What is it about YouTube that you think makes people, and not just openly gay people, so comfortable with expressing themselves?
Let’s think of it this way: entertainment as we know it, television, that sort of thing is run by a group of people, a group of people with their own interests. Let’s just call them rich, old white guys? I don’t know — let’s just be vague about it. So that is like the filter through which all television and all media is kinda come to be. YouTube, however, is really just much more about the individual, so it’s like — for as much as I’m comfortable allowing myself to be myself — YouTube can allow me to be myself, and that just kind of gets blown up, you know? Let’s say somebody really wants to be a dancer, and they’re like, “This is my little like dance journey on YouTube” — it’s not like you’re really looking for anybody else’s approval to put it up. Somebody might be like, “I’m not interested in that. I don’t want to watch that.” Too bad, I’m just distributing it! Watch it or not! It’s up to you! I’m doing this for me to be out there! So with gay people, there is nobody saying, “I like to wear heels, and I like to put on makeup, and I like to wear dresses sometimes, and I also like to dress like a little lumberjack sometimes.” There is no one stopping me telling me I have to look one way. YouTube’s the best, just remember that.
There is no gatekeepers.
There is no gatekeeper.
I mean even we’re in 2013 and openly gay main characters are just getting coverage in television.
Yeah, but like the thing about gay people on TV it’s like, “This is the thing about my character; it’s the fact that I’m gay!” I’ve never felt that way. I mean like A.) I’ve only been out of the closet for like two to three years, but for me it’s always been like, “Hi, my name is Hannah Hart. I love my sisters, I love my friends, I love jazz, da da da da da, item 62: kissing ladies. Super great.”
Do you think in mainstream entertainment today there are any shows that are showing really good, honest representations of openly gay characters, of out characters?
I don’t watch TV, and when I do I watch travel and history documentaries.
So kind of back to you, you’ve been out of the closet for about two to three years, and you’ve mentioned that the most homophobic person you knew was yourself, and you had mentioned that you were still healing from that. It has to have helped that your fanbase has started opening up to you and come to you saying, “Hey, I’m uncomfortable coming out,” and you’re able to help them. Has that also healed you in the process of healing them?
I really have this belief that — have you ever read Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift”?
You have? Oh, that’s great! Great, awesome! I kind of feel like “The Gift” can be applied to obviously — well as in the book it’s not just about a material thing, and it’s not about the gift maintaining a certain shape, so I feel like the best way we can kind of help each other heal with each other — this sounds so hippie dippie — is to just be like, “If you put love and faith in me, I’m going to put love and faith in you,” and the act of generating that love and faith for something kind of makes it grow within yourself. You know? Read “The Gift.”
How do you parcel out all of that emotion, all that feeling? That has to get really exhausting at times.
I go to therapy once a week. I have a great relationship with my friends, I try and be really honest with myself. I definitely am like, “Can’t do it today,” and then I don’t do it today, you know? I think it’s important to give your batteries a chance to recharge.
I think it’s safe to say from everything I’ve seen from your work to interviews you’ve given in the past that you don’t want to be known as this person who just gets drunk and cooks. Is there currently a journey for you to kind of break free from that and become this professional entertainer as opposed to this person who just does this one thing people know you for?
Totally, totally. I think that whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen, you know? I’m not going to try and force any part of the process. Yes, when I did start out I was really bitter about being known as this drunk girl. I was like, “I went to Berkeley. I have so much more I care about. I don’t even drink that much,” and everybody’s like, “You’re the drunk chick, you’re the drunk chick. Ha ha ha,” and I was bitter, you know? But now I’m not bitter at all. I think of the kitchen as kind of like, it’s like my companion almost. It’s kind of like dance with the one that brought you. I’m like, “Yeah ‘Kitchen,’ let’s keep going. People are getting something out of this.” Let’s take “Kitchen” and make it into something that’s more significant, so just letting it be whatever it’s gonna be and not trying to pull myself away from it or not trying to force it to change prematurely I guess. So TBD.
Go with the flow as they say.
You had the Thank-a-thon. That was such a cool idea.
What was that process like filming the Thank-a-thon and really having this kind of variety show?
Super fun! Went by really fast! It was 12 hours, didn’t feel like 12 hours. I had tons of guests, we had music, we had games, we had crafts — I want to do it again! I really enjoyed doing Thank-a-thon. I can’t monetize those videos, but it was great. It was just great! Anyway I want to edit it down and do best of Thank-a-thon and maybe like make a 1 hour thing that just kind of goes through all the 12 hours. That is a lot to edit. I have 12 hours of footage of myself to edit. Man, sometimes though I will tell you, you just get sick of your own face. Just like, ugh.
When does your tour officially kick off?
We release the schedule for the tour on March 7th.
Have you ever had something that you’ve started to cook and been like, “Shit. Why did I start this?” But it’s too late to stop?
Yeah, chocolate souffle. I tried to make a chocolate souffle. A.) Never had a souffle, I don’t really know what a souffle is, I think it’s like a puffy thing. B.) Double boiling chocolate, what? C.) I just boiled a bunch of chocolate, and I put it on my face. That was it. I was like, “Eh this episode’s screwed.” And I just ate a bunch of chocolate, and I was like [makes animal sound]. Last year’s Valentine’s Day. It was the first one I ever shot in L.A.
A lot of young kids are wanting to embark in careers on YouTube. What kind of parting advice do you have for them in terms of pitfalls to avoid or things that they should look out for or look forward to?
Don’t try and start a digital career just because you want people to look at you or you want to be noticed. Start it because you have an idea, you know? Also, have a backup plan. [laughs] Like invest in your life, you know what I mean? That’s pretty much it. Sorry kids, good luck!
You mentioned having an idea — what was your idea going into “My Drunk Kitchen”?
I was hungry and then I was drunk.
And you had a camera.
And I had a camera. I had a job, man. I had a career path. I didn’t have an idea going into it; my idea was that I wanted to make my friend laugh, I guess that’s it. My idea was I wanted to make my friend laugh, and then I missed her so that’s why I started “My Drunk Kitchen,” because I thought it would make her laugh.
You can’t beat that.
You can’t beat that!
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Photography by Robin Roemer