Coinciding with the release of the WOW coffee table book The World According to Wonder, The Advocate‘s Neal Broverman sat down to talk with the boys “about the past two decades, their hilarious WOW Report, celebrity, failure, and LaToya Jackson.” Here’s a quick excerpt:
When you started making shows and, eventually, movies, when did you think, We could actually do this and make a living at it?
Barbato: We still don’t.
What project have you done that you feel hasn’t gotten the attention it deserved?
Barbato: All of our projects (laughs). That’s hard. Part of me thinks, all of the projects we’ve never made, But, that’s not it.
Bailey: The truth is, if you’re in TV, or even in pop culture, you want to reach as broad an audience as possible. And one of the things we’ve always run into is being told. ‘That’s nice but that’s a very marginal idea, or niche.’ In general, there’s an assumption when something is niche, only a few people are going to be interested in it, but I don’t think that’s true. In pop culture, the more specific a thing, the more likely people are going to be interested. Generally, people know much more now because there’s so much more media and, as a result, they’re interested in things they don’t know about. It is a continuing dynamic in our work; presenting ideas that executives say are too niche. I think audiences are much more curious than we give them credit for.
Was RuPaul’s Drag Race seen as too niche?
Bailey: This is a show we pitched for about 10 years. It wasn’t until Tom Campbell came here and headed up development that he suggested we take it out. We were like, ‘No. We’ve taken it everywhere. To Logo a million times. No one’s going to buy this show.” We’ve been told no one wants to see drag queens on TV, or that’s so gay and very niche and marginal. We even were told that at Logo. So it did take a long time. If it wasn’t for Tom Campbell, we would have given it up.
It wouldn’t work without RuPaul. You actually worked with Ru at the beginning of WOW. How do you guys maintain successful relationships so long?
Barbato: We have a history; we’re sisters. Even over 20 years ago when RuPaul would walk down the street in a jock strap and boots, we could still have really exciting and intellectual conversations. He’s always been in our soul family and always been a star. The history just makes all that richer. Back then we used to hang out in the East Village and he wore a jock strap. Now, we hang out on Hollywood Boulevard and he shows up in Yves St. Laurent and has his own office on the top floor of World of Wonder. And he’s exactly the same. Same with James St. James, one of the co-editors of the WOW Report, and Stephen Saban of the WOW Report. We know them from the club days.
Bailey: That speaks to why we wrote the book. The secret to longevity is refusing to go away. That was the message we wanted to share.
Reading the WOW Report, it looks like you guys have so much fun in that office on Hollywood Boulevard. How do you get anything done?
Barbato: Right now, we’re wearing caftans and wigs (laughs). It’s a really special place filled with special people. There’s a great vibe. Every now and then Fenton and I have to be grumpy to keep people in line. That energy is the World of Wonder. It’s all these unique people who work here and it gets a little crazy sometimes.
Would you ever consider a reality show about WOW?
Barbato: They’d have to pay us a lot of money. Talk to us in about five years. When we have plastic surgery.
Read the entire interview here.