Shiny Epi People

Fausto Bustos, PhD, on life crossing the southern border and loving prunes

March 05, 2022 Lisa Bodnar Season 2 Episode 59
Shiny Epi People
Fausto Bustos, PhD, on life crossing the southern border and loving prunes
Show Notes Transcript

You will surely love today's episode with Fausto Bustos, PhD. Fausto is an infectious disease epidemiologist and an ORISE Data Science Fellow at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he provides data analytic expertise, computational and statistical assistance, and substantive scientific knowledge to advance their research mission. Fausto grew up crossing the southern border of the US for school every day, lived in poverty with his mother and brother, and found an escape in education. His story is stirring, but his combination of intellect, humor, and silliness makes his life so far a story of resilience.

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Lisa Bodnar:

Oh, my gosh.

Fausto Bustos:

Hello. Is this video recorded? I don't know.

Lisa Bodnar:

It's not, but we are going to take a screenshot. Is that okay?

Fausto Bustos:

Okay. Yes, that's my incredible pink feather boa.

Lisa Bodnar:

Do you want to put it on?

Fausto Bustos:

Oh, sure. Why not?

Lisa Bodnar:

Nice. But now I need something fun. Should I get a wig or-

Fausto Bustos:

Wigs are great.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. I'll be back.

Fausto Bustos:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

What do we think?

Fausto Bustos:

That's astounding. For the listeners, Lisa's wearing this amazing soft violet, with hints of blue, wig. It's great.

Lisa Bodnar:

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Shiny Epi People. I'm Lisa Bodnar. If you would like to support this on- woman production, go to my Patreon at patreon.com/shinyepipeople. You can also follow the show on Instagram and Twitter @shinyepipeople, where I post additional content, lots of good pictures and updates on what is coming your way. Please subscribe, rate and review the show in your podcast app, if possible, that actually really helps my show get more visibility.

              Also, just a quick note, the number of downloads and listens to the show have been really high, and that makes me really happy that you are listening and coming back for more each week, however, what I'm really missing is the engagement that was so present earlier in the show's history. Every time you retweet the show or reply with your own stories of bottle-feeding calves or agreeing that baby carrots are inferior to regular carrots or with your own horror stories of bad fashion as an adolescent, it really lifts me up.

              When I put out shows and don't get a lot of feedback, it's hard to be motivated to keep going. Sometimes it feels like you're giving a lecture in a class to 500 people that you spent 20-plus hours and all of your creative energy preparing for and everybody in the audience just stares blankly at you. You leave the lecture hall where you're like, "Well, I have no idea if anyone learned anything or anyone liked that." I'm doing this show not just to put content out into the world that 1,200 people send to every week, but to engage with you. It's actually my favorite part of doing this. So please email me, shinyepipeople@gmail.com, or tweet at the show or share the show on your Instagram stories or send me a DM. It really matters a lot. Thank you so much.

              Today, you will hear my conversation of Fausto Bustos. Fausto is currently an ORISE Data Science Fellow at the NIHS's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There, he provides data analytic expertise, computational and statistical assistance, and substantive scientific knowledge to research projects at the Institute. Fausto is also an infectious disease epidemiologist and got his PhD in epi at the University of California at Berkeley in 2020, after getting a Master of Arts in biostats at Berkeley and a Master of Science in epi at Harvard.

              Fausto's story is one of resilience. Living in poverty on the US Southern border until he went to college, he talks about how he navigates academic spaces that were not built for folks with his background and his close relationship with his mom. Fausto is a self-proclaimed nerd and knows more about reality TV shows than any epidemiologist I've ever met. I hope you enjoy this chat.

              What do you have?

Fausto Bustos:

The finest three-and-a-half Buck Chuck chardonnay Trader Joe offers. It's a great year, I hear.

Lisa Bodnar:

Is it?

Fausto Bustos:

Vintage 2017 or whatever, a fabulous year.

Lisa Bodnar:

Cheers.

Fausto Bustos:

Cheers.

Lisa Bodnar:

This has already set the tone. I knew that there were going to be shenanigans.

Fausto Bustos:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

But we've never met in real life.

Fausto Bustos:

Which is a shame.

Lisa Bodnar:

It really is a shame, it needs to change. We've only exchanged some DMs on Twitter. My perception of you via Twitter was that-

Fausto Bustos:

Oh God. I feel like I should be in a bunker for what's about to happen.

Lisa Bodnar:

No, no, no, no. I knew that you were very smart. I like how honest you are on Twitter. Your goofiness is super fun to me.

Fausto Bustos:

Well, thank you.

Lisa Bodnar:

All of these things screamed, "Get this man on your show, Lisa." While I knew that your putting on a pink feather boa would be within the realm of possibilities, I didn't actually realize what a compelling life story you have, a lot of hard life things, and how your persona doesn't really reflect that as far as I can tell.

Fausto Bustos:

I mean, I try very hard to be real and honest, but that's not to say that my life has not been absolutely bonkers, especially the first half. I was born in San Diego, but lived across the border in Tijuana. I would crisscross the border every day, twice a day, for 14 years to go to elementary and high school in San Diego.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh, wow.

Fausto Bustos:

I thought that was absolutely normal because I did it, everybody around me did it, 30 to 40% of my elementary and high school did it, but of course it absolutely wasn't normal to grow up in two cultures and two languages. As that, as the backdrop of the things that need to get done every day, just to make education happen, for that to always be intersecting with my personal life, my father's infidelity and always being poor and the lights would go out half the time because I grew up in a city where you could not always depend on there being electricity, or you could not always depend on there being running water, it would just go out and there's nothing you can do about it.

              The other half the time we just didn't have the money to pay all the bills. There would be times when I would be sleeping in the family car and we would be right outside of my high school, that would just save us gas. It's a crazy way to go to high school as soon as the door's open and go to the gym and take a quick shower so that I could look refreshed and ready to go for school and be high achieving. It didn't really hit me how abnormal my life was until I got to college and people started asking, "Well, where are you from? How do you do?" and then hearing about all these adventures that lot of my colleagues had. They would just go to Egypt for a family vacation or go over here, do over there. I kept thinking, wow, none of that has a parallel in my life. I'm struggling to make it. It has always felt, at least up to that point, that I had to do 10 times as much just to be on par, but I wouldn't want to let that show.

              Through the arc of trauma and just surviving and having the grit, I surprised myself that I could still be silly and I could still be capable of love, both to others and myself, and that I didn't lose that, because I could very easily see a pathway where I took a different direction. Somehow through it all I was able to really find a sanctuary in education. It was an escape for me, and that's really how I think managed to make it all work.

Lisa Bodnar:

Given that you were a kid that was crossing the southern border twice a day, every day, what people are calling the crisis on our Southern border right now and with family separation, would you share, and it's okay if you don't want to, but would you share how that impacts you, given that you were a kid crossing back and forth?

Fausto Bustos:

When I cross into Mexico or into the US, I don't view that as entering a new nation because I've done that over 5,000 times just to go to school. For me, it's just going to a different place that has different rules. Crossing the border, in and of itself, it's so hard to explain what that process is like to somebody who hasn't done it and done it on such a consistent basis, because part of it is just the border politics, part of it is you're just sitting there for upwards of eight hours just waiting to cross. Honestly, all the drug trade that happens, I have been in various shootouts at the border.

Lisa Bodnar:

A little kid?

Fausto Bustos:

As a little kid, yeah. I've seen horrific things that have happened. There was one time when, on the American side, the entire structure collapsed and my aunt was almost buried under a bunch of rubble because the whole building just fell down.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my gosh.

Fausto Bustos:

To me, that's just context anytime I think of about border politics, family separations, anything like that, but to me it's very real, it feels always very personal. Even when COVID happened and the border was shut down for 18 months, to me, I always thought that's so insane because to me that would've essentially have been you can't go to school for 18 months.

Lisa Bodnar:

That's right.

Fausto Bustos:

And the choice isn't up to you, you just have to wait until it all susses out. I'm always worried about the border. I mean, half my family's on one side, half my family's on the other side, and everybody's just crossing to see each other, to say hello. When life is made easier for people who are trying to cross for one reason or another, as somebody who's done that thousands of times, that makes me happy. That, to me, that's great because I would like to live in a universe where there are no borders. But when hardship is made even harder, especially when that hardship is, in my view, unnecessary or to a certain degree vengeful or motivated from a position of just trying to hurt others, yeah, I have a very visceral reaction to that.

Lisa Bodnar:

Did you not get to see your family during all of COVID?

Fausto Bustos:

Yeah. I didn't see my mom for a little over two years.

Lisa Bodnar:

Wow.

Fausto Bustos:

I felt particularly sad because my graduation happened during COVID, and my mom had been waiting for this one moment. The way she tells this story, she'd been waiting to see me graduate, and not just a minor graduation, the final graduation, right?

Lisa Bodnar:

Sure.

Fausto Bustos:

As sad as I was not to see her, I was more sad for her, because though I am not a mother, I have somewhat of a grasp of what this moment meant to her and that COVID deprived her of. I'll get crying now. The first time that I was able to see her, I asked a friend for her graduation toga and I had the funky hat on the stole. I get home, I see her and I excuse myself, I tell her, "Oh, I'm just going to put my stuff away." I run up to my room and I put on all the graduation gear and I tell my brother to hit record. Then on my phone, I started playing the graduation song, whatever it's called. Then I walked down the stairs and she was in the kitchen, just ... Sorry, cry. She was prepping food for us and I just turned the corner and I was there in all my graduation attire.

              I didn't need to say anything, I didn't need to do anything. We just had a moment, where it was such a celebration for the two of us, not just for my educational achievements, but that we did it. We were able to get through the poverty and the trauma and domestic abuse and divorce and, oh my God, so many things, and it all worked out in the end. To be able to show her that I did it, I pride myself on being on giving good gifts, I don't know that I will ever give somebody a better gift than that moment.

Lisa Bodnar:

You had a ton of responsibility in terms of bringing in income to your house when you were really young, how did that play out for you` given that you were also trying to get your own education and be a kid?

Fausto Bustos:

It meant that I didn't get to be a kid. I had to lop off that side of myself, because I'm ... I love personality tests and I know I'm not the first guest to say that.

Lisa Bodnar:

Whitney, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Fausto Bustos:

Yeah, I love Whitney Robinson's interview with you.

Lisa Bodnar:

Thank you.

Fausto Bustos:

She mentioned that she loves personality tests and I do too. When I've taken them, they've always said the same thing, that I'm very practical and I'm very analytic. In terms of how did that manifest when I was a kid, but I'm the one that had to be the breadwinner, I basically decided, you know what, I don't need to go to parties, I don't need to go to the after school events, I don't need to go to the football games, I don't need to go to the movies, I don't need to go to prom. It meant realizing that there's a lot of fluff that would be nice, but practically, I need to be working as much as I can. It's not like I had a great job, I was doing minimum wage work in California as a bagger at a grocery store. It was not glamorous in the slightest, but that's the job that I had and so I had to do as much of that as I could to make the finances work out.

Lisa Bodnar:

Your parents got divorced when you were young. It sounds like it was a traumatic divorce, not the most amicable ever.

Fausto Bustos:

Yeah, that would be a fair assessment.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. How old were you?

Fausto Bustos:

Seven-ish, I think, when everything started. I mean, I remember the moment when, as a seven or eight-year-old, internally, when I decided this man is no longer worth being a dad. He is a father, there's a biological relationship. There will be no emotional relationship, there will be no personal relationship. He is a man, he is some dude, I don't need anything more from him. That's not a memory I cherish.

Lisa Bodnar:

Sure.

Fausto Bustos:

But it's very much a defining one for me, because it definitely forced me to grow up, forced me to see the world in a different way. I mean, I was seven, it's not like I could shoulder a lot of responsibilities, but I feel like it was a dawning of my consciousness in a different way, that it's just like, oh, suddenly the world is different and I need to adapt and I need to be more adult.

Lisa Bodnar:

Gosh, that's so much pressure and responsibility. That's a lot for a little one.

Fausto Bustos:

Yep. Realistically, there's not much that I can do. As soon as I was 16 and I could work, even though I very much didn't want to, I knew that it doesn't matter what I want because this is what I have to do, because money doesn't grow out of trees, it's not going to pop out of nowhere. This is going to suck and it's going to suck for a very long time. There's always something in my power, but I'm going to do what I can to make life better for my family.

Lisa Bodnar:

So you missed out on a lot of years of just being a kid. Do you get to be a kid now?

Fausto Bustos:

I think so.

Lisa Bodnar:

The liveliness and being a little carefree, maybe being irresponsible sometimes.

Fausto Bustos:

Absolutely. Yes, I definitely think on the outside, depending on how people know me, they either view me as super serious, academic, nose in a book all the time, or they know me as super silly, just carefree, whatever. I really do feel that those are my inherent binaries in my life. I definitely try to overcompensate academically, because like I said, it was my escape. I don't think I overcompensate socially, I think I just am this social being and I like going out and about and I like meeting new people and I love putting on boas for an interview that doesn't have a video component, because why not, right?

Lisa Bodnar:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Fausto Bustos:

But I absolutely love that I'm just in a position in my life where I can be silly. One of the things that being forced to grow up very quickly meant for me is that I became a very careful observer of human behavior. I paid a lot of attention to a lot of the social cues and how that's relevant here is-

Lisa Bodnar:

And you had to, right?

Fausto Bustos:

I had to.

Lisa Bodnar:

You had to, to survive as a little kid, yeah.

Fausto Bustos:

But that also made me very crystal clear on what exactly is the line that I can get up to this far but no further, that I can not cross it. For example, so I went to the conference of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which that year was in New Orleans. I was giving a talk, I think on the second or the third day of the conference. That day it happened to be Halloween, so I was like, "Hmm, I think I can make this work." I went to my advisor and I said, "Hey, what are your thoughts on me showing up to the conference," mind you, on Halloween, "in costume?"

Lisa Bodnar:

In New Orleans.

Fausto Bustos:

Yeah.

Lisa Bodnar:

Right?

Fausto Bustos:

Right. I was like-

Lisa Bodnar:

You were being set up to wear a costume for your talk.

Fausto Bustos:

I really was.

Lisa Bodnar:

But you were a student, yes?

Fausto Bustos:

Yeah, I was a grad student.

Lisa Bodnar:

You were a PhD student, yeah, okay.

Fausto Bustos:

Yes, and I was presenting on one of my papers on Zika. I knew that I had to be very careful with the way that I asked this, because it is a crazy thing to ask your advisor to do this very professional thing in a very professional setting in a very unprofessional way. I asked my advisor and she was like, "Yeah, totally. I don't mind."

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh, nice, okay.

Fausto Bustos:

I was like, "Great."

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah.

Fausto Bustos:

I show up to the conference dressed as Goku, the lead character from the Dragon Ball Z TV show.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay, I don't know who that is.

Fausto Bustos:

That's okay. Oh, I'll send you a picture. But I thought there will be other people at the conference, surely, who are also in costume on Halloween. I get there-

Lisa Bodnar:

Right, a bunch of sticks in the mud academics, no.

Fausto Bustos:

Yes.

Lisa Bodnar:

No.

Fausto Bustos:

Out of this conference, it probably had 10,000-ish people, there were maybe three others who were in costume and they were always several ballrooms away. When I saw one, we were like, "Oh my God, you did the same thing I did," and we would wave to each other, have no idea who she was or he was, just like, "I see you. I see what you did and I'm all here for it." Right? Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

But did they have a talk?

Fausto Bustos:

I don't know, probably not.

Lisa Bodnar:

That's the other thing, they probably were just sitting in the audience, right.

Fausto Bustos:

Right, audience members. Okay, so Goku, he's this extraterrestrial fighter and he wears a bright orange jumpsuit and he has black spiky hair.

Lisa Bodnar:

Jumpsuit.

Fausto Bustos:

I'm in the front row and I'm waiting to be called on.

Lisa Bodnar:

Wait, tell me, was this orange jumpsuit, was it fitted and-

Fausto Bustos:

No, it's very loose, because you have to be in fighting mode.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. But do you think people knew you were in costume?

Fausto Bustos:

Oh, okay. There's a very big age difference there, in terms of who knew what was about to happen.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay.

Fausto Bustos:

I didn't realize that. But they call my name, I start to ascend this little ladder to get to the podium. I am halfway to the podium, I have not gotten there yet and I'm already getting a standing ovation.

Lisa Bodnar:

No.

Fausto Bustos:

People are yelling, people are screaming.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my gosh.

Fausto Bustos:

I quickly turn around to see who's screaming, who's yelling, because thought it was my friends who were there, and it was them, but it was also other people. But I noticed it's just the young people who knew, who grew up with the show, who know what's about to go down, who cannot believe this is actually happening.

              I get up there, I make a big stink out of pulling something out of my back pocket. It's this gigantic black wig, very spiky hair. I fit it on and I do the fitting. Again, the young people are losing their shit. They're like, "I cannot believe this is happening." I get up to the podium and I realize, I'm already here, I've pushed it 99% of the way, why not?

Lisa Bodnar:

Why the fuck not?

Fausto Bustos:

Why the fuck not go a hundred thousand percent because I think I can get away with this and I don't think I will suffer any professional consequences.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah. Well, and you were getting egged on by people, so it was like-

Fausto Bustos:

Right, by the crowd, the crowd was loving it.

Lisa Bodnar:

Right, yeah.

Fausto Bustos:

I said, "Hi, my name is Kakarot, and I'm from the planet Vegeta. Here on Earth, my best friends, Bulma and Krillin, call me Fausto and actually I'm here to present on Zika." But I decided, why not give this in character? How would Goku introduce himself?

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah.

Fausto Bustos:

Again, the young people in the crowd went wild. The older individuals had no idea what was happening, they were confused.

Lisa Bodnar:

But did they like it? Did they have grins on their faces?

Fausto Bustos:

I think they were just like, "What's happening? I don't understand what's happening."

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah, right.

Fausto Bustos:

Because after the fact, I was meeting and greeting some people still in my costume, and this older gentleman came up to me and he shook my hand and he said, "That was a great talk on Zika," blah, blah, blah. "I can't believe you did that. It takes a lot of nerve to get up there as the orange Teletubby.

Lisa Bodnar:

You're like, "No."

Fausto Bustos:

And I didn't have the heart-

Lisa Bodnar:

Also, there is no orange Teletubby.

Fausto Bustos:

Exactly. I didn't have the heart. I was like, "Sir, you are so far away from, generationally, what just transpired."

Lisa Bodnar:

Yes.

Fausto Bustos:

But I wasn't going to get into it. I was just like, "Thank you. Yes, sure. Why not? Let's go with it."

Lisa Bodnar:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Oh, I love it. You work in academia, in which systems and institutions are not set up for people who grew up poor.

Fausto Bustos:

Correct, very much so.

Lisa Bodnar:

How do you navigate those spaces now?

Fausto Bustos:

I don't know how best to answer that, other than to say a very realized form of imposter syndrome, because the systems are very much not set up to make sure that people like me thrive. There's just expectations that you can make it work on a graduate student stipend that's basically nothing and you just have to make do. For me, especially as somebody who did grow up poor, but who went through different universities, all of which had very wealthy people and just every single building just felt like a palace to me, given what I had, I just had to always pretend that I fit in.

Lisa Bodnar:

Wow.

Fausto Bustos:

Anytime somebody said something, the answer was always yes. Yes, yes, yes. Did you know this? Yes, of course. Did you know that? Yes, of course. Socially, that meant just approaching everything with zeal and vigor and pizazz, as if it wasn't my very first time encountering this on very unusual situation and I just had to work with it. I think that has given me a very go with the flow attitude. I don't know that's an inherent part of me, but I've had to fake that so often in so many different contexts that it feels very natural to me even now in different circumstances to just say, "Yes, of course," even though on the inside I'm like, "I don't know what that word is. I don't know what I just been invited to. I don't even know what's happening, but I'm just going to say yes, I'm going to trust my common sense and I'm going to trust that everything else I can figure out through context clues or whatever or just observing human nature." But I almost always feel out of my element.

Lisa Bodnar:

Even if it's not about academics, there is a level of confidence that you have in order to talk about vulnerable things or in order to say goofy, silly things that is on a site where your colleagues and your supervisors could be seeing what you're saying, right?

Fausto Bustos:

Oh, absolutely, and I know that they are. I mean, I got my current job through Twitter. I know some of my supervisors are there and that's perfectly fine with me. I think I have imposter syndromed myself into having much more confidence than I would normally.

Lisa Bodnar:

Say more, I don't know what that means.

Fausto Bustos:

I feel like I've faked my way into a level of self-confidence that I wouldn't have normally. I am perfectly okay being zany and I'm perfectly a letting literally thousands of people know that I'm on my eighth rejection for a study that I think is the neatest, greatest, most interesting thing I've ever done and eight different editors are like, "Nope, that's garbage. I hate that. It's so obvious, it's so simple. It's too difficult, I don't know what it is. I know exactly what it is and it's like worthless." I am okay. My self-esteem is just not tied ... I do think that's one thing I've learned, my self-esteem is not tied to others' impression of me, and it's made me let go of that as something that would hold me back. Somehow, for me, faking it till you make it really worked out.

              I just generally am not embarrassed. I think I have just completely let go of that emotion as a feeling, as something that would ordinarily hinder myself. The nice thing is it feels very liberating to understand. As soon as I know what the line is, it's like, "Okay, I can go exactly up until this point." As long as there are no professional or social consequences, I'm perfectly okay letting the universe know that I'm going to do a hundred tweets on The Bachelor. Why not? Let's do it. In an hour and a half, here's my hundred tweet response to everything that I'm seeing on the show that's pure trash TV, let's do it.

              After the whole Goku incident, because somebody asked me very point blankly, "Don't don't you understand that you're in a room for professionals, they're here for Zika and you're giving a Zika talk and they could very well hire you and this could be bad for you?" I didn't have the answer on the tip of my tongue, but it just rolled off of me, saying, "If they're the kind of bosses that would never let me do something like this, if they would be so unbelievably opposed to me showcasing just a tiny little shard of my personality at a professional setting," and I can still give a great talk, I can still talk science, right?

Lisa Bodnar:

That's right.

Fausto Bustos:

The epidemiologist in me is not going anywhere, then I don't know that I would want to work with that person and I don't know that that person and I would mesh well in a personal way that you need in order to have a good employee-employer relationship. I definitely think it's helped me professionally as well as personally.

Lisa Bodnar:

I have to take off my wig because my head is starting to hurt.

Fausto Bustos:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

The cap is too tight, hold on.

Fausto Bustos:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay, what gets you fired up?

Fausto Bustos:

What gets me fired up? I get very animated when I'm meeting new people. I love the feeling, it feels like this is a blank canvas and I need to understand who this person is, what they like, what they don't like. I love meeting new people. That's not fired up in the rah-rah sense, but it's just like, to me, internally, it feels so wonderful.

Lisa Bodnar:

Sure.

Fausto Bustos:

It almost feels like I'm a detective, I have to suss out who are they, what do they like, what are our connections, because there's always something or a someone. That also really animates me on first dates. I get myself pumped up. I'm like, "Let's do this. Let's meet this person."

Lisa Bodnar:

Really? What is it like dating in DC?

Fausto Bustos:

So far the dating scene has treated me very well, even though I've definitely been on first dates that just didn't go anywhere, nothing's happening, I will never see you again and I'm perfectly okay with that.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah.

Fausto Bustos:

But compared to, say, San Francisco, where I was for many, many years, DC feels like a breath of fresh air.

Lisa Bodnar:

Really?

Fausto Bustos:

Somehow, even though half of the people are lobbyists or on the Hill and they have the most boring jobs, it feels like there's less of a tech bro attitude.

Lisa Bodnar:

It's funny, I went to DC and I turned on the apps and I was like, "Why the fuck not? I'll see what's out there. Why not?" It was a completely different vibe. The men there, they were putting on a performance, it felt a lot like.

Fausto Bustos:

Oh, absolutely.

Lisa Bodnar:

How do you get to figure out who somebody is when in DC, at least the straight men, all felt like they were just putting on a show?

Fausto Bustos:

Well, I can't speak for straight men, being not one of them, but at least in the gay community I have just not encountered people who are trying to be fake, because I've certainly encountered those people before, that they're putting on a persona.

Lisa Bodnar:

Fausto, what is a hill you're willing to die on?

Fausto Bustos:

I love prunes. I should say I don't have any urinary problems, my GI system is fully intact, but prunes are the most delicious things I've ever tasted.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah?

Fausto Bustos:

I don't understand why I am constantly ridiculed by my peers for loving prunes. I forget which company, I think it might have been Dole, came out with orange-flavored prunes. They are the most incredible thing I've ever had.

Lisa Bodnar:

They're so good.

Fausto Bustos:

Then they have the lemon scented or flavored. I don't even know what garbage they're making, I don't want to know how they're made. They're incredible, more people should be into prunes. They should have prune parties. I just like-

Lisa Bodnar:

What does that mean?

Fausto Bustos:

I don't even know, I just want it. Okay, there's there's a famous, okay, I'm going to be very nerdy here, a famous episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's called Yesterday's Enterprise, it's a time travel story. In the opening five minutes, the character, Worf, who's a Klingon, who's meant to be sturdy and just rough and whatever, he's introduced to prune juice by Guinan, who's played by the wonderful Whoopie Goldberg. The character of Worf loves prune juice and then it kind of sort of becomes a running gag afterward.

              But when I saw that, I was like, first of all, I love Star Trek, I love Whoopie Goldberg, I love everything that's about to happen with this time travel story, and also prune juice. I had never even heard of it, I could not conceive of prune juice as a thing, I didn't know it existed. But anytime prunes happen on television, I am there, I will watch the entire episode. I just think prunes are so amazing and I don't understand why everybody makes fun of prunes and thinks they are just there for constipation issues. I feel like that is so rude, I take it so personally when people hate on prunes. I'm like, "These are delicious and readily affordable at your local grocery store, or even the AMTM or CVS." Get some prunes. I mean, don't have too many, but they're amazing. If you're under 65 and you say, "I love prunes on a first date-"

Lisa Bodnar:

You're done.

Fausto Bustos:

... I feel like that's the biggest flag, so I've just learned to hide my love of prunes. I'm like, "No, no, you're not getting this until at least date four."

Lisa Bodnar:

No, right?

Fausto Bustos:

Apparently it's extraordinarily sensitive.

Lisa Bodnar:

I'm going to list a bunch of reality TV shows.

Fausto Bustos:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

I'd like you to put each one into one of three categories.

Fausto Bustos:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

It's trash but it's a great watch, it's trash but it's trash, there's nothing redeeming about it, or it's a legit good show.

Fausto Bustos:

Okay.

Lisa Bodnar:

The Bachelor franchise.

Fausto Bustos:

Trash, but good for the memes. I mean, it's delivered such high quality memes. There's there's the one about the bride who's just standing there, waiting for her man to be and it is not to be the case, I'm like, "Iconic." Trash, but good for the vibe.

Lisa Bodnar:

Real Housewives, the franchise.

Fausto Bustos:

Oh my God, legit, so legit. I'm obsessed, I'm so obsessed. To be fair to the audience, I've only seen Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.

Lisa Bodnar:

But I've heard that's not even among the good ones.

Fausto Bustos:

Oh my God, no, it is among the best ones.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay.

Fausto Bustos:

It is so difficult to describe the level of chicanery and nonsense and illegality and just the crazy things that go on that TV show. If you have nothing better to do and you are typically okay with watching a show that's going to get you riled up and you're very quickly going to pick sides and like, "I like her, but I don't like her," watch Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, it's on Bravo.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay, okay.

Fausto Bustos:

It's incredible, especially season two. I'm not going to give it away, but illegal things happen, so it's amazing.

Lisa Bodnar:

Survivor.

Fausto Bustos:

Incredible.

Lisa Bodnar:

That's legit.

Fausto Bustos:

I grew up on Survivor. For me, it is the canonical reality television show. I know it's not the first reality TV show, it definitely is predated by things like The Real World, but it was just so shockingly different from anything that had been on television up to that point.

Lisa Bodnar:

Okay. America's Next Top Model.

Fausto Bustos:

Just trash, just trash. I did not grow up with it. I had certainly been an adult in the era of, "Let's reflect on what actually happened on the show," the trauma that Tyra put these contestants through, the completely unnecessary very personal attacks, the critiques of their looks, of their poses, the unfair edit to the contestants and the, "Let's just put these women through the ropes for no good reason and make them feel like shit," so trash.

Lisa Bodnar:

Trash. Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

Fausto Bustos:

Oh, trash.

Lisa Bodnar:

Full trash.

Fausto Bustos:

Absolute trash. There's nothing redeeming. They do have interesting meme quality, I will a three out of 10 on meme potential, but on the whole, I think Keeping Up With the Kardashians has been as stained on our already stained historical, social, cultural legacy. So, nope, I just-

Lisa Bodnar:

Trash.

Fausto Bustos:

Trash.

Lisa Bodnar:

Big Brother.

Fausto Bustos:

Oh, incredible.

Lisa Bodnar:

Jersey Shore.

Fausto Bustos:

Hmm. I never watched it, but I saw so much of its content. I want to say it's perfect, it's incredible, it's camp. I feel like I might get canceled for saying that, but I'm going to stick to my guns and say it's perfectly fine.

Lisa Bodnar:

Queer Eye.

Fausto Bustos:

I think on the whole, good. I think it introduced the American public to real gay people and what they were really like. I do appreciate the overall attempt to introduce the world to hygiene and just clothes of the decade, yeah.

Lisa Bodnar:

Top Chef.

Fausto Bustos:

Obsessed with Top Chef, obsessed with Master Chef, obsessed with all cooking-related reality TV shows.

Lisa Bodnar:

Gordon Ramsey?

Fausto Bustos:

It was what he was meant to do.

Lisa Bodnar:

I agree.

Fausto Bustos:

Especially the top version of Master Chef, where it's like a five-year-old cooking a souffle, fucking live with that.

Lisa Bodnar:

It's so cute.

Fausto Bustos:

I adore that.

Lisa Bodnar:

Oh my God.

Fausto Bustos:

They're so adorable.

Lisa Bodnar:

I think he's super hot.

Fausto Bustos:

I think that is the correct opinion 20-ish, 15 years ago. I mean, he's a ginger so that gives him a billion extra bonus points in my universe. He's very intense though. I mean, I've seen him cooking just like tomatoes, and I don't know, it gets me really excited. I'm like, "Oh my God, I don't cook tomatoes that way. I've been doing it wrong all my life."

Lisa Bodnar:

I know. Okay, last one, Great British Baking Show.

Fausto Bustos:

Adore, adore.

Lisa Bodnar:

Adore.

Fausto Bustos:

Incredible. There should be more, more, more. They have somehow figured out the formula to make baking, which, at its heart, after you mix the thing, there's nothing to do.

Lisa Bodnar:

I know.

Fausto Bustos:

You're just sitting there, you're just looking at your oven. You can't do anything, there's no more prep. You're just waiting at your cute little oven.

Lisa Bodnar:

They're just crouching and looking in.

Fausto Bustos:

Yeah, looking at the door for 20 minutes, right?

Lisa Bodnar:

I know.

Fausto Bustos:

They somehow cracked the formula to still make it an incredibly compelling human-centered show, incredible

Lisa Bodnar:

Fausto, this was so much fun. First of all, I kept you for two-and-a-half hours.

Fausto Bustos:

You did.

Lisa Bodnar:

I'm sorry.

Fausto Bustos:

It's fine. I mean, I had a great time. I hope that we can meet in person at SER.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yes.

Fausto Bustos:

Not to be their evangelist, but June 14th through the 17th in Chicago, everybody come, let's have a party. You are welcome to dress as Goku or anything else, whether you are presenting or not. I personally will always be there to give you a standing ovation.

Lisa Bodnar:

Yeah, it's so comforting to watch, isn't it? It's like Zoloft.

Fausto Bustos:

If Zoloft could be an old British woman telling you about your tarts, it would be that.