Hiking with Ariel Schrag

AE: OK, I am serious now. You had a reading at Skylight Books. Can you tell me more about that?
AS:
It was part of the LAMBDA Literary Awards Finalists Reading Series. My graphic novel, Likewise, is a finalist in the memoir/biography category. Me and some other finalists read from our books.

It used to be really awkward to try and read from a comic, but now, with new computer programs, it’s great. I create a sort of mini-movie of the comic, where the panels go by one-by-one on a large screen while I read the voices. I also include a musical soundtrack. My sister was in town and reading the voices with me. It was really fun.

AE:I had a great time for sure! So, I wanna talk about all the old school 90210 Tweeting —
AS:
Which has come to an end, I’m sorry to say, because I refuse to watch the college years because it’s totally depressing. It’s like watching your pet get really sick, old and decrepit and pee on itself and throw up and not be able to eat and then you just find it dead one day.

AE: So what is it about Beverly Hills, 90210, the high school years, that you found so inspiring that you were Tweeting about it for weeks?
AS:
Well, I was in middle school when the show originally came out and they were in high school, so it was like this fantasy to look forward to. 90210 was also the first show I’d ever seen that took on “issues.” The first season is amazing — there’s the Date Rape episode, the Drunk Driving episode, the Eating Disorder episode. And, my absolute favorite, the Breast Cancer episode.

I just loved it. It was basically everything I could have ever wanted, all these “issues,” plus hot sexy teens having sex. The timing was just perfect — since I was 13, I projected the idea of my future self onto the show.

A lot of the obsessions in my graphic novel Potential are based on 90210; like having sex for the first time on prom night with the love of my life like Brenda and Dylan. Except that in high school, I was this gay punk person who thought homeless crusty punks were the coolest people ever.

So it was a weird combination of the most traditional, generic fantasy of what high school should be — hangin’ with the gang at the classic ’50s diner and “parking” with my boyfriend in a Corvette under L.A. palm trees — plus the reality of my gay-punkness. Somehow I thought I could make these two things work, but they don’t mix — it’s like the Gulf Spill.

But anyway, the show had a huge effect on me, and once it started coming out on DVD, I hadn’t seen it in 15 years and I couldn’t wait to re-watch it.

When I started, I’d get so excited that I’d text Kevin as I was watching and I’d be like, "Oh my God! Brandon just accused his girlfriend of being anti-Semitic" and Kevin would write back “I presume Andrea Zuckerman is involved?” And I’d text back, “Andrea is not rich. She happens to live in a one-bedroom with her grandmother.” 

Kevin told me I should start Tweeting these and I ignored him and just kept texting him. But then I was like "OK, fine. I will." I also thought it was kind of funny because people will “live Tweet” shows that are airing now, and I liked the idea of live Tweeting a show from 20 years ago.

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