“One night we were walking in Williamsburg and he said, ‘I cannot do this with you, because it’s as though I have a broken leg and I could … I could lean on you for a while, put the crutches aside, and we could walk a while together, but, at some point, I’d become too heavy for you and you would leave me, and I would have no crutches, and I would have no you… And I protested and said that’s not what I would do, but. It very well might have been, I just didn’t get the chance to see if that’s what would have happened, because he broke up with me.”
horizontal with lila is the podcast about intimacy (sex, love, and relationships of all kinds) that’s entirely recorded while lying down. At the end of every episode, in a nod to bedtime stories — another horizontal tradition — I ask my guest to tell me a story.
This quickie episode of horizontal was recorded live at my launch party on May 21st, 2017, at Hacienda Studio, the sex-positive event space in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It was the pilot event (with a little extra launch-day snazziness) for a series I’ll be hosting called Horizontal Storytelling. Instead of a long-form conversation, the horizontal storytellers lie down with me and tell me a single tale, while wearing robes. Naturally.
I will not turn away other forms of pajamas, but robes are always preferable.
Guests can choose a story about anything that relates to the topic of intimacy — it can be hilarious, ridiculous, grief-stricken, transcendent, glorious, conflicting, or sweet. The only thing I ask is that they feel compelled to tell it.
Later, I release these stories as short, stand-alone episodes, or, quickies.
When it came time to tell my own story, I asked for a volunteer from the audience, and, at first, no one raised their hand! “No one?!” I asked incredulously. To be fair, they didn’t know exactly what they were volunteering for when I said, “Can I have a volunteer to lie down with me?” They were probably scared that I’d put them on the spot and insist on a story, now that they’d assumed the position. At the end of the night, I did actually ask if any brave souls would like to jump in bed and tell a spontaneous tale, but, surprisingly to me, no one wanted to. (If I were in the audience, I would have spent the whole night thinking of the stories that I had to tell. And if the host invited, I’d be raising my hand like when I was in fifth grade. Hard. Insistently.) After a few seconds, four or five people did volunteer, and I invited Becca, my former AcroYoga co-teacher and longtime friend. What I didn’t consciously realize until I was well into my story was that I’d introduced Becca to Patrick years ago. She helped him. She treated him. She gave him Medical Qigong (energy medicine). She had actually played a part in the story. That moved me tremendously.
I don’t have many requirements when I choose a guest for horizontal. I don’t need my guests to be well-known. I don’t care if they’re in the process of marketing something, although it’s all right if they are. I don’t need them to have specific achievements, or a “brand” or a “following.” My requirements are 1) Do I find them fascinating? and 2) Do I want to lie down next to them? There are some people I find fascinating whom I wouldn’t want to share a pillow with. (However, usually, if I’m willing to lie down next to someone, I probably find them at least a little bit fascinating.)
Setting the scene: Guests at my podcast launch pajama party enjoyed reiki, massage, empathy sessions, and cookies with an array of milk options upon arrival. (I told you it was snazzy.) After a brief cuddling tutorial from my housemate Tiger, a professional Cuddlist, fifty people in kimonos, flannels, onesies, and short-shorts got horizontal and snuggly on an enormous Megabed the size of three king mattresses put together, while, on a bed-island across the room, Becca and I arranged ourselves as we would for any horizontal recording session — lying on our backs, almost ear-to-ear, sharing a pillow, microphones hanging down above us, with a starry blanket as our backdrop…
Since I am my own guest for this episode, I’m going to switch to third person and try to introduce myself like I’ve introduced my other guests. It’s a little odd to write your own bio — though actors are used to it — but it’s actually a very interesting thought exercise. (It’s also delightful to write an Anti-Bio, with the express purpose of revealing all the things that one wouldn’t want be printed in a Playbill, but I’ll leave that for another time.)
In this episode, I lie down with Lila Donnolo. Lila is the host of horizontal with lila, a new podcast about intimacy.
Lila is quite serious about aesthetics and costuming, and so all of her episodes are recorded while lying down, wearing robes.
horizontal is a top 25 podcast in Sexuality, a 5-star podcast on iTunes, and has had 20,000 downloads since it’s launch a few months back. In horizontal, Lila turns the interview genre on its ear by making each episode more of a conversation, revealing her own stories and sharing her own intimacies. She believes that as she makes “private conversations public, intimacy becomes contagious.”
Lila has a BFA with Honors in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts / Experimental Theatre Wing. As a theatre actress, her main interest is in immersive theatre—
immersive theatre (noun) = a type of performance that allows the audience unparalleled opportunities to interact directly with performers, sometimes in very close quarters, oftentimes affecting the narrative through their responses, cultivating a near-magical opportunity for the audience to feel as though they are participants, totally immersed in the world (or worlds) of the play.
Lila is a yoga teacher and a bodyworker. You can find her teaching at Crunch gyms and the Manhattan Plaza Health Club in New York City. For more information about private sessions and bodywork, email firstname.lastname@example.org
She is about to embark on a cross-country podcast recording tour in the fall of 2017. If you’d like her to visit your city, or know someone who would be an excellent horizontal guest, contact her here!
This quickie is about a best friend, a road trip, several fiances, a suicide, and a breakup.
Show Notes (feel free to share quotes/resources on social media, and please link to my iTunes, this website, or my Patreon!):
website link: https://horizontalwithlila.com/
Patreon link (the crowdsourcing of patronage!): https://www.patreon.com/horizontalwithlila
[1:08] Recorded live at podcast launch pajama party
[2:17] Meeting my best friend. Watching Dangerous Beauty still a favorite film, about a sixteenth-century courtesan, based on a true story.
[3:00] Becoming roommates in a Greenpoint railroad apartment.
[3:27] “We were in our early 20s and we used to joke that being in our early 20s was about seeing each other be good in bad plays, and overhearing each other have sex.” – Lila
[3:50] Lila on siblings.
[5:06] “She was always in love. She was always finding ‘the one,’ but didn’t recognize, you know, after ten ‘the ones,’ this one is not the one either.” – Lila
[5:20] Our cross-country road trip.
[5:57] “She couldn’t stand — I realized much, much later — whenever I was the shiny one. She was the shiny one. She was the one wearing glitter and, you know, being cute, and I was the one who had to tell the guys to go away. That was my role in our relationship, which I don’t enjoy because I like being shiny myself.” – Lila
[6:30] How paying for the trip affected our relationship.
[7:00] Meeting her fiance. (Three or four fiances ago.)
[7:24] Traveling for a year, burned out.
[8:10] What happened when she convinced me to visit her in Bend while I was burned out.
[8:55] Picking up her wedding dress from her ex-boyfriend’s cabin.
[9:45] Meeting Patrick on Nerve.
[10:23] What afflicted Patrick.
[14:05] “And when I reached out to him, feeling the most, he called it ‘newborn baby fawn raw,’ just so … un-worthwhile and depleted and disappointed in myself and exhausted and he wrote me the most incredible email — he talked with me on the phone, and then he wrote me this incredible email, and at the end he said, ‘You are wonderful and you will remember it. Soon.’” – Lila
[14:50] Facebook post, “Patrick Kelly is grateful. So grateful.” I wrote, “And loved, also loved.” A few days later, notification of another comment on the thread: RIP.
[16:04] “How do you find out if someone has died?” – Lila
[16:48] The phone conversation I had with my best friend after I called the coroner’s office.
[18:00] “Lila, he’s dead. And if you were meant to be together, he wouldn’t be.”
[19:56] “I want to know — what’s the word for breakup, when it’s with a friend.” – Lila
[20:32] When my mom was in the ICU and she was supposed to drive me to the airport.
Becca: Maybe more death than breakup.
Lila: Friend death. That’s what it is.
Becca: That it’s harder to grieve for someone who’s still alive.