Ten Money Questions for Kathleen Warnock
Kathleen Warnock is a playwright and editor. Her short play, “The Adventures of…” will be part of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in Ireland in May. Her play “Some Are People,” has been produced in New York, Dublin, and Milledgeville, GA, and is published by United Stages. She is currently in the throes of editing Best Lesbian Erotica 2010 for Cleis (forthcoming this December!)
1. How did you get started as a travel writer?
That’s one of the major misconceptions of my profession. I’m not a travel writer…I’m a travel editor. In most people’s minds, that’s the same thing. In fact, when I tell people that I’m a travel editor, the first thing they say is: so, do you get to travel much? And the answer is…not as much as a travel writer. What I do is HIRE travel writers. And I sit in an office in Hoboken (with a fabulous view) and edit the books. I do get to travel some myself: I can go on press trips, and I’ve always traveled on my own (which is one of the reasons I think I was hired for the job).
2. What is a cheap but fun place to go for a weekend getaway?
I always look for destinations in their off- or shoulder season. I got to beach/resort destinations in the spring or fall. Right now, in the Northeast, you can probably get a good package deal in Provincetown (though off-season transportation there can be problematic), or down at the Jersey Shore, or on Long Island, as the places that stay open year-round are still offering well below high season rates. In this economic climate, bargains abound. I also keep an eye on the last-minute packages, like the ones at Flights.com (formerly Site59.com) and the ones on Priceline.
3. You have been on “Jeopardy”, “Cash Cab” and “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”. How easy is it to win on a game show?
Game shows are entertainment; if you can pass a test of basic knowledge, follow directions and be interesting enough to keep people from changing the channel (in a good way), then you will probably pass the audition. I am a big reader; I read everything I see, from newspapers and magazines to reference books. And I have the sort of mind that can pull up ephemera fairly quickly. Of course, I remember nothing about algebra, but then it’s never actually been something I’ve needed as an adult.
4. Have your winnings from game shows been worth the havoc it may wreak on a tax refund?
I talked to my accountant first thing after Millionaire, and he advised me to take 30% off the top and not even look at it. So I bought a CD that matured around April 15 of the following year. And when it was time to file, I took that money and used it to cover my taxes. (And I had actually put away more than needed, so I got an additional, smaller windfall). You are responsible for taxes on your winnings, so just think of what you won as 20 to 30% less (and put that much away), and you should be okay.
5. You are also involved with nonpofit theatre in New York City? How do handle fundraising in this challenging economic climate?
I’m a volunteer staff member at two non-profit theaters, and was previously a paid staffer for two more (a theater and a literary arts center). I feel like the expertise I bring to the companies is a pretty good in-kind contribution. At Emerging Artists Theater, I am the Playwrights Company Manager, and serve as a peer and coordinator for a group of emerging professional playwrights; I also do whatever I’m called upon as a staffer to help things run smoothly, whether it’s writing letters to potential funders, to picking up programs at the printer. At TOSOS, I am coordinator of the Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwrights Project, responsible for finding and helping produce readings of new plays (and revisiting older plays) by LGBTQ writers. I feel like helping develop a strong product is a kind of fundraising, because if people like it, they’ll support it. And if a play goes on to a successful run, it creates earned income.
6. How long have you and your partner been together? Do you always see eye-to-eye on finances?
We met online in 1998, and she moved here in 2000. We have a Vermont civil union and a NYC domestic partnership. She’s on my health plan at work. We go back and forth but are generally on the same page about spending. I spend more on things like eating out and entertainment than she likes, but I figure that’s part of being a playwright and participant in the NYC theater scene. We have a car that’s paid for (thank you “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”) and when I get a windfall like that, we usually discuss the best way to spend it, including clearing debt, a bit to give away as a charitable contribution, and something for ourselves, like a trip.
7. When you were a kid, did you get an allowance? What would you buy?
I did get an allowance; not a lot, but my dad always gave me pocket money. I usually spent it on candy and books. Now I spend it on candy, liquor and books.
8. What is the one personal item that you always splurge on?
I love to have a massage. I consider it essential for my well being. I try to have at least one a month, and two when I can afford it. We have a very good massage therapist who charges reasonable rates. But she is moving away, so I have a mission for the summer: to find another good massage therapist (who’s cheap!)
9. What is the one thing that you feel is always overpriced?
It depends on how much money I have on me. I actually think movies are overpriced. I rarely go to first-run stuff anymore; I’d rather wait for it on Netflix.
10. If money can’t buy happiness, what can it buy?
Well, if I had enough of it, it could buy me the time to write; as it is, I can buy a good meal, a weekend away, a ticket to the theater, a girlie drink with an umbrella, a book that one of my friends wrote, and food for the pets.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.