David Radosh, author of "Rapture Ready", is a contributing editor for The Week and a freelance writer. Daniel's work has been published in The New York Times, Esquire Magazine, GQ, Playboy, The Observer and the The Weekly Standard to name just a few on his long list.
Although we probably don't agree on too many points politically (so please don't send either of us hate mail), I do love Daniel's writing skills, entertaining topics and wit.
Gabrielle Reilly: You're one of the few people I know that falls into a similar subset of society that I do. You could just as easily get an invitation to the Playboy Mansion by Hugh Hefner as you could an invitation to an Evangelical convention by James Dobson. How have you safely navigated through the landmines on that path (hint, this is an opportunity to plug your book)?
Daniel Radosh: Strangely, both of those invitations seem to have gotten lost in the mail. But I think I know what you're asking. When I wrote my book Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture (available now at Amazon.com) I imagined that my audience would be mostly other people like me, who have never in their lives been to a Christian rock concert, Christian theme park, or Christian rave. To my surprise and pleasure, the book was also embraced by many evangelical insiders who recognized their world all too well. Why?
I don't like to blow my own horn... so instead I'll quote from an Amazon reviewer (did I mention that the book is available on Amazon.com?) blowing it for me: "What I'd expected was a 'Wow, Christians sure are wacky!' tone. And while Radosh certainly encounters plenty of colorful characters (from the Christian professional wrestling troupe to the Christian superhero Bibleman), he's much more interested in really communicating with people and trying to understand where they're coming from."
Now to me it it's obvious that anyone setting out to writing a book about an unfamiliar subculture should go in with an open mind and actually learn as much as they can, rather than just look for the things that confirm their prejudices. But apparently readers cynically expect the opposite and find it refreshing when they're wrong. I think that's why even conservative evangelicals who vehemently disagree with many of my conclusions in the book have nonetheless welcomed my observations as honest, informed and respectful. Not Dobson, though.
Gabrielle Reilly: Your writing is so convincing that after I read your article on "Scanky Chics", becoming scanky sounded so hot I want to pierce all my body parts and not shower for a week. That was some great writing even if it does mock us more "clean-cut" girls and makes us sound so, well, clean. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind giving me some pointers on how i can become more "skanky?"
Daniel Radosh: Well first of all, as you can probably tell from the Melrose Place references and primitive web design, that article is now 13 years old and style has changed a bit. Skanky is less sexy now than it was in 1996. Girls like Britney, Lindsay, and Tara pushed the concept beyond alluring and into disturbing before ending up in just plain gross.
Still, a little bit of grime is always hot. No need to skip the shower, but try using more makeup, applied with your left hand and no mirror. Then cut your own hair (same instructions) and trade your trademarked swimsuits for thrift store t-shirts. Please note that I can't be held responsible for any decline in your web traffic. Not everyone's tastes are as refined as my own.
Gabrielle Reilly: Ok. enough playing with you, my more serious persona is dominating now.
Gabrielle Reilly: I have noticed in America that the right listen to Fox (we are scorned by our countrymen if we don't) and the left listen to CNN (they suffer the same dilemma). How can either side draw an educated conclusion about a topic if they only listen to one side of a story, automatically jump to conclusions and don't explore all options? Both sides seem to be drinking such excessive amounts of Kool-Aid the country has a tummy ache. What are your thoughts on this political paradigm?
Daniel Radosh: Ugh. I despise all TV news. The shouting heads on both sides diminish not only the overall political discourse but the very causes they're trying to promote. I'm a contributing editor at a magazine called The Week which started in the U.K., launched in the U.S. eight years ago, and has recently started up in Australia as well. It synthesis the best arguments (not merely the loudest) on all sides of the important (or just interesting) issues of the day, without imposing its own agenda on top of them. I highly recommend it to anyone who does want to know what the other side is saying and why.
Gabrielle Reilly: Roughly how long does it take you (once you have researched your topic) to actually write a 700 word article?
Daniel Radosh: Too long. I write very slowly.
Gabrielle Reilly: How do you go about the editing process?
Daniel Radosh: I find it much easier to edit other people's work. Their words seem so much less precious than my own. When I have to edit my own writing, it's best when I have time to let it sit undisturbed for a few days, so I can go back to it with fresh eyes and pretend that it was written by someone else.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do you have any tips for fellow blogger to increase traffic to their blog?
Daniel Radosh: You're asking the wrong guy. I prefer to have a small but bright and engaged audience than a large one that clutters up the comment threads with idiotic rants.