As part of a few days of early Aural Salvation stories that explain how my show rocketed up in (relative) popularity in a short time, I’ve explained its origin, the early awkwardness of having to fulfill interview duties from the guy whose time slot I overtook, how I captured attention with a nudity-laden alt-porn plug, and now I’ll tell you about the most popular episode — for better or worse — that I ever did. When someone who was, at the time, just another “MySpace celebrity” named Jeffree Star did an interview with me : his first ever interview, mind you.
As mentioned previously, Jeffree Star was one of the makeup artists hired by GodsGirls.com to pretty up the girls for photo shoots. Beyond that, I knew absolutely nothing about him. However, the mere mention of his name on the night of the GG interview sent viewers into furious excitement. I figured “fuck it”, since I’d cut my teeth on interview guests I knew less about for longer periods of time than this.
Much like my GG interview, in the time leading up to his interview, people were flooding our Instant Messenger system trying to get any and all information they could. At all hours of the day. Throughout every show. Luckily for those other shows, none of them were bold (or foolish?) enough to let IMs be broadcast to the screens visible on their sets, unlike my show. I was fine with people being confused about Jeffree Star’s upcoming interview while I was doing my show, as I had a stock answer for them about how and when to tune in.
At the time, I ran my own website for my show — something no other show had — and when I announced the interview with Jeffree, the comment section blew the fuck up. I was a little bit nervous to have such a huge spotlight on a show that was still in its infancy for an interview I was still unsure would be any good. After all, I had to fill at least 45 minutes of air time just talking to this guy, and I had no idea what was in store.
He was cordial enough when he arrived at the studio, he treated me with respect, asked what was allowed, what we’d talk about, and told me the few (like one or two) things he’d preferred I didn’t ask about. I complied, and those questions never came up, and we closed any IMs that were asking about them 1for the record, I only remember what one of them was, and neither of them were anything scandalous. Keep in mind this was before he’d actually done anything. All he had were some glamorous photos (ironically, shot by the same photographer — MichelleXStar — that did those Lauren shots, and who I’d been friends with for years), and talked big game about his upcoming music career. When he was on the show, however, he didn’t even have a rough demo of a single track. I was skeptical if he even would eventually end up making music, or if he was just milking the MySpace hype machine for all it was worth.
It didn’t matter either way, frankly, because the traffic and attention was worth it and his fans were eating it up. It was insane how many IMs per minute we had to handle. The whole screen was filled up with viewers sending in messages. Even with 45+ minutes of air time, and Jeffree doing rapid-fire one-liner answers, we only got to maybe 60% of the questions that were asked.
After the show, he posed for some PR photos for the MusicPlusTV.com website, and shit got weird. The “producer” that I had inherited from Crazy J’s old show — I’ll just call him “K” — was already on thin ice with me. The credentials he’d often rattled off to me (and the studio heads) were most likely fabricated (as in : there was absolutely zero evidence in all the Googling I could do that any of it was legit), and he failed on a number of occasions to complete most of the pre-and-post-show tasks I’d asked him to carry out. After the Jeffree Star interview, he pulled the final straw.
K told me, as we were walking into the studio to do the interview “man… that’s the prettiest he-bitch I ever seen”. He was a bit of a redneck, so imagine that voice. This was a 5’8″ very thin purportedly former-military guy. He made a number of off-hand homophobic remarks, but when called on it would pull the “ohhh I’m just kiddin’, it’s cool” move and when he got drunk, he thought it was hilarious to “act gay” towards other men. I took it all with a huge grain of annoying salt.
K asked Jeffree Star for a photo op. His words were “hey, maybe you could look like you’re hitting me with your purse, y’know?”. He wanted a funny photo. Jeffree obliged, both cause he liked a good gag photo, and because that’s exactly the sort of thing he would do. After a few shots of Jeffree’s purse hitting him in the head, K grabbed the chain that served as the purse strap and said “take a photo of that!”. Jeffree was visibly confused, and suddenly K grabbed him and shoved his tongue in Jeffree’s mouth. We were all in shock. No one cared if K liked kissing dudes, or if any dude liked kissing dudes.
It’s kind of a frightening thing when someone who’s always tried so hard to come off as super-manly and super-straight suddenly pulls a move like that. You worry they’re gonna snap, and realize “oh shit.. my secret’s out”, and since this was a guy who (I later found out) made more than a few jokes about “might have to bring my shotgun into this place if they don’t fix a few things around here” — we didn’t even know what to do. Moreover, it was all captured on video and still photos while it was happening. And we had lights, and a camera crew. There was no way he didn’t know he was being filmed accosting Jeffree’s mouth with his tongue. The whole scene lasted less than 3 seconds, before Jeffree pushed him away and K turned to me and laughed, like he was just kidding all along.
I hugged Jeffree goodbye, the crew went inside, and K turned to me, nervously laughing, and said “maaaaan… he’s a pretty bitch, but he tried to kiss me! did you see that?”. I said “uhh.. nah.. I was looking at my phone”. He continued “yeah, faggot tried to kiss me”. I said “K… I don’t care for the gay slurs, man. Knock it off. Tired of that shit. He was polite and it was a great interview. No more of that shit”. He said “ohh right. yeah. sorry. just.. y’know.. I don’t need dudes kissin’ me, y’know?”.
About 15 minutes later, just as I arrived home, Jeffree called me to tell me K had been following his car since he left the station. I told him I’d call him right back. I called K and said “hey, I need you to swing by the station. It’s really important. I left my laptop in the studio and I need it, man.”. K tried to feign being tired, and I said “c’mon, you can’t be more than 10 minutes out from the studio. Just make sure you put it in the office so no one else in the studio uses it”. I called Jeffree back and he said “He just turned around. I think he’s leaving”. I apologized profusely that my insane producer was a fucking nutcase. It made me look bad, and unprofessional, and it made my guest feel terribly unsafe.
When K got to the studio, he called me and said he couldn’t find my laptop. I said “ahh… yeah. my bad, man. I forgot I packed it in my car outside my bag. Sorry. Thanks for trying, though”. The next day, I went to the studio heads to tell them what happened. We had to have a sit-down with K, and tell him that was his 3rd strike. He looked at me like a puppy who knows they’ve done wrong, but is powerless to change it. I just said “listen… I can’t have that. I’m sorry. I’m going about this alone now” and that was it. I never saw K again.
For the next few weeks, we would daily get IMs from people who thought Jeffree was still on the air. These were people who were watching the interview on YouTube, which was recorded from the live broadcast, and thought they were watching it live. I couldn’t believe the stupidity. You’re clearly watching previously-recorded footage — not only did YouTube never do live streaming at the time, but also there was a fucking scrubber bar with a start and end time, and the video was split into 3 separate videos. Even with all of that, these fucking morons thought they were watching Jeffree live. I’m not blaming Jeffree Star for this, but some of his fans — then and now — are the dumbest motherfuckers I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. Two years after that interview aired, I would still get an IM into the show almost once a month with people asking if Jeffree was there cause they had a question.
If, months or years from now, someone is reading this because they think they’ll get to see the footage of Jeffree Star’s first-ever interview, let me crush that dream now : it’s not gonna happen. Jeffree Star asked me to take it offline, since it was almost a fucking decade ago, and didn’t represent at all who he was now and he was embarrassed about how he sounded then. I can relate to that, and the footage will never again be put online.
But, goddamn, that single interview changed the show entirely — I finally had a huge, enthusiastic, responsive audience who were on-board with all the weirdness that the show entailed. I showed that I could handle anything that was thrown at me, and I kept my integrity — I didn’t kowtow and kiss his ass, but I also didn’t try and upstage, condescend, or demean him. I just treated him like any other guest : asking questions and responding where necessary. When my show first started, I was getting maybe 200 people at a time watching the show. After the first GG interview, it was up to about 2,000 per night. After the Jeffree Star interview, it was over 20,000 a night for a few weeks. When his fans dropped off and people who liked my show for what it was stuck around (many of whom discovered me after the fact, out of the hype), I consistently hit 10,000-12,000 every single night. That might not seem like a lot, but for a network with zero advertising, on a show that was an hour long, only broadcast live for that hour, and only able to be viewed from a computer (literally nothing else — tablets, smartphone, and set-top boxes didn’t even exist yet) that’s a hell of an accomplishment.
So, thank you Jeffree Star. You were the second-stage rocket that got my show out of low-earth orbit. It was all up to me after that, and I had some great little tricks up my sleeve.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↩||for the record, I only remember what one of them was, and neither of them were anything scandalous|