Stories From the Mountaintop
Each month at Cheer Up Charlie’s, members of the local LGBT community find a voice and an audience willing to learn more about their life experiences. Hosted by local comedians Micheal Foulk and Ralphie Hardesty, Greetings, From Queer Mountain provides an environment for people to tell their funny and heartfelt stories and, perhaps more important, to have their voices heard.
Co-host Foulk sat down with CultureMap to explain the concept behind Greetings, From Queer Mountain and how he hopes it can provide a platform for people to talk about being gay, lesbian, trans and everything else. The next installment of the show takes place August 7 at Cheer Up Charlie's.
CultureMap: How would you describe Greetings, From Queer Mountain to someone new to the show?
Micheal Foulk: Greetings, From Queer Mountain is an LGBT storytelling anthology for the most part. Every month we use a very basic one-word theme to cue our performers on what to prepare.
I prefer to stay as loose as possible on what should be presented, and then each performer can interpret the theme however they want to. Most of the stories are humorous in nature, but they can have some heavy moments; it's really great to hear people's honest perspectives.
After all the performances, we showcase a queer musician or band to finish out the night. Ralph Hardesty and I share hosting duties; I should probably have a famous duo reference on hand but I'm stuck — think gay Hepburn and Grant.
CM: How did the show start? What has the response been like so far?
MF: I originally wanted to book an LGBT stand-up show with the help of Ralphie Hardesty, but we quickly realized there weren't a ton of active queer stand-ups in Austin, and that bummed me out a lot.
When I started asking my queer friends why they had never tried comedy, they all seemed to answer with "stand-up comedy is usually extremely alienating to queer people." I hadn't really thought about how many "queer jokes" I ignore all the time, because that's just what I hear at every mic. For me, it's just part of my job.
At that point I really wanted to create a show that could help cultivate new queer voices locally, in an environment that felt safe. Alex Berry and The New Movement hosted the first event during SXSW and then helped set us up with Maggie and Tamara at Cheer Up Charlie's, and quickly the show gained a good following. Prohomo has been a big help finding speakers and supporting the show.
The response has really been mind-blowing; the crowd is always really great and supportive of the speakers. I love that people really listen to the stories and relate to what they hear. And the thought and effort the speakers put into their performances is awesome. I really couldn't be happier with how well Queer Mountain has been going for such a new event.
CM: Would you recommend the show to people as a good way to learn more about the local LGBT community?
MF: Totally! Our speakers are all involved in different parts of the community, and that is one of my favorite parts of doing this show. I really hope that it can become more and more diverse in the future.
It also helps that Cheer Up Charlie's is a great venue for events like QM; they really draw a diverse crowd on their own, so you can see a lot of different aspects of the LGBT community as well as Austin in general.
CM: What would you like to see the show become?
MF: I'd love to be able to record the show and release it as a podcast! I'd also love to possibly do a Queer Mountain day event during the next SXSW with several queer bands and speakers.