For many, Shon Faye needs no introduction. A writer, editor and journalist, she is the author of the Sunday Times Bestseller The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice and an upcoming book about love (scheduled for a 2025 release). She also wrote a review of Cher, and only Cher, in Mamma Mia 2, which, since its publication on Dazed Digital in 2018, remains one of the most iconic and frequently returned to articles ever to appear on the website.
Faye is also the host of Call Me Mother, a brilliant podcast in which she speaks to various LGBTQ+ trailblazers “who have something important, interesting or enlightening to say about what it means to be queer in the world today”. Listening to this show, you are reminded that as queer people, we are part of a much broader lineage; that things which may seem new to us – our experiences, minor trials and major traumas – aren’t that new at all, which is reassuring. The show is often entertaining, always educational and a must-listen for anyone wanting to learn more about queer history from a personal perspective. Here, Faye talks about her podcast and answers 48 other questions which are almost entirely unrelated.
1. Where are you from? Bristol.
2. What’s the most Bristol thing about you? Like Bristol, I’ve also funded the tobacco industry, have a history of radical politics and I’ve also tried to normalise ketamine abuse.
3. Summarise your podcast in one sentence. There’s nothing new under the sun.
4. What’s been the best or most moving story that you heard while working on it? So my podcast is speaking to LGBTQ+ pioneers and elders about their lives. And in reference to my previous answer, we would tend to think their lives are very different to ours or much more difficult. And it’s really interesting when they’re not or in some ways, were actually easier or more fun. There were lots of interesting conversations. One that stood out was Marc Thompson, who is an HIV and AIDS campaigner, and who said a lot about the Black British gay scene in the 80s. And in the most recent series, David Hoyle, just because he’s such a fun and joyful character.
5. Who’s your dream guest? Tom Cruise. Joke. Paul O’Grady. Because Lily Savage is mentioned in a couple of the episodes. I’m fascinated that Paul O’Grady is at home in mainstream Britain but in the 80s, Lily Savage was quite an anarchic drag queen. I’d like to talk to him about that because he always has to talk about things in a mainstream way.
6. Who is your greatest queer hero? The moon: she’s giving non-binary and she’s giving bad bitch.
7. You’ve previously reviewed Drag Race UK for Dazed. Shag, marry, kill for the casts of seasons one, two and three. I’d shag Tayce because she’s hot, I’d abolish marriage and I’d kill RuPaul.
8. Who would you play on snatch game? I think I’d go for Liza. I actually did Tayce and Munroe Bergdorf’s show Queerpiphany and talked about Cabaret on it and ended up having to do my best Liza impression. But Tayce’s is better.
9. What song would you want to lip sync for your life to? I’ve Never Been To Me by Charlene. I haven’t been undressed by kings but I have seen some things that a woman ain’t supposed to see.
10. What’s your favourite thing about queer culture? The trauma.
11. What is one social cause you wish people talked about more? That Anne Hathaway was treated badly in 2013 and actually she’s a really good actress.
12. If you could bring one political policy into immediate effect, what would it be? Ban those motorised scooters – one hit me on my book launch day and nearly dislocated my shoulder.
13. Where is your happy place? Well, it used to be in chemically-induced unconsciousness either from recreational drugs or general anaesthetic. Now it’s a small island off the coast of Italy called Procida.
14. What does liberation mean to you? Mugler dresses for everyone.
15. Do you believe in aliens? Don’t talk about Bimini like that!
16. Do you believe in ghosts? Yeah, there’s enough of them in my WhatsApp archive.
17. Do you believe in God? Yes.
18. Do you believe in life after death? No, I believe in life after love.
19. Do you believe in love at first sight? Only when Kylie Minogue sings about it.
20. What’s the best compliment you have ever received? A guy on a dating app once said, ‘I can’t believe you have any male in you, apart from me given half the chance,’ which isn’t the best compliment I’ve ever received in terms of how flattered I was, but I thought it was quite artful.
What does liberation mean to you? “Mugler dresses for everyone.”
21. What is the best advice you have ever received? You can’t control people, places and things.
22. What advice would you give to your younger self? Transitioning won’t ruin your life, but the drinking might.
23. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life? Scarlett Johansson.
24. And who would you want to direct that movie? Either Lars Von Trier or Kerry Katona.
25. What’s your type on paper? Handsome crypto-misogynists with a little earring and tattoos.
26. What’s your top first date tip? Don’t go.
27. What’s your greatest regret? Not going to the Dazed party in 2017 and meeting Pamela Anderson.
28. Who or what makes you laugh the most? Myself.
29. What qualities do you look for in a friend? Loyalty, kindness, lack of judgement, a good sense of humour and just a dash of being unhinged.
30. What is your most controversial opinion? That gender isn’t very interesting.
31. What’s the last thing you changed your mind about? The existence of God.
32. What is your star sign? Aries sun, Leo moon, Virgo rising – quite a girlboss chart.
33. What’s the most Aries thing about you? I like my own way.
34. What’s the most Leo moon thing about you? I’m a deranged attention seeker.
35. What is your greatest virtue? I think I’m quite empathetic.
36. What is your greatest vice? My greatest vice is probably fear that leads into self-obsession.
37. What would you wear to the Met Gala? I’d skin Timothée Chalamet and wear him.
38. Who would you bring as your plus one? Tom Rasmussen.
39. What fantasy world would you like to live in? The Desperate Housewives’.
40. What are you reading at the moment? Old emails with ex-boyfriends.
“What is the future of queerness? Harry Styles.”
41. What book would you want to read for the first time again? Probably my favourite book which is The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner.
42. What’s one thing that stood out to you from the research you did for your book? Just how badly the media has failed to inform the public about what trans people’s lives were actually like. There’s so much data, there was so much data there and I had never read like a newspaper article that actually made use of that data. I think it’s appalling.
43. Describe the process of writing your book in three words. Dissociative, methodical and challenging.
44. What’s the last film that made you cry? Stepmom with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon – nothing is going to make you cry like Susan Sarandon dying.
45. What song is guaranteed to get you on the dance floor? I mean so many but at the weekend the one that really lined me up was Hit ’Em up Style (Oops!) by Blu Cantrell, which was a surprise but I really went for it.
46. What’s your summer 2022 banger? The compositions of Hildegard von Bingen – I’ve been listening to a lot of her while I write. [Beyoncé’s] Alien Superstar is also good.
47. What’s your musical guilty pleasure? I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I often think that’s what straight men say when they’re trying to diss pop music – just enjoy what you enjoy, you don’t have to feel guilty about anything to please society. Go for it, babe.
48. What’s the campest thing you’ve ever seen? Sorry to Susan Sontag but I really cheapen the concept of camp. I think everything’s camp. The other day I saw a seagull eating KFC off the bone and said “camp!”. Let’s be clear: that’s not camp. It’s cannibalism.
49. What is the future of heterosexuality? I feel like by 2050, the way it seems to be going, everyone will be pansexual except for me who will be the sole remaining heterosexual but fortunately, I’ll be closer to death.
50. What is the future of queerness? Harry Styles.