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In true Receipts style, we couldn’t start a conversation with the hosts of the acclaimed gossip and pop-culture podcast without getting the dirt on the girls’ biggest icks.
“People that are slow”, replies Tolani Shoneye – known to most as Tolly T – as she snaps her fingers vigorously. “A guy getting ignored in a group chat”, adds Milena Sanchez while the group chuckle in agreement. “Men when they post pixelated pictures on Instagram. Clean your camera – I don’t want it to look like you’ve taken a picture on a Blackberry”, asserts Audrey Indome in the same matter-of-fact tone that listeners have come to know and love.
Ick-dumping is one of the many topics you might find in an episode of The Receipts podcast, a show headed by three women of colour who are best known for their infamous cackles, brazen advice-giving and unparalleled chemistry. Whether it’s discussing their takes on the latest reality TV gossip, analysing the gender disparities within the church or lengthy conversations surrounding race and womanhood, absolutely nothing is off limits.
As we sat down with the trio, reminiscing about the most obscure audience dilemmas they have encountered on the show (who remembers the classic ‘my boyfriend breastfeeds from me’ tale?), and laughing over the most ridiculous sex-related rumours heard in school, the conversation is a familiar one. It’s as if we’re on a standard commute home; AirPods in, latest episode of The Receipts turned up to max.
“We’re trying to hide laughter, we’re being stupid in the background,” Tolly says, explaining those secret giggles you often hear on the show. “We’re not laughing at you”, the girls will insist as the laughter persists– the way you do when sharing an inside joke with your best mates. It quickly becomes clear how real their friendship is.
Perhaps that’s why we love listening to them so much; it quite literally feels like we’re all sat in the school playground, gossiping and reliving the funniest moments of the day with our pals. And it is this relatability that has helped the group build a trailblazing podcasting career.
Each episode ranges from 50 minutes to over two hours of witty discussions, catch-ups and – our personal favourite – answering audience questions. Its most popular segment, Your Receipts, sees the trio become agony aunts, advising on real-life sex and relationship dilemmas submitted by fans, giving their unapologetically honest feedback.
With weekly sisterly advice only a Spotify subscription away, it’s no wonder listeners feel so close to the podcasters. Perhaps a little too close at times, with some fans even approaching the trio with their problems during hair appointments, on nights out, and on the street. Milena says, “If I’m in a club and I’ve had a little bit too much to drink, just coming out of the toilets, it’s a lot.”
But as the big sisters they are, they still try their best to help out where they can. “I try and give them that time, still,” Milena insists.
Their reach goes far beyond our headphones, which is hardly surprising considering the show has amassed over 100,000 weekly listeners, from young Gen-Z’s to married millennials. And if the success of the podcast has taught us anything, it is to not underestimate the power of the modern-day agony aunt. “People have quit jobs, left partners, moved homes” as a result of their advice. “I’m quite proud of it, to be fair,” Tolly says.
There’s clearly a reason people, particularly young women, flock to the podcast to have their “receipts” answered – there’s a need for realistic, relatable sex and dating advice. As the girls recount their first encounters with sex as young teens, the conversation is as funny as it is triggering. As we’re sure any woman would agree, navigating the world of sex during adolescence was nothing short of a minefield. “It was like the blind leading the blind,” says Audrey.
“I honestly believed you could get pregnant from fingering,” Milena laughs. FYI – you can’t. “There was a rumour that if you take the morning after pill three times it stops working,” Tolly remembers. And they’re not the only ones who grew up – or are currently growing up – believing nonsensical and dangerous things about what women could and couldn’t do with their bodies.
The Receipts’ podcast aims to remedy these dangerous ideas, and to be an outlet for sex and dating troubles; to be the place to go for information and comfort, that they never quite had.
But after spending years helping to advise their audience through the ups and downs of navigating love, sex and heartbreak, the hosts of the show ended up helping themselves and each other too.
Tolly for example, recalls an episode that had a lifelong impact on her perspective. She remembers announcing that she would “never let her child pick” their gender. But a few episodes later, after they had a transgender person as a guest on the show, Tolly changed her tune. “That will always stand out to me,” she admits. “It was embarrassing. I wasn’t talking out of hate, it was pure ignorance.”
Her anecdote reminds us that much like many of their listeners, they too are young women still educating themselves. “I’m completely 180 degrees on that now,” Tolly assures us, while expressing her gratitude for the learning experience. “Sometimes it places the mirror to your face, to be like ‘but why do you think that, Tolani?’”
And as teen magazines have been swiftly usurped by digital media, the podcast has created a similar forum for thousands of listeners to learn and interact with others going through similar struggles. “I grew up in an era of Sugar magazine, More! magazine, Mizz, and one of the first things I’d do is go straight to the problem pages,” says Tolly.
The trio have replaced these traditional timid, white, out-of-touch agony aunts with unafraid and unapologetic advice from three authentic young women. In turn, they have provided a space for women of colour who are all too often left out of the conversation with regard to women’s health and sexuality. “I didn’t realise that Black and Brown women were desperate for these conversations, but there was just never a place for us to go,” Audrey says.
In creating The Receipts podcast, Milena, Tolly and Audrey were able to create a community, one they wished they could have turned to when growing up. Above all else, the girls stress, the power of representation cannot be understated: “Unless you see yourself, you don’t feel important. For so long, we’ve just been taught to blend in with the background,” Audrey says.
Though it fronts as a refreshing dose of honest, relatable and frank girl-talk, The Receipts podcast has in fact gone far beyond that, creating a space to champion POC voices and open up much needed conversations on the reality of navigating female sexuality. As Audrey puts it, “People want to talk about sex. Sometimes you have to be the first person to open the box.”
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