If artists find inspiration in the most unexpected places, then writer and actress Amanda Duarte might be the most inspired artist of her generation. After a horrific year where her husband left her, she had a tumor removed, and her dog died (did we mention the was 2016… during the election?), she decided to engage in some self-care and watched the legendarily bad John Travolta film Staying Alive. But instead of a schlocky sequel, Amanda found inspiration: some amazing songs by The Bee Gees buried in a bad story. “I realized that was me: a great song, lost in a bad, misogynist story.” Her new show Amanda Duarte: Staying Alive comes to Joe’s Pub this Sunday with additional performances on March 3 and April 2. Below is her On The Couch, a celebration of feminism, Kewpie mayonnaise, and her “silver medal-winning” tits.
What do you consider to be your best asset?
What was your proudest moment?
When my brother, who is a math teacher in Northern California, told me that his 15-year-old student wore a “Pussy Grabs Back” t-shirt to school (I created the hashtag and co-created the meme).
What is your favorite drink?
Very strong chai tea blended with weed-infused coconut oil. It makes absolutely everything in the entire world better. I wish I could sell it. I’d have a Rajneeshee-like cult following.
What is your favorite food?
I mean, this is like Sophie’s Choice if she had like a hundred kids and could only keep one. If I have to choose, I’d say it’s this weird chicken omelet pancake thing at Village Yokocho in the East Village. It’s a sloppy, satisfying pile of chicken, American cheese, seaweed, bonito flakes, ketchup and Kewpie mayonnaise. It hits every quadrant of the umami matrix- especially my favorite quadrant of any matrix, “lowbrow and despicable.”
What is your favorite condiment?
Kewpie mayonnaise mixed with kimchi juice. I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to mention Kewpie mayonnaise twice already in this questionnaire. It’s a really important part of my life that I don’t get to talk about enough. God, I’d love to be their spokeswoman. It’s a miracle product.
What is your current obsession?
Al-Anon. Sigh. One day at a time.
If you could give up one of your vices, what would it be?
Nostalgia. It’s a killer.
What is the one professional accomplishment you long for most?
The Nobel Prize in Feminism. It doesn’t exist yet, but it should.
What is the one thing you waste too much money on?
Tinder Gold. It’s a complete waste. Don’t bother.
What is the one activity you waste too much time doing?
Tinder Gold. It’s a complete waste. Don’t bother.
What do you consider to be the single greatest threat to your health?
The Republican Party.
What is the single best trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
I mean, nature/nurture who knows, but I have my mother’s creative resourcefulness, and I truly think I would be dead without it. I wish I’d also inherited her tits, because they are a fucking national treasure. They are the Mount Rushmore of tits. They should be landmarked. I’m very comfortable with my body and don’t get me wrong, my tits are great, but it’s like winning the silver medal in the genetic Olympics. I do my country proud, but ugh, I came so close to the gold.
What is the single worst trait you inherited or learned from your parents?
Judging my body in comparison to other women. Fuck!
What in the world most thrills you?
What current trend in popular culture most irritates you?
Bad-faith intra-liberal clapback callouts.
What was the single most embarrassing moment you’ve ever experienced on the job?
Oh, there have been so many- but the most recent one was when I shot an episode of “High Maintenance”, which as we know is made by the Cool Kids, and some of the coolest kids around are in the episode, and in front of all of them, during a shot, I tripped and face-planted and scraped the hell out of my arm and was in so so so much pain and had to try to play it cool in front of all the cool kids and they are all ten years younger than me and cool and I was that dumb old lady who fell down and I’m not cool and they’re all cool and I will never be cool.
What is your favorite place in the world?
My bed. God, I’m so fucking basic but some really great things happen in there.
What is the most important trait you seek in a romantic partner?
My answer to this question is 70 minutes long including encore and can be heard at Joe’s Pub starting February 3 at 7 pm. Here’s a ticket link! https://joespub.publictheater.org/reserve/index.aspx?performanceNumber=39399&fbclid=IwAR3jw-qyGFT9h-Wl6Xy0XNIfjxej3FaTRgykO5jwUBrDsF3PHjfqAWloO2U
Do you prefer the company of dogs or cats?
I do not subscribe to the dog/cat binary. I enjoy the company of both dogs and cats and especially enjoy being under a big snuzzly pile of both at once. My beloved dog passed away last year, so I just have a cat now, but he is dog-like enough to serve as a complete non-binary Daemon Familiar. He greets me at the door, he fetches, he plays rough, he’s a power cuddler. If he’d stop ripping out my hair to wake me up to play at 4 am, he’d be perfect. Although, if he were a human man, that would probably be my answer to the previous question.
What would have to happen to make today the best day of your life?
For legal reasons, I am going to be careful with my speech and just say that several members of a certain powerful cabal would be publicly arrested in a particularly humiliating fashion, then terminally incarcerated, and we would all toast their spectacular and, again, particularly humiliating downfall with a big cup of my now-legal weed chai.
What is your personal motto?
Eat whatever you want. God, we’re fighting so many battles these days- political, personal, global, local- just eat whatever you want. The phrase “self-care” is so overused so I won’t call it that but just give yourself that little gift. Try that filthy pancake thing at Village Yokocho. Put Kewpie mayo on your finger and suck it off. Democracy is crumbling and the planet is melting. Eat whatever you want. I love you.