Every subculture needs something that disrupts the status quo and wakes up people from their slumber. In this bizarre little subculture of what could perhaps be called “countercultural yoga,” and the even more bizarre sub-subculture of people-who-make-media-about-socalled-“countercultural-yoga,” a blog called The Babarazzi served this purpose.
In a gesture of auspicious timing, The Babarazzi landed on the internet just days before news about John Friend’s scandalous ways “rocked” the online yoga world in 2012, becoming perfect fodder for a blog dedicated to–as the tagline notes–”giving celebrity yoga culture the star treatment.” A loose collective with one member, Aghori Babarazzi, acting as a sort of unofficial spokesperson, the blog went on to become a hotbed of trouble and fun. Whether they were writing about John Friend’s penis, getting kicked off Elephant Journal, antagonizing celebrity yoga teachers, or unintentionally and indirectly yet brilliantly shutting down big useless commercial yoga events, The Babarazzi dared to go where no other yoga blog would go.
As Matthew Remski noted in his “homage” to Aghori, “His masala of cruel empathy flavours the absurd task of making us naked and strange to ourselves, forcing us to wriggle, shift, and grow in the glare of our own contradictions. It’s a dirty, dirty job, but somebody – I mean nobody – I mean somebody who’s made himself a nobody pretending to be everybody – has to do it.” For this, we are grateful.
Today The Babarazzi published their final blog post. This marks the end of an era in the yoga world, and things are going to be a little more boring from now on. Regardless, Aghori Babarazzi agreed to answer a few questions about the reasons behind the closure and the lasting legacy of The Babarazzi (with strict instructions from IAYB to “be sincere”). So here they are.
Why are you closing the blog? Why now? You’ve taken a few breaks in the past months, so we’ve been sort of prepared, but now it’s real.
Eh, we never had any intention of engaging with the world of Commercial Yoga Culture for very long. It’s not something we naturally gravitate toward. Once we felt like our point had been made, there really wasn’t much else to say. Plus, now, when you google “YAMA Talent,” our articles verbally spanking that entity come up on the very first page. I think we can call it a day.
Did you have any idea that The Babarazzi would cause such a stir in the online community?
I don’t really remember. I guess I thought it was going to do “something,” ‘cause I was slightly nervous when we were about to upload the first piece. So, my body certainly knew something was up. Though, I had no idea the people behind the personalities we were writing about were going to pay attention. But, I think they just can’t help it. That was a surprise. A most fortunate one, I might add.
Our “ORIGINAL” original purpose was to be the TMZ of the yoga world. That’s really why we chose to name “The Babarazzi” after “the paparazzi.” We wanted to make sure these yoga celebrities got the full celebrity treatment. You know, for their sake. There’s so much juicy juicy gossip to be had on celebrity yoga icons, we just wanted to do our part. I mean, don’t you think people want to know what teacher is dating which promoter right around the time said teacher is getting a most robust publicity push? Who is cutting a deal with who so a free yoga event can eclipse any other in the surrounding area? Who recently formed an alliance with an old enemy, and why, seeing as though both seem to still hate one another? That stuff is Grade-A prime celebrity gossip!
Not to mention all the negative BS. I mean, the shit that goes on behind the scenes in yoga studios is the stuff daytime soap operas are made out of. The backstabbing, power grabbing, ego trips. Students who have never crossed that line in the studio have no idea how pig-ish some of the more fame-oriented teachers can be. And, I’m not talking about the nice piggies that live on farms. I’m talking about the ones that come from outerspace and have bloodsucking fangs filled with poisonous fecal-venom. It’s fascinating! Having been on the block a while, we know about as much as anyone possibly could on these yoga bobble heads, and their “friends” have been happy to email us unprovoked to tell us shit we didn’t even want to know. We just couldn’t help but think that it might be a wonderful gesture on our part to create a website that catered to tabloid-esque sensationalism. I mean, enquiring minds really want to know!
Lucky for the high-profile celebrity teachers——and seriously, they should all be counting their fucking stars——we dislike prying almost as much as we dislike self-aggrandizing. So, we decided to throw that concept out the window, and just stick to what was in the public realm. We never reached into our vault of “privileged information,” and turned countless people away who wanted us to expose so-and-so as being a fraud.
So, in that sense, we completely failed to fulfill our original purpose! But, as far as our rebound purpose——shining a spotlight on Commercial Yoga Culture in order to force it out into the open, and help to disentangle it from yoga practice in general——yeah, I think we went pretty far with that.
Aside from any articles, I’m most proud of our readers and commenters. They were the whole thing. Funny, witty, always there bright and early. They called us out on our bullshit, and were willing got go to bat for us when we didn’t feel like doing it ourselves. When you write a piece and can expect to see anywhere from twenty to forty comments, that keeps you in the game. I swear, they made the whole thing worth while.
As far as articles go, funnily enough, I’m most “proud” of our “Haiti in the Hamptons” piece and especially the images we made that went along with it. It kind of embodies what I felt was the quintessential “Babs piece”: relatively short, poignant, graphically attractive, cutting, and still pretty damn funny. I’m most “amused” by our “If Gurus Were Food” piece. I still find that shit to be hilarious! Also, the “You Can’t Bring it With You” piece, where at the end Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal can’t bring “Waylon Lewis.” Makes me laugh every time. I guess I’m most “pleased” with our animated videos. I think that was some solid stuff. And, right out of the gate.
Finally, I’ve always been curious about your own practice and yoga background. It’s clear that you know the history and philosophy of yoga, and it’s grounded in a personal practice and possibly lineage. Would you mind sharing what that is?
Our physical practices are fairly varied spanning the spectrum of what’s out there. Some more accessible than others. Each requires consistency, a bit of discipline, a fair amount of humility, some kitten-esque curiosity, a willingness to take responsibility for one’s own body, a LOT of humor, and some good ol’ fashioned enthusiasm.