Need to Know: Damon Cardasis & Shannon Walker
By Mark Peikert
Say hello to Vicky and Lysander, the stars of Logo’s newest web series. A New York power couple who took a tumble down the social ladder after a fight over a shaman, she’s a kinda philanthropic socialite; he’s somewhere between Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde in terms of style and masculinity; and they’re very much in love.
The creations of Shannon Walker and Damon Cardasis, Vicky and Lysander first saw the light of day as part of an interactive show on the Lower East Side in 2010, during which audience members sat down to a meal from Mama’s while dinner party “hosts” Vicky and Lysander took them on a slideshow trip around the world while recounting hilariously awkward personal stories—think Kiki and Herb without the songs or the rage.
Now Cardasis and Walker have resurrected the toothsome twosome for “Vicky & Lysander,” a 10-episode web series that premieres on Logotv.com Dec. 19. They sat down with us to talk about keeping the absurdity alive on film, the importance of buying aloe tissues, and why Lysander had to keep his fake moustache.
Out: What prompted a return to these two characters in the form of a web series?
Shannon Walker: If we were to recreate the dinner party, it wouldn’t be the same. It was a moment in time kind of thing.
Damon Cardasis: If you brought it back and it was lackluster, that’s going to suck. Like Basic Instinct 2. But Shannon had emailed me about a web series and it just sort of hit. So this summer we started writing the episodes and running around the city and shooting it all.
SW: What was cool about the dinner party was that in the beginning for a couple of weeks, we were thinking up more and more stories about our characters. But in writing 10 scripts, some of that story went away but also new story came in.
DC: And we wanted to add new characters and show the obnoxious world that these people live in and the fools they’re friends with.
What’s the season’s arc?
DC: Vicky stops a socialite from stealing her shaman, and the socialite gets us disinvited from the Met Ball. Lysander, in the meantime, is super cool. He got a fedora, which obviously is a very hip and trendy article of clothing to have, and he starts DJing on an iPod shuffle. He’s basically the Paris Hilton. So he has this fedora and it doesn’t make sense above 14th Street, so when they get blacklisted he says that’s it, we’re moving downtown. And Lysander is like a fish to water. He’s sitting on stoops, he’s eating pizza, he’s smoking cigarettes. Meanwhile, Vicky is completely uncomfortable missing uptown and the life she used to lead, going to Barneys all the time. There’s friction between them. And on top of it, she’s trying to throw this Artists Against Inhumanity event to get her name back into society’s good graces. So it all culminates with this gala, which is the final episode.
And you kept the fake moustache?
DC: The fake moustache is very important! A) it looks absurd because it’s fake and that’s sort of the humor. And b), for me personally, I feel like it doesn’t look like me. As an artist it’s another tool, you could call it, that I use to transform myself.
SW: Lysander and Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp. The tramp is not the tramp without his too small bowler hat and his Hitler moustache.
DC: People thought I was doing it for Movember. It’s not for cancer! It’s for me.
SW: And it’s a nice personal touch that lets the audience know that this is ridiculous.
DC: We’re winking at ya! But I think the humor… it’s over the top and sometimes it takes people a bit. I would like to think it’s a specific sense of humor. It’s not totally broad. It’s for people who like Arrested Development or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That sort of crowd.
The last time you played these characters, you were pretty much at the mercy of your audience. Is it a relief to have more control now?
DC: For sure. It’s different, though. The first episode we did—we hadn’t done it for two years and the last time we’d done it was in front of a huge audience of 14 people, so you really had to project.
SW: You really had to take care of your instrument.
DC: I only drank lemon tea for weeks. But we were much more performative for the first couple of takes. Not even paying attention to the other people. And then we were like, Oh yeah, this is different. Film! It’s a smaller art. We have to talk to people instead of shout at them.
Did you have any just really awful audiences when you were doing the show?
DC: One woman at the show accused us of not knowing anything, saying it was weird watching us perform because clearly we weren’t aware of how real people with money act, because no one acted like that.
SW: “Wealthy people don’t flaunt their wealth.” I hope you readjusted!
DC: We did, we changed everything.
SW: Right then and there. We said, “Please stay, can we do the show again for you? Give us another chance to right this wrong!”
DC: We had this group called The Society that came in. It was a group of girls that pay a monthly fee or an annual fee and they throw these events you can attend for mingling with the upper echelon of society. The joke was they all had shit jobs. They did like medical device PR, which I didn’t even know was a thing. But they acted like they were at Vogue. But everything we were making fun of was what they were aiming for, so it sort of didn’t go that well.
Now, Lysander has never seemed like a gentleman who enjoys the ladies. Will his sex life with Vicky be addressed this season?
DC: Episode 9 is a beautiful coming together episode, where they discuss the first time they made love.
SW: Get your tissues ready! For crying—
DC: For masturbatory reasons.
SW: Get one of the three-packs, the ones with aloe. It’ll be good for you.
DC: You’re gonna need it.
The first episode of Vicky and Lysander is now available. Watch it below.