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  WINDY CITY TIMES

PODCASTS 'Feast' duo still having fun after 13 years
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2017-12-27

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The popular podcast Feast of Fun are still making it work after all of these years thanks to the dynamically gay duo Fausto Fernos and Marc Felion. In January 2018 they begin their 14th year of producing podcasts with an average of 200 shows a year.

The two have taken on additional endeavors recently such as filming on video for Cooking with Drag Queens, and a new second podcast called Star Trek: Discovery, focusing on science fiction.

Apple honored Feast of Fun in 2006 as one of 50 pioneering podcast shows. They are also five-time winners of the People's Choice Podcast Awards.

The talkative twosome sat down to discuss their roots and the success of the show.

Windy City Times: Where are you both originally from?

Marc Felion: I was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, but was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Fausto Fernos: I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I lived there until the age of 16. I went University of Texas at Austin to get my undergraduate. I came to Chicago to get my graduate degree.

WCT: What did you study in school?

MF: I have my undergraduate study in international studies, foreign languages and political science. I have an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.

FF: As an undergraduate, I studied as a metal worker, and pre-med my first semester. I didn't want to memorize all of that so I got into art and theater. I majored in photography and performance art. As a graduate I studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for graphic design, performance art and audio engineering.

WCT: When did you start performing?

FF: When I was 19 years old, me and a group of friends did something called The Soft Men Show, which was in the spirit of Irma Vep. We would have a bunch of costumes and improvise a soap opera on the second floor of a clothing store in Downtown Texas. I then started a group called The Performance Art Church and was one of the first drag queens on cable access television back in 1992 called El Show de Faustina.

WCT: When did you two meet?

MF: We met in 1999 at The Eagle bar. he came up to me and thought he knew me.

FF: I had been chatting with someone on AOL who used stock photography that looked like Marc. I proposed to him a week later.

WCT: That soon?

FF: I have never had a hard time talking to Marc. We instantly clicked.

WCT: How did you get into radio?

FF: Because I was a drag queen and I wanted to perform. I began running audio excerpts and short videos as a blog called Feast of Fools to promote a live show.

WCT: When was this?

FF: Back in 2003. We didn't even know what to call it. We called it the Feast of Fools Live Internet Radio Show. I was excited about doing it on the internet. Back then you could have unlimited bandwidth with a dot Mac account. Our first specific show was Feb. 8, 2005. We were frustrated because there were 50 other podcasts out there. We felt we were too late to the game!

There are millions now and almost all of our guests have started their own podcasts. Within a year Apple recognized our podcast as one that was paving the way for future podcasts.

WCT: When did the name change come?

FF: Feast of Fools is based on an essay by Harry Hay, founder of the Radical Fairies. He had a book called Radically Queer. In it was the essay about the power of art to transform people's hearts and lives by having fun.

Feast of Fools was about not taking ourselves too seriously. I felt it didn't explain what we do. I am attracted to titles that explains the concept fast so we can put it aside and have fun.

MF: We had trouble booking people when it was called Fools.

FF: Feast of Fun at its core is about telling a story to make art in this world that is harsh and unloving.

MF: We do tackle some serious subjects on the show, but with Fun in the title we have to move on to something else. It is not Feast of Responsibility, so we focus on the fun.

WCT: Has one moment stood out in the podcast?

FF: I was really proud of our work with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. We covered the studies that led to the rise of PrEP and the using of Truvada that could possibly eradicate the virus in our lifetimes.

Right when the PrEP study was released, we said, "Just in time for Christmas a pill that prevents HIV." People thought we were tabloid journalists!

At the core of what we do, I am an artist first and a journalist second. I am ultimately a media creator. I want to make interesting shows to listen to the same way a musician wants to make songs.

WCT: How much time do you spend making one podcast?

FF: It depends on the project. We spent half a year working on the Just a Gigolo podcast. It was an analysis of the history of the song "Just a Gigolo" and how it evolved through the decades.

MF: People look to us for relationship advice or we will talk about building a community. We will just go to the internet, look up some things, and put a show together.

When we have a guest we will study their story and what they want to talk about.

FF: Generally we spend about four hours a show researching and preparing a show, then recording and engineering it. There is photography and graphic design with every episode. There is a lot of writing involved and sometimes we work with comedy writers.

It can be an elaborate experience or it can be quick, and easy.

WCT: What is the new Star Trek series you are working on?

MF: I am very excited about it, because I feel Star Trek is such a mirror to what is happening in this world. It gives us hope for a better future. Brian Sweeney is a straight ally who is on it with us along with comedian Collette Gregory who had been on our podcast before. Her mother went to school with Avery Brooks on Deep Space Nine. She brings what it is like to be Black in America during these times.

The first couple of episodes were about being that outsider. It goes hand in hand with Feast of Fun and in some ways is an art project.

WCT: Talk about the Cooking with Drag Queens experience.

FF: We have somehow managed to strike lightning twice. It began when artists came over and we would feed them before or after a show recording. We first made a video cooking tostones, or fried plantains, with a friend trying out drag. Following that we had RuPaul's Drag Race personalities insisting on doing videos. We didn't ask them, they asked us. Now it has inspired about 25 different web series that have drag queens cooking in the kitchen.

We started a Kickstarter to have lighting and production to make 15 episodes of the show. We have done that every year including this one. Through the miracle of Julia Child looking at us from heaven, we are able to do a third season of this series!

Visit FeastOfFun.com for links to past, present and upcoming episodes .


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