This is a transcript of an episode of Zoe’s podcast. Audio stream is at the bottom of the post. The highlighted parts are mine, and I will comment on them in a separate post…
Zoe: “So…which one up here is your favorite?”
Interviewee 1: “Uh…well…right in front of us, Jessie James.”
Z: “She’s your favorite…”
I1: “She’s one of my favorites…”
Z: “How many times have you jerked off to her?”
I1: “Five, six times?”
Z: “That’s it.”
Z: “why are you lying to me! you probably…”
Jake Sasseville: “That’s Zoe Nightingale in Las Vegas recently at a porn convention. Her popularity as a mouthy broadcaster and inquisitive interviewer is growing as several of her interviews [went] viral these past few weeks. She’s made it her mission over the past several years to hone her craft, of interviewing anyone, anywhere, at anytime about anything…”
I1: “Come again?”
Z: “Have you ever paid a woman to put a dick in your ass?”
Z: “Do you want to — should we find a girl to get a strap-on and put it in you?”
I1: “Uhhhhhhmm, not particularly, to tell the truth…”
Z: “What if it was Jessie, what if Jessie put on a strap on and fucked you in the ass? Would you let her do that?”
I1: “OF COURSE!”
Z: “Oh! Is there anything you wouldn’t let Jessie do to you?”
Z: “No. She could do anything. Tie you up like a like a luau suckling pig, covered in whipped cream, get a bunch of millipedes and squirrels and just watch you squirm and in pain??”
I1: “I will gladly do that.”
JS: “Zoe is our guest today, she’s been my friend for almost a decade. To know Zoe is to uncomfortably to get to know yourself because behind her wacky ways, there’s a humanitarian at heart who cares so deeply about people, and wants you to as well.”
Z: “When was the last time you had a girlfriend?”
I1: “A long time ago.”
Z: “Gimme a ball park, like, 10 years…?”
I1: “Yeah OK, 10 years.”
Z: “When you had a girlfriend did you like secretly sneak off to watch porn when she was sleeping?”
Z: “Did you think about porn when you were fucking her?”
I1: “It’s very sad, yes.”
Z: “There’s nothing that’s going to change, I have found my voice. It took me 30 years 1, but it was through this trial and error of literally exposing myself to the naked streets, whether it was abroad, or in drug alleys in Canada, or adult video awards, or pretending to be a Times reporter at the best in show Westminster dog conference. I’ve literally been, like, walking naked through the streets with a microphone and inviting people to come and talk to me, you know, to my betterment or to my detriment, I’ve had really intense experiences with you know, schizophrenics, suicidal…people who’ve told me secrets I needed to go to the police for.
“When you open up your Pandora’s Box you know, into the world and you say, “I want to hear your stories and your secrets,” and you share…”
JS: “Today on the Jake Sasseville show, open our own Pandora’s box with the incredibly complex yet undeniably inviting Zoe Nightingale.”
Z: “You won’t do interracial…why won’t you do interracial?”
Z: Interesting…because is it you’re secretly racist, or…?”
I2: No, I love any race? but…just not other races. I don’t like to be penetrated by the other races.”
Z: Ok, so that’s somehow not racist.”
Z: “Ok, cool, I see the difference… 2
JS: “She’s emerging as one of the voices of this generation and for women everywhere who don’t give a fuck! It’s on right now on the Jake Sasssville’s show. [not transcribed: intro to JS show]
“I first met Zoe Nightingale at a dinner party in New York city almost 10 years ago. Between her and I, we completely dominated the room ’cause I was crazy back then. Her boldness stands apart from anyone else I’ve ever met. Her intelligence makes her nearly. lethal. to people who aren’t ready for her, or like I said earlier, who aren’t ready to look at themselves.
“But her heart…it’s showing more and more these days, and it’s what makes Zoe the whole package. Throughout the show we’ll be borrowing clips from Zoe’s show to better tell her story.”
JS: “I have this image of you, this like, this persona that I think you are, and I don’t think you really are that whenever we talk.”
Z: “I mean, I’m not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment.”
JS: “That’s where I was going with it…”
Z: “Well, I, I had the curse and the benefit of being born without a filter, and I have never been able to turn on or off who I am, and that has caused me great heartache, and great success in a myriad of different ways. People really struggled with me, they struggled with me for years, and it’s always been the following things. People loved me instantly, and get it, and want to be part of it, or they’re enamored by it, or they want to fuck it, or they wanna marry it, OR…they want to destroy it, distance themselves from it.
“I think sometimes I can be a mirror to people of their own strength or insecurity, and sometimes it’s too much for people because my truth hurts, you know, and I call things as I see them and feel them. I think I was blessed and cursed with a really straight radar and barometer for bullshit and I… 3
“After, you know, I had this very very serious car accident years and years ago, and after I basically almost died, I lost any shred of shame, decency or, I just lost any inability to do what I wanted and say what I thought, because there’s no fucking time, and you literally don’t know when a truck, a literal truck, is going to hit you and almost take you off this planet. This big beautiful fucking planet of fate and destiny and chaos and laughter and sex and orgies and fun and you know, anything you want it to be. So at any moment you can be just smited, smote-ed, whatever, God can take you out with one lightning bolt just for fun, because he was bored.” 4
JS: “I was kind of curious like have you ever looked at the cause and effects of why you are the way that you are?”
Z: “Well of course I have, I’ve spent years trying to figure out how I can be more compassionate, how I can be a better version of myself, because I have really struggled with balancing how to be loving and endearing and compassionate and vulnerable with my very, very hard-headed, and almost brutal at times, sense of self.
“I really very much want to find this yin and yang balance but, often, I’m going so fast and I’m doing so many things that I just don’t have the ability anymore to ascertain what’s the proper etiquette of how to act, I just do what my heart says, what my brains says.I follow my gut. And my gut is always wrong, but somehow always right, so whatever things I’ve done that made me fail, or almost die, I’ve taken about a million wrong turns, but at the end of it there’s always been a lesson that made me figure out shit and more.
“So I think it’s really how you take the millions of cancerous lemons — dodgeballs— hurtled at you constantly throughout your life, and how you make like a beautiful fucking sangria out of it. Forget the lemonade, like how are you gonna, how are you gonna learn, and stand back up on two feet when you get knocked down, because you’ll always get knocked down, and people…especially the more successful you get, the smarter you get, the more secure you become, and the more balanced your left- and right- brain, the more congruent your right- and left-brain become, the more logical, the more creative you become as you get older and you find all these ways to really get down to the grit of who you are, and who you wanna be, and not just bullshit Facebook…amorphous two-dimensional version of yourself, the real-life flesh and blood human being, who that is…?
“Once you figure that out, people hate you, you know, they really do. The more confident, the more secure you become, the more people wanna tear you down, and so for me, I’ve found a way to only surround myself with people who build me back up and teach me more, and are better than I am, and smarter than I am. I’ve spent my life surrounding myself with brilliant people who know more, and’ve done more, and put me in my place constantly, and I think it’s within that challenge that you find this beautiful ability to come out of your cocoon more and more every day.” 5
JS: “I wanna ask you, sex and sexuality, like you said earlier, people wanna either fuck you, make love to you…”
Z: “Or hate, don’t forget hate-fuck me, which is one of the big ones.”
JS: “That’s horrible”
Z: “So at my high school reunion five years ago, a friend of mine (who wasn’t really my friend, he was actually my arch-nemesis growing up) for 12 years in middle and high school he used to call me Schlitz the Grapefruit Head. For years and years, and no one knows why, and at my high school reunion he came up to me and he said, “Schlitz, you fucking grapefruit, how are ya?” and I was like oh, man, what do you want? and he was like, “I always wanted to tell you, I really really despised you in high school, but I would’ve hate-fucked the shit out of you, anytime,” and I said, “Gee, thank you so much. It’s a kind thing to say!” but yeah I, I …I’m very difficult for a lot of men, I think, it’s been very challenging for the love of my life, and for the men in my life, to deal with the kind of strength that I have.
“One of my favorite quotes is, “She was…too clever for a woman. She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness.” And a lot of men need a woman to want them, and to need them, and I never had that issue, so I’ve really struggled with….being a strong powerful woman is inherently not sexy to men. They think it is, but in the end it’s too much for them because somehow in society the archaic fucking masculine society that we live in? It emasculates them somehow and I never understood that because I would always assume if you were very strong, you would want next to someone equally powerful.”
Zoe: “So I’m here with…what’s your name?”
Mandy Morbid: “My name is Mandy Morbid.”
Z: “Mandy Morbid?”
Z: “That’s sounds like an uplifting kind of a name…”
MM: “Because being in a wheelchair with a rare genetic disorder is uplifting.”
Z: “That also does not sound uplifting. But…you make it look uplifting…”
MM: “That’s what people tell me…”
Z: “Yeah, ok, so tell me, you’re a porn star?”
MM: “Yeah, I’m a talent…”
Z: “You would not say you’re a star?”
MM: “I…yeah I guess that’s a term for it; I’ve been in a couple of movies.”
Z: “What, how many is that?”
MM: “…5? 5 DVD features, and then my own web content…”
Z: “…and in these films are you in your wheelchair?”
MM: “No…although in one of them before I knew I needed my wheelchair there was a scene with me in a wheelchair.”
Z: “So this wheelchair’s recent…”
MM: “Yeah, within the past 2 years.”
Z: “Ok, so now tell me about your disorder, what is it called?”
MM: “It’s called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome…”
Z: “What is it?”
MM: “Not many people have heard of it. It means that I have a genetic defect that means my body produces defective collagen proteins. Right now there’s no treatment. Um, so I wear leg braces and the back brace and wrist braces.”
Z: “But you don’t wear them during the porn?”
MM: “Um actually I have shot scenes in the full braces but the last one I did was called “Boundaries 8″ and it was an all-girl movie, and I was actually in my wheelchair and all my braces for that scene.”
Z: “So…if you had anything to say to other inspiring people who wanted to do porn who got problems, different deficiencies, what’s your advice for that?”
MM: “Do what makes you happy, know your own limits and boundaries, and be careful and have fun with it.”
JS: “Zoe admits to choosing a very challenging path of starting a business in an industry she had no knowledge of. She’s the founder and CEO of Monocle Order, a high-end Brooklyn-based eye wear fashion company.”
Z: “I chose a very difficult course. I chose to work for myself, I chose to really try to create a business where I didn’t know anything. I mean I went into a vertical with no knowledge, no training, no education and I tried to run a business using a brain that is decidedly retarded when it comes to numbers, spreadsheets, facts and paperwork. I sucked at everything that has to do with detail-oriented you know…I chose a career that was incredibly difficult for me, and I really struggled.
“I struggled to find a different face to put on in business meetings, at boarding meetings when asking for money, because of who I am is so incredibly pervasive finding a business self that could be respected as a young woman at 25, walking into in a room with older men with way more money, way more education than I did, was really hard and I got consistently smacked down on my motherfucking ass by a bunch of like balding men who haven’t had a hard dick in 5 years, and wives who were spending their black cards buying themselves Ferraris in lieu of sex, and I got really just taken down by men everywhere I went because they just wouldn’t, they just treated me like I was I don’t know…less than…all the time. It was that constant struggle to be respected while, maintaining my self, was really hard, and I struggled, and not just that I struggled with…I chose to fall in love with an incredibly difficult situation. That really… really…”
JS: “Are you talking about the ██████████”
Z: “OMG, you cannot use that. Jake.”
Z: “No, Jake, you can’t even bring that up.
“I struggled very…with a beautiful…I found the love of my life and I struggled to find a way to incorporate it, but it really was hard, and I do think that for sure at times that struggle came out on the people around me, and it took a long time for me to find, a center of gravity that even when I’m doing my comedy stuff…that had that sort of South Park thing, where it’s like it’s really inappropriate, and it’s really offensive, but at the core of it, I hope, is underlining the things that, is the same in everyone, but then beautiful nuanced differences in all of the millions of different lives that people are living right now.”
JS: “I’m just curious, I won’t talk specifics, but I wanna know what makes things on or off the record for you, ’cause there seems there are certain things you don’t wanna talk about on the record.”
Z: “Only because they have to do with other people, in a personal way, and it’s not my place to tell that story.”
JS: “But if it’s the story from your perspective, there’s still an edge there for you…”
Z: “It’s, I mean, it’s, I’m not ready to talk about that.”
JS: “Ok, I guess that’s what I’m asking you, and I’m not pushing you to talk about it. I wanna know what makes someone like yourself, who’s so open with the world and your own processing. What makes you ready to talk about the things that are still edgy for you?”
Z: “Well, that’s about when I’ve done enough meditating, and enough soul-searching, and enough writing about closure, and I haven’t found that closure yet, so when there are things that I’m still sorting through, then it’s not the time to be open about it.
“Because I don’t actually know my position yet, and anything I talk about, I wanna give anybody who’s in that story the dignity of a response, and the dignity of me telling the story from a clear mind that’s really processed it properly. Because speaking from an angry, burned, sad, or broken heart doesn’t lend itself to honest storytelling, it lends itself to, a one-sided view of a portrait that’s a spectrum of beautiful colors and sadness that I’m not done painting yet. 6 I have to find a balance because my baseline is vicious.”
JS: “What does that mean? Because that’s fascinating to me.”
Z: “I mean I’ve grown up a fighter, man, I’ve been alone a long time. I’ve had to work really hard for everything I had.
“My mother once described as I was acting from my lizard brain, which means that, my mom works with brains a lot…for a lot of my life, I was running on cortisol, the fight or flight, the adrenaline that’s in your body when you’re a fighter? So she described me as an alley cat, up against a wall, trying to fight her way out against a bunch of…like a pack of dogs, and I think I was. I’ve been fighting a long time to do what I want, and be who I am, and I think that has made me…
“Especially with living in New York for so long, I think living in New York, it puts your spines up. You build an armadillo-like armor against the world, but it really is the saddest thing, because it was only until I started my show that I realized that when you view New York as this beautiful place, if you open your mind, your heart to it, then the most incredible people come out of the woodwork to share their lives with you. That it’s not this place, where you have to zip up your puffy coat and put your head down and headphones in and…take off your coat, take off the armor, take out your headphones, look ahead, put your fucking cellphone away, and look around you because there’s the most, even the homeless guys who’re asking for money, or doing tricks or whatever. Even people that scare you the most are sometimes the most fascinating.
“The city is just saturated with…I’ve literally been sitting on New York city streets and marinating in the total cornucopia of fucking awesomeness that this place is, and you have to find a way that New York’s energy doesn’t make you abrasive and short and impatient, because the quick access to everything, the quick access to people, to sex, to food, to drugs, to chaos, to light, to love, to whatever it is. You become really impatient, so I had to really take a minute and check myself so that I wouldn’t bring that kind of abrasive impatientness to my life, to my business, to the people that I love.
“Because I do think New York has the ability to really completely open you up and make you the most beautiful you could ever be, or turn you into like some sort of torture device that can be used to like…I don’t know what the word is..like it can really take you down. And that’s the thing. It makes those seeking betterment of self, it makes them incredible, but if you don’t find a way to balance it, New York can really get inside your brain.” 7″
Interviewee 4: “Apparently I was supposed to only be a one night stand but, it turned out to be more…
Z: “But so you met his father at a bar and you went home with them…”
I4: “I went to the hotel with him.”
I4: “…and we didn’t have sex or anything, I waited a week for that…”
Z: “Well that seems like long enough…”
I4: “Which does, and he was totally like smitten over me, and it was crazy, and we started traveling together. We went up to Malibu beach, and we hitched a ride from these really slobby fat people in their RV all the way up to Portland, and when we got to Portland we started hopping the freight trains to get to places that we wanted to go…”
Z: “WOW…Hopping freight trains, you’re an amazing super woman!”
Z: “This is like stuff I would dream about, like traveling the world, no cares in the world, with your man on a freight train…”
I4: “It’s dangerous, it’s very dangerous like I’ve known people that got sucked under the freight train and never…they…you just get sucked under the freight train, and you’re gone.”
Z: “And how long did you travel with him for?”
I4: “We traveled together as long as we were together which was…almost a year and we had a lot of adventures. One time we hopped a train, we got pulled off by a Bull, which was…the people who catch us on the freight trains. That’s what they’re called, they’re Bulls. He popped up over the side of the train and he was he had his gun in one hand pointed at us, and the flashlight shining in our faces, he was like…”WELCOME TO MAH WORLD!””
Z: “…there is so so much sadness, but if you look at it from this kaleidoscope of the human spirit and determination, and that people survive, that’s really the only way you get through it. People are being abused, and abusing themselves, and hurting others constantly, and I really heard some things that’ve taken my literal breath away.
“And within that, not to be so dark, I’ve had incredible moments of triumph and beauty, and just love conquering all, and so it really is this veritable treasure chest, and daggers to your chest and butterflies into your soul, you don’t even know where to go, and I always absorbed this kind of, like a fucked-up weird little sponge, people’s emotions, and their…and really, it gets into the fabric, into the core of my being, which is why I think that people tell me their secrets.
“Because I do care, I really do, I wanna know, and I wanna talk to people about why they are who they are, and how they became who they are, what are the choices that they made, for good or bad, that brought them to this moment, right here, talking to me. 8 And it’s fucking fascinating, Jake, I tell you, it’s really the reason I get out of bed, and it’s the thing that makes my heart skip a beat when I think about my future. My ability to be able to, to connect with humans on this level. It’s really been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
JS: “How did you decide to the tone and tell which topics should be talked about?”
Z: “Well I’ll say this, when I’m doing these things, I originally started off trying to figure out what I could talk about to get people to listen. Because I didn’t know what I was doing, I literally bought a foamcore board at Pearl, back when that was open, and I got a marker and I wrote “FREE SEX ADVICE” on it, and I set it up on the stairs facing WholeFoods at Union Square, and I had a folding table that I lugged from Brooklyn, from the subway, because I had no money.
“We lugged it over there and we just sat, I just sat quietly and I was so nervous. I had no idea what I was doing, but I just knew that if I opened up this little portal to people, that I wanted to talk to them, that they would. I don’t know that my first interviews are my best, they are my most excited for sure, I think I over-did, and sometimes still do, overdo the dick jokes, the pandering to the lowest common denominator,because at my core I think I’m insecure [that] the substantive things that I wanted to talk about, nobody cares about. Which I don’t know was true or not 9, but I do think that I’ve taken on a bit um…of this personality that’s more extreme, that has actually indoctrinated itself like a parasite into [the] core of my brain where like I go immediately to the just the…I don’t know how to even stop it.
“In my core, I really do want to talk about things that I find transcend the sort of like color lines and different kinds of…all the time we talk about race and sex and blah blah blah, and all this stuff that’s so…it puts people in these boxes, and I do at some point hope that I find the strength and the sense of self to do the kind of substantive journalism reporting with love that I always wanted to do, back in the days when I only listened to NPR as a little kid, listened to Garrison Keillor and wanted to be a woman that was too strong with a man that was too good-looking with a kid who was above-average. I was obsessed with NPR, and I always wanted to do beautiful stories with meaning and heart, somehow along the years as…I just developed this personality that it IS my personality, I’m not gonna say it’s not, but I do hope that people know that when I’m really challenging people with these issues of race and sex and gender and whatever that people find so offensive, I’m doing it because I want people to think about the lines that we draw, and the box we put around each other.
“I got a lot of hate mail after the 11 Radio piece which I actually was really excited about because it at least it meant that it got people really thinking about the kind of issues we brought up. And so at some point, I do hope, I’m never gonna stop being funny, because that is at my core of who I am, and I’m never gonna stop being outrageous, because that is who I am, but I do hope that I will find the power to not think that people won’t listen to me if I’m not talking about smutty stuff…and that’s going to be my lesson and the road I have to take as I to try and navigate these waters of like what is funny, what do people care about, what will they listen to and how do you tell someone’s life story in a palatable way that people care about.”
[not transcribed: show closing]
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