Regular listeners of CKUT, Montreal’s community radio station, are no doubt familiar with John Custodio, host of QueerCorps. For about 12 years’ worth of Monday nights, he’s been cracking open the airwaves with a mix of queer pleasure and politics.
On Sep 13, QueerCorps teams up with Mimproductions and Slowdancers of the World Unite to create the Queer Slow Dance fundraiser. With a pre-dance show featuring comedy and music, recorded and live slow jams, and designated dancers to make sure no one’s a wallflower, the night “is gonna be so interesting,” Custodio grins.
Xtra.ca sat down with Custodio to talk about the radio show, the fundraiser, and what happens when one gets “queered out.”
Xtra.ca: How did you get involved with QueerCorps?
Custodio: The previous host of QueerCorps stopped doing it because he started up Divers/Cite. As a result, there was this opening. I stepped in and I think it was around 1999 or 2000 that I just got queered out. Completely queered out…. At that point, a guy named Chris DiRaddio stepped up to take the show. He and a number of other people were there until 2003 or 2004. When Chris left there wasn’t anyone ready to step in, so I came back and did it. This time I was surprised to find that I was more eager than before, certainly more eager than when I left.
Xtra.ca: What was it like to be “queered out?”
Custodio: I think the difference is that in the first leg of this journey, I felt this need to do everything and be everywhere. Every little community thing seemed really important. That just tired me out. When I came back, I did an internal inventory of my interests and decided, “You know what? I’m an art fag.” This is going to be, by virtue of that, mostly an art fag show. That’s not to say that I will ignore community events, but I will not feel like I have to be at every single one of them.
Xtra.ca: What’s been one of your favourite interviews?
Custodio: One that I’m most proud of is Margaret Cho. I’ve interviewed her three times now and every one has been a blast. I love her.
This season, Justin Bond turned out to be an amazing interview. Justin’s a great talker and I was a huge fan of Kiki and Herb and I may have gushed a little bit. He is as eloquent and as politically savvy as one would expect from the creator of Kiki. A very cool guy. He calls himself “a transfabulous performance activist.”
Xtra.ca: What have you learned doing QueerCorps over the years?
Custodio: I’ve learned to monitor my assumptions about how “out” people are. I’ve learned “being out” can mean different things to different people. For example, I have been known to ask questions that inadvertently outed guests; I’d assumed they were already out. And I still have to ask people who donate to our annual funding drive show whether I should thank and name them on air. I take that to mean we still have work to do, Will & Grace and Brokeback Mountain notwithstanding.
Xtra.ca: Tell me about the upcoming fundraiser. What’s it for?
Custodio: I have this vision that I’m hoping will come to fruition within the next few months. I am really hoping to gather a demographically diverse team. I think it would be really interesting to hear from not just queer teens, but queer seniors. I’d like all the different demographics filled. One of the things I want to do is sort of make that pitch to the larger community in a big way, use some of the splash from the website and the ‘zine and the podcast launch to do that.
Xtra.ca: Why did you decide to have a Queer Slow Dance night?
Custodio: When Miriam pitched this idea to me, I thought, this is brilliant. No one slow dances. It is more likely to happen in a dyke bar. Patsy Cline will come on and people will slow dance. That never happens in gay bars because they’re addicted to that particular beat and it would just be wrong not to have it.
I would love to see gay men doing something different on the dance floor. A slow, intimate dance that permits talking? It’s maybe a bit of a shock to some people. But I’m hoping that it’s a good kind of shock. A healthy kind of shock.
QueerCorps is on CKUT Mondays from 6pm to 7pm. Listen to archives at CKUT.ca.
The Queer Slow Dance, presented by Meow Mix, takes places on Sun, Sep 13 at Sala Rossa. Doors at 7pm, show at 7:30pm. $10. Check out the Facebook Event page.