Internet Culture

Tim and Eric Do High-Fashion Drag

text by Jessica Jean Jardine / photos by JUCO / fashion by Shirley Kurata

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On a bright fall afternoon, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, creators and stars of the Adult Swim series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories, are seated inside an airy photo studio on Sunset Boulevard. Photo assistants and stylists buzz around while Wareheim gets the finishing touches put on his purple eyeshadow. Nearby, a straight black wig with a row of choppy bangs is positioned over Heidecker's blonde hair. Enormous racks full of kaleidoscopic dresses and accessories fill a second room.

Shuttled from hair to makeup to wardrobe, the men behind countless nightmarish and insanely shareable videos peep intermittently at their phones. Asked what their careers might look like without the Internet, they both pause for a moment.

"What would anything look like?" Tim says. "We'd all be looking at Thomas Guides together. It'd be a nightmare."

Awesome Show, which debuted in 2007 on the heels of their first basic cable venture, Tom Goes to the Mayor, was a textbook example of shows migrating, often in bite-sized chunks, from the rigid confines of television to the free-and-easy Web. "Our success has been through our videos being distributed online," Heidecker says, "whether it's YouTube or Adult Swim's website. It's how most people experience our work. Very few people turn on the TV at the time [the show is] on and watch it that way."

As you'd expect from any thriving online franchise, Tim and Eric lend their unique voice to Facebook and Twitter to connect with the people who share, quote and generally worship their work. "I respond to fans," Tim says. "I respond to fans if they say negative things, and then they tend to like that."

Wareheim, whose Twitter following is a little over half the size of his partner's, has a plan to close the gap. "We have a contest that, once I reach a million followers, Tim and I will make love on webcam. I'm almost there." Pause. "I hadn't told Tim yet, so this story can break it." FYI, he's roughly 740,000 followers away from hitting that target.

They've burned themselves onto our brains through a decade's worth of culty TV brilliance (not to mention Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, from 2012), but that doesn't mean Tim and Eric are impervious to the inaccuracies of the Internet. When Howard Stern Show regular Eric the Actor died, numerous press outlets used Wareheim's picture in their obituary pieces.

"They just looked up the words 'actor' and 'Eric'?" asks Heidecker.

"Yeah. So I died," Wareheim says.

As for today's shoot, fans will know it's hardly the first time Tim and Eric have done drag. Eric fondly remembers his first time dressing up as a lady when he was a kid. "I would dress up in my mom's stuff," he says. "I'd wear her hemorrhoid pillow as a hat."

So maybe it's not too surprising that Tim and Eric count Cindy Sherman as one of their heroes. "She does these self-portraits as these grotesque characters," Wareheim says, "from Jersey housewives to old plastic-surgery millionaires. Tim and I, all of our characters are pretty big and grotesque -- horrible little moments of people that you see in real life. So to see a woman [like Sherman] take herself that far is hugely inspiring."

As the duo is whisked to set with sky-high wigs and teetering heels fastened on, there's time for one more question: do these comedy titans still Google themselves?

"Only every day," Heidecker says.

"Um, yeah," Wareheim says.

Hair by Christian Marc with Magnet / Makeup by Stephen Dimmick with Atelier / Nails by Kait Mosher / Styling Assistants Kristi Turner and Jenny Tsiakals

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