Street: If you are what you eat, what are you?
Erich Kessel: I'm certainly a lemon, since I love lemon-scented foods and beverages. Lemon is strong and distinctive but not intrusive.
Street: Pick your favorite lemon - Lemon meringue pie, “Lemonade” by Sophie, Liz Lemon from “30 Rock,” or Lemon Grove, California.
EK: The song “Lemonade” is pretty amazing.
Street: What is the most bizarre art exhibit you’ve ever seen?
EK: In middle school I saw an exhibit about Pompeii. There were all these encased bodies in ash. That was a very bizarre exhibit that I don’t hope to see again. It was a little too intense for me. I haven’t seen a lot of really weird shows lately, though. Contemporary art is just inherently weird.
Street: If you could have a “Night at the Museum” experience where all the paintings came to life, which museum would you pick?
EK: I would definitely choose The Whitney. It’s in Chelsea, near the meatpacking district. The paintings are contemporary American, and they’re all very lightweight. The building is also amazing. The architecture has these very open floors but these balconies that look out over the city. It’s a very innovative design for a museum.
Street: Of all the Street “Pennassaince” snapchats, which one is your favorite?
EK: The BYO at Banana Leaf is so real. That’s exactly what they look like.
Street: Do you have a favorite pop culture icon?
EK: Madonna. I think she is rebellious in a messy way, in a way that provokes people but is also very destructive. There’s something very interesting about that. My favorite pop culture icon of the present moment is Beyoncé. I think she is sort of rebellious and was inspired by Madonna in some sense, but she’s different in that everything she does is very calculated and very thought out. Beyonce embodies power, and her music is so creative which is an underappreciated part of her. I also love Serena and Venus Williams.
Street: If Beyoncé and Madonna had a falling out (à la Katy and Taylor), who would you side with?
EK: If Beyoncé and Madonna had a falling out, it would probably be Madonna’s fault, and it would probably be for a stupid reason. Given those two possibilities, I’d have to root for Beyoncé.
Street: Do you have a favorite Williams sister?
EK: I have the older sibling bias, but I do love the way both of them play. I can’t choose between them.
Street: What are your goals as Lambda Alliance Chair for the semester?
EK: The goals thus far are to encourage community development and involvement. One of the things we’re thinking of doing is summits around issues where people can discuss their opinions on matters that are important to them. We also want more social events to showcase all the diversity in the groups under Lambda’s umbrella. There are many of them, from religious groups to Wharton-related groups to identity groups like Queer People of Color or Queer and Asian. There’s definitely a breadth of different groups that are represented under our umbrella so we want to showcase that somehow.
Street: What are some of the ways that Lambda has positively affected students in the past?
EK: We’ve worked with the LGBT center to ensure that students who have family difficulty can secure financial aid with SFS so that their financial situation is protected no matter what happens at home which is important for queer students. Recently, Lambda has advocated for preferred names, which has allowed gender non-conforming students to use the name they’re comfortable with on official documents. We’ve also had a consistent presence in providing sensitivity training for fraternities and sororities on campus, and we’re currently working on coordinating something with the multicultural Greek organizations.
Street: If you could have a drink with anyone (living or dead), who would it be?
EK: I want to know what Hillary Clinton is thinking right now. I’m not even sure I like her that much. I’m not that jazzed about her politics. I just want to know how someone in that position thinks about their future and the possibility of being president, and the Republican candidates, and the possibility of Joe Biden entering the race. Her mind is probably racing every second of the day. We’d probably talk this out over a glass of red wine.
Street: What’s better, Blarney karaoke or Smokes’ pizza?
EK: Smokes' pizza, because it's an unheralded treasure and probably the best pizza on campus.