In conversation with

Alice Levine

Podcast co-host My Dad Wrote a Porno

Alice Levine My Dad Wrote A Porno

Introduction

Introduction

Alice Levine has funny bones. A conversation with the Radio 1 DJ is a rollercoaster of accents, impressions, observations and gags. Thankfully we’re all in on her jokes – Alice hates nothing more than excluding people with humour, and a good radio show is all about making listeners feel they’re part of a crew. If you’ve ever seen somebody in hysterics on the tube, chances are that they’re listening to the podcast Alice hosts with her two friends. My Dad Wrote a Porno is a live reading of a series of erotic novels that centres around a pot-and-pans industry worker called Belinda. Penned by Rocky Flintstone (a pseudonym for the father of Alice’s co-host) the stories feature three-inch nipples, vaginal lids, rivulets of liquid running down women’s legs and absurd chapters on the admin of running an office. Beyond Belinda, Alice loves Kirsty Young, Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin (even when he’s interviewing himself).

Question and Answer

What stories did you engage with as a child?

I loved Judy Blume. I think I thought it was really candid but it was actually probably quite euphemistic. I liked a bit of Anne Fine in my younger years. I enjoyed My So Called Life on TV – I liked the angst of that. Do you remember Round the Twist? That weird, Aussie programme which really unnerved me. I think I used to like watching stuff that was a bit older, especially anything funny – I watched Faulty Towers and Ab Fab a lot.

Judy Blume Freckle Juice
Mina Holland reads Mannne by Kenny Jones with her dog

Were you a funny child?

I think I was precocious and I liked getting a laugh. I remember calling my dad Ken and people were like: “it’s so funny she doesn’t call you dad”. I used to do a Lloyd Grossman impression that I was really proud of – that was part of my repertoire. It was very on-brand at the time as he was on Masterchef and quite big.

“A good radio show is one where you feel like you’re in a gang but nobody feels excluded”

After years at Radio 1 how would you define a good radio show?

A good radio show is one where you feel like you’re in a gang but nobody feels excluded – you need a certain amount of in-jokes to make you feel like you’re in a clan but it’s tricky not to stray into territory where people are isolated. You have to be a warm presence.

Which are your favourites?

Russell Brand on Radio X – he’s got a gang of people in a chat format and it’s so good. He does that thing of it feeling chaotic but it’s always getting to something funny or going somewhere new. I really like Sarah Cox doing anything. And I love Kirsty on Desert Island Discs. I’ve been listening to Sue Lawley and she had such a different style to Kirsty who I feel just melts everyone. Sue has the accusatory tone in everything she does. She was interviewing Hugh Grant in the era of him dating Elizabeth Hurley and she just went: “you really are the favour of the month aren’t you Hugh?” She put everyone on the back foot and was such a disciplinarian with the rules.

Alice Levine Home
Alice Levine Home

What’s been the biggest surprise with your podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno?

This sounds ludicrously big-headed but I always thought it was a really good idea. I always doubt myself with creative ideas but with this I thought ‘no, this is actually really good.’ The thing that did surprise me was how quickly things can really take off.

Who are some of your favourite characters from Rocky Flintstone's story?

I like Helga because she wears all these woolens and lives in a hutch in Dr Robertson’s office. Belinda herself is pretty incredible. She really confuses people – they aren’t sure if she’s an ultimate feminist icon or just like a bit of a mess, and probably can be both. I just like the world – the idea that this is what’s going on in the pots and pans industry still makes me laugh. In the Christmas special last year they had an office Christmas party in lots of conjoining rooms in pots and pans HQ where they microwaved mulled wine. All the mundane details are so good.

My Dad Wrote a Porno
"This sounds ludicrously big-headed but I always thought it was a really good idea"

Are there any boundaries with the jokes?

We don’t like to be mean-spirited. I find mean humour quite hard to laugh at because I just feel a bit dirty and bad afterwards – I mean you do feel dirty after listening to our podcast but for different reasons. I really wanted to work in comedy but was always too scared to make that leap, so I think we’ve carved out a niche where we’re working in comedy but also no one can have us for it – I never said I was a comedian!

Alice Levine

Is there one episode that stands out for you?

The first one gives you all the context but my favourite episode is first series, third episode. It’s just an admin chapter – about booking meeting rooms, how you can’t get a taxi because the office is right next to Heathrow and the minimum fare is too low. There’s no sex in it and it just shows you the inner working of Rocky Flintstone’s mind. He’s genuinely concerned with making it a business manual as well as a sexy book. It’s so, so boring but I do think it’s so funny because we get half way through it and we’re like “what is going on?!”

What about any specific line?

The duchess’ nipples are described as “three inch rivets that held the hull of the fateful Titanic”. You’re thinking about someone’s nipples but then hundreds died so you’re like – thanks for taking me out of the moment. I think Rocky single handedly put the cervix back on the map. He pre-dated Trump grabbing the pussy, because Rocky grabbed the cervix which is more reprehensible surely and also, without specialist equipment, highly dangerous.

“The duchess' nipples are described as “three inch rivets that held the hull of the fateful Titanic””

What other podcasts do you listen to?

My Favourite Murder – it’s two friends who present a different true crime case to each other every week and they also just chat to each other amongst it. They don’t really self-censor; they have a thing called corrections corner where each week they just say “oh we got this wrong”. I think it’s quite a good way with dealing with this stuff because if your intention is not to offend and you’re going to try and find the right words or the best terms then that’s the best you can do, isn’t it? I really like Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, though his interview style often creeps into just interviewing himself. Making Oprah is really good. The Butterfly Effect is about the ripple effect of the commodification and digitalisation of porn. It’s really interesting and that’s a different take on porn to us!

Previous Story
Ally Betker Away
Ally Betker

Editor-in-Chief Here Magazine by Away

Next Story
Mina Holland
Mina Holland

Editor Guardian Feast, author The Edible Atlas and Mama

Articles

Featured storytellers

View all

Sign up to our newsletter