Story at a glance
- ”Tampon Rock” is a scripted podcast series produced by Anthem Entertainment.
- The show’s creators spoke to Changing America about the importance of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation in the field.
- The eight-episode series is hosted on iHeart Radio and available on Spotify.
As more female rockers were allowed into the mainstream in the late 1980s, some men felt the need to demean their work, calling the music “tampon rock” — because tampons are a menstrual hygiene product, and menstruation, which is part of the process that allows humans to procreate, is gross. Get it?
Well, whoever they were, they’d probably cringe at the scripted musical-comedy podcast “Tampon Rock” as well. Not that it matters to creators Alysia Brown, Sarah Aument and Sophie Dinicol, who set out to create a show “as queer as its makers.”
“It’s a sitcom, kind of like ‘Friends,’ except gay and with Black people. So actually really not like Friends at all,” says Brown in an introduction ahead of the eight-episode series.
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The show chronicles the lives of two best friends, Chloe and Deja (voiced by Jules Forsberg-Lary and Renita Lewis, respectively) who are lesbian (it’s relevant) and also in a band together. New to Oakland, Calif., the roommates try to figure out sex, love and relationships in the city while also navigating their own careers and mental health. It’s all very serious stuff, which provides abundant fodder for jokes and original songs that act as transitions between scenes performed by the show’s two resident lesbian narrator “resbians,” so to speak.
“I didn’t have a show like ‘The King of Queens’ for me being a Black, queer person and I wanted that representation. Something that little Alysia could have listened to or heard or seen when she was 6, figuring out if she was actually gay,” said Brown. “That was my only intent. I only want to create content for what I needed when I was young — and now.”
If they wanted representation, they would have to create it themselves, which is partly why the show is presented as a podcast. Opportunity can be scarce for Black and LGBTQ+ creators and as Aument said, “Nobody is coming up to us saying, ‘hey guys, do you want to make a TV show.’ ” But Brown and Dinicol both work as music supervisors at Jingle Punks, a music publishing and licensing company in New York, where Aument is director of creative services — giving them a platform under Anthem Entertainment.
While they did know a little something about podcasts, the three had to learn how to make one over Zoom after the coronavirus pandemic sent them all into quarantine. The first episode, which they recorded together in a studio last January, might sound a little different than other episodes to a trained ear, but working remotely did have its advantages.
“It almost lent itself better to podcasting, at least scripted podcasting, because we created it more like an animated project, where our actors are stationary and then creating the sound world and the movement in post, which was pretty interesting,” said Aument, who composed the original music and score for the podcast with input from their co-creators.
Some of the songs featured in the podcast are influenced by past and current trends in pop music — with a parody of “The L Word” theme song in the eighth and final episode of the series, which will be released Thursday. But the inspiration comes from everywhere, including the creators’ own lives.
Brown (a Leo, for those who are wondering) is roughly 50 percent Deja and 50 percent Chloe, she said, and Dinicol is “mostly Chloe’s mom, in voice and in personality,” while Aument identifies as a little bit of all of them — including Amaryllis, a cougar who (SPOILER) later turns out to be part of a cult-slash-multi-level-marketing-scheme.
And while they have gotten some hate for the podcast’s name and anti-misogyny theme song, the response has been positive from critics and fans online — including heterosexual listeners. So while they don’t know what’s next quite yet, who knows, maybe they will get that TV offer.
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