Talk Hole: Pride & Prejudice
Talk Hole is the bi-weekly spoken column of New York’s alt-comedy darlings Eric Schwartau and Steven Phillips-Horst, offering their oracular powers of cultural analysis on all corners of the zeitgeist (high, low, top, bottom). From a call in Brooklyn, Schwartau and P-H (as Steven is lovingly referred) prove talk is chic and drop references to hot trends, hotter temperatures, and scalding political debates. This time around, Talk Hole perfects its Kamala Harris impersonation and prepare themselves to be banished from Fire Island.
SCHWARTAU: Damn, this traffic!
P-H: What a thrill to be writing the world’s first vehicular column.
SCHWARTAU: I’d like people to know I’m the one driving, so I’m only half-paying attention.
P-H: I’d like people to know that I’m the passenger/stenographer because I’m the bottom/secretary.
SCHWARTAU: I’m letting our readers know that we’re driving to Fire Island for the day—
P-H: —the most exclusive, cancel-worthy enclave in the tri-gay area. I’m not sure they want us.
SCHWARTAU: *Kamala voice* “Do not come. Do not come.”
P-H: Will our readers get that reference?
SCHWARTAU: We follow Kamala very closely in this column.
P-H: We’re tailgating her.
SCHWARTAU: But it’s hard to keep up with all her walking.
P-H: Luckily we’re gay, so we gallop.
SCHWARTAU: As daytrippers, we have to move fast.
P-H: I’m glad I was able to secure our tourist visas at the Pride Consulate.
SCHWARTAU: Everyone on Fire Island is nice until you try and crash the night—then suddenly it’s “back to where you came from!”
PH: If you want to stay, you have to pay.
SCHWARTAU: Another Kamala quote.
P-H: I feel like Joe would be fine with us crashing on the couch.
SCHWARTAU: Dad likes to hear the pitter-patter of gay footsteps rushing around the pool in the middle of the night. It makes his empty nest feel full again.
P-H: Just be careful of the nails poking out of the rotting cedar deck.
SCHWARTAU: I love that when Trump was using “anti-immigrant” rhetoric as a deterrent, liberals couldn’t understand that he was… using speech as a deterrent.
P-H: Right. But when Kamala says “do not come!”, they’re like “oh that deterrent? I love that deterrent.”
SCHWARTAU: Pride month is a great deterrent to immigration actually.
P-H: Yeah, who wants to move to a country where everyone is forcibly queer? Where the coffee comes with unicorn creamer and even straight guys have to call their wives their “partner.” Don’t get me started on the poor pride flag.
SCHWARTAU: It’s starting to look like a barcode.
P-H: Scan the pride flag for 20% off your next Boy Smells™ candle.
SCHWARTAU: QR code actually stands for Queer Representation code.
P-H: LGBTQRCODE+ is the new community acronym.
SCHWARTAU: It makes sense that the flag is a QR code now, because being gay is now a menu.
P-H: Pick your pronoun, gender, sexuality, mental health issue, disability…
SCHWARTAU: I’ll start with some he/they, followed by the non-monogamous vers/bottom for my main.
P-H: For dessert, we’ll share the ADHD.
SCHWARTAU: I’m ace after I jerk off. Ok, me saying that out loud is my mental health issue.
P-H: Talking about jacking off is a leading side effect of Vyvanse.
SCHWARTAU: As someone who identifies as having commitment issues, I like the idea of a pride flag that’s always changing. These colors do run.
P-H: Being non-committal is definitely very gay, so I appreciate the conceptual rigor there. I’m just not sure the “community” needs to act like a sovereign nation with an official flag. It’s the liberal institution-worship of it all—everything needs to be laminated, codified, legalized, pasteurized, approved by committee, stamped by Ellen, 3D-Printed by Pfizer’s Board of Queerectors. Can’t a symbol just be a symbol? Can’t a vibe just be a vibe?
SCHWARTAU: You know what, Steven? I think it’s boring to shit on the pride flag continually.
P-H: I’m sure the scat community is lobbying for that.
SCHWARTAU: The queer flag needs some stains on it.
P-H: “It’s just coffee, I swear! I was enjoying breakfast in bed.”
SCHWARTAU: I feel like Big Flag is actually behind these continual updates because they realize they can sell more flags. Not to mention every new sexual identity comes with a full merch line. I can’t be the only one seeing dollar signs here.
P-H: And you can’t spell Big Flag without f-a-g.
SCHWARTAU: I think the next symbol they add to the flag should represent the Second Gentleman—an instantly canonical queer role.
P-H: I mean, the word “gentleman” alone. Very Oscar Wilde.
SCHWARTAU: Doug Harris is a trailblazer. To be a supportive husband is wildly queer in our society.
P-H: Doug Harris threw the first modeling contract at Ella Emhoff.
SCHWARTAU: Speaking of corporate law, I wanted to say… I kinda feel bad for corporations this year.
P-H: I agree. Everyone demands that companies virtue signal then gets mad when they paint the ATMs purple in honor of our bisexual financestors.
SCHWARTAU: Leave corporations alone! They need their own pride month to balance it out.
P-H: September could be Corporate Pride Month! That feels very businesslike. Back to school, back to work.
SCHWARTAU: I guess the question is: if people are mad at “June-washing”—
P-H: Ooo, I love their hard kombucha.
SCHWARTAU: What is the corporate strategy for being gay all year? How does identity become weaponized for profit every month?
P-H: The same way individuals do it: find new ways to be oppressed.
SCHWARTAU: Pepsi needs to come out as non-binary.
P-H: The Pepsi logo does look like Demi Lovato’s haircut.
SCHWARTAU: Drinking Pepsi has been linked to pansexuality but they don’t know whether it’s correlation or causation.
P-H: Either way it’s increasing market share.
SCHWARTAU: I think you mean market-Cher. Sorry, just spitballing for our Pepsi year-long pride campaign.
P-H: I think declaring one’s pronouns is only relevant because we live in a social media age, where we see ourselves through the eyes of the other. In olden times, policing how people refer to you in the third person wouldn’t matter—because you wouldn’t have known! It doesn’t happen in normal conversation. You weren’t constantly refracted through Instagram reposts and open mic introductions, or having articles written about your social media activism in various fake magazines with names like Snooze, or Dump, or Interview.
SCHWARTAU: Did you ghostwrite Chimamanda’s viral letter? Because this sounds familiar.
P-H: I ghost-read it in an incognito window so I wouldn’t get any more Joe Rogan ads, does that count?
SCHWARTAU: Ok, but in that letter Chimamanda says that people “hijack your story and soon, their false version becomes the defining story about you.” I feel like pronouns are this way to take control of your narrative before anyone can project one onto you.
P-H: I’m not gonna say you can’t control what people think of you by posting an overlong Instagram caption—I just don’t think it elicits the result you want.
SCHWARTAU: I feel like they/them is also used to invoke a higher power—kind of like Dr.—you have an advanced degree in your own interiority. We are divine, exploding brain beings vibrating with the world, not serfs staring at the dirt floor.
P-H: Yeah, we’re staring at our phones. Enlightenment is a liquid crystal display.
SCHWARTAU: And lots of therapy.
P-H: Therapy is for navel-gazing asexuals who can’t handle erotic tension. That’s why I go to analysis, where the only goal is fucking your therapist.
SCHWARTAU: My therapist kept using the word “fuck” the other day—it was making me nervous. Anyways, pronouns may indeed be a fad but non-binary has always been a thing. Gender presentation is always shifting so non-conforming just means you’re ahead or behind the curve.
P-H: True. Nero wore dresses.
SCHWARTAU: He had a Telfar amphora.
P-H: If you want to change the way people think about you, change the way you look. Get top surgery. Get surgery to become a top. Experiment with all the government-approved hues in the James Charles x Chobani x DARPA eyeshadow palette.
SCHWARTAU: Some people don’t have the time or money to put into their gender presentation. I feel like people shouldn’t be misgendered just because they didn’t want to put on eyeliner.
P-H: My pronouns are la/zy.
SCHWARTAU: I need to have my pronoun-ciation in bio. People’s names typically get mistaken more than their genders.
P-H: Do you know how many people send me professional emails addressed to “Stephen?” I’ve had to get a second analyst just to unpack the trauma.
SCHWARTAU: I love all these corporations telling their employees to express their identity through sexuality while the workplace itself gets more and more sexless.
P-H: Hmm, I’m not sure the workplace has ever been that sexy. Do you think the offices of yore were rife with horniness? Was everyone hot and bothered in the soot-covered factories of Kent—boners bashing into copper pipes, jacking off into their lunch pails after they finished their offal?
SCHWARTAU: Ok, now I’ll return to the office.
P-H: No kink at work!
SCHWARTAU: Work is basically kindergarten or jail now. No wonder everyone wants to stay home. At Amazon corporate it’s girlboss managers cleaning up after dev team bedwetters during nap time, meanwhile down at the warehouse they throw you in an Amazen solitary confinement booth if your Alexa anklet says your heart rate is too low.
P-H: Well my Alexanklet would tell you I’ve been going to the gym regularly.
SCHWARTAU: Worried I’m going to be apprehended when we get to Fire Island for not working out enough.
P-H: They’re detaining bears at the ferry.
SCHWARTAU: They’re going to turn me into a coat.
P-H: We’ll get to Cruella in a second.
SCHWARTAU: We need to talk about the mayor’s race. I feel like the ranked choice thing is really turning this into Drag Race.
P-H: Candidates, start your engines. And may the person no one likes—win!
SCHWARTAU: We need a Mayor’s Race: All-Stars season. Guiliani, LaGuardia, Koch. All the fan favorites.
P-H: LaGuardia was very short. I think he’d struggle in runway.
SCHWARTAU: LaGuardia always struggles with runway.
P-H: The category is… “delayed on the tarmac.”
SCHWARTAU: Do we think “Mayor” feels a little gendered for 2021?
P-H: What about Mayx?
SCHWARTAU: Sounds like an exotic big cat. Be very careful if you see a mayx in the wild.
P-H: Only approach them on alternate side parking day.
SCHWARTAU: Should we talk about Kathryn Garcia being a lesbian?
P-H: Is she a lesbian or is she just the garbage commissioner?
SCHWARTAU: There’s potential overlap there.
P-H: I hear she’s a bit conservative. As you know I’m voting for Stringer out of pure self-interest, because I used to work for him and it’s always good to be friends with the mayor.
SCHWARTAU: I actually am very passionate about trash so I’m tempted to go with Garcia but then my friend told me she was responsible for the “rat proof” garbage compactors with the handle that you have to touch. My point is, I don’t want to touch a trash can.
P-H: Doesn’t sound like you’re that passionate about trash then.
SCHWARTAU: More in theory than in practice. I’m fascinated by the trash-treasure dichotomy. Like when I found a $600 dining chair on the street. Value is subjective!
P-H: Are we in Maya Wiley’s seminar at The New School?
SCHWARTAU: Speaking of trash to treasure! All Wiley needed was a fresh coat of AOC red and she’s back in the race.
P-H: AOC is the Joanna Gaines of progressives. She picks a fixer upper with good bones, adds an island and a walk-in shower—
SCHWARTAU: —and sells it to a straight Brooklyn couple experiencing gentrification guilt.
P-H: Speaking of gentrification, let’s discuss the $8.99 I paid for Disney+ and the additional $30 premium to watch Cruella.
SCHWARTAU: And three of us watched it together, so that’s about $7 per eyeball. A steal for an Emma Stone feature.
P-H: Yes, the Stone has to be imported from LA, it’s very expensive.
SCHWARTAU: A key takeaway was the movie reframing Cruella as a “genius.”
P-H: It completely jettisons the original 101 Dalmatians concept of “evil.” The cartoon version suggests a luxury-pilled diva swathed in someone else’s pets is inherently bad. That excess consumption, animal cruelty and power hunger is immoral. Cruella is very uncritical of this—her success-driven scheming is good, her wanting more creative freedom at the atelier is noble. She only becomes “evil” when she’s bitchy to her friends. It’s the same capitalist girlboss propaganda as Devil Wears Prada, and with the same slightly-off costuming, too.
SCHWARTAU: You have to love how they inserted her dalmatian revenge complex. She didn’t torture puppies, they tortured her. There’s a strong villain-as-victim narrative, which I’m into.
P-H: It also suffers from what I call “montage syndrome”—which afflicts every mainstream movie since 2014. No scene is longer than 30 seconds. There’s a wall-to-wall soundtrack. The whole thing feels like a two-hour trailer for the movie you’re already watching.
SCHWARTAU: Or an Instagram screengrab of the column you’re already reading. I guess the whole historical revisionism of the origin story feels very now. It makes me very distrustful of everything. It’s as if the people in power just make up stories that uphold the ideological structure that keeps them in power.
P-H: Like how the G7 summit had more than seven heads of state.
SCHWARTAU: You cut off one head and another one grows! Medusa vibes.
P-H: In the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s letter, “trust no bitch.”
SCHWARTAU: If you email the queen, you better not miss.
P-H: If you come for the column, you better cum a lot.
SCHWARTAU: Are you referring to our last column’s attempted cancelation?
P-H: Just when you think you’re best acquaintances with someone, they go straight to insta story and say you’re “aging disgracefully.”
SCHWARTAU: I feel like you actually can’t cancel someone for aging. I thought we were canceled for being too glib about the Israel-Palentinian conflict. Or at least that’s what my boyfriend said, which he is also canceled for.
P-H: It was actually that our criticism of Israel was anti-semitic, which is frankly ridiculous, considering I’m from one of the most Jewish surburbs of Boston. I’ve been to more Bar Mitzvahs than Jonah Hill.
SCHWARTAU: I do think having my last name in front of anything reads a little anti-semitic, so maybe that was it.
P-H: This is why I advocate for putting your name second.
SCHWARTAU: But your surname is so long, people lose interest by the time they get to mine. Phillips-Horst and …. who? I don’t care anymore.
P-H: We could make it a portmanteau. Eric and Steven Phartau.
SCHWARTAU: Speaking of Phart, I need to tell everyone about you attempting to flirt with this French Hell’s Kitchen gay on the ferry and letting out un petit toot.
P-H: Non. Arrete.
SCHWARTAU: Farting is a universal language.
P-H: The way that immediately ended the flirtation.
SCHWARTAU: It’s just Boy Smells™, Steven. Nothing to be ashamed of. French is known to loosen the bowels.
P-H: Whatever, I’m going to France for the summer and I know you’re going to miss this loose cannon!
SCHWARTAU: Poo-ella de Ville.
P-H: And she’ll take her water avec gas!
SCHWARTAU: Ok, I think the scat community has received enough representation in this column.
P-H: Joyeuse Pride, Erique!
SCHWARTAU: Excuse me, I need to use le toilet.