For AfterParty founder, laughter is seriously the best medicine

Anna David hopes you’ll never have one of those nights where you’re home alone wasted, miserable, and desperate for a change. But if you do, it’d be great if you somehow find your way to her website.

“I got sober in the year 2000, and there wasn’t much online about rehab, or alcoholism, or anything like that,” she recalls.

So the freelance magazine writer started to write both articles and books on such topics, the latter including the novels Party Girl and Bought, as well as nonfiction such as True Tales of Lust and Love and Falling for Me. In 2013, David created AfterParty Magazine, an online magazine about rehab and recovery.

Some people think sobriety sounds like a death sentence, and this is precisely why David started AfterParty.

“They can stumble across this site that is funny, and smart, and shows people who are having fun and not taking themselves too seriously,” the WeWork Hollywood member explains.

When AfterParty launched, David had big dreams of destigmatizing addiction, but no idea how to make them a reality.

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“I wrote a business plan,” she says, “and then I realized I don’t know anyone with money. So who am I going to go to and present this business plan?”

She found a few writers who were willing to write for free in exchange for mentoring, but she couldn’t figure out how to make money. She tried anything she could think of to raise awareness about the site: arranging for Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, and Los Angeles magazine to repost AfterParty’s content, setting up Twitter chats, and hosting readings. AfterParty began to get noticed in the recovery community.

In early 2014, David got an email that said, “I’m a fan of your site and I want to buy it.” The sale went through a few months later. She sees the way things worked out as a metaphor for sobriety.

“You surrender your drug and alcohol problem, and then the solution comes in,” she says. “I surrendered this working out, and it did.”

Nowadays, the editor-in-chief is a part-owner of the site, and she receives a salary. Her team consists of two editors on staff and nine freelance writers.

In addition to her editorial duties, David hosts AfterParty’s podcast.

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“Every other week, I interview a sober celebrity,” she says. “I’ve had Moby, and Marc Maron, and Dr. Drew. It’s an interview about addiction and sobriety, but it’s funny.” She selects guests that she knows will bring a sense of humor to the discussion.

“I’ve passed on great guests because my gut feeling was that they’d be overly earnest,” she says. “When someone is coming on who I think might be wholly serious, I’ll give them a pep talk where I explain that liveliness and humor are crucial for the show.”

AfterParty’s two main writers, Danielle Stewart and Mary Patterson Broome, are stand-up comedians, and David herself has written posts about how the sound of chewing drives her insane and the crazy ways she tried to control her drug use, like going to visit her grandmother.

David and her writers are constantly brainstorming ways to take AfterParty off the screen and into the world, so in 2015, she launched AfterParty’s storytelling show. Once a month, she picks five of the site’s writers to perform their pieces live at Open Space in Los Angeles.

“A lot of the people there are in treatment,” David says, “so we get to see them start to understand that sobriety doesn’t mean life and fun are over.”

Photo credit: Salvador Ochoa

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