Jill Bennett & Cathy DeBuono Tell All: An Autostraddle Exclusive Interview

Last month, I had the opportunity to go on set with Jill Bennett & Cathy DeBuono and managed to steal them away for a little chat.   I practically minored in the Lesbian Internet so I naturally had a lot of questions for these two.  They promised a follow-up interview and guess what – they came through!  So here we go — everything you wanted to know about their split from AfterEllen, all the gossip sites, the abrupt ending of We’re Getting Nowhere, season 2 of We Have To Stop Now, with a little Gaga & Glambert thrown in for good measure.

Editor’s Note: Jill & Cathy finally opened up about leaving AfterEllen because they have been asked repeatedly about their abrupt departure from the site over the last year. They have declined to comment in all other interviews but finally felt enough time had passed to share their experience with their fans, who still wanted their side of the story. I asked the question because they were owed the opportunity to finally close this much speculated chapter in their own words.

On Going Live with The Gloves Are Off & What’s Your Problem

 

glovesI know it’s difficult to put yourselves so out there on the internet. Do you ever feel naked, exposing your lives to that degree?

Cathy: All the time! But, at the same time, I think I’ve never felt more myself in my own life.  I feel really good about continually finding my own truth and continually being able to share whatever that is. And, being able to make mistakes and grow and let people see it. Having done it and realizing that my world hasn’t gotten smaller, it’s only gotten much bigger has made it easier to be naked and more fun and it’s a happier place to be.

Jill: Yea, the way we are with our opinions is similar to how we are with being open about our sexuality. It’s that knowing that the truth is out there and there is no need to try and manage every relationship that you have. It’s interesting because before the video blogs, before I even started on AfterEllen, I had done some press. I had done some interviews here and there for different websites and magazines, and then obviously once the video blog revolution began and I was working more and there was a lot more press. I had managers come and go, and agents who would advise me on what to talk about, things not to talk about, and frankly, it got a little tiring trying to manage certain topics and honestly, there’s a freedom in being like – it’s out there and I don’t have to hide anything. With The Gloves Are Off, as long as people understand that these are opinions, — we’re not presenting anything as fact – this is just how we feel based on our own cultural biases, then I don’t feel naked, I just feel like I’m talking to my friends.

I really think The Gloves Are Off has hit its stride these last few weeks.  You guys were so fired up over cyberbullying and coming out over the holidays…

Jill: I think in general, it’s not always a good idea for actors to be as vocal as we are and to be as open as we are, and I think we reached a point a while back where we decided that even if we didn’t want to do this anymore, it’s too late. Less and less do we plan what we’re going to say or edit how we really feel.

cathywypCathy: I know I reached the point where editing was very, very time-consuming, although I would enjoy doing it and coming up with new episodes of What’s Your Problem, but it was really hard to keep up that pace. I feel like that along the way there’s been a community created [The CDB Chatroom] with What’s Your Problem and The Gloves Are Off that I haven’t really been able to walk away from, and I feel like they need each other and going live was the next natural step, to be more interactive and in more immediate contact with each other.

I think the real important thing that it’s doing is bringing people all over the world together and what I’ve found that people really need is to just identify with each other, and they need to know that it’s OK to be imperfect. And Jill and I are so not afraid to let our imperfections, flaws and our biases show. It’s important because lots of people in our community don’t have folks to look around at and equalize themselves with, you know to see if they are doing okay.

Most of us don’t grow up with an older sister who is gay. We wake up in a dark world like, “oh my god, what’s this thing that I am?” We don’t grow up in gay families for the most part. We’re not born into our culture the way other minorities are like Jews or African Americans. They’re born into their minority culture and their ancestry is handed down and they’re taught what they need to know and how to feel about themselves and, gay people are just born and they wake up one day like “What is this? I don’t get this?” And everything around them tells them that they are a freak or they’re sick or wrong, or that they’re alone, mostly.

What I’ve found by doing the vlogs on the internet is that it’s important to expose how human we all are and the lives that we can lead, and that we’re normal. Gay kids out there, and even adults, they need people to look at and get an idea of what’s OK and what’s not OK. So, whether you agree with us or not, it’s the visibility that matters.

gloves2Jill: I think part of the appeal of [The Gloves Are Off] for us is that we can’t edit. And, what we found people responded to in the [pre-taped] video blogs was the Real Jill and the Real Cathy, our real opinions and our real stories, not a canned, carefully created, crafted persona that a PR person tells you to put forward. So, for better or worse, this is how we came out in our community and we’re gonna stay that way. At this point, even if we didn’t want to, it’s too late!

dotted-divider2

On Cyberbullying

The episode on cyberbullying in particular was probably the most relevant and passionate topic you’ve covered.

Jill: I really wanted to do that episode because I had seen something on CNN that day and also because of our own experiences having gone through it. We get a lot of letters from younger girls who are trying to come out, and are being harassed through cyberbullying or at school, and I wanted to talk about it because I can identify with this, through my own version of it. It’s not quite the same as a teenage girl getting attacked, but the feeling is similar, and I do feel very passionate about it. It’s something that, over the last year [has become very relevant]… I put up a huge blog about it on my web site.

Oh right, remember reading that last year.

Jill: Yes, I was really upset! And I was like, why do we do this to each other!? I would say as passionate as Cathy got last week [on the topic of] coming out at Thanksgiving, was how I felt about this phenomenon that’s going on in our community. You know, we went to see the movie Precious and I watched how her mother attacked her, it was the same in The Color Purple where in a marginalized community instead of helping each other up, rips each other down. And instead of having this attitude of we want to help each other and support one another, we’re ripping each other to shreds and making each other feel less-than.

You mentioned that while you may not agree with Perez Hilton, at least he’s not an anonymous attacker. His name is right there so at least he owns it and isn’t hiding behind a computer.

Jill: Right, Perez Hilton stands behind his words.

dotted-divider2

On Leaving AfterEllen

+

We’re Getting Nowhere began in August 2007 and ignited the video blog revolution on AfterEllen. Starring Jill Bennett and AE writers Karman Kregloe & Dara Nai, it recapped South of Nowhere, America’s Next Top Model and most popularly, The L Word. The show featured some amazing guests, including Jane Lynch and introduced Liz Feldman and Bridget McManus to the AE crowd. Feldman and McManus would later get their own spin-off vlogs and eventually jump to TV (on LOGO and The Jay Leno Show). WGN hit its peak recapping the 5th season of The L Word in spring 2008, when it occasionally received over 200 comments per episode.

What’s Your Problem began in January 2008 and has featured some amazing guests, including Thea Gill (Queer as Folk), Maeve Quinlan (South of Nowhere), Suzanne Westenhoefer and Erin Foley. Cathy left at the peak of WYP’s popularity on AE, receiving over 150 comments with Jill Bennett as her final guest on the original incarnation of the show.

I know the Afterellen vloggers were subject to gossip a few years ago and that played a part in your eventual move from Afterellen to SheWired. Can you walk me through what happened?

wyp-collageCathy: Jill and I shot And Then Came Lola in late 2007. Around that same time was when I first met Sarah Warn. Out at the Wedding was making festival rounds and AfterEllen had done feature stories on both me and the film and there was some interest there. So I started talking with Sarah about doing a video blog rooted in my being a therapist and an actor and I came up with What’s Your Problem, which then first started airing on AfterEllen in January 2008. Around the same time, things started to explode in gossip sites online about Jill’s breakup. The chatter was running amuck in gossip circles that I had “seduced” her while shooting And Then Came Lola, and that I was responsible for her breakup.

To be quite honest, I paid very little attention to it. However, I came to understand was that it was upsetting Sarah and that she was now getting some sort of backlash from it in terms of how people started participating [commenting] on AfterEllen. I hadn’t frequented AfterEllen so I didn’t notice the difference before or after I got there, but somehow Sarah attributed my presence on AfterEllen to bringing negativity to the site and she was honest with me about this.

dotted-divider2

Next:
“What was upsetting is that I never had the chance to say goodbye to all the ladies who watched and commented every week.”

Pages: 1 2 3 See entire article on one page

Profile photo of Jess

Jess is a pop culture junkie living in New York City. She enjoys endless debates about The L Word, Howard Stern, new techy gadgets, DVR, exploring the labyrinth of the Lesbian Internet, memoirs, working out, sushi, making lists, artsy things, anything Lady Gaga touches, traveling, puppies, and nyc in the fall. Find her on Twitter @jessxnyc or via email.

Jess has written 267 articles for us.

102 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Thanks for a very insightful interview with Cathy and Jill. I was a long-time follower of them both when they were over at AE and continue to watch their work at She Wired.

    As an AE poster i frankly had no idea of all drama going on behind the scenes over at AE, so it made me happy to read in their own words what led to the departure of Cathy and Jill. AE paved the way for sites like She Wired and Auto Straddle, so I’ll always be thankful to them for that and for introducing many people (who may not have know them previously) to Cathy and Jill.

    She Wired and Auto Straddle continue to forge ahead with great aplomb in the world of lesbian websites, vlogging, etc.

    Thanks again to Cathy and Jill for all your great work on getting your message heard and also for providing so many entertaining moments with all your vlogs.

    Best of luck and much success to you both!

  2. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Awesome! Thanks for getting goods on the AE split with Jill and Cathy. So much misinformation has been spread around the internet; it was a cold day when Jill Bennett left AfterEllen. Glad to see she’s still around and sassy!

  3. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I followed AE for a LONG time and everything happened so suddenly. I had no idea that Jill and Cathy were even rumored to be together. I also thought that Jill and Karman were close friends regardless of AE and it is sad to hear that she never heard from anyone from the AE community after leaving. There were/are many missed opportunities but I am glad to see both women doing well and taking advantage of their outspoken-ness :)

  4. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    It’s disappointing to me that Cathy and Jill continue to spread misleading information about their departure from AfterEllen.com, or frankly that they’re still talking about it at all more than a year later. I’ve avoided discussing the details of their departures from the site in order to protect them, not me, and because I don’t believe in airing dirty laundry.

    I’m still not going to discuss it, except to say that it had nothing to do with money or their relationship (or rumors about it), and Jill and Cathy were made aware of the issues along the way, despite their comments to the contrary. There’s no juicy story here, though – ultimately, they just weren’t a fit for the site. Jill and Cathy’s new vlog on SheWired is entertaining, and I’m glad they found a site that appears to be a better home for them.

    – Sarah Warn

    PS Thanks for the nice write-up about my departure from AE, Riese! And I’m looking forward to watching “She Made Me Watch This Incredibly Long AfterEllen Vlog” – it’s a parody that begs to be made :)

  5. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    There’s too much drama(in the world/community/internet/life of teenagers)! It’s making me uncomfortable. Can’t we all just get along? Like someone said, we’re all working towards the same goal (world dominance, right?).

    Great job, though, Jess.

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Although I do not follow Jill and/or Cathy’s careers extensively, I do appreciate their contribution to lesbian entertainment and visibility. I wasn’t aware that they “continue to spread misleading information” since I haven’t before heard an explanation (misleading or not) regarding their departure from AE.

    Great article, AS!

  7. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Thank you Cathy and Jill for finally sharing yourselves on this topic. Sarah it’s nice to see you participating but to say that they did not fit on your doesn’t really make sense. They were such favs over there, it reeks more of square pegs in round holes as Cathy felt. Truly it’s not anyone’s business in the end, but to be so interactively involved with them and then they are just gone is a jolt to those of us who were loving them and felt they were the best of the site. Don’t misunderstand, I used to love ae and appreciated it. But WYP had raised it’s bar and when Cathy left, that bar crashed back down. I sort of got bored after that.

  8. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Thanks for the interview Jess and thanks to Cathy and Jill for putting it all out there. I don’t think it really matters at this point what transpired a year ago, we’ve all moved on and evolved. I look forward to all the new endeavors from all the corners of our lesbian community. I’m excited for Season 2 of WHTSN, how AE grows with Karman at the helm and what crazy observation Autostraddle will come up with next. I applaud Cathy for creating an environment that became a movement in the CDB Chatroom. Just visit there and you will see the great diversity of our community and how there is room for all, much like the lesbian entertainment world, be it movies, blogs, vlogs or webseries. Good Luck, Cathy, Jill and Jess in whatever you take on.

  9. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    No offense to Sarah, because i LOVE afterellen, thats pretty much the only site i spend time on. but you cant just write a comment like that accusing them of saying stuff, when i havnt heard any reason why they left til now, if you dont want rumours why dony YOU tell why they left? ur being just as vague. especially when its someone like Jill who for many people the reason they went on afterellen in the first place.

  10. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Jess, thanks for a great interview. And many thanks to Cathy and Jill for being so open about AE, their lives, and their opinions. Obviously we won’t ever know the entire story behind their departures from AE and Sarah Warn doesn’t appear to be divulging anything. At any rate, everyone has their own version of any event. Let’s stop clawing at each other like crabs in a bucket pulling each other down.

  11. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’ve never commented on a story before, but Sarah’s response moved me to do so. As a fan of both of these women, I appreciate that they finally came forward and gave their side of the story. I don’t think it’s “old news” given that it has never been addressed anywhere other than a short “they’re moving on” blurb from AE. Which in my opinion, did not give them the credit they deserved for all the growth they brought to that site. Both departures were alarmingly abrupt and it was clear to everyone that something had happened other than “they weren’t a good fit.” They were two of the most popular and most talented women on the site, not a good fit??? Secondly, I find it offensive that Sarah insinuates that 1. They’ve been spreading misinformation – they’ve never once talked about it anywhere I’ve seen and 2. That they’re lying about what happened. What possible reason would they have to do that? It’s clear to me that this was nothing more than an explanation for an abrupt change that no one understood but wanted to know about. Sarah’s tone and the fact that she bothered to respond despite it being “old news” speaks volumes to me. Bravo for their candid answers. And as far as being supportive of the lesbian community, I can find few women who do more. Keep it coming Autostraddle! And keep on keeping it real Jill and Cathy – it’s why we love you!

  12. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Carrie, Linda, etc. – Jill has made similar comments about leaving afterellen on her fan site, her MySpace blog, and at 3Way events over the last year. Sarah has never commented publicly about it, except when she announced the news a year ago. I’m guessing she’s commenting now because Jill and Cathy are slandering her so much in this interview. I like watching both of Jill and Cathy’s vlogs, but I have a little less respect for them after reading this – what’s the point in dredging up such an old issue and trying to create drama? It’s not like Sarah was out there saying crap about them which they had to respond to. I know Jess asked them the question about afterellen (which was fine, that’s her job), but they should have just given a one-sentence answer and changed the subject. They’re actors, that’s what they’re trained to do when reporters ask questions they don’t want to or can’t answer. The fact that they gave such lengthy answers makes me think they were looking for an excuse to talk about it. Why not just talk about what they’re working on instead?

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      “They’re actors, that’s what they’re trained to do when reporters ask questions they don’t want to or can’t answer”. But they DO want to address the situation and they CAN answer the questions that were asked from their point of view. Although Jill and/or Cathy may have made statements about the issue on personal websites or fan pages, I (and many other readers it seems) heard no explanation until now. And seeing as how they are making an effort to truly connect with the gay community through tools of transparency, visibility, and courage, I think it is appropriate that they would address a situation that many were wondering about. They were asked these question. They didn’t just go shouting expletives from the rooftop. I for one wanted to know what happened; probably as did many others. They weren’t slamming Sarah. They openly admitted the many ways Sarah Warn and her website benefitted the gay community; however, they chose to address a controversial situation regarding their lives from their point of view. They are positioned in this business as being outspoken resources to the gay community, and as such, it proves relevant and even necessary to their brand that they use a major website to quell the uncertainty regarding a sour business deal. I do think Sarah commented in a way that was respectful and I recognize that there are always two sides to every story. Misunderstandings happen every day and plenty in business, so I find it completely plausible that all three of these seemingly respectable women could be being truthful. Clearly many were hurt by the situation regardless of the circumstances, and its ashamed that a rift occurred within a group that was becoming so relevant and entertaining. I hope that we can all respect the varying viewpoints and not perpetuate any more damage than has already been caused.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Taylor – People have been asking this question to them since it happened. I hadn’t even seen “We’re Getting Nowhere” until I was editing this post and saw that clip in it (which btw was really funny, am i two years late on adding “what if I do [this] and just belt it?” to my vocabulary? probs?) but I’d heard about 5,000 Jill Bennett Leaves AfterEllen rumors. By being honest here they weren’t attempting to start drama, but rather put an end to it.

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      Taylor, Jill & Cathy finally opened up about leaving AfterEllen because they have been asked repeatedly about their abrupt departure from the site over the last year. They have declined to comment in all other interviews but finally felt enough time had passed to share their experience with their fans, who still wanted their side of the story. I asked the question because they were owed the opportunity to finally close this much speculated chapter in their own words.

  13. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I read all her sites. She never gotten into detail about it other than to say it ended abruptly. And slander? Hardly. Slander: words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another. Unless everything in this article is a complete lie, it isn’t slander. I’m sure Sarah’s just upset because they said something that doesn’t make her look so good. And I don’t think they were looking to damage anyone’s reputation. Just giving their side of the story. If it makes Sarah look bad, that’s on her. They’re under no obligation to paint a pretty picture if that’s just not how it happened. And I’m not looking to start a posting war here, but really, create drama? Just by telling their side of the story that everyone has been asking about? Troll, go home.

  14. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    First of all the only reason that Jill posted anything on her myspace page or at any events is because people wanted to know what happened. I don’t think that’s slander, I think it’s explaining her side of events. I thought Ms. Warn’s comments were a little defensive considering what was said and that makes me wonder what she is hiding?

    I will support Jill and Cathy’s work because it’s has a quality and perspective that I have yet to see put out there by anyone else. I loved WHTSN and have already ponied up my $24.00 for next season.

  15. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    WOW. FINALLY I GET TO HEAR THEIR SIDE OF THE STORY ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE I WAS A TOTAL WGN FAN, BUT I WAS PRETTY NEW TO AFTERELLEN SO I HAD NO IDEA THAT CATHY WAS ON IT WITH WYP (WHICH I ALSO LOVE). IT’S SAD THAT MISUNDERSTANDING AND/OR MISCOMMUNICATION LEAD TO SUCH AN ABRUPT END TO SOMETHING SO AMAZING. WHATEVER THE CAUSE WAS THAT LEAD TO THE ENDING OF THOSE SHOWS AND RELATIONSHIPS THAT, I THINK I CAN SPEAK FOR EVERYONE WHEN I SAY, WE ALL ENJOYED WATCHING (OTHERWISE WE WOULDN’T BE COMMENTING), IS INCREDIBLY SAD AND DISAPPOINTING. I MEAN, JILL SAID THAT SHE HASN’T SPOKEN TO OR HEARD FROM ANYONE FROM AE SINCE. WHAT?! KARMAN, DARA, BRIDGET I THOUGHT THEY WERE ALL PRETTY CLOSE. IT REALLY IS A SHAME, HOWEVER I’M GLAD THAT EVERYONE IS STILL DOING THERE THING AND I LIKE WHAT THEIR TRYING TO DO WITH, “WE HAVE TO STOP NOW.” KEEP CREATING LADIES. TRUST ME, WE APPRECIATE IT.

  16. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Let’s be happy and think about rainbows and unicorns and gayness. I don’t know a whole lot about all of these people but they all seem nice and totally successful–so yay for successful lesbians! They give me hope that I too will one day be a successful gay lady.

  17. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Blimey O’Riley that’s a lot of all caps. There seems to be a lot of feelings going on about things I know nothing about, but I just wanted to say that this is a great interview, and they are a ridiculously hot couple. Also I’m excited that Sarah Warn left a comment, because she is a gay internet pioneer and it makes me happy that she reads Autostraddle too!

  18. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’m glad this situation was finally addressed, but everyone needs to chill out. I love their stuff too, but we don’t even know these people so everybody should stop taking everything so damn personally. Also, WGN was the bomb and NO MORE FIGHTING LA LA LA LA.

  19. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Wow thanks Autostraddle for such good interview. Jill & Cathy are two awesome, smart, funny and talented actresses who are doing a lot of good entertainment and it is always good to hear about them because they are authentic and open! I’ve been following them for a while and I will keep doing it wherever they are.
    I don’t think they said anything bad, it’s their perception and they don’t need to put things nicely and contain everything just because they are actresses and on the spot, to the contrary one of the things we, their fans, appreciate is their honesty and taking the risk to act just like two human beings with an opinion on things!
    I’ve never heard them say anything bad about AE, and I’m always going to be grateful to AE for introducing me to these terrific ladies! But now I’m just very happy to have more options with shewired and autostraddle!!

  20. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I was there..I rode that WGN roller coaster.. and MAN am I ever glad we finally got some upfrontness about the whole GD thing. The best part of WGN was the openness of the people involved. They relaxed, they had a good time. They invited you into their home, & made you feel like you were a part of the circle. All an illusion, of course, but it was great. Pure entertainment, which is why I’m online in the first place. Then in a shit storm of baffling drama, it was over. No explanations, rushed goodbyes, and everybody tiptoeing around like mafia snitches, only the trial was closed to the public. EPIC GARBAGE. Thank you for this, ladies. I can check another Unsolved Mystery off my list. ;)

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      I wondered why they left AE so abruptly. I’m not surprised. That site has changed so much since it launched. I think due to corporate policies, etc. It’s quite obvious that it is sanitized and monitored. It lost its independence and now, SW is no longer there – which, IMO, is a good thing. I’ve pretty much stopped going to AE and head to SW and AUTO when I want real news, not censored, not cleaned up. I think SW was full of drama with all her peeps, made her $$$ and scooted out the door! I hope Cathy and Jill have found a permanent home for their projects and that they continue to rock on!

  21. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    WOW! ‘CSI:Dyke Drama’ fo sho. Seriously, I think this is where the cyberbully shit is valid. At the time this was brewing the crazys at L-ANON. and data lounge were posting zany ass shizit. Which did start to show up at AE amongst the newbies, who were there because of WGN’s popularity in the first place. So… it’s was a win lose. Most often when a small site grows the chances of trolls, disrespect, rick rolls, ect.. increases. What I’m trying to say is, ‘I hope we don’t lose the unicorns and rainbows here. Help me Riese, You’re my only hope.’ — Princess Leia
    Ps CDB does rock the casbah!

        • Thumb up 0

          Please log in to vote

          OMG Queen Wendipher! It’s not possible that two people have that same screen name, right? Welcome back to the internet QW!

      • Thumb up 0

        Please log in to vote

        Wait are you talking about a different Lily or me Lily.
        Is it terrible that when I see Lily + adorable I assume that I am the Lily in question?? Actually yes that is terrible.
        But if you are then thank you that’s so sweet! And if not then thank you from all the Lilys ever including the flower because they are all adorable!

        • Thumb up 0

          Please log in to vote

          I think Lily is adorable and I also think Jill and Cathy are beautiful ladies, I found this interview really interesting. I appreciate their honesty & bravery. Actually I feel like the other stuff i have to say might not be related to this particular thread so Lily, you’re cute, and BRB.

  22. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    First off I want to congratulate Cathy and Jill to the fantastic work they did with ‘We have to stop now’ and on Shewired. Following the growth of these projects was interesting and exciting. Your contribution to the community is both, noticed and respected, by me.

    But especially because you seem to be successful with what you do I am disappointed to see personal issues being mixed up with the promotion of your actually good work. And frankly I doubt the productivity of that for the lesbian community, as well as for your platforms.

    For me it was satisfying to notice that Autostraddle started promoting Shewired as the solid part of the community that it is; after it only being a few months back that CEO Riese asked publicy why Shewired actually still exists.

    I don’t appreciate any form of dirty laundry, so my concerns about the effect of behavior like this were equally directed to Shewired and Autostraddle. How frustrating to realize that the alleged reconciliation became a base for dirty laundry once again.

    Whatever happened, and frankly I don’t give a damn what exactly it was, it happened one year ago and has absolutely no business in promotion tours for web series, in my humble opinion.

    I do, however, understand that the focus of artists is differently from the ones of journalists. Stiring controversies in order to promote one’s production should sound familiar to all of us. Though my experience is that the more success the production has, the less need exists to sell it with catchy headlines. You are doing perfectly fine, ladies. So what’s the issue here?

    It must be a personal one since, from a professional point of view, there was absolutely no need to pick up a finally extinct story that brought nothing but hard times to all involved.

    From what I understood there were disagreements about the creative and public profile of AfterEllen, as well as about payments. Correct me if I am wrong but aren’t all of those issues concerns of the management body? You know, the guys who own that place, make the rules and give out the money. Would that be Logo or MTV? Either way it is not Sarah Warn. I understand that complains towards comanies one hopes to work with in the future are delicate but this doesn’t justify to shoot the messenger for me.

    So there’s a low budget for an editorial lesbian site that unfortunately doesn’t include paying vlogger. Bummer! Oh come on…

    Everything generates traffic. Everything, really. A tweet, people chatting on parties, SEO work. This comment here, in fact, will create furhter traffic too.

    Would we like to pay our probably over-qualified interns or anyone doing anything for our sites for that matter? Hell yes! Can we? No, we can’t. But for that we offer the opportunity to reach a large audience or other non-material benefits just as contacts and experience. That’s what vlogger literally signed up for. The contract they got will most certainly have pointed out there’s no payment involved.

    Although I am convinced AfterEllen did just fine traffic-wise before the vlogs, considering that MTV aquired it for it’s success, I agree that Cathy’s and Jill’s vlog were popular.
    And especially because of that I just can’t wrap my head around the story of a fairly busy Sarah Warn deciding one night that she doesn’t like the relationship of two of AE’s popular vlogger and because of that not only fires them but also forbids the AfterEllen employees to contact those vloggers personally again.
    Furthermore risking a negative PR tumult for her employer, site, blogger and herself because of…er, a bad mood. Really? REALLY?? :)

    So, the format of vlogs became successful, so some vlogger had the opinion they in particular create income they don’t get a share of, so the management disagreed. So… what actually?

    Volunteer for a lifetime? Maybe. But most likely people will move on, taking the attention and experience they got and switch to a place where the format allows budgets offering them being paid for what they do.
    In this case I certainly understand that AfterEllen can’t pay vlogger. It’s an editorial site, having the budget for editors and writers, it’s not a production company.

    I dare all of the readers who ask for further justifications to walk into the next grocery store and demand to speak to the head of the team. Then please take out your camera and film what happens when you ask him to clarify why exactly your favorite checkout girl, let’s call her Jenny, isn’t working there anymore.
    I also encourage you to be really rude when telling him that the store will get your girl back or you smash it to pieces. Anyone?
    Just asking because that’s basically what happened on AE after the announcement.

    Other than that you can also visit Jenny in the new store which is really just one click, er, street away.

    If you have difficulties making your decision between option one and two, please consider first that the team leader of the store in this case is a Harvard Graduate, who dedicated years, talent, money and nerves to support a frankly not outstandingly lucrative niche.

    A niche that also fights for as long as anyone can remember against the prejudice to be nothing but drama.

    This is the first reason I really disappreciate the boil up of something that’s from a professional point of view not even worth a sigh.

    The second being that I myself lead a lesbian editorial news site and a big part of my job consists in protecting my editors and writers from personal attacks. Anyone pulling my people into the spotlight of gossip and hostility would be shocking to me, dangerous for them and certainly contradict what our community is about.

    I don’t want to worry about working with Autostraddle and/or Shewired and I am sure you ladies don’t want others to worry about that either.

    Bridget, Karman, Malinda, Grace Chu, Fletcher, Cherry Bomb, ABM and generally wherever you look into the sphere of anyone close to AfterEllen and/or Sarah Warn seems to have made quite a career jump over the course of time.

    All together it simply sounds like those two parties in particular had two different opinions about how to work. Sounds like something that happens every day , everywhere. Sounds like it was a fantastic idea to continue on different platforms. Sounds like everyone now has what they wanted.

    In fact, it sounds like indeed everything has been said with exactly this statement from the very beginning.

    – Sandra -

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      sandra —
      i’d like to take a moment to agree w/ alex on this one. we encourage conversation and debate here — we kind of thrive off of it — but you made a few accusations which i feel were out of line.

      no one on autostraddle would ever say anything negative about another glbtq website, either publicly or privately. it’s not how we work. see, we take sarah warn’s motto, “visibility matters,” to heart here. we’d never go out of our way to silence someone on another website or interfere with their ability to produce content. we believe there’s room for everyone.

      secondly, the only people who know what happened between these ladies are these ladies. we interviewed jill & cathy, they’ve been subject to a lot of rumors and they wanted to tell their side of a story. we’d give sarah or anyone else the same chance. i don’t personally conduct a lot of interviews, but if anyone from AE is interested in speaking to one of our team members, i’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them. it’s not our place to censor anyone’s version of events when they put their face & name behind it. i don’t think riese or i had any idea this would be seen as an argument rather than a conversation.

      we haven’t ‘chosen a side’ by publishing this interview, nor have we asked any of our readers to choose. we simply spoke to two hot chicks about their lives. i think most of our readership knows us well enough to be able to appreciate the difference.

      • Thumb up 0

        Please log in to vote

        Hi Laneia,
        thanks for replying. And ‘PartyInMyPants’ thanks for fixing the breaks and sorry(!) for the extra work.

        Though I do not understand why I got called out. Actually I feel my comment was one of the factual and frankly more polite ones here. Now, my opinion or the length to state it, might not be everyone’s taste but I can’t spot wrong assumptions or being out of line.

        Maybe, and that’s really the only thing I could think of re-reading my comment, the mention of me being happy to see Autostraddle offering Shewired support after all was understood sarcastically. But it indeed wasn’t. Basically I stated exactly what you said, that you don’t mute anyone.

        Yes, I am disappointed that the first fruit out of that was the resumption of calming down differences but I don’t understand why that opinion should be better or worse than anyone else’s here.

        I also didn’t claim to know what’s the truth but rather found explanations even IF things happened as the two say. For instance money. Doesn’t have to be bad will of a site and in particular not the chief editor but is actually a common phenomen in lesbian projects.

        Although I feel the entire controversy, from beginning a year ago up to now, was absolutely unnecessary since some work relationships just end and everyone moves on, I have no hard feelings for anyone involved. And definitely not for Autostraddle. In fact, in front of me lays eurOut’s magazine, with your free ad, which is sent out every month to LGBT organizations across Europe.

        As for the rest, I do want to elaborate anything that came across wrong. If anyone replies to and gives examples of the context of my comment, I will do so.

        But actually I think the main point from a lot of people here was to just let it go already? At least I am happy that the lesbian internet world is full of different options. Enough space for everyone’s talent and style. And when I remember correctly I congratulated Cathy and Jill on both.

  23. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Sandra —
    I like how you start off on pretty neutral ground, and it seemed you were on your way to making a fair point. However, you totally lost me when you started making careless assumptions about a lot of things. Plain and simple. That’s all I’m saying about that.

  24. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    “I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…”

  25. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Yah know, if Sarah Warn hadn’t commented there would be no drama. I think Cathy and Jill were both very respectful of her in their answers. They were simply giving their point of view of what happened. I have a lot of respect for both Cathy and Jill from what I have seen them doing on their video blogs. I can’t imagine either of them intentionally “spreading misleading information”. It just doesn’t seem to be in their characters to do that.
    Anyway, thanks for this interview.

  26. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Quick question: how do we know that the “Sarah Warn” who commented on this interview is in fact the real Sarah Warn? Perhaps it really is Ms Warn expressing her opinion, or perhaps it is someone who was bored…

    • Thumb up 0

      Please log in to vote

      The comment is vague and made no sense which leads me to believe the comment was in fact made by Sarah Warn. She contradicted herself by saying there was no juicy story but that she didn’t want to air dirty laundry. She said she didn’t want to protect herself but rather she wanted to protect Jill and Cathy, insinuating that Jill and Cathy are hiding something. She did the same thing on AE. She made comments on the incident that seemed politically correct and polite on the surface level but actually made insinuations implicating Jill in some sort of shadiness while asserting that there was no wrong doing on her part or on the part of AE. Which may very well be true, but we’ll never know. Her vague comments always lead to nothing but further speculation.

  27. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I’m new to the site. I must admit the headline drew me here, I have been wondering what happened for awhile. Call me a drama queen if you must.

    Jill and Cathy have been nothing but open and honest as long as they have been on the scene, so I have to defer to that. The vague I’m clearly deflecting by trying to look above it all bullshit isn’t playing anymore Sarah. I appreciate finally knowing what really happened, even after all this time.

    I look forward to the all the projects they have coming up and think they are on the right track. They brought the site to its zenith, and it was time to move on. Whoever made that decision, whether it was LOGO, Sarah or someone else, did them a favor.

  28. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    1. I liked this interview a lot.
    2. I understand the “controversy” but I honestly don’t feel that:
    2.1 Autostraddle should not be criticized for the answers that were given to the interview. That’s just weird.
    2.2 Comments should so personal…. lol! WE’RE GAY! THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!
    3. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been writing so much but I admire everyone who reads such long comments (I am honestly not bashing anyone). It’s like, if after the first paragraph I don’t see any smileys or internet slang I’ll stop reading.

  29. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    Firstly, yay Jess! And thanks to everyone who thanked us/her for the interview. Srsly guys, there’s really interesting stuff on all three pages! A great interview in line with AS’s mission to create real, uncensored & progressive material online that underneath it all is really about Hope! and Fun!, like the missions of the artists & collectives I admired growing up, who sometimes took risks. We’re trying to change how people talk to each other, and we had to trust that our readers & our colleagues & our heroes would see the purity of our intent, just like Jill & Cathy did by choosing to open up to us, and SheWired who has always been so cool to us.
    .
    This story isn’t about criticism of AE or SaWa or dirty laundry, but an attempt to clear up gossip happening elsewhere and answer unanswered questions from fans. As yr comments indicate and as I knew from Jess (as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I didn’t know anything about WGN or the fallout until this article came up) and as I’d heard all over the web; people just kept on asking. Seemed like the crazy speculation and “proof by assertion” could be squashed if someone just told the story. J&C built their reputation on letting you into their lives, and we respect that and know it’s tough to do that while fighting random rumors.
    .
    At a basic level, as women and as gay people pushing for others to come out, I don’t think it’s fair to prefer silence over difficult, multi-faceted & complicated truths, and as laneia said — anyone involved is welcome to come forward and be genuine here. Because “When the truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie,” usually saying nothing doesn’t work. The conversation goes on in unprotected, anonymous spaces, where lies replace silence and rumors become truth.
    .
    As a lesbo media person, I liked this interview from a business perspective — the “urge to merge” stuff and actually the differences in opinion Jill & Cathy described having with Sarah about internet gossip reminded me of convos I’ve had too. It was educational.
    .
    When you go into business with your friends and sell your friendship as part of the business, as I’ve done and as AE did, you risk things getting messy sometimes — hurt feelings, communication breakdowns, PR disasters. We’re not judging or picking sides. We won’t tolerate anonymous slander, but we also know not everyone is going to look perfect in every story so as long as someone’s willing to put a name & face behind it, we’re not going to cut it from an article.
    .
    So. Here we are, we’re done. So many amazing strong women with things to say! I honestly really love Sarah Warn’s new blog and read it regularly. I’m excited to have been introduced to Jill & Cathy’s stuff and look forward to their work in the future. We spent the other night hanging out with Grace Chu at the Anyone But Me season two party, meeting other queer forward-thinking ladies. There’s so much ahead for all of us to look forward to. We’ll continue trying to be people you can trust, and we’ll keep doing that by letting you see the process, and letting you see us mess up, like maybe some of you think we did by doing this story. I am proud of us for doing it, but that’s just my personal opinion.
    .
    Let’s admit that sometimes we fight and it doesn’t go well, admit that we’re flawed but similar, admit that it’s a tough business and admire any woman willing to put herself out there in a hostile media climate.
    .
    See, once upon a time I was someone who’d heard the Jill Gossip but didn’t know the person or her work. And I want anyone else out there who’s heard the gossip, or perhaps anyone who (as mentioned in an earlier comment) assumed the worst about J&C because someone else has a bigger team, to know that they’re cheating themselves of an opportunity to meet two really smart, complicated, brave women doing cool stuff.
    .
    We’re all just trying. And I think that’s ok.

  30. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    wait, does this mean Sarah Warn made Sophie’s Choice?

    jeez, get over it already – all of you. this is, most likely, a personal disagreement that has little to no effect on us – the readers / viewers.

    don’t you think our alphabet soup community has bigger issues to tackle?

    happy Hanukkah to all!!

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.