Episode 82: Dave Holmes (Voted #8 Ep of 2012)
Most people know Dave from MTV’s Wanna Be a VJ contest where he was runner-up, from FX’sDVD on TV, his video podcast A Drink with Dave or dozens of appearances on various programs, but few know his calm exterior often masks panic and anxiety. He and Paul bond over being raised Irish Catholic, hosting interstitial t.v. shows and other similarities. Dave talks about the minefield of coming out to a family with mixed views on gays, his oddly easy time with it in high school and difficult time in college. Paul reads survey responses related to the LGBT community, highlighting where America is at in seeing them as equals and how it makes them feel.
Welcome to Episode 82, with my guest Dave Holmes. I'm Paul Gilmartin, and this is the Mental Illness Happy Hour: an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive negative thinking. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. It's not a doctor's office; it's more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn't suck. The website for this show is mentalpod.com. Please go check it out. You can post on our forum; you can sign up for our newsletter, you can take a survey, you can read how other people filled out their surveys, you can support the show, you can buy a T-shirt, all kinds of good stuff. I wanted to mention this. For those of you that want to go through the back catalogue of episodes, I quizzed people and asked them what their favorite episodes were of 2011. Going from Number 10 to Number 1, they are Jimmy Pardo, Beth Littleford, Karma, Ex-con Murph, Eddie Pepitone, Kulap Vilyasack, Marc Maron, Paul F. Tompkins, Adam Corolla, and Number 1 was Teresa Strasser. She actually won fairly handily so if you haven't listened to Teresa's episode, I highly recommend it. Highly recommend it. All the jerseys were given out; I think there were five of them total. I had asked the monthly donors to email me if they were interested in getting an old hockey jersey from me. I was kind of worried that nobody would respond and thankfully it took about a day and a half but eventually five people did come forward. I also asked people to donate last week and I did see a bump in monthly donors, so thank you, those of you that bought my guilt. God bless you. What do I want to talk about…? I can't remember. I am going to just jump into… Oh, I know what I wanted to say. Dave Holmes is the guest today. Dave happens to be gay and as I put a show together I will go through emails and survey responses and try to pick ones that kind of round out the show. A couple of the survey responses and emails that I had were from people who are gay or lesbian and so I thought you know what, let's try a theme show. So all of the emails and survey responses will be from people who are gay or lesbian today. This is from the "Shame and Secrets" survey. It was filled out by a guy named Grizzly. He is – I don't think anybody is scratching their head wondering what type of guy he prefers – or actually maybe he doesn't – maybe just because he is a grizzly – I forget how that whole thing works. One of my friends explained it to me what "Bears" are -- I think that's the right term -- oh God I so want go back for the last 30 seconds and rewind it -- I hate when I stumble – I fucking hate it. He's gay, he's in his 30s, he was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment, never been sexually abused; in "Deepest Darkest Thoughts" he writes: I think about my family dying. I think how happy I would be if they didn't exist. Not that I want to kill them, just that something would happen to them – natural causes, act of God, violence or accident. "Sexual fantasies most powerful to you": He writes, "I'm in this checkout line and I often think about taking advantage of a guy in public no matter their sexual preference. I would like to go to a hot guy, say in the grocery store or wherever and grab his cock and he likes it. I would strip him and bend him over and have my way with him in front of everyone, then leave him there naked and full of my cum and I would continue shopping as if nothing happened." My favorite part of that is "continue shopping as if nothing happened." Like five minutes later somebody is going to be standing next to you in the checkout line and that's not going to be awkward. "Hey weren't you the guy that just pumped that dude full of jizz over by the donuts?" "No, you're thinking of someone else." "Alright but you look a lot like that guy that was ramming that other guy's head into the Wonder Bread." "Nope, not me." "Would you ever consider telling a partner or close friend your fantasies?" He writes, "No because I'm totally not that kind of person. I do not like having sex in public; I don't even like public displays of affection. Anyone who knows me would be shocked by this. It's just not in my nature." That is kind of fascinating that somebody's sexual fantasy is different from what they like in real life. "Deepest Darkest Secrets." He writes, "I was bullied all throughout grade school and high school. I am a huge and pretty intimidating guy as an adult. People would never guess that I was called names on a daily basis and beaten up multiple times as a kid. Either my family was unaware of this or they just ignored it." "Did these secrets or thoughts generate any feelings about yourself?" He writes, "I guess that would be why I feel worthless. I never felt somebody cared about me. I never felt loved. The only time anyone ever noticed me was to call me names, make negative comments about me or to hit me." Well, Grizzly, I am sending a big hug your way. I wanted to read this survey response from "Happy Moments" because I think it kind of goes in tandem with Grizzly's survey and this was filled out by a woman who calls herself "Margarita Time." She writes: "When I was a senior in high school I was sitting with friends at lunch when a fellow classmate came by to impart some news about some sort of senior event. He walked away and then I heard a table next to us, a table adjacent to where I was sitting that was full of freshmen football players and they were wearing their jerseys at the time. They thought they were tough guys, so of course they immediately started making fun of my classmate. I listened and watched as they made some remarks and jokes about him and his sexuality, then one of them muttered the word 'faggot.' I don't know what came over me but suddenly I was on my feet and standing at the front of their table. I don't remember what I said and I'm certain I have glorified it since but I said something along the lines of 'Listen you fucking freshmen, do you even know who that guy is? He is one of the nicest men you will ever meet. He's smart, he's talented, and he's helpful. Who gives a fuck if he's gay or straight? It doesn't change who he is. He doesn't deserve your name-calling. And if I hear you call him 'faggot' one more time I will beat the shit out of you. Do you understand me?' After they mumbled in the affirmative, and I sat back down at my table, shaking, while my friends looked at me with new eyes, I knew I shouldn't have threatened bodily harm and I'm not proud of that, but in this instance I used it to shock them into listening to what I said. I'd never actually beat them up; not only would I never do that to someone, I also physically can't. I'm an extremely overweight, asthmatic smoking female. The most I could do was trip them and sit on them and hope to crack a rib." [Opening theme.] PG: I'm here with Dave Holmes. We bumped into each other half a dozen times with mutual friend Jimmy Pardo. DH: We are in similar circles, PG: Pat Francis. DH: The Never Not Funny family. Those are the comic broadcasters. We are in the interstitial show family. PG: We have been to a couple of Fourth of July parties together but we've never really sat down and talked. DH: Right. PG: And I saw that you had tweeted something about the show and I was like, "Ooh, Dave listens to the podcast." DH: Right. PG: So I asked if you'd be interested in coming on. DH: Right. PG: And you said yes. DH: And I was very excited and said "So get ready for your first nine-hour episode. This is going to be like pledge-drive length so get comfy." I am really excited to be here. I love the show. PG: Thanks, I appreciate that. For those of you that don't know Dave, probably the people would know you the most from was the first thing. DH: I Wanna be a VJ on MTV that still literally comes up every single day of my life. PG: Really? DH: That was in 1998 and we are in 2012 and it still comes up. Somebody will mention Jesse Camp to me literally every single day. Oh yeah. PG: What's that like? DH: It's okay. It was annoying at first. Like four months in it was annoying. I was like "when is this going to stop?" Later in 1998 I was like "When is this going to stop?" and then it became clear in early 1999 that it's never going to stop. You know what I mean? That's fine. It's annoying. I'd like to be able to move on. First of all if that's the price that I pay to get to do what I want to do with my life… PG: It's a small price. DH: It's a small price and I will gladly pay it. It's also refreshing. It's nice to have done something that people sort of remember. And it is a little bit of an embarrassing moment that I would rather not relive for the rest of my life but I'm going to and so that's fine. PG: Can you describe to the people what is embarrassing about it? DH: Well, first of all I was a grown man going in to be a VJ. Doing what I thought was an audition. And I had like a regular job, I was an advertising guy in New York and I was just dicking around on the internet and I found out about the audition and I was like you know what. I want to go in and at the time I was doing improv and sketch comedy shows, and whatever and I was like, I had wanted to leave my day job behind and sort of throw myself into writing or something creative, something more creative than advertising turned out to be. And so I thought, well maybe this is my ticket. First of all, I just thought I just wanted to go in there and meet some people, shake some hands and just see if there were job opportunities there, see if I could make some sort of lateral move. PG: Because you are a music nut. You have an encyclopedic knowledge of music. DH: I'm pretty nerdy, yeah. It's funny that if people know that I'm a music nerd, they know that from MTV. My area of displaying knowledge was incredibly narrow. You know what I mean? PG: It's Kajagoogoo and nothing else. DH: In 1998. We remember their big comeback. I wish. My God I wish we could have played more Kajagoogoo. Where was I? See I'm lost. PG: Going into the audition. DH: I kind of thought I was just going to go in there and get a job. I didn't know that the thing was going to be televised. I knew it was going to be kind of like the cattle call. I got the impression that they were going to try and get some press out of it. You know, it was a big deal. There were thousands of people standing in line or whatever. I didn't know that once it got down to a certain level it was going to be on live TV. I thought 'well that's a little weird,' and potentially embarrassing, you know especially since I called in sick from work to go [PG laughs] and stand in line. I sort of had to come out and tell my coworkers, "I'm not sick. I stood in line and by the way I need the rest of the week off because I made it to the top 10." From the thousands to top 10 happened off-camera but from ten to one happened on live TV. PG: And this was an audition to become an on-air VJ for MTV. DH: And it was super weird. Just the whole thing was utterly utterly surreal. They had to call by midnight on Tuesday. I went in on Monday. Auditions were all day Monday and all day Tuesday. They were going to narrow it down to the top 10 by midnight on Tuesday and they called at like literally like 11:59 they called. And I had already made peace with it. When five o'clock came and went I assumed that television worked like regular stuff works and I was like 'well it's close of business on Tuesday. They didn't call me, they probably never will.' And so I sort of made my peace with it and then they called like at the very last minute. It was an hour each on Wednesday Thursday Friday and then sort of a three-hour live event on Saturday. If it happened now it would be like an 18-week show and you know what I mean, like one person would be eliminated every week and we would all talk about our journey and it will be a big icky reality TV show. PG: And the producers would manipulate you into talking badly about the other person. DH: Exactly. We would have to live in a house you know what I mean? They would go to St. Louis and talk to my parents. It would just be hugely humiliating. PG: They would find out you're afraid of snakes and then you would walk into a room and it would be full of snakes – DH: The potential for embarrassment be much, much higher than it is now. At the time they got five hours of live TV out of it, and that was all they could do and that was fine. That was fine. So ultimately it came down to me versus this guy Jesse Camp, who was strung out St. Mark's type kid kind of a character. The minute I saw him I thought here is the guy who is obviously going to win this thing because he is, you know, an outsize character in a way that I am not. But again, I just thought, you know, 'I am going to continue to be here and I am going to collect as many business cards as I can and just try to get myself a job,' you know what I mean? Doing something, because I just want to be in there. It seems like the mothership. So that is the long answer to a question that I don't know even know if you asked. [Laughs] PG: What was embarrassing about it? DH: Oh, losing, not winning. And also the fact that I was, you know, 26 or 27 or something at the time. Which is a tiny bit too old to be doing something like that. PG: I would disagree. DH: Well, I think in the context of my life it felt like a foolish thing that maybe I should have left behind. I'm glad I didn't because it changed the course of my life but it did seem a little goofy, like a little bit of a goofy thing for a grown man to do, you know? Stand in line. Get a cattle call. It was a little corny. And losing, you know, it seemed a little corny. And you know, you don't want to lose in front of people. I also had to be blow off a good friend's wedding that weekend to do it. It was fine; it was fine. I knew I was going to lose so it was okay. PG: But you wound up actually working at MTV longer than he did even though he got the job and you went on to work at VH1. Those are the two channels that people would mostly know you from. DH: Mostly, yeah and then I do your show at FX, basically. I do a show called -- PG: Drinks with Dave? DH: No, I do a show called DVD on TV, which is sort of FX's Dinner and a Movie but with extra stuff from the DVD rather than recipes. People either recognize me from MTV or -- PG: Right on. It's a great idea. DH: It's a terrific idea. It's been on forever. We just started our ninth season. Those things just never end. PG: I always wanted to talk about that stuff about the movies. They always kind of said "nah, you know other shows do that," but I always wanted to know the extra information about the actors and the stuff that happened behind the scenes and stuff like that but for some reason on our show they always had us shy away from that for some reason so that sounds -- DH: And when I am doing my show, I want to eat [laughs]. You know what I mean? I want to cook some shit and eat. [PG laughs.] I'm serious. And your show, yours always seemed to be like you were doing it in real time. A little bit. Maybe you do; I don't know. Or did. PG: Not really. Not really. I mean it would take us about four hours. Initially when we first started doing the show it would take us about 10 to 12 hours to do a show and – DH: It still does. PG: Does it? For one episode? DH: Yup. PG: Oh my God. I know that there are a gazillion worse jobs than that -- DH: Oh yeah, but -- PG: The thing that is annoying about that is that you go in there with this expectation that this is TV, this is fun and it winds up, it can be grueling. DH: It can be really grueling, and especially shit like that is really hard for me. Having started at MTV,I was at MTV for five years, and most of what I did there was live. And if it wasn't live, there were budgetary limitations that made us have to bust through shit really fast. So there was a sort of anarchic spirit to it, you know you just turn the camera on and you did it. Or we would have time to fill and so they would just send me out to Times Square with the camera crew and just let me fuck around and let something happen, let something develop. PG: Which is the best stuff. DH: Which is the best thing in the world. That sharpened my skills and I got very good at that and then when I moved out here I started this show for FX which I enjoy doing and then I did another show, also another interstitial show for Court TV. PG: "Interstitial" by the way, for people who don't know, is -- DH: We're doing shop talk here. PG: An interstitial show is a show within a show. For instance, Dinner and a Movie was an interstitial show in that we were folded inside the movie talking about the movie. DH: You tend to pop up at a commercial break and do a little thing, cook a little recipe, give a little fact, whatever, so yes it that kind of thing, and in both cases these are quick 15- to 20-second little bites that we're doing but like the framing has got to be just right and you are waiting 45 minutes for somebody to light something and then you get a couple takes off and then the DP -- director of photography, cameraman -- rushes to the back of the set to like let's counterclock that bongo ten degrees -- you know what I mean? You know? I understand I understand. PG: They are doing their job. DH: Everyone wants to do the best job they can do. I get it, but for me -- shit like that was when I started to have terrible anxiety. Like terrible terrible anxiety like stage -- I knew from performance anxiety and stage fright and whatever, I knew all that stuff, but the kind of anxiety that developed working on those kinds of shows while you are just standing there on this silent set while people are tinkering with things, made me go crazy, like crazy crazy because you can't do anything, you can't move because they are trying to light around you and so you have to kind of sit there and you have nothing to say to your cohosts -- in both cases lovely people -- and you are just kind of there. I started to have the worst panic attacks I have ever had in my life, like on set, like to the degree where I just wanted to run away, like rip my mic off, and run, not even have a destination, just open the fucking stage door and run. PG: I totally get that, Dave, because I used to feel guilty when I would say that it was exhausting to do the show because I'm showing a movie, I'm cooking food and I'm talking but what you forget is when you're the person that's doing that, it's going out to a million people. You want it to look good, you have a level of comedy that you want to attain and somebody stops it to tweak the bongo, to do this and you have rhythms as you know, when you get in the groove you're going to go out and it's like when somebody says to you "Hey, you are going to go out and you are going to give a speech to a million people. Go. Wait. Hold on, we need to press your pants, we need to do this" and so you're just sitting there like a racehorse waiting to go and they open the gate a little then they shut it then they open it then they shut it and you cannot get into a groove and your living is tied on being a fast horse. DH: Exactly. In my case I'm still not great with asserting myself and saying let's fucking go. It's difficult for me to do that without feeling like I'm coming off as petulant and I am sure that I sometimes do come across as petulant although I'm getting better at speeding things along. At first I didn't know that I could speak up, ever. I think that I was able in my first few years in the business I was able to work as much as I did because I was easygoing, probably to a degree where I was a little bit of a pushover, probably a lot of us pushover so I didn't know that I could speak up, say get the shit done, have it done when I get in there so I could do what I do. I'm here to do a job just like everybody else. PG: You're not a robot; you have a finite amount of energy and creativity. DH: Right. In my case, both of these shows are very heavily scripted and there usually is like a sponsor who has signed off on the copy so I am very shackled to what is written which is another thing that drives me a little bit crazy because I like to be able to be free. Here and there I can be with other jobs or whatever. These interstitial shows were very rigidly scripted. PG: And sponsors are notoriously humorless and fear based. DH: Right and also if you want to change anything, several people have to sign off on it. The production company has to sign off on it and the network has to sign off on it. PG: All of whom are afraid of being memoed later if they make the wrong decision so they make the safe choice which is one of the reasons why television becomes horrible: because decisions are being made by people who aren't using their artistic integrity; they are doing it because they are afraid of being fired. DH: Which they're going to be anyway. Every six to nine months at every network there is a full turnaround, you know what I mean? So I don't know what the fuck people are afraid of. I got to a point where I was really suddenly wracked with anxiety. I think that I have always been a little bit of a nervous person but I felt like balled-up shit that I had just sort of kept inside for a long time that was always threatening to rise to the surface. I was afraid I was going to scream or just become a baby you know what I mean, just start crying or shit myself or whatever, or just start yelling to a degree where nobody could reach me or calm me down or whatever. I was constantly afraid, like I was like one of those old-timey thermometers the top was going to explode, which was awful and kept me -- I think – I've recently started therapy within the last couple of years because I started to notice that I was getting less bold with my career. I would blow off auditions because I was afraid that I would be afraid in them and you know what and I began having that thing where I began anticipating a panic attack in the moment and taking myself out of the way of things so that it wouldn't happen – PG: Fail before you fail. DH: Right, or just dodge it you know because I'm not rich by any means but I have been working for a while and I am able to pay bills so I didn't have a super hunger to put myself in the way of work, I began to notice myself blowing things off, signing into an audition and then leaving, I can't do this I'm leaving and oh no it went great, talking to my agent or my manager. It was terrific I might not get a call back but it went really great if I'm actively blowing stuff off then I am probably also passively not starting myself enough, not doing my own projects not for the same reason but not even noticing you joining this that make sense at all? PG: Absolutely. DH: It's time for me to go and talk to a shrink. So I do and it’s great and I'm fixed. It's been really great being here. [PG laughs.] I am not fixed but it’s better. PG: One of the things I relate to and I'd like to talk about is the difficulty in speaking up for yourself. When you were talking about being on set to say, "Hey I have a finite amount of energy and I realize you guys want the set to look lovely but it is diminishing returns and I'm not able to do my job as well." I didn't know at first how to say that because I came from a family where I didn't know how to express my needs. DH: You and me both. PG: That's what I want to get to. Can you talk about that? What your childhood was like, and the kind of dynamics that made you think that you don't know how to express your needs. DH: Oh God get ready. I am, as I imagine you are also, Catholic, Irish Catholic. Culturally we tend to not speak up a lot, not to nitpick. PG: Not a hotbed of feel-good. DH: No. Or of feel-anything. In my family everything is fine fine fine until it isn't. Like everything is super A-Okay and then it is one weird thing that will just set a person off and you don't know what it is and it was something that was fine yesterday, or whatever. PG: And it's never about the thing. It's about the buildup about the thing over 15 years. DH: To this day if my mother gets angry at me it starts with the thing and within five minutes it's "When you edited the high school newspaper you left everything to the last minute," and that was in 1989. We're in the 21st century now. Let's not argue about that now. So there's that. Also I am the very youngest in my family I have two older brothers who are like a year and a half apart, eight and ten years older than I am. PG: Were you an oops baby? DH: Kind of, sort of, but in a weird way in that my brothers are both adopted. My parents didn't think that or at the time were not able to have children, and again we're Catholic so I don't where the problem was because it happened downtown and that's an area we don't talk about. PG: Same thing with me. My brother is older than me and was adopted and I wasn't and as soon as they adopted him my mom was able to get pregnant. But go ahead. DH: Wow. Similar thing except in my case it was many many years after and so I guess that I am kind of a super oops baby after all. So for me speaking up at all always made me feel very silly because I was so much smaller and so much younger than everybody else and to this day when I hear my angry voice it's a child's voice, you know what I mean? It feels very small, you know what I mean? And very like petulant, like a pouty peevish little baby and I never really -- I think I scored points by being the even-keeled one. My brothers are both in their way very hotheaded and you know, temperamental and there would be fights growing up. PG: Which I imagine caused you tremendous anxiety DH: Incredible anxiety, which would be frequently about me. Teenagers get to a point where middle teenagers kind of resent the family period; it's just a normal developmental stage that they go through. To have the extra added thing, I think, of being adopted and having a younger sibling who you already kind of resent anyway for needing attention when you need attention and having a younger sibling who is biologically the product of your parents I would imagine would make you more resentful so they started to treat me very differently when they became teenagers, and were sometimes very nasty so their treatment of me led to a lot of fights between them and my parents. PG: I would imagine. DH: Which would terrify me and make me hide behind furniture and then -- PG: You couldn't see that this is a thing that very normal in teenagers and they don't understand what is happening and they are just letting it out. So you think, "I really am bad I really am a spoiled little baby." DH: Exactly. And when it's over I don't want to talk about it anymore. And because I'm in an Irish Catholic family, we are never going to. There is a blowup, it's over, everybody hugs and then it's over with. PG: Let's go back to worrying about the blacks moving in. DH: Let's go back to ironing our clothing and making sure the drapes are exactly the same in each window so nobody thinks we're crazy. I grew up with a lot of tension not a huge amount of fighting but with an unpredictable couple of tempers so my job was to not be that, it was to sort of smooth shit over and get everybody to like each other again so I never really express my own needs. PG: Did you ever get a sense that you even knew what your own needs were? DH: No, I don't think so. I think that I wanted then for us all to just sit down and talk because we never did and there is an enormous amount of -- I can't imagine what that must be like to be one of my brothers. I don't know what that feels like. I don't think they know what I feel like. Feeling talk is not what we do. I think one uncomfortable conversation long ago might've helped everybody in the situation a lot. But it never happened. And it's not a secret that they're adopted and I'm not. I know that they know that I know my mom I know that they know that they know that I know but we've never talked about it and I'm never going to bring it up because I don't feel that it's not my thing to bring up and I don't want them thinking that I'm always thinking about because I'm not. There are some things we should probably address because I don't understand it and they don't understand my perspective either. But they went off to college, went off to graduate school and by the time they got back I was off to college so we have never been adults in the same place ever and I moved away just after and yeah it's weird. I did not get great modeling for making my feelings and needs known and neither did either of my parents, I would think, so it's not on them. PG: It wasn't really. In our parents' generation as my mom used to say, "Children are to be seen and not heard," and so they were just continuing the status quo and it is hard to really get upset with your parents about that. But there is a draining quality to the elephants running around the room that just saps you. It just saps you. Being around those people and having that unspoken thing and sometimes you don't even know exactly what it is, you just know that you aren't comfortable in that room and when you leave it you feel a weight fall off your shoulders. DH: And when I was growing up in it I kind of knew where it came from but I didn't like you said before, I didn't recognize it as a natural part of life, I didn't get that it was -- I just was like 'where did friends go? We were good yesterday, why aren't we good today?' and it felt like I had done something. I felt bad for being there; I had done something bad by existing. Do you go through this with your brother at all? Have you talked openly about any of this? PG: After I went to therapy I talked to him and I apologized for some of the things I said because kids can be very cruel and sometimes he would push me to the breaking point and then I would say something incredibly mean but we have a pretty good relationship these days. We mostly bond over how crazy my mom is and god bless him because he puts in a lot of time with her. She just moved into a retirement home a mile away from him and she pushes his buttons like you cannot believe but I think that he just has a higher threshold for her, or maybe what he goes to a place and his head where it doesn't hurt as much. I don't know. DH: Crazy how? PG: My mom? Extremely controlling, and will deny your reality, will tell you things that happened never happened, can be incredibly praising one minute and then say the most cutting thing the next minute and you never know, volatile emotionally volatile not like screaming at the top of her lungs but in two minutes can go from being very pleasant to going on just a rant about somebody or something on an unending monologue. DH: That's fun. [PG laughs.] That's a good time. And that's your mother so it's not just a person you can tune out. PG: It's the person that you're supposed to feel safe around nobody that I feel less safe around and I am sure that he feels the same way. And it's one of those things where you don't want to write your mother off because it's your mother but at a certain point you have to protect your sanity and I think everybody finds where that line is. What were your parents like, and what was your relationship with your parents like? DH: I have a pretty good relationship with my parents. There is a certain degree of controlling behavior with my mom, I think. The parents of their generation I think are like that. I think that my mother would still dress us all if she could and also sort of doesn't get why she can't. She's not 100% certain that she can't. I think it's another Irish Catholic thing to live for the neighbors, you know what I mean? PG: Yes. DH: To live your life through other people's view of you. So she wants everything to be her version of perfect so that other people will think that she's great. PG: I think that is so incredibly common. Incredibly unhealthy. DH: Super unhealthy. PG: But the most normal thing in the world. DH: But not something that she can recognize. First of all, I remember one of my brothers saying that to me when he was a teenager and going through his sort of teenage stuff saying "Mom's whole world is what her neighbors think," and I didn't get it. I was eight or whatever and trying to smooth everything over and be the person that everyone talks to and whatever and I don't remember what I said but then I remember when I was 15 or 16 I started to notice how much of her life was performance for people around us, and I made that same exact observation to the same exact brother because I remember exactly what he had said and I said "that is so true" and we were in a car together as we have been the first time and I was like mom's whole life is what the neighbors think and he was like "I can't understand why you can't be more grateful." PG: That's so hilarious [laughing]. DH: Do you know what I mean? "Are you getting beaten? Are they starving you?" And of course they're not. I wish I had spoken up and said, "You said those exact things to me when you were in my position," you know? This will illustrate it perfectly. I was in the car with my parents and I was in the back seat and we were on the highway, on Highway 40 in St Louis, a busy highway going fast and my dad was telling a story. My dad is very demonstrative and he moves his hands around a lot like I do and he's big with that kind of stuff or whatever, so he's telling the story about something that happened at work and his face was kind of severe and his arms were going and whatever and my mother in the passenger seat was just smiling this huge smile like she was having the best time and my dad said "What are you smiling about? This isn't a particularly funny or happy story." And she said. "I don't want anyone to think that you're yelling at me." We are on the highway. Going 70 miles an hour. PG: Oh my God. DH: I don't want a stranger in a car who might glance over to think that I might be getting yelled at. PG: Oh my God I am so glad you are here. DH: I am so glad I am in therapy. That shit is important to get out. It illustrates and illuminates at lot. PG: This is then perfect time to ask you. DH: So we start recording now. PG: What was it like to realize you were gay? When did you realize that you were gay? DH: I think I always knew. I think I always knew on some level. PG: Is it true that you came out of your mom's vagina doing jazz hands? DH: Pretty much. The cards were dealt pretty early. Pretty early. One of my earliest memories is getting the original cast recording of Annie on vinyl for Christmas and just listening to it until I wore it out. I was a pretty gay kid. I was kind of an effeminate sort of bookish kid, and so in that way I always knew. I remember also at the end of first grade I switched schools use I had learned to read very early; my middle brother had taught me how to read. And so you know as kids do, when you develop a new skill, you want to do it all the time and I was very good at reading very quickly because it was a thing that I could do something that no one my age could do, so I blew through books and so the parish school where I started school just didn't have the resources for me, which was horrifying and maybe we'll get into that later. So I moved to a different school. At the end of that school year I remember saying on one of the first summer days—there was a kid named Danny in my class who was kind of sportsy and we weren't really friends but I wanted to keep in touch with him and so I was like "I want to call Danny over and go play or go to the pool or whatever," and my mother said I didn't know you guys were friends and I said "We're not friends but he's cute. I just want to keep in touch with him because he's cute." And like, everything stopped. Everything just stopped. Everybody was eating breakfast, and forks dropped. I was immediately like I've done something wrong, terribly wrong. PG: Oh my god. DH: Not that I was going to get in trouble-- PG: You knew. DH: But I had expressed myself in a way that was wrong. And my mother said to me, "Is he cute like attractive or cute like he says funny things, or does funny cute things?" and of course I went for number two and said "He does funny cute things," and she said, "Well boys don't say that about other boys." Then she kind of gave me the lecture not in a cruel way, nobody was mean but it was obvious that -- PG: She wanted to protect you from pain. DH: Yeah. PG: But you can almost understand -- DH: Totally. PG: In that environment -- DH: Absolutely. PG: That she doesn't want you to be -- DH: Absolutely. And gayness did not enter their lives at all. My folks have been married for 60 years. They are both in their eighties now. They just never knew any gay people and that whole thing didn't happen until much much later in their lives so they didn't know. But I just remember that feeling of like oh god no. PG: It would have been so nice if when those moments happen that the parent could tell that little kid, "You know, understand if you say that around your peers, they may make fun of you, but I want you to know that I am here for you to tell me that you think he's cute and to talk about how you feel about him." DH: Which I did not feel safe at all to do. That is not a knock on them; they just didn't have the tools at all, they didn't have the language. They just didn't know. It didn't enter their lives. I knew. I came out to my family pretty late in the game, like not until college. And I was already pretty out to my friends and all that. PG: Do you remember who the first person was that you came out to? DH: In the family, or just in life in general? PG: In general. DH: I do. It was my closest friend in high school, who was gay also. PG: Did you know he was gay first? DH: No. No. Well, kind of. Kind of. We were like 14, 15 and I think I kinda sorta knew. I knew that we had something sort of in common. And I think, you know, by that time although I knew that I was attracted to boys, I had built up enough… I had enough sort of internalized homophobia to be like this is probably just a phase. I realize I am probably bisexual even though I never ever thought about girls ever at all and this is something that I will take off like a jacket later in my life. But I think I felt a kinship with him and actually I remember my parents were out of town, we were probably 15 and we had gone to this summer school together, we were both sort of artsy kids and we had gone to a summer creative writing program and we were writing a letter to a friend that we had made there and we were just sort of passing it back and forth and we sort of came out to each other that way. PG: That's awesome. DH: Yeah, I don't remember what exactly we said but the note kept going back and forth and there was music playing and whatever and then it was like we should just put this down and actually talk. Because we know something about each other that we can't tell anybody else. And so we should actually, like, talk about it. And we were never -- it was never sexual between us, ever, which is good. That was a very important friendship and I am have a very lucky to have had him around. It seemed safer. PG: That must've been a lifesaver, for a kid at that age. DH: It was. It was a huge lifesaver. It was very helpful. In high school, people knew. People knew. There were people that I had told, and I had kind of a gay affect, you know what I mean? I had girlfriends and stuff like that. I got asked to every dance, believe me, because I love to dance. But it was pretty obvious that I was gay and was also pretty obvious that everybody knew. Also, it was an all boys' school too. Catholic. And it was like -- I was kind of accepted, you know. PG: Awesome. DH: It was sort of neat. It was sort of neat. It wasn't something that anybody said out loud; it wasn't anything I really ever said out loud except to like a close group of friends. I had a role there. Do you know what I mean? PG: Do you think it would've been different if you'd been very effeminate? DH: I was, I think, more effeminate than I am now. PG: Yeah? DH: Yeah I think I kind of started to -- PG: You'd think it would be the other way around. DH: Yeah, it is often the other way around. Yeah. I don't know. For me, you know I had this wonderful start, being sort of out and being accepted and having gay friends and whatever in high school which is weird. And then, for me, college is where I totally lost my way because I picked a school -- I went to Holy Cross which is a lovely place but super conservative, super homogeneous, really like -- I remember visiting the campus and seeing everyone walking around and being all good-looking and happy and whatever and I think that I thought that that was who I was supposed to be and if I just went there and started doing what they do I would just become the person that I am supposed to be and not freak my parents out and not bring shame to the family or whatever and so I went there and sort of tried to put that identity on and it did not work and it was like whatever gains that I had made in high school sort of got wiped out. PG: Wow. DH: Yeah it was weird. It was the total opposite experience of almost everyone else's. PG: I had interrupted you earlier. You had been talking about coming out to your parents when you were in college. DH: Right. Yeah I was in college. You didn't interrupt me, I just went off on a tangent. PG: I had asked you about the first person was. DH: But again I went off on a tangent. PG: And thank you for apologizing for something that I did. DH: No, it was me; I went off on a tangent. And I apologize for everything so that will come back up. PG: This is the summit of the people pleasers. DH: Oh my God. To a degree that's not okay. To a degree that is not at all helpful. Or pleasing. PG: I'm going to top you and say that it is okay. DH: I don't think it is. I honestly don't think it is. I remember when I first started working in television there was a talent coordinator at MTV and she was talking about somebody she had worked with before who she described as so easy to work with that it was difficult to work with him because everything's okay so you never know –- PG: You never get a straight answer. DH: You never get a straight answer, and you never know when everything is okay. You never know when you're doing your job the best, to his satisfaction, because everything is fine. I didn’t get it at the time but now I kind of get it: you're allowed to express opinions. PG: You just have to find a way to do it. And when you are raised in a family that doesn't know how to express their opinions you do it, you go to zero or ten. You shut down or you explode. DH: Exactly. Exactly and I'm still really not good with that, you know? Anyway, so coming out to my family. I had set that job for myself for the summer before senior year. I was like alright, this is what I'm going to do. And also I had huge panic attacks around that time, like crazy physical like clammy hands shortness of breath and didn't connect them at all. First of all, I thought that something like brain AIDS or something that that I had caught and I was so sexually inexperienced I don't know how that would've been transmitted or whatever or also because I had tried Ecstasy once that I did some sort of brain damage. Either way it's something I can't tell anybody in my family because you know I made it happen. I made myself have these panic attacks. Not from this very anxiety-provoking thing that I'm about to do. I didn't connect those two very easy to connect dots. I didn't draw that line. So anyway I was going to do it early in the summer, and then we would just have the summer to just talk it out, and go back to school and I had already sort of made up my mind that I would move to New York or Boston or somewhere and not go back to St. Louis. And I went on my first night there I went out to a Cardinals game with my brother, my oldest brother. And he made some sort of fag joke in the car on the way there. I don't remember what it was, but it was some sort of a gay joke. And I was like well alright, I guess we'll be pushing this off until the very last minute. PG: That makes me so sad. DH: Yeah it was a real bummer; it was a real real bummer. So I didn't say anything. I remember I said something to his then girlfriend now wife kind of early in the summer because she could tell something was wrong. I remember we sat I smoked at the time and so did she and we sat on the back patio and smoked all the cigarettes and I told her. And she totally kept it to herself, which was great, although I almost wish that she had done it for me so I didn't have to do any of it. So anyway, I told the rest of the family probably in like mid-August just because it was like I can't not do this. PG: All together at once, or one by one? DH: I told… Who did I tell? I think I told my middle brother first and he was totally fine. I think I expected a little bit of a reaction from him and I didn't really get one. I think in some way he is because he's very competitive with the two of us plus middle child and I almost -- and this is a shitty thing to say about somebody but I almost feel like he was like "oh I win now." You know what I mean? He was like I get points out of this, a little bit. You know what I mean? And then I told my oldest brother had a terrible time with it. He said it was immoral and he gave me that whole fucking thing. PG: Did you believe any of what he said? DH: No. By that time no. I had left all that behind. PG: Good. DH: But I was also like come on. He was whatever he was, 28 or whatever at the time. PG: Is he still that way? DH: He is very conservative, very very conservative, but he's not, you know, I think that if he didn't have a gay brother that he would -- he's not super anti-gay passively anti-gay the way a lot of people are. He's certainly not actively pro-gay now but he's definitely better, he's cool with the boyfriends that I've brought home and stuff but yeah, he gave me a little bit of a rough time. Then I think one of my brothers told my dad behind my back but then I told him after and I got the sense that he had already gotten the news but whatever; he was totally cool with it. And last was my mother who was a disaster, at first. PG: I would imagine. DH: Just did not get it at all. PG: What activity is she going to enact in the station wagon so that nobody knows you're gay? DH: [stage whispers] Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And that to me -- honestly I do feel bad about that in a way because I know how important that is to her and I know that in St. Louis and especially the area that we live it is very homogeneous. PG: You blend in and that's it. Success is blending in. Success is blending in and if you are going to separate yourself from other people it's by your finance. It's by how wealthy you are. That's the only way to be different from other people, that is considered. Or better looking. DH: Yeah. So I understand. I understand how important that is to her. I do feel guilty in a way that that is an uncomfortable thing for her. But ultimately I've gotten to the point that now in 20 years to say "It's your job. If that bothers you, that is your thing to go and fix. There is no shortage of resources to help." I remember at the time I remember saying "There is P-FLAG. There are meetings for parents who go through this." PG: Can you --? DH: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. PG: I would imagine pflag.org would be the website? That's great. I didn't know that existed. DH: In fact, I think I went to a meeting or two that summer just to sort of get a sense for it. So anyway I suggested that my mother and she was like "Oh, they're not anything like me," you know? Well okay we'll deal with that later. Never did. So at first she took it really really hard and was just like "No you're not," you know? PG: You didn't say "Watch this," did you? DH: I did. And honestly that whole thing of no you're not, that bothered me more than anything. Like any kind of dumb hateful thing, she didn't say anything hateful but just any kind of bad or dumb idea she might have had about gay people, that didn't bother me because you're about to find out the truth so I don't care what bad information you got, but that whole thing of you don't know your sexuality; I do. So controlling. PG: Super controlling. DH: That bothered me, but as is my nature I just tried to sort of be calm about it and you know understand this as a natural part of development and you got to get out of your system and you're probably going to be embarrassed about it later but let's get through it now. And you know over time she's gotten better and better. I don't think she's ever said the word "boyfriend," you know I've been with my boyfriend Ben for seven and a half years now and she likes him a lot but I don't think she would ever say this is my son Dave and his boyfriend Ben. I don't know that she is out as the parent of a gay person to any of her friends. Even though I know they know; it is not a secret. It's very weird. Also, a year or so later, a couple of years later, when I was working in advertising, my first job, I was sitting at my cube, and my mom called. I picked up the phone and said hello, and she said, "Okay I have an idea: how about a really masculine girl?" PG: [laughing] Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Oh my god! DH: I'm not kidding. I'm not kidding. And this is like two years later. So I hung up the phone. It was a rough couple of years. To think that, like, 'Have you been spending his whole time thinking about solutions?' PG: "Well, I've been surveying some field hockey games… and I think I've got one picked out…." DH: But they are better now. I do think it is a touchy issue for them because of how important other people's opinions are and though I know that I shouldn't feel bad about that I feel bad about that. I know that it's not my thing to feel bad about, but I can't help it. PG: You know, you want your parents to be -- you don't want them to be uncomfortable or experience pain or anxiety, even if it's filtered through their own kind of fucked-up backwardness. I get that. DH: Yeah. So yeah, I don't know. That was no fun. But it's better now, you know. It's a lot better now. My coming out at college at Holy Cross was a fucking nightmare because by the time I was out, like junior–senior year I was pretty much out, and I was literally the entire gay community on campus. I was the only out-of-the-closet gay person on the entire campus. PG: Oh my god. DH: Literally. PG: When you applied to go there, did you have any idea that you would be dealing with this? DH: I did but I don't know what I thought. I honestly don't know what I was thinking. I think that I thought that I would just find my people, you know what I mean? Like I would find my little niche within that world and I just never did. And it's a Catholic school so you know they are not going to go really far out of their way to make it easier for gay students to come out of the closet. By the time, I think it was my junior year, maybe early senior year, the chaplain's office started a support group for gay and lesbian students. In fact it came out of -- I wrote an anonymous letter to the school paper saying that I was a gay person on campus which I sort of did -- I had told a small group of friends but I also kind of wanted to sort of send up a sort of a little test balloon, you know, to the world at large. PG: Great idea. DH: Small school -- PG: How many students? DH: 2600. PG: Oh that is small. DH: Yes, it's very small and I think that I thought that I would test people's reactions anonymously because once I widen the circle a little bit I might as well tell everybody because the grapevine is well lubricated. That's a mixed metaphor, but you know what I mean? Everybody knows everybody's business. So I did and I remember my ear was to the ground. The paper came out on Friday and I spent that whole weekend listening in on people's conversations and "hey what did you think of that letter?" and whatever. A significant number of people thought it was a joke. They thought that it was written in jest as like -- PG: What did that feel like? DH: I was not even prepared for that. A hateful reaction, I could deal with that. At least I would know what that is and where that came from and how to defuse it a little. But to think that it is so farfetched for there to be one gay student in this group of 2600 people, that fucking threw me. That threw me. That fucked me up for a while. That set me back a little bit. A lot. But by the same token it also allowed me to come out more. Because a lot of people did express supportive opinions and the circle did get wider and then I was out to the entire school because people knew. So that conversation I guess that got started by that letter led to this support group thing, but because it was a Catholic school, it was kind of a rogue organization and they also this being in the early nineties and everything was super politically correct they were really worried about potential violence against gay and lesbian students. We had to go in and go through a series of interviews with people in the chaplain's office just so they would know that your intentions were good. PG: That you're not an infiltrator. DH: That you're not an infiltrator or some terrorist sleeper cell deal, you had to go through that and I passed, luckily I passed all the interviews and then they sent a letter to the POs of the people who were in it saying here's our secret meeting, don't tell anybody about it, it's going to be in this shed in the middle of nowhere like in Maintenance and so I went and it was literally me three girls from the field hockey team and that was it and they were super closeted and it became like a support group meeting about how we were victimized this week and the hate speech that people have heard and that kind of stuff. And I was pretty much out by then and people knew and so the women didn’t want to talk to me outside of the group because they were afraid that if they were seen talking to me then somebody would be like how do you know him and they would be stuck for an answer so we had to not – have contact outside, well that was crazy which so a couple of times we did run into each other and I would say hello and literally got in trouble for it. I got reprimanded for breaking the clear rules of consent that we had set up. PG: It's like a social version of Nazi Germany. DH: Of yeah. It was bad news. It was really bad news. So that kind of fucked me up a little bit, you know. I look back on that and sort of I cringe a little bit. It was pretty gross. I could go on for hours about that but I won't. PG: Before we get to the fear-off and the -- DH: Are we there already? Jesus Christ. PG: Are there any seminal moments in your life that you would like to touch on that were especially painful, embarrassing, transformative? DH: Oh boy. Let's see. Through this group I ended up meeting later in my senior year my first boyfriend because finally another boy joined and he had gone through the interview process and passed and this woman, this married woman, who ran the thing asked me to meet him for coffee, to sort of ease his nerves about it and whatever and I was like sure, fine, and so I did and the dude was super-hot funny and nice dreamy, super smart and the whole thing and immediately it was like "I love you" within 24 hours. PG: Both of you? DH: Both of us. More me for sure, but both of us. Primarily because you know, that first relationship you're like a bottle of soda water that has been agitated for me it was like 21-22 years and the top comes off and shit just gets everywhere, it's a mess and it was like that for both of us. So he started coming to these meetings and for like a month we were inseparable, we were in love, the whole thing and then he realized — I think he came down from the initial euphoria of meeting and being with a boy and getting to kiss a boy for the first time -- PG: Was it the first time for both of you? DH: Yeah, yeah. It wasn't sexually my first time but it was emotionally. Because I had no outlet at that school, there was nobody else. I didn’t have a car so I couldn’t get anywhere. PG: All those years of those teenage hormones. DH: Oh my god. PG: No healthy outlet. DH: Nowhere to put them. PG: I bet. Even porn was hard to find. Because it was before the internet. DH: We couldn’t email each other much less send porn. So he kind of came down from the love high and realized how out he had suddenly inadvertently become by spending all this time with me and broke up with me and I was also probably a little clingy, a lot clingy, and so I look back and I should have been broken up with, for sure, but the shame of having made that guy feel unsafe or feel weird or feel unprepared when I could have kept my hormones to myself and just done the job that I had been sent to do which was be an ambassador and make the guy feel less weird and I made him feel more weird and I carried incredible guilt about that for a long time where it affected my dating life for a long time. I felt like I had made people unsafe, you know what I mean? PG: You felt kind of predatory? DH: Yeah, yeah. That fucked me up for a long long time. And now being a grownup and talking about it now I get it and he pops up on Facebook and we're not friends but we're friendly and that experience especially within the framework of a support group for closeted gay students at a Catholic school, there was really nobody to say, "What you're going through is totally natural, and you might not have handled it the best way you could have but you're not a bad person for handling it the way you did. You're a human being for wanting to be in a relationship." PG: And you probably handled it how most 20-year-old closeted gay kids would the first time they met someone cute and smart and funny and it was safe to be who you are around them. I mean who wouldn’t have been that way? DH: Yeah, it's kind of to be expected. It's a lot to be expected. It was weird. And I'm also prone to torture myself, you know what I mean? PG: It's like were beating yourself up for clinging to a life preserver. DH: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's very silly and I think it did lead to why I get anxious and why I have panic and I think of that as part of the stew. PG: Do you think those feelings crop up because there's an absence of feeling good about yourself and having to fill that whirring of the brain, you know the brain churning over and over again? Sometimes I think that anxiety is kind of a default. I don't think that there necessarily has to be trauma sometimes, there has to be an absence of security and a flowing of healthy communication between important people in your life is enough for that -- DH: That's it. PG: To be the default. DH: That is it, and I am recognizing it much more now than the past couple of years as an exercise that I'm putting myself through. It's my brain's default thing when there's nothing there to fill it, as you said. And I am more aware now than I ever have been that it is a choice – that I can choose to do and that I can conversely choose not to do. When I see it coming, I can say, "I don't want to do that job today. That's a shitty job and I'm not getting paid for it and it's shortening my life and I don't have to do that. I don't have to do that job anymore." PG: I remember the first time that I did that and I said, "Wow, I can choose not to go audition for this terrible thing that gives me a knot in the pit of my stomach because it's not really who I am," and it was so freeing to feel that. DH: Yeah. You get to say no. PG: But going back to that anxiety thing; I wonder if that's because our brains through evolution have just been whittled down to the brain that survives is the one that can anticipate the bad thing happening, so that's its natural setting. DH: Yeah. That makes sense. Another thing that I am able to do now is I know that it's like when things are flowing, when I'm doing things, I'm better. Looking at the beginning of it, I get anxious. Getting ready to get started, I get anxious. The five minutes before and like the first ten seconds of any performance that I do, miserable. Absolutely miserable. But once I'm in, I'm in. So if I know that flow calms me down, I can create flow and I can give myself some busy work to do. I can just do something; I can fix something so that my brain is doing something. PG: Which makes sense to what we were talking about earlier: you are filling that void. DH: Just doing something. Okay, I have to tell you about my shrink because this is the greatest thing in the world. I go to a guy. We had rented his house as a location. He lives on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on the beach and we had used it as a location for a show we are doing on FX because it's beautiful and there are all these surfboards and guitars and shit and then a wall of psychology texts and I was like "Hey what's the deal?" and he's like 35-ish, super good-looking guy and we were shooting the shit and I was like "what's the deal with all the books?" and he said "I'm a psychologist and I've just started my own practice where instead of sitting in an office and just talking for an hour we do a little check-in and then we grab surfboards and then we paddle surf on the Pacific Ocean and we do most of the session out where it's nice and calm out on the ocean," and I was like "I am supposed to be here and do you take Blue Cross?" [Paul laughs.] And so I've been seeing him ever since and we have therapy with dolphins around us. PG: Wow. DH: It's fucking great. And like half of my friends are seeing him now because I talk about it and it's so crazy and they're like " That's so crazy. Hey give me his number." It's incredible. It's the most Southern California thing you can imagine but -- PG: It sounds great. DH: And he's good. On top of that, he's good. Even if he was kind of a shitty therapist I think I'd still do it but he's not, he's really good. He's really good, very skilled. If you want his number, listeners, I'll give it to you. PG: Wow. At the end, does he say, "I'm sorry, but this is our last wave"? DH: Yeah, pretty much. We ride a wave in and it's great. PG: How long have you been seeing him? DH: About a year and a half. PG: A listener had emailed me about therapy and they were having trouble sharing things with their therapist and one of the things that I emailed them back and said was "Your therapist is not there for you to look together in front of; your therapist is there for you to fall apart in front of." This person didn't realize that, and to anybody out there who is going to therapy and feeling like you're not progressing, there is nothing that you can't say to a therapist. I will say things to my therapist -- the deepest, darkest, most antisocial thoughts that I'm thinking in front of her, because therapy is for her to examine your thought process and together for you to discover things. It's not for that person to tell you how together you are, or whatever. Does that make sense? DH: Totally. You don't go to the doctor to tell him how healthy you are, you know? You go because you want to fix something; there is something that you want to fix. PG: And my advice is if you're having anxiety about that, just go there and for some reason the first time I went to therapy I don't know why I had the insight to just let the worst stuff out at the top but it freed me up then because once I saw "Oh, she's not going to kick me out of the office," it's okay to share that stuff. DH: Get it out. Get it out. PG: And even if I tell her, "You’re just saying that because you're getting paid," and she'll remind me "No, I'm a low-fee therapist; actually I don't get paid. I'm in training." DH: Really? PG: Because I've been telling people that there is low-fee therapy out there, you should check it out; I thought why don't I walk the walk? It's going well so far. I've been to about 14 sessions so far. She works on a sliding scale and it's awesome. She's really good. DH: Good. So she's younger? PG: She's probably 35, would be about my guess. DH: Does that bother you -- seeing somebody younger? PG: She's 18. She's a lifeguard. No, it doesn't because it's about – it's like saying does it bother you that somebody who helps you lift weights is younger than you because it's about lifting of the weights, it's not about that person being smarter than you. I suppose there are times when life experience – yeah, because I'm ten years older or twelve years older there are certain life experiences maybe that I've had that she hasn't. But some of the insights that she has – DH: She has greater therapy experience. PG: Absolutely. She is an objective other viewpoint which is what therapy is all about. One of the connections that she made the last time I was in there was really profound. She had complimented me on something and all of a sudden I had the strongest sexual urge and I've learned to tell her whatever it is that I'm feeling, and I told her "I'm having this incredible sexual urge right now," and we talked through it. Unfortunately, it was right at the end of the session but she said, "I noticed when I complimented you, you are escaping into this area of sexual fantasy. Let's pick that up next time." So of course it was an agonizing week -- DH: Of constant jacking off. PG: But one of the things we picked it up back with is why I had trouble taking a compliment, why I can't let that in. One of the things we discovered was that it is opposite of what my core message is, buried in there. It is like a war. It creates a war, and I want to escape from the war. DH: I'm exactly the same way. PG: And I go to what I used when I was like 13 years old, which is sexual fantasy. DH: I cannot take a compliment. I will have a panic attack if you throw me a ball or pay me a compliment. I will fall apart in front of you. I can't do it; just can't do it. Never could. PG: Do you feel like you are getting any better? DH: I'm aware that it's a problem now, so when it happens – I think I'm at the point therapy-wise where here's a thing I should be paying attention to now. Here is something that I should bring up the next time I'm in therapy. This shouldn't be bothering me as much as it is; I wonder why. So in the moment I'm able to stop myself and say shut the fuck up and take it, just say thank you, you know what I mean? Don't let your brain gears go fucking crazy trying to figure out what they want from you PG: Exactly. DH: Or what they're really thinking when they pay you that compliment or whatever. PG: Your brain will find something. Your brain is ingenious enough to find a flaw. It's like water; it will find a seam. And it's so fucked up, Dave, that you can think of yourself as a predator more readily than you can as a nice guy. DH: Yeah, or like a performer that knows what he's doing, you know what I mean? Like somebody who's on stage because he thinks he belongs there or you in front of a camera. PG: You radiate nice guy. DH: Thank you. PG: You literally radiate nice guy. DH: It was my job growing up, you know what I mean? It's something that I come by sort of naturally, I think. PG: But I've got to say though, Dave, it's organic to you, I believe, in the experience that I've had with you and from talking to other people. I've come across a lot of people who give off the nice person vibe, but you sense that there is something underneath that that is not that. You know when that person smiles, the mouth smiles but the mouth is still shark-like. DH: Yeah. Oh sure, yeah. PG: Any other seminal moments? DH: Seminal moments, good lord. Uh…you'll edit this down, won't you? This long pause? PG: Maybe. I'll take out anything you want. DH: I don't think that there's anything that you need to take out. Let's see, seminal moments. Because it's going to take me forever to come up with one. PG: That's okay. DH: I can come up with them until somebody asks me. PG: It’s like when someone says "You're a comedian, tell me a joke." Literally my mind goes blank. DH: Gone. Yeah, there's nothing you can say. Like me, I love music. "Hey, what's your favorite song?" "I don't know. I can't think of any songs right now. Can't think of a single fucking song." My life is fucking full of seminal moments but I can't…fuck it. PG: Let's get into the fear list and maybe that'll trigger something. DH: Let me get my notebook. Who starts? Are these yours? PG: I'll be reading fears from a listener named Laurel. I've actually read some of hers before. I'm picking up on her list. Laurel says, "I'm afraid of how much I want to self-medicate with Valium." DH: I am afraid that I am going to spend my last years with a broken body but a fully intact mind getting wheeled around by a stranger. PG: I like your fear list already. DH: Oh boy. PG: "I'm afraid that I have too many coping mechanisms with the result of pushing other people away because I believe I don't need them." DH: Wow. I am afraid that the professional and/or social circle that I was supposed to be a part of now just exists without me and the choices I made as an insecure child made it impossible for me to click into it or them. PG: That's so good. Laurel says, "I'm afraid of asking for help." DH: I'm afraid I'm in the last five years of my life. PG: "I'm afraid that I'm one more sexual rejection away from giving up and picking up strangers in bars." DH: That's more fun than it sounds. She makes it sound like a real drag. It's okay sometimes, Laurel. I mean don't do it all the time, but once in a while. I'm afraid I'm getting dumber every day. PG: "I'm afraid that my inconsistent impression of how I look isn't an emotional problem but a glimpse of reality and that I spend about a third of my time actually looking like a bloated and haggard piece of shit." She is good. DH: She is very good. I am afraid I emit some kind of body or breath odor that the whole world isn't telling me about. PG: I have that one too. "I'm afraid that I'll fart while trying to talk to a cute guy and he'll hate me." He'll probably love you. DH: I'm afraid my whole career is going to sputter out. PG: "I'm afraid that my upper arms will continue to get super fat and I'll look like the crazy old women on Hoarders." DH: Oh shit. Who are people too, Laurel. I'm afraid of having a stroke and getting locked-in syndrome. PG: "I'm afraid that the arthritis in my joints will progress rapidly and I won't be emotionally or financially able to manage a treatment plan." DH: I am afraid that the next time I go to the dentist he will tell me that he needs to pull all of my teeth out of my head. PG: "I'm afraid that my cat will die and it will be because of something I could have prevented if I had only taken her to the vet sooner." DH: I have that exact same one about my dog. I am afraid that my fear of freaking out which we got into a little bit earlier will actually come true on live TV. PG: "I'm afraid that I'll die suddenly and when my parents come to clean out my apartment they'll find my vibrators and the porn on my browser search history and be saddened by the lonely life I've led." DH: Wow that's good. I'm out. PG: Let's go to the loves. DH: Let's go to loves. PG: Go ahead. DH: I love that I've grown to love exercise. PG: I'm going to be reading people's loves from Twitter. Colleen Coughlin-Taylor says "I love ice cold root beer." DH: Nice. I love my dog, I love when my dog just leans into me or plops his head onto my leg. PG: Anna Musso says, "I love when my fiance finishes my sentence and it's exactly what I was going to say." DH: I love that I can in my limited way create the world I wanted to live in. PG: Abby Johnson says, "I love having a heart-to-heart talk on the phone with my mother and she doesn't try to do an inventory of my faults or problems; instead, she listens and doesn't interrupt." DH: All that in 140 characters? PG: Apparently, yeah. I would bet exactly 140 characters. DH: I love that Merrill Markoe follows me on Twitter. PG: That's awesome. DH: Makes me so fucking happy. PG: Katie Baker says, "I love that my best friends live right down the street." DH: I love the feeling about half a mile into a run when the feeling that I can't do it melts away and suddenly I don't want to stop. PG: Actually you know what, you're right; this isn't Twitter, this is Facebook. This is a threat from Facebook that I printed out. Robin MacDonald says, "I love the way my therapist can make me see things in a new light and for the first time in life I really feel listened to and understood." That is beautiful. DH: That is gorgeous. I love that Sesame Street was created by our species in our universe. PG: Simone DeBlasio -- love Simone – says "I love making chocolate fudge pie for my friends." Hope that's not a sexual euphemism. DH: Awful. I love writing something that makes me laugh. PG: Jared Sexton says, "I love the feeling of moving 2000 miles away and seeing my new home on the horizon." DH: I love starting a movie around midnight. PG: I do too! There is a womblike beauty to watching a documentary or a movie after midnight that I just fucking love. DH: You know you're not going to get through it but it doesn't matter. PG: Oh, I do. I don't go to bed until three. DH: I fall asleep, but I love it, I fucking love it. PG: Dean Battino says, "I love opening a canister of tea leaves after they've been brewed." DH: I love tennis players' calves. PG: That's a great one. DH: I fucking love them. PG: Dean Battino says," I love seeing toddlers run after pigeons." DH: I love October in New York City. PG: Dean also says, "I love Paul F. Tompkins' impressions of John C. Reilly and John Lithgow." I didn't even know that wasn't actually John C. Reilly until about a month ago. DH: Really? PG: That's how good his impression is. DH: He's fucking good. Boy is he good. I love my dog's face when I come home. PG: Debbie Schuster-Webb says, "I love when my teenage son lets me hug him and he hugs back." DH: I love going to the farmers' market and getting the ingredients for a big meal. PG: Dean again says, "I love when I get the courage to make eye contact with someone passing by and smiling and they return it and I don't feel like I always come off as creepy." DH: I love men jogging in fleeces. PG: I like that. DH: Something about a dude in layers that I really dig. PG: You know what? I love swimmers' bodies. Whenever I see male swimmers I think that is as close as I come to having a gay experience. DH: These new ones, though, it's almost too much. Michael Phelps, almost robotic now, you know what I mean? He's too conical, you know what I mean? He's too long and cone-shaped. Ryan Lochte sure, good proportions. Michael Phelps a little much. Just a personal choice. PG: Dean says, "I love watching my cat watch birds." DH: I love making my boyfriend laugh. PG: Jeremy Claybaugh says, "I love stand-up comedy." DH: I think I am out. PG: Dave Holmes, thank you so much. DH: Thank you, thank you very much. This was good. This feels good. It's good to get this stuff out. PG: It is; it is really good. This is always the highlight of my day or my week when I get to do this, when I get to know somebody a little bit better and we get to talk about that ball of icky that seems to just, like if we don’t keep talking about the ball of icky, it seems to grow. DH: Oh yeah, oh yeah. Silence and darkness are perfect; they are optimal growing conditions for that kind of shit. PG: They are. DH: And the more that I talk about it, feeling anxiety, something that I always felt shame about, and I felt like I can’t tell anyone because part of why I have been able to do what I do is that I radiate a little bit of calm so I don't want to fuck that up and I don't want anyone to think that I'm feeling weird ever-- PG: Or have needs. DH: Or have needs. Exactly. So I just never expressed them but now being able to a little bit just being able to say out loud, "I'm feeling a little nervous right now" is great. It's a great little valve and it's ridiculous that it took me 40 years of my life to find it; you know it's an easy thing. A lot of other people seem to be able to do it. I just never could. PG: Thank you so much. Is there anything that you want to plug that people can go check out? They can follow you on Twitter? DH: Follow me on Twitter @DaveHolmes. Please do. Or at dave-holmes on Tumblr.com for my longer works. I'm taking over Attack of the Show for a week in September -- September 17-20 -- I don't know if this will be up before then. PG: That's great. I love those guys over there. DH: I'm excited. And it's live, so I get to do what I love to do best. I'm thrilled. So excited And I'm totally afraid that I'm going to start crying in the middle of it. Or throw up or pull down my pants or lose control or whatever, so I hope that doesn't happen. PG: I say you do the host juggling and that you do them all at the same time. DH: Terrific. I'll work on that I'll add that to my fear arsenal. PG: Thank you. DH: Thank you. PG: Thanks you to Dave Holmes for a great episode. Thanks you Dave for being so funny and honest and vulnerable. Unfortunately I didn't put up this episode in time to promote his appearance on Attack of the Show, but I did email him and ask him how it went, and he wrote "Oh, Attack of the Show was a motherfucker, intense searing anxiety through the whole thing. As they counted me down to the live broadcast each day, I thought, 'I'm going to vomit on live television.' And then at the end of the week they said, 'What we like about you is that you seem so calm and confident,' and they brought me back for another week and I laughed and cried the whole way home." I love that. Before I read a couple of survey responses and wrap things up, I want to thank everybody who makes this show possible: the guys who keep the spammers out of the forum, the transcribers, the audio editors, the people who email me, the people who fill out the surveys, the people who help me with the social media, all of you. I know that I'm leaving people out, but go fuck yourselves. You know what, I forced that one. That was a forced go fuck yourself. And if you're judging me for that, go fuck yourself. That was not a forced go fuck yourself. This is from the "Shame and Secrets" survey and this person did not fill out the whole survey. I just wanted to read this one part. This guy is in his forties, he's gay. His name is Paul and was raised in a pretty dysfunctional environment. He writes, "I had a year of aversion therapy including electric shock at 12 years old to assure my mother and the Catholic priests that were advising her that I would not grow up to be homosexual. The therapy didn't work but it did make me terrified of sexual intimacy and to fear men." I'm speechless; I can't even say anything. These last two that I want to read. The first one is from a listener, friend of the show, Patty Lynne Henry, and she writes, "So in Minnesota there is an amendment proposed on November's ballot which would amend the state constitution to legally define a marriage to be between a man and a woman. Fuck that. I'm so sick of this prejudice, so in addition to blogging, writing articles and posting on social media to have discussions with other people about why this amendment is wrong and unconstitutional, I also had a yard sign from Minnesotans United for All Families, which I displayed proudly. On Sunday, someone stole that sign and the same one from a neighbor two houses down. I immediately wrote an open letter to the thief on my blog, went to the hardware store and made a new sign which read, 'You stole my sign, not my love. Vote no on 2 on the 6th.' Today I went back to HQ, and purchased eight signs and four bumper stickers to share with my neighbors and friends who stood up for the cause. When I arrived home, there was a new 'Vote No' sign already in my yard and a note from a stranger. I could not believe the power of love and kindness any more than I do at this moment. It was so beautiful. I cried on my kitchen floor with the note in hand. It reads, 'The sign is inanimate but the meaning behind it is profound. I'm sorry someone took that meaning but I'm happy to see that you're strong enough to stand up again. Your new sign touched our hearts. Here's another one. If they steal these, post ten more. Have a good day.'" I love that. And then the final one I wanted to read is also from a Minnesotan. Her name is Amy. She's gay, and this is from the "Happy Moments" survey. She writes -— I'm cutting to the chase here bar that's old and storied in Saint Paul and very kind of old-school Prohibition-era bar that's been around for a long time and she writes, "I remember being so happy surrounded by votive candles, the jazzy tunes of the band clinking of glasses and my girlfriend in my arms on the dance floor, warm and smiling. Surrounded by the same crowd that had been going to Mancini's since the Prohibition era. A crowd that I had assumed would be flabbergasted by the sight of two women dancing on the dance floor. It was an exhilarating, blissful, and somehow hilarious experience. No one seemed to be staring. It was perfect. Freeing. I won’t forget it." That's beautiful. That is beautiful. The people that want to hold the LGBT community back, they die every day. Their numbers are dwindling but those of us who do care about equal rights, we are young, maybe not me – they are young and their numbers are only going to increase. So if anybody is listening to this and is torn about your sexuality, everyday it gets better. Every day one of them leaves the planet and someone a little more open-minded and will have a different set of social values instilled in them is born. Obviously we are never going to be rid of homophobia but I hope that what Grizzly and Paul had to go through, I hope that stuff like that happens less and less and I feel pretty confident that it does but sometimes it takes us standing up in front of a table full of people and speaking our truths. I hope that you guys enjoyed this episode. If you are out there and you are feeling stuck, you're not alone. There is hope. And if you're bored, go to the grocery store and walk down the doughnut aisle. You're not alone. Thanks for listening.