One of my favorite parts of being a reporter is getting to talk to strangers (and sometimes, friends). Even outside of assignments, I find myself interviewing waitresses, vending-machine repairmen and random people who have clearly not chosen to be in line in front of me at the grocery. This year, I came across some fascinating people -- either by the randomness of assignments or inspired by a long-time desire to get someone's story on paper -- and found that with each Q&A I did, I learned something. From pastors to musicians to scientists and wrestlers, everyone has a story to tell.
See also: - Twelve Denver arts flashbacks from 2012 - In honor of snow in the mountains: The ten best South Park ski instructor memes - Lucky '13: Andrew Novick of Gimme Gimme Pillow Toast, Warlock Pinchers, and GetYourGoing
10."Joey Terrofyn" McDougal, wrestler/owner/founder of Primos Harccore & Wrestling My initial reaction to the idea of a "Juggalo" wrestling league was skepticism. But speaking with Joey changed all of that. A man with a passion for the art of wrestling and the hardcore style, Joey "Terrofyn" McDougal explained what kind of training goes into each wrestler's career -- his own Butcher Shop in Colorado is a facility that specializes in this type of fighting -- and dispelled any myths that this was anything but a serious business. Since distancing himself and his company from the Juggalo wrestling circuit a few years ago, his events have begun to feature the clown wrestlers once again, but focus on bringing international talent to the ring. This year, McDougal also started the REVoLUCHA Lucha Libre arm of his company and headed to Mexico City himself to train.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
8. Sam Tallent of The Fine Gentleman's Club Based on the sheer coverage of Fine Gentleman's Club-related events this year by Westword, it was clear we were obsessed. But this group of four comedians went bigger and better than ever in 2012, setting up shows whereever they could, hosting their annual comedy and music conglomeration Too Much Funstival, and running a weekly night of standup that brought national and local start-up comedians to the mike in an unpretentious room.
Before knowing Tallent as a comedian, our bands had played shows together in Denver. Around the release of his comedy mixtape, Joke Life, we chatted about that very thing -- and the application of D.I.Y. band ethics to how he functions as a comedian. (Fellow Westword contributor Robin Edwards also talked to Tallent recently about being so damn funny.)
7. Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber As an ordained Lutheran minister and founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints, Pastor Bolz-Weber takes great pride in the fact that her church functions in a way that can be seen as non-traditional. Embracing all people of all faiths, she believes that delivering the teaching is what she was called to do -- while telling people how or what to believe is not. Of her congregation, she says, "It's not even like 'This is for the outcasts,' we have a lot of outcasts, but we have lawyers and bankers. It's not even like, 'Oh, this is the church for the tattooed people.'"
6. Luke List, actor and drag performer. Another subject I was lucky enough to meet through outside circumstances -- when this interview was initially conducted, we were just getting to know each other as fellow employees of Shirt Folding Store -- Luke List spoke to me about a lot of things, but what stuck out the most was his commentary on the stigma of drag performance. A trained actor with an MFA in Contemporary Theatre Performance from Naropa, List had just added queen to one of many roles he has played on stage. His Zoe O. persona shone brightly, and he just wrapped Drag Machine at Off-Center @ the Jones this winter.
5. DIY Feminist Scientist Margaret Wertheim Though Margaret's subject matter was far beyond my own comprehension, she presented her work in a way that was accessible, including using crochet as a way to build massive coral reef system models. Wertheim spoke with me this past summer in advance of her lecture at the wonderful Feminism & Co series, discussing the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project she began with her sister, Christine Wertheim, and how the ever-evolving textile model of the fragile and endangered ocean landscape exists at what Wertheim calls "the intersection of art, science, environmental consciousness, community art practice and feminism."
4. Sie FilmCenter Programming Manager and Nancy Boy Keith Garcia Sometimes I interview people who end up becoming my friend -- I guess it's the nature of the business when you are asking a stranger to tell you about his life. Keith Garcia is one such subject, but when I spoke to him earlier this year about his Nightmare on Elm Street-inspired first tattoo, I had no idea how much this man loved the movies. Also a player in Westword's Lucky '13 end-of-year Q&A series, Garcia always has a lot to say about film history, actor secrets and his favorite directors.
3. Painter Jenny Morgan In an interview I had wanted to do for a long time, artist Jenny Morgan spoke to her process, inspiration and how, exactly, she convinces her friends to pose nude for her work (which is actually easier than I thought). She also talked a lot about how art school can help and hinder an artist, depending on how much guidance is taken into consideration. A Salt Lake City native who called Denver home for many years, Morgan now resides in Brooklyn and has been getting much of the attention her delicate and raw work deserves.
2. Folk artist and sign painter Kevin Hennessy Eternally a traveling man, artist Kevin Hennessy temporarily planted his feet in Denver over the summer, painting signs for new businesses and hosting a show of new work at Ironwood. His view of commercial art in the modern world was a refreshing one, and Hennessy even shared a list of his favorite hand-painted signs around Denver that display the lost art. He's currently in Oaxaca, Mexico, working as a tattoo apprentice; I can only hope that Hennessy comes back to ply his trade on the arms, legs and buildings of Colorado.
1. Patty Schemel of Hole In a teenage dream realized, I spoke with Patty Schemel when she came through Denver to host the screening of her biopic, Hit So Hard. Schemel was candid from the get-go about her life as an addict -- her movie functions in exactly the same way -- and proved to me that no matter how famous you are, you're still just a regular human being.