Spotlight on Chicago's Feast of Fools
Wed. September 3, 2008 12:00 AM
feast of fools: marc felion and fausto fernós
The show has won Best GLBT Podcast from the People's Choice Podcast Awards and Best Podcast from the Gay Bloggies. As the most widely downloaded gay podcast, its availability has brought GLBT-themed programming to listeners in cities, towns, and rural areas across the country and around the world.
Host Fausto Fernós is an Eartha Kitt-stalking, brown-haired [and soul- patched], quasi-former Boricua drag performer who once graced public access television as Faustina. Factoid: Fernós learned how to eat fire from the Lesbian Avengers.
His partner in life and podcasting is Marc Felion, who spends time fielding emails that label him as Chris Noth's "ting-a-ling" doppelganger, updating the show's myspace page, and salivating over Czech porn star Pavel Novotny.
The Feast of Fools podcast continually ranks as the top-rated gay & lesbian podcast on iTunes and is frequently listed in the Top 100 list of Comedy podcasts. On average, the podcast is downloaded 40,000 times per week, making it the most downloaded GLBT podcast in the United States.
A typical Feast of Fools show is a round table discussion on unusual news stories, GLBT issues and social trends. Other shows may feature celebrity interviews [live or by phone], cocktail recipes, or "how to" sessions, such as 'How drag queens lip sync and put on makeup.' Celebrities and other notable guests are asked a series of 'Breakdown' questions at the end of the show, such as 'Describe yourself as a fancy shade of paint' and 'What would you like to see Oprah doing in 5 years?' Since 2005, the Feast of Fools podcast has interviewed many celebrities, including Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin, Teri Garr, George Takei, John Waters and Bruce Vilanch. Occasionally, a show will open with an original cocktail recipe, usually given a name that pays tribute to that episode's special guest. Cocktail recipes feature unique ingredients or put a new spin on classics. Examples include the 'Organic Cosmopolitan' [a tarter version of the popular drink made with unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate and all natural ingredients] and the 'Dancing Queen,'[an unusual and flavorful combination of pear sake and energy drink].
When not interviewing a special guest, Fernós and Felion are often joined by a rotating cast of regular guests.
Music is an integral part of the Feast of Fools podcast, and the show regularly interviews and features the music of up-and-coming talent, mostly unsigned or signed to independent record labels. Born out of necessity due to copyright and RIAA restrictions on the use of music on podcasts, this feature of the podcast has grown into an important avenue for emerging musicians to reach a previously untapped audience. Musicians whose music is featured on the Feast of Fools podcast realize increased sales on iTunes and Amazon.com. Musicians featured on the Feast of Fools podcast include Calpernia Addams, Gaye Adegbalola, Reuben Butchart, Dangerous Muse, Ferron, Scott Free, Chris Garneau, Robert German, Leslie Hall, Hey Willpower, Eric Himan, Levi Kreis, Mystechs, Jen Porter, Rachael Sage, Jim Verraros, and The Wet Spots.
Like public radio, Feast of Fools stands on the shoulders of it's listeners, both financially and to stay ahead of the news. [They do have several key sponsors but they also depend on the support of their loyal community to donate money and buy merchandise.]
"The show succeeds because of our passion and experience, not because of the technology behind it or the money we invest in it. Our passion for creating a unique show is what we think makes it work. We want to give gay people a smart, humorous and savvy voice. We've observed that when traditional media companies attempt to copy our success they mostly fail because they lose sight of what makes the Internet great- the uniqueness of individuals and the ability to come together to form new communities," said Felion.
Related: Read the Feast of Fools blog on ChicagoPride.com.
Written by: Matt Skallerud
This article is part of the Gay Market Report 2009 and republished with permission from Pink Banana Media.
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