Discover more from The Squawk
Welcome to The Squawk!
My name is Lainey and most of you have probably found your way here today from LaineyGossip.com, the celebrity gossip website I founded in 2003. Before the blog, though, LaineyGossip began as a newsletter. It was 2002, I’d just quit my job, and I started sending an email to my two officemates at that job as a way to stay in touch. The emails were a way for me to keep them up-to-date on what was going on in Hollywood, because for the years that we worked together, I was their gateway to gossip and I took that responsibility very seriously.
Those two friends then forwarded my emails to their own circle of friends, and those friends did the same, and pretty soon, my celebrity gossip newsletter was reaching thousands of people – enough to crash my mail server, which is why, in 2004, I transitioned to blogging. We were among the first wave of gossip blogs alongside Perez Hilton, Dlisted, Pink is the New Blog, JustJared, and The Superficial, before anyone could really imagine that blogging could become a career, let alone a career that could last for 20 years!
But that’s only been possible through the support of the people – you! – who’ve been coming to LaineyGossip, often every day, growing with us, learning with us, laughing with us. The “us” part is what’s been on my mind, because gossip is a conversation, not just a transfer of information but an invitation to exchange ideas, opinions, and even values. Gossip is community, an area that we weren’t able to fully explore until now as I’ve been resistant to online comment sections and the toxicity that can fester in those spaces. That’s why I’m so excited about Substack because here is where we CAN engage in discussions about pop culture, we can debate, we can agree and disagree, but we can keep it productive and fun. Here is where we can squawk, safely.
The Squawk comes from the nickname that was given to my ma when she was a young girl: the Squawking Chicken. My ma came out of the womb squawking. She was born with a loud voice and she never hesitated to use it. Unlike so many of the Chinese girls of her generation, the Squawking Chicken was not afraid to be heard and demanded to be seen. She refused to make herself small and quiet, which is why she quickly earned her nickname and continues to live up to it.
The Squawking Chicken is my Original Gossip. As a child I would accompany her to mahjong games where she would play and gossip for hours with other gamblers in the neighbourhood. They talked about which shopkeepers didn’t put enough meat in their dumplings, they talked about the convenience store owner who was flirting with the florist, they warned each other about the man who cheated whenever he hosted mahjong games at his home and told each other never to play at his place using his own set. They listened to and comforted each other when their relationships were falling apart, they supported each other when one of them was betrayed; their stories were my first stories, at full volume, over the clicking and the clacking of the tiles, their collective squawking was imbued with curiosity, empathy, compassion, disdain, frustration, envy, anger, bitterness, disappointment, vanity, joy, friendship, and care – a full range of emotions.
That, to me, is the true spirit of squawking. And this is how I hope we can squawk here.
Right now, though, in the early days of our Squawk era, we are baby squawkers, and the content for sure will evolve over time. We’ll be doing a weekly mailbag feature to answer some of the commonly asked questions we’ve gotten over the years and the new ones that come up. We also happen to be kicking this off during festival season and both myself and Sarah, deputy editor of LaineyGossip, our chief film critic, and a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, will be sharing our experiences covering the Toronto International Film Festival.
Going forward, we plan to continue giving subscribers a more inside baseball look at the behind-the-scenes workings of our celebrity-adjacent professions. Book and music and other recommendations are also part of the plan, and all of it built around discussion as we will be jumping in the comments section to get your takes on what we’ve posted.
Some of this content will be free for everyone. Other features will be available for paid subscribers after a brief open trial, and we would so appreciate your support. This launch is an opportunity for us to not only enhance the experience we offer to readers, but also a hedge against the pressures being felt in ad-supported publishing by creating a revenue stream beyond advertising. Your generous subscription will help us continue to deliver at LaineyGossip.com and The Squawk.
Thank you so much for gossiping along with us all these years. Thank you for believing in what we do and how we do it. Thank you for two decades of amazingness. Let’s keep gossiping, let’s keep squawking!