SOBERBABY lives in the land of preconceived ideas. His thesis is an exercise in hypotheses – or, more exactly, their dismantling.
SOBERBABY creator Marina Sachs, a UF graduate student of the MFA program, said the talk show is as much about sight as it is about sound.
Every Friday at 5 p.m., Sachs opens both his home and his heart to the featured guest of the week. The relationship between Sachs and the SOBERBABY guests is visually represented by the shared space, which they believe is key to putting the show in context.
“These conversations don’t take place in a vacuum,” Sachs said. “These conversations are real and with real people.”
The show is not a podcast, despite the misnomer by many. Perhaps a product of the podcast platform’s growing popularity, Sachs’ hybrid talk show / livestream has been mistakenly categorized as a mere hearing experience by guests and listeners.
In candid conversations with friends and family affected by addiction, Sachs’ Passion Project aims to shatter stereotypes of the disease, one episode at a time.
Sachs began his journey to sobriety three years ago, and with him, three years of honest discussions. Sachs identifies as an alcoholic and a drug addict, but sharing this in the conversation they said they encountered a common sentiment: “you don’t look like an addict.”
The truth, Sachs said, is that there is no particular “look” for an addict, but the stereotype runs deep. Sachs said the perception of addicts is a product of society-wide stigma, a concept evidenced by their conversations with addicts and non-addicts.
“I was like, ‘Wow, you really see it that way because that’s what you were taught,'” they said.
SOBERBABY was born with the aim of erasing this stigma. The show debuted on February 12 with an Instagram post captioned “where it all begins.” Lasting just under an hour, the first episode is Sachs flying solo, offering their own experiences with addiction and everything that led to the creation of the shows.
Sachs brings a different guest each week to discuss his experiences with addiction, either in himself or in those around him. Friends, family, and even people Sachs has never met are invited to join the show. SOBERBABY sit-downs are open in nature, without a defined direction and with a single rule of full transparency.
“I had a sort of idea where having honest and unfettered conversations with people, things that were generally private and whispered, things that you are not supposed to talk about in public are placed very publicly,” he said. Sachs said.
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SOBERBABY started out with just Sachs and their cell phone, but the show is gearing up to expand. Custom products inspired by Sachs’ own creations and other local artists are in the works, a Patreon page is up and running, and episodes are expected to be available on Spotify and other platforms by the end of the month.
With the addition of sound engineer Jenny Alpaugh, SOBERBABY moves from its humble beginnings to a more advanced setup. The show now works with a range of professional audio equipment, preparing the content for broadcast on more platforms.
The partnership between Sachs and Alpaugh was forged by chance during a meeting in a pop-up Swamp City Gallery Lounge, where Alpaugh sold his custom crochet creations. Alpaugh already knew Sachs from their art, and when Sachs mentioned SOBERBABY, Alpaugh said she was immediately intrigued.
Alpaugh said the technical improvement is the first step in the show’s conceptual growth. Multimedia, live episodes, international audiences – SOBERBABY seeks to break down barriers.
“We’re aiming for the moon, the stars, whatever the next step,” Alpaugh said.
Even in its early days, SOBERBABY is already tackling topics beyond addiction. Sachs begins each episode by providing the context for the show with “broadcast notes” – a recap of global issues that they believe deserve the audience’s attention.
While SOBERBABY is a light affair, Sachs said heavier topics are intrinsically linked to conversation. Race, class, gender, sexuality and other factors are not separate from addiction, Sachs said. Rather, they’re an integral part of an individual’s experiences with substance abuse, and Sachs said the issues around them are essential to address on their show.
“Drug addiction is linked with all of these degrees to four-five-six degrees,” they said. “I can’t talk about sobriety from the safety of my home without also acknowledging that it’s just not like that. “
As SOBERBABY grows up, Sachs has stated that they grow up with him. While still touching on the traumas of the past, Sachs said their work, full of vibrant colors and eclectic designs, is now an exercise in professionalism and unbridled joy.
It is this enthusiasm, along with the deep-rooted desire to make a difference, that drives SOBERBABY’s future – a future, according to Sachs, is limitless.
“I have no choice but to aim as high as possible.”
If you or someone you know suffers from addiction or mental health, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1 (800) -273-8255 or the Central Florida Intergroup Alcoholics Anonymous Hotline at (407) -260-5408
Contact Heather at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.
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