Helen Cox is a UK author. She made her on-screen debut in The Krankies in 1990. Given the choice, her Mastermind topic would be Grease 2 and when someone asks her if she is a god she says 'yes.' Oh, you want to know about her books? Best click some of the links below.
One of the best things about writing a book is the people it connects you with and as my fiction is set in New York, I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a number of New York residents in the name of research.
This week, I’m sharing an interview I conducted with Emmy nominated writer and comedian Kevin Maher. His work has appeared on Comedy Central, HBO and AMC. His short films have been shown everywhere from MOMA to Troma, with screenings outside of Sundance and Cannes, and these are just a few of the impressive credits Kevin has to his name.
Currently, Kevin hosts a thematic, video variety show called Kevin Geeks Out in which audience members are invited to become ‘pop culture adventurers.’ The night involves obscure film clips, offbeat commentary, guest experts, games and curiosities. In short, it sounds awesome.
Kevin graciously took some time out of his schedule to answer a few questions I had about life in New York City.
Helen: How long have you lived in NYC and what kind of relationship do you feel you have with the city?
Kevin: I’ve lived in New York City since August 1997. New York is like a friend/coach/teacher who can be harsh, but is just pushing you to do your best.
And how you respond to being pushed will tell you a lot about yourself.
Helen: What do you feel you know about New York that people from outside the city don’t?
Kevin: Stay out of Times Square. People used to avoid it like it was a den of sin and vice (porn theaters, sex shops, crime and drugs.) Now it’s a different kind of vice (corporate greed, chain restaurants, costumed walk-abouts.)
When people ask me “You live in New York?!” I think they imagine me raising my family on the corner of Broadway and 48th Street. That’s a tourist trap (with some office buildings.) There are plenty of neighborhoods and even some small-towns within the city.
People think New Yorkers are scary or mean. Some are, but most of us are kind on the inside. People will give you directions and help you out. Everyone here remembers what it was like to be new to the city.
Helen: What have your experiences of raising a child in the city been like?
Kevin: I haven’t raised children anywhere else, so I have nothing to compare it to.
I live in a very family-friendly neighborhood in Brooklyn. People call it “Stroller Central” and the New York Times compared my neighborhood to Sesame Street. (In a good way.) Like any other area you encounter obnoxious parents. Maybe more-so in New York?
I like that my sons are in contact with all different kinds of people and lifestyles. And all those people are living together, one way or another. They see people finding a commonality, even if it’s just that we all live in the same city.
My kids also like pizza, bagels and bread – and they don’t realize how good they have it here.
Helen: How does living in New York contribute to or inspire your work?
Kevin: I produce live shows and I try to be inclusive with my guests and my audiences. Stay non-judgmental and open to other points of view. New York is a city of diverse people and the live shows should reflect that spectrum of attitudes, experiences and points-of-view.
I’m very fortunate that the people who come to my shows like to be challenged. I’m sure there are people all over the world who like to be challenged. (If that describes you, then come to Brooklyn and see one of my shows!)
I like that when I do a show I can make an obscure joke figuring someone will get it – and it turns out several people get it. I like that I can take risks and the audiences goes with me, they’ve followed me when I go to strange places.
Helen: What would you say was at the heart of New York City?
Kevin: This sounds like I’m running for office, but the people are great. Now you might think, how are New Yorkers any better than the people in my town?
Well, a friend of mine moved to New Jersey and said that when he goes places people look at him like he’s the weirdest guy in the room. In New York you can be different and most people won’t even blink. Even if they don’t actively celebrate or accept you, they’re not freaked out by you.
New Yorkers act like they’ve seen it all (even if they haven’t), so they’re not shocked or impressed. And when you see a celebrity in New York you play it cool and don’t acknowledge them. Some out-of-towners might characterize this general disinterest as “rude” – but it’s like being in a crowded Men’s Room and you’re standing at your urinal decidedly not looking at the guy standing next to you. That’s not rude, it’s just respecting someone’s limited privacy in a city of 8 million people.
My first, New York-set novel: Milkshakes and Heartbreaks at the Starlight Diner will be released on the 4th of July.