Gays Reading

Rufi Thorpe (Margo's Got Money Troubles)

June 13, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Rufi Thorpe Season 2 Episode 57
Rufi Thorpe (Margo's Got Money Troubles)
Gays Reading
More Info
Gays Reading
Rufi Thorpe (Margo's Got Money Troubles)
Jun 13, 2024 Season 2 Episode 57
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Rufi Thorpe

Send us a Text Message.

Jason and Brett talk to Rufi Thorpe (Margo’s Got Money Troubles) about her obsession with wrestling (and how learning about it was like an all-cereal buffet), having a public persona and the chaos of the modern internet, falling in love with strangers, and of course, @tooturnttony.

Rufi Thorpe is the author of The Knockout Queen, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award; Dear Fang, with Love; and The Girls from Corona del Mar, which was long-listed for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. A native of California, she currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Jason and Brett talk to Rufi Thorpe (Margo’s Got Money Troubles) about her obsession with wrestling (and how learning about it was like an all-cereal buffet), having a public persona and the chaos of the modern internet, falling in love with strangers, and of course, @tooturnttony.

Rufi Thorpe is the author of The Knockout Queen, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award; Dear Fang, with Love; and The Girls from Corona del Mar, which was long-listed for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. A native of California, she currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Jason Blitman:

Hello!

Brett Benner:

I love today. I love, I loved this interview. I love all of your interviews, but this is so great because this book is bangers.

Jason Blitman:

we are talking about is Rufi Thorpe's Margo's Got Money Troubles, which just came out earlier this week, and if you pay very close attention to our Instagram, that's maybe two of you, uh, you might note that this was not originally scheduled for today and in fact scheduled for next week, but we had a little scheduling snafu shuffling some things around, so today we have the delightful Rufi Thorpe, If you are joining us for the first time on Gaze Reading, welcome. If you are coming back, thank you so much for joining us. as always, if you are liking what you're hearing, please share us with your friends, and follow us wherever you get your podcasts. And on social media, we are at Gaze Reading. All of the books that we ever talk about on our show are on our bookshop. org page. Uh, you could find the link to that in our show notes and on the link tree in our email. on our Instagram. Uh, we also have a Patreon, which has a ton of bonus content, including, we've had, we've had so many wonderful interviews lately, uh, and, and because we have so many authors, we haven't had time to, in our, in our episodes, to put every single thing we talk about, so all of that is going onto our Patreon, so you could check that out. And we have merch, and we have all sorts of things, and all of the links to all of those things can be found In our show notes, we also are in the middle, not even the middle, we're still at the very beginning of

Brett Benner:

Yeah. It's early.

Jason Blitman:

Covenant of Water read along. Covenant of Water by Abraham Bergese. we have a great group doing a read along of the book. We're doing 10 weeks uh, to read the 10 parts of the book. we are currently only on part two, so you're not far behind.

Brett Benner:

And Amy Jo Burns has joined us

Jason Blitman:

Yes, we're reading along with the lovely Amy Jo Burns, who wrote one of my favorite books this year, Mercury. And those, that's I think all of our, housekeeping

Brett Benner:

You covered it.

Jason Blitman:

covered it. The delightful Rufi Thorpe is the author of The Knockout Queen, a finalist for the Penn Faulkner Award, Dear Fang with Love, and The Girls from Corona Del Mar, which was long listed for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Prize and the Flaherty Dunin First Novel Prize. A native of California, she currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons. And on that note, I'm Jason and enjoy this episode of Gaze Reading.

Brett Benner:

Rufy. Hi, Rufi.

Rufi Thorpe:

I'm so happy to be here.

Jason Blitman:

so happy to see you. I guess I won't speak for Brad. I'm very happy to

Brett Benner:

I'm very happy. I was very excited. very excited.

Rufi Thorpe:

Do know you're my first podcast that I'm doing for Margo?

Brett Benner:

Really?

Jason Blitman:

mean, that doesn't surprise me because the book is coming out. in a minute, but I was just looking at our release calendar and I was like, when does this episode air? And I was like, Two months from today. Oh my God.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, we're getting ahead of it.

Rufi Thorpe:

You're so productive.

Jason Blitman:

So we're your first podcast for Margo's got money troubles.

Rufi Thorpe:

indeed.

Jason Blitman:

You probably have not perfected an elevator pitch yet, but now's your time to workshop it.

Rufi Thorpe:

This is my only book that has any elevator pitch at all. All my other ones are so hard to elevator pitch. But the elevator pitches A community college student has a brief affair with her English professor, winds up getting knocked up, decides to keep the baby, and supports herself with an OnlyFans account. Meanwhile, her father, who is an ex pro wrestling personality, has recently got out of rehab and needs a place to live, and he moves in with her, and his insight from the world of wrestling is part of what launches her account and her career, which is a runaway success, which is of course when all the real trouble begins. So that's my experience.

Brett Benner:

That was also, I felt like you went into, it also seems like a pitch that you went into every single studio and network with.

Rufi Thorpe:

Thank you. I actually didn't do any of that pitching, but

Brett Benner:

But that was excellent.

Jason Blitman:

You could have, I think is Brett's point.

Brett Benner:

Beautiful.

Rufi Thorpe:

of those things that I didn't really understand when I was a baby fiction writer and first writing novels was because I was like, I'm trying to communicate the incommunicable and people are like, but what is it? What is it? Someone needs to know what it is in order to know if they want to read it. And I was like, Oh like you have to be able to. succinctly set something up so that someone can know if it's for them or not.

Jason Blitman:

and it's funny too, on this show, we don't do spoilers, but we also, I find this to be true of all book blurbs these days and movie trailers. It's like you get so much plot just from reading the blurb and you're like, wait a minute, that thing that was in the description happens on page 120. Like why is this a part of the description? For us, so much of it has been like, okay, here's a little nugget of a vibe, and we promise you'll like it, but don't read into it.

Brett Benner:

Right.

Rufi Thorpe:

It can be really hard to know where that line is. With Knockout Queen, the sort of, it the main premise was a spoiler. And so it was like, I just sell it all just based on these two characters

Jason Blitman:

there are fun avenues we could go down in talking about this book. But the first, because it's plastered on your website, and I'm obsessed is your obsession with pro wrestling and I love all of the pictures. You have this tradition with your family to do these Halloween costumes. How did that come to be?

Rufi Thorpe:

I think it was literally my youngest one wanted, I think the first year we did it, he wanted to be stone cold Steve Austin. And so there's like great photos of him, like flipping the double bird and doing the whole thing.

Jason Blitman:

How old is he? Do you think

Rufi Thorpe:

was in second or he may have been, it may have been first

Jason Blitman:

Oh my God, that's so funny.

Rufi Thorpe:

And none of his peers knew who he was.

Brett Benner:

Or what this meant.

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah. Oh, and he would do it only to the dads because dads would be like stone cold and he,

Brett Benner:

for our listeners, she's giving the finger right now.

Jason Blitman:

Double finger.

Brett Benner:

The double finger. Yes.

Rufi Thorpe:

But no, I think we got into the wrestling. So I grew up raised entirely by single mom and grandma. So there was no pro wrestling on in our house when I was growing up. It was all, golden girls and designing women and then Going to like musicals like that. That was

Jason Blitman:

That sounds like the best life. Hashtag gays reading.

Rufi Thorpe:

it was so so good. I loved it It

Brett Benner:

Oh my God, nirvana. Mm.

Rufi Thorpe:

for me, Like I get all the attention and unlimited budget of like library books like it was a an idyllic childhood But it didn't involve really any knowledge of anything masculine like sports or wrestling certainly and so it was really during the pandemic, it's like you're endlessly, I think when the pandemic started, my kids were four and seven and they just needed me to guide them through every moment of every day. And so you're just constantly trying to make up stuff to do. And they were both really into WWE. And I think my husband had watched sentimentally as a child and was nostalgic about it. And then we had a trampoline, so we were constantly resting on the trampoline. We would also, we bought an inflatable hot tub from walmart. com and we would wrestle in the hot tub and it was all like, none of us were, we would go straight from pajamas to bathing suits and then just live in our bathing suits all day and wrestle in various environments. And so that's really when I got. And then I started watching like dark side of the ring and biopic type material and understood the history of wrestling and like the sort of like carnival origins of it. Just what it was like during that period when WWE was conglomerate, like taking over all of the territories and. So because like wrestling was this like territory sport. Sorry, I'm going to get in the weeds here. I should stop. But there were these dynasties like because the moves were secret and closely guarded rest and you also need to be huge and have a certain physicality. It was really common. For like dads who were wrestlers to have five sons and all of them grow up to be wrestlers. So you have these dynasties from different parts of the country and it was all so fascinating. And then their life on the road and everyone's on drugs and drinking too much. And it like, the stories are insane. There's just so many stories of Haku, like I know multiple stories of Haku taking someone's eye out. One, he eats it and another one, he stomps on it on the ground. There's one book where a guy in a restaurant was like, Hey, I've seen you guys. It's fake, isn't it? Wrestling's fake. And he's like, yeah, yeah, it is here, you want me to show you a move? Let me show you. And so then he like gets him close and then just bites off his nose. And so as a fiction writer, obviously when you're hearing these stories, like I couldn't get enough. It was like an all cereal buffet. And so I just started reading memoirs and wrestling also has this robust publishing tradition. where every wrestler has published a memoir. And some of them have published three, four memoirs.

Jason Blitman:

I cannot wait for our offshoot gays reading wrestler memoirs. And it's just going to be a whole series where we only talk to wrestlers. There's something there. That's kind of hot. Yep.

Rufi Thorpe:

that my entry point for wrestling, honestly, was being a fan of drag. Because immediately the like over the top outfits, like the petty feuding, the like characters and like personas. I was like, Oh, I get this. This is fun.

Jason Blitman:

Watching glow on TV, I was like, this is an incredible the TV series, fictionalized version of gorgeous ladies of wrestling because they're rebooting glow. The actual glow. Like actual gorgeous ladies of wrestling. And someone who I used to work with in New York city is one of those women. But she's a musical theater performer. She's essentially a drag queen.

Rufi Thorpe:

Oh, totally.

Brett Benner:

fascinating. And now it makes you wonder why they never did a reality show with wrestlers to like make a next wrestling star. That's interesting.

Rufi Thorpe:

It has got to be something that I think the WWE is having kind of a resurgence in popularity right now. And I don't know people in like our age group who grew up sentimental about like the attitude era It's like suddenly it's fun and interesting to watch again. I think that they're trying to push really hard this narrative like Oh, Vince McMahon is gone and now this is a new era where wrestling is going to be like not something you have to feel a little icky about. At least that seemed to be very much like the messaging embedded in the latest Wrestlemania.

Jason Blitman:

So it's hilarious because. Literally your website has different sections and one of them is obsessions and the only thing in the obsessions category is wrestling. And the way that you just went down this rabbit hole, I was like, Oh, okay, this makes sense now. There's no room for any other obsession.

Brett Benner:

Only fans,

Rufi Thorpe:

to have other obsessions. I just ran out of interest in building the website. But I am a

Jason Blitman:

build it yourself?

Rufi Thorpe:

Yes, I did.

Jason Blitman:

It is. Incredible. Everybody stop what you're doing and go to rufithorpe.cpm.

Brett Benner:

We'll link it,

Jason Blitman:

because it just you look at it and you're like, if this is what it looks like inside her brain, I want to be her best friend. Oh,

Brett Benner:

forms. Because the patchwork and the pieces, that's what it looks like. And I love that.

Rufi Thorpe:

I think I just really I love because I teach at a program called the book incubator That's like a MFA alternative year long program. That's all online But so I like have I do like classes that where I lecture but I like to make little graphics that I put and like I so I use a lot of times like a form of photoshop for your phone called pixart I don't know if you guys know it I so I was like trying to show my son how to use it because he was trying to make a Created a ger club. I don't know. It's but anyway, he was like, why is your most used like sticker a Joint and I was like, oh because I photoshop all the writers I quote in my lecture so that they're smoking big fat doobies fun, I feel like.

Jason Blitman:

that is so funny. Okay. Wait, while you're, while we're talking about your website and then we'll move on to talk more about the book. Who is Piccolino and how can I be his best friend?

Rufi Thorpe:

My half brother got a pig, so he lived for a long time in China with his now wife, Jessie, and they had a pig there named Hamlet who sadly, the legality of trying to bring a pig from China to the United States is very complicated,

Brett Benner:

I imagine. Yeah,

Rufi Thorpe:

to the States,

Jason Blitman:

Re home

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah, I know. I hope I think

Jason Blitman:

Oh god.

Rufi Thorpe:

it ended up. But they had experience with pig ownership previously. I don't know. They're just very eccentric people, but I got lucky they moved to Culver City. And so then we like got to have this whole relationship. We didn't grow up knowing each other. And so it's been this real gift to get to know him as an adult. And he's been so sweet in terms of just inviting my children. Like he, We had reconnected and met twice and he invited my son to be a flower boy in his wedding. Like he was just like right away. It was like, we're connected, really kind. But so they have Piccolino the pig who we have pigs that exactly once my kids are obsessed with Piccolino, obviously, but my dog wants to kill Piccolino with her whole heart.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Rufi Thorpe:

like she all

Jason Blitman:

It's nature.

Rufi Thorpe:

shake with desire to get near Piccolino. Like she can think of nothing else. pigs are so interesting It's like taking care of a little alien because they're really But like they scream when you pick them up and they he wasn't neutered yet and so he kept like humping the soccer ball in the backyard and just like A their penises are curly And B they just make a lot of very smelly liquid, the penis does, before even any kind of ejaculate happens. And the soccer ball was never the same.

Jason Blitman:

Things I did not think we were going to talk about today, or probably ever on Gay's Reading.

Brett Benner:

you got your sound

Jason Blitman:

wow. That's funny. Little did I know what I was asking for when I was

Rufi Thorpe:

When you were like, can I be best friends with Piccolino, I'm like, it will be wet.

Jason Blitman:

He's also a sticker on your website and I loved him.

Brett Benner:

It's like speaking of discharge, let's talk about OnlyFans.

Jason Blitman:

my god. Oh wait, so you're talking about wrestling. So how did that translate into Margo's got money troubles?

Rufi Thorpe:

Honestly, okay, so I knew that I wanted to write about a sex where the sex worker mother character For a long time, but I couldn't imagine how It would work because I just felt like the stigma against sex work was so strong in our culture and the putting on a pedestal of mothers and motherhood, like every mother has to be perfect and non human almost. And, but I really loved the idea of taking the Madonna whore complex and just like short circuiting it and making a Madonna whore superhero kind of character. And it was really when. I was watching OnlyFans take off at the beginning of the pandemic. I was like, people are being less judgmental about this than they usually You know, More regular people in their commentary on this are saying why not? And there's something about its digital nature. There's something about it where there's enough gray area here where maybe I can get around. The reader's resistance to investing in a character like this. And so I knew I wanted to do that, and so I was writing that, and I was figuring out her voice and her background and stuff, and I was meanwhile getting more and more obsessed with the wrestling. And me and my mom would walk the dogs every day, and I would just like download to her about different wrestling biographies, and she's like, it's a shame you can't work any of this into the book. And I was like, I can't! The book absolutely cannot! Have another crazy thing in it. And I was like, who could it be? And she was like, I don't know. And she's like, she couldn't, could she be a wrestler? And I was like, no, I'm not making her a wrestler. But the more I was thinking about it, the more I just felt like there were all these really compelling sort of similarities between them as career paths and like ways of using your body to make money ways of you think about wrestlers, like Rick rude. His whole thing was like being like the hottest and. All your wives, I'm going to show him what a real man looks like. And he, would be in his like Chippendales outfit. But even, I think every wrestler knows that part of it is their sex appeal. And like the crowd, if they stop too long, we'll start to try and touch them and like fondle them. Like they, it is a sexual thing that they're doing. And so I was like, this is too interesting to give up. And then, but I was really worried. I was like, am I going to be able to do this authentically? It seems hard to write about wrestling. But so then I came up with the way that I thought I could enter the book through her father, this character Jinx. And from the moment I started writing him, I knew it could work. I just loved him as a character so much. He was for me, the inspiration for him as a character kind of came from Paul Ellering, who Was a manager of a famous tag team called the Legion of Doom, the Road Warriors. Basically, he gave me the idea of that there could be someone who was. on camera and part of wrestling, but who was no longer actively wrestling, but who was very world and felt like an easier sell than to be like, and her dad's Hulk Hogan, it just felt like a life size, like right sized way of making it real, making it feel like all this could really be happening.

Jason Blitman:

It's so funny to me to hear that the wrestling part came second because the whole concept of the persona, it's just, the marriage is so perfect that it just Is surprising to me.

Rufi Thorpe:

I know, I'm a very like messy writer and I have to stumble around for a long time before I figure out what I have and it's a very collage y process where it's like I have this thing and I'm obsessed with it and I have this thing and I'm obsessed with it. How do I put them together,

Jason Blitman:

this is what your website looks like.

Rufi Thorpe:

Yes

Jason Blitman:

in the concept of public persona, do you feel like as an author in some public setting that you need to have this persona?

Rufi Thorpe:

I think I've really struggled with it because I think the internet has changed over the course of our coming of age, when we were teenagers, the internet was like a secret place where you could go do anything and no one would ever see it. And then

Brett Benner:

Once you're dialed up.

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah, we dialed up.

Brett Benner:

The famous AOL.

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah,

Brett Benner:

You've got mail.

Rufi Thorpe:

Like the whole era of, Facebook and my space and all of a sudden realizing that like your future employers could see all your drunken night out photos. And then that was probably bad. And everyone's the internet is forever. When there's something on there, then it's there forever. And so I think when I was first I was just really intimidated by being myself publicly. And especially on Twitter, like it back in 2014, when girls from Trinidad Omar came out. I really found Twitter fascinating and I loved following people, but I was never very good at being myself on there. I didn't have a clear idea of how to project a persona. And then I think that the only thing that's really changed is that now I understand I can't even find my own old interviews. There is like the internet. Yeah, everything's forever But it's also chaotic and large and most people aren't gonna see things and I think I just got slightly less afraid So I was able to be more natural But I've never been very good at crafting like I couldn't write a dating profile to save my life Like I've never been very good at projecting like This is who I am and why it's, I always feel like, Oh, this is going to come off weird. I'm about to be weird right now.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, not this is the version of myself that I want other people to see, right? Like you can't,

Rufi Thorpe:

I think it's never felt curated

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

And it's something that Jason, I've talked about it before. I don't, and one of our other episodes is this idea because of the internet now and the accessibility of people to reach out to people that normally they would not have ever had the opportunity, whether it's a celebrity or, but it's also the whole idea with the internet. The only fans thing to and those type of people who feel normal, but you fantasize. Certainly I've seen people I've been like, wow, hot. And then you'll go just in their Instagram links. Like here's my only fans link. It's so fascinating in that moment of oh I can just go see a little bit more if I want to see a little bit more. And I just find it's such an integral part. And certainly it, it takes place in this book, but it's fascinating how we've gotten there.

Rufi Thorpe:

I know it's so interesting to me. And one of the things that I find interesting is, and it's part of why I feel like people get a little, or maybe I'm just going to turn out to be really dumb about not being afraid of AI. But I feel like all the social medias have shown us over and over again, that what is compelling to people is authenticity and that the more salesy and false you get with things the less sticky it is. And that like your best hope is really just to be yourself the end. So it's interesting that way because it feels like for a while there, it felt like all of social media was this really like fake Instagram per overly perfected thing. And I feel like now it's coming back around where people are interested in something a little bit more real and authentic and interested in getting close to people that they never could get close to before. Like, I mean, It was even really in this book, I had to do a lot of Only Fans research, obviously. But I didn't have any close friends that had OnlyFans accounts, so

Jason Blitman:

That you knew of.

Rufi Thorpe:

yeah, that I knew of,

Brett Benner:

They're out. They're all going to come out of the woodwork. Now. Hey, if you need me to promote

Rufi Thorpe:

as I was done writing, people were like, oh, my cousin does that. And I'm like, you could have told me when I desperately needed people to talk to, to try and understand. So many of my questions were so boring and technical in nature. I'm like, so your inbox, what does that look like? What's at the top?

Jason Blitman:

You're like, so I had to spend 300 to do.

Rufi Thorpe:

Exactly,

Brett Benner:

That's small change.

Rufi Thorpe:

Worth. And their time is valuable and a lot of people are willing to pay a lot for their time. So that's exactly what I was doing. The only way that they were accessible, I like listened to podcasts and videos and every op ed that there ever was and essays and blogs and anything I could get my hands on, but I mainly was going on OnlyFans and sending tips and saying, Listen, here's 50 bucks. I'm a novelist. Will you answer these questions?

Jason Blitman:

wow.

Rufi Thorpe:

I paid 20 a question, and we had to have budgetary talks, me and my husband, about how much money I was spending on OnlyFans. And for while supervising Zoom school for my children so I'm like, trying to like, turn the laptop screen away.

Jason Blitman:

You're like can you put your shirt on, please?

Brett Benner:

That's exactly right. No, just a question. Just a question. And also the first bill comes and your husband's like, why are 3, 000 to only fans?

Rufi Thorpe:

I'm like, it's research, I'm not sure if we can write it off or not.

Jason Blitman:

Was there something that surprised you?

Rufi Thorpe:

oh, there's so many things that surprised me. One. I feel like it was really a lesson in nobody has better boundaries than sex workers. They have the best boundaries of any human beings on the planet, and they are very clear about what they want to talk about and what they don't, and where that line is and even asking open handed questions like how does, how do you feel differently doing this work now than you did when you first started? They were like, no, not talking about, and so they were, it was like very closely guarded in a lot of ways. And it's part of why I made the decision to have this very much be at the very beginning of Margo's journey, because I wasn't able to find someone who'd been doing this for years that was really willing to tell me what that psychological experience of doing it over a long period of time was like. And I was like I think I can reasonably think my way into what the first three or four months of this would be like, but I know that this is deep water, and there's somebody way better equipped to tell this, that story than me, so

Jason Blitman:

And then the research becomes a very different thing.

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah, because

Jason Blitman:

Where you're starting your own.

Rufi Thorpe:

yes, exactly. I'm like, no, this also is research to my husband.

Jason Blitman:

And then three years later, let me tell you about what it's like to be on OnlyFans for three years.

Rufi Thorpe:

But I think that was most counterintuitive to me really was the dick ratings that men wanted their dicks rated so badly because that's like a service that you can offer. And so there's accounts that offer really mean ones where your dick is going to be insulted. There's accounts that offer like really praising ones, silly ones, funny ones, all sorts of things. And I knew that men love taking pictures of their dicks and I knew that they love sending them to people, but I didn't know that being graded was part of it. You know what I mean?

Jason Blitman:

But it's. It's so funny that you say this because this is where for me and like some of my friends and some other people that I know start to think Oh, maybe there is a place for me on something like OnlyFans, right? I'm not, I could do that if someone is into something that's just like, you would never even think of. I have big feet.

Brett Benner:

That's the thing. I was just going to

Jason Blitman:

I would happily take pictures of my feet and put them online if someone's gonna pay my bills. Yeah.

Brett Benner:

would, Jason. They would. I'm not going to tell if you start it. Go ahead. I would just love to know the difference between like gay men and women who are on OnlyFans and their audiences, I don't think a lot of gay men will be like to another gay man, rate my dick and I'll pay for it. I don't know,

Jason Blitman:

No, but I think so. Because again, people are into all sorts of things. And if they want their dick degraded or whatever, then that's where they're going to go.

Brett Benner:

I just find men just generally, and I guess it doesn't matter, but to say pigs, so in regards to women and to think like what things, what? Yes,

Jason Blitman:

not piccolino.

Brett Benner:

but to think like what they're asking women to do and, the kind of removal. I don't know. That's my guess. Maybe that's my own naivete, or I just don't have that information, but I'm just curious about that, how that filters down.

Rufi Thorpe:

I really don't, I don't feel like I can authoritatively give any generalizations or insights there, but I will say I get very, so one of my favorite creators is an account called Two Turned Tony who has like a thriving TikTok and Instagram as well. And he's really fun because his whole deal is he is like a duck whisperer and he has pet ducks and has like always raised ducks. But he's like super hot. And also he is always like having drunk shenanigans and getting kicked off golf courses and stuff, but also his family is part of it. So

Brett Benner:

Have you talked about this before? I think I've seen him. I think I've seen this whole family and they all know he's in on it. They all talk about it and he buys them shit. Isn't he supporting them?

Rufi Thorpe:

yes, he's totally supporting. So he'll come in with a bag of 20, 000 and throw it at his sister and be like, that's your college loans. Paid

Jason Blitman:

my God. For anyone who's curious, it's T O O. Who turned Tony?

Rufi Thorpe:

Tony and he is turnt but it's interesting because I think that he has a lot of followers that are women and I think that he has followers who are men and I feel like he has struck this balance of Campy, that appeals equally to both demographics, that it's it's brilliant. I think he's really good at using social media.

Jason Blitman:

And to your point about boundaries, it's if, he might identify as straight, but if some gay guy paid him money to do what he's there to get paid for, who cares?

Brett Benner:

It's different than having to engage with another person, physically be in a room and engage. I would think I'm closing my account right now. I'm getting ready

Jason Blitman:

the book does such a great job, I think, at just destigmatizing sex work and promotes sexual autonomy, I think, in a way that we don't talk about enough to. And I think, one of the things I was curious to talk about that we've already talked about is, like, how that has changed. Do you think it's been de stigmatized even in the slightest across the board beyond virtual? Yeah.

Rufi Thorpe:

know. I wish that it would be, because I think that then, I feel like there are so many laws that are designed not to protect sex workers, but to punish them that are really just like making their lives much less safe. And so it would be, I think it's really important to de stigmatize it. I think it, it's it's one of those chicken and egg problems, right? Because I think that one of the main ways that, that people judge sex workers is for putting themselves in a position of risk, taking a risk with your body, taking a risk where you're being risked in being treated really awfully and having something brutal and terrible happened to you that you don't deserve at all. But people of course only do brutal and terrible things to sex workers because of the stigma against them. And they think that they can get away from it. So it's this sort of like cycle, right? Where the reason to not become a sex worker is the stigma against sex work itself. And so it's, if we could just weasel our way through OnlyFans to de stigmatizing it, then I think it would be just such a net positive. And I think that, I also think that, ultimately people are very practical and At the beginning of the pandemic, like pretty much every person who worked in a restaurant lost their job and had to figure out how to keep living. And a lot of them joined OnlyFans. And it literally went from, I think, 20 million accounts to 120 million accounts in a year. It was just a huge explosion that first year of the pandemic because a, everyone was at home jacking off and B, everybody needed to make money. And

Jason Blitman:

you got nothing to do, you're doing it three times in the day. So three different accounts.

Rufi Thorpe:

You're like, this is a sound investment in my quality of life right now. Let me, that's the other thing I think that I really naively didn't understand because. I am really more of an erotica person, I think. And so I just didn't understand why people would pay for OnlyFans in the beginning. When there's so much free porn available, I didn't understand that it's really about developing these sort of like crushes on

Brett Benner:

That's it. That's a hundred percent what it

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

I

Rufi Thorpe:

then

Brett Benner:

I imagine.

Rufi Thorpe:

I'm like, even the Dick reading, I think is mainly about, you get to send a picture of your genitals to someone and they respond to you.

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

it's specifically quote unquote, who it is.

Brett Benner:

it's taking sliding into someone's DMs to a whole new level.

Rufi Thorpe:

Exactly.

Brett Benner:

There's a, there's one gentleman, JB, who she's talking with a lot, but it's a very titillating thing because it's a very sweet relationship. However, As I read it, there is the titillation because everybody wants that, right? It's the fantasy of reaching out to someone that you think is so attractive and you're finding out, okay, they're interested in me too. And yet there's anonymity cause they don't know anything. So there's so much going on in that relationship that I love so much. That's so real and sets off so much of what I think our current culture is like in terms of, especially with social media in regards to sexuality and regards to just seeing people and their accessibility to you that I think is so ripe.

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah. I think we're all so lonely, like human, it's not really enforced or only connect, we're all even in porn, we're just looking to connect with somebody. And I think that at one point Rose even says that in the book, like she's they are like, These men are in, they are seeking connection, and if I can be nice to them yeah, sometimes I'm annoyed at the endless flood of their insane horniness. And, but, it is also just, they're all just regular people at home yearning. And you get these weird windows into people's lives.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, literally windows.

Jason Blitman:

I was very connected to JB, first of all, because he and I have the same initials and I, and some people will refer to me as JB. And so I was like, is this my alternate universe version of me?

Brett Benner:

as a big footed Jewish boy who liked musicals.

Jason Blitman:

Oh my God. How dare you slash. Onlyfans. com slash J. B.

Brett Benner:

Exactly.

Jason Blitman:

But also, it was I felt What word do I want to use? Nostalgic. Because In the early days of the internet, sitting in my room in Florida, I would go into chat rooms, and I would talk to strangers, and I like, had an online boyfriend who I never saw a photo of, right? Because you're creating this real time persona with a virtual stranger. Did you ever

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah, I

Brett Benner:

It's the catfish thing.

Rufi Thorpe:

did. Yeah, for that, because I grew up in that era of the internet as well, and there was something so intoxicating about it, and about this idea that you could fall in love with a person without ever meeting them and I think that was very much like the allure of this relationship with JB, is like, What, and also just, because I knew the book was going to have to, in some way, be an exploration of the difference between sex and love, or like, how do they connect, how are they separate, can you truly compartmentalize one for the other? Because if you were going to make any kind of argument about selling sex it seems like you have to figure out are there intrinsically emotions connected to sex or not? Because the ability to sell it would imply that you can pretty safely dissociate the emotions from the sex. So I knew that I was going to talk about all that and so I want, and I also was like, the traditional way that you would fall in love with someone is not how you would fall in love with someone in this situation. Like I wanted everything to be non sexual that they talked about. And so I was like, this is the most prudish book about sex work. The old romance is PG in so many ways. They're just like talking about favorite sandwiches and stuff and asking each other these questions. And the idea of these questions and going back and forth, to me, that's like the ultimate kind of like narcissist fantasy is to have someone endlessly interested in the minutiae of your life. And then also that's like the funnest part of falling in love with someone is you become obsessed and you want to know all the minutiae of their life. She's like looking up the exact layout of the food court in the mall by where JB grew up because she needs to know when he was a little boy getting Sarku or whatever. What were the other options? Was there a hot dog on a stick or whatever?

Jason Blitman:

right.

Rufi Thorpe:

And.

Jason Blitman:

How come you didn't go to Panda Express?

Rufi Thorpe:

Yeah, exactly.

Brett Benner:

Also just that tension of going, coming home and thinking, are they online? Are they there when I see them? Are they going to be there? Or you're in like Jason, you talk about those chat rooms and all of a sudden you hear the and the person would come into the room and it's okay, here we go. Here we go. It's that, it's all that. It's such a,

Rufi Thorpe:

oh, it's magical and it's so magical because it's not real.

Brett Benner:

right.

Rufi Thorpe:

And so much of the book is about like human beings make these interesting fictive spaces that are half real and half fake. And we like, we love to do it. We love to put on a mask. We've been doing that for a long time. And I just find as a fiction writer, I find that instincts that we have So fascinating.

Jason Blitman:

it's so crazy. I'm like having these memories. But there was a person who I met in a chat room and I think it was just like gay Matt, whatever. And we were talking. And I don't remember, obviously, I have no idea how this came to be, but we both discovered that we were each significantly younger than we said we were. And we like formed this bond of, he was in early high school or it could have even been a middle school and he like had a girlfriend but he was gay and he couldn't come out of the closet and da da da da and you know i shared things with him too And the chat room turned into AOL Instant Messenger, turned into eventually becoming friends on MySpace, turned into eventually becoming friends on Facebook, and now like, he's a person who I text in my real life. We've met one time

Brett Benner:

It's Franklin, isn't it?

Jason Blitman:

No. We've met one time in person, but we are still friends to this day from this weird little corner of, horny teenager internet, and it's So weird.

Rufi Thorpe:

That is so beautiful.

Jason Blitman:

But yeah, anyway, that's, it made me think of that time in my life.

Rufi Thorpe:

It makes so much sense and it's so interesting and it's so interesting that we can recognize each other that you like build this mental map of somebody's an idea of them and then you can meet them in real life and be like it's you. I recognize you. You're who I

Brett Benner:

I think one of the reasons the book works so well is because Margot, you follow her journey, you, everything is very logical, the decision she makes, right? She's also so winning that it never feels Sleazy, it never feels anything. But these are all very logical decisions that you, as the reader, I found myself saying of course of course, like in every incident, I was

Jason Blitman:

So something, Rufi, that you said on one of your class podcast episodes is that you leave a place for the reader to stand, letting a character not think or feel something so that the reader can fill that gap. And I think that work is manifested in what. Brett is saying. How do you think that came to be in Margo?

Rufi Thorpe:

thought you were. I think that I really wanted the reader to be able to root for her and be on her side. Okay, another thing that I didn't know how it was going to actually work was I had always been, like, I think literally even told by professors that you couldn't make money a motivating factor for a character, that just wasn't strong enough as a motivation. And money is just really, especially like the lack of money, like there's plenty of novels about extremely wealthy people, but the needing to make rent is it was always presented to me as like too weak to be a,

Jason Blitman:

Wow. Tell that to a huge percentage of this population.

Rufi Thorpe:

exactly. But it's every single person in if you're going to talk about real life, you have to talk about money. So I knew that I wanted to write about money as it is actually experienced by people. But I also didn't know if maybe there was some. way in which like because money is abstract, would it translate on the page? Would there be some sort of would the alchemy of getting the reader to root, to care about her financial precarity, would that work or not? And so it felt like an experiment and I didn't know if it was going to work or not. I think that one of Margo's charms is she is stupidly brave. She doesn't entertain a lot of self pity. She's not She just is willing to get punched in the face and then just keep right on going and go, Oh, that was weird. I think that makes the reader afraid for her because she's not feeling a lot of fear on her own behalf. And so I think that's the place where I really, I knew that if I didn't let her be scared of how far she could fall, then the reader would be the one like carrying that fear and being like, Oh, sweetie. Oh, sweetie. Oh, sweetie. Oh, sweetie. I hope it goes. Okay. And So that, that was where I was more aware of that.

Brett Benner:

She's She's also tremendously funny though, too, which is another big part of it for me because this could be a whole different book if it was like, God damn, she's on her luck. She's going to sell her body for sex. But it's not like she's the way she approaches so much and the people in her life and all these other fantastic characters, they all have such a tremendous sense of humor about them.

Jason Blitman:

It's not even optimism. It's just like,

Brett Benner:

Survival. Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

it's survival, right? And it's you gotta, all right, this is the hand I'm dealt. Let's fucking do it. Yeah.

Rufi Thorpe:

gotta have a gimmick.

Brett Benner:

what I said. I said that becomes I thought of that when I was going through. I was like, this is gypsy. It's literally with the three girls. It's gypsy. It's you got to have a gimmick and jinx standing there on the front. Like it really

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. Did you see Good Luck to You, Rio Grande?

Rufi Thorpe:

No

Jason Blitman:

you have to watch it. It's Emma Thompson in this movie, and it's about sex work. The perspective that it gives. Brett, have you seen this movie? Oh my Jesus Christ. The two of you, it came out in 2022. It is very new.

Brett Benner:

it called again? Good luck.

Jason Blitman:

Good luck. to you, Leo Grande, maybe Leo grand, but it's, there's an E at the end. It de stigmatizes sex work in a way, because it shows you the other side of it. It shows you a woman who's at a certain place in her life, who just doesn't Wants to have sex because she's a person and wants to feel safe and wants a professional, and they have this bond in this relationship and you really see the boundaries that he establishes. But it's really a stunning movie and Emma Thompson at her finest and I highly recommend

Rufi Thorpe:

I know it's coming back to me I know which movie this is now and I badly want to see it someone was describing it to me and it seems exactly I think that it There's just so much garbage, I feel like, that we have in our heads. Or at least I had so much. I thought that I was such a very liberal views about sex work, but I found that I had to do a lot of getting rid of my own garbage in order to write this well and a lot of reading to really look at all the weird unexamined prejudices that I had just swallowed in the cultural groundwater. And there's a wonderful. book called revolting prostitutes with the like, I'm not revolting there. Um, And that's really good, but I feel like doing simple things like a gender reversal so that we're asked to think about this without all the baggage of what we project onto like men and their sexuality and women impressed by doing sex work. Let's take that out of it and then look at it. Let's, take physicality out of it and look at it just in the internet. I feel like Switching up these lenses so that we can examine it and see it anew, you start to really understand sex is this really basic human need that is not, it's not really productive for anybody to think about it as evil. And so I feel like that movie, it seems like very, I want to see it.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah, no, it's really special, but you talking about removing the gender or swapping genders or, whatever, also just makes me think about what is put on Margot being a woman, being a mother the expectations that society has on her to you. Yeah. be a good mother, to be a good student, to be a good citizen, to be a good, all of the things. And it's okay, but those are also unrealistic expectations. And we need our village. We need to turn to the people around us for help. And I think it normalized that behavior as well, that it's okay to have help.

Rufi Thorpe:

and I've, there's so many ways in which our society in particular is not set up to help mothers and we do so much judging and castigating of mothers and just even all the women like getting arrested for letting their kids sit in the car while they run into Rite Aid the McDonald's worker who their, her kid was playing at the park while she finished her shift and she like, lost her kids for, cause it was neglect. But it's also like when you can't afford childcare, what are you supposed

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. But don't write about money because

Rufi Thorpe:

But don't write about money because that's low, but it's really like, when you, what are people supposed to do? How are you supposed to live? And if you have built a society where people literally can't have children and function, then is it really a successful society? And so I really, I don't know, I was raised by a single mom and we were really lucky in that she like started her, she came up during this period of time where Computer science, like no one had actually majored in it. So she just lied her way into becoming a computer programmer. Like she would just be like, I think I can do that. And then she'd buy a book on it and learn over the weekend. And so she just pulled a career out of her butt. It was amazing and supported us. And, but I was very aware of how alone she was, how. How scary it must have been for her. So I think that's also part of why I wanted to write about, but also then I had, so I got pregnant very much by accident when I was 26 and me and my husband decided to just we weren't married at that time, but we decided to get married and have the baby. But we got married having known each other for three months. So it was a pretty big gamble and turned out to be like one of the good gambles of my life like

Jason Blitman:

Who's he's very handsome, by the

Brett Benner:

Yes, he's adorable.

Rufi Thorpe:

always joke that it was seeing him go up a flight of stairs that's when I decided to marry him That's

Jason Blitman:

that's that's the test. I fully understand. So you had a baby at 26, you got

Rufi Thorpe:

yeah. And we had no money. And like we, I had to quit adjuncting because how much money I got paid to teach college was less than how much daycare cost. And that's actually weirdly what pushed me into actually finishing the girls from Corona Del Mar and getting it published was because I couldn't find a job that paid me enough that I could afford daycare for the kids, so I had to stay home with the baby. And our grocery budget every week was 60. We ate a lot of pancakes, you know, like that was just, and there, I was like, how are other mothers doing this? Like, how is anyone doing this? This is crazy. Just, and it's so expensive, like everything for me, there's so much stuff. And it just, I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that everyone else was just like, and I was like, how do you go back to work two weeks after giving birth? That's Imagine what if your children are premature? What if they're still in the NICU and you have to return to your job after two weeks,

Jason Blitman:

It's a very common story.

Rufi Thorpe:

it is, and I, but it's the kind of thing that you can, especially in your self absorbed twenties, be totally unaware of, that people are dealing with this. It's, and so I, it was all very new to me. And so I knew, I think I've always wanted to tell the story of like young motherhood and when all those realities are suddenly hitting you in the face and you're like, wait, how is this? How's any of this supposed to work?

Jason Blitman:

speaking of motherhood a good friend of mine, Ashley, she's a long time listener, first time caller of Gay's Reading, but I, she had just, she just read the book, and I was curious if she had any thoughts or feelings as a new mother. And she sent me a quote and just a note for me to share with you. The quote she pulled was, and sometimes she did not imagine herself as a, as tiny. She imagined herself as gigantic, a woman, the size of the empire state building spraying breast milk all over Manhattan. The way I felt so seen here, it just made me feel like, fuck yes. Breast milk and breastfeeding is so powerful, but minimized, invalidated, et cetera. The book does a beautiful job. of destigmatizing the female body, but it's very explicit. I felt the breastfeeding one was like her talking to me. Like, If you know, you know, and I truly know. She goes on to say she's trying to wean her daughter right now, and it's insanely hard because breastfeeding is such a powerful connection between mom and baby. As someone who has breastfed her child in every public place from the subway to while literally walking through the Vatican, it was really wonderful to see myself represented in such a nuanced way.

Brett Benner:

I love that.

Rufi Thorpe:

That makes me so happy. I did really enjoy putting all the lactation in there. I feel like there has been, we've got to catch up. There's been not enough lactation in books and now we've got to make up for the lost time and have more

Jason Blitman:

Wrestling. Lactation.

Brett Benner:

Only fans

Rufi Thorpe:

in there.

Brett Benner:

And money troubles.

Rufi Thorpe:

approach,

Jason Blitman:

The book is about so much, and I think on the surface, it almost seems okay, Rufi, you threw in the kitchen sink. But it, that's not the case. It just so happens that all of these things fall within the same story. And I'm so excited for all of our listeners to read it because it's so

Brett Benner:

it's so fantastic. It really is

Jason Blitman:

And it's amazing this isn't a spoiler, but. I, the moment I finished it, I wrote to you and I said, I'm so proud of her, I'm so proud of Margot. And we had, I've seen so many people posting online, I'm rooting for her. I love Margot. I'm so proud of Margot. And regardless of what happens in the book for our listeners, you just, you root for her and you are so proud of her. And and in turn, we're proud of you too, Rufi.

Rufi Thorpe:

I got to go to a taping of Monday Night Raw and go backstage and meet the wrestlers. I almost passed out when Rhea Rip walked by. I just like I'm such a fan of hers. Mommy is always on top. That's her tagline. If

Jason Blitman:

Oh my god.

Rufi Thorpe:

She's she could not be hotter. very fun.

Jason Blitman:

So fun. We want to be super mindful of your time. So thank you for being here and being

Brett Benner:

We really appreciate it.

Rufi Thorpe:

I

Jason Blitman:

So good to see you. Adore you.

Brett Benner:

to see you. Excited for the book tour when it happens.

Jason Blitman:

All right. Well, go DM with your person from your internet days, your internet pen pal.

Brett Benner:

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Blitman:

We never got a story. Did you, do you have a story about that?

Rufi Thorpe:

not really. You need a lot more like anonymous. It was like mainly more like me and my best friend pretending to be like older than we were and like talking to random guys online and having weird like sex conversations. None of them turned in. It was like the dream that something would turn into a JB like relationship, but nothing of the sort materialized

Jason Blitman:

Okay. You got to live it out through the book. Amazing. Rufy, thank you for being here. You are such a delight. Everyone, thank you for listening. we appreciate you, and we look forward to sharing all of the wonderful, amazing Pride episodes that we still have coming out this month. Follow us on Instagram, at Gaze Reading. Send us an email if you want, gazereading at gmail dot com. And we will see you next week!

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

Bye!