– When did you first learn about sex?
– What was your first time like?
– What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you during sex?
– What’s your best move in bed?
As a trained filmmaker, Quantic had never considered that starting a podcast would be in the cards. Yet in 2018, after he decided to submit a short film to HUMP! Film Festival — an indie porn festival started by Dan Savage of Savage Love fame — Fruitbowl unexpectedly came into fruition.
“I didn’t really know what the theme of the short would be, so I just started interviewing my friends about their developmental years and their coming-of-age as it relates to their queer identity and their sexuality…” recalls Quantic. “Ones we all know from movies — like how you discovered your sexuality, and also: first times, worst times, and those kinds of themes.”
The main commonality that emerged was pornography. For many queer or straight people, Quantic discovered, it was through pornography that they discovered their sexual preferences. He cut together a 5-minute short using this footage, entitled Porn Yesterday — but was left with so much first-person storytelling gold that he decided to turn each of the interviews into a podcast episode. Focused on queer coming-of-age, yes, but with an emphasis on the sex.
“I feel [queer sex is] a subject that mainstream media — straight media, basically — really has no interest in talking about in any meaningful or complex way,” says Quantic. “I felt that there was a need for that, because when I was just coming out, I would have loved to have heard something like that… because of all these obstacles that are often put in our way as queer people.”
“We were raised expected to be straight, and I think that requires a certain amount of personal strength to say, no: that is not my narrative. This is my narrative; this is how I’m going to live my life,” Quantic continues. “And every queer person has that story in common with each other. It might not be the same story; they might not have gotten to the end in the same way that we did, but we have each had that moment in our life where it’s like: you know what? This path is going to be different for me.”
S2E8 – RC: “You did that for the D?!”
With every Fruitbowl interview, Quantic provides his interviewees with a list of fifteen standard questions, so that they have time to consider their responses. He deliberately tries to avoid any interview scenario where there might be any uncomfortable or surprising “gotcha” moments.
“For a lot of queer people, coming out serves as a threshold that we cross through. We finally get to live the life that we want to live instead of living the life that we were told we were going to live,” says Quantic. “Just speaking personally here: there was a lot of my life before coming out that I would just like to forget. It was so painful. And I feel like providing people the questions allows them the chance to try and think back about what it was like growing up, and also maybe remember some kind of painful things.”
In fact, while all of the stories ultimately trend towards having a positive tone, it is frequent that the interviewees have done something regrettable or had something regrettable done to them during their coming-of-age years. Excommunication from family members and separation from birth families are just common and predictable narratives throughout the series.
“Regardless of what people’s challenges have been, at the end of each interview, I have people reflect on their lives, and there is this catharsis,” explains Quantic. “There’s a positive, I think, feeling, at the end of each episode… because the truth is that, the person is in the room with me, and they’ve made it. They’re okay now. They’ve got things figured out, to a certain degree — in the way that any of us can say that we’ve got things figured out.”
S2E9 – Isabella: “A Stacked Woman Is Hard To Find”
What all three seasons of Fruitbowl brilliantly portray is the diversity in the queer community, of all kinds. Diversity, in this case, extends far beyond race, gender, and how the interviewees define themselves in terms of sexuality; it also includes class, religious background, cultural backgrounds, and more.
“I always knew queer people were diverse, and the definition could be really expansive, but I’ve only just begun to really understand how expansive it is…” Quantic comments, citing that previously he may have been prone to making surface-level assumptions about people’s preferences, labels, and identities. “But Fruitbowl has really taught me not to assume anything about anyone, and also just to accept people on their own terms. We all have the right to define ourselves how we want to.”
Allowing people to define themselves how they want to has also shifted the format of Fruitbowl. Its first two seasons had a more traditional podcast setup, with a “cheeky” introduction from Quantic, complete with fun labels that queer people have for themselves, such as bears, otters, unicorns, tops, bottoms, butch, femme, and the like. For Fruitbowl’s third season, Quantic no longer has co-hosts and even cut his own introduction down to just the simple one-liner, “This is Fruitbowl.”
“It’s now less about labels and groups and fractions of the queer movement; it’s really just about the person themselves, and you’re listening to their stories, and that’s the way that you find out who they are,” says Quantic, of the series’ new “person-first” approach.
“I used to actually ask people how they define themselves as their queer identity, and I do still do ask that question — but now… I have been actually removing that part, just because I think maybe it sets up the listener too early to make all these assumptions about them,” he adds.
While previous seasons included a revealing title with each episode, such as “S2E11 – Adé: Non-Binary Alien” or “Anders: Pansexual, Transmasculine, Solo Polyamourous, Kinkster Pup (S2E6)”, each episode of the new season only feature the person’s name, age, and where they spent their coming-of-age years. Thus, each interviewee’s identity only emerges when listeners actively engage with each episode.
As Quantic moves through the series, he has been cutting short video promos of different interview subjects, but is aiming for a goal of 100. He is currently about halfway there, and plans to have at least forty more interviews with individuals who are not cis-male before he begins to piece together a feature documentary or series.
“I think what I learned most from the Porn Yesterday short is how similar people’s stories are, and also how different they are,” explains Quantic. “But a lot can be said from just putting one interview next to the other and showing them as either a contrast or a similarity. It’s like constructing a puzzle.”
And it is certainly a puzzle that Quantic can’t wait to construct.
S2E1 – “Jerusha’s Burrito Date”