Josh Schonewolf and I met at Supper for happy hour to talk about a few things. I sent him a couple links that I’d read and been thinking about: a HuffPost story about gays being bullies to other gays and a New York Times feature about being 20-something and coming to the idea of work in new ways. Schonewolf’s embarking on a new chapter in his life, promoting and producing events, largely gay-themed, and it’s starting to take off in pretty thrilling ways. He’s already somewhat of a big name in the gay community via his blog, Josh Can’t Cook, which he started in 2010. He‘s been featured in the pages of Philadelphia Gay News and has dates’ roommates bug out when they find out they’re going for drinks with “Josh Can’t Cook.”
The blog started as stress relief from a soul-crushing finance job he maintained just to have a job. The Temple ‘05 grad studied communications with a TV/media performance focus, but found himself in an office full of women that he wanted to destroy. (Not with malice, of course; just, ya know, because the office environment can do that to a person.) Josh Can’t Cook boasts up to 5,000 page views a week, and it’s not going anywhere; he’s slated to start shooting 20 episodes next week. He’s only made 15 since the blog’s inception, but they’re no joke. Even at three minutes in length, he prepares about a dozen jokes for each and has a crew help him with production. They get made in his home’s kitchen in Newbold, and starting in April or May, he’ll start revealing his new “season” to the world.
Schonewolf loves a party, but he’s a pretty atypical nightlife personality. He told me he loves the phrase “Life’s a party; all you have to do is RSVP,” and I really believe he means it. He just likes to throw parties. He threw a Halloween hat party and had a blast with it. Then things got serious, and he made his first philanthropic event debut with a benefit, Josh’s Dinner Party, for New York’s Ali Forney Center on a Friday night last August. More than 300 people came, and 30 gifts were provided from various area businesses. I was curious about the logistics, so I dug: What does it cost if your event flops? Typically, at a place like Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge, if your crowd doesn’t make it to a bartab point ($500), you have to pay the difference. Schonewolf brought his checkbook, but he didn’t have to write one. It was a hit.
This winter, he hosted Josh’s Drag Ball, a fundraiser for Philadelphia’s Attic Youth Center that corralled 15 queens and even pulled one in from RuPaul’s Drag Race (Milan from Season Four). This brings us to one of the primary subjects of our snack chat: We are drowning in drag. Drag’s fun, and we love it. But Schonewolf is interested in bigger and better events that don’t use drag as the primary crowd bait. He and Brandon Robert of PhillyDragopolis are officially working together to produce some big events in the future. Think a locally based Top Chef or a Voyeur-based American Idol.
The idea of dwelling in the world of gay nightlife and event production is frightening to me. Gay people can be really mean to other gay people, and it’s sad. It’s something that our own Goddess Isis tries to refrain from with positivity in the phrase “Be a light.” Or as they say in Paris is Burning, “We’re not going to be shady, just fierce.” And Schonewolf is like a fierce Real Housewife. One night at Stir, he asked me for a housewife tagline—you know, the one-sentence self-descriptive introductions at the beginning of each episode. It’s generally a “I may look like this, but I’m actually that.” I improvised “I may be a writer, but I can read even better.” I was pleased with myself, mostly because Schonewolf screamed. “YES!” Well, when I read Josh, I see a light.
Josh runs a party every other Monday at Tavern called Hot Mesh and hosts a party called Ratchet on Wednesdays at Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge.
At Songbird, will a star be born?