Transcript: Untanned and Unvarnished | Jul 27, 2017

Nam sits in the studio. She's in her early forties, with shoulder length curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a gray blazer over a blue shirt, and a golden necklace.

A caption on screen reads "Untanned and unvarnished. Nam Kiwanuka, @namshine, @theagenda."

Nam says HE'S BEEN CALLED A ONE-MAN FLASH
MOB BECAUSE HIS STAGE
PERFORMANCES AS A COMEDIAN,
SINGER, OR THE HOST OF
SING-ALONG SCREENINGS OF SOUND
OF MUSIC OR GREASE IS PURE
ENERGY.
BUT OFF STAGE, IT'S A DIFFERENT
STORY.
SHAWN HITCHINS TELLS ALL,
REALLY, IN HIS NEW BOOK:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF OVERSHARING:
ONE GINGER'S ANTHOLOGY OF HUMILIATION.
AND WE'RE PLEASED HE'S WITH US TONIGHT.

A picture of the book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of Shawn naked, covering his body by holding up a sign with the title of the book.
Shawn sits with Nam. He's in his thirties, clean-shaven, with bright ginger hair. He's wearing a red checkered shirt.

Nam says THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

Shawn says THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Nam says YOUR MEMOIR READS LIKE A SCREENPLAY.

SHAWN SAYS OH.

Nam says I LAUGHED, I CRIED.
AND I LAUGHED AGAIN.

Shawn laughs and says YEAH.

Nam says BUT TO START THE CONVERSATION, I
HAVE A VERY SERIOUS, BRIDGET
JONES-LIKE QUESTION TO HAVE ASK
YOU FIRST.

Shawn says OK.

NAM SAYS WHEN YOU'RE
INVITED TO A BARBECUE...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says WHAT GOES THROUGH YOUR MIND?

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

The caption changes to "Shawn Hitchins. Author, 'A brief history of oversharing.'"
Then, it changes again to "Gingerly speaking."

S OK, IT... I AM NOT EASY TO GO TO A
SUMMER BARBECUE BECAUSE I CAN'T
GO, REALLY, IN THE SUN.
AND SO, THERE IS LIKE... THERE'S A
PROCESS, AND THERE'S A TIMELINE
THAT STARTS WITH LIKE FINDING A
SHADY PATH TO GO.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Shawn says I HAVE TO... OH, I JUST END UP
ENTERING LIKE A GAY SCARECROW.

[NAM LAUGHING]

Shawn says LIKE, I'M JUST... I HAVE THIS HAT
THAT'S UNFLATTERING.
A UV SUIT.
IT'S... I'M SOAKED; I'M GREASY
FROM THE SUNSCREEN.
I JUST NEVER SHOW UP GLAMOROUS.

NAM SAYS GLAMOUROUS, YEAH.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS YOU STILL GET INVITED TO
BARBEQUES?

SHAWN SAYS EVERY NOW AND THEN.

NAM SAYS EVERY NOW AND THEN.

SHAWN SAYS I HAVE FRIENDS THAT WILL
INVITE ME TO A PATIO...
UH HUH... BUT THEY WILL PREFACE, THERE'S
NO SHADE.

NAM SAYS BUT YOU GO DO THIS BECAUSE
OF A VERY SERIOUS THING, RIGHT?

Shawn says YEAH.
YEAH, I AM PRONE TO... TO
MELANOMA.
SO, I MEAN, IT IS A PART OF
MY... MY REGIMEN IS BEING... THE
SIX-MONTH MOLE CHECKS WHICH...

NAM SAYS WHICH YOU DESCRIBE IN
DETAIL.

Shawn says IN DETAIL.

NAM SAYS CAN YOU DESCRIBE IT JUST A
LITTLE BIT FOR US?

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Shawn says OK.
OK, SO THE MOLE CHECKS, I HAVE
THESE LIKE PHOTOS THAT ARE LIKE
OF A YOUNGER, TWINKIER ME, AND
LIKE... AND I'M REALLY TRYING TO
BE LIKE REALLY... REALLY SORT OF
LIKE... WHEN SOMEONE SAYS, "WE'RE
GONNA TAKE NUDE PHOTOS OF YOU,'
YOU'RE LIKE, "OK,' BUT THEN YOU
GO TO LIKE THIS MEDICAL STUDIO,
AND IT'S LIKE GOING TO SERVICE
ONTARIO BUT YOU TAKE OFF YOUR
CLOTHES.
AND SO, THE PHOTOS... LIKE, I
WOULD BE COMPLETELY DEVASTATED
IF THEY WERE RELEASED.

[NAM LAUGHS]

Shawn says NOT BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT LIKE
SAFE FOR WORK, BUT JUST BECAUSE
THEY'RE SO PATHETIC.
LIKE, IT'S JUST LIKE... LIKE, THE
TYPE OF THING IF LIKE COSTCO,
LIKE, CAME OUT WITH A LIKE A
PORN MAGAZINE, IT WOULD BE LIKE
THIS.

NAM LAUGHS AND SAYS OH NO!

Shawn says LIKE, THEY'RE JUST LIKE
SULK... LIKE, SULKY POSES BECAUSE
THEY'RE LIKE, YOU KNOW, TRYING
TO MAP THE LAYERS OF MY SKIN.
SO, MY DOCTOR TAKES THEM... AND THEN HE COMPARES THEM WITH
NOW.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says AND IT'S... AND IT'S...

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Nam says WELL, NOW YOU HAVE A... YOU KNOW,
A COLLECTION OF NUDES...

SHAWN LAUGHS AND SAYS YEAH...

Nam says THAT YOU CAN LOOK AT IN YOUR
LATER YEARS.

SHAWN SAYS YES.

Nam says AND YOU CAN THINK, "WOW."

SHAWN SAYS "WOW, I'...

NAM SAYS "I DIDN'T LOOK SO BAD BACK
THEN."

Shawn says BUT I DIDN'T LOOK THAT GREAT.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGHING]

Nam says BUT BEING A GINGER...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH...

Shawn says IS NOT JUST A GENETIC FACT FOR
YOU.
IT'S ALSO BECOME A PART OF YOUR
STAND-UP AS A COMEDIAN.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME
EXCERPTS FROM YOUR SHOW.
NOT SURPRISINGLY, IT'S ENTITLED:
GINGER NATION.

A clip plays on screen in which Shawn stands on a stage holding a microphone during a stand-up comedy routine.

He says I'M A MINORITY.
1 percent OF THE WORLD'S POPULATION HAS
RED HAIR, WHICH I DO.
4 percent OF THAT 1 percent HAVE BEAUTIFUL,
BIG, BLUE EYES, WHICH I DO.
AND 1 percent OF THAT 4 percent ARE
HOMOSEXUALS, WHICH I DO.

[CROWD LAUGHS]

A slate with the word "Ginger" flashes on screen.

Shawn continues I HAVE NEVER HAD SEX WITH A
WOMAN.
LEGEND SAYS THAT I WAS BORN WITH
THE UMBILICAL CORD WRAPPED
AROUND MY NECK, AND I WORKED IT
LIKE A BOA.

[CROWD LAUGHS]

The flashing slate reads "Shawn Hitchins."

Shawn continues IT'S NOT EASY FOR GAY MEN TO
HAVE A BABY.
NO MATTER HOW HARD WE TRY WITH
ONE ANOTHER, IT NEVER RESULTS IN
A PREGNANCY.

[CROWD LAUGHS]

The clip ends.

Nam says WELL, YOU... I WANNA TALK ABOUT
THE PREGNANCY LATER...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says BECAUSE YOU DO HAVE A CHILD.

SHAWN SAYS I DO.

Nam says BUT LET'S START TALKING ABOUT
BEING A MINORITY.

SHAWN LAUGHS AND SAYS OK.

Nam says YOU SAY THAT GINGERS ARE
SUBJECTED TO PREJUDICES.

Shawn says YES.

NAM SAYS GINGERISM, YOU CALL IT.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS WHAT IS THAT?

Shawn says WELL, GINGERISM, IT IS SOMETHING
THAT SOUNDS RIDICULOUS...

NAM SAYS UH HUH...

Shawn says AND IT... AND IT... I WOULD NEVER
COMPARE IT TO SYSTEMIC RACISM,
BUT IN THE U.K., KIDS ARE
BULLIED FOR HAVING RED HAIR IN
WAYS THAT ARE... YOU KNOW, THERE
ARE ENTIRE FAMILIES THAT ARE
DISPLACED FOR HAVING... THEY'RE
KICKED OUT OF YOUR COMMUNITIES.
KIDS ARE BEAT UP, YOU KNOW?
AND IT WAS WHEN I WAS ON THE
STREETS OF EDINBURGH LIKE
FLYERING FOR MY SHOW, AND I WAS
TARGETING REDHEADS BECAUSE I
NEEDED TO GET PEOPLE IN MY...

NAM SAYS YOU WERE THERE FOR THE
FRINGE FESTIVAL.

Shawn says YEAH.
IN 2011 AND THEN 2013.
AND... AND WHAT WAS INTERESTING IS
THAT I WOULD HAVE THESE
CONVERSATIONS WITH REDHEADS THAT
I WOULD NEVER HAVE IN NORTH
AMERICA.
AND IT WAS REALLY SHOCKING.
LIKE, EVEN SOME OF THE
CONVERSATIONS LIKE FROM YOUNG,
YOUNG TEENAGE GIRLS WHO WOULD
SAY, "I DON'T WANNA HAVE A CHILD
BECAUSE I DON'T WANT IT TO HAVE
RED HAIR, BECAUSE MY MOTHER HAD
RED HAIR, AND SHE WENT THROUGH
LIKE BRUTAL BULLYING."
AND IT'S THIS WEIRD THING.
IT'S... AND...

NAM SAYS WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Shawn says IT'S... SO, IN MY... IN MY... YOU
KNOW, I HAVE...

NAM SAYS I MEAN, YOU'RE THE GINGER
EXPERT.

Shawn says YEAH.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Shawn says BUT WHAT I'VE SORT OF WHITTLED
IT DOWN TO...
IS THIS IDEA OF LIKE WHEN THE
IRISH CAME INTO THE U.K.
AND THERE... IT... IT'S ABOUT CLASS.
IT'S ABOUT BEING DIFFERENT
AND... AND IT'S SYSTEMIC,
IT'S HISTORICAL, AND IT
ACTUALLY DOES EXIST.
IT DOESN'T REALLY EXIST IN
CANADA.
I MEAN, KIDS ARE BULLIED.
NOT SO MUCH FOR HAVING RED HAIR
BECAUSE OUR IDEA OF REDHEADS IN
NORTH AMERICAN CULTURE IS
LUCILLE BALL, RON HOWARD, YOU
KNOW...

NAM SAYS ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

Shawn says ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.
AND SO, WE HAVE SORT OF
THIS... THIS SORT OF FRIENDLIER
IDEA, BUT IN THE U.K., IT'S VERY
DIFFERENT.

Nam says DO WOMEN AND MEN GET TREATED
DIFFERENTLY?
OR IS IT THE SAME?

Shawn says I THINK MEN, ACTUALLY... I DON'T
KNOW.
I DON'T WANNA... I WOULDN'T WANT
TO PUT A TACK ON IT, BUT I WOULD
SAY THAT YOUNG REDHEAD BOYS ARE
BULLIED.

Shawn says EVEN THOUGH PRINCE HARRY IS...
WELL, SEE, THEN THERE'S THIS
TURN, RIGHT?

NAM SAYS RIGHT.

Shawn says LIKE, THERE'S THIS... AND I THINK
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I DID THIS
GINGER PRIDE MARCH... OR GINGER PRIDE WALK, IT SORT
OF JUST CAUGHT ON TO THIS TALE
OF... OF SORT OF LIKE PRINCE
HARRY, AND HE'S AN ATTRACTIVE
REDHEAD.
AND THEN THERE'S... THERE WAS THIS
PHOTOGRAPHER NAMED THOMAS... I
FORGET HIS LAST NAME... I'LL
REMEMBER IT LATER... BUT HE WAS
DOING THESE SORT OF PORTRAITS OF
REDHEADED MALES, BUT IN A
HYPER-SEXUAL WAY.
AND I JUST CAME IN THERE WITH A
TWEET SAYING, "I'M GONNA MARCH,
YOU KNOW, HUNDREDS OF REDHEADS
THROUGH THE STREETS OF
EDINBURGH,' AND THAT'S WHEN IT
SORT OF EXPLODED.

Nam says SO, THIS WHOLE THING, IT JUST
STARTED WITH YOU TWEETING ABOUT IT.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says AND THEN EVERYBODY PICKED IT UP.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says YEAH, IT WENT... SO, BY THE TIME I
LANDED IN SCOTLAND, I... FROM THE
TWEET IN THE EATON CENTRE WHEN I
WAS TRYING TO FIND A TRAVEL BAG,
TO THE TIME I LANDED A
WEEK-AND-A-HALF LATER IN
SCOTLAND, I WALKED INTO A VIRGIN
MOBILE TO GET A SIM CARD, AND
THE GUY BEHIND THE COUNTER
TURNED AND LOOKED AT ME AND
SAID...

He fakes a Scottish accent and says
"YOU'RE THE MAN WHO'S COME
HERE TO SAVE THE GINGERS."

[LAUGHS]

Shawn says I WAS JUST LIKE, "WHAT DO YOU
MEAN?'
AND HE OPENED UP THE PAPER, AND
THERE WAS A TWO-PAGE SPREAD.

Nam says AND YOU DID THIS BECAUSE THE
FIRST YEAR YOU WENT TO THE
EDINBURGH FRINGE FESTIVAL, YOU
KIND OF BOMB...

Shawn says I BOMBED; I BOMBED.

NAM SAYS YOU BOMBED.
AND YOU SPENT A LOT OF MONEY.

SHAWN SAYS I... YEAH.

Nam says SO, THE NEXT YEAR, YOU WERE
LIKE, "WHEN I GO, I'M GONNA GO
BIG."

Shawn says "I'M GONNA GO SO BIG, THEY CAN'T
IGNORE ME."

NAM SAYS OK, LET'S TAKE A CLIP OF
THE MARCH, AND THEN WE'LL TALK
MORE ABOUT IT.

SHAWN LAUGHS AND SAYS OK.
HERE'S THE CLIP.

A clip from a newscast plays on screen in which a host in her twenties stands in a TV studio.

She says THE STREETS OF EDINBURGH TURNED
A VERY LOVELY SHADE OF RED
YESTERDAY AS MORE THAN 100
PEOPLE WITH GINGER HAIR WALKED
THROUGH THE CITY CENTRE.

A clip shows Shawn leading a group of red-haired men and women along a street. Many hold up signs that read "Ginger and proud."

The host continues THEY WERE TAKING PART IN THE
U.K.'S FIRST EVENT TO SHOW THEIR
PRIDE TO BE GINGER.
MARCHERS CARRIED SIGNS WITH
MESSAGES SUCH AS, "FOR THE LOVE
OF GINGER, ALL HAIL THE RED,
ORANGE, AND PALE."
AS WELL AS, "GINGER AND PROUD."

The clip ends.

Nam says NOW, YOU DID ALL THAT.

Shawn says I DID.

Nam says ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING HOW
PEOPLE WITH RED HAIR ARE TREATED
OVER THERE...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH...

Nam says FOR YOU, IT MIGHT HAVE JUST
STARTED AS SOMETHING FOR YOU TO
GET A BIGGER AUDIENCE...

Shawn says YEAH.

NAM SAYS BUT IT ACTUALLY HAD LIKE
IMPACT FOR PEOPLE LIVING THERE.

SHAWN SAYS IT DID.

Nam says WHAT WAS THAT LIKE WHEN YOU
REALIZED THAT, "OH WOW, THIS IS
ACTUALLY A REALLY POSITIVE THING FOR ME TO DO?'

The caption changes to "Shawn Hitchins, @shawnhitchins."

Shawn says WELL, I THINK THIS IS A
REOCCURRING THEME IN MY LIFE
'CAUSE A LOT OF THINGS START OFF
AS JOKES AND DOING SOMETHING FOR
A JOKE OR SOMETHING FOR
LIKE... YOU KNOW, MAYBE THE STORY.
A LITTLE BIT OF IRREVERENT
NATURE THERE.
AND THEN THERE'S A POINT WHEN
THE JOKE TURNS INTO REALITY.
AND... AND YOU'RE DEALING WITH
ACTUAL PEOPLE'S LIVES AND THEIR
EMOTIONS.
AND IT WASN'T UNTIL I WAS ON THE
STREETS TALKING TO... OH, IT WAS
AFTER A SHOW.
IT WAS AFTER A SHOW, AND THIS
MAN WHO WAS AT THE PARADE CAME
UP TO ME.
AND HE'S LIKE 40; HE'S BALDING;
HE DOESN'T HAVE HIS RED HAIR
ANYMORE; AND HE WAS JUST
BALLING.
AND I WAS JUST LIKE, "OH, MY
SHOW REALLY AFFECT... MY SHOW
REALLY AFFECTED YOU THAT MUCH."
AND HE SAID, "NO, IT WAS THE
MARCH."

[LAUGHS]

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Shawn says AND I WAS LIKE... HE'S LIKE, "I
WAS BULLIED SO BAD.
I NEVER WANTED TO HAVE RED HAIR."

NAM SAYS YOU SAW HIM.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says AND GROWING UP, YOU WEREN'T... YOU
STRUGGLED WITH PEOPLE SEEING WHO
YOU WERE.

Shawn says YEAH.

Nam says SO, YOU GREW UP IN A TOWN CALLED
EGYPT, ONTARIO.

Shawn says YEAH.

[LAUGHS]

NAM SAYS WHICH I DON'T WANNA ADMIT
ON TELEVISION, BUT I ACTUALLY
NEVER HEARD OF IT UNTIL I READ
YOUR BOOK.

SHAWN LAUGHS AND SAYS YEAH.
IT'S A WONDERFUL INTERSECTION.

NAM SAYS IT'S AN INTERSECTION: SMITH
BOULEVARD AND PARK ROAD, RIGHT?

Shawn says YEAH, YOU DID YOUR RESEARCH!

NAM SAYS WELL, I READ THE BOOK.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Nam says WHERE IS IT AND WHAT WAS THE
PLACE LIKE?

The caption changes to "Remembering belonging."

Shawn says IT WAS REALLY KINDA MAGICAL...
BECAUSE IT WAS NOTHING.
IT WAS MY GRANDFATHER'S FARM,
HIS BROTHER'S FARM, AND THEN
GENERATIONS OF COUSINS.
AND A TOWN HALL AND A CHURCH
THAT NONE OF US REALLY WENT TO.
AND MY HOUSE, MY FAMILY HOUSE.
AND IT WAS JUST SORT OF... IT WAS
A REALLY STRONG-KNIT COMMUNITY,
AND IT WAS ALL CENTRED AROUND
THIS COMMUNITY HALL.
AND, YOU KNOW, IT WAS SORT
OF... WAS SORT OF ROCKWELLIAN... IN A WAY THAT WE HAD HAY WAGON
RIDES AND CORN ROASTS AND A
BASEBALL TEAM... BASEBALL FIELD
CUT INTO A CORNFIELD.
LIKE, IT WAS
FIELD OF DREAMS.
AND... BUT IT WAS VERY SORT OF
YOU'RE EITHER INSIDE OR YOU'RE
OUTSIDE.
AND SO, I FELT INSIDE FOR A LONG
TIME.
AND I WAS REALLY BUYING INTO IT,
AND THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN MY
SEXUALITY STARTED BLOSSOMING,
AND THAT'S WHEN CONFLICT
STARTED.

Nam says YOU WRITE, "YOU DON'T GO TO MY
MOTHER LOOKING TO BE CODDLED."
AND SHE WAS YOUR BIGGEST ALLY.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH, SHE STILL IS.

Nam says SHE STILL IT IS.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says AND SHE SUPPORTED YOU IN
EVERYTHING.
AND SHE SAW YOU WITHOUT YOU
HAVING TO SAY ANYTHING.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says SO, SHE WAS TOUGH, BUT KIND?

Shawn says OH, SHE'S DEFINITELY KIND.
I THINK SHE... I DON'T KNOW IF
SHE'S TOUGH.
I THINK SHE'S JUST MAYBE A BIT
STOIC IN THE WAY THAT, YOU
KNOW... SO, I GUESS THERE'S A
TOUGHNESS THERE.
THERE'S A FARM... A FARMER, YOU KNOW?
LIKE, JUST... IT WASN'T A GO
WITHOUT, BUT IT WAS JUST, YOU
KNOW, "WE HAVE WHAT WE HAVE, AND
WE SHOULD BE HAPPY."

Nam says AND YOU DEDICATED THE BOOK
TO... TO TWO MEN.

SHAWN LAUGHS AND SAYS YEAH.
WHO ARE THEY?

Shawn says HARRISON FORD FOR MAKING ME GAY,
'CAUSE HE DID.

NAM SAYS UNDERSTANDABLE.

Shawn says AND THEN TO MY FATHER FOR MAKING
ME A COMEDIAN.

Nam says YOU AND YOUR DAD HAD A REALLY
DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIP.
I MEAN, IT'S AN UNDERSTATEMENT, RIGHT?

Shawn says YEAH, YEAH, I THINK IT IS.
I THINK IT'S A VERY COMPLICATED
RELATIONSHIP, AND...

Nam says THERE'S THAT SCENE IN THE BOOK
WHEN HE WALKS IN ON YOU AND
YOU'RE WEARING THE DRESS, THE
HEELS, AND THE BLUSH.
YEAH, OH YEAH, YEAH.

NAM SAYS AND EVERYTHING THAT
TRANSPIRED AFTER.

Shawn says YEAH.

Nam says BUT I ALSO FEEL... WHAT WAS THAT
LIKE, LOOKING BACK ON THAT?

Shawn says IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE THE BOOK, FOR
ME, IS SORT OF LIKE A LIFE AUDIT.
AND... BECAUSE THE LAST COUPLE
YEARS, LIKE, YOU KNOW, I FEEL
LIKE IN THE MIDDLE OF MY 30S, I
SORT OF WENT THROUGH THIS... I'M
GOING THROUGH THIS SECOND
ADOLESCENCE... WHERE THERE WAS SO MUCH
CHANGE.
AND SO, I TRIED TO PARALLEL WHAT
I WAS EXPERIENCING NOW WHERE I
WAS ALL OF A SUDDEN LIKE FEELING
UNANCHORED, AND LIKE EVERYTHING
WAS LIKE FALLING DOWN AROUND ME.
AND I TRIED TO REMEMBER THAT
LAST TIME THAT THAT HAPPENED.
AND THAT WAS THE AGES OF 13 TO 17.
AND... AND SO, WHEN I LOOK BACK AT
THAT MOMENT, I DON'T HAVE A LOT
OF PAIN ABOUT IT... I HAVE LIKE... I KINDA LOOK AT
IT LIKE AN INCITING FORCE.
LIKE, IF THERE WAS ONE DAY THAT
I COULD GO BACK AND SORT OF TRY
TO FIX BECAUSE THAT MOMENT JUST
SORT OF CREATED THE NEXT 17 YEARS.

NAM SAYS LOOKING BACK AT THAT
MOMENT...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH...

Nam says WAS THERE... I MEAN, YOU WERE
REALLY YOUNG.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS BUT IS THERE A MOMENT WHERE
YOU WERE KINDA JUST RELIEVED
THAT HE... LIKE, IT WASN'T A
SECRET ANYMORE?

Shawn says NO.
NO.
NO, 'CAUSE IT WAS STILL VERY
MUCH A SECRET.
UNTIL... WELL, IT WASN'T A SECRET.
I NEVER HID WHO I WAS.
IT WAS...

NAM SAYS 'CAUSE YOU NEVER CAME OUT
OR ANYTHING?

Shawn says I NEVER CAME OUT.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says LIKE, I NEVER HAD THAT MOMENT.
MY PARENTS, IT WAS ATTRITION.
LIKE, I WAS JUST LIKE, "I'M
GOING TO PUT THIS IN YOUR FACE
UNTIL YOU CAN'T HANDLE IT
ANYMORE."
AND SO, YOU KNOW, WE DID HAVE A
BREAKING MOMENT.
AND... AND I THINK THAT WAS... IT'S
THAT WEIRD THING THAT HAPPENED
IN THE '90S WITH GAY KIDS COMING
OUT, YOU KNOW, BEFORE
ELLEN,
BEFORE
WILL AND GRACE.
YOU KNOW... YOU KNOW, NOW THERE'S
COMING OUT PARTIES AND THINGS
LIKE THAT.
WE DIDN'T HAVE THAT.

NAM SAYS AND YOU WERE IN A SMALL
TOWN.

Shawn says SMALL TOWN.
WE WERE... WE WERE COMING OUT
IN... AT THE TAIL END OF THE AIDS
CRISIS, AND THEN IT STILL
CONTINUES, BUT... BUT THEY
DIDN'T... THERE WASN'T THAT... THERE
WASN'T THAT ACCEPTANCE... THAT GENERAL, LIKE, "IT'S
OK."
I MEAN, I KNOW MANY KIDS WHOSE
LIVES WERE RUINED BECAUSE THEY
WERE JUST SIMPLY REJECTED BY
THEIR FAMILIES.

Nam says YOU DON'T WANT... IN THE BOOK, YOU
WRITE, YOU KNOW, I DON'T WANT
THE WORLD TO SEE HIM AS, YOU
KNOW...

SHAWN SAYS NO.

Nam says YOU HAVE A LOT OF COMPASSION FOR
YOUR FATHER...

Shawn says I DO.

NAM SAYS DESPITE THE WAY HE TREATED
YOU.
NAM SAYS WHY?

Shawn says BECAUSE I THINK CIRCUMSTANCE.
WHEN YOU WEIGH CIRCUMSTANCE,
WHEN YOU... WHEN YOU SEE WHAT... HOW
HE WAS TREATED, HOW... HOW HE
MAYBE DIDN'T HAVE THE TOOLS TO
BE A FATHER.
HE WAS AN EXCELLENT... HE'S AN
EXCELLENT PROVIDER; HE'S
INCREDIBLY SKILLED AT HIS... AT
HIS WORK; PEOPLE REALLY LIKE HIM.
AND I... YOU KNOW, AND IT'S THIS
THING IN MY FAMILY THAT
WE'RE... YOU KNOW, WE'RE STILL
TRYING TO FEEL LIKE, "WHY CAN'T
YOU... WHY CAN'T... YOU KNOW, WHAT
IS THIS FORCE THAT KEEPS US
APART?"
IT'S LIKE A MAGNETIC FIELD WITH
LIKE TWO NORTH ENDS LIKE FACING
EACH OTHER.
IT'S JUST LIKE YOU WANT TO BE
CLOSE, BUT THERE'S SOMETHING
THAT REPELS YOU.
AND... AND... YOU KNOW, AND I THINK
A PART OF MY... IF I HAD LIKE A
JOURNEY... A LIFE JOURNEY OR... I
THINK IT'S SOMETHING TO... I DON'T
THINK OUR RELATIONSHIP IS
FINISHED.
AND SO, PART OF ME AND WHY I
ALWAYS WRITE MY EXPERIENCE AND
TRY NOT TO IMPOSE SO MUCH OF HIS
EXPERIENCE OR HEARSAY, IT'S
TO... IS TO START A CONVERSATION.

Nam says YOU ALSO WRITE THAT... ABOUT THE
IMPORTANCE OF HUMOUR.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says YOU WRITE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Price of laughter." The quote reads "Only by laughing at our situation were we given permission, to express our profound dissatisfaction, to show vulnerability, or to admit fear."
Quoted from Shawn Hitchins, "A brief history of oversharing." 2017.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS IS THAT WHAT GAVE YOU YOUR
EARLY TRAINING FOR BECOMING A
COMEDIAN?

SHAWN SAYS YEAH, OH YEAH.
I THINK HUMOUR IN... IN MY... I'M
GONNA CALL IT IN EGYPT OR IN MY
FAMILY... IT WAS A SURVIVAL SKILL, YOU KNOW?

Nam says SO, WHEN YOU HAD LIKE AN
UNCOMFORTABLE MOMENT...

SHAWN SAYS YOU JUST GOTTA LAUGH AT
IT, YEAH.
I MEAN, I CAN'T SAY OUR FAMILY
MOTTO.
THERE'S...

NAM SAYS WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY MOTTO?

[SHAWN LAUGHS]

Shawn says WELL, I MEAN, IT'S LIKE... YOU
KNOW, THAT JOKE... YOU KNOW, A
COMMON REACTION... WOULD BE LIKE, "IF YOU CAN'T
LAUGH... IF YOU CAN'T LAUGH AT
LIFE'S SHIT THEN GO KILL
YOURSELF."
YOU KNOW?
LIKE, THAT'S... THAT'S HOW MY
FAMILY REACTS.

[NAM AND SHAWN CHUCKLE]

Nam says WITHIN ALL OF THIS, YOU DEVELOP
LIKE AN AFFINITY FOR WHOOPI
GOLDBERG.

Shawn says YEAH.
YEAH, ISN'T THAT BIZARRE?

NAM SAYS IT'S SO WEIRD.
says YEAH, I MEAN NOT WEIRD.
I'M NOT JUDGING.

Shawn says NO, TELL ME.
PLEASE JUDGE.
I MEAN, THAT'S WHY I WROTE THE
BOOK.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Nam says WHAT WAS IT ABOUT HER THAT MADE
YOU CRAZY FOR HER?

The caption changes to "Call of the stage."

Shawn says I THINK IT WAS JUST... WELL, IT
STARTED WITH
JUMPIN' JACK FLASH
FOR ME.
LIKE, THAT MOVIE WAS SO AMAZING.
YOU KNOW, IT WAS THAT... IT WAS
ALSO LIKE THE... THE GOING FROM
JUST AN ANTENNA... JUST LIKE AN
ANTENNA ON A TV... LIKE, RABBIT
EARS... AND GETTING LIKE THREE
STATIONS... LIKE, CKVR IN BARRIE
AND WHICH RAN LIKE
ANDY OF
MAYBERRY
AND LUCILLE BALL...
AND I LOVE LUCY
SHOW.
AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, WE HAD LIKE
DIFFERENT FAMILIES, AND PEOPLE
WHO... WHO LOOKED DIFFERENT THAN
EVERYBODY THAT I HAD MET.
AND I STARTED... I STARTED
IDENTIFYING WITH THAT.
I STARTED SEEING WHOOPI
GOLDBERG.
AND REMEMBER
227,
AND...

NAM SAYS OH MY GOD, I LOVE
227.

Shawn says 227,
YEAH.

NAM SAYS MAAARY.

SHAWN SAYS JACKEE.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Shawn says AND SO... AND SO I CALL THEM EARLY
PORTHOLES...
BECAUSE THEY WERE PORTHOLES TO
AN ALTERNATE UNIVERSE.
LIKE, AND I WOULD... YOU KNOW, I
WOULD LEARNED ABOUT GAY PEOPLE
FROM... OR BEING GAY FROM LIKE THE
WEIRDEST SOURCES,
LIKE JERRY SPRINGER.

NAM SAYS RIGHT.

Shawn says YOU KNOW?
'CAUSE YOU WOULD SEE GAY MEN ON
JERRY SPRINGER, AND YOU'D GO,
"OH."

Nam says WHO KNEW JERRY SPRINGER COULD DO
SOME GOOD?

SHAWN SAYS I KNOW.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Shawn says BUT, LIKE, ISN'T THAT BIZARRE?

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says LIKE, HOW... HOW YOUR WORLD IS
SHAPED.
AND SO, AND I... AND I DON'T KNOW
WHAT EXACTLY IT IS ABOUT
WHOOPI GOLDBERG.
I KNOW WHAT IT WAS WHITNEY
HOUSTON.
AND...

NAM SAYS WHAT WAS IT ABOUT WHITNEY?

Shawn says THAT VOICE.

NAM SAYS RIGHT.

Shawn says IT WAS THAT VOICE.
IT WAS... IT WAS CLEAN; IT WAS
POWERFUL; IT... AND IT JUST SPOKE
TO ME OF JUST ONE OF THOSE
THINGS.

Nam says AND SO, IN HIGH SCHOOL, YOU HAD
SEVERAL CAREERS.
YOU WRITE YOU DIDN'T HAVE
HOBBIES.

SHAWN SAYS I NEVER HAD... I'VE NEVER
HAD...

NAM LAUGHS AND SAYS YOU HAD A
CAREER.

Shawn says I REWIRE LAMPS NOW.
THAT'S A HOBBY.
BUT I STILL SELL THEM.
YEAH.
DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

Nam says YOU'RE A RENAISSANCE MAN, RIGHT?

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Nam says SO, IN HIGH SCHOOL, YOU... YOU HAD
A, YOU KNOW, FLOURISHING STAGE
CAREER.

Shawn says YEAH.

NAM SAYS THEN YOU LEFT THAT.

Shawn says YEAH.

Nam says AND THEN YOU STARTED TO ICE
SKATE.

[SHAWN CHUCKLING]

Shawn says YEAH.

Nam says BUT THEN YOU GAVE THAT UP.
BUT WHY DID YOU START ICE SKATING?

Shawn says WELL, IT WAS JUST... WELL...

NAM SAYS OR FIGURE SKATING.

Shawn says OR FIGURE SKATING, YEAH.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says SO, FIGURE SKATING HAPPENED
BEFORE... WELL, IT WAS AT THE SAME
TIME, SO LIKE IN PUBLIC SCHOOL.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says IT WAS JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS
WHERE YOU HAD LIKE THE CALGARY,
THE LILLEHAMMER, AND THEN THE
OTHER OLYMPICS JUST
BACK-TO-BACK.
LIKE, IT WAS LIKE THREE OVER SIX
YEARS, I THINK IT WAS.
AND SO, YOU SAW KURT BROWNING;
YOU SAW ELVIS STOJKO; AND YOU
SAW BRIAN ORSER.
AND IT WAS THIS EXPRESSION ON
ICE WITH LIKE PIRATE SHIRTS AND
SEQUINS AND LIKE BACKFLIPS AND
AXLES.
AND YOU'RE LIKE, "YES, I CAN DO
THAT'!
AND... AND SO, I JUST WAS LIKE... I
REMEMBER THE ONE DAY...
OK, SO MY PARENTS TRIED TO PUT
ME IN HOCKEY, DIDN'T GO FOR IT.
SO, THEY PUT ME IN THIS
THING... WELL, THEY... THEY PUT ME
IN LIKE JUNIOR HOCKEY... AND THEY PUT THIS DIRTY PINNIE
ON ME AND PUT ME OUT ON THE ICE
AND MADE ME LIKE PLAY THIS GAME.
AND I REMEMBER WALKING OFF THE
ICE WITH THIS DIRTY PINNIE,
RIPPING IT OFF, THROWING IT AT
MY PARENTS AND SAID,
"NOT UNTIL THEY DO THE LAUNDRY."

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

Shawn says WHO DOES THAT?

NAM SAYS YOU.

Shawn says YEAH, I'M NOT DOING THAT UNTIL
THEY DID THE LAUNDRY.
AND I... AND THAT WAS IT.

NAM SAYS AND YOU ALSO WENT THROUGH A
PHASE WHERE YOU'RE... YOU
DESCRIBED YOURSELF AS A FANATIC
FOR MUSICALS.

SHAWN SAYS YES.

Nam says BUT THEN THAT CHANGED.
YOU WRITE THAT YOUR LOVE FOR
MUSICALS WENT SOUR.
WHAT HAPPENED?
WHY DID IT... WHY WASN'T IT
SOMETHING THAT YOU LIKED ANYMORE?

Shawn says 'CAUSE I THINK THAT WHEN I
STARTED CREATING MY OWN WORK,
AND I STARTED STANDING UP ON
STAGE, AND I STARTED JUST
TALKING IN MY OWN VOICE, I SORTA
HAD THIS SORTA REALIZATION,
YOU KNOW?
I HAD IT WHEN I... I WAS A DRAG
QUEEN.
LIKE, I'VE HAD A WHOLE... I'VE
DONE EVERYTHING, I FEEL.
NOT YET.
I STILL GOT SOME THINGS LIKE
LEFT TO DO, BUT... BUT IT... I... IT'S
THIS IDEA THAT I'M STILL FORMING
IN MY HEAD ABOUT WHERE DO GAY
MEN FIT IN THE ENTERTAINMENT
INDUSTRY.
AND PART OF ME WITH MY... I LOVE
MUSICAL THEATRE... I LOVE IT... I
DON'T LIKE IT AS A FORM OF GAY
EXPRESSION BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE
THERE'S... WHEN SOMEONE WRITES A
MUSICAL, YOU KNOW, THE
TRADITIONAL FORM IS GAY MEN
WRITING MUSICALS IN A HETERO
NARRATIVE.
AND THEN GAY MEN TAKE THAT
NARRATIVE, AND THEY MINE IT.
AND THEN THEY TAKE THE SONGS AND
THE BALLADS AND THEY SORT OF
RE-APPROPRIATE IT AS THEIR OWN.
AND THAT BECOMES THEIR VOICE.
AND I FEEL LIKE THERE'S A... I'M
KIND OF TIRED OF MINING MY OWN
NARRATIVE.
AND I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE A
DIRECT NARRATIVE THAT MIRRORS
MY... MY LIFE.

Nam says THE OTHER CHAPTER THAT HAD ME
LIKE WEEPING, AND... FROM LAUGHTER
AND ALSO FROM SADNESS...
IS WHEN YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT
GAY MEN NOT BEING ABLE TO MAKE CHILDREN...

Shawn says YEAH.

NAM SAYS WITH EACH OTHER.

Shawn says YEAH.

Nam says AND YOU DONATED YOUR SPERM TO A
COUPLE.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says AND YOU GO THROUGH THIS... I GUESS
THIS KIND OF PUSH AND PULL,
TRYING TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT
YOU WOULD SHOULD BE IN YOUR
BIOLOGICAL DAUGHTER'S LIFE.
TELL ME ABOUT THAT.
UM, OK, YEAH.

[LAUGHS]

Shawn says LET ME START BY DOING THE SHOW.

Nam says NO.

[NAM LAUGHS]

The caption changes to "Sponsoring offspring."

Shawn says YEAH, IT WAS... IT... FOR ME, THAT
REALIZATION WAS... YOU KNOW, IT
TOOK ME... I'M STILL PROCESSING
IT, WHAT IS MEANS.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A FATHER.
I FEEL LIKE THAT'S THE THROUGH
LINE OF THE BOOK BECAUSE I TALK
ABOUT MY... MY FATHER, THEN MY
MENTORSHIP WITH DIRECTOR GEORGE
BLOOMFIELD, AND THEN BECOMING A
FATHER.
AND, FOR ME, IT WAS THIS IDEA
THAT CRACKED MY HEAD THAT I WAS
NOT LESS THAN, THAT I WAS
ACTUALLY PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF
HAVING A CHILD.
AND THERE WAS A SORT OF ROOTED
SHAME IN ME, WHICH GOES BACK TO,
YOU KNOW, THAT... THAT INCITING
FORCE, THAT MOMENT WHEN I WAS 13
THAT SORT OF PUT THAT IN ME,
THAT GAY MEN GROW UP THINKING
THAT THEY'RE LESS THAN EVERYBODY
ELSE, THAT THERE'S SOMETHING
PHYSICALLY WRONG WITH THEM, THAT
THERE'S SOMETHING EMOTIONALLY
WRONG.
THAT WE'RE BROKEN.
AND IT WAS A LONG PROCESS.
AND IT WAS A REAL OPRAH "AHA."
MOMENT FOR ME TO GO...

Nam says BUT YOU YOU CALLED IT SOMETHING
ELSE.
AN "OH, F THIS'...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS YEAH.

[NAM AND SHAWN CHUCKLE]

Shawn says IT'S THAT... IT'S THAT MOMENT WHEN
YOU REALIZE THAT BECAUSE WHO YOU
ARE, HOW YOU WERE BORN, YOU WERE
TOLD THAT YOU COULDN'T DO
THINGS.
YOU COULDN'T HAVE KIDS.
YOU KNOW, AND IT'S A RELIGIOUS,
IT'S A POLITICAL, IT'S A SOCIAL
MESSAGE.
IT'S WOVEN INTO OUR NARRATIVES.
KIDS GROW UP LEARNING, YOU KNOW,
KIDS HAVE A MOM AND A DAD.
AND... AND IT'S A BIOLOGICAL
THING.
AND WHEN YOU COME AROUND TO IT,
YOU... I CAN HAVE KIDS.
I'M VERY FERTILE.

[CHUCKLES]

Shawn says VERY... AND IT'S THIS MOMENT OF
LIKE... WHERE IT WAS LIKE
HAVING... REALIZING THAT I CAN
HAVE A KID, BUT REALIZING I
DON'T WANT TO PARENT A CHILD.

Nam says AND THAT BEING OK.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.
AND WHAT'S BEEN REALLY... YOU
KNOW, PART OF THE JOURNEY OF
THIS SHOW AND THIS BOOK IS
TRYING TO BREAK THAT NARRATIVE
BECAUSE EVERY TIME WE HEAR THE
STORY OF A SPERM DONOR, WE HEAR
IT... YOU KNOW, LIKE, IT'S THAT
COLLEGE JOKE ABOUT, YOU KNOW,
WILL THE GAY MAN SLEEP WITH A WOMAN?
YOU KNOW, HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?
IT'S... AND IT'S... THE TRUTH IS
THAT YOU CAN... YOU CAN HAVE A
KID; YOU CAN CHOOSE TO PARENT
THE CHILD; YOU CAN CHOOSE NOT TO
PARENT THE CHILD.
OR YOU CAN MENTOR THE KID.

Nam says IS THAT... WHAT, IS THAT YOUR
RELATIONSHIP WITH HER?

Shawn says YEAH.
AND THAT GOES BACK TO MY
RELATIONSHIP WITH GEORGE
BLOOMFIELD... WHO SORT OF LIKE... WHO WAS THIS
AMAZING PRESENCE IN MY LIFE,
WHO BASICALLY SHOWED ME WHAT
MENTORSHIP WAS, WHAT BEING
THERE FOR SOMEONE WAS, WHAT
BEING A POSITIVE FORCE IN
SOMEONE'S LIFE CAN DO.

Nam says AND YOU HAD THIS BEAUTIFUL
PASSAGE WHEN YOU WERE TALKING
ABOUT HIM.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says AND YOU SAID... YOU WROTE THAT HE
WAS THE FIRST MAN THAT YOU COULD
SIT BESIDE... WITHOUT FEELING INTIMIDATED OR
WORRIED ABOUT WHAT WAS GONNA HAPPEN.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says YOU BEING AFRAID OF.

The caption changes to "In search of normalcy."

Shawn says YEAH.
JUST TO SIT BESIDE.
AND THAT WAS LIKE... THAT WAS
SEVEN YEARS OF SITTING BESIDE
SOMEONE ON SET FOR LONG DAYS AND
JUST NOT HAVING TO DO ANYTHING,
NOT HAVING TO... TO IMPRESS HIM
OR... OR, YOU KNOW, WORRY ABOUT
HIS EMOTIONAL STATE OR HOW WE
WERE... IT WAS JUST CALM.
AND I THINK THAT WAS THE FIRST
TIME I'VE EVER EXPERIENCED THAT.

Nam says YOU WRITE...

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "Normalcy, please." The quote reads "I was raised with an intense sense of belonging and blind sense of comfort, that I've desperately tried to regain since I lost it. But normalcy has evaded me at every turn."

Nam says WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE
YOU'RE LIVING A NORMAL LIFE?

Shawn says I DON'T KNOW IF I WANT A NORMAL
LIFE.
I THINK THAT'S MAYBE... MAYBE SORT
OF WHAT MY JOURNEY IS.
I CAN... AND THERE'S A PART IN THE
GINGER PRIDE WALK WHERE I FELT
LIKE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY.
YOU KNOW, WHEN I'M ON STAGE WITH
AN AUDIENCE, I FEEL A SENSE OF
COMMUNITY.
AND IT'S, FOR ME, TRYING TO
IDENTIFY WHAT THOSE THINGS ARE,
WHAT... AND HONOURING THEM AND
JUST SORT OF MARCHING TOWARDS
THEM.

Nam says I MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING...

SHAWN SAYS YEAH...

Nam says THAT IT READ LIKE A SCREENPLAY.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

Nam says AND AT THE END OF THE BOOK...

Shawn laughs and says YEAH...

Nam says YOU ACTUALLY
HAVE... [LAUGHS]... WHO YOU WANT TO
PLAY THE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

SHAWN SAYS YEAH.

NAM SAYS AND WE'VE RAN OUT OF TIME...

SHAWN SAYS OH YEAH...

Nam says BUT I THOUGHT IT WAS SO LIKE
SWEET THAT... AND FUNNY, THAT YOU
THINK THAT... WELL, YOU WANT TILDA
SWINTON TO PLAY YOU.

Shawn says OH YEAH; YES!
I DO; I DO!
I LOVE HER, I LOVE HER!

NAM SAYS SHE'S FANTASTIC.

Shawn says YEAH, YEAH.
SHE'S... YEAH.
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT HER AND
HER SORT OF ANDROGYNOUS
FEATURES... SAME WITH DAVID
BOWIE... THAT I KINDA GO,
"AH, YOU COULD PLAY ME."

NAM SAYS YEAH.

Shawn says YEAH.

NAM SAYS SHAWN, THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR BEING HERE.

Shawn says THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

The caption changes to "Producer: Wodek Szemberg, @wodekszemberg."

NAM SAYS I WISH WE HAD ANOTHER LIKE
HOUR TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

Shawn says OH, WAIT, LET'S GO GRAB A
COFFEE.

NAM SAYS YEAH, RIGHT?

[NAM AND SHAWN LAUGH]

NAM SAYS GREAT BOOK.

Shawn says YEAH, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

NAM SAYS THANKS.

Watch: Untanned and Unvarnished