Getting To Know Rachel Paulson
As seen in our Winter issue!
Credit: Amanda Ramón
Intro: She’s the host of the video series Drink Responsibly; she’s also a co-host of the podcast Gay Vs. Straight Bitches; and she’s also the star of the web series Dating Zoe. As the half-sister of Sarah Paulson Rachel is harnessing her great comedic talents and, without a doubt, forging her own path to stardom.
Why a podcast, and why team up with a straight actress, Lindsey McKeon?
I had wanted to do a podcast for a while, and I met Lindsey at a lunch meeting with a former friend. Now, I live in her pool house…it’s real love. When I met her, I knew we had to work together. It was just one of those feelings, and she knew a company that was looking for female-driven podcasts. She’s straight and I’m gay, so we thought that would be an interesting dynamic! When we started to record, we were like, “Wow. We have ADHD, and it’s sort of hilarious.” From there, the brand of Gay Vs. Straight Bitches was really born. She’s one of my favorite people now, and has taught me so much about myself and our work.
Gay Vs. Straight Bitches mines polar opposites and uncomfortable truths for laughs. But what do you want to achieve with it?
I think we want to make sure people are laughing at some point during each episode. It’s important to me that people think we are funny, but it’s also important that they know it’s all for fun. I also want girls around the world who aren’t able to be out to know that being gay is OK, and actually so brave and cool! And to know that they are capable of doing anything they want! Anyone is! If I can do it—so can you!
You discuss everything from blow jobs to botox to bad dates, and sometimes you overstep some boundaries in terms of political correctness. Have you had any backlash?
I think in some cases being politically correct is very important. I also don’t want to feel like I can’t say what I want. I mean, this is America. I think sometimes I go a little overboard, and I realize that. Some episodes have been edited due to my “mouth”! We have had a little backlash for some stuff, but again, I just hope everyone realizes that this is all in fun. We aren’t bad people. Lindsey and I make fun of everything—from people, to products, to ourselves. We really aren’t trying to offend anyone, but you can’t make everyone happy all the time. Or even half the time. Something that offends one person, someone else might think is hilarious. Or maybe I’m just a nightmare. Who knows?
Everything you say in the podcast seems very personal. Is it really you, or have you developed an on-air persona?
It’s a combination. A lot of things I talk about and say are real, but some of them happened to someone else. So I’ll take stories I hear and make them my own. I try my best to be as real as possible, but sometimes we need a little privacy. Putting your personal life out there can sometimes be scary, but it’s also important to me that people know the true me. If they don’t like it—I guess, don’t listen!
Can you share your other projects?
I’ve got a few things going on right now. I’m on my very own YouTube show, Drink Responsibly. It’s a drunken version of The View. I pretty much get a celebrity guest hammered and force them to talk to me about their deepest, darkest secrets. It’s really fun. I’m also about to write and star in a show for Tello Films called Starting Over. It’s about a lesbian who has been in a committed relationship, they break up, and she has to learn how to date again, with the help of her two quirky roommates. And Dating Zoe is such a fun project! I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s about a lesbian in New York City who goes on 100 first dates and never gets a second date, so she and her best friend decide to put her dates online so that the world can critique her.
Is your dating life as chaotic as it’s portrayed in these projects?
At 34, I’m in the best relationship of my life. I’m not sure how she puts up with me, but somehow she does it with such grace and selfless love. She impresses me daily. I think both things help with my comedy, even just in experience. I pull from stuff, personally or professionally, that either makes me happy or irritates me. Then I make fun of it or go on some rampage about it. My girlfriend is hilarious, so sometimes things she says spark whole segments or stories.
Your sister, Sarah Paulson, is an acclaimed actor. Like you, she has a flair for comedy, and she also dates women. What was in the water when you were growing up?
We were both born in Tampa, Florida. We have different moms, so she was raised mostly in New York City and I was raised mostly in Florida. I think she became exposed to performing when she was young and brought it into my life when she would visit. We used to do plays for my stuffed animals with my other sister. I think acting was just always something she did, so it was always something I did. I fell in love with it pretty early, and then started to discover my own voice and path in the industry. She’s a force. I’m proud to be mentioned in the same sentence with her.
Listen to Gay Vs. Straight Bitches on iTunes, new episodes every Monday.
Watch Drink Responsibly on YouTube.
Follow Rachel on Instagram @rupaulson