I'm excited because today I got to interview one of my all-time favourite bloggers: The Frenemy. Being a manic-scroller-double-clicker and only truly comfortable speaking in 140 characters at a time, I usually scan blogs, but rarely properlyread them. However, when the perfect Hollywood stories of the really-rich-and-really-famous in Elle and Glamour get a bit much and end up making me slightly bitter and twisted, I love to settle down with a large mug of tea and find great enjoyment in reading the normal tales of a normal girl; finding moments in stories where you suddenly think: "me too". This is why I love The Frenemy.
Meet Alida Nugent, a young NYC girl who does things because she wants to, rants because she needs to and writes because she loves to. She is not afraid to write the uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing truths behind being a girl in a world full of peer pressure and Photoshop. Quite frankly, she doesn't care. The Frenemy is that voice that tells the world the things you would love to be able to say, but would be far too scared to admit yourself. Instead, you can quietly nod along from behind your laptop and gradually muster the courage not to care that much about those silly little things too.
The Frenemy is described as 'a network of girls who are the urban normal'. The reader is pre-warned before making any preconceptions of this female network by the clear line: 'We are NOT fabulous'. The blog basically invites you in on the basis that you are quietly agreeing that you are not fabulous either. Like a nightclub where your only chance to get on the guest-list is by wearing a stained granny cardigan and bringing a flippin' good book. The Frenemy is not about prancing around New York in a short sequin skirt with your bum cheeks hanging out and sipping radioactive cocktails, but more about sitting in your pyjamas, dribbling ice cream, reflecting on the reality of being alone, not being sexy (and not really caring).
Today I am excited to interview Alida to find out her inspiration behind the blog, her advice for other aspiring female writers, and how sometimes we can all be our own worst (Fr)enemy.......
So, first things first, WHERE do you get your inspiration to write? You can turn the most mundane things into something absolutely hilarious. Do you plan the content for your blog posts or are they spontaneous?
I get my inspiration to write from Gaia. Nah, they're mostly spontaneous because I'm not good at planning anything, and I just kind of go through the day and find inspiration that way. Life is something I have to do! As for the mundane thing, I love comedy mostly about things that are mundane, I love comedy about the experiences everybody has gone through, I love pop culture jokes and food jokes. I have a mundane life, too, so I kind of have to do it that way. I don't travel a lot, I don't meet guys on the street that sweep me off my feet, I don't eat a lot of spicy food. I mostly just sit in my pajamas writing and watching a lot of television. I have to have, at least, an active imagination and a sense of humor about the boring stuff.
You only started your blog just over a year ago. Did you have any idea you would get such an overwhelming response from readers?
Course not. I'd be such a jerk if I said yes to that question-- "yeah, I knew I'd be huge." I'm always surprised and touched anytime people send me a nice email or a nice comment. It really means a lot to me. I'm excited to write, I'm excited to put out a book, I'm excited by the opportunities I'm lucky to have. The thing is- if you ever think you're the ___est person in the room, you're a moron. You have to always want to do better. I'm not the best thing on the Internet, I'm not even in the top million, though that top million is probably mostly just pictures of cats. It's always such a thrill to see people liking what you do, and I won't be the asshole who forgets that.
How do you feel about the surge in bloggers endorsing brands and becoming closely tied in with PR and advertising? Do you do any sponsored posts or do you prefer not to?
You make money the way you can- there's nothing wrong with sponsored posts or people who take advantage of the free swag and the possible ad money bloggers have access to. For me, though, it always irritated me whenever I saw advertisements popping up on a blog. It crowds it up, and it's always for instant muffins or something else I don't want to buy. So no, I don't advertise. If I like something, I'll recommend it, but I'm a comedy blog, and who gives a crap about what facial moisturizer I use? I don't even give a crap, I'll rub anything on my face that won't make it look like a catcher's mitt in the winter months. I also don't really care what somebody else uses, either. I don't want to see Snookie hacking pistachios- that makes me never want to eat pistachios again. I want to feel like a regular American who just watches herself tumble face-down drunk into the sand every week. I'll give a pause for the snarky Internet commenter (top user, too!) who hates that I referenced Jersey Shore, and then I'll give him another moment for him to turn this into an argument about Barack Obama.
You recently spoke at 'The Real Bloggers of NYC' event. Which question that you were asked by the audience did you most enjoy answering?
A lot of people ask me for tips on starting a blog, which is always a fun question to answer. I think it's pretty fantastic that the Internet can launch careers for a lot of young, persistent writers. Yes, yes, I get the joke that lots of kids make money by making blogs about puppies in hats or whatever, but I still think it's impressive that lots of kids get on their feet through their own creative means..that they've got a pretty good handle on what sells and what works. I'd rather read a funny blog than some homophobic crap on the Internet, or some Youtube commenter making fun of somebody. There's lots of better ways to spend your time online- the blogging community is a great way to meet people (except for those pesky anons) or get your name out there. You want to start a blog? My advice is to just start one. And do it about something that makes you happy. Can't hurt to have a bit more happiness in this crappy world.
You appear to shake up the stereotype that girls can't be funny. Do you have any favourite female comediennes?
I have to say, this question will always irritates me, and I hope I never have to hear it again. The 'girls can't be funny' thing is only believed by idiotic misogynists and people who are jerks. It doesn't need to be asked anymore. In fact, we have to stop asking it, or else we're just putting the thought out there and it continues to be an acceptable way to think. Tina Fey is just as funny as Louis CK for different reasons, and your cousin Lilah is just as terrible at making political jokes as your cousin Sam. I like all sorts of comedians, from my friends to Norm Macdonald to the guy whose Twitter I really enjoy. Doesn't matter the gender- funny is funny. That's it.
Do the representations in the media of NYC being synonymous with Cosmopolitans and fur coats make you resent SATC? What are the girls like really?
Oh I can't afford to live in Manhattan. As far as I know, they're all floating around on their Christian LeShoetons (see? I can make puns too, CARRIE) and drinking pink alcoholic escape cocktails at 2pm. I live in Brooklyn, which has a whole other slew of stereotypes. They're supposed to be hipsters--on television, that means they listen to Coldplay and wear knit caps. In real life, it usually means they say things like 'locavore' and know how to make their own tempeh. It doesn't matter, though, because hipster is an overplayed and boring joke. Girls 'like me', and by that I mostly mean girls who are in their 20s, are all sorts of things- they want careers and relationships and tips on how to make a good sandwich or get a nice sweater for cheap. The ones I hang around with like to read. They make jokes. They get their hair cut. There's no one type of girl...just in the same way you wouldn't ask a guy "I've seen Entourage...do guys really spend millions of dollars to support a guy named Turtle?" We're all different, but I think girls in their twenties are sort of an unrepresented demographic, unless they are currently having sex with a vampire. I don't know--I'd like to see a girl that is realistically portrayed in the media for my generation, but I just haven't seen it yet. And yes, I've seen all the new 'female centric' sitcoms that just came out this year.
In one of your blog posts you said you'd be 'always the single girl'. Do you think if you met a special someone now it would ruin the satirical style of The Frenemy?
That would just make me a bad writer, wouldn't it? If I couldn't adapt my writing to change? I'll have other things to write about, I imagine. Like my perfect relationship with the most perfect man!!! Since, you know, that's a thing. I'll find things to talk about, I promise, if I ever find somebody cool. That's hard enough.
Your blog gives girls a lot of confidence to accept we are not perfect. What would be the one thing you would say to girls who are becoming increasingly insecure by the beauty industry and world of the Plastic Celeb?
I'll tell you something, nobody expects you to look like a bikini model more than yourself. We're disgustingly picky on our own bodies, constantly taunting ourselves and the way we look like we're our own biggest bully on the school playground. To me, nothing is sexier than a girl eating a sandwich. Nothing is sexier than confidence, and who even cares about sexy anyway? Why do I have to care about being sex-y when I'm not having sex? Should I want to feel toilet-y when I'm not on the toilet? Point is, be happy. Eat what you want while making sure you don't give yourself a cholesterol attack. Think of the beautiful women in your own life, the ones who aren't Photoshopped. Look to them instead of a wax figure.
And lastly, I'm sure I'm not the only one who is really excited about your book due to come out in 2013. Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to write their own?
Write every day if you can. Write things down on pieces of paper. Follow through with a first draft. Hit your head on a table and rip out all your hair, but follow through with a first draft. Listen, if you're not doing what you love, what are you here for? If you love writing, write. It's free, which is saying something these days.
Follow Emma Gannon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/emgan