'Thirst Aid Kit' Duo on Slate Podcast Relaunch, #MeToo Era Impact

Thirst Aid Kit podcast - Slate - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of Slate

Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins, who relaunched the podcast Thursday, also discuss "thirst object of the week" Dan Levy and "patron saint of the show" Keanu Reeves.

Thirst Aid Kit, a buzzy pop culture podcast hosted by Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins, came to an end in January after BuzzFeed announced the shuttering of its podcast business and its future was uncertain. Nine months later, it has relaunched on Slate, bringing back conversations about crushes, desire, womanhood, and, of course, plenty of Keanu Reeves. 

On the podcast, Adewunmi, Perkins and their loyal listeners — known as thirst-buckets — discuss the most attractive people in pop culture, write fan faction for their "thirst object of the week," recommend new crushes for "expanding the palate" through their "Thirst Sommelier" segment and welcome special (sometimes A-list) guests. In the first episode back, which dropped Thursday morning, the two turn to their attention to the current object of their affection: Schitt's Creek star Dan Levy. 

"Dan is a very specific kind of hot person; Nicole and I talk a lot about having a 'competency kink,' which is when people are incredibly good at their jobs, it makes them hot, and he in particular is so good at comedy and the writing," Adewunmi explains to The Hollywood Reporter. "The very root of his allure is more than his wonderful eyebrows and his lovely cheeky smile, but having kind eyes and thinking about issues of homophobia and deciding to remove that from the show — we consider thirst to be a very holistic endeavor where we're looking at the whole thing." 

Though Schitt's Creek didn't fare so well at the Emmys, the two hope the "thirst object of the week" title will suffice. "That's the tagline, we're better than an Emmy," Adewunmi jokes. The two have also been vocal about their longtime love of Reeves, calling him "the patron saint of the show," and admit they were heartbroken to be off the air during the summer of Keanu, when he starred in Always Be My Maybe, Toy Story 4 and John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum in a matter of weeks. They are actively trying to get him on the show, with Adewunmi pleading, "Please put it out there so his people might see it and be like, 'Wait, these two women sound fantastically intelligent and smart, we should definitely have Keanu on there.' By all means, Keanu, please come to the studio, we would love to talk you." To celebrate the relaunch, and to align with their Keanu fandom, the duo is hosting a Thirsty Movie Night in New York to screen, in typical fashion, Point Break

Since launching in November 2017, Thirst Aid Kit has topped "best podcast" lists and created a community over crushes. Adewenmi credits some of that popularity to the #MeToo movement, with reevaluating how men and women act in public and private spheres. 

"I think post-#MeToo especially, there has been a lot of thinking about the ways in which we go about detailing our desire and the ways in which we perform that," she says. "There have been really great conversations about consent and building healthy expressions of that stuff, and I do think in a very small way, Thirst Aid Kit is a part of that conversation."

Perkins adds that women often have trouble admitting desire and fear being mocked for wanting pleasure, and as a result, the two aim to convey that women are in control of how they express themselves. In the #MeToo era, they have seen fans use their show as a way of healing. 

"We get a lot of emails from survivors of sexual assault or abusive relationships and they tell us, 'This is letting me find a way to get back to my previous sexual self,' 'Your podcast is helping me realize it's OK to feel desire and find men attractive even after I've been through this kind of trauma' — those kind of things, which is not what we set out to do initially at all," Perkins said. "That was not part of the mission, but that's been a really nice side effect." 

As two women of color, Adewunmi and Perkins are leading the charge for diversity in the podcasting space, and bringing others up with them. Throughout the show's history, it has always had female producers on staff, with a focus on "promoting and giving opportunities to women of color first," Perkins says." That also means getting out from behind the faceless microphone and hosting live shows and movie screenings so they can increase their visibility. 

"How many black women in general are given the platform to have these kinds of thoughts about these kinds of things?" Adewunmi asks, while Perkins adds, "We're two black women but we're not making a 'black show.' I think a lot of people are afraid of being put into a corner where if they're black they have to talk about something specific to whatever black community they belong to. We talk about something universal." 

Thirst Aid Kit, which relaunched on Thursday, is the seventh podcast Slate has released this year and will join the company's current roster of more than 25 other shows.