LadyGang on Why Their Podcast’s Real (And Raunchy) Approach Works

“Every woman is waiting to express herself in the way that men have for centuries,” says co-host and actress Becca Tobin

Cue up an episode of the LadyGang podcast—which just marked its 500th episode and 100 million downloads and counting—and it’s as if you’ve been thrown into a word blender on high speed.

Together, actress Becca Tobin; fashion and branding entrepreneur Jac Vanek; and entertainment journalist Keltie Knight are happily, messily, well . . . A LOT. Knight, 38, an Entertainment Tonight host, recently renewed her vows to Roc Nation general manager Chris Knight. Tobin, 35, who stars in Disney+’s Turner & Hooch remake, is married to entrepreneur Zach Martin. Vanek, 34, who made her name in slogan-driven loungewear and jewelry, is newly engaged to the Maine’s leadguitarist Jared Monaco. Knight and Vanek are SoCal-based, while Tobin has made the move to Austin, Texas. They are all more celebrity-adjacent than they are household names, and their unapologetic push to crest the wave to full-blown fame marks part of the podcast’s appeal. While some of their filter-happy peers might flock to the Sunset Tower, Vanek, Tobin, and Knight profess their love for Chili’s, “hidden bacon” notwithstanding.

They take detours to riff on the less-than-ladylike and fess up to “stumbling through womanhood,” as Vanek puts it. And although they are each impossibly toned, tanned, and blond enough to embody a certain aspirational Hollywood ideal, they’re not above delving deep into their most honest thoughts on, say, Harry Styles’s sex appeal (into him) or pooping in box-store bathrooms (bleak and soul-crushing). Eat your heart out, Ezra Klein.

The idea for the venture came about in 2015, when Tobin and Knight, who had met years earlier as performers in New York (Knight was a Rockette; Tobin spent a spell in the Broadway cast of Rock of Ages), linked up to commiserate over their most recent career travails. They decided the only thing to do was to create their own platform, leaning on Vanek for her branding expertise.

“There was this moment where we saw everything on social media as just this curated, most perfect version of everyone’s life,” says Tobin, who starred as Kitty on Fox’s Glee and who frequently delves into the nitty-gritty of trying to get the next big part. With only a rough road map, they began to interview celeb friends who were on the make, dishing on pop culture matters of the day. But when Tobin recounted that she left her used underwear out for her then-boyfriend to find as an act of foreplay, the endeavor soon morphed into something more raw, silly, and off the cuff. Listeners seemed to really connect with the women’s sometimes absurd confessional outtakes.

In 2020, Tobin, Vanek, and Knight published their book, Act Like a Lady: Questionable Advice, Ridiculous Opinions, and Humiliating Tales from Three Undignified Women. With meditations on how “what doesn’t kill you makes you weird at parties” as well as needlepoint-ready adages like “You’re worthy of a big love. Don’t get dicknotized,” it became a New York Times best-seller. The ladies say that their mission is one of empowerment: to help women lead more authentic lives and to make each other feel less alone by fessing up to their own foibles. Show guests like Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler delve into their own struggles with mental health and L.A. artifice.

There is now a burgeoning LadyGang Facebook community with over 32,000 members, a plan for a 2022 cross-country tour with live meetups, plus, naturally, merch. If Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop sells the heights of enlightened wellness to her poreless, crystal-clutching acolytes, the LadyGang is all about undercutting the idea that perfection is attainable and embraces tongue-in-cheek accessibility, more Kathie Lee and Hoda than Diane Sawyer. On their site, they sell a notebook with a title that reads: “People I Hate, Things I Regret, and Other Things I’d like to Forget,” for $12, and they push seasonal fashion lines geared to girls nights in.

While many women project a put-together, ultrasociable image out in the world, the reality is that “we’re all in our three-week-old hoodie covered in ketchup stains, you know, crying in the bathroom,” says Knight.

She believes the podcast is ultimately so popular because the hosts are frank about their struggles, even if, she says, “we don’t have enough time in the day to say how many times I’ve regretted saying something on the podcast.”

If it gets a little crude, that’s part of the charm. Tobin, who was raised in Marietta, Georgia, adds, “When I was growing up, the message was ‘Be perfect, be polite, be beautiful.’ There is still a little girl in my head that will say, ‘This isn’t appropriate for the dinner table,’ but I think that lack of a filter is liberating. Every woman is waiting to express herself in the way that men have for centuries. When you go there, people almost feel silly not going there themselves.”

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