Last Summer, Blumhouse announced a brand new podcast. It was called Attack of the Queerwolf, and its purpose was to take a look at the horror genre through the queer lens.
In honor of Pride Month, I sat down with hosts Nay Bever and Michael Kennedy as well as concept producer Brennan Klein to talk about the show’s inception, and how it has evolved since its debut last August.
“I was approached by Rebekah McKendry and Ryan Turek from Blumhouse. Not only are they co-hosts on the Shockwaves podcast but they’re also involved in other aspects of the business,” Kennedy explained. “They were talking about an extended network of podcasts and they wanted to do one from a queer perspective. I ran into Rebekah at a horror trivia event that we do and she asked if I would be interested.”
The pieces fell into place rather quickly after that initial conversation. Kennedy explained what he thought would be a good format and also that he wanted to work with Mark Fortin on the project. McKendry and Turek agreed to the proposal right away and the two men went to work brainstorming further.
They decided they needed a third perspective, but they didn’t want someone necessarily from inside the film industry. Kennedy’s boyfriend was doing volunteer work with The Trevor Project at the time, and he knew Nay Bever from their work together.
“They asked me out for coffee and there was an instant chemistry between us, I think,” Bever recalled. “And then they said, ‘Well, we need to meet up with a few other people, and we’ll let you know what we decide.’ They hit me up pretty quick after that.”
“Yeah, we actually didn’t meet with anyone else,” Kennedy added, laughing.
“It was shortly after that when I came into the mix,” Klein said. “I had been an intern and writer at Blumhouse and Rebekah approached me at horror trivia, which is where all the good shit happens, and asked if I would be interested in coming in as a concept producer getting the schedule together and lining up guests and all of those behind the scenes things. Me talking on the show was kind of a lark. We had an extra mic and they asked if I wanted to talk sometimes and I’m like, ‘Hell, yeah, I do!'”
The group recorded a sort of test show/pilot and sent it off to McKendry and Turek who signed off on it right away. With a solid format that hasn’t really changed since day one, the group was ready to get down to the business of talking queer horror.
One of the things I’ve loved about the podcast from it first episode is that there’s very little lip service involved. The hosts celebrate those queer aspects of films, but they’re not afraid to call out problematic representation when it occurs.
“That was something that Nay and Mark and I discussed very early on,” Kennedy said. “We didn’t want to come across as catty or like we were just shitting on everything, but we also didn’t want to give filmmakers and writers a pass just because we were fans. There’s not a lot of direct examples for us to talk about as far as queer horror cinema goes. We can do better and we can have something better and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for that.”
The show has stuck to this principle from the beginning and while they certainly have a good time recording, there have been some especially raw moments when the hosts have opened up about their own personal experiences. That honesty is infectious, and it’s opened the door for guests on the show to speak more candidly about their own lives and personal experiences with film and society at large.
“Well we only approach people for the show who are comfortably out of the closet,” Brennan pointed out. “And along with all the fun, we’ve had really vulnerable conversations on the show.”
“We’ve had multiple guests tell us they’ve told us things they’ve never talked about publicly before,” Kennedy added.
“I think we early on set the tone that we were going to share parts of ourselves. For me, a huge part of talking about being queer and asking people about their own experiences is being able to open up and share parts of my own story,” Bever said. “From the beginning, we all did that and offered up really personal information about ourselves just because sharing our connection with so many queer folks is just so powerful. I think we’re all aware of how powerful it is to be living out loud.”
What has been, perhaps, most astonishing to them is the response they’ve had from people around the world who have tuned in to the podcast, not only to hear about the films they discuss, but also to vicariously live through these people.
Many of their listeners are in parts of the world where it is still illegal to be queer, and the gravity of what Attack of the Queerwolf has created is not lost on them.
“I’m aware that I live in a cute little bubble in Los Angeles,” Bever said. “Everyone is so open here and it can be really easy to forget that isn’t the case for the rest of the world. I think it’s really important that we be as authentic as possible on the show for exactly that reason.”
“We all bear an identity that’s been politicized,” Klein said. “You can’t really talk about queer subjects without being aware of the harsher realities of the world we live in. I think we straddle that line a lot on the show. We talk about the harder subjects but also about the way we live our lives openly. I think that in itself can be a bit of comfort to some people.”
It’s a truth that has come up before in this Horror Pride Month series. Our identity as queer people was politicized by those who make laws against us and use us as scapegoats to draw attention from more important political matters.
We have been the “other” they can point to for generations, now, and that’s why shows like Attack of the Queerwolf and the authenticity of its hosts are important.
“The people who don’t understand are the ones who don’t have to go into every new job they have and come out all over again,” Kennedy said. “We have to come out all over again almost every single day and it’s because these people have politicized our identities.”
“Yeah, I’m like, ‘Congratulations on the government not trying to kill your people,'” Bever added. “There are people trying to pass laws against me and my community as we speak.”
“Right?” Kennedy said. “The Supreme Court is hearing cases about whether it’s okay to discriminate based on sexual orientation right now.”
“And my resume is so gay!” Bever laughed. “Everywhere I’ve worked has had ‘gay’ in the title.”
“But that’s why it’s so important connecting with other queer people,” Klein said. “You need someone else in your corner with you.”
That feeling of having someone in your corner comes through very organically while listening to the podcast, and while it might sound decidedly serious, rest assured there are a lot of laughs to be had, especially when they dig into some of the particularly campy horror classics of the previous decades.
“I’ve loved some of the trashier films we’ve discussed,” Kennedy said. “The Fan might be my favorite just for the sheer camp factor. The thing I dreaded was doing Nightmare [on Elm Street] 2 because I think it’s just expected, but I also think we came up with a really fresh way of discussing it.”
They definitely brought new perspectives to that discussion, and have brought those same sensibilities while discussing The Hunger with Don Mancini and The Rage: Carrie 2 with their current guest host, Sam Wineman.
The podcast is, at its heart, for every horror fan regardless of how they identify, and it’s an excellent educational tool for the straight audience who wants to take a peek at the queer horror experience.
As Kennedy pointed out in the beginning of the interview, when you’re talking about queer horror cinema, we have very few direct examples to draw from, yet so many of us love the genre. For a multitude of reasons we spend hours watching and absorbing these films, looking for those things, sometimes which only amount to crumbs, with which we can identify.
More often than not we find them.
In 2019, we are still on the edges, but we are moving inward, and we make headway because of the tireless work that members of our community put into that movement.
Members like Michael, Mark, Nay, Brennan, Sam, Don, and so many others who have staked out our place in the genre we love and are welcoming the rest of us to join them.
Attack of the Queerwolf releases a new episode each week. Look for them wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. You can also follow them on their official Instagram page for pics from their recording sessions and so much more!