Mae Martin in Bette Midler’s Crush and ‘Rocky Horror’ Awakening

First Thirst: “Hocus Pocus did things to me that I didn’t understand and I kept dreaming about those witches,” the comedian said of the iconic ’90s film.

First Thirst is about those moments on screen that awakened our earliest desires.

As culture lovers, we know that our earliest film and television loves often come with childhood crushes and other new and (ahem) exciting feelings. Ask anyone about their favorite childhood movie, and more than likely they loved one of the main characters, even if it was a cartoon fox (hello, Disney’s “Robin Hood”).

Most people can easily pinpoint when they first became obsessed with a movie star or that sex scene they stumbled upon. small Too early. You don’t have to be a cinephile to agree that movies shape our beliefs about sex and sexuality and carry messages about gender and gender roles. Whether positive or negative, arousing or embarrassing, we all have vivid memories of our first on-screen love or sex.

In the first installment of IndieWire’s First Thirst, we spoke with thoughtful and hilarious comedian and author Mae Martin. “Feel Good” is known for creating and starring in the excellent Netflix series that explored gender identity, trauma and addiction through a darkly funny lens. Martin’s name is likely to appear on more than one screen.

In their Netflix special “Sap,” Martin’s first one-hour comedy, they boldly take on transphobia in comedy with a light and always hilarious touch. The perfect balm for weary watchers in tough times.

In a recent phone interview, IndieWire reached out to Martin to find out what first moments in pop culture made him sweat.

The interview below has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Mae Martin


IndieWire: Who was your first thirst? Your most enduring early love or sexual awakening from either film or TV?

Mae Martin: Well, I’ve talked a lot about Bette Midler in my comedy and how important she was to me. The movie Hocus Pocus did things to me that I didn’t understand and I kept dreaming about those witches.

Oh my god, yes. More specifically, Bette Midler?

It was Bette Midler who did that for me. It was a combination of all three. But yes, it was always Bette. I had pictures of him on all my walls and watched all his movies. I liked loud, confident, funny women. I was also obsessed with Megan Mullally on Will and Grace. And (Barbra) Streisand.

That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever heard, and I feel like they’re seeing a lot of it.

I think my parents showed me the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” even before I was five because there is a family connection to it. My grandfather was in the stage show and Frank-N-Furter really opened up my little mind. I had a huge thing with Frank-N-Furter and I really identified with Rocky. I wanted to be the kind of naive creature he created just for sex that actually did something to me.

HOCUS POCUS Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, 1993

“Hocus Pocus”

©Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection

Interesting. It’s not the machoness, it’s the naivete that he was associated with.

Yes. Rocky is not macho at all. It’s like a muscular blink. But I think Frank-N-Furter is the sexiest screen character of all time. Plus, she’s so strong and she thinks, “Don’t dream about it, let it be.” This is a very good motto for life.

Is there an early memorable sex scene that you may have watched too soon that really stuck with you?

It was definitely the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ sequence where Frank-N-Furter first sits in Janet’s bed and then right after in Brad’s bed. And it’s all done through silhouettes. So it leaves a lot to the imagination, but it’s really hot. And it just made me realize that there was a world of possibilities. And I’m wildly bisexual, I kind of felt that way.

I get a theme. There’s bisexuality and gender fluidity. What do you think these moments taught you about sex or sexuality?

I’m so grateful for “Rocky Horror” because I can’t think of many other works of art at the time that were so sex-positive, that celebrated hedonism and pleasure like that, and didn’t attach a lot of shame to it. to it. I remember seeing Gia and it was hot for me, but they were so tortured. So I think “Rocky Horror” exists in its own little pantheon.

What about the negative portrayal of gender roles? Is there anything you saw early on that made you internalize certain messages that you wish you hadn’t?

Everyone around me internalized the messages about sex from “American Pie” and the comedy genre from that period, the late ’90s or early 2000s, where it wasn’t good for women. So I’m sure I’ve incorporated some.

And I have friends who were deeply traumatized by “Buffy” because they were like, “Once Angel comes, she’s going to be evil. So I can never sleep with a boy because as soon as he comes he will be mean. But luckily, there was a core of the powerful witches of “Hocus Pocus” and all the characters of “Rocky Horror” who were liberated by their sexual freedom. My parents were also very sex-positive, so I’m lucky.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW Peter Hinwood, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, 1975.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

©20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Have another crush on the screen you want to shout out?

I was really drawn to Han Solo, Angel and Buffy. Kiefer Sutherland plays bully Ace Merrill in ‘Stand by Me’. I was very into it. I’ve been a lot of villains, like Disney villains. There’s something cathartic about a villain. When I talk about it now, I’m like, “God, I’m full of hormones, just raging hormones.”

Besides “Rocky Horror,” is there a piece of pop culture that helped you discover your queerness?

Pretty slim pickings, right? But I think “Foxfire”. I remember looking at it and going, “Okay, yeah.” I’m pretty sure it was Angelina Jolie stuff when I was 15. Also “Tomb Raider”. I went on a date with a guy and we both agreed he was really hot. And I said, ‘Awesome.’

Mae Martin’s ‘Sap’ is currently streaming on Netflix.

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