'My Drunk Kitchen' YouTube Star Pens Essays About Her Past In 'Buffering'
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Maybe this sounds familiar. You've had a stressful day. You come home from work to make dinner or, this time of year, maybe some Christmas cookies. And when you're cooking, you pour yourself a drink - maybe two, maybe three.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
HANNAH HART: Well, hello. Welcome to "My Drunk Kitchen."
MARTIN: Hannah Hart does this for a living. Her YouTube series, "My Drunk Kitchen," started about five years ago. She shot a video on her laptop in her sister's kitchen. She was tipsy, cooking grilled cheese. And she forgot a not-so-minor ingredient.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
HART: So in this little cooking adventure, I don't actually have any cheese. So don't do that. Make sure you have - make sure you have cheese in your house.
MARTIN: The Food Network it is not, but "My Drunk Kitchen" has won millions of fans. We thought of Hart because it is the holidays, and people are doing a lot of cooking, making, say, eggnog.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
HART: Cinnamon - check. Nutmeg? I barely know Meg. I have cumin. (Singing) I am cumin and I need to be loved.
MARTIN: Hannah Hart joined us from our studios at NPR West.
HART: Hi, Rachel. How are you doing?
MARTIN: I'm good. Hannah, are you drinking right now?
HART: God, no. It's...
MARTIN: OK, just checking.
HART: ...The morning time (laughter).
MARTIN: I didn't know if the libations extended to radio interviews or you just...
HART: Oh, no.
MARTIN: ...Keep them to the kitchen.
HART: Well, I think it's pretty funny because the number-one assumption is that, you know, I'm a huge fan of drinking. But the honest truth is I'm just a lightweight, you know?
HART: I just - it only takes me, like, a glass or two of wine, and I am having a great time.
HART: I made "My Drunk Kitchen" back when I had moved from San Francisco to New York. I was a proofreader at a translation firm. And one of my friends was having a downswing in her depression, and so I sent her a funny video to make her laugh. And then I discovered a whole community of people that wanted me to make funny videos to make them laugh and sincere videos to make them think. And so now I have my channel, Harto, and I get to do "My Drunk Kitchen." I get to do an interview series I called "Tunesday," where you interview people and you sing. You improvise, over royalty-free tracks, your answers.
HART: Yeah, that's a lot of fun. Yeah.
MARTIN: Let's talk a little bit more about your background because it's definitely something that you end up sharing a lot about, and it's not all funny, for sure.
HART: (Laughter). Well, you know what they say - truth, comedy, comedians, starkness, blah, blah, blah.
HART: I believe that is exactly what they say. There might be some hyphens in there.
MARTIN: Yeah, it's a direct quote. Your mom, you write in your latest book, which is called "Buffering" - and in it, you do write about growing up with a mother who's schizophrenic.
HART: Yeah, I mean, you know, I actually - fun fact - it's actually pretty good to avoid the term schizophrenic because it's - it's not PC. It's like defining somebody by their illness, you know? You don't call somebody with cancer a cancer, right? So someone who suffers from psychosis or schizoaffective disorders, they don't - it doesn't get better with time. So we grew up with a pretty - as I later found out - unique upbringing, which, as a child at the time, you do not think it is unique.
You think it is - it is the entire world (laughter). And then - yeah, and then I - you know, unfortunately, my mom's illness got worse, and she had a period of time of homelessness. And my sister and I have always been very conscious of trying to, you know, save our mother's life. And the reality is - is that the mental health system is - it's not broken. There's just a giant, gaping hole because here I am, an educated, white, wealthy, famous person, and it was incredibly hard to get my mother into care.
MARTIN: So like you mentioned, you've used your platform to talk about a whole range of issues. And you talk about personal things. I want to play a clip because this was something that got a whole lot of attention. This is you talking publicly about coming out. Let's listen to this, and we'll talk on the other side.
(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)
HART: OK, so this is part one of the - hopefully - you know, series of my experience coming out being gay. Let's dive right in, kids. One of the number-one questions you guys give me is...
MARTIN: What was the process building up to that like?
HART: Oh, my God. You know, what's so funny is that I think I posted that video in 2012. And, you know, I write about the coming-out process in "Buffering: Unshared Tales Of A Life Fully Loaded" in depth. Like, I really go into it. I go into my homophobia, my father's religion, all this kind of, like, ingrained self-loathing, self-hate, denial stuff. And when I tried to condense it into that video, you know, it took me three times to record it, and I never watched it again.
MARTIN: Oh, really?
HART: It's still very raw because it was just something I tried to fight against so long - like, actively. Like, I tried to pray the gay away. It was just kind of, like, with everything that had gone on in our lives - trigger warning - like, you know, abuse and my sister's suicide - my stepsister's suicide. Like, with all this stuff that had really gone down, the last thing I wanted was to be gay. Are you kidding me (laughter)? So that - that process was long and involved.
MARTIN: What was the response to it? I mean, I'm sure you heard all kinds of stories from young people.
HART: Oh, man - phenomenal. It's just so great. You know, not only from young people, but one of the - one of the responses that really stuck out to me was I got this email from this, like, dad in Nebraska. And he was saying, we've been watching you online for - as a family, and we never knew you were a lesbian. And we don't approve of homosexuality, but you've really given us something to think about. And I was like, what? Here I had subversively, you know, broadened their minds because they didn't know that this friendly little person they liked in the kitchen happened to be a raging lesbian (laughter), you know?
MARTIN: What does the title mean to you now that you're in this different place? The word buffering is an evocative word, and it means something about getting to a place but not arriving. Are you still buffering?
HART: That's a good question. You know, buffering is that time where you are processing data, right? Buffering's that boundary - that little spinning wheel, that boundary that your computer puts up saying, I'm not ready to show you this yet. I'm still processing, and I'm working on it. I think that the issues I write about in "Buffering" are matters that I have come to terms with in a - in a new way, and I'm ready to move on to the next stage of my life. I'm ready to take child Hannah and take child self and be like, you did a great job, you know? Here you go. I'm an adult now. I'm going to take it from here.
MARTIN: Hannah Hart. You can find her on YouTube. She's also got a new book out called "Buffering: Unshared Tales Of A Life Fully Loaded." Hannah, thanks so much.
HART: Of course. Thanks for having me.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.