‘I’m a curious bitch’: Teddy Quinlivan on her new no-holds-barred podcast
From trans rights and racial inequality, to death, dick pics, and Drag Race drama, the iconic model goes everywhere in Unholy & Curious
It’s 8pm on a dark, miserable night in late February, and Teddy Quinlivan is dialling in from LA. The iconic – and famously outspoken – model is on the phone to talk about her new podcast, Unholy & Curious, in which she and a bunch of friends share morsels of gossip, invaluable life advice, and basically put the world to rights. With Violet Chachki, Jeremy Scott, and Christian Siriano all appearing on the show so far, the show flits from hard-hitting issues like racial inequality and trans rights to death, dick pics, and Drag Race drama.
Having made her indelible mark on fashion strutting the runway for Prada, Vuitton, Gucci, and Dior (to name just a few), the move into broadcasting makes sense. Where plenty of models are content with their face being the focus, Quinlivan has never shied away from making her opinions known (as anyone who follows her on IG will be fully aware). “Throughout my whole career, I’ve had a really big fucking mouth – it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble,” she laughs. “And I’m a curious bitch. So here we are.”
Calling podcasts a “a middle finger to cancel culture”, Quinlivan was inspired to start one as she felt it was a place she could go deep on matters without worrying about being hounded off social media. “I was sick of having to run to Instagram to raise awareness about issues that I felt were important, and Twitter is so toxic,” she says. “Podcasts are a good place to discuss things that are kind of off-limits elsewhere.”
With episode four dropping earlier this month, Quinlivan explains it’s not just about spotlighting her famous fashion cohorts. “The most recent one is actually with a friend of mine who’s just a normal trans girl. Some of the most interesting people I know aren’t necessarily famous or super successful in one field or another – they’re just amazing people with interesting ideas,” she reveals.
Here, Quinlivan talks Diet Prada, the art of the dick pic, and her ultimate Unholy & Curious guest.
So first of all, do you listen to other podcasts? What are your faves?
Teddy Quinlivan: I listen to a bunch of other podcasts, but I think my sort of ‘gateway’ into them was Joe Rogan’s pod – which was obviously a very controversial, right-wing, conservative talk show platforming all these crazy people. I felt compelled to listen to it to see what all the commotion was about. Then I got on to H3, which is sort of like an internet culture commentary podcast which is really funny. There’s this one called Frenemies with Trisha Paytas, who’s kind of like a living meme. And another one I’ve really started to enjoy is Red Scare – it’s these two girls in New York City who have this very anti-PC take not just on living in NY, but a bunch of hot topics.
So what are you looking for in your listening material?
Teddy Quinlivan: I would say I’ve always been very drawn to this idea of, like, controversy in the realm of public opinion. A lot of mainstream media is so sanitised and censored, and I think the best thing about podcasts is that they’re sort of like a middle finger to cancel culture, a place to discuss things that are kind of off-limits elsewhere. I think people are in desperate need of, like, refreshing honesty. I would rather listen to somebody’s honest opinion than somebody’s formulaic, deceptive, virtue-signalling, you know? I think honesty, whether you agree with it or disagree with it, is what shines through in a good podcast.
Why Unholy & Curious?
Teddy Quinlivan: Well, obviously I’m trans, and growing up Catholic I’ve always been treated my whole life like I was very ungodly. It used to really haunt me that no matter what I did, no matter how well I acted, I would always be going straight to hell for something I couldn’t control. I ended up just thinking okay, I’m unholy by their definition, whatever. And then curious… you know, I’m just a stupid whore on a journey, trying to understand the world! I’m just a model who has, throughout my whole career, had a really big fucking mouth, and it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble – I’ve really ruffled a lot of feathers! But I just sort of felt like, if there’s anything that’s been a constant in my life, it’s that I stand up for myself, and I have an opinion that might differ beyond the norm. And I wanted to create a space for myself to share those opinions and have it not be in such a cringe-y context. I was sick of having to run to Instagram to raise awareness about issues that I felt were important, and Twitter is so toxic – are you on Twitter?
Yes – it’s a hellscape.
Teddy Quinlivan: Exactly! I’m scared that I’ll destroy my life for sharing my opinions on Twitter. So I was like ‘Where can I have these conversations and not be attacked for it?’, and a podcast felt like a good place to do that. And it’s unholy and I’m a curious bitch. So here we are.
“I’m just a stupid whore on a journey, trying to understand the world! I’m just a model who has, throughout my whole career, had a really big fucking mouth, and it’s gotten me in a lot of trouble. I’ve really ruffled a lot of feathers” – Teddy Quinlivan
So far, you’ve had Violet Chachki, Jeremy Scott, and Christian Siriano on the podcast. Why these three?
Teddy Quinlivan: These are people I’ve had amazing experiences with, who have their own incredible experiences and stories and journeys. It’s like, why not have them share a little bit of their wisdom with the world? Why not open up this very exclusionary world – fashion – to everybody, by having a conversation I’d normally have with Violet at a party or Jeremy at a dinner or backstage or whatever? Hopefully, some little boy or girl who’s obsessed with fashion gets the opportunity to listen, and it inspires them, or they learn something, or they feel better about the fact that you can fail a million times and have to sleep in the Paris Metro and still become a legendary artist and designer. I think those stories are important for people to see and hear – you know, with social media, people think you just snap your fingers and you get famous overnight, and that’s really not the case. It’s important to recognise the roads the likes of Violet and Jeremy have travelled to get to where they are now.
You mention in one of the episodes that you would love to get Kate Moss on the show. What would you want to ask her?
Teddy Quinlivan: Oh god, there’s a million things I would ask Kate Moss. Like, I’d definitely want to know why she thought she was successful. She’s got one of the most legendary faces of all time. But there’s something about her… this sort of essence of coolness oozes from her, that goes way beyond the way she looks. She’s able to portray this attitude that nobody else is able to portray in every single photo she’s ever taken. There’s something almost supernatural about her energy and her beauty – she has a once-in-a-millennium face. There are so many beautiful girls, but Kate… she’s something else. When they say that aliens are just walking among us and we don’t know who they are, she’s definitely one of them.
It’s so true, she has this almost indescribable aura around her. Have you ever met her?
Teddy Quinlivan: I’ve never met her but I saw her outside Calvin Klein on Madison Avenue maybe like a year ago with Lila (Moss, her daughter). She looked so cool, just smoking a cigarette outside the store. And I walked past her and I didn’t make eye contact, because how do you stare a legend like that in the eyes and not have a mental breakdown?
So you still get starstruck?
Teddy Quinlivan: Oh my god, of course. Another time I encountered her is a funny story actually. I was in this club called Silencio at Paris Fashion Week, and I was sitting in this booth. Some guy who worked there came up to me and said ‘Do you mind moving seats? This table is now reserved’. And I was pissed because I’m a successful model (laughs), so I was like ‘Okay, who the fuck is sitting at this table then? Like, who am I moving for?’ And it was Kate Moss. I got out of that seat so fast girl – seriously, anything for that queen.
The episode you have Violet (Chachki) on is a really fun one – I was screaming when you were trading dick pic stories. So I wanted to ask: what’s the worst dick pic you’ve ever received? And what makes a good one?
Teddy Quinlivan: God, I honestly get so many. I feel like a lot of guys open conversations with them, especially if you’ve been ignoring them for a while. They’ll think they can win you over with a good dick pic. I don’t know what makes a bad one – I guess like, just an ugly dick? I’m all for body positivity but maybe don’t send dick pics if your dick isn’t all that. Also like, I know what a big dick looks like, you don’t need to hold obscure objects next to your penis for a size comparison. A coffee cup? How am I meant to know if that’s a venti cup, a grande cup, or a tall cup? Dick pics are like e-commerce or eBay, though: it might look good in the photos, but until it’s there in person, you can’t be 100 per cent sure of the quality.
You’ve talked about cancel culture and you go in-depth on the topic in the episode with Jeremy (Scott). How do you think this is going to evolve? And do you think we’ll move past this era?
Teddy Quinlivan: It’s kind of wild right? You know, take Diet Prada. At the beginning I think it was sort of based in something great, pointing out similarities between collections in a non-accusatory way – like, what if it was a mistake or what if they were taking inspiration from it? It created this really interesting dialogue around the creative process, but then it just totally snowballed into calling people out and cancelling them – and now of course they’re getting sued by Dolce & Gabbana which I think will be a very interesting case in Italy. I’m curious as to whether they’re going to win it or not.
I think this evolution to them being held up as fashion journalists is something I find difficult to comprehend. Like, they’re not journalists, they don’t verify anything. They don’t request comments, for example. When they were criticising Jeremy (Scott) and saying that he stole from a student, they didn’t reach out to him, and I think that’s where the problem lies – they’ve perpetuated this idea that calling someone out is acceptable without paying attention to the due process. And I think the unfortunate thing about cancel culture, as well, is that it sort of dilutes things. If you’re calling someone racist because they did a hairstyle that you think is cultural appropriation, and then use that same term to describe somebody who’s actually a white supremacist and encourages acts of violence against people of colour, it dilutes the term racist.
I think Diet Prada is an example of a popular Instagram account that has gained notoriety because of this toxic culture, and it’s very addictive. I mean, I was totally sucked in at the beginning – when I was 21 or 22, all I wanted to do was make the world a better place. But what you realise as you get older is that we’re complex individuals – we didn’t emerge from the primordial goo enlightened and, like, woke. Enlightenment is something you learn through experience, and it takes some people longer than others. And the way we’re going to get them there is not by making them feel persecuted for thinking differently, or that they’re stupid or racist or mysogynistic. You need to be able to bring these people into the conversation and give them a safe space to express themselves – even if you absolutely do not agree with them. But you have to open them up and have these discussions for things to change. And that’s kind of what I want to do with my podcast – I want people to come on and have the chance to say what they have to say.
“A lot of mainstream media is so sanitised and censored, and I think the best thing about podcasts is that they’re sort of like a middle finger to cancel culture, a place to discuss things that are kind of off-limits elsewhere” – Teddy Quinlivan
Would you like to get Diet Prada on the pod? There could be a mega interesting conversation here…
Teddy Quinlivan: I would love to have Diet Prada come on the show to discuss cancel culture and their role in it and what they do. You know, this is a great example of a guest that I would love to have on while disagreeing with them. I’m curious to talk to them about it. I’d also be curious to have Candace Owens on the show, she’s crazy. Like, I would love to talk to her about her political opinions. I think it would be really interesting that I’m coming at this with the perspective of someone who’s not an intellect, I never went to college. I’m just a model who’s been interested in a wide range of issues my whole life, and I just want to be able to learn and grow and take people on that journey with me.
Is there anything that’s off limits on Unholy & Curious? Or are you going everywhere?
Teddy Quinlivan: Oh we’re going everywhere, but one thing is that if I criticise somebody, I want to make sure I’m criticising them legitimately and not over something that’s superficial and vapid. I don’t think it’s okay to be mean for being mean’s sake – and anyway, if someone’s a shitty person and they’re also ugly on top of that, don’t worry about it, you know. People have eyes.
Who else can we expect to see on the show?
Teddy Quinlivan: The latest episode is actually with a friend of mine who’s just a normal trans girl, because even though I’ve had these amazing guests on, some of the most interesting people I know aren’t necessarily famous or super successful in one field or another – they’re just amazing people with interesting ideas. So I’m having my friend on, which feels very important right now. There’s so much going on in the world in terms of trans rights, particularly in the US where they’re trying to legislate trans bodies and whether we’re allowed to practice sports and athletics in school, or receive access to medical care. It’s going to be two stupid whores talking about trans issues.
Otherwise, I have Amanda Lepore coming on – she’s amazing – and Nadia Lee Cohen, who’s an incredible photographer, is going to be on one, too. There are a few others, but the guest line-up is kind of up in the air right now – it’s sort of like whichever one of my cool friends is available that week. It will be a good mix of legendary people and friends who don’t need a publicist to go over everything they say. I loved the episode with Violet because we basically just got to kiki, whereas with Jeremy I was SO nervous. It’s very hard to talk about all the sick, twisted shit I want to with someone like that (laughs).
Would you ever think about turning it into a TV talk show? You could oust Ellen…
Teddy Quinlivan: Oh I would love to, but I don’t think I’d cut it – my mouth is too dirty, and the things I want to talk about are too dirty. I was watching The Drew Barrymore Show recently, and she’s like the sweetest, kindest lady. She’s amazing. But it is slightly dull, because she’s not talking about anything super compelling. I’d love to be more like Bill Maher. I mean, he’s obviously way more educated than me and has an incredible history of being a stand-up comic, whereas I am not a comic, I’m just a stupid bitch with an opinion. But there are very few people that are reasonable about issues, and I think I could be a voice of reason.
Listen to Unholy & Curious here, and follow Teddy Quinlivan on Instagram here if you know what’s good for you.