Media sensation Joseph Shepherd exposes the details of his new talk show, Sissy That Talk

Christine Fitzgerald 25 Min Read
25 Min Read
Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Joseph Shepherd

He’s exposed your favorite Drag Race queens and now he’s here with a new talk show featuring more in-depth interviews and a lot of fun.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd premieres Tuesday, January 24th on YouTube and MOM+. The show is produced by Forever Dog Podcast Network, “Exposed” creator and host Joseph Shepherd, and RuPaul’s Drag Race icons Willam and Alaska under their groundbreaking drag-queen run media company and Forever Dog partner, Moguls of Media (MOM).

The 8-episode season kicks off with Katya Zamolodchikova and Joseph’s upcoming guests include Monét X Change, Kornbread, Alaska and Laganja Estranja.

Each episode of “Sissy That Talk” will see a world-famous drag queen sit down for an over-the-top interview, play games, answer hard-hitting questions, dive into their past, and so much more.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Joseph Shepherd

Joseph says, “I am beyond excited for everyone to see ‘Sissy That Talk!’ To have my vision of a late-night show properly executed by MOM and Forever Dog has fulfilled a big dream of mine. Get ready for chaos to ensue, laughs to be had, games, green screen challenges, and of course, getting to the bottom of some serious drama with your favorite drag queens. I cannot wait for you all to see the hard work the team has put behind it and with Willam and Alaska executive producing what can go wrong!?!” 

While mainstream late-night shows have been slow to catch up to global rise of drag celebrities, MOM co-founder Willam says, “Joseph has always been a huge supporter of us drag queens and has spent years interviewing us and treating us like the most important celebrities in the world, so we thought he could come do that on our network; because we are the most important celebrities in the world.” MOM co-founder Alaska adds, “If drag queens are doing talk shows and promoting their projects, they should be in a fun queer environment on a show that's playful and silly; it's DRAG after all. Joseph is a great host because he loves all the queens, has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything we've ever done, and wants to share that with the world.” 

Fresh off his foray into the music business, Joseph sat down with us again to discuss the new show, his journalism origins and his favorite moments from the first season.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Joseph Shepherd

How did Sissy that Talk come about?
Basically, I was working with MOM producing “Hi Jinkx!”, “The Chop” and “Famous This Week” and I created a deck for a Drag Race talk show. And I was like, I really just want to do this. I want to do something that's a little bit different. I want it to be unique on its own. I don't want it to be anything like “Exposed”. And so, I made a pitch deck, and I brought it to Forever Dog and MOM, and I was like, “I think that this would be great for you guys. You guys have a great space already and you have the team and everything to do it.”

And they basically were like, “If you can find us sponsors, then we'll gladly do it.” And so, I found two lovely sponsors and the rest ended up just being history. And literally right after we got the lock-in from the sponsor, we shot within the next week or so. It was a very fast process, but it was really cool seeing my whole idea come to life and not having 900 cooks in the kitchen.

How did you get started in journalism?
I went to school for journalism at Georgia State. I always wanted to do entertainment news or something. I've always been big into pop culture so when I was at Georgia State, I started an entertainment news program called “The Scoop”, and I was writing and doing all of that.

And then I started looking and seeing who was coming through Atlanta, performing at the smaller venues, musician-wise, and my first interview ever was with G-Eazy before he became successful in the rap world. And one day I was looking, and I was like, oh, RuPaul's Drag Race season six queens coming through [town]. I had never watched an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. I was brought up very conservatively, so I was still in that weird, “I don't know if drag is okay” stance because my mom and dad told me it wasn't right. But then I was like, “you know what, let me just check out this show”. So, I ended up binging all of season six in one evening and I was addicted – and I was addicted to Adore Delano. So, I reached out to her publicist and was like, “Hey, are you guys down for an interview when you guys are in town?” He said yes and that was my first drag interview with Adore Delano seven years ago.

And from there, I had some help, like Len (Evans), who was her PR person, ended up – when I moved to LA – helping me get on the red carpets of Drag Race and interviewing the queens. And then I would cut all of those videos as a one-man band because I was doing it all myself. I would just cut them and put them together and then that slowly started growing and then I felt that I wanted to dive a little bit deeper and that's how “Exposed” started. It was a gradual progression over the past seven years and then now this baby.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of David E. Laffe

When you're putting an episode together, what is your process to prepare the questions you’re going to ask?

My interview process is a lot of research. I go into the history of who they are as a drag queen, as a drag performer, and I really just try to look into what are not the common questions, like what are people not asking?

At the end of the day, the thing that I really believe sucks about people who interview gay icons or LGBT [performers] or drag queens is that a lot of them are coming from straight news sources and they've never seen Drag Race or they don't know who this drag queen is. So, the common questions are always, “Where'd you get your drag name from? Oh, how did you end up starting? Oh my gosh, what was it like being on Drag Race?” And they're the same things.

I always feel like there's more to a queen than that. There's more to somebody than that. We really want to dive into their history. Like, you know, what was it like when they walked through that Drag Race door? How much money did they spend on their outfits? What was the biggest issue that they have? I really would dive into watching all of their previous interviews, reading up on them, of course, on the beautiful fandom websites. The great thing about doing this show has been that we've been doing pre-interviews with the girls. We chat with them before to kind of see what is going on in their life. What has it been like when they've gone to the airport? The craziest story that they've had with the fans and just really just trying to dive into the celebrity of a Drag Race contestant. And of course, you know, you always got to look on the Reddit forums and see what the biggest drama is that's surrounding them because the Reddit forums have everything in the world!

Who has been your favorite guest to speak with so far?

Oh…they've all been great in their own ways, but I will honestly say Kornbread. Kornbread was my absolute favorite. [She] blocked me on Twitter before, like months before the episode. We dive into it in the episode, which honestly made us like best friends once we started talking about this and it was just such a good experience. She's such a light. She had so much insight into drag and her persona and then her transition and her becoming Demaria. It was just so cool seeing and hearing from somebody that blocked me. And it also was really cool actually talking about it and like getting into why she blocked me – and then me having to own up too, why she blocked me, which, you know, a lot of times in journalism you don't necessarily want to own up to everything or you don't want to say all the truths. But it was really cool just laying everything out with her and you know, doing fried chicken bits with her on a green screen, it was hilarious. And she has such big star power. I'm so excited to see what comes from her. And she was only on a couple of episodes of Drag Race.

The last time we talked, you mentioned that you were surprised to learn that the workroom had four walls. Have you learned anything surprising from the interviews for the new show?
I will say I learned a lot about what would've been Adore Delano’s appearance on All Stars six…learning why she dropped out and learning the kind of protocols behind that. And I think that was a big one. With Alaska, we got into the MOM network. And does that really mean WOW (World of Wonder) upside down? Like, is that what it really is in her music? Is she actually referring to World of Wonder in her song “Wow”? She did not want to say, but I will say I pried the answer out of her, which was great just getting them to admit some things. Yeah, I think that those were probably the two biggest things that I can remember off the top of my head.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Joseph Shepherd

Who would you still like to put in the hot seat that you haven't spoken with before?
It would be controversial, but I would love Tyra Sanchez. I would love to chat with James Ross, which Tyra goes by now. I would love to have a moment with Trixie. I have been trying for Trixie for 99 million years and she was potentially going to be the last guest, but then things didn't work out. I think Trixie would probably be the biggest one. I think Trixie has a really good image around her and she doesn't necessarily dive into a lot about her private life and who she is as an individual, because to be honest, I can't necessarily separate Trixie from Trixie out of drag.

Do you have a favorite go-to interview question that you feel you get a good response from?

Oh, I love using “If you had to expose something from your time being on Drag Race, whether it's good, bad, or evil behind the scenes that never made it to air, what would it be?” I love asking that question because it spawns either a love of something that they were really respectful of that they wish would've been shown on camera or it's like the crazy opposite end that, you know, the edit screwed them over. Or, you know, a fire happened, or this happened backstage. I asked that question to Kandy Muse and she ended up telling me that Gottmik’s outfit from the ball challenge that she made was thrown away by production. In that moment I was like, what? And then literally you start thinking well, Gottmik’s outfits weren't that great for that episode, but she did win the ball challenge. So, did she win the ball challenge because they threw away her outfit and then they had to search for it? That was probably the coolest thing. So, I love that question because it really does get the girls thinking.

Does Sissy That Talk have a Jimmy Fallon vibe, where there's games and sketches and bits and things like that, or is this just a straight-up talk show?

Oh no, it's not a straight-up talk show. I would say it's kind of like a mix of a Ziwe with a little Eric Andre, with a tad of Jimmy Fallon. We start the episodes, of course, with a monologue, but they're not traditional monologues. They are things that you will never expect. It's really good drag jokes. It may be an actual monologue from a show or a movie or a drag queen may step in and do the monologue. Then we have the first part of the interview questions, and those interview questions don't deal anything with Drag Race. We are talking about their lives, about them as an individual, the craziest stories that happen when they're on the road.

And then my favorite part is a little segment that we call “Pics from the Past” and it’s literally me pulling up pictures from them from 10, or 15 years ago. They're old drag flyers – like with Katya, I pulled up a drag flyer from her when she used to be known as Katie Homophobia. Just finding these old relics of who these individuals were before, during and after Drag Race is really cool.

And then we have a “Random Ass Wheel”, which we call the “RAW” segment. The girls spin the wheel, and it lands on something random and then they have to go over to the green screen and do whatever it says. So, it could be an acting challenge, it could be a musical challenge, it could be reacting to something. It's very off the wall, which I absolutely love – just putting them on the spot and making them do things.

The other cool part about the show is that once the show is over, that short form piece that I kind of just described, we also have an additional 30-minute podcast episode, which is completely separate – and it's not the same thing that's going to be on the YouTube show. We just have a sit-down conversation. It's more personable. It’s not as goofy and punchy, it's more serious and we also record that. That's also going to be both in the podcast version and on YouTube as well. It's kind of like two separate forms of content. One being more the late-night show vibe, and then one being more the sit-down and talk to me in a daytime talk show vibe. So, to that point, yeah, it's a little bit late night, but then at the same time it's a little bit chaotic and a lot of fun.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Joseph Shepherd

Are you planning or hoping to expand your guest list into other areas like non-Drag Race participants? And if so, who would you want to have on?
I would love to expand in some shape, form or way, but I absolutely love doing what I do. And I believe that you need to love everything 100%. And while I would love to interview the cast of the “Real Gays of WeHo” or whatever it is that everybody's hating on, but I would say that's not my vibe in all honesty. I love finding the stories behind people.

I would love to end up doing a small documentary or something on ballroom culture. I would love doing things that are more historical pieces like Stonewall…who's still alive from Stonewall, and what can they tell us about their time when they were there, you know? Who threw the first brick, was it, you know, Derrick Barry? Did he throw it? No, I'm just kidding. But I really think that as time goes by, I think that a lot of really pivotal moments in LGBT history and culture are kind of forgotten about, especially with younger generations. And it's not their fault, it's just that we don't necessarily have any types of media that we can consume that are bringing things to us that are historical, so I don't want those moments to go away, like Wigstock and all of that. I want to really dive into that stuff. So, if I could expand, that's where I would want to expand.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of David E. Laffe

Have you been working on any new music?

I have a lot of ideas down. I have a lot of things…but music is, what I learned is music is expensive and producing a music video is expensive, and while I absolutely love it and would love to work with like different producers and stuff, I think at this time it's kind of just putting that to the side until some random song comes into my head and I'm so adamant about it that I get into my car and go drive to a producer's house and say, let's do it .

What else is next for you?
Well, we have Sissy, and then I am potentially – which I believe it's going to happen – going to be starting a podcast with Marta Mamma, who is from Spain, and we're going to start diving into the España seasons of Drag Race and really kind of going into the world of Spanish translation, like what did these challenges actually mean? What is this cultural significance of this? And really diving into that because I believe that these international franchises are great, but there are a lot of cultural references that are kind of left out and anybody that covers these doesn't necessarily have an expert. And Marta Mamma was amazing with me. She helped translate my Carmen Farala interview and that was beautiful. She and I really became really close, and she just has so much cultural insight that I'm very excited about opening up the door to that.

Where can people find Sissy That Talk?

So, the full show is going to be on the MOM Podcast YouTube channel. We basically film for an hour and a half to two hours, and then we break the episode down into more of a shorter form episode, which is probably a third of that time. So, we have multiple other pieces of content which we are going to be splitting into clips and stuff.

For instance, Adore and I had a great conversation about her identity and who she is as a drag queen versus “Adore Delano” and how the line is and how she separates one from the other, or if she's actually becoming her drag counterpart of Adore Delano. But that wouldn't be something that we would necessarily keep on Sissy That Talk. But we would clip that out and then I would put that on my YouTube channel. So basically, the full episodes will always be on MOM podcast and then separating things into clips and the “random ass wheel” segments and stuff, all of that will be on my channel. So, if you want the full episode, you go to MOM, you watch it, you check it out, and then you'll also get that 30-minute podcast episode and then all the clips and stuff. If you just want a quick watch, just come to my page.

Sissy That Talk with Joseph Shepherd
Photo courtesy of Joseph Shepherd

New episodes of Sissy That Talk are released every Tuesday on the MOM Podcast network’s YouTube channel, with additional interviews, clips and content available on Joseph’s YouTube channel. Keep up with Joseph on Twitter and Instagram.

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