Asexual American comedian Paula Poundstone has been active on the standup circuit since 1979. Following a spot on Saturday Night Live she began hosting television programs and appearing in minor roles as an actor; her notable appearances include late-night political correspondence during the 1992 presidential campaign and an HBO special for which she was honored with a CableACE Award (she also appears on Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Standups of All Time” list). She is also a regular panelist on the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, which she describes in an interview here. In addition to her standup and other vocal appearances Poundstone has also penned a comedic memoir, There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.
The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein lead a tumultuous life of both creative and temperamental outbursts. He was a student of some of the most famous names in his field, Bertrand Russell included, but always left their company feeling disillusioned. His own linguistic take on philosophical questions was groundbreaking and earned him recognition as one of the 20th century’s most important philosophers. Outside of academia he was decorated for his bravery during the first World War, and briefly taught at a school for young children where he gained a reputation for his corporal punishments and obsession with mathematics. He also studied mechanical engineering.
Despite being described as a gay philosopher, Wittgenstein had several female lovers interspersed with his male ones, including one he proposed to, indicating that he may be more accurately described as bisexual. He avoided sex itself, claiming that it got in the way of love; for that reason he is also (tentatively) tagged here as asexual.
While it should not be taken as biographical fact, Wittgenstein has received the high honor of a dedicated Uncyclopedia page.
David Jay, founder of AVEN (Asexual Visability & Education Network, a popular asexual website), has helped guide the asexuality movement through what he calls ‘three phases‘: Identifying asexuality as an identity; spreading the message through the media; and shifting public perceptions of what counts as normal sexuality. ‘AVENguy‘, as he styles himself on AVEN’s wiki, was featured in the documentary (A)sexual and a more sensationalistic episode of The View; in the realm of self-produced media, he has years’ worth of podcasts archived at Love from the Asexual Underground. Jay’s presence is never far from news articles about asexuality, either. Per his Twitter profile, he works in technology at the time of this writing.
Janeane Garofalo, a professional comedian for over three decades at the time of this writing, boasts a resume filled with bit parts in well-known films (e.g. “Liz” in Dogma), near-hires for famous parts in well-known films (e.g. “Marla” in Fight Club, which she declined), and the rare serendipitous occasions when she’s scored both a major part and a famous film (e.g. “Colette” in Ratatouille). The self-deprecating stand-up comic’s anti-George Bush politics also earned her a place in Team America: World Police in puppet form (though without her approval) and a co-host gig with the progressive station Air America Radio.
Garofalo has the unusual distinction of once being married for twenty years without knowing it. She is a self-described “asexual atheist” in a long-term celibate relationship with a boyfriend. Her website, which includes clips from her comedy acts, can be found here.
Although Miyazawa Kenji’s work went largely unrecognized during his lifetime he is now known as one of Japan’s foremost poets and authors of children’s literature. He was a committed Buddhist and a vegetarian – a rarity in a country that values seafood as a staple – and frequently wrote about interspecies dialogues, among other examples of empathic communication. One of his better known pieces, “Strong in the Rain,” exemplifies his focus on nature and self-sacrifice; in it, he longs for a robust body so that he can better serve his neighbors, even as they look down on him for his ordinariness. When the 2011 earthquake hit Japan the poem gained memetic popularity, becoming a symbol of Japanese resilience. (Several more poems, in English and German, are available here, along with a short article on a choreography based on his works. A few more are available for downloading in English here. Works in the original Japanese can be found here. For a more detailed analysis of Miyazawa’s themes and techniques, try this website.)
Miyazawa is included on this blog with the caveat that speculation about his asexuality does not appear to be (at least per a cursory search) rooted in anything he himself expressed, but rather his seeming lack of interest in any romantic or sexual connection. His writing is entirely devoid of sexual themes and he was never known to have taken any sort of partner; in fact, his deepest connection was reputed to be with nature.
Edward Gorey was a man blessed with a serendipitous name. The delightfully morbid author, illustrator, and theatrical jack-of-all-trades was known for his Edwardian/Victorian styling and tales of humorous misfortune. Although he is often compared to Tim Burton, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) might be a better approximation given the similarity between their quirky, slightly upsetting storytelling; even Brett Helquist‘s gangly gothic figures bear a striking resemblance to Gorey’s cross-hatching.
Gorey began his career with only two semesters of formal art education and initially worked for a publishing company before splitting off to pursue his own interests. From his ancient house in Cape Cod he worked on the PBS show Mystery! and more than seventy books of drawings, including the weird and wonderful alphabet classic The Gashlycrumb Tinies, in which every letter illustrates a child perishing in an absurd fashion. (For example: “‘F’ is for Fanny sucked dry by a leech/’G’ is for George smothered under a rug”.)
As macabre as his creative talents may have been, Gorey himself was reportedly a good-natured fellow who adored his cats and would slip into a falsetto voice during conversations just to entertain. When he was asked if he was gay, he responded that he was “neither one thing or the other particularly,” and that he was “reasonably undersexed or something”; he also attributed the sexlessness in his work to his asexuality.