Brownstein had recently become an ordained minister to marry two friends.
Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia discussed her new memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, and career with Amy Poehler Tuesday night at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church for an event hosted by Vroman’s Bookstore.
In her introduction, Poehler described herself as a longtime fan of Sleater-Kinney and joked, “When I worked at SNL, Fred Armisen and I would make a joke of who our favorite hosts and musical guests would be. And mine was always a murderer and a band I really loved. In my mind, it was: Tonight, it’s Sleater-Kinney with your host Scott Peterson!”
The two actresses discussed the idea of fame, including Brownstein’s early fan letters to soap opera stars, as well as what it is like to be a woman in Hollywood. “The most frustrating thing is that that question is a conversation that is separated from the experience,” said Brownstein. “Part of that experience is to talk about it. And that can feel exhausting and tedious. The frustration is to think, ‘Why is there a lack of sophistication in your question and your idea and your assessment of who I am?’”
Regarding the title of the book, Brownstein explained, “On [the Sleater-Kinney album] The Woods, there’s a song called ‘Modern Girl,’ and there’s a lyric from the song: ‘Hunger makes me a modern girl.’ And there’s a lot of hunger in this book in terms of want, need and desire.”
She adds: “I don’t know how to go through life without hunger, without need, without sensitivity to the needs of people I love and to the feelings of others. That’s how I see the world in a porous way. I feel a hunger to understand, to placate, to have compassion.”
When the conversation turned to the audience to ask questions, one woman, who had learned that Brownstein was an ordained minister, asked if the Sleater-Kinney guitarist would marry her and her partner. The event ended with an impromptu wedding ceremony, with Poehler creating makeshift bouquets from a floral display on stage and playing piano. Brownstein, who explained that she became an ordained minister to marry two friends a few weeks from now, admitted this was her first wedding.
The unexpected and unplanned wedding ceremony topped off a night whose central theme was acceptance and love of oneself. When discussing how she came to terms with herself, Brownstein said, “Many of us that feel like outsiders and go through life with distance as kind of our currency. And I felt like I was walking into a room headless with my head on a platter and my head was smiling. And I guess through music and writing and Portlandia, it’s realizing that I’d rather have that head on my body, even if it’s not smiling. That’s what I would prefer, a sense of wholeness. Even if there’s more truth to be revealed there; there’s more vulnerability at play.”