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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watch as Vera Drew's quest for a Hot Topic sponsorship veers into corona-induced psychedelia

Illustration for article titled Watch as Vera Drew's quest for a Hot Topic sponsorship veers into corona-induced psychedelia
Image: Vera Drew

Earlier this year, when we could still walk outside without gas masks strapped to our faces, we wrote up the debut episode of Hot Topics With Vera Drew, a web series in which a 30-year-old woman sweetly (and aggressively) sells herself to Hot Topic as Hot Topic’s next brand ambassador. Drew has yet to get a retweet, let alone a sponsorship, from the brand, but that hasn’t deterred her mission. COVID-19, on the other hand, nearly did.


In the latest episode, “Pandemic At The Disco,” Drew reveals that her plan to visit Hot Topic’s very first store in Montclair, California, was thwarted by the closure of all non-essential businesses, as well as her own grave diagnosis. Drew’s trippy struggle with corona is brought to life via song and art, with Tim Heidecker channeling Roger Waters as musicians Justin Krol and Quinn Scharber conjure up some roaring psychedelia. Drew, meanwhile, is subsumed in a violent delirium—animated to horrifying perfection by artist Isabelle Aspin—that climaxes with her swimming from a sea of blood and diarrhea into an entirely new set designed by Maddie Forrest.

As Drew put it to The A.V. Club:

With the stay-at-home order in place, it became clear really quick that I was going to have to start shooting episodes in my apartment going forward. But it was literally day one of quarantine that I started showing Covid symptoms and between the breathing problems, the extreme exhaustion, and the massively unpleasant digestive issues, I could feel my body fighting something. It was terrifyingly psychedelic and I knew pretty much right away that the next episode had to be a body horror film.

Drew closes the episode by announcing another episode of the show will arrive in May, and that she’s got two other projects on the horizon, including an emo album called Born Sad that will arrive on June 19.

The other project is Drew’s own version of The Joker, which is only fitting in a world where a broken government, a global pandemic, and a gasping swell of existential terror has given way to a rapid uptick in people’s use of the phrase “Jokerfied.” No, Drew clarifies, she doesn’t own the rights, but “The Joker belongs to the people now.” She’ll be playing both Joker and Harley Quinn in the piece she tells The A.V. Club will be “much more than just a recut version of the film.” We shall eagerly await it, laughing alone beneath a single swinging lightbulb as sweat cuts through the cake makeup smeared across our brows.

Are you paying attention now, Hot Topic?

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.