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Author Rax King On Why Guilty Pleasures Shouldn’t Make Us Feel Guilty

Writer Rax King has found solace and joy through the "tacky" things in life.
Writer Rax King has found solace and joy through the "tacky" things in life.

In July 2019, Rax King published an essay about Food Network Star Guy Fieri. The so-called mayor of Flavortown is known for his bleached hair, bowling shirts, and rhyming exclamations (“so much salami, call my mommy”).

King wrote about how Fieri’s unadulterated tackiness was the perfect balm to help her move on her from her ex-husband who is a preppy, uptight, anti-Guy kind of guy.

That essay went viral. King’s followed it with her new book, a collection of essays that extol the benefits of what the subtitle calls “the worst culture we have to offer.” These supposedly include things like “The Jersey Shore,” The Cheesecake Factory, and the band Creed. King argues that guilty pleasures shouldn’t make us feel guilty at all, but are where we find the most joy. They help us connect with each other, without surroundings that demand we play it cool.

Ahead of the conversation, members of the 1A Team shared their favorite guilty pleasures:

Avery J.C. Kleinman, 1A producer: the soundtrack to the Broadway musical “Footloose”

“I know almost every song to Footloose by heart. So does my mom, and so does my sister. We used to belt the lyrics in the car as loud as possible (and I still do sometimes by myself in my apartment). “Footloose” is cheesy ’80s goodness and random lines pop into my head all the time, like the most important one of all: Dancing is not a crime!”

Haili Blassingame, 1A producer: The Cheesecake Factory

“I used to absolutely loveee the Cheesecake Factory and would force my dad to drag me there up until I was (let’s be honest) a young adult. I used to get the chicken tenders that were never actually properly identified on the menu. I always had to explain to the server what I was talking about. About 30 of them would come with a mound of mash potatoes and corn. For desert I’d get the absurdly large ice cream sundae and eat the whole thing. All of this would probably kill me now if I tried to eat it, but the memories are still fond for me!”

Jonathan Peck, 1A‘s director of station relations and audience development: Bonnie Tyler

“I love Bonnie Tyler and it’s not just her music. Sure, I know all the lyrics to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” And if you think you can name a better cover of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” than her’s then I would call you a LIAR. But it’s the vision of her videos and overall cutting-edge vibe that rings through the ages. Watch the video for “Holding Out For A Hero” and tell me the whole “Westworld” HBO show isn’t 100 percent ripped from it directly.”

Chris Castano, 1A‘s digital editor: Buca di Beppo

“For me, Buca di Beppo is the pinnacle of cliché. Photos of spaghetti eating contests line the walls alongside pin ups of Sophia Loren. A family can rent out a room whose table features a spinning serving wheel complete with a bust of the Pope. There’s usually a booth tucked somewhere back in the kitchen so curious kids can watch their family-style meals be prepared before their very eyes. The restaurant’s founders set out to make midwestern housewives cringe at their choices in decoration. 28 years later, not much has changed.”

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Avery Kleinman