Brad Shreve 00:04
Cator Sparks. Welcome to Queer We Are.

Cator Sparks 00:08
Thanks so much, Brad. It’s great to be here.

Brad Shreve 00:10
Your successful life coach, and I look forward to discussing that. It’s quite a change from your work about writing style and fashion. For the listener, I can tell you this old bear has no sense of style. And I impressed with Cator. And I’m certain if you catch him washing his car, he will be looking fabulous while he does it. You can tell I’ve read some of your articles. So Peter, are you ready to talk about high fashion high living and how trip to upstate New York changed your life?

Cator Sparks 00:43
Let’s do it. I’ll dive into anything. I’m open to any conversation. I trust Yeah.

Brad Shreve 00:50
Okay, good. You may regret that. I’m your host Brad Shreve.

Cator Sparks 00:56
And I am Cator Sparks

Brad Shreve 00:58
and Queer We Are. You’ve had that goal of accomplishing your dreams someday. And maybe that someday is today. I am Brad Shreve, and each week I sit with successful LGBTQ entertainers, activist politicians and average folk. And we learn what success means to them, how they made their goals a reality, so that you can do the same for all that plus entertainment and more, you are in the right place. Because Queer We Are more. My guest is Cator Sparks, he’s a life coach for men. He took quite the route to get there, though work in a PR in the fashion industry before he found his passion as a writer. He covered men style travel design and grooming for more publications than you can count, including the New York Times and Architectural Digest. He also began vibing with worlds of wellness and spirituality, which led him to his true calling, being a life coach. Now Cator, if I was in a room full of people, and I mentioned a life coach, I would have a whole lot of different perceptions in that room. Would you agree?

Cator Sparks 02:13
Absolutely. Yes.

Brad Shreve 02:16
Well, we’re going to talk about what you do. Those that are hesitant about life coaches, I want to acknowledge them and talk about what a life coach is not. So let’s talk about that. Tell me, what is a life coach not?

Cator Sparks 02:30
Well, a life coach is not a therapist, we don’t diagnose anybody. What I tell people, every new client, I say the difference between coaching and therapy is coaching talks about the future and therapy talks about the past. That’s a very general statement. But we can certainly talk about the past in coaching. But we’re not going to dwell on it, we’re going to talk about that, to move you into the future. And oftentimes, with you know, I’ve been to plenty of therapy in my life. And oftentimes, it’s talking about one thing over and over and over and over, where this is setting goals. And moving forward getting unstuck as we like to say and you know, the sad part is, is coaching industry is not regulated like therapy. So you don’t even have to take a course to become a life coach and call yourself a life coach. There’s plenty of 21 year old life coaches out there that are giving us a bad name. And so that’s when I when I did decide to be a coach. I knew that so I went to what I perceived as the best coaching school I could find collective Training Institute CTI and spent a year training with them. And I’ve taken continuing education since then. So I really want to give coaching a good name. And but it’s a it’s a wonderful, it’s a wonderful way, you know, mental well being and processing, what’s happening in life and moving forward.

Brad Shreve 03:44
Well, you give a really good definition of why life coach does, in my opinion. And I’m glad you brought up the bad age, because unfortunately there are those that have put a stain on your industry. And as you said, there are no legal requirements. There is the international coaching Federation, which is esteemed. Yes. And they set standards for certification. But it’s an industry organization there. They have no legal barriers, right. It’s just a acknowledgement that you have met, what standards they have and get some certification from them. So make everybody clear. You are certified. And we’re going to discuss your qualifications or at least I’ll hear them when we talk. Do you wish there were codes to prevent anyone from spray painting life coach on a piece of plywood is sticking in the yard?

Cator Sparks 04:32
Absolutely. Yes. I think there needs to be tighter regulations. And I have friends at ICF. And I know that those that is happening, they are working on that. Because coaching has become so huge, especially during COVID It’s really exploded and we have all these great companies like better up and Boone health and mindup and all these companies lira and ginger I think is one that provide coaching to companies. So it’s a huge industry now. And so I think because it’s so big there needs to be more regulation.

Brad Shreve 05:00
Yeah, looked it up the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they don’t really track life coaching, but their estimate is it will continue to grow almost to the end of this decade. So it is a booming business. Yes. The Canadian broadcast system did an undercover investigation on life coaches in I was shocked as hell by what I saw. Did you happen to see it?

Cator Sparks 05:24
No, please send it my way. Okay,

Brad Shreve 05:27
I’ll tell you about some of the life coaches they had on there. One woman charged $150 an hour, which is not outrageous at all for life coach, but she met her clients in what’s me look like a donut shop. And all I could think is, who would go in there, buy an apple fritter. And then fork over $150, to a woman sitting there in the booth. That was just hysterical. And she thinks she said, I don’t remember that what they were, but it definitely was not along the lines of not being a therapist. And there was one woman that told the client that she knows more than psychiatrists, and she can help them and you can go off drugs, which is dangerous. Yeah. And there was a guy, there was a guy that acted like a high pressure salesman, the person went to his office, and they talked about what a life coach does. And then he offered this deep discount, if they would make a decision on the spot, which is so ridiculous. So but they’re funny, but they’re not funny, but most disturbing, was a guy named rich Weiler. And like you, he specializes in coaching gay men, however, he very much is not like you. He touts. He specializes in gay men who are struggling with their identity. And he’s actually a front for a conversion therapy camp in Virginia.

Cator Sparks 07:02

Brad Shreve 07:03
Have you heard of him? Nope. I think the name of the camp was men’s road. And I looked at the website and was unbelievable. One quote they have on the website is I didn’t want to be affirmed gay, I wanted to be affirmed a man. So now that I brought those out, I’m gonna get off my high horse and move on. Because I do have a respect for life coaches very much. And in fact, I’m in training to be a life coach, here we go. Let’s get to the good stuff. What does a life coach do?

Yeah, so most of my clients come to me because they are feeling kind of like what I said earlier, stuck, they’re stuck in a relationship. They’re stuck in a way of thinking, they’re stuck in a job, a career, they don’t want, they can’t find a life purpose. And they’re trying to move forward. So many clients will even come to me, you know, I have the big spiritual clients who would do all this deep dives and meditations and, and all this, and then I have clients who simply they can’t keep their room clean. And they need help, like, how do I organize my life, to be, you know, to be more organized, to be more resourceful to get into better routines, and I’m, I’m happy to work with any of those people. And then of course, I do work with all men, gay and straight. And I but I do have a lot of gay men. And a lot of them are come to me about coming out, you know, most of them are older, and their 50s 60s or 70s. And, like, what do I do? How do I do this? You know, what are they What’s Grindr? How do we you know, what’s an open relationship? What is what you know, and we process, what their values are, what their life purpose is what they want in a partner. And, you know, I’m an open book. So any questions they have, for me about the LGBTQ world? I’m happy to answer and it’s a, it’s a really beautiful process to see these men blossom.

Brad Shreve 08:55
In talking about men coming out late in life. I was 35. When I came out, and I was married. I have a beautiful daughter. So no regrets there. Though, I do kind of regret all the fun I could have. I had a lot of fun. But I think it would have been different when I was in my 20s. But I was really shocked. I came out in Las Vegas. And before I came out, I was sneaking to the gay and lesbian center and there was a huge group on coming out or men’s group. And there were so many men in the in their 70s and 80s, who waited till their wives died. To come out. Now we’re seeing that a lot less these days. I hope,

Cator Sparks 09:34
right, but we still see it. I do.

Brad Shreve 09:36
Yeah, I’m sure you do. So I am an affirmed gay man. I’m also happy to be a man so they’re not surprisingly mutually exclusive. But I come to you for life coaching. Now, you’re going to listen to what I tell you. And then you’re going to give me instructions on what to do. Is that right or wrong? Then tell me what the process since.

Cator Sparks 10:03
So, you know, what we try to do in coaching is, is reduce the story I don’t need to know. So yesterday, my mom told me this, and then she did this. And then we went there. And then this happened, I need you to come with to me with a topic and say, I need to process the anger I have towards my mother. Boom, let’s get into it. And what I do is I ask empowering questions, like, you know, okay, tell me, you know, what? How does it make you feel? And if you had a magic wand, what would you do to make it different? And most of the questions I ask all the questions, I asked you, if I’m a good coach, you know, you have the answer. I’m not giving you I’m not saying here’s what you should do that is not a coach, I’m seeing what you want to do. You have all the answers. I’m just a sounding board. And I’m here to help you find those answers. And mine those answers, you know, because we’re all spinning, and so much what ifs, if only is past and present, future. And so just to stop and think about, you know, why am I angry at my mother? What how do I process this? What are some skills and some tools I can use to move forward to have a better relationship with her? Or cut her out? If she’s, you know, toxic in your life? And what would that look like? And what support do you need and doing any of that, and then you know, I’ll hold you accountable. I’ll say, okay, by this time next week, I want you to write the pros and cons of cutting your relationship off with your mother. And we’ll process those and maybe you’re like, you know what, I love her too much. I want to work through this. Great. How are we going to work through this? How would you like to do that?

Brad Shreve 11:37
We have usually a lot of things going on inside of us. A whole lot of decisions we’re trying to make and goals that we have. And a lot of us have been spinning for years. But do you generally work? Unless you’re really locked in together? Do you generally work on one thing at a time?

Cator Sparks 11:55
Well, that’s a good question. Usually I ask clients to come with a topic. So if the topic is I want to open my relationship, but I’m scared to ask my partner. Okay, let’s process that. But then if it goes into, well, why don’t I want to do that? Well, it’s because I don’t have enough self love to stand up for myself and say what I really want? Well, why don’t you have that self love? Where did what’s lacking there? Well, when I was a kid, I was bullied for 18 years. So I was always told I was less than which Hello, we’re seeing today in politics, with you know, gay people. And so we call it and CTI, we call it dancing in the moment, that the topic might have started out as I want to open my relationship up. But the end of the session could really be about self love and finding ways to better love yourself better advocate for yourself better ways to stand up for yourself.

Brad Shreve 12:50
I know for myself, the internalized homophobia that made me wait so long to come out. What are generally the thoughts that you’re hearing that are making it difficult for many men?

Cator Sparks 13:02
Oh, goodness, so many things. A lot of them are been married to women for so long. And so, you know, it’s either the wife leaves them for something totally, not about being gay, or they leave their wife because they’ve come out or the wife has passed away. And so, you know, that happens with a lot of my clients. But also I’ve had, I’ve had men come to me and say, I think I’m gay, but I could never leave my wife. Like, what do you want to do about it? Like, I don’t know. And this happened more than once. And they said, I can’t leave her. They won’t. I said, Well, I don’t know what work we can do together. And so I have to kind of let them live their life. And you know, if they want to come back to this story, one day they can. But so many people are so afraid of hurting the other person. And that is what I divorced. My my husband and I divorced in January of 2019. And that was the hardest thing to do in my life, but we knew it was for the best. And it’s changed my life. That divorce and all I learned from it and it wasn’t the right match. And that’s okay. And we moved on. And I get we we did not have any children. But that is that’s something as I asked all my clients who was number one in your life and if you don’t say me, you are wrong.

Brad Shreve 14:32
Life is ever evolving. Starting this week, and every week there will be two episodes of Queer We Are. In addition to Tuesday’s show, each Thursday, you’ll also get Queer We Are life hacks. Five minutes or so of happy snippets, thought provoking words, or advice from my experiences or more likely something I learned from someone else, which may help you have a better day and who knows, maybe even a We bet life changing. This Thursday, I’m starting with one that’s easy yet has impacted me and I’m certain others in a big way. Wherever you’re hearing me now, that’s where you’ll catch me for life hack. I look forward to seeing you there. When it comes to coming out for those that are married, you get a lot of different reactions. I remember sitting there with my hand on the guy’s back as he cried, because he said he destroyed his life life.

Cator Sparks 15:29
Right. But there’s a lot of younger gays that I work with that the issue is internalized homophobia were like, I you know, I’ve had so many clients that said to their family, or friends or anyone said, Well, I’m gay, but I’m not like them. And I’ve helped those guys learn. It’s okay to be What are you scared of? I remember growing up and thinking like, why are those guys jumping around and tutus in the public of course, they should be embarrassed. Now, I’m not bitching the due to you know, because I understand that freedom, I understand how I was repressed for so long. And current politics that one of the oppressors want to obliterate us don’t want our books in schools, and trans bad non binary bathrooms and all this stuff. So that’s still happening. And there’s still a lot of hurt out there. And so then Instagram and social media has a whole nother level of shame. That, well, I’m gay, but I don’t have a six pack. I’m not tanned. I don’t, I can’t twerk and, you know, and a pool in Palm Springs and have 60,000 followers on Tiktok. And teeth and helping these clients understand that that’s not reality. And I’ve met some of those people. And they’re not, they’re pretty vapid or they’re not happy. I feel sorry for them, if that’s where they need to find their, their, you know, their self esteem is through social media. There’s a lot, we can go a lot deeper.

Brad Shreve 16:52
And it’s interesting that you brought the tutus because that was my issue. And there’s talk show host in Australia, and he brought up in the show, he was speaking my words verbatim. He said, I blame the queer community for holding me back as much as those that are straight. And the reason he said is up, well, I’ll talk about my experience. I would watch the pride parades on TV and see the guys in pink thongs and boas, but my issues were like, I don’t want to become a woman. I don’t want people think I want to become a woman. And I don’t want people to think I’m up there on the float. Because I had the perception that that is what gay people think gay people do all the time. That’s how they live all the time. And if you want to, that’s fine. But I found that wasn’t the case.

Cator Sparks 17:43
As we know, the gay community is not a monolith. I think Black Lives Matter helped a lot of underpin. A lot of people better understand this when? Well, what do black people think about this? Well, black people are not a monolith. Not everyone’s Herschel Walker or RuPaul. You know, so Yeah, neither are gays near there. You know, I had people, you know, what do you think Arabs think about this? I don’t know. Have you done a you know, Scantron test of every Arab in America and the world? I don’t know. No, there’s no monolith. Neither are white people. But once you realize, yeah, there’s every literally the rainbow from bears to you know, the Trans World to people with white picket fences and 2.5 children like we are everywhere, and we do everything and you don’t have to fit into a pocket. But what I have really learned and this is through, I host a I facilitate a GBT Q which is gay, bi trans questioning men’s group for every man and every man’s men’s wellness organization that hosts retreats, they do workshops, based in America. And we meet once a week and this group of men come together because they feel like there’s a lack of gay men who are who go deeper. And I know that that’s the name of a podcast, but but Gameboy gaming going deeper, but that’s what we’ve been doing for years and years. And, and these edits everyone from 70 years old to 20 years old. Coming to find a deeper connection, we open with a meditation, we have a prompt, we do somatic healing. And we all say Man, if we all just lived in the same place witness be wonderful. Like if we could all go on a hike together, but we’re all across America. And we’re all looking for that spiritual connection with other gays and there’s also a podcast called spiritual gays, which I adore. And those boys I think live outside of Palm Springs are in Southern California. But I know there’s definitely a need in our community for for more connection, a deeper connection, because you do see the circuit parties you do see the six pack abs on Instagram and Tiktok and it’s exhausting and it’s, I find that most of it pretty boring. And you know, they they’re people want to have a deeper connection. And I’m excited that that’s happening. I’m excited to see what comes next.

Brad Shreve 19:55
Well, you mentioned bears and the six pack etc. You wrote an I say that I happened to read, it was called the impossible elevation of gay of the body in a gay men’s world. And basically, it’s about male dysphoria, body dysphoria. And you told a story that made me laugh. You said that you had a 33 inch waist, and then you lost a little weight. And a friend came up to you and said, You look great. We were worried about your weight with a 33 inch waist. How big is this problem?

Cator Sparks 20:32
Oh, I think it’s huge. And also, this was New York, this was I work in fashion. So this was someone who worked at a boutique. So also, I think, in my whole time in fashion, I was always very aware of, you know, that level of vapid pneus. But I do think it can hurt people. I mean, it hurt me, it affected me. I wrote that article. And thank you, you really did a deep dive that was for Kimber What magazine it was for, because it was a magazine based in London. And I think Lady Gaga did when they got like, 20 people do these different parts of the body. And it really resonated. And I was shocked at how many people found that that article so insightful, because as a gay man, I know that that’s what happens in our community. And I know that I’ve never been comfortable with my weight until recently. And but also it was because I was scared to go to the gym, because that’s where the bullies are. That’s where the bros are, who are going to call me names and make fun of it. But what I do with the gym, so So I found yoga so I found a kettlebell class with a bunch of liberal men who love to work out. And it’s just interesting how, yes, how that body dysmorphia never leaves the gay community. But I will also say, I think it’s very much from working with straight men to it’s very much there. I have straight men who tell who say, you know, who are very handsome and very fit. And they said, Yeah, my girlfriend told me I need to lose some weight. I’m like, that is just insane. You need to, let’s get back to your values and who this girlfriend is?

Brad Shreve 22:04
Well, I actually think over the years that the body dysphoria has lessened with gay men and has increased with straight men. Now, maybe that’s gross generalization, but that’s the way it looks.

Cator Sparks 22:16
Yes. Well, you know, I am such a big fan. And this goes back to the pink tutus. I’m so I’m so proud and happy for our community who have finally, after 1000s of years of being gay of like, being totally accepting of everybody. There’s a magazine called them there’s, you know, I think when not the term non binary came out. And then you’ve just got men who wear high heels or women who bind their breasts and you don’t know what gender they are, and you don’t have to care, you know, and you can ask someone what their pronouns are, you can move things to Lizzo. And people like that weight is no longer an issue. And so you can I think the cover of WAS IT OUT magazine finally had an overweight, voluptuous, black gay man on the cover, and it was beautiful. And I’m just hopeful that that’s the direction that the queer community is going and I use the word queer and not gay because I think that’s more overreaching of anyone who identifies.

Brad Shreve 23:18
I think it’s getting better. And I I’m almost certain we’re right. I certainly hope that we’re right. And as far as the pink tutus somewhere on the web, I hope nobody goes searching for it, that you’ll find a picture of me with a giant rainbow floppy hat. And I am wearing a pink tutu in a tank top. It was at the Long Beach pride. And I had a gale time that day, my went home and got back into marble. I have no desire to wear that every day. But it sure was fun as hell that day, of course. And actually, I went to my church and I talked to the kids about being gay and I wore it. I got a lot of laughs Let’s talk about fashion. Because you were talking about well, you lived in the fashion industry, and you were in all that. I have no problem with what we consider traditional fashion. You know, if somebody wants to go to Brooks Brothers and get the finest outfit, that’s their fashion. If somebody wants to wear a plaid shirt with the arms cut off, that’s their fashion. There’s no right or wrong there. Right? It’s only wrong when you’re told this is where it has to be.

Cator Sparks 24:23
Right? Well, I would say my one of my great mentors, the editor of Vogue Deanna Freeland, back in the 50s 60s she said bad style is better than no style at all. And I completely agree when I see someone and just the worst outfit. bravo bravo for wearing a hot pink top and a golden a bottom and and a weird hat on your head. It’s better than wearing you know, agree leaser suit, or just black Brooks Brothers pants and a schlumpy yellowed buttoned down. So I’m all for that personal style.

Brad Shreve 24:55
And I’m a bear and as she used to be the more traditional barriers to be dramatically heavier than I am now. And I heard you describe yourself as a bear. And you are certainly not that chubby fellow. As you probably know, the bear community started developing around the 80s. Guys that were bearish, were seen that there were other guys that were bearish. And then they could be attractive in that sense. And for those of you that don’t know what a bear is, traditionally, it is a guy that’s a little hefty and are really very overweight and hairy. And I made the joke about the plaid shirt with the arms cut off, you’ll see that in the pictures. But the bear community has really grown in an almost as embrace anybody that wants to call themselves a bear. There were those in the bear committee that will argue that, but that’s the way it is. But that started in the 80s. And then when the internet hit, and they started seeing that they weren’t the only ones man and exploded, but but I was at a bear event. And my ex’s ex was there. And he was standing in the corner looking miserable. And I asked him what is wrong? And he said, nobody wants me. And I was very blunt. I said, why would they want you you look miserable, you’re attractive. I’m glad things are better than before.

Cator Sparks 26:15
I’m sorry, he felt that way. But I mean, you know, it sounds like he needs a life coach. Because if you’re gonna project that I’m a big fan of manifesting. And if you keep saying no one likes me, I’m a I’m an attractive. Well, yep, yes. And yes, you’re unattractive. And no one likes you that is. But if you say wow, I’m really handsome, and I can’t wait to meet my partner. That is the energy you want to put out in the world. And, and I’m a big fan of that. And I truly believe in it. But it’s funny. I never really thought about being a bear. But 15 years ago when I had a bigger beard, and it was brown, and I got called a bear in New York all the time. So that’s what I kind of assumed. That was like, oh, okay, that’s interesting. And now that I’m 46 and I hang out with a lot of younger gays in Charleston because I found them so amazing and stimulating. They call me daddy. And even when I was born, here we are family. A lot of the kids call me daddy just because more because I was helped helping run the organization. And now daddy is a whole thing for me. I mean, I even have clients who call me daddy, which I think is hysterical. And I never would have thought I wouldn’t be a daddy. But I really enjoy it. I think it’s a kind of a beautiful fun thing. And it’s a very gay thing. Although I guess it’s I get a lot of straight women who love it when I wear my daddy t shirt out. And I maybe daddy is that I guess daddy is a certainly my heart belongs to Daddy, I guess there’s a lot of women who love it good daddy, too. But um, but I digress.

Brad Shreve 27:44
But that’s great, though, that all kinds of people can be loved and probably and actually always have been. But what I told this guy is it was a matter of perception and expectations. And what I said is I love to go to bars in West Hollywood and dance because I love to dance, and have a great time. But you know what, I kind of knew it wasn’t very likely that I was going to hook up with anybody there. It could happen. It actually did happen, but not as likely, right? Whereas if I went to a bear event in a bar that cater to bears in the Silver Lake neighborhood are in Long Beach. I was the belle of the ball. And I’ll tell you when I was single, I was a very busy fellow. But it took a long way to get there.

Cator Sparks 28:26
Right? Well, and it’s so funny you say that, like I always tell clients encourage clients, like don’t go out to meet someone go out to do what you want to do. Because when you’re in your happy place is when you might is when you might meet someone I mean, I’ve gone to parties with people and be like, I’m here to meet a man. Like that sounds exhausting. Why don’t you just be here to see your friends and meet new people and drink their free champagne and then see what happens.

Brad Shreve 28:54
I’m going to tell you my secret. Stop looking Well, exactly. When I stopped looking and said, I’m just going to have fun and I’m going to hold off a relationship. Man I met the man of my dreams. So that’s that’s my little tidbit piece of advice. Take it for what it’s worth. Sure. I have no certification in anything. So, as I said, You come from Atlanta, and many people would probably be surprised to know that Atlanta has a very friendly gay community that is large. Like I said, I went to my first gay bar. And now you live in Charleston, South Carolina, which is charming. But I want to talk about the time in between Thor, you graduated from the American Intercontinental University in London and you got a degree in fashion mark. Correct. You said you had a passion for writing. And I some still do. And so you left the marketing and you started writing about fashion and architecture. And one article talking about fashion. You talked about dandyism and being a dandy How can I be a dandy? What do I need to do? You

Cator Sparks 30:02
dandyism is a state of mind, you know, it’s, as Oscar Wilde said, I’m pretty simple. I just, I only liked the best, and dandies like the best. And I don’t consider that like monetary because Quinton crisp is one of the ultimate dandies. I don’t know if you remember him he he had a book and a movie called The Naked civil servant. He was a dandy. I mean, dandyism started all the way back in the 1700s. When they call it Genki Doodle dandy Stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni, because they were the Danny’s the macaroons. There’s this whole history of dandyism that I find fascinating but couldn’t Chris was a very out gay man in London in the 20s and had his painted his hair red and wore green nail polish. And then he played Queen Elizabeth and Orlando was starring Tilda Swinton, it was his last role. And he was always poor. He was always broke. He never knew how to make any money. But he loved he would powders hair blue, he would eat like a queen and he would wear all these fabulous scarves and wide, you know, wide lapels, jackets, and he just always and he were all this jewels. That was cheap jewels. I’m sure they’re all fake off the flea market, but he looked fabulous. And he felt fabulous. And he always he loved being intellectually stimulating. And I think a lot of people think dandies are very superficial. And I find most dandies are very intellectual. They really enjoy deep conversation. They’re not in a rush to do anything being a dandy, you can spend three hours getting dressed, and then five hours at a party, and then six hours at the after party and just waxing poetic with amusing people. So I think there’s a lot of wit, as well as style, encapsulated in dandyism, and it’s, I’m really honored, I was a part of that world for so long, I would say it’s always part of who I am. But it’s hard to do that when it’s 90 degrees in Charleston, there’s not a lot of events in New York, I would go to four events a week where I would have to dress to the nines. And that just doesn’t happen as much here, but it’s still part of, I do, I appreciate fashion, and clothes and menswear, and just the whole dandy aesthetic as well as the art artistic element of it.

Brad Shreve 32:12
And I could be wrong. But from my viewpoint, from what I’ve seen, it seems like the dandy is what most people perceived a gay man was really up till Buck Stonewall totally. Because they were really, from what I’ve seen, they seem to be the only ones that were out,

Cator Sparks 32:29
right. They didn’t care. I mean, they were the you know, they were the they were the powerful creatures. They dressed and presented a very effeminate look at Brideshead Revisited. And like, the crazy dandies that are in there that are all super effeminate, where the green carnation paint their nails, whatever. And that’s when it was illegal, and you can go to jail. So I really hold them in high regard, because they, they they push the boundaries and the early days.

Brad Shreve 32:56
Well, I know here in Hollywood, the ones that were out typically, were the dandies. In an example I learned just recently. This is for the older folks, or those that watch reruns on I Dream of Jeannie, Dr. Bellows. He was a gay man. He wasn’t out to the public. But he didn’t hide it. Everybody on the crew knew. In fact, the reason they knew is he was a dandy in his free time. And he had lots of cocktail parties. And the whole casting crew from a drummer genie would be there. He was accepted. I’m glad now a dandy has their happy place. And I’m glad somebody that has no desire to be a dandy is in their happy place. It has gotten so that I don’t say anything goes but there’s not a one size fits all.

Cator Sparks 33:39
No, not at all. Not at all. And I think that’s fun. I mean, everything’s drag as RuPaul always says, you wake up and you’re in drag. And so like one day I want to be a leather daddy, the next day, I want to be a dandy. The next day, I want to be a Peruvian shaman if I want to, and we’re a caftan. But it’s just, it’s whatever floats your boat. And as long as it’s authentic, I think is the most important part. You’re not putting on airs, why not have multiple style personalities and be fun instead of wearing the same thing every day?

Brad Shreve 34:09
I agree. 100%. So what drew you to write about fashion and style and architecture, grooming etc? So

Cator Sparks 34:17
I think the number one word that would that would define me as curious. I’m just a really curious person. And so I love learning and what I loved about being a fashion writer, which I didn’t know would happen at the beginning. I mean, of course, I’m going to write fashion because I wanted to like go to fashion shows and go to Paris and and hobnob with fun people and I realized early on like so much of that is just such bullshit. So many of those people are sad, sad, disappointing people that are just too up in their own asked to really have any depth. But there’s so many people who are fascinating and again, curious and doing beautiful work and what I was doing as a as a writer I was I was putting them in a spotlight. And I’ll never forget, you know, I used to go to these trade shows and I’d meet new brands. And you know, I didn’t do a lot of like Gucci McQueen product kind of stuff. I was mostly working with makers, guys who are doing beautiful hand tool belts and some tailoring this and that, but it wasn’t like the super high end, because they don’t need the press. Like I was really interested in working with these new designers. And I would see them at shows like cater come come to our booth and look at our we framed like you put us in the New York Times. And that changed our life, you know, that gave us more sales that increased you know, the, the stores we’re in. And that made me so happy. I mean, it was kind of like coaching back in the day of like, I would just go and spend hours with these makers and hear what they were designing and hear their process and understand why and what their background was. And and I’d put it into endo print and it really uplifted them and I and that made me so happy. So that ended up really being what I really loved about writing and when it started getting to like writing about mega yachts, it was really fun to go to Monaco for the mega yacht show, but I didn’t really get anything out of that. And neither did these people. I much rather work smaller up and coming brands and designers and and learning what what makes them tick.

Brad Shreve 36:17
So based on the articles that I’ve seen, and definitely the pictures that the magazine has placed with your articles, do you traveled a lot, didn’t you?

Cator Sparks 36:25
I traveled a lot. I mean, it was at one point I was probably probably twice, which, you know, to some people, it’s not a lot but twice a month, maybe three times a month. You know, it’d be Mexico City Fashion Week Paris Fashion Week Icelandic Fashion Week, and then I’d be going to Kentucky for a bourbon tour then I would be going to Portland for a wine, something. I mean, it was because I was an editor in chief of a website for seven years. And so we covered fashion, travel design, food and spirits. I started covering whiskies and bourbons a lot. I took a two week trip to Scotland and went to the Harris tweed, and then did the Bourbon Trail and then went to all these restaurants. And it was a total like that was the dream come true about writing, just going to these places and meeting these wonderful people who are still most of them are still friends, we still keep up on social media. And just really, it was a dream, a dream come true.

Brad Shreve 37:16
There are a lot of people listening to you right now that are very envious.

Cator Sparks 37:22
Well, there’s, there’s also the other side of it is that it all sounds beautiful. But that was a really hard time in my life as well. I was I was drinking way too much. I was doing a lot of cocaine, because that’s what everyone does in New York. And I don’t think I was ever addicted to any of it. But I do specifically remember a day walking out of my house in Harlem thinking, I do not remember the last time I was not hungover. And it was sad. And so much of that was lack of self love. So much of that was like, I’m gonna get blackout drunk because I gotta stay up all night because I gotta go to five bars. I gotta meet a man. And guess what? I probably met a man. But they were not dating material. And so there was a lot, there was a lot of hard times and those times for me and a lot of my friends had no idea. You know, I’m southern Emma dandy, I can put a good outfit on and cover it up with some bonobos and some funny banter and carry on. So that is one part of a reason I moved to Charleston, I was kind of tired of just going, going, going, going going. And I wanted to connect deeper to myself, and I wanted to better understand what I wanted in life. And here we are.

Brad Shreve 38:28
You had a spiritual awakening, though, and decided to become a life coach.

Cator Sparks 38:33
I wasn’t really religious, or really spiritual. I was just doing my thing every day. And then, you know, I went to this, I went to this plant medicine retreat in upstate New York, and I had my brain blown. And it was life changing. And then I did that 10 years ago. It was incredible, but I didn’t do much afterwards. Then. Then after my divorce, I went to Peru did on Ayahuasca retreat, kind of came back into that world of plant medicine and, and it’s a part of my life. I really, it’s there’s a lot to learn there. And when I was a raver back in the 90s I remember I was doing ecstasy and acid and ketamine and then anything I get my hands on and I was really open when mom were really close. And I just said, do not worry. I’ve never had a bad trip. I’ve never had a bad experience. And one day this stuff will be legal and be changing the world. And here we are with ketamine clinics and MDMA with veterans and Ciba silan. With cancer patients and it’s all happening. I’m not saying i i prophesized this, but I’m really thankful that it’s it is where it is.

Brad Shreve 39:37
You said when you went up to New York and met with the mentors there, your vision became clear. And what that tells me as well, just going there, it tells me that there must have been a hole that you were trying to fill. What was that, huh? Or do you even know?

Cator Sparks 39:54
Oh, yeah, it was totally self love. It was totally like, why am I why am I so hard on myself? Have, and it was very much why I don’t have a partner Why Why have I? Why am I 35 At the time and never had a long term partner I had? Well, I had one for seven years when it first came out. And then most other ones were like two years, and they would end. And like, you know, what’s wrong with me? And I remember saying one time, like, I would do any, you know, if a partner wanted to move to the woods of Montana, I would do it. Like, what the fuck now? Like, what do I want? What do you know? Where are we how we’re gonna meet in the middle. And so it was a lot of building that, that understanding of where my lack of self love was coming from. And, you know, I think it’s years of gay shame of being told we’re not good enough that I never, I don’t think ever processed the years of being bullied for 18 years of my life, hardcore, suicidal edge of suicide, bullying, you know, and elementary, middle school in high school. So processing a lot of that through plant medicine was hugely beneficial and getting to, you know, we say in coaching, name entertainment, feel it to heal it, and I had to name what was happening and had to feel it, I had to process it. And that was life changing.

Brad Shreve 41:07
There are a lot of both, say men and maybe more that are hearing your stories of the raves and in the drugs and alcohol and man, they’re, they’re not in their heads. And it’s good to see that you can come out, okay, I came out. I did my cocaine days. But West Hollywood was really all about meth. It was meth and alcohol that really picked me up and spun me around and threw me down and made me say, Wait a minute. Yeah. So you can get out of that hole if you’re stuck there. Because you’re not really stuck there.

Cator Sparks 41:35
There’s a lot of addiction, our community. And I think a lot of that comes from

Brad Shreve 41:41
Yeah, meth is devastating. The gay community out here in California, I’m sure on other parts of the country, it’s because it’s so easy to get addicted. But what is it during this trip that sparked your interest to be a life coach?

Cator Sparks 41:58
That first time 1012 years ago in upstate New York was just like the first kind of inkling of trying all this out. And then I didn’t know where to go next and how to do it again, and where to go again. I did do another one about three years later. That was cool. But it’s hard to find. So it’s all underground, it’s hard to find these shamans or practitioners. It’s also very expensive to do a weekend retreat, and I don’t have that kind of money all the time. So you know, those are big things for me to spend money on. And I get it’s it was from a mental health, and I’m thankful. But it wasn’t until I went through my divorce that well, so I lost my job and 2018. And then I was freelance writing again. And then my husband and I split in 2019. So I’m like, great. I don’t have a job. I don’t have a husband. I went through a pretty dramatic traumatic divorce. And I’m like, So what the fuck am I doing? And a friend of mine, a shaman in London said you need to try this place called the Temple, the way of light in Peru, do a 12 day retreat, and six Ayahuasca ceremonies and and see what comes up. And I looked at the next day, and then for May of 2020. And we all know how that worked out. So I rebooked it five times, until I could finally make it in January of 2022. And it was another amazing life changing event just being in the jungle and a reception with a bunch of beautiful people working with the Shipibo tribe, and just really connecting to self and every night of ceremony, we’d ask the plant a question. And the answers I had were absolutely profound.

Brad Shreve 43:24
Well, I’m glad that you found your happy place. Thank you. Me too. Me too. It encourages others to find theirs and know that they can get there. So before I let you go, now remember, this is an LGBTQ? It addresses everybody in the alphabet. Great. So from your experience, what can you offer the listener? Based on your experiences?

Cator Sparks 43:45
Oh, goodness. Well, I think Ron Paul has one of the best quotes ever. I know he must have had life coach training, because he uses a lot of training on drag race, but one of them is if they’re not paying your rent, do not pay them. No mind. It is just that easy. So many people are worried about what other people think of them. What are people going to think if I get divorced? What are people going to think if I come out of the closet? What are people going to think about where this red shirt, girl do it. Just do what makes you happy. And you will find that peace and that happiness, and you will find your tribe. And it might take a while but they’re out there. Don’t focus on social media. Please start a meditation practice. Please start find dip in some sort of spirituality, meditation, yoga, whatever it is to connect to self because being present is the most important thing we can do in our life.

Brad Shreve 44:41
That all sounds beautiful to me. So let’s if you want to learn more about Cator, there’s information in the show notes as well. Some links. Cator has been a pleasure to talk to you. I’m happy to met you and thank you

Cator Sparks 44:54
been an honor Brad, thank you so much.

Brad Shreve 44:58
Do you enjoy the show? Oh, if so tell a friend because the number one way podcasts grow is word of mouth. So pass it on so others can enjoy Queer. We Are

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