If you caught the first season of Hungry Beast on the ABC last year, you probably took notice of Monique Schafter, whose hilarious, pointed reports on topics like fake lesbianism gave the show a welcome authentically queer voice.
Hungry Beast did come off a little haphazard at times, as 19 twenty-something presenters jostled for attention during each half-hour episode. This season, screening from February 10, sees the program streamlined as four Beasts take on studio presenting roles (Schafter included), while the remainder work in the field producing reports.
“I think it was all a bit confusing for people in the first season, with all the new faces and the fact that it was a new, eclectic show — with the mixture of serious content, funny content, and total ‘what the fuck’ content,” Schafter told Sydney Star Observer.
The show’s rapid-fire style was something of a divisive point during season one — for every Gen-Y viewer accustomed to processing bite-sized nuggets of information, there were more sedate ABC types used to the gentler pace of fare like Hetty Wainthrop Investigates.
“If you’re going to create a TV show, it’s going to have as many personalities as the people in it — in this case, 19,” Schafter said.
“But I think that’s a good thing. If you don’t like the story that’s on, you might like the next one, because it’s coming from a completely different viewpoint.”
And Schafter’s queer viewpoint is evident throughout.
“It’s been cool for me, because no one tells me what to do or say. It’s never a case of ‘Don’t say you’re gay, we’ve heard enough about that — focus on more mainstream issues’. I’m allowed to make stories on queer issues, but I always make sure I make them universal so everyone will find them interesting.”
And Schafter has a few more queer stories up her sleeve for season two.
“The main queer story I’m working on, in amongst a whole lot of other stories, is about gay conversion therapy, and people who say they have ‘unwanted’ same-sex attraction. I’m speaking to a few people who’ve been through the therapy, and I’ll be interviewing people who say they’ve been ‘cured’ of their same-sex attraction.”
While Hungry Beast takes up much of her time, Schafter still finds time to rock out at nights with her side project as one-half of lesbian electro duo The Kill Room alongside bandmate Rhia Moulds. The pair has some big gigs lined up at both Mardi Gras and Midsumma. What should people expect from their high-profile festival slots?
“Colourful costumes, novelty props, really bad dance moves! It’s nice to have that on the side as a bit of a release from all the high-pressure TV stuff.”
info: Season 2 of Hungry Beast screens on ABC at 9pm, February 10. Visit www.abc.net.au/hungrybeast The Kill Room play the Girl Thing Mardi Gras after-party on February 27. Visit www.myspace.com/thekillroomsongs
Monique Schafter … ABC journalist by day, electro-shock rocker by night.