We always dreamed of having a podcast when we were planning Gay Star News but thought it would be months and months before we could deliver one.
Then the guys from HomoLAB started chatting to us and suggested we worked together. So Gay Star News is now proud to be bringing you the HomoLAB podcast each week.
Presented by three top DJs and culture gurus – Amy Lamé, Lucio Buffone and Baylen Leonard – HomoLAB will be discussing GSN’s top stories each week. But it also does much more, looking at anything and everything interesting in news, lifestyle, arts, culture and celebrity. Their special guests range from the off-beat to the world famous and their taste in cheese makes each HomoLAB a must-listen.
We quizzed the guys about their show to give you a quick intro (they’ve already produced over 30 so this will help catch you up).
What is HomoLAB and why did you start it?
Amy: We are the queers in your ears! Well, all three of us work in radio and were getting a little frustrated that we weren't hearing or able to broadcast the kind of stuff we really wanted to listen to. We've been friends forever. I met Baylen when he first came to London from the States, and I actually introduced Lucio and Baylen to each other (near the bins at the back of the Vauxhall Tavern, if truth be told…) And YES, I told Baylen to stay away from Lucio because he was trouble… as usual, Baylen ignored my advice!
Baylen: It's a weekly podcast for gays and their mates. The LAB part of the name is very cleverly our initials. Get it? Get it? It also fits because it started as a bit of an experiment.
We started it because we've all known each other for years and would often have rather fulsome discussions about gay issues and events that we couldn't really talk about as part of our day jobs working for big media outlets. We couldn't find another gay type show or podcast that covered the range of things we were interested in, they were either one or the other, and gay people are better rounded than that.
Yes we are political, yes we love showbiz and frivolity but they aren't mutually exclusive and we wanted our show to reflect that.
Lucio: HomoLAB is a LGBTUVWXYZ podcast. We felt that there was a massive gap in the podcastosphere for a serious yet irreverent podcast for the queers. We focus on news, lifestyle, arts and celebrity with a very pink twist.
Who is behind it? Can you tell us a little more about yourselves?
Amy: I run a club night. I write stuff, show off on stage, and you may hear me on the radio or see me on some TV shows now and again. I'm an adopted Londoner, originally from New Jersey. I like ginger people and ginger biscuits.
Lucio: I'm a radio presenter, I've worked at Capital FM, Absolute Radio and XFM and loads of other stations. I'm also an indie and rock DJ (Ibiza Rocks, Popstarz, Ghetto, Speedwagon), though I don't DJ out at clubs that much anymore. I've written for Boyz [London-based gay scene magazine] in the past, and I occasionally pop up on TV. Baylen and I are Facebook married and have been together for over four years.
Baylen: I’m a radio presenter, DJ, club promoter, and hillbilly. Originally from the great state of Tennessee and having lived in New York for a decade, I moved to London 10 years ago and have been here ever since. I’ve been known to cover Theatre for Radio 2, write for Attitude [UK-based gay magazine], play dance music on Gaydar Radio, be really American on Radio 1, and talk about anything on BBC London. Although neither an otter nor a bear, I have a beard but I’m thinking about shaving it off as I read somewhere it would make me look 10 years younger.
What kinds of things do you talk about during the show?
Amy: HomoLAB is such an eclectic listen – it really reflects the things we are passionate about, even though it may come across as a kooky mix of stuff, it's all from the heart and reflects our lives.
There are some things common to every episode though – Baylen will pick on me, Lucio always says something inappropriate, and I LOVE getting on my high horse.
Lucio: There's a lot of comment on news stories, and also a lot of comment on food things. We've had interviews with gay royalty (Boy George, Bananarama, Scottee, Margaret Cho) we like to support up and coming gay businesses and arts, and take an interest in Christianity.
Baylen: Anything and everything, if it takes our interest we talk about it. Plus it doesn't have to be all gay, we love all sorts of things and don't discount them just because they aren't ‘gay enough’.
You've had some amazing guests already… can you tell us about some of the best?
Baylen: Yeah, we've had some real crackers. Boy George was a huge highlight for me, as I grew up loving him, as a kid in Tennessee, seeing him on the telly and having my parents think he was funny made me realise that it was ok to be different and if they didn't have a problem with Boy George, they were probably going to be ok with me being different. Plus he was super nice and gossipy which made me love him more!
Amy: Well, I loved talking to Max from My Transsexual Summer [British TV documentary series]; we went for cocktails at the New Bloomsbury Set (my local homo hangout) and I felt like I made an instant best friend. Margaret Cho was AH-MAZE-ING! and we have an interview with James Maker coming up – his brilliant memoir Autofellatio won the inaugural Polari prize and he's someone I've always wanted to meet.
Lucio: My favourite guest was Edd Kimber (the boy who won the first series of Great British Bake Off on British TV). He was really friendly and opinionated.
Sometimes with guests, the biggest names (which always pull in the biggest audiences) aren't actually as articulate and funny as lesser know people. Having said that Margaret Cho was hilarious, as were Bananarama.
You do the show in a different location each time, rather than a studio, why is that?
Amy: We go where there's good coffee, good cake, free wifi and where they don't mind us taking up space and shouting into a laptop (we record everything on Baylen's Mac). It's much more fun and real to be out and about than in a dry, airtight studio.
Lucio: We started by recording on Sundays at Absolute Radio (they lent us free studio time). However, we thought the show sounded too much like a radio show, and there was something missing. Recording out, makes the podcast more natural and I think listeners feel like they are eavesdropping on a private conversation. (Also we're less hungover midweeks at lunchtime than on a Sunday). We pick different locations so there's always a different ambience.
Baylen: We all work in studios everyday so when we were doing it like that it felt a bit like a busman's holiday and we all immediately went into ‘broadcasting mode’ as soon as we got in front of the mic. So we went for a more lo-fi approach where we always record out and about because it makes it more fun and it seems like we are just hanging out as we normally would. It may not sound as slick and have the audio quality that it would in a normal studio but we think the vibe that it gives it makes up for that… hopefully.
Why are you partnering up with Gay Star News?
Baylen: Because you are supercool and friendly but mainly because you have the same approach to ‘gay’ that we do. GSN is just starting out and so are we, and it's good to help each other and grow together. Not to mention, you have fabulous taste in wine!
Amy: We like your style, and know that the team have a copper-bottomed CV of experience in news for the LGBT community. We also needed a reliable and consistent news source, and we like the fact that you have reporters dotted all over the globe, and the news you get is fresh and original. We are hoping to get some audio updates from your reporters in the coming months!
Lucio: We heard you guys were launching and we thought, especially after the meetings we had, that we'd make a really good partnership.
Visit the Gay Star News multimedia HomoLAB page to listen to the latest podcast.