Amy Stephenson on Hustling, Basically, and Hunting Down that Blush
Amy Stephenson is a curly-haired human female living in San Francisco. She’s the host of Shipwreck, a contributing editor for Hoodline, and the Director of General Shenaniganery at Booksmith. You can find her on your platform of choice as LoserTakesAll.
When people ask what do you do, you tell them… ?
I start off stammering about being a bookseller but also running events and writing for a local news blog and other odd things and eventually I come around to saying, “Basically, I hustle.” Lately, though, I’m getting a lot of “Oh, YOU’RE the one who does Shipwreck,” and then I’m usually off the hook.
What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?
Finding the perfect blush. But also feelings. Experiencing and communicating in a way that’s authentic, without worrying that I owe people an explanation for being whatever I am. I struggle with anxiety and depression and perfectionism and body dysmorphia and impostor syndrome and a zillion other things creeping in corners.
Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
Sometimes I wear heels, and sometimes I slouch, and sometimes I wear heels and I slouch.
We all get high on our own personal haterade, as an Internet Friend once put it. I try my best not to.
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
Watching this girl dance.
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
There was someone on my Dad’s side who invented a kind of steam locomotive. I’m a direct descendent of his brother. “Stephenson bloodline inventions: Steam Locomotive; Live Erotic Fanfiction Show”
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
I wanted to be a writer. I let go of that notion for a long time, because it seemed so impractical and unattainable. I’d been doing the Hoodline gig for probably a year by the time I realized, “Oh, I am a paid writer,” and almost fainted.
Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.
Sure. First, I have, like, ten gins. Then, I probably start to cry. By that point, I’m assuming you’ve gone to bed, so I’ll most likely be on the couch playing video games in my underpants.
What’s wrong with society today?
Student loans. Okay, maybe that’s just what’s wrong with my life.
Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?
I was on Fluoxetine, the generic Prozac, for several years, and I came off it a few months ago. At first everything tasted metallic, and I felt awesome all the time, and then I cried for two weeks straight. Eventually, that levelled out, and for a while I stopped having moods, instead I had temper tantrums, like, my neighbors would move a signed UPS slip off the door, trying to be nice, and I would have an utter meltdown, sobbing and swearing revenge, and then be completely find five minutes later.
It’s been a wild ride.
What is your fondest memory?
When my husband got back from Iraq. The first time I deadlifted over 200lbs. Standing on my balcony in Anchorage, Alaska drinking tea and realizing the motherfucking Iditarod was going by on the street below. My Dad’s reaction every time he got offered pot on Haight Street. The first time I stepped onto a stage in New York to host Shipwreck. Realizing that I deserve all of it.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
Every time I look at my cat.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
All I’ll say is: If it weren’t for stories, I’d have never escaped.
When you have sex, what are some of the things you like to do?
I live on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, and it’s always been my goal to have some derelict on the street yell back. So far, no luck in six years, so, obviously, I’m crushing it.
What are you working on right now?
Casey and I are working on a Shipwreck book manuscript (Grand Central, October 2016), which is unreal and so exciting. Also, meditating regularly. Complimenting more women in public bathrooms. Hunting down that blush.
If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?
For fuck’s sake, give me a thunderstorm. Also, I guess, patch up that faultline.
A night on the town: what does that mean to you?
An apartment filled with hilarious people telling loud stories, good scotch, video games, 3am grilled cheese. Sometimes it also means a dive bar, and being the only ones dancing at the dive bar.
What are some of your favorite smells?
Onions sauteeing in butter, plus or minus garlic. Aberlour 16. New York.