Here for It w/ R. Eric Thomas, #84

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

This week: Collusion de Vil shares his fashion tips! Amy Poehler's crafty new show! The return of Beyonce's braid!

You’re getting this early because I’m in Provincetown, Massachusetts starting today and I'm trying to unplug--whatever that means. I know what you’re thinking, “another vacation?!” It’s true I went away a month ago but here I am again, feet in the sand, head in a kerchief, social anxiety at an eleven. What can I say? Honey, the ice caps are melting and Thanos has all the infinity stones and my seasonal depression has been upgraded to a series regular so yes, I am once again on vacation. I have the days and if I don’t do anything else positive or healthy in my life, you can write in my obituary “Here lies a flawfree kween who used all his Personal Time Off.”

My out-of-office is activated on every single email account. I dug up the password to my old AOL just to make sure people knew that I would not be checking email (and by that I mean, I will be checking email but I have an excuse to not get back to it, unlike most times when I'm just bad at the basics of living in the modern age.)

I'm writing this aboard the Provincetown Fast Ferry. It's a predominantly gay crowd and you know how much I love visible queerness. Love it. Amend my gravestone: "Here lies a visibly queer kween who used all his Personal Time Off going places where he could hold hands in public." Buy two gravestones if it doesn't fit on one.

I've not been to Provincetown as an adult but I did go once as part of a class trip in 11th grade. Every other year, my school would take the junior/senior Marine Biology class to Woods Hole, MA. The word on the street was that the class was a lot of fun (fish are the shit; have you heard?!) and that there were a couple of free nights out in this "wild and crazy" town. The town in question was Provincetown. As a nascent homosexual, an aquarium owner, and a lifelong drama devotee, I was sold. We spent the days on whale-watching trips, beach walks, and exercises at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and most of the nights in a huge rental house on some random beach doing team-building things and whatever kids did before the invention of SnapChat. But on two nights, we were set loose in nearby Provincetown to get dinner on our own while the chaperones (I would now assume based on my own adult life) drank wine and talked about adults stuff like 401Ks and who on staff was banging.

It was the off-season, so Provincetown wasn't the bustling queer metropolis arts colony it becomes in the summer but it was still definitely queer, which shocked the hell out of me. I was very naive up until maybe 15 minutes ago so I cant' say with any certainty that I'd even heard of gay people before. I mean, I guess we all knew they existed but this was the mid-90s and we were in Baltimore and a person didn't talk about such things. To my school's credit, we had a yearly AIDS Awareness assembly in which a quartet of gay men sang songs and took questions (to this day, performing a little ditty and then hosting a Q&A for the fans is still, to my mind, the pinnacle of gay existence. Book me for all your school assemblies.) Despite my school's efforts, however, all I knew of gay men at that point is that they had blonde ponytails and could harmonize.

So, Provincetown was a shock! We ate at this outdoor restaurant where I sat under a heat lamp for the first time (STUNNING) and ordered alligator (INCREDIBLE). And then some of the more, ahem, worldly of the kids led us to an adult bookstore where we giggled at dildos and porn magazines (AN EDUCATION). Why did they let us in to this place? We sang them a couple bars and took some questions.

After the adult bookstore, we went across the street to a club where I saw my first drag queen. I was immediately, irrevocably shewk. Her name was Ginger Vitis. WORD PLAY! She had this insane mop of red hair and this gravelly voice and I hadn't yet seen The Birdcage so I honestly didn't know what to make of any of it. GENDER! WHAT IS IT AND WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?!

(I didn't take this picture but this is Ginger Vitis according to Google.)

For some reason, this bar also let a bunch of teenagers in with few-to-no questions asked. We sat down and Ginger approached one of my classmates, Lisa. Ginger held out her hand and showed off a ring, "You like my ring?" she asked Lisa. "You know what I had to do to get it?" (Oh, I should mention, the punchline is a little blue so you may want to ask any children listening to leave the room.) Anyway, Ginger paused for a moment. I wondered what kind of work was required to get a ring in Provincetown. Mining?

Finally, Ginger Vitis answered what she had to do to get her ring. Her answer: "SWALLOW."

It took me four years to get it. I was sitting in class in college one day when I looked up and screamed.

After a minute at the bar, it all became too much for me. I was a good Christian boy; I'd just come here to learn about whales (and secretly to find out what a homosexual was) (And also to learn how to harmonize). I ran away back to the bus and waiting for everyone else to get back. Another of my classmates had refused to participate in the shenanigans at all--for religious reasons--and so I found him sitting in the dark bus listening to his Walkman. "How was it?" he asked.

I turned to him, widened my eyes, and shook my head slowly. "I won't be taking questions at this time."

This week! YOU GUYS AMY POEHLER'S SHOW IS SO GOOD, Bey's braid has a brain, and Trump kept the Queen waiting then lied about it (shocker). But first!

Paul Manafort, aka Collusion de Vil, Has a $15,000 Ostrich Skin Jacket

Today, the jury learned that in addition to all of that, Manafort also dropped $15,000 on a "jacket made from an ostrich." Presumably the jury is made up of Manafort's peers, but one wonders how they were able to find 12 villains from a Joel Schumacher Batman sequel on such short notice. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Collusion de Vil's Tips For Dressing Like a Super-Innocent Criminal Mastermind

The prosecution trotted out witness after witness who had sold Manafort some bougie nonsense and I cannot get enough. All trials should also double as high-key embarrassing fashion shows. It's like if Queer Eye was just Tan rummaging through your closet shouting invective at you. Rush it into production immediately. All we need at the trial is a panel of judges giving scores after each testimony and this thing will be a hit. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Amy Poehler's Crafty New Show Will Make You Feel Better Than Anything Else on TV

What's remarkable about Making It is that what could been a rehash of a blueprint that is somehow already well-worn, instead blossoms into a creation that is the most satisfying iteration of the formula yet. [READ THE FULL ARTICLE]

Hair-lellu! Bey's Sentient Braid Returns

This braid has more life in it than most of your faves' award-winning performances. This braid moves all on its own. This braid has a license and is registered to vote. This braid will be mounting an exploratory campaign for 2020. Its slogan is "My hair journey is just beginning." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Thanks to This Congressional Candidate, I've Had to Explain Bigfoot Porn Today and I'm Not Pleased

Here's a sentence the barista definitely did not understand when I brought it up in casual conversation this morning: Olivia Wilde's mom, Leslie Cockburn, a Democratic nominee for Congress, accused Republican nominee Denver Riggleman, of being a "devotee of bigfoot erotica." [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Now Trump Is Claiming the Queen Kept Him Waiting. THE QUEEN.

The Queen. Of England. Portrayed by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman on Netflix. Stood around and waited for Donald J. Trump like she'd ordered an Uber that got turned around in a traffic circle. And then he claimed that she was the late one. Despite the fact that his arrival and their meeting were filmed and broadcast live in this temporal plane. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Random Thing on the Internet

I. LOVE. PODCASTS! My favorites, at the moment, are Still Processing, Longform, MYSTERY SHOW (FOREVER), It's Been a Minute, Las Culturistas, Code Switch, Switched on Pop, Backstory, Slow Burn, PCHH, The Moth (obvi!), Food for Thot, Invisibilia, and On Being. That's a lot. I also just got into Levar Burton Reads, in which Levar Burton reads short stories. It's amazing!

I will now take questions,