@KatieBarsotti on Murder, Witches, and Female Privilege

katie-barsotti@KatieBarsotti is a writer and performer in Los Angeles. She’s written for McSweeney’s, Reductress, CollegeHumor, the upcoming Woolly magazine, and you if you’d just let her. She and America’s sweetheart, Sam Chapman, have a comedy zine coming out in 2018 called Modern Magic: Spells for the Contemporary Witch. Katie also has a podcast coming out in September called The New New Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley where she and her co-hosts discuss the life and careers of the Olsen Twins. Her nudes are on KatieBarsotti.com.

Look, I’m obsessed with murder and even more obsessed with reading and listening to stories about murderers. So many of them tried to kill someone, went to jail for a short time, learned from their mistakes, and killed their next victim. I don’t need a criminal justice system where learning from your mistakes means just getting better at the crime you tried to do.

Ooh is “murder” your personal brand? Have you ever tried to cultivate a type of brand or personality on Twitter?

I think that by default my brand includes murder. I’m somewhat of an obsessive person and at some point in my life decided not to hide what I’m obsessed with. Murder, Great British Bake Off, Carole King — I’m obsessed and who cares if I talk about it. I don’t think I’m trying to create a specific brand, but it’s just come through being honest with myself. I bought a pin from the LA Coroner’s office because I wanted it. Why hide?

This is going to be boring, but historically speaking, witchcraft is basically a female art and truly the only way many women throughout the ages were able to get healthcare. Men accused women practicing healing arts of being satanic and witches. Now we’re on board with it and they’re all aghast? No thanks, patriarchy!

Ha! Is this your own POV, or do you write from the perspective of different characters? 

Generally speaking, I write from my own POV. Like I said, I’m obsessive and I’m a little bit obsessed with what my friend refers to as “witch shit.” I think any good theater kid worth their salt had a Wicca phase in high school and moving to LA revived mine. It’s honestly feminist of me to buy crystals. Actually now at this point I feel like I’m doing a character. I truly can’t tell. That’s how deep I’ve gone.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, any tweet where I talk about my boyfriend Kevin is my alter ego who is a dental hygienist. 

This is just me trying to find the humor in an incident when I was accused of having female privilege. It’s just not a thing except in this very specific case! And, baby, I use this small scrap of female privilege as much as I can. 

This one hilariously hinges on social commentary – is that something you try to do or avoid on Twitter?

I think I used to avoid social commentary online, but now I’m so mad about everything that social commentary bleeds into everything I do. Women don’t get a break from male scrutiny, I want to talk about that. Especially if I can find a funny way to do it. 

Are there any topics that you avoid making jokes about?

I don’t think there’s anything that should be off limits, but I never want to talk about something in a way that re-victimizes a victim or takes advantage of a marginalized group. I avoid joking about some more serious topics on Twitter because 140 characters isn’t enough for me to make sure I’m not hurting someone or leaving room for an interpretation that is harmful. That’s why sometimes I’ll avoid really topical tweets — if I don’t have enough information, it’s not worth a few likes to realize later that I misinterpreted something. 

I also really truly believe that there are infinite jokes to be made and that .05% of infinity is offensive or harmful to people in marginalized positions. If you truly can’t think of a joke out of that .05% of infinity, you shouldn’t do comedy.

What’s your favorite topic/idea to joke about?

Recently, I’ve found it very funny to lean into a sort of diva personality where I make most topics about myself. I fret that I’m finding a lot of similarities between myself and the pettiness of the Trump administration, I imagine that my Italian grandparents would’ve loved an engagement between me and Scaramucci. Along those same lines, I think it’s very funny to subtweet all of the guys I suspect of being into me. I also love murder. (If I’m ever under investigation for murder, can we pull this interview?)

 

Photo courtesy of Katie Barsotti.

Karen Chee is a writer/performer who contributes regularly to The New Yorker and McSweeney’s.

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