First of all, a HUGE thank you to Basketcase Kristi, who did about two-thirds of the transcription. I’d have died without her!
Second of all, this is the part that the interview opens with, and that’s a little weird, but it’s all the sections of the interview that are specifically about blogging and being bloggers. I saved it for last because I feel some of our readers might not be as fascinated by that as I am.
Deborah: This is going to be so much fun.
Lorenzo: Oh, good!
Deborah: Roberta and I love to talk to other bloggers, because it’s a weird job.
Tom: I know, and I’m pretty sure, just like us, you rarely ever get a chance to talk to other bloggers, do you?
Deborah: Not much. I mean, we’re in a pretty specialized area.
Deborah: We had a great sit-down with Kate Harding, but feminist size activism, real different from blogging about TV.
Tom: Yeah, just a little.
Deborah: So how did you guys decide to write everything “we”?
Tom: Wow, that’s kind of an interesting question. Nobody every asked us that before. Because when we started, the whole point, and even now, the point now is to have a unique voice. And there are a million gay male bloggers out there writing about fashion, writing about pop culture and celebrity. There’s millions of them. I don’t even have to mention any names. The most popular blogs in that arena tend to be gay male blogs. So we wanted to set ourselves apart because yes, obviously, we’re both gay males, but we are a couple. And we approached the entire blog as if we were just having a conversation the next morning about what we saw on TV with whomever is reading it.
Lorenzo: Or having a conversation while you’re watching. People do that all the time, they watch something, they talk about it, they make fun of it. So we wanted our blog to reflect that kind of approach to watching anything.
Deborah: That’s what I always loved about the original Siskel & Ebert. They were having a conversation in front of the TV.
Deborah: I remember Roberta & I used to watch them and I would say, “They sound like us.”
Lorenzo: And for us, we don’t walk in lockstep on anything, we disagree quite often. And then we’ll try to break it down, where, “Tom says this, Lorenzo says this. Discuss.” But I would have to say that, more often than not, we’re usually in agreement on most things when it comes to television or pop culture or anything like that.
Deborah: Which is good for a couple.
Lorenzo: Yes, it is, it’s good for a couple. I always joke, this probably saved our marriage.
Deborah: That’s so cute. So how do you break up the writing? Are you writing each other and editing each other, or are you just–
Lorenzo: Tom does most of the writing. I focus on getting topics and visuals and stuff like that. I mean, it would be a little crazy if we both wrote something and tried to combine it. And Tom is an excellent writer, far better than I am, so he does all the writing and I contribute with everything else.
Tom: I will break this down, though because–and I’m sure you understand this, but people who don’t blog don’t understand this. When I tell people that I do most of the writing and Lorenzo does most of the behind-the-scenes stuff, they really think that means I do the majority of the work, and that is entirely untrue. Eighty percent of what you see on the blog is Lorenzo’s work. He is the blog’s editor, and he does everything that an editor would normally do. He finds those topics, he finds those pictures, he takes the screen caps. And then when that is all done, we sit down and we talk back and forth about what we think, what we want to say here, and then I write it up. So the blog is written by me, but the voice, and this goes back to why we use “we,” the voice is totally a collective “we.” It’s both of us.
Deborah: That’s really fascinating. Everybody’s process is different.
Deborah: For us, Roberta and I write completely separately, especially now because our schedules are so different. And then what we’ll try to do is sneak into the back-end and read each other and send each other editing.
Tom: Wow. That’s got to be an awful lot of work.
Deborah: Well, the blog is an enormous amount of work, and we have day jobs. This isn’t lucrative.
Tom: (laughs) No, it’s very difficult to make it lucrative. And the funny thing is whenever you do, like when we accepted advertising, we would get all these comments where people assumed we were getting rich off us this. And even if you are lucky enough and disciplined enough to have a blog that turns around and starts making money for you, to get wealthy off it is almost completely unheard of. Almost nobody does that.
Deborah: No, wealth and making a living are two different things. I would love to be able to make a living off of it, but that’s not on the horizon. We’re not in range.
Lorenzo: Especially when you just, when you’re talking about a specific show. When you focus on one specific thing, it’s a lot harder to bring more readers to your blog.
Deborah: Well, we just added The Walking Dead.
Lorenzo: Yeah, I saw that. We were actually talking about that. That’s a smart move.
Tom: It is a smart move, if you don’t mind us saying so. That’s exactly what we did with our blog, which we started off with Project Runway, didn’t want to lose the audience, because we were enjoying it, and started blogging other shows that were on the same network at the time, which was the Bravo network. And from there we expanded outwards, sort of organically. So what you’re doing right now, by taking on The Walking Dead, is literally exactly what we did with our blog.
Lorenzo: The bottom line is no show lasts forever. So when a show ends, what are you going to do? You have to have other things.
Deborah: Roberta and I have been talking for over a year about what are we going to do when this show ends. And then I actually was sitting down and reading your Mad Style one day, and I called Roberta and said, “We have to do what Tom and Lorenzo did. We have to add shows.” One at a time, organically. You start with AMC.
Lorenzo: Are you going to keep the name Basket of Kisses?
Deborah: Yes, we can keep the name Basket of Kisses because it isn’t married to Mad Men. People like it who’ve never heard of Mad Men.
Deborah: And the url is LippSisters, so if we decide to change it, we’re still good. And that’s why you changed your name, I take it, from Project Rungay to Tom and Lorenzo, so you could be more open?
Tom: That is exactly why. And one of these days we will get around to a dedicated domain, TomandLorenzo.com. but for now we’re just plugging along on blogspot.
Deborah: Are you working [on Project Runway] from screeners or are you getting those posts up in real time?
Tom: What we do is, we have what’s called a DVD recorder, that allows us to, you know, it’s hooked up like a regular DVD player, but it records the show onto a blank DVD, and then that gets put into a computer and we use a program in our computer to take the screen shots. But it’s not easy to do on a high-definition television…
Deborah: So the producers aren’t sending you screeners?
Tom: No. They send us a screener of the first episode, but that’s it. We don’t get a screener for every episode.
Deborah: What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you as a result of blogging?
Tom: So many offers, we get all kinds of offers, from having our own TV show to writing a book, to everything! To being a judge, you know, all kinds offers, all kinds of offers. But probably the single most, I don’t know, maybe Lorenzo will disagree, but probably the single most exciting thing was when we were contacted by Versace’s PR people to attend the Whitney Gala last year in New York. And, I mean, it was A-list all the way inside this party. We were literally five feet away from a drunk Lindsay Lohan air-kissing Donatella Versace. So that was probably the single most exciting thing that came out of the blog.
Deborah: That sounds exciting! I’m with you, wow.
Deborah: What..frustrations do you find with being bloggers versus being press?
Lorenzo: Getting no respect.
Tom: Yeah. I mean, really on an institutional level, and I’m sure you guys have had this fight too.
Lorenzo: We pretty much have to explain ourselves every time we — not so much anymore, but in the beginning. But sometimes we do have to explain what we do and how many hits we get, to get some sort of attention. So that still goes on, you know, less and less, but still happens.
Tom: Yeah. I mean, we’re not pointing any fingers at anybody. Most of the people we’ve worked with at the various cable networks and stuff, most of them have been pretty good or have tried to help us out. But like Lorenzo said, you constantly feel like you have to prove your bona fides to them to get anything, even if it’s just access to pictures, let alone a screener. But yeah, that’s probably the biggest drawback. And you said, blogger versus press. We will see these shows who hand out screeners to, you name a newspaper, it doesn’t have to be a big one, and they’ll hand them out left and right. And all I can say is I know my numbers are more than that newspaper’s circulation. Now, why can’t I get one?
(Here we get into talking about Mad Men, which then led into the following discussion of getting screeners.)
Deborah: They yanked the screeners. Did you hear about this? You must’ve.
Both: We did hear about this, yes.
Deborah: I used to get a screener on a Wednesday or a Thursday and I would watch it and I would think about it and I would sleep on it, and I would start to write the following day, and then I would watch it again, and I would finish writing. Now I’m finishing the show at eleven and trying to get some writing done before I fall asleep. So the last two paragraphs are not actually in English.
Tom: Right. Before they start knocking on your door, “Where are you? Where are you? You haven’t talked about this yet.” That’s what we get. Yeah, if we don’t put up the Project Runway post the next morning by a certain hour we get –
Lorenzo: Mad Men too.
Tom: – we start getting the, “Wake up, boys, wake up. Time to post.”
Lorenzo: Meanwhile, we’re scrambling trying to put something together.
Deborah: I actually arranged at work to come in late on Mondays.
Tom: Oh, that’s good. We actually stay up until about 4 a.m. to get the post up because, again, as I’m sure you know, when it comes to Mad Men blogging, you’ve got to be early. If you put up your recap two days after the show aired, everybody’s all read out.
Tom: If you get it up before 8 a.m. the following morning then you’re golden.
Deborah: You have to hit — if I don’t hit before Sepinwall then people are quoting Sepinwall to me.
Tom: You start trying to get it up before Sepinwall because I was so worried I’m going to be accused of ripping him off because we tend to come to the same conclusions and focus on the same thing.
Tom: And sometimes I’ll write it, I’ll post it, then I’ll go over to Sepinwall and I’ll be like, “Oh, damn it. He just said exactly what I just said.”
Deborah: Yes. Yeah, I love Mo Ryan, but she and I almost never see the same things [in an episode], so I can read her with impunity, but I have to stay away from certain writers. That was actually how we picked up Matt Maul as a writer, was I wrote a post and then two or three days later read Matt Maul and he’d written almost exactly the same thing.
Deborah: And I said we have some definite agreements there that would really work out, and he started writing for us.
Tom: Very good.
Deborah: And he’s very good. But yeah, I find for myself the hardest thing is that I don’t want to read any other writers before I write.
Tom: That’s why I try and stay up — we stay up all night writing. We’d rather just get it done. And then I’ll read what everybody else wrote the next day.
Deborah: I don’t want to see anything on the Internet. I don’t want to [be influenced by] it. I don’t want to disagree with it and then have my post sort of — that sort of distorts the writing too.
Deborah: So, you know, when we got the screeners it was easy. You know, you could just — because nobody was publishing. Everybody who had the screeners was doing their own writing, but we weren’t publishing until the show aired, so nobody was influencing one another. It’s a little tough. What can I say?
(Here’s where we get back on-topic talking about television, and didn’t return to blogging as a subject until the end of the interview.)
Lorenzo: It’s always nice to talk to another blogger…it’s kind of like venting, because we never have other people who blog like the way you guys do.
Deborah: The venting is fun, and I’m glad we took the time to do that part of it, because it really is kind of a relief.
Tom: You’re wonderful! You’re our blog sisters.
Deborah: We are! I am so glad that we connected and that we formed this relationship because we are doing very similar work and it is sometimes really thankless.
Tom: Basket of Kisses is the one-stop online information shop for any Mad Men fan. Knowing firsthand just how much work goes into a blog like this, we tip our non-existent hats to you guys for making BOK an essential part of the Mad Men experience.