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When it comes to men’s sexual health, it can be a little difficult to discuss. Okay, fine, it’s rarely discussed. That’s where the fellas over at Pure for Men come in. If you’re unfamiliar with the brand, they offer various products from fiber supplements to bidets to skincare products…and more.
If you’re on TikTok or Instagram, you may have noticed their ads focused on men’s wellness and personal care. I had a chance to sit down with the team and learn more about the company and the men behind the products.
I met with Lawrence and Fabian the co-founders and CEO and CMO respectively, as well as team members Chris and Ryan to discuss the men’s wellness products and why they decided to create the line.
Read on for the full interview with the guys at Pure for Men.
How did you get your start in the supplement business?
Pure for Men founders Naaman Esquivel, Lawrence Johnson, and Fabian Prado (L to R)
Photo courtesy of Pure for Men
Lawrence: We considered ourselves serial entrepreneurs during our high school years by selling anything from candy to music CDs. When we were sophomores in college, we came up with the idea that anal sex needed to be clean and worry-free. Google was less than 5 years old at the time and didn’t have a lot of tips on how to stay clean. We were trying to figure out how porn stars were able to have anal sex with no issues.
One piece of advice we were given was to get more fiber in your diet. Back in 2003, we didn’t know much about marketing or promotion and there certainly wasn’t anything marketed to gay men in terms of sexual health and preparation.
We eventually created an early version of the Pure for Men website and sold one product which was a trial packet of a fiber supplement. Nothing really happened so we moved on into the world of start-ups in the tech industry. We learned all about start-ups, incubators, and how to market and promote products. We then applied our start-up knowledge and revisited the fiber product. A fiber recipe was developed and tested and we came up with a proprietary blend of soluble and insoluble fibers to help flush out your system and stay ready.
Once the formula was set, Fabian started marketing and promoting the product on social media. The fiber supplement quickly became a hit.
How do you approach the stigma of identifying as a top, bottom, or versatile?
Fabian: We were new to the market and in 2015, there was a stigma about talking about gay sex and being a bottom when it came to the gay community. There was a lot of bottom shaming. We had to rely on sex workers to launch and promote the product because they had a large social media following and because viewers knew what their job was and what positions they were in the videos. It was easy for them to engage with their followers and get them to share information about the product. After a time the taboo and stigma of being a bottom faded away. We came up with the slogans “Stay Ready” and “Bottom with Confidence” as more of an empowerment to the gay community and wear it with a badge of honor.
All of a sudden, there was user-generated content with people posting images of themselves holding the product saying “I stay ready.” The brand is about confidence and sex but it also makes you feel good. You’re regular, you feel lighter, and not bloated. It’s not just for bottoms, it’s also for anyone looking for a plant-based product that is safe for everyday use. I
Lawrence: When we first kicked this off, there were no content restrictions on social media and they decided to make a big splash. One of their first ads was “clean sheets, zero stains” and we were spotlighting the problem people wanted to be solved. Once the algorithms were updated, they needed to be more tongue-in-cheek.
Is the majority of your customer base gay or queer men?
Fabian: Yes, we launched Pure for Men in the beginning and we had some feedback from the trans community stating they could also benefit from the product so we developed and created Pure for Her. Also, at the same time, gay men talk to their best girlfriends and by word of mouth, a lot of straight women use the product too. Our market has always been anyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella but straight people also benefit from the product.
What is the Reset supplement?
Joe: I tried the Reset supplement and it works. Maybe a little too well. My husband is diabetic and the medicine messes with his body. It makes him bloated, constipated, and uncomfortable. I gave him the detox pills and told him to use them. They worked great for him too.
Fabian: There are people that we have worked with where certain medications make them feel nauseous and woozy. There is an HIV medication that makes people feel nauseous and if you take Pure for Men, it will help make it feel better. If you suffer from diarrhea, it can help and that’s why we say it’s not just for bottoms. It’s for anyone and just makes you feel better. Fun fact: only 18% of men get enough fiber in their diet and the majority of men are walking around not getting enough fiber in their diet.
Lawrence: The Stay Ready fiber supplement should be a daily ritual. It’s like the gas going into your tank. The Reset is like an oil change. After the weekend, or Thanksgiving meals and you feel bloated and full, you need to hit the reset button. Incorporating the two into your diet will deliver a good experience if your a bottom or taking too much protein, or just want better movement.
Can we talk about the Bum Balm and Body Scrub?
Fabian: I love both products. The scrub is just for full-body exfoliation. People can suffer from butt acne or stretch marks. It helps to exfoliate and keep clean. Removes scents and you feel fresh and rejuvenated.
When it comes to the butt balm, it helps to keep it moisturized and deodorized, and clean throughout the day. Say you’re going out dancing and you’re going to be in a jock, this will help keep you from getting musty and stinky. It helps keep it fresh. We call it a bum balm but you can use it anywhere. You can use it on your hair, as a deodorant, and on your balls. It is made with food-grade material and it is safe to consume.
What are some of the other products in the line?
Fabian: The Vitamin C Serum is great. There is another product called Hydrating Gel Toner and works great. I’ve put it on my shoulders when I’ve had too much sun. It’s a cooling sensation and works really well.
The multivitamin gummies have an extra dose of biotin which is why we call it the Beauty Boost. Biotin is great for hair, nails, and skin. It tastes good too. The reason for the product is we wanted supplements that were more universal and not just considered for bottoms and sexual cleanliness. Every man needs a good multivitamin.
The bidet is a natural progression and you can never go back to life before a bidet. It’s life-changing. We rounded out our line with a bidet. The cool aspect is you can control the angle and the pressure of the water flow. We’re in the business of cleanliness and clean bums.
Lawrence: We took a weekend trip in Texas and one of the rooms had a bidet installed in it. After using it for a weekend, realize how much cleaner you can walk around. I couldn’t believe how I would go to the bathroom and wipe and go about my day. The bidet experience is just so much cleaner. You use it long enough, it’s harder to go without.
Our approach is to find out how we can make what people are buying better, more convenient, or more affordable. If you’re a friend or family member of mine, you’re getting a bidet as a gift.
What made you decide to use the name Pure for Men? There seems there would be some controversy as far as gender identity. What do you do about DEI?
Lawrence: We’ve had heavy discussions about topics such as representations of race and the models in our social media posts. As gay men’s products went, there were blue-eyed blonde-haired unrealistically amazing bodies with a lot of unobtainable features that were not reflective of our customer base, the country, or the world as a whole. Thankfully as a result of our discussions, we always yield to what’s right. We reflect the world we want to see through the ads we create. The company name dates itself. The imagery we came up with was clean, fresh, pure. The name Pure for Men basically manifested itself. It was natural sounding.
Over time, our first hiccup wasn’t just the trans community saying hey, I am a woman and I want to use your product but I don’t feel right having a bottle of Pure for Men in my cabinet. It was also women who are straight, or not, that liked our product but the pills were like horse pills so we created a smaller version of the same formula so they are easier to swallow. That is how we learned to adjust to the world that’s coming. We’ve done surveys and roundtable discussions on how we can improve our products without being unrecognizable to existing customers but also be mindful of new ones.
Fabian: I think there’s also the side that men will see the product and feel that ‘this is a product for me.’ We don’t want to alienate the community that got us to where we are but at the same time, we need to adjust and acknowledge there is a broader community within that we need to recognize.
We all know what water-based lube is, but can you tell me about the coconut lube?
Lawrence: The coconut lube is all vegan and it's amazing. I am a lifelong silicone lube user but it can get your sheets messy. Silicone lube has a better sensation and experience than water-based. The coconut lube is so great, I haven’t used silicone in such a long time. This coconut lube is the best of both worlds. It tastes amazing, smells great, and there’s no friction. It’s the best.
What’s Next for Pure for Men and Team?
Fabian: We do have some projects in the works that we’re really excited about and are along the lines of cleanliness, but not necessarily supplements.
Lawrence: Our mission has always been to make sure our products are helpful to bodies in the long run.
Pure for Men available at CVS Pharmacies
Photo courtesy of Pure for Men
While it may seem a bit unnerving to chat with a group of men you just met about sex products, sexual health, and general health supplements overall, it’s a conversation that needs to happen, and it needs to happen more often. The LGBTQ+ community is doing a better job of discussing once-taboo topics and opening up about not only sexual health but mental health as well.
To find out more about the Pure for Men or the Pure for Her line, visit the Pure for Men website or check your nearest CVS store to see if they carry the line. If they don’t, ask them to immediately. You won’t regret it.
Club Skirts presents The Dinah — the annual music festival and pool party weekend and the largest lesbian event worldwide — is taking over Palm Springs from September 21st through the 25th.
Now celebrating its 31st year, the star-studded weekend will kick off a five-day party known to draw in upwards of 15,000 women from around the world.
This year, for the first time ever, the event will take place in Palm Springs’ most iconic hotel, The Margaritaville — formerly The Riviera — famous in the ’60s for its role as celebrity central, drawing the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr., and Sonny and Cher.
Photo courtesy of The Dinah
“I think it is definitely a rite of passage and a bucket list item,” said Mariah Hanson, ”and it’s a beacon in a way. I think that what we create there is so magical and so inspiring that you hear about it and you want to be a part of it because it’s life-changing.”
Hanson explained that the magic is intentional. She said along with her staff, they set to produce an event that is diverse, welcoming, and life-changing.
“We create a world for five days where people are united by the common theme of just acceptance and diversity and living in a world you want to live in,” Hanson said.
Hanson said she is proud to offer what she says is one of the “most diverse, inclusive, celebratory events.” She said The Dinah recognizes that our community is very diverse, and she wants everyone to feel welcome.
The festival includes various performances by nationally-renowned recording artists, massive pool parties with world-famous DJs and go-go dancers, red carpet events with celebrity guests and musicians, and meet-and-greets with lesbian celebrities.
The Dinah pool party
Photo courtesy of The Dinah
While in previous years, the Dinah events centered mostly on pool parties, the Dinah of the past decade has flawlessly amped up the pool parties, while also simultaneously becoming an enormous music festival, drawing in huge superstar artists over recent years, such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Chaka Khan, Meghan Trainor, Iggy Azalea, Eve, Salt ‘N Pepa and more, many of them while they were just on the cusp of hitting the big-time.
Hanson explained that she has a formula, a set of ever-changing criteria, that she uses to book acts. She has a knack for finding artists to perform at the Dinah who is on the cusp of enormous stardom.
“My favorite example is Lizzo, who headlined the Sunday afternoon pool party in 2017,” said Hanson. “Nobody really knew who she was, and she’s a major star now. No one will ever see her in that small of a venue.”
Hanson has another incredible all-female entertainment line-up again this year.
“I’m excited to offer the lineup we have. I think it’s powerful. It’s almost all queer except Taylor Dane, but she’s welcome because she’s so cool!” said Hanson.
Taylor Dane, 80s pop icon, is taking over the stage at Friday night’s Black & White Ball and is bringing her full band for a special Dinah performance. The GRAMMY-nominated powerhouse’s groundbreaking debut single "Tell It to My Heart" turned her into an overnight star in 1987. She followed the smash hit with 17 Top 20 singles including “Love Will Lead You Back.” Co-headlining Friday night is a breakout hip-hop artist, Haviah Mighty, who is poised to follow the footsteps of Lady Gaga, Bebe Rexha, Iggy Azalea, and Lizzo. She is the first Black woman to win the Polaris Music Prize.
On Saturday night’s Hollywood Party, Fletcher, one of the most electrifying queer artists to burst onto the scene, takes center stage. The GLAAD-nominated artist has a slew of hit singles including “Undrunk”, “Bitter”, “girls girls girls”, and “Cherry.” Her new single “Her Body is Bible” is out now and her debut album is being released this month.
“You don’t want to miss any of these acts,” Hanson said.
Club Skirts The Dinah pool party
Photo courtesy of The Dinah
All of the weekend’s pool parties, night parties, and concerts will take place at the Margaritaville. The opening and closing parties will both be held at AsiaSF, a new hotspot to both kick-start and close the weekend.
Hanson said she is excited for the Dinah this year and hopes it will, as always, be an amazing experience for all who attend.
Hanson said her message for attendees, other than to pace themselves, is always the same.
“Don’t be afraid to meet new people. Don’t be afraid to reach out and share your stories and listen to other people's stories because there’s people from all over the world coming.”
Hanson negotiated some great rates with the host hotel, Margaritaville, and it currently has a waiting list. Email email@example.com to get the Dinah discount and to add your name to the waiting list.
For more information and for tickets, please visit The Dinah.
Chances are you have never heard of Janae Kroc who was born Matthew Raymond Kroczaleski, the transgender subject of the award-winning documentary Transformer. Janae is a former Marine who made a name for herself (as Matt) as a competitive powerlifter and bodybuilder. In 2009, she set the male world record in the 220-pound weight class with 2,551 pounds. And while she’s not as powerful as she used to be (in the physical sense at least), she can still squash you like a bug. For instance, in 2017 while 18 months into her estrogen therapy, Janae lifted 210 pounds for 10 reps and deadlifted 605 pounds.
Janae Kroc and her weightlifting medal
Recently, she has accelerated her transition from male to female, an evolution a decade-plus in the making, which has come with its own set of challenges.
Speaking with Janae, she opened up about the discrimination she has faced since coming out, including how the bodybuilding community has both shunned and embraced her. She also discussed raising three well-adjusted, supportive sons (she and their mother divorced as a result of her coming out), the long, costly road to gender-reassignment surgery, and how some burdens weigh more than any barbell she’s ever touched.
Janae – as Matt, you were a world champion powerlifter, badass bodybuilder, and a spokesperson for dietary supplement brand MuscleTech. You revealed in Transformer, which screened at Miami’s OUTshine Film Festival, that you lost the latter gig after coming out as transgender. How did that happen?
Kroc: MuscleTech actually found out that I was transgender several months before I was outed publicly. They had been sent some old pictures from my Facebook page, which was private at the time, and called me to ask if it was true. I immediately confirmed that I was in fact transgender and had been very open about it for years. They told me they were having a board meeting concerning this and would let me know their decision in a few days.
When they contacted me again they were very clear that the reason they were letting me go was because of my being transgender. They immediately pulled all of my content from their websites and media advertising, canceled all of my scheduled appearances for the remainder of the year, and informed me they would not be renewing my contract. They stated that while they were very happy with the job I had done for them over the previous eight years and really liked me as a person they felt that it would be very bad PR for them and it would hurt sales, especially overseas in the more conservative cultures.
What’s your take on this, and is there any recourse for what amounts to blatant discrimination?
Kroc: While this was clearly discrimination and I would have been protected under Canadian law had I chosen to pursue legal action (MuscleTech is based in Toronto), the job I was hired to do for them was very different than most. They had hired me solely to represent their products and to be one of the faces of their company. That was my job for them and what they were paying me to do. Even though I was shocked, and I felt they made a very poor decision, the way I saw this was that if they didn’t want their company represented by a transgender person then that was their prerogative. I do feel that they missed a huge opportunity to do the right thing and that this will come back to haunt them in the future, but I chose not to pursue legal action against them.
Do you feel like Matt is a separate person from Janae?
Kroc: I see Matt as simply a part of who I am. All of the traits I possessed as Matt that allowed me to achieve the things I did are still within me. Matt was simply a limited version of who I am; he was just a portion of who I am today. I will say that there are certainly differences between Matt and Janae, and my reactions to certain situations are markedly different now than they would have been in the past, but I still don’t view him as a separate person. I still lived through all of those experiences and they helped shape me into the person I am today. I see my current self as the evolution of who I am, and I am still evolving all the time.
You came out to your three boys when they were young, and they’re each very well adjusted to your transition. That, for me, was probably the best part of Transformer – seeing how they interact with and accept you as you are. But have they always been so accepting? Were there any times when they pushed back, and how did you overcome that?
Kroc: Everyone is always shocked to hear this, but it is the absolute truth: They have always been 100% supportive and accepting of who I am. Since I told them at such a young age, they had not yet been conditioned by society to view being transgender as a bad thing, so to them, it was just another aspect of who I am. And since I never demonstrated any shame or gave them any reason to view it negatively, they have never had any reason to see it as something bad.
You revealed yourself as Janae to your mom for the first time in the documentary, and naturally, she was anxious about it. I read on your Instagram, though, that she actually decided on your female name. I’m guessing you asked her to do that. Did that help her along her path to acceptance?
Kroc: The truth is my mom didn’t actually pick my name per se, but she did have a hand in helping me to decide on Janae. Janae was the name my mom had picked for me had I been born female. She told me that when I was a child and it always stuck with me. I thought it was a pretty name and unique, so when the time came to decide on a new name, Janae was the obvious choice for me.
Janae Kroc and her WPO 1st Place medal
You touched briefly on your sexual orientation in the film, expressing that you’re still attracted to women but open to dating a man. Can you explain that?
Kroc: Like my gender identity, my sexual orientation is somewhat blurry. I have always been very attracted to women and still am. I have never really found men attractive, but as a woman, it does feel very natural to be in the feminine role with a man. I am open to dating whomever I feel a strong connection to, and it really has more to do with who they are as a person than their gender or genitals.
If I may be more personal, has your hormone regimen affected to which gender you’re more or less attracted?
Kroc: They did not have any effect on who I am attracted to, although my body and self-perception have changed; the idea of dating men has become a more realistic possibility. As a male, I had no interest in men whatsoever but as a woman, I am at least open to the idea.
In the film, you talked about how cost-prohibitive gender reassignment surgery is. Where are you at in the transition process?
Kroc: For the average adult trans woman to fully transition, it can often cost up to $100,000, and for trans men, even more. Personally, I have already spent $70,000 to $80,000, and I am still not finished. I am in the process of scheduling my bottom surgery right now and hope to get that done as soon as possible, but realistically it will probably be at least late this year or early next year before I am able to make that happen. Fortunately, more and more insurances in the United States are covering transgender surgeries and I really hope that trend continues.
As far as other procedures go, I am definitely going to look more into hair transplant surgery as not having to wear a wig would be huge for me. With my active lifestyle and love for the water, wigs just aren’t practical, and without one on it becomes very difficult for me to present as female with my very short and very thin hair. I am still very interested in breast augmentation surgery, but as long as I remain very muscular it is difficult to achieve a natural look so for now I am holding off on that.
Post-bodybuilding career, what are your goals now?
Kroc: As far as my training is concerned I still want to remain muscular and strong but lean and not quite as big as I was previously. I still waffle somewhat about whether or not to drop a significant amount of weight and transition into a more “athletic look” but for now that is on hold.
In regard to my overall life, I hope to continue speaking publicly about transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues we face. I also hope to continue empowering women, especially those that are interested in pursuing strength sports and do my best to promote equality as an intersectional feminist. Professionally, I hope to achieve enough financial independence to allow me to pursue those goals full-time.
When I speak to die-hard New Yorker Fran Lebowitz, she is in San Francisco, having previously been in Berkeley, supposed to go to Palm Springs for its Book Festival, canceled due to Covid, moving on to Salt Lake City, and beyond...tour dates are here.
Lebowitz is a public intellectual, a cultural commentator, a pop culture pundit, and a very loquacious lesbian. I mean, people pay to watch her talk. What is that?
Well, what that is, is: A woman whose delivery is dryer than a dry martini in the Atacama Desert; a woman who, in a digital world populated by an infinite number of influencers, talking heads, and scripted video idiots reads books and has thoughts and opinions on everything; a woman who will always choose the analog over the digital (that iPhone software download you're about to accept is capitalism and it is nefarious). I was told to call Lebowitz in her hotel room on her landline. In a harbinger interview (and who can say she was wrong?), check out her early disgust for digital watches here. Here's our conversation.
You are a metropolitan sophisticate, and I see you gigging at all these "smaller cities," you're headed to Scottsdale, how does it feel to go to these places, none of which are New York City? What do they do for you?
Fran Lebowitz: I go to them because I have speaking dates. You know, I don't go to them because I'm an anthropologist. I just spoke to someone from Bellingham, Washington, and to her, San Francisco is a big city. I mean, it's a city, but it's not that big.
Do you ever find these places give you a new outlook. Or you look back on New York in a different way with fresh eyes?
Lebowitz: No, actually, no, I never feel like, Why don't I live in Bellingham, Washington? I never feel that. I'm always happy to get back to New York.
OK, so how about LGBTQ people? Do you feel the word queer encompasses all of us? Are you for it or against it? And where do you stand on dismantling the gender binary?
Lebowitz: I know that lots of people become incredibly incensed over these things one way or the other. But, you know, people should be called whatever they want to be called. It doesn't matter to me one way or the other. When someone tells you something like this about themselves, they're telling you how they feel. So if someone tells me how they feel, I believe them—how would I know how they feel? I mean, if someone tells me they have a headache, I don't say, No, you don't. The thing that does bother me, is using the words 'they' to refer to a single person. This bothers me because the word 'they,' it means something else. You know, in English, it means more than one person. Not that anyone's going to do what I would like, but I would like people to come up with a different word. You know, I'm old enough to remember when people wanted to use the word Ms. instead of Miss or Mrs., and people went insane over this, 'You can't pronounce it. It's impossible.' Of course, now everyone uses it. But it didn't mean something else. Well, it meant manuscript. But not many people knew that. ... So I wish they would find a new singular and that would convey the same thing they're trying to convey, but didn't also mean something else. I have no expectation people will do this.
The AIDS epidemic, which saw a loss of life and so many smart people, a whole generation of gay men, many of whom were artists—you called them the "knowing audience," which I think is such a great phrase. And I feel that this group of people is is getting smaller and smaller—sophisticated people. Are we becoming more stupid?
Lebowitz: One thing you can always do in this country is rely on the stupidity of the population.
But not all Americans.
Lebowitz: Not all. But we know for a fact, at least half. And that's a lot.
Martin Scorsese Presents | Pretend It’s A City | Official Trailer | Netflix youtu.be
OK, let's talk about lesbians. I know you identify as a lesbian. Why is it so hard to have a lesbian relationship?
Lebowitz: For me, it's not hard... I don't believe there's such a thing as a 'lesbian relationship' any more than there's such a thing as a straight relationship. It depends on the people. You know, I know that there are a lot of cliches about lesbians and in lots of ways they are true because that's where cliches come from. I have lived alone my entire life. And that is a tremendous accomplishment for a lesbian. So that, you know, I know this domestic life — I don't want to live with anyone and I never have. The 'no patience' I used to have I don't have anymore so, you know, if that's what you're looking for in life, I would be very bad at that, I've always said that I'm terrible girlfriend. I am a terrible girlfriend. You know, I never am faithful to people, I'm just not that kind of person. From the point of view of the majority of people, it's much easier now. I mean, first of all, when I was younger, it was against the law. You know, this is something people don't seem to know at all. It's not that they just don't remember it—they don't even know that was the case. And certainly it's a lot easier now. Out of the many problems that lesbians have, the problem is that they're women.
Do you believe in astrology?
Then you wouldn't agree that you're a Scorpio.
Lebowitz: Oh I am a Scorpio. I know that because you can look it up in any newspaper article. I mean, you know, my birthday's October 27th and whenever people ask me, what my astrology sign or whatever it's called is, I always say Scorpio, and they always say I knew it. So, you know, obviously, whatever that is supposed to mean, it conforms to what people think about it. But I myself don't believe in it.
Why do you think feminism keeps failing?
Lebowitz: Because of men, I mean, it's pretty simple. By the way, there's been lots of progress. And I mean the difference between being, say, a girl when I was a girl and then being a girl now is immense in that it is a billion times better and it's probably the most tremendous progress you could imagine. For it to succeed what people mean is, when will the inequality between men and women be over? Never. That will never happen, Covid will be over before that happens. So that will never happen. People waiting for that? Take up another occupation. That will actually never happen. You know, it's much better. But it's never going to be good.
I really admire your friendship with Martin Scorsese. And I would like to call him a lesbro, I think there are straight guys that make excellent friends for lesbians. Why do you get on with him so well?
Lebowitz: I don't know the nature of my friendship with Marty, you know, the two things we did together, Pretend It's a City and Public Speaking, people ask about it a lot. I really don't know. Additionally, neither Marty nor I remember where we met, and we both agree that it must have been a party because where else would I have met him? I certainly didn't know Marty in the '70s so it must have been in the early '80s. I did notice, at a certain point, that whenever I would see Marty at a party, we would spend the whole night talking together. Strong friendships in a way have some of the better qualities of romance, which is: you don't really know why you like that person that much. It's some kind of chemical thing. I mean, I guess we really enjoy each other's company. I can give you a lot of reasons why it's really great to be friends with Marty. I don't think that really describes it. There's something like, really not discoverable about it.
Fran Lebowitz has had writer's block since the '90s but she's talking up a storm all across the country
I believe you've had writer's block since the 1990s. What's the trouble?
Lebowitz: If I knew, the books would be finished. So I can't answer this question, which is asked very frequently. And like anything else that's broken, if you knew, you'd fix it. So I don't know.
But you're a prolific public intellectual, and you were inspired by James Baldwin and the way he brought critical thinking into the public space with eloquence and a sense of profound (in)justice. What are your thoughts on what's happened here the past few years?
Lebowitz: Well, I mean, it certainly is not the worst time of American racism. We did have slavery in this country. So I mean, it is not the worst time, it's just that because of the Internet that people paid attention this last time around. In other words, like the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Black people by cops is every second in this country, it's all the time. But we didn't have movies of it before. It's something that I believe escaped the attention of most white people. But Black people know about it. ... This has always been the case in this country. ... It is the responsibility of all people to make it better but unfortunately ... half the country voted for Donald Trump [and] the appeal of Donald Trump as a politician, in my opinion, was racism pure and simple. This is an ongoing thing in this country. I know it exists in other countries, but this country is built on the crime of slavery. We live in a country where it is better to be racist than to call someone a racist.
Public Speaking - Conversation w/ Fran Lebowitz (HBO) youtu.be
Do you think he's coming back, Donald Trump or are we done with him?
Lebowitz: I don't think he'll run again for office. I don't. But before the election of 2016, I spent the year prior to that election during the entire campaign going around the whole country, telling literally thousands of people 'He has zero chance of winning' because I believed that, so I was incredibly, horribly wrong. So, I don't think he's going to run again. And that is not my major concern. And by the way, if you hate Donald Trump and all that he stands for, he doesn't have to run again. He has invented this cult around him. Whoever runs as a Republican will be at least as bad as Donald Trump, even if it is not Donald Trump himself.
As we go through these events, as we get older, what can keep us positive and able to deal with life's losses?
Lebowitz: I'm not an expert on the subject. Of course, I have had many, many friends who died and my parents died and many other relatives died. But, you know, I've never missed anyone as much as I missed Toni Morrison. That is for sure. Not a day has gone by since Toni died that I don't think about her or she hasn't come up in some way.
What is one of the good things about being gay and getting older?
Lebowitz: Well, I actually think that not having children is great until you're old. I took care of both my parents and I always say to my friends, My problem is going to be that I do not have the wonderful, perfect daughter I was. So I think the time to have children is when you're older. Here's my dream: Someone knocks at my door. I open the door. There's a 30 year old standing there and I say, 'Who are you?' And they say, 'Hi, I'm your son. The lovely, winning cardiologist. I'm here to take care of you.' So this is the time have children, by the way, not when you're young and having fun and everything is at stake. I don't want to take care of them. I want them to take care of me.
Tickets to the Scottsdale event here.