Shana East discusses her new female-driven, all-inclusive Twin Peaks fan community for Chicago Literati

Shana East recently launched Twin Peaks Freaks, an all-inclusive community for fans of the series that just happens to be run by a team of awesome ladies. East, a huge fan of the series, says the idea came to her after Showtime and David Lynch announced plans to relaunch the series in 2016.

East’s group aims to be a safe space for everyone, encouraging respectful language and attitudes between its participants. Read more about this awesome community below.

Interview after the jump. [Spoilers Below] 

Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014
Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014

What got you into Twin Peaks?

 I first heard about Twin Peaks while it was still on the air, but I was only about 10 years old, so it was a little over my head at the time. Around junior high or high school, I heard more tales about how bizarre it was from the older kids, so (naturally) I became curious about it. When I was 17, I moved into my first apartment in Chicago, where one of my roommates, Adam, had just bought the Twin Peaks VHS box set. We watched it together for the first time, and were completely absorbed into the world Frost and Lynch created. I remember how scared I was that whole week or two not knowing, “Who killed Laura Palmer” yet – and how naïve I was that it didn’t even occur to me that BOB could be her own father. It was great… those are some great memories. Just laying under blankets in the dark and having the bejeezus scared out of us.


Twin Peaks
was also a very sexy show for two teenagers to watch together, in the dark and underneath blankets, with Angelo Badalamenti swinging back and forth in the background. Adam and I fell in love while watching Twin Peaks, and got married just a few weeks after my 18th birthday. When we divorced years later, he got our two Nintendos and I got the Twin Peaks VHS box set.

I do claim “innocence by proof of Peaks” when it comes rash decisions that I’ve made over the years (not that this was one of them per se), but I have made a few decisions where this obsession may have clouded my judgment a bit.

Tell our readers a little more about Twin Peaks Freaks.

Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014
Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014

 Twin Peaks Freaks (TPF) was started a couple weeks ago as a more public version of a closed Facebook group I created following the 2012 Twin Peaks Festival. The earlier, more private group was a way for people from the fest to keep in touch, share pictures from the trip, geek out about Twin Peaks, and so on.

I felt a need more recently to reach out to a larger audience, when I saw how good people were being mistreated in some larger groups and online pages. There seemed to be no transparent outline for acceptable behavior in these forums, no rules addressing why people are removed or a “warning” system of some sort, nor guidelines on how to communicate with each other respectfully. I am not criticizing those groups at all… there is definitely an audience for a no-holds-barred freak fest, but I knew I felt uncomfortable sharing my thoughts openly, and just witnessing the negative ways people converse online can really be a downer. Someone might simply post a picture of a beautiful actress from the show, and then the conversation immediately turns into whether or not she was “fuckable” (pardon my French), if she had or had not aged well, what he might “do” to this woman, and so on. And if that made a 34 year old woman uncomfortable, I can’t imagine how a teenage kid might feel reading these things after becoming interested in a really cool new show they just watched on Netflix.

Some of the cast and crew are members in a few fan forums as well, and I would feel so embarrassed to see other members openly insulting them based on looks, their character’s intelligence, et cetera. I don’t think those members always knew that the subject of their post could read what they were writing about them, but well… the Internet can just be an ugly place. But nonetheless, it seems to be a place where humans will need to relate to each other for the indefinite future.

Over the years, I had talked to a handful of other female or LGBTQ fans who had similar experiences where they felt like they just had to let “boys be boys,” ignore degrading language, or if they dared, would chime in with some activist sentiment… and by doing so, would open themselves up to being harassed and trolled upon. I sort of thought, why do we have to function within this existing framework?

Then the news came of the upcoming Twin Peaks series on Showtime, which definitely caused a resurgence of discussion and excitement in all of these online groups. I thought maybe it was about time to create a new space with some simple boundaries we set up and work towards together as a group, so that newer fans who are turned onto the show in 2016 will have a ready-made “safe” community set up to talk about literature, music, art and all of the exciting theories and interpretations that Lynch’s work offers. And it won’t matter if there is a difference of opinion, as long as you are able to discuss and debate calmly and intelligently, without fear of repercussion.

So I started posting these little “wanted” posts on different groups and pages “looking for a crack team of female Twin Peaks fans for a collaboration,” and somehow managed to find almost 20 talented women from around the globe who wanted to participate in the creation of this new virtual community.

We have a fashion reporter from Canada, musicians and artists in the UK, talented writers from California and Australia…an amazing graphic artist from Brazil, some ladies in the Northwest, a couple here in Chicago and so on. We really do span the globe, and I have no idea how this all has come together the way it has, but the reason I am working my butt off right now is for them. To see their work showcased and people responding to it in thoughtful ways, really makes me feel like we are doing some important work. We are all so proud to be a part of this. And I am just incredibly proud of our all-female “crack team” of Twin Peaks Freaks!

Also, the fact that we have banded together so quickly and that this online community is building at such a rapid pace, only proves its necessity and that a good number of folks are looking for an alternative to existing online environments.

 

What are some of your theories about the series and how did you come to have them?

 That information… is classified. [laughs]

 

Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014
Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014

In your opinion, does Annie Blackburn receive enough fan love or do you feel she’s somewhat scorned by fans in comparison to Audrey, Shelley and Donna?

Well, well, well… they always want to turn us women against each other don’t they? [smiles] Personally, I think Coop’s romance with Annie seems a bit tacked on and doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. I have heard all the Twin Peaks “lore” about how this outcome possibly came to be –why he didn’t have a romance with Audrey for example– but I wasn’t there so I try not to speculate about it too much.

I am not quite sure why Heather Graham got the part of Annie Blackburn, but I don’t think it was a great match for a character as dynamic as Cooper’s (sorry Heather!). She is lovely, of course –a classic beauty– as are all of Lynch’s ladies. I think the miscasting of her role (in my opinion) could be part of the issue as to why their romance has gotten some flack.

I think the most underrated female character on the show was Margaret (Catherine E. Coulson). Some of her old “Log Lady intros” are truly captivating to watch. A real talent, that one.

What are your thoughts on the second season compared to the first?

I think my two very favorite episodes are the pilot (preferably with the alternate ending, which was released as a standalone movie in Europe, I believe) and “Lonely Souls” (the episode where Laura’s killer is revealed). So that is technically one favorite from each season! For me, David Lynch’s absence felt more apparent during the James and Evelyn saga of Season 2. I know that is pretty much every Twin Peaks fan’s least favorite story line, but there are some truly funny parts. When James goes back to Evelyn’s mansion to confront her about “setting him up” and then she exclaims that she likes the “good and honest way he tastes” and they start to make out (after, mind you, she has framed him for the murder of her husband)… oh god, just thinking about that scene cracks me up and gives me the creeps simultaneously! Then James is attacked by Evelyn’s chauffer/brother/lover and Donna comes out of nowhere screaming, “James!”… I just love the sheer campiness of it. Not my favorite Lynchian (dark and mysterious) moment perhaps, but it’s fun to feel that sense of dread one feels as the whole Evelyn plot line unfolds.

I have heard so many fans speak negatively about James’ character, and I too was not a fan for a long time. But the more I hear people pick on him, the more I love him. I’ve got to stick up for the underdog I guess! Plus, he has an awesome girl group and I am a huge fan of the genre.

 

FISHYou won the costume contest at the annual Twin Peaks Festival, tell our readers a little more about that.

 It was one of the best nights of my life. My friend Celina and I made the journey out to North Bend, Washington for the Twin Peaks Festival back in 2012. We already came up with the idea to do Pete Martell’s famous “fish in the percolator” somehow as a joint costume. I ended up as the fish, and she was going to be the percolator. We thought we would make the costume in advance and take it with us, but of course, procrastinated. So the supplies were all purchased at a Michael’s Arts & Crafts store in Lacey, Washington two days before the contest. We would go to the scheduled festival programs during the day and evening, then get back to the motel to work on our costumes. We finished them about 5 minutes before the event, no joke.

The actor that portrayed Pete Martell was the late, great Jack Nance. And since the panel of attending Twin Peaks celebrities actually vote for the costume contest winner, I think we had a bit of an advantage due to their fondness for Jack. Afterwards, Michael Horse (Deputy Hawk) and Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs) spoke to us at some length about their dear friend, how much they missed him, and how he too would have loved our costumes. I was on top of the world that night.

 

How’s Snoqualmie Falls? I’ve always wanted to go.

 It is… just like on the show! The Salish Lodge is where they filmed the exteriors of The Great Northern Hotel, and that sits atop the falls. I was lucky enough to see the falls during a 2000 visit, but the last time I was there they were doing some type of construction or preservation right at the top so there was scaffolding blocking part of the view. My friend and I treated ourselves by staying at The Salish one night, and our room was just above the falls. We kept the balcony door open so we could fall asleep to the sound.

 

What makes the Twin Peaks fandom so wonderful to you? 

Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014
Amanda Paschoal (c) 2014

 I think there are some genuinely hilarious and talented people who happen to be fans of the show. Not all fans are, of course, this is Planet Earth we’re talking about! [laughs] But by and large they tend to be a very cool, creative bunch of people. That idea of walking the fine line between good and evil, the sacred and the profane… a beautiful forest by day becoming a dark portal at night… these are such universal topics dating back to the most ancient religions. It is hard for me to look at Twin Peaks fandom from an outside perspective though, because I have been immersed in it for far too long! It is really a part of who I am and has truly helped steer my sensibilities, as freaky (or as peaky!) as that may sound.

 

Is there a character you identify with from the series? And if so, which character and why?

 Hmmm, that is a tough one! My favorite characters are Cooper and Major Briggs. I love that they are good guys working to keep the evil lurking in those woods at bay, but that they both have a depth of character as far-reaching as the spiritual and the sublime. I suppose I strive to be like them, but perhaps I still have a ways to go. [laughs]

 

What can we look forward to with Twin Peaks Freaks?

 You can look forward to a fresh perspective on the work of David Lynch and other related topics from a modern and accepting audience. We openly welcome the participation of a new generation of fans, and we at Twin Peaks Freaks are working together to build a community where both a multi-generational audience, as well as those fans from the LGBTQ community, can speak openly about Lynch-inspired art, literature, music and so on – without dealing with all the bullying and online harassment that seems to be so prevalent nowadays. ALL are welcome… and we will see you in the trees!

 CONNECT ON:

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/TwinPeaksFreaks

TWITTER: www.twitter.com/PeaksFreaks

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/Twin_Peaks_Freaks

Image Credit: Richard Rhyme
Richard Rhyme (c) 2014

A little bit more about Shana East… 

Shana East is the Founder of the 20 piece, all-female musical performance group, Girl Group Chicago. She produces local variety shows and her band (that East both manages and sings in) brings the “wall of sound” arrangements of the 1960s to a live audience. She also founded the fan group Twin Peaks Freaks Anonymous (TPFA), and has just started Twin Peaks Freaks (TFP) — a collective of public online community pages, managed and contributed to by exclusively female-identified fans. In her free time she is also a feminist.