Interview: LES Film Fest Team Brings Web Series Back For a Second Season
Vicky & Lysander, created by LES Film Festival co-creators Shannon Walker and Damon Cardasis and produced by BFD Productions, will be returning to the world wide web for a second season next Tuesday, February 18th. After taking off as a live show based in the Lower East Side, the first season of three to five minute webisodes were sold to the LOGO network where they premiered in 2012.
Season two will be shown exclusively on YouTube. Directed and Produced by Roxy Hunt and Tony Castle, the series stars its co-writers Damon Cardasis and Shannon Walker. Contributor Royal Young recently spoke with Cardasis and Walker about the inspiration for the show and the absurdity of New York’s social circles:
Two of the founders of the Lower East Side Film Festival, Damon Cardasis and Shannon Walker, have become characters on the screen themselves. The daring duo play the outrageous, hilarious and vicious New York society couple Vicky & Lysander who work tirelessly to climb the New York social ladder.
The characters are madly in love (despite Lysander’s obsession with moisturizer) and the couple share a desperate thirst for power, hip parties and high standing in the chicest of the city’s circles. Vicky and Lysander spend their days consulting their live-in shaman about Golden Globe nominees or hanging out with their good friend, Cambodian transsexual designer Jenny. When they are blacklisted by the “uptown elite” by their nemesis Muffie Potter Astor, Vicky and Lysander must move below 14th Street in a bid for acceptance from a satirically snarky, hip and dangerous new crowd.
ROYAL YOUNG: Where does the inspiration for Vicky & Lysander come from?
DAMON CARDASIS: Me personally, I’ve always been intrigued by the supposed straight man married to a woman and she’s the only person who’s not aware of it. Shannon and I went to NYU together for acting and we had a singing teacher and one day he was talking about his workshop which was called “The Gayest Straight Man Alive” and he was like “Yeah, it’s based on my life.” He embodied every gay stereotype rolled up into one straight man.
SHANNON WALKER: In the series, Lysander is a straight man. There are subtle glances he exchanges with certain characters to suggest sexual undertones, but Lysander is a straight man.
YOUNG: I do feel like Vicky and Lysander have a strange kind of sexual connection between each other.
WALKER: Sure, yeah. Ever since Damon and I met we’ve been fascinated with deluded characters who think they’re greater than they are. Vicky and Lysander are that to the umpteenth degree.
CARDASIS: New York has plenty of them.
WALKER: Plenty of them! So many power couples, which is the most obnoxious thing to be, let alone say.
YOUNG: Growing up in New York, I was exposed to that insane art world you nail in a really great way. What’s the craziest stuff you’ve come across in terms of “power couples” or powerful people?
CARDASIS: I used to have a day job that was sort of event planning. The people that would come in with these philanthropic endeavors to plan charity events were so fucking deluded. A lot of the time they wanted to throw these events, it was usually about them rather than helping the people who needed the help. They wanted to discuss where their names would be on the flier and what friends they would invite. They’d spend $200,000 on the event and give $10,000 to starving, poor kids. It was just so asinine to me. We got invited to a party where there was a socialite who had married an 80 year-old man who dropped dead and she inherited all his money. Her new husband was gay and they were being investigated by the FBI because they had stolen from other socialites and were blackmailing people.
WALKER: When Royal asked that question, I thought of that story exactly. It’s so gross and also interesting because it’s such a stark juxtaposition of public life versus private life. Which is always interesting to me. We do it in a comedy sense, where outside everything is perfect for the public. But inside, implosion.
YOUNG: There’s a strange vulnerability when you’re so concerned with putting up a mask. You’re concerned with hiding so much or pushing so much down. I like that about Vicky and Lysander. Do you think New York culture has shifted more and more dramatically to cater to these kinds of people?
CARDASIS: This has always existed in New York — forever. Not that I’ve been around forever, but it’s in any sort of social situation [here]. You go into a small town, like, I lived in Vermont for a few years, and everyone will try to build a hierarchy. Even if there are only three people in a room. In New York you have the banking hierarchy, the celebrity world, art world, foodie world…. [laughs].
YOUNG: I’d like to talk about this idea that moving below 14th Street is a major act of rebellion [laughs].
WALKER: [laughs] Yeah it’s really just a dumb tool. Lysander does it because he is striving to be cool and find a new, young social circle. He can only do it downtown, though he couldn’t have done it ten years ago when the Lower East Side was totally different. It’s only with the advent of luxury high rises in the Lower East Side that they’re like “Oh, okay! We can live down there.”
CARDASIS: Each thing has its opposite but equally pretentious side of the coin. There are also people that are like “Oh my god, I never go above 14th Street!” as they wear their “obnoxious hat.”
YOUNG: I feel like there’s a lot of competition in the Lower East Side to hide your money. Like they bar tend every night and pretend every tip counts….
CARDASIS: Right, while Daddy pays for everything on his credit card. And you hate him for it.
YOUNG: Vicki and Lysander, in a weird way, are outcasts who are desperately trying in their own insane way to find [their] place.
WALKER: I totally agree. That’s what makes them perhaps just a little bit endearing. They are outsiders. They are underdogs in this ridiculous world, but everybody loves an underdog. Everybody wants the outsiders to either become insiders or to realize that the inside is not so lovely after all.
Here’s the Season 2 trailer: