The podcast “My Favorite Murder” has legions of female fans who call themselves Murderinos and have turned the show’s hosts, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, into global stars.
By Alex Hawgood
LOS ANGELES — A torrential downpour could not keep the murder-obsessed and crime-fixated young women from storming the Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles early this spring.
“It’s like the best cult ever,” said a woman in her late 20s, who was wearing maroon Doc Martens boots and a fan T-shirt that read, “I’m a Karen!”
As the lights dimmed, about 2,000 rowdy fans, mostly women in their 20s and 30s, howled at a decibel suited to a Beyoncé set at Coachella. But they weren’t going gaga for a pop deity. Calling themselves Murderinos, they came to hear expletive-laden tales of serial killings and brutal homicides told by Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, the irreverent hosts of the wildly popular true-crime comedy podcast “My Favorite Murder.”
Standing on an empty stage, save for a small table with two bottles of water, Ms. Hardstark and Ms. Kilgariff sailed through the show’s breezy formula: Come for the frank and funny retellings of their “favorite” murder (today’s topic: the Los Feliz Murder Mansion from 1959), stay for the chatty non sequiturs (day drinking and Oregon cults).
“The common urban legend is that a father killed his whole family and himself on Christmas Eve in the 1950s. And that the house sat abandoned and nothing in the house had been touched or changed since that night,” Ms. Hardstark said.
Ms. Kilgariff jumped in. “Does anyone talk about the level of dust that would be on those things?” she said.
Fans of the podcast, who call themselves "Muderinos," took selfies outside the theater. Credit: Emily Berl for The New York Times
“It’s like abandonment porn,” Ms. Hardstark said.
“Yes, lots of people here are into abandonment porn,” Ms. Kilgariff said in her characteristic droll tone, which ignited loud giggles from the audience.
“Me, too,” Ms. Hardstark said.
“It’s second only to changing-room-shame porn,” Ms. Kilgariff said, before being drowned out by another round of deafening laughter.
Alongside Jon Favreau and his fraternity of ex-White House aides at “Pod Save America” and Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson of “2 Dope Queens,” Ms. Hardstark and Ms. Kilgariff are part of a new breed of superstar podcasters who have cultivated a groupie-like fan base that will follow them to live performances.
The sold-out gig at the Orpheum in March was the halfway point of an 18-date international tour that kicked off in Las Vegas in January and wraps up next month in Glasgow. For the last two years, “My Favorite Murder” has been a permanent fixture atop the iTunes podcast charts, drawing up to 19 million listeners a month.
Why Murder, and Why Now?
In many ways, the subversive charm of “MFM,” as die-hards abbreviate it, is today’s answer to riot grrrl, the D.I.Y. feminist punk movement of the 1990s. There is a Facebook fan page with 200,000 members and spinoff groups, including “Meowderinos” (for cat-loving fans) and “button bashes” (for pun-happy pin collectors) that meet in all 50 states, as well as throughout Britain and Australia.
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