural icon. Here in NYC, the Quad cinema will be showing 16 Winona films this month as part of their “Utterly Winona” retrospective. And The Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn is having an all-day Winona movie marathon on August 25. Both special events coincide with her new film Destination Weddingopposite Keanu Reeves opening at the end of this month. But her upswing in popularity seems to go much deeper than that. Here to discuss with us why Winona’s appeal is more potent now than ever is Cristina Cacioppo, programmer at the Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn.


     About: BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by BUST Magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience.

     

    Check out every episode on iTunes, and don't forget to rate and review!

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Rachel Withers.

    PHOTO by  Karon Liu 

     

  • JessamynS c1c0f

    Jessamyn Stanley is an award-winning yoga instructor, intersectional activist, and founder of The Underbelly virtual yoga studio app who first rose to fame in 2012 through her Instagram posts showing her doing high-level yoga as a plus-size woman of color. Self-identifiying online as a "queer fat femme," she’s helped coax legions of women who previously felt alienated by the privileged, skinny, white world of yoga into the practice along with her. We featured Jessamyn in BUST in 2017 when her book Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get On the Mat, Love Your Body came out, and now we’re thrilled to have her on BUST’s Poptarts podcast, where she talks about overcoming crass commercialization, bias, and fitness industry fuckery to become the star she is today.


    About:  BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Logan del Fuego.

    Photo by Bobby Quillard

    Hey! Did you know that the Poptarts podcast has a swell new Patreon program with fab thank-you gifts for members? Well it does! Give it a look-see at patreon.com/poptartspodcast !

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