Une Âme Solitaire: Fans in a Living Novel: Ben and Bryon of the Twin Peaks Unwrapped Podcast

I didn’t even meet Ben and Bryon, the intrepid Twin Peaks Unwrapped hosts, when they were seated at a sound board recording their podcast just a few feet from me way back in 2016. After our hearts were temporarily stopped in the spring of 2015 (when David Lynch pulled out of the project), and following the original cast’s video reminder that Twin Peaks without David Lynch might taste like a cup of fish-filtered coffee, Ben and Bryon recorded several portions of The Great Southern fan festival held in Richmond, Virginia for their podcast before Twin Peaks returned to our lives in glorious fashion in May 2017. I stood nearby, engrossed in the event, thinking that these podcast-recording fans were simply cramming themselves into a corner of the local book store for some self-inflicted misery; the rewards probably not worth the hassle. After learning who they were a week or so later, I was hooked.

At first, I filled the Peaks-less void by listening to their original podcasts. Ben, the original series pro, shepherded his friend Bryon through the Pilot episode, Seasons 1 and 2, and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Through their 150-plus consecutive weekly dives into cast, crew, and creator interviews, reviews of other works by Mark Frost and Lynch, and fun discussions with fans, Ben and Bryon drove us right up to the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign before Season 3 and beyond. I had the privilege of meeting them at the 2017 Twin Peaks Festival, and caught up with them this past weekend at David Lynch’s Festival of Disruption. They were gracious Living Novel participants, and I am thankful for the work they do!

Many Twin Peaks authors, Ben & Bryon, Catherine Stewart, John Thorne, Scott Ryan, Pieter Dom, Brad Dukes
The 2016 Great Southern Panelists

On their first experience with Twin Peaks and what impact that had on them as a viewer and as a person:

Ben: “I saw it when it originally aired, and it might have been the summer. I always try to remember if I saw some episodes when it was first broadcast, and then when they re-aired in [the summer of] 1990. I may have seen all of them then, but definitely by Episode 2, I was all in; it was quite a show and for me. I think I’ve said this before on the show, that for me it made me want to get into film or video production, which are some of the things I do now. Watching Lynch’s work, I loved his style, and I was just blown away by Twin Peaks. So in real life, I think it really made me appreciate film and television and made me want to do similar work. It made me realize I was pretty geeky I guess, because I didn’t have any of my other friends really watching Twin Peaks. So it was something special and unique and I thought it was like nothing else on TV and maybe I just loved the show. I do think about how it made me want to study film and study television and made me want to get into a similar field of work. I realized that television could be so much better than it was; I realized that there was so much potential. I look at today, and I think we’re in the golden age of television and we have Twin Peaks partially to thank for that.”

Bryon: “As a teenager, I did not see Twin Peaks. I do remember, as a kid, hearing my parents saying: “Twin Peaks…What is that weird show? or something, and I’ve always wanted to see it but I never had the chance. I remember seeing the VHS [tapes] at a store growing up, but they were really expensive and I was young guy who didn’t have the money to pay for them. I forgot about the show, but then I got into Lost and X-Files. I had my X-Files growing up, and so I never got into it. I’ve known Ben for a very long time, and then one day I found out that they were going to release Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery on Blu-Ray, and that I was a hundred percent wanting to get it because I’ve always wanted to watch the show. I texted Ben, and I remember I was walking my dog. I will always remember this: I was walking my dog, was halfway down my street, I just remember texting Ben and he’s like: “I know! I’m getting it for my birthday! Are you getting it for Christmas?” Ben asked if I had ever seen it, and I said “No, no!” and then Ben’s like “Bryon, I have an idea for a podcast. I want to do a podcast with you and [you] will be the newbie and I will be the veteran.”

My first experience with Twin Peaks is watching it by myself, and anticipating talking about it with Ben. I didn’t know who killed Laura Palmer. I knew of the pie, I knew of the coffee. I knew David Bowie was going to show up, and I was really disappointed he didn’t show up until Fire Walk with Me. I had these preconceived notions about Twin Peaks and what it was, and that was all blown away. Really I was in awe. And being in the Golden Age of television, I’ve seen Lost and Breaking Bad, all these fantastic shows, but Twin Peaks still put me in awe, and it still had something. It’s still relevant. It aged like a fine wine and it still packs a punch. [Twin Peaks] is where these shows got it from. I think it’s made [our] friendship very close. We have a great time together. We’ve met so many people in the community. I’ve made more friends probably in the last three years than I have in my whole life. I’ve met so many cool people and become close with them. Everyone is so open and welcoming, and I think it’s impacted my life in a positive way, meeting such wonderful people and all because of Ben’s birthday and starting a podcast. And here we are!”

Bryon, Ben, and friends at the 2017 Twin Peaks Festival
Bryon, Ben, and friends at the 2017 Twin Peaks Festival

Describing their Twin Peaks viewing experiences over the years:

Ben: “I recorded some of the episodes, but I don’t know why I didn’t record all of them. I clearly didn’t have a VCR in my room. My mom hated this show, and said it was “the devil’s show” and being Christians, it was like “You should not be watching that!” and even to this day she still doesn’t want to hear about me talking about Twin Peaks. I think it’s funny, I do to this day have the last episode [of the original series] on VHS and I’m thinking about transferring it to DVD one of these days. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to re-watch it until I got older. I did get the VHS set and there were a few different sets. I think that I got a “log” set, but it was only Season 1. Then I got the “checkerboard” one, which had all of Season 1 and 2, but it was like a long or extended play, and the quality wasn’t as good because of trying to fit a lot of shows on these tapes. Then I got the Artisan set, whatever they came out with on DVD. I got the first season. I think I somehow skipped season two and then went right to the gold box, and of course the Blu-Ray [Entire Mystery].”

How did you guys watch Season 3?

Ben: “We were very lucky for Part 12, to be at the Twin Peaks Festival and get to be with a group of Twin Peaks people to see it live together. Sabrina Sutherland brought in a video on a computer of that episode. That was really special; to be with the community for that one, but most of the time we were in our own houses watching it. It is so funny how with DVRs and streaming, that we could watch at any time but that was one of those shows I had to watch it right as soon as it started.”

Bryon: “So they dumped the four hours, two [live] and then two streaming, and I said: “No, I’m going to wait a whole week.” I was happy I did. Everybody else watched it, but [Ben and I] didn’t talk about it because we recorded our podcast the next day. I really like to stretch it out, and I want to enjoy it.”

Ben: “Of course I watched it by myself when it originally aired, and I brought my VHS tapes to college and I would have these gatherings where I forced people and said: “You’re gonna watch this show!” My wife was actually at college with me, so I think I probably got her to watch it as well. She was there with me for the new season, so that was nice. It’s just the two of us watching and it’s hard because everybody in a lot of the communities are our friends and are not near each other. They’re all over the world and so I think it’ll be great if we could [watch it together]. At the same time, we have friends who don’t want to do that. They say: “Twin Peaks is on I don’t want to be around anybody. I just want to watch it by myself and really enjoy it.”

Bryon: “When I was watching the original run for the podcast, I was mostly paying attention, taking notes and rewatching a couple of times, and getting ready for the show. So I was preparing myself for something, and I felt like I was getting in on something with everybody. But for me, Season 3 was kind of cool, we’re-all-in-this-together for the first time, and I think that experience was different for me because I felt like we’re all going into this party at once. Afterwards, I would be up until one or two in the morning texting with Ben, and Jubel [Brosseau of Counter Esperanto Podcast] and Scott [Ryan of the Blue Rose Magazine] and John [Thorne of Wrapped in Plastic and the Blue Rose Magazine]; whoever was willing to talk to me. The conversation would just go on and on and you know, it was great to have that wonder and awe and mystery we’re all trying to figure out together. It would be great to have a Season 4 to do that all over again, but I cherish that summer we all got to do that together. That was really something, Ben.”

Ben: “The summer of Twin Peaks.”

Ben, Bryon, Scott and Jen Ryan at the Twedes Diner
Ben, Bryon, and the Ryans at the Double R

Bumper sticker, cosplay, or tattoo type of Twin Peaks fan?

Bryon: “I have two bumper stickers. I have the owl cave symbol on my rear windshield, and then on my bumper I have “What Would Cooper Do?” and it has pie and coffee. I can see people’s expressions in my rear view mirror like: “Who is Cooper?” I would add a category for myself as a tee shirt guy who has tons of Twin Peaks tee shirts. You know, from our own logo, from all the events we’ve been to, from cool stuff I found online in the community-at-large. I just love getting tee shirts. I have too many tee shirts and a huge Twin Peaks tee shirt collection. I personally thought this would be really cool (I don’t know how Ben feels), but I might do this if we ever end this podcast and we start doing our Lost rewatch when we hit 50; it would be kind of cool to get the owl cave symbol tattoo. Just like an exclamation point after this part of my life, when we get to that point. I think that would be kind of cool. I don’t know if Ben would do that, but I might do that.”

Ben: “I get really freaked out by the thought of having the ink on my body permanently. I think is beautiful on people, but for me to actually get a tattoo, I don’t know it just freaks me out.”

Bryon: “I have two.”

Ben: “I didn’t even know he had two! I’m somebody who always wants to edit and I would probably get tattoos and then say: “I don’t know if I like that shape, let’s redo it.” It would just take over my whole arm. I feel like I’m more in that tee shirt category as well. So we added a new category: tee shirts.”

Who have you converted to Twin Peaks fandom?

Ben: “I got my wife into and she enjoyed it enough. She probably doesn’t watch it as much as I watch it, but she’s watched through all the seasons. So that’s somebody I’ve converted. My wife works with Bryon, so I will tell her stuff about Twin Peaks and then she will go to work and hear the same thing from Bryon, or it goes the other way around: Bryon will tell her about Twin Peaks, then she’ll come home and have to hear it from me again. It’s like: “Bryon’s already told those stories, please don’t tell me again!”

Bryon: “We torture her!”

Ben: “ The more I hear from her, Bryon and I are a lot alike. My wife is so supportive, and she lets me go to the Twin Peaks Festival and we’re going to the Festival of Disruption. These are all things that take away from family time, but she’s like: “Hey this is once in a lifetime, go do it.” Bryon: “I would say so, because I post my podcasts on my Facebook page, some of my friends who were into podcasts actually watched Twin Peaks because of our show. They saw that I was always posting about it and they go: “Well, I’ll give it a shot!” I’ve had a couple friends who I run into saying: “Yeah, I watched Season 1 and Season 2 because of your show.” Then I would say: “You know there’s a movie” and a lot of times they didn’t know about Fire Walk with Me. Season 3 was kind of catalyst. They saw Season 3 coming out and they’re like: “I have a friend who has a show, maybe I’ll jump in.”

I had a few people like that and someone at work who I just met recently, Twin Peaks was kind of the common ground. I told him about my Twin Peaks podcast, and he watched on Netflix and we joke around about that now. So it’s kind of like a bridge there that gives us something to talk about, so that’s really been really cool. My girlfriend, she tolerates Twin Peaks and I’ve worked her mind a little bit, because she will quote it: “Get me some milk, my socks are on fire!” has been thrown around my house numerous times and not by me, so that’s always been great.”

Bryon and Ben recreate an iconic Red Room scene
Bryon and Ben recreate an iconic Red Room scene

Their favorite scenes:

Ben: “My gosh there are so many good scenes.”

Bryon: “That’s a good . My favorite scene of all time is between Gordon Cole and Shelly; when they’re in the booth and Shelly kisses Gordon Cole, basically to make Bobby jealous. Bobby shows up and Cole turns to him and says: “This is how it’s done!” and lays one on Shelly. I always thought that was sweet when Gordon Cole could only hear Shelly talk at normal room volume. I thought that is very sweet and comical; very funny, and it sticks out to this day. That is kind of neck-and-neck with Season 3, Norma and Big Ed’s scene, because I was waiting for that scene and I know a lot of people were, and it was just beautifully done. It stands out now just like a wonderful piece of art that could be cut out of Twin Peaks to just stand on its own. It’s just amazing. I can’t pick one above the other. Those are my two favorite scenes.”

Ben: “For me, it’s always the mythology or the Red Room scene in there with the Little Man dancing, and you have backwards talking, and its secrets and mysteries. Of course the Roadhouse with the Giant there, saying “It is happening again.” There’s this atmosphere. Bobby doesn’t know what’s going on. Cooper doesn’t know what’s going on, and the Log Lady is there, and all of a sudden we are taken away to find out who the killer of Laura Palmer is. I mean, that’s just amazing. Nothing like that on television really, so I mean there’s so many little beautiful scenes like you’re talking about and also these huge mysteries that I just love.”

Your podcast is running strong, 150-plus episodes. Is this what you envisioned?

Ben: “Never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d get to talk to Mark Frost. Never in my wildest dreams would I have talked with Sherilyn Fenn. I have a few people on my list that we want to talk to: Sherilyn Fenn and Mark Frost. I really want to talk to David Lynch and of course Kyle MacLachlan. We started off with people like Brad Dukes, you know he was the author that wrote Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks and I thought that was so exciting to be able to talk to the author about Twin Peaks. We have Joel Bocko who did these video essays, and so it was always so exciting I never thought we get that I think we even today we’re still talking to people, whether it is Sabrina Sutherland, it’s really exciting.”

Bryon: “To piggyback on what Ben said, when we were going to do the show, I just thought we would review, talk, and analyze. I never knew the depths to which Twin Peaks would take people. I didn’t know about anything [about the series] and when we got Brad Dukes on for our first podcast, I was like: “This is interesting!” and then I knew it was special for Ben big-time when we had John Thorne [as a guest].   Because I remember that you couldn’t get Ben to hang up with the guy. Ben was so in awe, you could see the sixteen year-old in him so happy; to me it felt like Ben had talked to John Thorne all his life the way they were talking.

I never thought the [podcast] would get to that point. I had a feeling that Ben was in love with these characters, and you know [our podcast] was a good way to talk to people. I’ve done stuff to meet people this way and it seems like a great way to do it but never in my wildest dreams did I think we were going to talk to cast members and anybody involved. Every person we’ve ever interviewed, I’m always in awe: “Wow, we got that person?!” There was no empire in mind, we just kind of go.”

Ben: “The interesting thing I really remember is we started in 2015, and the thinking was: we got these Blu-Rays, we’ll watch Season 1 and Season 2, and [Season 3] will come out in 2016. That was the original thought, that the show is going to be [released] in 2016. So I said: “Okay, we’ll just do episode-by-episode and we’ll catch up, and then we’ll be at the point where it’s time to just do [Season 3].” We had to end up having another year and I think that’s where we probably started spacing out the show differently. We started thinking about other types of shows because we had a year to fill before we got to Season 3. So I think that probably shaped it, too. It wasn’t like we were thinking: “We need to top ourselves!” It was more like: “Now we need to keep on going and we probably talked about maybe we can just take a break we could take a break and we’ll come back with Season 3.” For me, it was like: “No, we’re going to keep this momentum going; we have to keep our community going.” Even now will we won’t have that same community when the show comes on and so I think that really affected it.”

Through Twin Peaks Unwrapped, Ben and Bryon have created a special place for the Twin Peaks community to gather. It doesn’t matter if we participate as guests, panelists, or listeners. I think back to that that day in 2016, watching these two dedicated and passionate fans crouch over the tools of their trade, and long not for those summers on Pearl Lakes, but that our shared Twin Peaks experiences never end. Thank you Ben and Bryon for your time, technical assistance, and friendship!

You can follow Ben and Bryon’s adventures here:

The podcast is available on iTunes and other platforms, including YouTube.


Twitter: @twinpeaksunwrap


Twin_Petes is a 27 year-plus fan of the show, music, merchandise, and emotions that emanate from the woods surrounding Blue Pine and Whitetail Mountains.  He and his family now reside in what can best be described as the Purple World.  His favorite response to most questions is: “That…cannot be revealed.”  He loves all things Lynch and Frost.  You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @Twin_Petes.

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