I spoke with the crew at Pink Milk about their Star Wars focused podcast for the latest 365 Star Wars Podcast Spotlight.
What is your first Star Wars memory?
Bryan: My very first memory of Star Wars is an image from a Return of the Jedi magazine and I still have it! Inside that magazine was a double page spread of The Max Rebo Band…seeing that blue elephant sitting on a strange organ was the moment I fell in love with that galaxy from far, far away.
Tom: My first Star Wars memory is sitting in the movie theater for my friend’s birthday. I hadn’t ever heard of Star Wars before and I was terrified of Darth Vader. I loved the movie but I was terrified of Darth Vader!
Mark: Getting the Star Wars Kenner action figures for Xmas one year, and then the Death Star Playset! I couldn’t sleep that night as I wanted to keep playing with the set. This would have been after A New Hope but before Empire was released.
Emma: Sitting on the carpet in my babysitter’s basement, watching Return Of The Jedi on VHS. I was in elementary school. I remember feeling a weird thrill when the rancor ate that poor little Twi’lek.
Who are some of your favorite Star Wars characters and have those favorites changed over time?
Bryan: I love so many characters in Star Wars but there are three that have come to me in certain parts of my life that I like to call my holy-trinity of Star Wars. Luke Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Din Djarin. Luke, like so many was a childhood hero, a character who stood for what was right no matter what stood in front of him. Ahsoka is a character that taught me how to move on without anger, without regret and without holding onto what had happened before. Then there is Din Djarin and to me, Din is queer. I identify with his journey of self-acceptance so much. As his story grew and his relationship with Grogu turned into a father and son I related to this character as a father, as a person who created his family through adoption. I understand all of his insecurities and his all-encompassing love for a child he never dreamed he’d have.
(Bryan talks more about this suject in this video with Sean from Blue Bantha Milk Co)
Tom: As a kid, like everyone else, I loved Luke Skywalker because he was the hero and every kid loves a hero. During the prequels, which I had never really watched, maybe I saw the first one but I hadn’t ever watched them until Bryan told me I had to. Anyhow, I really liked Anakin because I don’t know maybe it’s because he’s the star and they made me like him best. During the Sequel Trilogy I really liked Kylo Ren because the complexity of his character. He was both good and bad but mostly good. He was almost haunted by the bad. (This is Bryan… Tom is a “Bendemtionist” he just doesn’t know what that is!)
Mark: Mostly heroes like Luke, Yoda, Ahsoka, and Rey. In that order over time as I’ve gotten older. Luke got me through my elementary school and teenage years. Yoda gave me wisdom in my late teens early adulthood. Ahsoka taught me so much about the journey as an adult and Rey was just fantastic to see grow with each film. I should add that my fave baddie is the Emperor. He was just such a fun villain.
Emma: I have always been a huge fan of Princess Leia, from the very beginning. Later on, as I experienced other stories in the SW universe, I added Anakin, Trilla Suduri, and Rey to my list of favourite characters.
When did you make the decision to start your own Star Wars podcast? Had you been a part of other podcasts (either as a host or guest) before?
Bryan: I decided to start a podcast on my 40th birthday. Starting a podcast had been something that I wanted to do but didn’t think I could. Turning 40 was exciting for me because I love a “zero” they are the perfect time to build a new decade. I was a father by that point too so I couldn’t teach my child (I had only one at the time) to run away from the things that scared you. So, I did it!
Mark: I joined a Star Wars podcast when Bryan asked if I was interested in joining Pink Milk After Dark. Before that I had done quite a bit of guest podcasting, but had done a movie podcast with my friend Mindy about a decade before called The Devil and Miss Mindy.
How would you describe your podcast to someone who hasn’t heard of it yet? How is it different from other Star Wars podcasts?
Bryan: Well, we have two very different shows. A morning show for Star Wars super-fans and those “Forced” to listen to us. And we also have a late night livestream where three super-fans take deep dives into Star Wars. However whether you are listening to our morning show or our late night livestream we always talk Star Wars, queerly. We talk Star Wars through our queer lenses and how our life experiences have shaped not only how we see the movies but how we interpret the characters. On our morning show Tom (my husband) and myself, I’m the super-fan and he’s “Forced” to listen to me talk about Star Wars. Tom and I talk about Star Wars and how it can be used as both a guide and a metaphor for our found family. On our livestreams we like to take deep dives into the universe and spend a lot of time discussing the emotional side of Star Wars. How the story effects the character inside the story but also how those stories have shaped our own emotional journeys.
Tom: I would describe our podcast as a podcast for super-fans and those people in their lives who are “Forced” to listen to them and their fandom in Star Wars. We are different than other Star Wars podcasts in a sense because we give a space for the average fan – the “Forced” to listen fan. And, we’re “Husband and Husband.”
Mark: We talk Star Wars Queerly and we livestream once a week on a variety of subjects. From what’s currently out as far as animated series, movies, live action shows, and also what makes up the Star Wars community. For example, we’ve had fanfic writers on the show, and will be talking with a Gaymer in the near future.
Emma: Pink Milk After Dark is a fun, inclusive space for LGBTQ people, and their allies, who love Star Wars! We bring a spirit of openness and playfulness that you might not find other places. We also pride ourselves in exploring unconventional perspectives on Star Wars properties, like the idea of Din Djarin being trans, or Attack Of The Clones being underappreciated. 😉
Tell me about your first episode (or first few episodes) and how your podcast has changed since those first few episodes.
Bryan: I wouldn’t tell anyone to listen to our first few episodes! Tom and I have been together for 13 years and have a great relationship and have a great banter with one another but that wasn’t reflected well in those first episodes because talking in front of a microphone is weird and took us a lot of time to get used to. Now-a-days we feel super comfortable in front of them and I’ve learned so much about production and organizing a show. We’ve grown into having a weekly late-night livestream on YouTube and that’s been a whole new journey!
Tom: Well, plain and simple we didn’t know what we were doing! We didn’t know the direction of where it would eventually go and we didn’t know the technical aspect of it at all!
Mark: Aside from being a little nervous, it took a few episodes to get into the groove and work with being on a livestream. Since then, we’ve moved on from weekly news, rumors, toy announcements, to just the subject at hand. It’s going to keep evolving over time for sure, but I’m so happy with what we’ve done so far.
How do you decide what the subject of your podcast is going to be? Do you know what you’ll be talking about months out ahead or do you decide more in the moment?
Bryan: I tend to build episodes through-out the week. I try my best to have each podcast relate to something that is currently going on in our lives or the world around us. For the livestream, we try to plan out a months worth of show ideas and then throughout that month really try and narrow down to whatever seems to be the most relevant at the time.
Tom: We are a little bit of both but more often than not it’s dependent on what’s going on in the world around us. But to be honest, what I really want to say, is that my husband tells me when to sit in the seat and tell’s me what we’re going to talk about…I just show up!
Mark: Bryan, Emma, and I discuss various topics that we’d like to see discussed or suggest guests to bring on. There was one time we decided at the beginning of the week what we would be talking about on Friday’s show but for the most part, have been trying to keep a schedule. Oh and definitely keep in mind holidays and or month long events like Pride Month as we plan ahead.
Emma: Bryan is the captain of the ship but he’s very collaborative and invites input from Mark and I on what we would like to talk about and see. We often plan things a few weeks ahead but there’s lots of flexibility to keep things feeling natural and fresh.
Do you have favorite parts or least favorite parts of producing a podcast?
Bryan: I love podcasting. I can’t say any of it is hard. I can’t believe the emotional connections I have been able to make with guests. Mark and Emma are a perfect example. I met them on Twitter when Pink Milk held a queer roundtable discussion on the first season of The Mandalorian. All of the people that were on those roundtables have stayed connected. We’re a Pink Milk family. And, our listeners! Holy cow, some of the stories that some of these people have shared with me have literally been life-changing. Sharing “my” story was scary but it’s also allowed people I think to open up to me and there have been some real connections made. It’s incredible and I’m eternally grateful for that.
Tom: My favorite part of making a podcast is that I get to sit there and spend time with my husband. It’s something that we get to do together. My least favorite part is watching Bryan, grapple with the stress of timing podcasts and the occasional technical difficulty. He takes it really seriously and wants it to sound as best as it can.
Mark: Seeing folks comment in the chat, or hearing from folks that love what they heard and having them give us a shout out!
For new listeners can you recommend 3 episodes that would give people an idea of what the podcast is like?
Bryan: If you’re a first time listener I think I’d recommend these episodes:
We once had a comment in our livestream from a viewer that said that Pink Milk was the one place they could go to laugh and cry all in one night! This made me so happy because I do think we tackle some really heavy and serious topics but we can laugh and just be plain silly all in the same episode!
Episode 37: The Mandalorian is Trans: We Have Spoken! (The first of our Roundtables)
Episode 46: We’re Talking Baby Yoda and his Gay Daddy, Queerly!
Episode 60: Father’s Talking Luke Skywalker and Life Choices.
Tom: Episode 56: Katy, Why Did You Push That Button. With Comms Officer, Actor Katy O’Brian
Episode 64: Talking Religion, Queerness and Identity with Dais Johnston of inverse.com
To be honest, my favorite episodes are the episodes when we bring guests on because it gives me perspective in other peoples lives!
Mark: Episode 44: The Space Daddies episode.
Episode 72: The Fan Fic episode.
Episode 73: The episode that Bryan and I just did when I was in the hot seat!
Emma: Episode 42: Why We Love Return Of The Jedi
Episode 68: The Children Of Star Wars
Episode 72: Serving Star Wars Shipping & Fanfiction
What podcast episode have you received the most positive feedback about? I’m curious if you knew that one would be a winner or if it surprised you that this episode was a hit with listeners.
Bryan: We’ve got the most attention from our roundtables. I didn’t know what to expect from a table full of strangers talking about The Mandalorian but what we got was a group of strangers being completely vulnerable, open, honest and all sharing our stories in the most beautiful way imaginable. I didn’t know what they would turn into but once I knew what was happening I think the power they had was pretty undeniable. But we also were able to sit with actor, Katy O’Brian to discuss her experience on the set of The Mandalorian that has done quite well for us as well as a livestream that we put all of our attention on Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith!
Mark: I’m going to leave this to Bryan to answer, as he has more of the data but I want to say that our FanFic episode got a lot of attention.
Who are a few people you’d love to have on your show as a guest in the future?
Bryan: I would love to have Dave Filoni on the show if I could have anyone! The Clone Wars, for me, is the foundation that all of Star Wars sits on. And he gave me both Ahsoka and Din. I wouldn’t be who I am today without those two characters. I love him for that. But- I’d really like to speak to another queer person inside Lucasfilm. I’d like to know the kinds of conversations that go on behind the walls about queer representation. I’d love to know why we can get explicit characters in books, comics and video games but we can’t get it in animation or the films.
Tom: Um, can I say Darth Vader, James Earl Jones and Kylo Ren, Adam Driver or are those too lofty?
Mark: Daniel Jose Older, Katy O’Brien, if she ever returns to do more episodes of The Mandalorian, and Steve Sansweet.
Emma: Our discussion about fanfic was so popular, I would love to talk to some of the founders of AO3 on why AO3 was created, what shaped their policy choices, and what role it plays in fandom today. I would also love to talk to some big name cosplayers on the challenges of re-creating Star Wars costumes and creatures.
What kind of equipment do you use for recording? Any overall tips for new podcasters?
Bryan: Well, I feel pretty spoiled because I’m able to purchase decent equipment. We use Audio Technica Condensor mics for our podcast and run that through an M-Audio interface. For the livestreams I use a Blue Yeti USB mic, it’s a pretty standard go-to podcastin mic. I edit all of our shows in Logic Pro now but when we started I used Garage Band. But, I would tell someone that if all they have is an iPhone and some earbuds. DO IT. Put the time into thinking of a show that has a fresh and unique perspective. I think Star Wars podcasting is changing. We have some BIG names who talk about the news, trivia and reviews of the movies and shows. But, I’m experiencing a new wave of interest, especially, in the post-pandemic world for more personal stories and personal connections in our favorite galaxy. I find people enjoy listening to our view as queer people and queer fathers and how those things shape our insight into Star Wars.
Mark: Yeti microphone with a pop filter, on a microphone stand. Also use two LED lights for better lighting and a pair of gaming headphones connected to my microphone.
What are some of your favorite Star Wars focused podcasts?
Bryan: I try to listen to so many of our fellow Star Wars pod creators as there are so many great ones! However, I try to always get my fix with these: Force Toast, Blast Points Podcast, GALactic Podcast, Jaig Eyes and Jedis and The Rebel Base Card Podcast! I also watch all of Star Wars Explained and Hello Greedo on YouTube!
Mark: Ahch-To Radio, Triad of the Force, The Bad Motivators, Steele Wars, The Khetanna Cast, Sistas with Sabers,The Canto Bight Dispatch, El Podcast de Estar Guars, Imperial Senate Podcast, and Scruffy Lookin Podcasters
Emma: I like the GALactic podcast, Khetanna Cast and Sistas With Sabers
Tell me about your previous Celebration experiences (if you have been before)? Highlights? Lowlights?
Bryan: I haven’t ever been to a Star Wars Celebration outside of a Southwest Con circa 1996! However, I have been to San Diego Comic Con several times and if it feels anything like that I’m sure it’s an amazing experience! I can not wait to get to one!
Mark: Anaheim in 2015 was my first Celebration, and while it was fun it didn’t compare to Chicago Celebration. It was there I got to meet some of my fave podcasters and made a bunch of new friends and we keep in touch constantly. It was a great experience overall, and there were so many fantastic panels.
What are you the most excited to see or read in the Star Wars universe coming up in the next year?
Bryan: I can’t wait to read Claudia Gray’s High Republic books, she’s easily my favorite Star Wars writer! I’m really, really stoked for Bad Batch which surprised me at first because it isn’t one of my favorite Clone Wars arcs. However, I think there is some really compelling possibilities to tell stories of self-discovery with the clones in this that I can’t wait to see.
Tom: I’m looking forward to seeing something new. Something that I have a chance to be the super-fan about. Something that I don’t feel like I’m constantly needing to catch up!
Mark: I’m excited to see Bad Batch, Book of Boba Fett, the return of The Mandalorian and to see what Lucasfilm does for the 50th anniversary.
Emma: I am really excited for Claudia Gray’s Into The Dark. For the television offerings, I am most excited for The Acolyte, Andor, and Rogue Squadron.
How can people who want to listen to your podcast find it and help support it?
Bryan: Pink Milk is in most of your favorite podcatchers! We have two shows a morning show with my husband Tom and a late-night livestream on Friday nights! On Wednesday’s you can listen to Pink Milk Husband and Husband! It’s a podcast for “Us Super-fans and Those Forced To Listen To Us!” My husband Tom who isn’t a “super-fan” and I talk all things Star Wars and more often than not watch it through our lens of creating our found family. Then on Friday Late Nights Emma, Mark and myself take deep dives into the Star Wars universe live on YouTube with the greatest chat EVER! We also have a website at servingpinkmilk.com! you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram @servingpinkmilk.
Mark: I will defer to Bryan on this one, as he will have all the links, etc. but as far as supporting goes, sharing of those links and finding us on Friday evenings on Youtube.