SXSW: A Tale of Strippers, Wet Socks, YouTube Stars and Crying Livers



I had no idea SXSW was anything more than a music festival until a few weeks ago when my coworker told me she was going for the “interactive” portion – on our company’s dime.  Say whaaaat?  As it turns out, SXSW is for music, movies, comedy and the interactive part covers digital technology (think mobile, internet, robots from the future sent to perform basic human functions for us because we are all lazy pieces of shit, etc).  So I got permission from my boss and my trip to Austin, TX was booked, y’all.

The first thing I discovered preparing for this trip was that I had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into.  I’m talking approximately 5 trillion sessions going on at the same time, all day long, in various locations around downtown Austin.  Do I want to see Nev Schulman from Catfish leading a panel on love and identity in the digital age, or do I want to see a panel on the role of comedy in technology?  Do I want to see a session on the future of social media in television or do I want to skip all of it and go to one of the 5000 sponsored parties at bars all over town with free alcohol and food?  (Um, duh.)  I was pretty nervous heading into this thing because I hate the unexpected and knowing that I have to network with people makes me break into mental hives.

Having booked on the late side, hotels were hard to come by, so my coworker and I went through AirBNB to find an apartment to rent out.  The fact that we had stumbled into a clusterfuck of a situation was evident pretty quickly after our 1AM arrival.   The place was down a long creepy road next to railroad tracks, and the first living thing we saw when we got out of the cab was a bat.  Long story short, the blankets smelled like what can only be described as moldy, dirty assholes and the sheets and pillows were covered in dog fur.  Other highlights included white stains on the towels and something resembling blood stains in the freezer.  Off to a good start.

Next day we head downtown.  It’s pouring rain and my boots have holes in them, and I am walking the streets in wet socks.  My experience is further enriched.  We wander the Austin Convention Center and attend a couple different panels, but I won’t bore you with those details.  You want details about all the drunken sex that I didn’t have, right?  Right!  My coworker had a friend in town from LA with his coworkers, so we meet them at the bar they are hanging out at.  The bourbon drinking began at 5pm, followed by wine, beer, and about 5 shots throughout the course of the evening.


Shots like this.  And yes, in case you were wondering, my liver is currently on life support.

Shots this large. My liver is currently on life support.

The night ended with us trying to get a cab along with thousands of our closest SXSW friends at the exact same time, and in one of the best decisions of the trip, we eventually accepted a ride from two college guys using their van to “cab” people back home.  We didn’t get raped and murdered, so thank you, Jesus, for smiling on us that day.

The faces of genius.  Plus a dude.

The faces of genius. Plus a dude.

The next morning was when the true fuckery began.  My coworker had an allergic reaction to sleeping in mounds of dog hair (weird) and we asked the girl who rented it to us to replace/wash her shit.  She kindly told us to get the fuck out of her apartment within the next hour.   Cool, that’s a rational response, and no problem at all.  Nah, it won’t be a problem to find a hotel to stay at when every last one of them is sold out.  We set off to catch a bus half mile down the road to go downtown with all of our luggage, in the pouring rain, and did I mention there’s holes in my boots and my feet are soaked?  Just reminding you of that.  After a few hours of high blood pressure and internal screaming, AirBNB secures us another place and we’re able to drop off our shit and resume SXSW madness.

Highlights of this night included:

-Witnessing a delicate flower of a young lady take off her shirt and walk down the street tits-a-blazing, in the still pouring rain.

-Witnessing some guy running up to said girl and smacking her directly in the boob. Bitch kept right on walking without missing a beat, so whatever drugs she was on must have been the EXTRA good shit.

-Meeting a good friend who I hadn’t seen in years at The Blind Pig, and getting to catch up with her while watching a group of happy bastards from Philly dance and sing to the hits of 2001.

And also watching guys pee with abandon in front of a wide open door in the center of the bar.

And also watching guys pee  in front of a wide open door in the center of the bar.

By Sunday, I am ready to go home.  It’s been two straight nights of poisoning myself with liquor and taco meat.  I’m about to turn 30 and I can’t handle this shit anymore, okay?  My stomach is doing ungodly things and my energy levels are tapped out.  But I’m stuck another day, and I know I need to rally.  We manage a couple sessions, see an amazingly hilarious improv show, and then end up at The Driskill Hotel, and it is there that this happens:

Grace Helbig Daily Grace
That right there is Grace Helbig, aka YouTube’s Daily Grace.  I knew her and Hannah Hart (of My Drunk Kitchen) were in town for SXSW because I had been stalking their Twitter accounts the entire day (I’m levelheaded and normal), but they weren’t sharing their locations and it was pure coincidence that they were at this particular bar.  “OMG IT’S FATE!” screamed the voices in my head.  I waited .01 seconds before I ran up to her and spewed word vomit about all the shit I know about her and how I’m a big fan, then cut her off everytime she answered a question by saying, “oh yeah I knew that!”  To her extreme credit, she did not scream for help and demand that I be removed from the venue.  She smiled politely (she’s gorgeous by the way, and about 6 feet tall.  #WHATEVER) and chatted with me for a few.  Before she could make her escape I asked her if Hannah was with her cuz hey, I might as well creep her out too.  She told me she was around somewhere and called security.  But in all seriousness, Grace was sweet and humored the fuck out of me.  Grace Helbig, in case you didn’t get it the first time, I think you’re cooler than Grumpy Cat.  I’m sorry I probably (definitely) terrified you.

Eventually I saw Hannah.  But first, backstory:  My ex ran into her at The Hollywood Roosevelt weeks prior, and at my urging went up to her and told her that I’m a huge fan of hers.  She grabbed his phone and texted me drunkenly that “my boy looks like a princess” and sent me a selfie.  I asked her if she remembered that night.  She nodded and without hesitation shouted my ex’s name (because of COURSE she is going to love my ex who barely knows who she is more than me).  “I’M THAT GIRL!” I say.  She’s not nearly as excited as I am about this, but she politely converses with me for a couple seconds before heading back to her friends.  Hannah was not having it, yo.  But that’s okay.  Getting approached all the time surely gets annoying and I think I’ve proven how much of a creep I am at this point.

And for those of you wondering why I was peeing myself with glee over these two when I always say how anticlimactic it is to meet a celeb, it’s because these girls are people I admire: funny, smart, and created their own following on YouTube without the help of a record label or movie studio.  No disrespect to singers or actors — they work very hard to succeed — but they get noticed by the PUBLIC because of movies/tv or radio.  These girls do everything themselves.

And um, Hannah found a way to make cooking drunk profitable.  Kind of heroic.


Now that my night has been made, we leave the hotel and go to meet that same group of guys from the other night again.  The bar they’re at is clearly a gay bar, which is a fact they didn’t realize until they were inside.  Someone suggests we go to a strip club, because all the peen swinging was making him crave something as hetero as it comes, I guess?  I’ve never been to one before and I already know what clams look like so I adopt the let’s do DIS mentality and we go to some strip club in a sketchy looking place that was definitely not downtown.  The metal detectors at the entrance totally reassured me though.  I mean, safety first, am I right?

We are dismayed to learn that this strip club does not serve alcohol, so I hold onto my buzz as long as I can by singing along to Rihanna’s Pour It Up and watching strippers show me their fucking birth canals. We eventually get a nice little stripper to sneak us some tequila in Styrofoam cups and it’s just as delicious as you think it’s not.  I fight the urge to vomit and drunkenly tell my life story to the poor guy sitting next to me, who proceeds to dissect my entire personality.  I think.  I don’t know, I was drunk.  Because like my mom always told me, rapping serious about life is a thing best done wasted and surrounded by strippers.

My trip ended the next day with me sharing a cab on the way to the airport with the man of my dreams.  He was a Bradley Cooper look-a-like investment banker living in Chicago.  As I sat there in the cab thinking how interesting shit just got, he interjected that he was married when I asked him if he had a roommate.  Aaaaaand whomp.

Pictured: some other married guy.  They were everywhere.

Pictured: some other married guy.  Get away from me.

If you honestly read this far then wow, I think you’re great and here is a blowjay in the form of a virtual cupcake:



Heh, it looks like labia.





2 Responses to “SXSW: A Tale of Strippers, Wet Socks, YouTube Stars and Crying Livers”

  1. Meghan McLarty says:

    I forgot how good this was. You going this year?

  2. Amanda Szalasny says:

    I am SO SAD that I'm not. It was so much fun last year!

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