With over 280,000 downloads per month, and a guest list that boasts such celebrities as Kathy Griffin, Elvira, George Takei, Shirley Phelps, Deven Green, and RuPaul the Chicago based Feast of Fun podcast has become one of the most successful shows in iTunes history.
Creator and co-host Fausto Fernós (the first Puerto Rican to start a podcast) describes Feast of Fun as “a hot mix of social news, rising trends, in-depth interviews & live music sessions: the best of the net, in real-time” and nothing could be nearer to the truth.
Fernós talks about the early days of his career and the seeds that sprouted the Feast of Fun podcast.
“Back in the early 90s, before the internet, video blogs and podcasts, there was a quirky thing called “performance art.” It was a way for people to express themselves and get a message out there in a creative way. We all hated what theater had become, a system of rules and hierarchy that created plays that weren’t very relevant to the needs of queer people and youth at the time.
It’s out of that fire of the 1990s that I started with my friends in Austin, Texas a group called Pe.A.Ch. – The Performance Art Church. Once a month we’d pick a theme, and everyone had about 10 minutes to put something interesting together around the theme. Costumes, ideas, rants and discussions all for the purpose of entertainting each other directly. It’s what YouTube is today.”
Fernós packed up shop in the mid 90’s and headed to the east coast where he still lives and works today.
“I moved to Chicago in 1995 to go to grad school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I taught video, audio and performance art to undergrads as well as studied audio engineering and wrote a full length musical about a heavy metal band during the apocalypse, set against a gay Romeo and Juliet storyline. It was a hot mess!
From that I started hanging with the Radical Faeries of Chicago, a group of wannabe hippie pagans who organized a lot of benefits for struggling non-profits. During a dinner party I was trying to come up with a “Pe.A.Ch.” equivalent for our variety show, and I though how about “A Snack of Simpletons?””
It was a suggestion from a close friend that inspired Fernós to change the name of the show which would lead to its current incarnation as Feast of Fun.
“My friend Bill Haddad, this funny older guy who still to this day wears suits EVERYWHERE, (even to the beach) uttered “Why don’t you call it the Feast of Fools.” And that was it.
So from 1998 and on, we were doing the show as “Feast of Fools Cabaret, Feast of Fools Rock and Roll Experience, Feast of Fools Musical Variety Power Hour”, but always as Feast of Fools.”
The cost of running these shows and getting bodies into the seats came at a moderate financial cost to Fernós and his creative counterpart’s bank accounts.
“It was a struggle to get people to come to the shows. In order to break even, we had to bring in at least 100 people and invest $1000 of my own money to pay the venue, sound guy, and pay for ads in newspapers and to mail out postcards, print posters. It was really expensive!
I turned to blogging with the hopes that it would become a free, inexpensive way to get people returning to see the shows.”
It was in 1999 that Fernós met his partner and co-host Marc Felion in a very unexpected way, and in an even less than traditional place.
“I met Marc at a gritty leather bar called the “Eagle” in Andersonville, a neighborhood here in Chicago. Neither Marc and I wore any leather or fetish clothes, it was a bar really close to our apartments, and they served $1 beer at the time, so it was a cheap night out!
I had been chatting with a guy who looked a lot like him on AOL and boldly approaached him asking – Do I know you from the internet? Of course it wasn’t the same guy, but I managed to bring Marc home with me, and that started a relationship that grew into what we have today.”
The chance meeting of Fernós and Felion couldn’t have turned out to be a better match for the two.
“I’ve always wanted to have a boyfriend who I could work with creatively, professionally and romantically, so it’s been very satisfying for me (and also very fustrating sometimes) to have a deep working relationship with the man you love.”
In retrospect it turns out that the fortuitous meeting between the two was a bit of a Godsend for Fernós.
“Later on I actually met the guy who was using this photo of another guy who looked a lot like Marc. He was African American and spoke like Michael Jackson and claimed to be Oprah’s best friend. He was a bit crunchy!”
Things however haven’t always been a fairytale for the two, as a year long separation in their relationship caused them both to dig deep and take stock of their life together.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF – Behind the scenes of Feast of Fun with Fausto Fernós
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