Bobby Hankinson’s Kweendom Rules Over Brooklyn
Bobby Hankinson is the host of Kweendom, a monthly show featuring New York’s most hilarious LGBTQ comedians and storytellers. Their next show is this Friday, June 10th at Union Hall (702 Union St) in Park Slope. We caught up with him to talk about this awesome showcase.
Before Bobby started performing, he was a writer, focusing on writing about pop culture, music, and television, specifically from a queer perspective. He’s written for the Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle. He is currently a columnist for Towleroad, a popular national LGBT news site. (He’s written some really great pieces so check out his page there.)
Bobby started performing in 2013 after working with performance artist Tim Miller (he was one of the NEA Four who sued the federal government for vetoing their National Endowment for the Arts grant because their work was too controversial). Bobby started doing some stand-up and storytelling, eventually landing him as the first guy on Natalie Wall’s Awkward Sex and the City tour. Going around the country telling really graphic stories about going down on dudes, micro-penises, and growing up as a young, miserable closet case, wearing baggy black clothes from Hot Topic like some kind of teenage Gargamel ended up being a really empowering experience.
When the time came to set up his own show, he knew he wanted it to be super gay. “Not just gay, but like GAAAAAYYYYY. Gay like The B-52s are gay. Gay like Hocus Pocus is gay. Gay like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse gay. I wanted it to be campy and over-the-top and fun. When the opportunity came to host it monthly at Jessica Delfino’s incredibly adorable and funky space The Unicorn, I jumped at the chance.”
Bobby also wanted to push himself to not just book gay and ‘gay-friendly’ acts, or ‘LGBT and allies’. He wanted to try and book all LGBTQ line-ups because he felt like there is enough LGBT talent in NYC to sustain that. “It’s a fun challenge. Now, not everyone needs to be a Kinsey 6 to perform, but the show is billed as all LGBT performers. If a straight dude wants to self-identify like that, I think there’s something subversive and cool about that. As HoneyBoo Boo once said, everybody’s a little gay.”
Bobby knew he wanted the show to contribute to a larger cause financially as well. “My experience writing for Towleroad — which definitely has a largely white, male, upper-middle-class audience….exposed me to a lot of the racism and transphobia within the gay community, so I knew I wanted to donate proceeds to an organization that was specifically working with LGBTQ youth of color, especially with a focus on gender-nonconforming or trans youth. We’ve been donating to Streetwise & Safe since we started, and I’m really excited to see what we can do for them here.”
As we got into Pride month, Bobby wanted to do something special in Brooklyn this year. “I live in Brooklyn, and I’ve done some writing for Brokelyn.com. Union Hall is my favorite venue in Brooklyn. One of the first comedy shows I saw in NY was Videogum‘s Gabe Delahaye‘s Mr. Coconuts at Union Hall. I’ve seen so much comedy and music there. I’ve eaten so many corn dogs there. I love it.”
The best part of doing the show for Bobby is meeting so many incredible LGBTQ performers. The lineup for Kweendom features a lot of performers he’s had on the show before. “Bowen Yang is honestly one of the most talented people I’ve ever met. If you’re not listening to his Las Culturistas podcast, you’re not living, honey. Samantha Ruddy and Veronica Garza are the kinds of performers we’ll be telling our grandkids we saw before they blew up. There should be royal portraits of Garry Hannon hanging in Brooklyn. Alex English causes me physical pain because I laugh so hard seeing him perform. Julio Torres is so brilliant, I’m not sure if we should give him an Oscar, a Pulitzer, a MacArthur Grant or a Nobel Peace Prize. I haven’t had Kevin Allison on the show, but he is a fucking legend. He was on The State! His podcast is one of the best there is. He’s so smart and sexy and charming. I just met Isaac Oliver recently, but his book is hilarious and so smart.”
Bobby is passionate and energetic not just for the show but his guests. “It’s going to take everything in my power to not make out with literally every single performer on stage.” But seriously, he’s genuine and honest, which are qualities all good hosts with something to say should have. If you are free Friday you must head to Park Slope and see Kweendom live!