To watch Kelli Lemon and Karri Peifer host Coffee With Strangers RVA, visit coffeewithstrangersrva.com.
The cameras are in position. A portrait of Tom Waits looms across the room.
We’re inside Garnett’s Cafe in the Fan. Media personality Kelli Lemon and Richmond Times-Dispatch online features editor Karri Peifer are seated beneath a collection of state-themed plates hanging on the wall.
“Season two: Let it begin!” announces Matt Pochily, and Lemon and Peifer clink steaming mugs of coffee. Thus starts season two of Coffee With Strangers RVA.
Since its launch in March, the weekly Web series has seen Lemon interview personalities across Richmond’s cultural spectrum. The 13-episode first season featured guests as diverse as radio personality and Style Weekly columnist Jack Lauterback, Hardywood head brewer Brian Nelson, and personal stylist Sydney Page Lester.
The show came about after co-creators Pochily and Lemon met for coffee at Lift to brainstorm joint projects. Lemon previously had hosted the local TV show RVA Grooves” on WWBT-NBC12, and Pochily, who works in nonprofit communications, mentioned his love for Jerry Seinfeld’s Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
With assistance from photographer Jenny McQueen, Pochily and Lemon sought out local personalities whom they wanted to know better. “I try to do no research on the people at all, because it makes for a better conversation,” Lemon says.
The show has led to some interesting moments, such as when Justin Castonguay, who is in an interracial gay relationship, talked about how inclusive Richmond has been to him. Castonguay hosts burlesque shows in drag as the Southern-fried Miss Magnolia Jackson Pickett Burnside.
With poet and musician Todd Waldo, the conversation moved from Church Hill to his dating life.
“I asked him if he was single and he was, then ladies got in touch with me trying to talk to him,” says Lemon, who also works as a business manager at Mama J’s restaurant, and hosts radio shows on KISS-FM and iPower92.1.
Coffee with Strangers RVA posts on Monday and is available on podcast. It averaged 3,000 page views a month in its first season, the pair say.
Says Pochily: “The show has been so much fun to do, and it’s let us meet so many people we wouldn’t have otherwise met.”