Here at Frolic, we love a good podcast. So I thought I’d take the time to share about a podcast that’s been around for a bit but is newly on my radar: Thirst Aid Kit.
Thirst Aid Kit originally launched at Buzzfeed, but was tragically cancelled earlier this year. But, never fear, listeners! It was recently picked up and re-launched in the Slate family of podcasts. This re-launch is what brought the pod to my attention, and now I’m giddily listening to the dozens of episodes in the backlog.
So, what is Thirst Aid Kit, and why do I think it’s a great fit for Frolic readers? Thirst Aid Kit is a weekly podcast hosted by the delightful Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins. In each episode, they talk about how thirst—in this case, sexual/romantic attraction to celebrities—is natural. They go over individual celebs they’re thirsting after or collective thirst based on a certain characteristic like sexy voices.
I’ll admit, I was hooked thanks to the topics of some of their most recent episodes: Dan Levy, Taika Waititi and hot priests like the one in Fleabag! All three of these topics felt like they were meant for my personal brand of celeb appreciation!
But even if your particular favorite person isn’t covered in an episode, there are still PLENTY of things that make this podcast a perfect fit for romance fans.
I know, I know…I may have buried the lede a bit. Many of us got our start in romance reading through the fanfic community, so I figure this will attract many a Frolic reader to Thirst Aid Kit.
Beyond the general celeb lust that any of us may feel, this podcast is special because each episode ends with two fanfic “drabbles” about the week’s thirst object of choice. Sometimes they’re sweet and cute. Sometimes they’re downright steamy. Every time, they make me so happy!
These drabbles could feel gross or objectifying, but the hosts are INCREDIBLY careful not to bring in too much hyper-reality. It’s more like writing about a fictional projection based on the celeb the ladies have been discussing in the spirit of the “If (X) were your boyfriend…” posts from the dearly departed website TheToast.com.
Each week, Thirst Aid Kit puts a poll up on their Twitter to ask listeners which drabble was their favorite. But, as the ladies are so fond of saying, the fanfic wars actually result in all of us being winners.
They’re even open to drabble submissions via email from listeners—just be sure to keep it brief!
It Recontextualizes The Normative Idea of “Sexy” Celebs
To be clear: there are absolutely popular white guy crushes featured on this show—including an actual interview with my favorite of the Chrises: Chris Evans.
However, one of the other major aims of Thirst Aid Kit is to explore the wide variety of what women in particular may find sexy. There are dedicated efforts to steer away from the “blonde and blues” (aka Hollywood stars with blonde hair and blue eyes) because they get enough attention in popular culture. Instead, people of varying races, body types and sexualities are featured and recognized for all the wonderful things they bring to the table.
One of my personal recurring bits is the recognition that men are “supposed” to be muscular, but one of the hosts has a documented love for anyone who might be a thinner, more normal “French Fry of a man.”
Beyond our favorite French Fry Men, there are plenty of other reasons someone may be considered a worthy subject for the show. Bim and Nichole celebrate men for their minds, their empathy, their sparkling eyes, their professional perseverance, the ways they act with their partners, their creative spark, and—perhaps most importantly—their beards.
There’s no end to the ways and reasons women (in this case, mostly heterosexual women) might find people attractive…and the spectrum of folks to crush on is way broader than Hollywood execs might lead to believe.
Bim and Nichole’s Perspectives Matter
First, let me throw this out there: I am someone who absolutely benefits from white privilege. All of my following assessments are purely about a greater pop cultural appreciation of Thirst Aid Kit and its broader significance as both a part of and commentary on the media landscape.
Both Bim and Nichole are black women, which is important for a number of reasons. First of all, the meaning of “thirst” comes out of black culture, so I try to be careful to recognize that and keep the concept of thirst in a thoughtful context. In other words: I can absolutely enjoy the show, but maybe shouldn’t throw the word “thirst” around like it’s always been mine to use.
This show is also important because, historically, colonization resulted in the oppression and hyper-sexualizing of black women. Bim and Nichole’s openness and honesty about their celeb crushes, no matter how fun and superficial, also acts as a way to push back against white patriarchy and put their own stories, wants, needs, and interests at the forefront of pop culture discussion.
And, finally, Bim and Nichole’s perspectives encourage people who benefit from the “blonde and blue” cultural mentality (ex: me) to step back, listen, and think about how to confront ways in which popular culture has often been set up for us. It’s not the show’s job to educate people with privilege or to give “cookies” to people with power who do the bare minimum for decency. Rather, through all the fun, laughter, and hot celeb appreciation, there are still important things going down that are worth attention and have a greater implication for pop culture discussions.
Clearly, I can’t recommend tuning into Thirst Aid Kit highly enough! I’m so glad they’ve found a new podcast production home, so I may go on to enjoy many more weeks of fanfic drabbles and drooling over celebs.