CONNOR JESSUP STAR OF NETFLIX’S LOCKE & KEY

Sweater and Pants: DSQUARED2, Shoes: Prada

 

Photographer: Emma Craft

Stylist/Interview: Angel Emmanuel

Groomer: Ellen Guhin via Canvas Agency

Set Designer: Lidia Moore

Set Design Assistant: Tess Donlevie

 

The fans are loving the supernatural fantasy drama, Locke & Key, which premiered its second season on Netflix this October. The show’s success has kept the series in the top ten on the platforms ratings list and has already prompted the creators to move forward with season three. The show has also garnered a few notable new fans including one Britney Spears, who earlier this week prompted her instagram fans to watch the show in typical Britney fashion “Holy crap you guys, gotta check out Locke & Key…it’s pretty good!!!”

Playing Tyler Locke, the eldest of the Locke siblings is; Actor, Director, Writer, Avid Reader, Heartthrob, Globetrotter, and recent guest judge on Canada’s Drag Race, Connor Jessup. We sat down with Jessup over Zoom to talk about why he’s “straight4pay”, RuPaul’s Drag Race, how his accessibility through social media has influenced his queer experience, and how secluding himself in a cottage for a month in the British countryside is influencing his upcoming projects.

Sweater and Pants: DSQUARED2, Shoes: Prada

Nice to see you again!! Congratulations on the new season of Locke & Key!!

CJ: Thank you!

You’ve now filmed three seasons of Locke & Key, with the third being filmed back to back simultaneously with the second. Having played Tyler Locke for three seasons, is it hard for you to separate yourself from a character that you’ve put a lot of time into?

CJ: No, I’ve never had that. Maybe it’s where I’m at in my career or the characters that I play. I’ve never felt followed by a character. The reality of shooting something is so mechanical; you shoot in many little pieces, you shoot out of order, a hundred people are standing around you. You’ve got a 10 hour, 12 hour workday and spend about 40 minutes at most actually shooting. So it’s never been hard for me to remember that, that’s work. Maybe if I was playing a character that was more radically different than I am, I haven’t really had that experience though.

The sets and visual effects were amazing this season! I loved the Spider scene from episode 3, “Small World”, also the small antique toy house was very cool.  Did you have any favorite visual heavy scenes that you filmed? 

CJ: Yeah that was an amazing prop. The spider one was probably the most fun I had. We had great fun at the end, there’s a scene where Kinsey, my sister, carries me through the air with her angel wings that she’s found, which involved me and Emilia (Jones), flying on wires for days at a time which was almost like working at a theme park, it was so much fun. There was a scene where we’re making a key, there’s a montage of us forging a key, so they needed lots and lots of little bits and pieces. No one there had any idea how to forge anything, so we literally just made shit up. I’m sure the blacksmithing community is furious! That was fun, in a way it felt like when you’re a kid and you go on a boat and you pretend to know how to sail it, and you do all sorts of random stuff, like pulling ropes but none of it has any actual connection to the reality of how to properly sail a boat, so it felt like that.

A couple of days after our shoot you went to Greece by yourself for two weeks with no plan on what to do. How was your trip, what did you do? 

CJ: It was extremely lovely, I did mostly very touristy things! I wandered around Athens, I saw very old things. I ate a lot of overwhelmingly delicious food. I went to Milos and Santorini. All and all, I had a very quiet, restful and calm time, which is exactly what I was looking for. I had never been to Greece before, so it was fun!

Based on your Instagram stories and highlights, it’s safe to say that you’re an avid reader. During your trip, I saw that you were reading Photocopies by John Berger. Considering you were living in a picturesque moment worth capturing and writing a story about; if you were to write a short snippet about that moment with an accompanying photo, how would it go? What would that photo look like?

CJ: That’s a good question! It’s interesting, I was thinking a lot as I was traveling, about the roles of different types of photos. I had my proper camera with me and my phone of course. I was taking a lot of pictures, because I was in a scenic place and also I was alone which helps. It’s funny what you feel compelled to take a photo of with your iPhone and what you feel compelled to take a photo of with your “proper camera” and how the perspective between the two changes. There’s a famous Gertrued Stein quote where she says, “I like a view, but I like to sit with my back turned to it.” I was in Santorini near the end of my trip which is just this stunningly scenic and idyllic place, swarmed with tourists who obviously all feel the same. It’s amazing how quickly you stop looking at “the postcard.” It’s amazing how quickly you tune out the landscape and the beautiful buildings, and the sunsets and the reasons why, ostensibly why, people are there. I feel like it would end up being a photo of a fragment that could almost be anywhere. It could be the pattern of the way a few walls intersect with some light. It’s not anything particularly beautiful but something that catches your eye in that one moment, you can’t repeat it. You can’t exactly put your finger on why it’s striking. That’s why I try to stay open to photography, it makes you look.

Button up top and Jumpsuit: Martin Asbjørn

Do you consider photography a hobby or something you just enjoy on trips?

CJ: I always chastise myself because I want to do it more often when I’m at home, but I just find that the energy for it is less present when I’m at home than when I’m abroad. Even though what I end up taking pictures of when I’m away is not anything particularly touristy. So I really should start forcing myself to carry my camera everywhere with me when I’m home. I have a very bad memory, and it’s a great way to remember things. Not in the traditional sense of you have a photo of a thing but in deciding to take a photo of something. You remember that moment.

You’re creating your own “photocopy”!

CJ: Exactly! Which is in a way what Photocopies is about. The fascinating thing about that book is that every little snippet, story, fragment, whatever you want to call it, is inspired by a photo. But for the vast majority of the pieces you don’t see the photo. It doesn’t do the thing you expect it to do, like here’s the photo and here’s the story. There’s actually stories where the photos are absent, so it really is like the stories themselves are the photocopies. I think a lot of people with an interest in photography understand that feeling; which is that the photo just becomes a stand-in for some other feeling, or some memory, or some moment.

Anytime I visit a new country I always come back learning so much more about myself than I did before. Did you learn anything new about yourself while there, or London, or now the countryside?

CJ: I’m sure I did, maybe I’m still in the process of that. I’m out here in the countryside in a cottage for about a month. The mission of being here in one place in the quiet for a month is to try and do some writing. So maybe through that process I’ll come to more of a bit of understanding. I always find it takes a second. I felt like I was in such a specific mood for a year while we were working. There’s a certain automatic quality to that, as an actor your life is kind of planned for you while you’re working. I’ve been trying, in the last month since we wrapped and in traveling, to find what my normal speed is again or what my new speed is. I’ve made a lot of new friends in the last little bit. So I’ve been enjoying remembering that friendship can be a great source of energy and inspiration.

Button up top and Jumpsuit: Martin Asbjørn, Shoes: Converse

Speaking of friendship, during the shoot you showed me a photo of you and Tilda Swinton proudly showing off your manicures. How did that friendship start and when are you going on a Mani/Pedi date?

CJ: Friendship is a strong word, but Tilda is one of these people who is almost supernaturally open to other people and experiences and the world. Which I don’t think is a huge surprise to people who are familiar with her. I’m good friends with this Thai filmmaker, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who is one of the greats that we have. I made a documentary about him a few years ago as he was on a research trip for his most recent film which just premiered at the Cannes Film Festival starring Tilda Swinton. I visited the shoot a couple of years ago and spent time with them, that’s how I got to know Tilda a little bit. I saw her again in New York a few weeks ago because the film premiered at the New York Film Festival. That’s the Tilda connection. I’m still a little Queer boy, so Tilda is obviously in the pantheon.

So no mani/pedi date set??

CJ: I’ll keep you informed, I sure hope so! We’ll see how that materializes in the real world!

I’m so obsessed with your instagram bio, it’s hilarious! It’s “straight4pay 🏳️‍🌈”  which is a play on words on “gay4pay”. As a queer actor how does one prepare to be a straight man?

CJ: I didn’t do anything to prepare for that!

That’s something!

CJ: I insisted to myself that I was straight for many years while I was young so I have enough experience in knowing that vocabulary.  In many ways gay people are great studies of straight behavior, because we’ve tried so hard to understand. I would trust a gay man to describe a straight mans behavior better than I would trust a straight man.

Since coming out, how freeing has it been to be yourself, especially in the industry?

CJ: More than I thought it would be honestly. More freeing than I expected. Coming out is a process, which is a phrase that gets thrown around, but only started to mean something to me recently because I came out many years ago in my private life. There’s such a big build up to that, you know? There’s coming out to your mom, and your best friend, and that felt like the important thing. Then years passed and I had convinced myself that I had come out, and then for various reasons I had decided that I wanted to come out publicly and it’s really only since then which is something that I didn’t put a lot of weight on when I did it, emotionally, that I started to feel a part  of the community and connected to a heritage and really started to properly feel gay. I’m still in the process of examining exactly why coming out to people that I don’t know had the effect on me that it did.

Jumpsuit, Coat, and Scarf: Kenzo

A lot of people shared their stories with you when you publicly came out

CJ: Yeah it was two years ago when I came out on instagram. Most days people will send me messages, stories, some fragments short or long of their experience whether they’re in the closet, or freshly out, or out for decades, or in countries where you can’t come out. There’s such a variety of queer experience and not just gay people but; ace people, trans people, pan people, and others under the wonderful rainbow umbrella. Which I think contributed to me feeling a part of the community, and broadening and deepening my understanding of queerness, because my experience is so limited compared to this whole range of other peoples experiences.  I think that has had a big ongoing impact on me. It’s hard to know if I feel shy about the whole thing because I have no claim. I’m just an actor, I have no expertise or training or real wisdom to share or help. It boils down to receiving these stories from people and trying to understand them through the prism of whatever tools I do have. Social media is a weird thing, this flow of information.

Getting all these messages everyday, how does that make you, Connor Jessup the person, feel?

CJ: Depends on the message. Sometimes it makes me feel really warm, and seen. Sometimes it makes me very sad. Sometimes it makes me confused and angry. Really the range of emotions. The type of messages are so varied. It goes from something as simple as someone who sent me a message the other day that just said, “Thank you for coming out. I feel less alone.” That was the whole message. That for some reason, the moment that I read it, had a real emotional impact on me. Even though there’s no information on who that person is or what their experiences are. The hard thing about social media is, which I think we all feel, is that it has a tendency to dehumanize. People are seen faceless. When you’re interacting with celebrities or even when you’re interacting with your friends, it just feels a bit separate from real life. You allow yourself to react in ways where you wouldn’t if you were talking to someone in real life. Even the comments on anything I post I’m like, “I doubt you would say this if I were to bump into you on the street.” So there’s that level of separation and it’s hard and it takes work when you’re sending and receiving to consistently remind yourself that you’re dealing with full people. Anyone sending me messages saying “I feel less alone,” or “I hate my body,” they’re just as full of a person, with just as full lives as I am, as any of us are. I have to remind myself that all the time, that’s a good exercise of mine.

Jumpsuit, Coat, and Scarf: Kenzo

This week you’ll be on Canada’s Drag Race as a guest judge! How excited are you to see the episode?

CJ: I’m very excited! I’m a little nervous, obviously. I haven’t seen any of it. You shoot for, well I was there for 10 hours shooting for what will probably be 15 minutes of the show. So I don’t know or have no concept of what they included, what they didn’t include, how they edited it. I’m excited, nervous, and I hope that the gays don’t turn against me!

The Drag Race fandom is notable for voicing their opinions! Good or Bad.

CJ: Yes! And so far I have yet to be on the receiving end of any gay backlash

Good! Let’s keep it that way!

CJ: Yeah exactly! I hope that this is not the first time

Shirt and Pants: Marrakshi Life, Shoes: Superga

The preview for the episode shows that it’ll be Snatch Game (a challenge where the queens have to do celebrity impersonations following the Match Game show format) which is the most beloved challenge of all time! What was that experience like not only getting to judge Drag Race but also the Snatch Game episode?

CJ: The way the episode went; there was a different guest on the actual Snatch Game but I was on the main stage. It was a scheduling thing, but I was actually there since it all happened on the same day. I was there in the morning and I watched the whole thing live. It was a great way for me to get acquainted with the queens. It’s episode 4 of the season so everyone watching will have seen 3 episodes worth of getting to know the queens, and I came in blind, so it’s a great introduction. It’s also so fascinating as a fan of Drag Race to see how unbelievably hard Snatch Game actually is. It seems hard when you watch it on the show but when you see how dry and slow and hot the actual shooting is. There’s no energy at all, there’s no flow, so to be witty and sharp and quick in that environment is impressive.

Have you watched Drag Race for a while, are you a fan?

CJ: Yeah I am, of course! I mean now though everyone is a fan. It’s relatively new to me though, I’ve watched it for about two years now.

Do you have a favorite queen from any of the Drag Race franchises?

CJ: I don’t think I have one favorite. Last season I was really bummed by the way things ended for GottMik, I was a huge GottMik fan. There are many queens I love, but they’re one of them

What was it about GottMik that you loved?

CJ: They’re enormously talented and fun! What GottMik represents; which I saw a little bit of when I was guest judging, is the broadening of what the definition of drag is. I’m not at all an expert in drag, but it seems from an outsider’s perspective that people like GottMik are leading the excavation of new territory, new ideas, new permissions, and that’s really exciting to watch

Would you ever do drag?

CJ: I would love to try! Now I have people around me that I can call, like makeup artists, that could help me. So I would absolutely love to try! I feel like I could probably make it work.

Oh you’ve got it! For sure!

CJ: Thank you! I don’t know what my style would be at all, I have no sense of that. I would like to explore.

Shirt and Pants: Marrakshi Life, Shoes: Superga

Do you have a sense of style now?

CJ: In my life? It depends on who you ask!

Well if I’m asking Connor!

CJ: I’d like to think so! Maybe it’s connected to coming out, the timelines would suggest, it’s only in the last couple of years I started to really have fun with clothes and started to care about them in a way as a form of expression at all. I’m relatively late to that idea. I had a lot of ideas when I was younger, which is partially connected to sexuality and partially other aspects of my personality, about certain levels of seriousness. I wanted to be taken seriously, and I think it’s also a symptom of being a child actor and growing up around professionals and adults. I always wanted to be seen as mature, and classy, and simple so the clothing I had reflected that. In other words, you could say, it’s boring. So it’s only in the last couple of years that I started to branch out. I don’t know how I would describe my style though.

Who are some designers that you like?

CJ: I’m obsessed with Bode, and J.W. Anderson. I’m no fashionista at all but it is something I’ve given more time, money and attention to! Hopefully I can find ways to surprise myself!

Besides acting, you’re also a director. Where would you like to take your directing career?

CJ: Forward, ideally! I’ve made shorts, documentaries, music videos and I’ve kind of tired myself of making short form stuff. I definitely want to make the next inevitable step and make a feature, which I’m working on literally right now. Hopefully in the next few years I can get a feature off the ground.

If there was nothing holding you back from making your larger than life film, what would that dream project be?

CJ: The film I’m working on right now, if it can pan out like it is in my head, that would be the immediate dream project. Last year I read The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, which is a beautiful, beautiful, queer retelling of the Iliad, which is a massive story on a huge canvas. I’d love to do something like that.

What kind of stories do you hope to share?

CJ: I don’t think there’s one descriptor, or one type of story. To me directing and writing is a way of better understanding myself. I find that most of the time what I’m fighting against is the temptation to go through life automatically. Writing and directing is a way of resisting that or forcing myself to resist automatic living. It’s a way of asking myself questions and accepting boredom. The stories I’ve been drawn to tend to be ghost stories, but not in the horror sense. Themes I come back to, that I’m interested in, deal with this relationship between loss and desire. Maybe it’s a queer thing, I mean it’s a human thing. The impulse towards it, the queer thing, this feeling of things you want but they slip away from you or they’re out of reach. Maybe that’s why ghost stories always appealed to me. I expect that to pop up in lots of things I make, but I’m not sure what form that would take.

Jacket, Sweater, Jeans: Sandro, Shoes: Prada, Necklaces: Stylists’ own

Would you ever direct and act in the same film?

No. 

Why not?

CJ: A lot of reasons, I have a lot of insecurities as an actor, which requires a lot of energy to combat while I’m working, that I don’t think I’d have that energy to give while directing. Part of the exciting thing about being a director, one of the most exciting things, is working with actors and being surprised by actors. You write something, or come up with an idea or stage a scene, and then actors breathe life into it, and you’re surprised, and you have to react, or you didn’t think this scene would play out that way or that line wouldn’t have that impact. I don’t think I could surprise myself in the same way, so I think in a sense it would be robbing me of the fun of being surprised by someone else. Also there’s so many brilliant actors who I’d love to work with, and friends of mine, and people I’ve met, and people who I’ve dreamed of meeting. I know myself, why would I get in the way?

Who are some of those people?

CJ: I have good friends for example, these two young british actors Joe Locke and Sebastian Croft who are two of my dearest friends, and they’re beautiful actors

Also Netflix actors right?

CJ: Yes! They’re in Heartstopper which is coming out next year sometime. Which is gonna be fantastic and they’re gonna be brilliant, and way, way more famous than any of us! So it’s people like that who are not household names but close friends of mine who I’d be very, very excited at the idea of working with. One of the most fun parts of doing anything, whether it’s acting or directing, is making work an extension of friendship. It’s the best way of making fun. All the things that I’ve made that’s been the most fun and satisfying are things that I’ve made with friends, or with people who become friends, where the work and the friendship is almost inseparable. Beyond that I’d love to work with Tilda, there’s more actors on that level that I’d also love to work with. It’s a great world out there of people who can surprise you.

What are your favorite films?

CJ: Oh my god, that’s just a mean question!

Sorry ‘bout it!

CJ: I mean it changes all the time! The movies that I’ve seen the most are; the Taiwanese movie Yi Yi by Edward Yang. Still Walking by Hirokazu Koreeda, which is extremely tender, detailed, I’ve seen that movie hundreds of times. Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki which is the most beautiful movie ever made. You know what movie I’ve been watching a lot recently is, A Sunday in the Country, a French movie from the 80’s, by Bertrand Tavernier. It’s a beautiful movie. That’s the movie where the first time you watch it, it seems very nice but doesn’t hit you over the head, but as you think about it more, it kind of expands inside you. I’m especially interested in and moved by how the camera moves in that movie. I’ve never seen a camera move like that, it’s like it’s powered by wind and not by grips. My friends and I went to go see a screening of, In the Mood for Love, a Wong Kar-wai movie last week, which I’ve seen a few times and always loved but for some reason this time watching it in theatres with other people at this point in my life, it overwhelmed me. I was a fucking hysterical mess. It’s strange, this amazing thing about art, that something you feel like you know can completely sneak up on you.

Jacket, Sweater, Jeans: Sandro, Shoes: Prada, Necklaces: Stylists’ own

Are there dream roles that you’d like to one day play?

CJ: I should have a better answer to this question, but I don’t really. I would like to do things that are different from what I’ve done before. I would like to be pushed to do things that I don’t think I can do. Specifically what that looks like, I don’t know. It’s always hard for me. I’m always most comfortable playing characters who are fragile, vulnerable and unsure. It’d be a good healthy challenge for me to play someone who’s really, really confident. I don’t feel like I think that’s at all a tool I have control over; confidence

While in New York, you visited galleries and museums. Were there any galleries, art work or artists that stuck out to you? 

CJ: I have this artist friend of mine who I’m obsessed with named, Bambou Gili, who’s a young Brooklyn based painter and she had a show which just ended, called The Nonexistent Night which is a riff on the Italo Calvino title, The Nonexistent Knight. She’s a beautiful, beautiful painter and also an obsessive Hayao Miyazaki fan so we bonded over that. She’s a genius and she’s gonna take the world by storm with these great sensual,  figurative paintings. So I love her and was very grateful seeing her first solo show. The only other art I went to see was at The Met, which I’ve been to a few times. It always, at least for me as a non New Yorker, feels like going to a different museum. 

It always feels that way!

CJ: I wandered parts of the museum I’d never seen before, there’s so much to see, and a lot of pictures to take on my phone. In the Greek section at The Met there’s this display with small glass beads in the shape of tiny fragile animals which for some reason struck me. It’s one thing for a sword or a marble statue to survive, but the fact that these tiny beads had survived 2400 years really touched me.

Did you see any glass bead animals while you were in Greece?

CJ: Not like that! The thing in Greece is like almost the same thing when you visit anywhere that has such a rich history. In Japan for example they call it “Temple Fatigue,” where you’re so inundated with history and culture that it almost becomes meaningless. Everywhere you look, everyday, you’re seeing something that has 2400 or 3200 years of history. I think the same thing happens in museums, where all these miraculous things are grouped together in such quantity that you kind of lose sight of it. But I did see some beautiful things in Greece.

As a Toronto native, tell me about what the experience was like growing up. How did it influence the person you are today?

CJ: I love Toronto more now than I ever have, I think I grew up and it was my home so I didn’t really think about it, it was just the place I lived. When I was a teenager I thought it was peaceable, but boring…but now I think it’s peaceable and boring!!! The intonations just changed! I’ve come to really value that quality. I have this weird relationship with Toronto where I don’t find it inspiring at all, no part of me is moved to tell Toronto stories, or set stories in Toronto. When I walk down the street I’m not moved by what I see unlike some other places, but I feel a great sense of safety while I’m there and warmth. My whole family’s there, I get to settle in a way where it’s really comforting. There’s an amazing film community, and amazing artists, and young people on the verge of really exciting work, so I feel really excited by them. Toronto is a major metropolitan city with about 5 million people, there’s a lot of layers to Toronto. 

Finally, who is Connor Jessup?

CJ: He’s usually not sure. He’s trying to figure that out. Like I said when I was younger it was very important to me to have a clear self image and work on a brand. Not in a careerist way, but in identifying who I am, the way I interacted with the world. I never really questioned that, that it came from an honest place. Now I feel like a lot of the foundation that a lot of that was built on was not quite true. I’m trying to make less assumptions and leave more open space, and be okay with that.

Shirt and Pants: Private Policy

JOHNNY SIBILLY STAR OF THE HBO MAX SERIES ‘HACKS’

Tank – COMME DES GARÇONS SHIRT, Shorts – BCALLA / Tank – COURRÈGES, Boxers – ERL

Photos and Grooming by Michael J. Fernandez using Glossier and Oribe

Styled by Dustin Ellis

Interview by Adnan Qiblawi

Between his near omnipresence on social media platforms and his full-throttle work ethic, Johnny Sibilly has formulated his own secret recipe for stardom, and he cooks it all up with a limp wrist. Sibilly first gained attention by doing hilarious character impressions on Instagram with his iconic persona Julissa, a loud, opinionated Latina who could have grown up down the block from Cardi B. He soon played the somber, important role of Billy Porter’s boyfriend and AIDS patient, Costas, on the iconic, queer-101 show, “Pose.” Last month, he landed at the Emmys thanks to his role alongside Jean Smart in HBO’s “Hacks,” where he plays Wilson, local water inspector and neighborhood babe. The show won three Emmys for best lead actress, outstanding writing and outstanding directing in a comedy series, three wins of its fifteen Emmy nominations in its first season. Earlier this month, it was announced that Sibilly would be joining the cast for Peacock TV’s reimagining of “Queer As Folk.” Adnan Qiblawi sat down with Sibilly to talk about Hollywood, his future, and staying true to himself. 

 

 Suit – Acne Studios, Tank – Comme des Garcons, Ring by Spinelli Kilcollin

From Instagram to Tiktok to Twitter, you’re pretty much everywhere on social media, sharing a quip, a sultry selfie, or a clip of you voguing. How do you keep up with it all?

Yeah, I love it! From a very early age being online was my safe haven. I wasn’t a fan of going outside and playing with the neighborhood kids because I’d get made fun of or feel inadequate. Whereas online, I could create my own experience of who I wanted to be in the world and how I wanted to navigate that, which I feel is a very queer thing to do. You can’t be yourself in the real world so you escape to the Internet.

I was a scared, shy kid, and it wasn’t until I joined drama that I opened up. When I do videos as myself these days, I’m cringing. But when I get to do it as a character, I’m more confident. Doing characters really opens things up. So many of the things I say as Julissa I’m celebrated for, but if I said them as myself, people would be like, “Oh shut up.” 

This reminds me of a RuPaulism: “The power you can access in drag is also available to you out of drag.”

 I’ve grown to feel powerful in who I am without any bells and whistles. But for me, as a gay man, feminine energy is strong energy. When I have the hair or the nails or the lash or even the lipstick, I feel empowered. When I first started doing Julissa, I got a lot of flak like, “Why are you making fun of women?”. I’m not making fun of women, this is actually just a part of who I am, and Julissa is a vessel for that. Also, there’s nothing wrong with how Julissa is. Sure, she’s hyper and loud and in your face, but there are a lot of women who are like that and they deserve to be represented too. The haters are revealing their own judgement.

Shirt – Collina Strada

Growing up, and even today, we always hear about actors having to stay in the closet for fear of being blocked out of straight roles. Is this ever a concern for you?

So many queer people try to fit in boxes to book a job, but one thing I’m not willing to compromise is my queerness. It took me so long to love it and feel comfortable with it. And you know when we talk about white supremacy and the patriarchy, there’s this expectation that we want to play what other people consider valuable. People say things like, “But what if you only get gay parts?” And honestly, I’m only really interested in playing gay people. No shade, I would play straight parts, I did it for a very long time. Straight roles don’t interest me as much because they’ve been told, whereas our stories haven’t been told.

I worked on “Pose” two years ago and now I’m in “Hacks.” Those roles are so impactful and important to me, and they’re stories I want to see put out in the world. I’d rather play parts that speak to me whenever I can. It’s important for me to not compromise on who I am essentially, because the more I am myself, the more I give others the courage to be themselves. While I was growing up, there were a handful of actors who didn’t hide that they were gay, but lots of others did and still do. I’ve been out since I was 14, I wasn’t going to go back into the closet for this career. I had to decide on the cost I was willing to pay for it.

And would you say your decision has held you back at all?

Frankly, I feel my queerness has helped me in my journey. It sets me apart. The world is moving away from trying to fit a mold. All the greats from the showbiz industry have something undeniable about them. I’m not saying that’s what I am, but that’s how people should look at it. Why try and be Beyonce? Or J-Lo? I look at J-Lo and I admire and model myself after her work ethic, but I don’t try to be her. I can’t be anyone but me. I didn’t have a choice.

Tank and shorts – Acne Studios, Shoes – Celine

So it’s not just that Hollywood is changing, it’s the world that’s changing.

It still happens in Hollywood here and there. I auditioned recently for a role to play a straight part and I turned it down because I wasn’t interested in it. If I had a choice, I’d play interesting queer characters until the end of time.

So in that sense your own personality comes through in your role as Wilson on Hacks? Just like him, you have your values and you’re not willing to compromise them.

Wilson doesn’t really care about work, he found his job online, but he’s got strong interpersonal boundaries. When he’s on a date with Marcus, who plays Jean Smart’s character’s manager, he realizes how Marcus’ dedication to his job means he has no room for a romantic relationship and so he walks out. While doing read throughs I was like, “Werk, I need to channel this more.” When it comes to career, in many respects Johnny the person is more like Marcus than Wilson. I have Marcus’ drive to keep going and make things happen. I don’t want to be the biggest star in the world, but I want to be able to look back at my life and say wow I gave that my all. I already feel that way in some respects, even when I look back at my career from five years ago starting on social media, my journey’s been different from everyone else’s. All the advice I’ve been given, it hasn’t really worked for me the way they said it would.

Top – Xander Zhou, Pants – Prada, Boots – Gucci, Ring by Spinelli Kilcollin

Everyone’s got their own journey, and some people’s journey has them making a sound-bite on TikTok that goes viral. Your “Hit It” sound on there is universally loved.

Ha! Honestly, that was just me being a gay boy gassing up another gay boy! And it really is universal. Straight guys come up to me telling me their girlfriends play it while they’re getting ready for dinner. These DJs, Moodshift, picked up the sound and turned it into a song. The day after it was released, it made it to number 12 on the iTunes dance chart. At first I was like, “Oh yeah, this will be cute,” but then when it was actually making the charts I was like, “What?” It was channeling that ballroom energy from “Pose” or “Legendary,” so it had all the elements people love but it literally was just me vibing in bed.

So what’s the next stop on the ride? What can we expect?

Well, “Hacks” is coming back for Season 2. I don’t know what’s happening with my character so I can’t really say much about that. I also just wrapped season 2 of my show for Logo. I’d never hosted anything before. There are so many industry rules if you’re an actor. They say you can’t be on reality tv, you can’t be a host, and whatever. Whereas now in the social media world I feel like you can do anything and have a successful career.

Sweater – Acne Studios, Shirt – Troy Dylan Allen, Shorts – JW Anderson

I feel like this question is the modern-day equivalent of asking a woman her age but, what is your screen time like?

 My screen time is wild. I’m always on my phone. The other day I was wishing I could get off social media for two months. Even when I take a break for a week, I come back to it so differently. I approach it differently and enjoy it until I slip back into my old habits. I do take breaks every now and then until a friend texts me worried about me and then I’m back. Take breaks, you should! I promise you won’t miss too much. My best friend and I are always joking about going the way of the old Hollywood ladies and becoming recluses but I don’t see that happening.

VERONIKA VILIM BY SALONI AGARWAL

Coat, sweater, dress and boots – Stella McCartney, Earrings – Ben Amun,  Hat and gloves – Clyde

 

Photographer: Saloni Agarwal @saloniagarwalphoto 

Model: Veronika Vilim @veronikavilim with The Lions @thelionsmgmt

Fashion Stylist: Chelsea Volpe @HoneyArtists @chelseavolpestylist 

Assistant stylist: Quinn Herbert @quinntommyxo

Makeup Artist: Chichi Saito @artdeptagency @chichisaito using @roenbeauty

Hair Stylist: Tomoaki Sato using ORIBE @tomoaki_sato

 

Coat, sweater, dress, boots – Prada, Layering sweater – Judy Zhang, Gloves – Clyde

 

L: Coat, Shirt, Pants – Aknvas, V-Neck – DSQUARED2, Blazer – DSQUARED2, Earrings – Lady Grey, Beret – Clyde

R: Jacket – Hugo Boss, Layered jacket – Christian Wijnants, Suit – Officine Générale, Earrings – Pamela Love 

 

Outfit – Ulla Johnson, Earrings – Monbouquette

 

L: Jacket, Top – St. John, Earrings – Ben Amun R: Jacket, sweater, skirt – Christian Wijnants, Earrings & Ring – Lady Grey, Boots – 8 by Yoox

 

Outfit – Christian Wijnants, Jewelry – Ben Amun, Boots – 8 by Yoox

LOGAN POLISH STAR OF APPLE TV+ THE MOSQUITO COAST

T-shirt by Adidas, Necklaces Stylist’s Own, Earring by Notte

 

Logan Polish was born to be in the entertainment industry. The young actress was raised behind the scenes, her father and uncle both writers, producers and directors have a long list of successful projects. As a child actor, Polish was cast in the 2006 acclaimed film, The Astronaut Farmer starring Billy Bob Thornton, Virginia Madsen and written, directed and produced by the Polish brothers.

Logan made her American television debut with the launch of Apple TV’s hit series The Mosquito Coast, starring opposite Justin Theroux. You might be familiar with the novel by the same name which was written by Paul Theroux (Justin’s Uncle) and adapted into the 1986 film starring Harrison Ford. The success of the premier season led Apple TV+ to approve a second season which will began filming this year. 

Logan spent the day with Iris Covet Book during her photoshoot at friend and co-star Justin Theroux’s Lower East Side bar, Ray’s to chat about coping with anxiety, filming in Mexico, and her favorite 80’s playlist. 

Photographer: Hao Zeng
Stylist: Rachel Gilman
Location: Ray’s NYC

 

Shirt by Victoria Beckham, Sweater by Chloé, Earring by Notte

Being surrounded by parents and family in the film industry, how much do you think you were influenced by their careers to start acting? 

I was heavily influenced. I grew up on my dad‘s film sets and he was always working on new projects around me. So, I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else, I still can’t. I think it’s sort of in my DNA, at this point. I have always loved the community within film, it something I constantly yearn for; those connections, those bonds that are created.

Your first acting job as a child was playing opposite Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen in The Astronaut Farmer. You then took a break from acting until you were scouted at the age of thirteen by your now agent. What was it about this incident that reignited your passion for acting? 

I was so excited when I met my agents because I had been wanting to act for a while, but my parents were definitely hesitant to push me into the industry. I think they wanted to preserve my childhood as much as possible and I’m really glad that they did. It was super exciting to finally be able to pursue the one thing I’d wanted to do for such a long time.

 

Sweater by Esteban Cortázar, Skirt By Paco Rabanne, Earrings by Notte

You star opposite Justin Theroux in the Apple TV series Mosquito Coast which was just picked up for a second season. Tell us about your character Dina Fox and how you relate to her. 

I really related to Dina’s maturity. She is put in many difficult situations and has to make many grown-up decisions for herself, and I think that’s something that I could relate to. I could also just relate to growing up in such an eccentric family because my dad started out making indie films and, in a way, he was sort of an inventor. My mom is also an artist, so similar to Dina, I was used to seeing my parents ‘invent’ new things every day.

What has been the most rewarding part of filming the first season? 

Wow, I mean there are so many things that have been very rewarding about the show. I think the first thing that comes to mind is just how amazing it’s been to work with such talented people. From the actors to the directors, it was an eye-opening experience to be around that level of talent. It’s also been so rewarding to be able to work on my craft for a whole season. I had never gotten so much time to be that serious about acting and really practice, get better, and grow.

 

Jeans by Levi Strauss & Co., Bodysuit, Stylist’s Own Necklaces by Notte, Rings by Keane

What was the biggest lesson you learned from filming? 

I think filming always teaches me and continues to teach me how to be present. It can be such an overwhelming process with all of the different schedules and lines and things that we’re having to do within a day. Mosquito Coast really taught me how to take it day by day, hour by hour, and really focus on the task at hand.

I was reading an article where you said you learned not to be too stressed out about working with new people after filming The Mosquito Coast.  What are some things that help you cope with the anxiety of working on new projects? 

One of the biggest things that really helped me with my anxiety was expressing how stressed out I was to the people around me, like Justin or Gabriel. I think keeping in my nervousness or reservations really made it worse, but whenever I was able to confess to people that I wasn’t feeling good about certain scenes, it took the pressure off. It became a good habit of mine to go to a cast-member anytime I had any stress and tell them what I was feeling, and they always had some sort of advice that immediately got rid of my anxiety.

I think one big misconception I had about acting was that ‘I’m going to know how to do everything and do it perfectly’ and that ultimately created so much pressure. On Mosquito Coast I quickly learned that I’m not going to always have all the answers but there’s a director, a writer, and other actors around to help. By the end of the season, I had become really comfortable with confiding in and being vulnerable with the people around me.

 

Vest by Chloé, Romper by The Row, Rings by Keane, Tights by We Love Colors

Various parts of Mosquito Coast were filmed in Mexico.  What were some of the cities you filmed in, and did you have a chance to explore and experience the culture?

We shot in so many places from Mexico City, Puebla, to Guadalajara and Punta Mita. I feel like the one city I spent the most time exploring was Puebla and I’m so happy that we got to go there. It’s so colorful and there is a church on every corner and it’s a very historical town. So, I spent the weekends just walking down each street trying to go to as many churches as possible and that was very fun.

You are following your family into the movie business. Writing and directing your first short film entitled Margot.  Do you see influences from your father’s process, or have you found your own way of working? 

I do see a sprinkle of his process within my own but the one great thing about my dad is that he has really let me figure out my own voice. Whenever he’s helped me with my writing or working on my own sets, he’s kind of been a guide for me to go to if I need help but he’s always sort of just let me figure it out on my own. But ultimately, we are related so I definitely think there will always be connections between our work and things that we like.

 

Dress by Versace, Necklace – Stylist’s Own, Socks by We Love Colors, Shoes by Manolo Blahnik

Do you enjoy working behind the scenes as much as in front of the camera?

I do enjoy working behind the camera, if not sometimes even more. I am a bit of a control freak, so I like being able to follow a movie from the page to the set to the editing process to it being promoted. I love every part of the process and so when I’m just acting it’s sometimes hard for me to let go and not join in on every part of the creative side.

Your aunt is Kate Bosworth.  What was the best acting advice she has ever given you?

She’s always been a good example on how to navigate the business side of everything, and how valuable it is to understand it.

Who is on your wish list of directors to work with?

Christopher Nolan! He has been on my list for such a long time. I’m also very keen on working with Yorgos Lanthimos or Sam Esmail.

Jacket by Prada, Skirt by Jacquemus, Vintage Top – stylists’ own, Shoes by Nicholas Kirkwood

Do you believe in astrology and if so, what is your sign, and do you think it’s fitting to your personality?

Yes, I do! I am an Aquarius, with a Scorpio moon and Taurus rising. I do heavily relate to my sign, but I think I am very influenced by having a Scorpio Moon. I can get very dark, and emo and I sometimes lean more into that than I do my fun Aquarian side.

During the shoot you requested 80’s music on set.  Who is currently on your music playlist?

Everything 80’s!!! Currently I have The Smiths, New Order, English beat, Cocteau Twins, Duran Duran… with a sprinkle of Interpol and Sade.

OLIVER BY KARL SIMONE

Shirt by Givenchy, Pants by Lanvin, Shoes by Dolce and Gabbana

Photographer: Karl Simone @karl_simone
Stylist: Charlie Ward @charliewardstyles
Model: Oliver Kludjeson @oliverkludjeson
Agency: The Society Management @thesocietynyc

Vest by MSGM, Jeans by Tanaka, Belt by Gucci

Shirt by Dries Van Noten, Pants by YSL, Loafers by Prada, Hat by Stetson

Blazer by YSL, Tank by Lanvin, Vintage Boxer Shorts

Overcoat by The Salting, Joggers by Burberry, Boots by Givenchy

Shirt by Dries Van Noten, Hat by Stetson

Blazer by YSL, Tank by Lanvin

Shirt by Givenchy

GOODBYE HORSES

On Nadia – Jacket by DSquared2, Shirt by Land of Distraction, Dress and Shoes by Prada, Leggings by Puma

On Jonny – Coat by Prada, Shirt by Adidas x Alexander Wang available at East Dane, Pants by Versace, Boots by DSquared2

Photographer: Menelik Puryear @mr_puryear
Stylist: Nicholas Whitehouse‭ @nicholas_whitehouse
Hair: Mark Alan @mark.alan.hair
‭Casting: Eric Cano @cano_castings
Horse trainer Melanie Lorek
Models:
Shot at Knoll Farm

On Nadia – Vest by Prada, Shirt and Pants by Land of Distraction, Shoes and Earrings by DSquared2

On Jonny – Jacket by Versace, Yellow Hoodie and pants by Tom Ford

Sweatshirt by Private Policy, Boots by DSquared2

On Valentine – Blazer and Pants by Gucci, Windbreaker by MSGM available at East Dane, Shoes by Y-3, Hat by JJ Hat Center

Jacket by Lacoste, Hat by JJ Hat Center

Shirt by DSquared2, Sunglasses by Miu Miu

Jacket by DSquared2, Long Jacket by Public School, Shorts by Prada, Leggings by Asics

Jacket by Lacoste

On Valentine – Vest by Prada, Pants by Adidas x Alexander Wang, Jeans by MSGM, Shoes by DSquared2, Sweater by Z Zegna

On Jonny – Pants by Z Zegna, Sneakers by Adidas x Raf Simons, Vest by Vintage Martin Margiela, Jacket by Vintage Nike

Dress by Bottega Veneta, Sports Bra by Nike, Sunglasses by Miu Miu

On Valentine, Jacket by DSquared2, Long Jacket by Public School available at East Dane, Shorts by Prada, Leggings by  Asics, Socks and Shoes by Prada

On Nadia – Coat by Off-White, Bodysuit Stylists Own, Earrings by DSquared2, Shoes by Y-3

Jacket by Lacoste, Skirt and Belt by Versace, Socks by Prada

On Valentine – Shirt by Stella McCartney, Coat by Z Zegna, On Nadia – Shirt by Versace, Hat by Prada, On Jonny – Shirt by Prada, Jacket by Adidas x Alexander Wang, Mesh Shirt is Vintage Helmut Lang, Pants by DSquared2

CAMP IN FASHION – COSTUME INSTITUTE’S SPRING 2019 EXHIBITION AND MET GALA

(New York, October 9, 2018)—The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that The Costume Institute’s Spring 2019 exhibition will be Camp: Notes on Fashion, on view from May 9 through September 8, 2019 (preceded on May 6 by The Costume Institute Benefit). Presented in The Met Fifth Avenue’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, it will explore the origins of the camp aesthetic and how it has evolved from a place of marginality to become an important influence on mainstream culture. Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on ‘Camp’ provides the framework for the exhibition, which will examine how fashion designers have used their métier as a vehicle to engage with camp in a myriad of compelling, humorous, and sometimes incongruous ways.

“Camp’s disruptive nature and subversion of modern aesthetic values has often been trivialized, but this exhibition will reveal its profound influence on both high art and popular culture,” said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. “By tracing its evolution and highlighting its defining elements, the show will embody the ironic sensibilities of this audacious style, challenge conventional understandings of beauty and taste, and establish the critical role this important genre has played in the history of art and fashion.”

In celebration of the opening, The Costume Institute Benefit, also known as The Met Gala, will take place on Monday, May 6, 2019. The evening’s co-chairs will be Lady Gaga, Alessandro Michele, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Anna Wintour. The event is The Costume Institute’s main source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, and capital improvements.

“Fashion is the most overt and enduring conduit of the camp aesthetic,” said Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute. “Effectively illustrating Sontag’s Notes on ‘Camp,’ the exhibition will advance creative and critical dialogue about the ongoing and ever-evolving impact of camp on fashion.”

The exhibition will feature approximately 175 objects, including womenswear and menswear, as well as sculptures, paintings, and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present. The show’s opening section will position Versailles as a “camp Eden” and address the concept of se camper—”to posture boldly”—in the royal courts of Louis XIV and Louis XV. It will then focus on the figure of the dandy as a “camp ideal” and trace camp’s origins to the queer subcultures of Europe and America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In her essay, Sontag defined camp as an aesthetic and outlined its primary characteristics. The largest section of the exhibition will be devoted to how these elements-which include irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration-are expressed in fashion.

Designers whose works will be featured in the exhibition include Gilbert Adrian, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, John Galliano (for Martin Margiela, House of Dior, and his own label), Jean Paul Gaultier, Rudi Gernreich, Guccio Gucci, Demna Gvasalia (for Balenciaga and his own label), Marc Jacobs (for Louis Vuitton and his own label), Charles James, Stephen Jones, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld (for House of Chanel, Chloe, and his own label), Herbert and Beth Levine, Alessandro Michele (for Gucci), Franco Moschino, Thierry Mugler, Norman Norell, Marjan Pejoski, Paul Poiret, Miuccia Prada, Richard Quinn, Christian Francis Roth, Yves Saint Laurent, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeremy Scott (for Moschino and his own label), Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (for Viktor & Rolf), Anna Sui, Philip Treacy, Walter Van Beirendonck, Donatella Versace (for Versace), Gianni Versace, Vivienne Westwood, and Charles Frederick Worth.

The exhibition is organized by Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute, with Karen Van Godtsenhoven, Associate Curator. Theater scenographer Jan Versweyveld, whose work includes Lazarus with David Bowie as well as Broadway productions of A View from the Bridge and The Crucible, will create the exhibition design with The Met’s Design Department. Select mannequin headpieces will be created by Shay Ashual. Raul Avila will produce the gala décor, which he has done since 2007.

A publication by Andrew Bolton with Fabio Cleto, Karen van Godtsenhoven, and Amanda Garfinkel will accompany the exhibition and include new photography by Johnny Dufort. It will be published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press.

The exhibition is made possible by Gucci.

Additional support is provided by Condé Nast.

WEB EXCLUSIVE – VENUS OF VENICE

Dress and Boots by Moschino Couture | T-shirt by Black Beat Rags | Diamonds by Chris Aire Beverly Hills

Photographer: Emily Soto
Makeup: Natasha Severino @ Forward Artists
Hair: Dimitris Giannetos @ Forward Artists
Model:  Madison Tabeek @ Next Models

Dress and Boots by Moschino Couture | T-shirt by Black Beat Rags | Diamonds by Chris Aire Beverly Hills

Top and Skirt by Victoria Hayes | Belt by Prada | Earrings by Jennifer Fisher

Sequined Jumpsuit by Dundas | Boots by Moschino | Earrings by Chris Aire Beverly Hills

Choker by Moschino | Dress by Carolina Sarria | Fur by Georgine

Choker by Moschino | Dress and Fur by TKTKT

Top by Victoria Hayes | Diamond Stud Earrings by Chris Aire Beverly Hills

Top by Victoria Hayes | Diamond Stud Earrings by Chris Aire Beverly Hills

Dress by Off-White | Boots by Moschino | Earrings by Jennifer Fisher

NEO NOIR

Sweater by Louis Vuitton, Shorts by Balenciaga, Socks & Sneakers by Prada, Sunglasses by Gentle Monster

Photography by Alejandro Cabezut @alejandrocabezut
Styling by Charlie Ward (@charliewardstyles)
Makeup / Grooming by Jenny Sauce
Hair by Jenni Wimmerstedt
Model Sehan @ Wilhelmina
Styling Assistant Zach Mauer
Photo Assistant Katherine Solomon

Total Look by Calvin Klein 205W39NYC

Coat by Helmut Lang, Shirt by Kenzo, Pants and Belt by Lanvin

Reflective Leather Coat by Sies Marjan, Tropical Shirt by DSqaured2, Leather Pant by Balmain, Belt by Gucci, Gold Chains by DSquared2

Jacket, Shirt, & Pants by Bottega Veneta, Shoes by Gucci

Coat by OAMC, shirt & pant by Dries Van Noten, sneakers by Prada

Total Look by Prada

Tropical Shirt by Louis Vuitton, Sunglasses by Raf Simons

EXCLUSIVE: RICKY MARTIN

Jacket by Tom Ford

Photography by Greg Swales
Styling and Interview by Marc Sifuentes

Taking over the legendary Sin City strip, making history as the first Latino to headline a Las Vegas residency, and jumping headlong into the world of acting, Ricky Martin shows he is one of the most intriguing and impactful entertainers of our time.

Father, husband, singer, dancer, and actor. Ricky Martin is constantly juggling his many roles with seemingly effortless ease. Currently a resident on the Vegas strip at the Park Theater at Monte Carlo for his solo show, Martin is also eager to further pursue his acting career, release a new album, create a new world tour, and continue helping the people of Puerto Rico and the victims of human trafficking. Filled with love, down-to-earth spirituality, and an effervescent charm, Ricky Martin has proven himself to be an everlasting icon of pop culture.

In an exclusive interview with Iris Covet Book Editor-in-Chief Marc Sifuentes, the Puerto Rican star gets personal about his daily life with his husband and twins, life in the limelight, and his continuous efforts to make the world a better place.

Hi Ricky! I wanted to thank you for doing this interview and for being so fun and easy-going on the day of the shoot.

Well, thank you! You and your team were amazing and had such a beautiful energy in the studio.

Thank you! So, I want to start with asking about your second “back by popular demand” Vegas residency at the Park Theater, what is the key to producing such a successful and in-demand show?

I give credit to the people that I work with: the producers, directors, all of the people behind the scenes, the musicians, and the dancers. It really takes a village, and I wouldn’t be able to do this show without an amazing group of people behind me. I’m happy to have these talented producers and directors who can translate my vision and make it magic! To be the first Latino male to have a residency in Vegas is a big responsibility. What I love about this show is having the opportunity to perform every night in front of a very international crowd. Just to be on stage and see all of these faces from all over the world really motivates and inspires me. What I want to do is break boundaries and unite cultures. To see the crowd disconnect from their everyday problems in life and leave the theater with a smile is a very beautiful thing. I wish we could do this show for many more years.

Will you be taking this show on the road at the end of it’s Vegas run?

Well since I have an exclusivity contract I won’t be able to take this particular show on the road or perform it outside of the Park Theater. But I will hopefully be on the road touring a new show next year through Latin America and the United States. The idea is to take a new show all over the world, hopefully by next year.

I was watching clips of the show and it just looks amazing, you seem larger than life and so confident. Do you ever feel insecure? And if you do, what do you tell yourself to get out of that headspace?

I am very insecure. I am insecure when I write music, when I perform, when I act…but what gets me through are my years of experience. I am human and I go through a lot of highs and lows before I go on stage. If you see the show, for the first song I’m coming down from a 300-foot drop! I may look super confident, but I’m not! (laughs) I suffer from vertigo and it can be very difficult to focus, but it is part of confronting my demons and breaking that trauma that triggers my vertigo. By the time the music starts, I just have to forget everything and jump into storytelling mode.

Well it’s been getting really great reviews! Would you consider extending your residency for a third round?

Oh, I would love that! And funny you should ask because that’s exactly what we are in discussions about at the moment, and if we do, I will need to create a whole new show for the international audience.

jacket and t-shirt by Philipp Plein, jeans by Tom Ford, rings by John Hardy

t-shirt by Philipp Plein, jeans by Tom Ford, ring by John Hardy

shirt by Ferragamo, jeans by Tom Ford

You recently teased your fans with a new single, “Fiebre”, when can we expect a new full length album?

I am thinking hopefully by the beginning of next year, but right now we have been pretty focused on the Vegas show and American Crime Story, which we were shooting for eight months. Today, the record company no longer needs the record out at a very specific time so the artists have more freedom, and if a song is ready then I can just release it. Obviously numbers are important in this industry, but it gives us an idea of what the audience likes or dislikes, and I have never felt more relaxed doing music.

Since you mentioned American Crime Story, how did you become involved and what made you say yes to the story?

A few years ago I had the opportunity to work with Ryan Murphy on an episode of Glee. We’ve kept in touch and he invited me to dinner to tell me that he thinks he has a role for me. Once I read the script I immediately said yes because it was personal. I knew I wanted to be a part of telling Versace’s story. I wanted to remind the viewers the injustice behind what happened. Because it’s not how Gianni Versace died, but how we allowed it to happen. What angers me most is that Cunanan was on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, living on Miami Beach which is a very small community, but the FBI turned the other way because he was a gay man killing gay men. There is no denying to me that this was really an issue of homophobia. I think we did a great job covering that aspect of the story.

I read that Ryan Murphy wants to give you your own show, any word on that project?

Well he told me about it and then made it public, and I got really excited! We haven’t spoken in detail about it because he is transitioning from one network to another and he told me that he will be busy until June, but I’m not in a rush. (laughs) I would love to do something behind the scenes as well. But no, we haven’t talked about it yet.

You brought up the issue of homophobia and it made me think of your new music video. “Fiebre” and of course American Crime Story both show you openly embracing your sexuality. After being forced into the closet for so long, how does it feel for you to finally be able to express being gay through your music videos and now your acting roles?

Amazing! If I could go back and come out in the late ‘90s or early 2000’s then I would, because it felt amazing to come out. When I talk to people who are struggling with their identity, I tell them that it may be bumpy for awhile but in the long run the love that I received from my friends, family, from social media…it was spectacular. I know this is not the case for everyone but at the end of the day it is about dignity and self love.

You recently received a Trailblazer award from The LGBT Community Center in NYC, what did receiving that award mean to you?

Well like receiving any award, it is a big responsibility, but at the end of the day I am proud because it lets me talk about where I have been, who I am, and what I did to finally understand my real essence. In my case, I get to share my story. I meet so many people in the streets or on social media who tell me, “Ricky, thank you so much because I know what you went through and I can better understand my gay father, gay uncle, gay brother, lesbian aunt…” and I think it is a beautiful thing and it is important.

I wanted to talk about your husband, artist Jwan Yosef, a bit. You met on Instagram and I was reading you instant messaged for six months before meeting—

Yes! And nothing sexy! It was very romantic. We talked a lot just about our problems and lives. I never even heard his voice until six months later when I went to visit him in London, where he was based. I said to myself, “This is it. I just met the man who I am going to marry.” Two years later we were married. He is a great man, he loves my kids, and we have so many things in common.

He is a conceptual painter and I have mad respect and admiration for what he does. When I see him and his creative process… it is so sexy. I just love when he locks himself in his studio and starts creating. I become a fly on the wall, watching him paint and create works of art. I am in love, man, I am so in love.

jacket by DSquared2, ring by John Hardy


shirt, pants, and sneakers by Dior Homme, rings by John Hardy

 

shirt, pants, and shoes by Louis Vuitton, rings by John Hardy

You’ve mentioned in the past that you want more children, what do you love about being a father and what is the most challenging part of raising twins?

Yes, I want more; I’m just getting started! If it was my decision I would have six more, but Jwan says let’s take it one step at a time. (laughs) With kids, and I’m sure every parent out there will say this, but everything is new every day and being a single father with twins was extremely challenging, especially in the first year. No one is sleeping, and it’s two against one. Now that they’re older it’s still two against one, but they are amazing kids and the bonding time over the first year was so important. I took a sabbatical, and I did not accept any help. I wanted to do it all, change every diaper, bathe them everyday, and the relationship I have with my kids… there’s just so much love. They are almost 10 years old and this is when dads stop being cool and they start making fun of you! I’m really happy because I’m not there yet with them (laughs).

I’m sure your spirituality plays a big part in your parenting too, what helped you to discover your spirituality?

When we talk about spirituality we go back in time. Religion has nothing to do with spirituality, but I would say that growing up Catholic, even being an altar boy, was too much for me. I kept searching and looking for other philosophies and dogmas to ascribe to. There was a moment where I was obsessed with India and going about four times a year because they call it the “Cradle of Spirituality.”Then my kids became my religion. It doesn’t matter how late I go to bed, I religiously wake up at 7:00 a.m. everyday to have breakfast with them, and that bonding experience with the three of us is the only way I want to start my day. But once a Catholic, always a Catholic. To this day I sometimes look to God when the boys ask me questions because they ask some really hard questions, and I just want to give them the right answer.

I want to talk about Puerto Rico, from your experience can you give us an update on how the country is doing currently? I know that you were and still are very involved in fundraising after hurricane Maria.

Oh man, well 43% of the island still has no power, and if you go up to the more rural mountain areas, even now nine month later, people still have no power, no running water, and are bathing in the river and using candlelight. It is really frustrating and I wish the federal government would have done more. You have to wonder, if this were any other city in the continental US, would we ever hear that nine months later people have no power? No, I don’t think that would happen. But we have to do our part, and Puerto Ricans have experienced a great level of compassion, empathy, and care from volunteers, and the country has become creative and adapted. This too shall pass, but it will take a long time to go back to normal.

Another cause that is close to your heart is bringing awareness to human trafficking, can you explain where this compassion comes from and tell us more about the Ricky Martin Foundation?

With natural disasters like hurricanes for example, the community becomes more vulnerable and human traffickers take advantage. Traffickers come to the island and see all of these people who have lost everything and need money to buy things, and these kids end up selling their bodies or getting forced into pornography.

jacket by Valentino, shirt by COS

 

sweater by COS, pants by Dior Homme, rings by John Hardy

How did it first come to your attention?

More than a decade ago a friend of mine was building an orphanage in India, and this was when I was looking for any excuse to go to India. I flew to Calcutta, and he took me to the slums and said, “Come on, let’s rescue girls!” I had no idea what this meant, but when I got to the slums he started to point out girls like, “You see those three? They could be forced into prostitution.” and I’m standing there like, “What?! What do you mean? That girl must be five and her sister must be eight and her older sister must be eleven” and he says, “Yes, Rick. This is human trafficking. These girls live on the streets and they need money to help their family and they get paid for selling their bodies.” I was so astounded and went back home and started to educate myself on the subject. I went to Congress and told them we needed to bring more awareness to this global $150 billion industry. The victims are sex slaves.

Did you know there are more slaves today then back in the slave trade of the 18th century? Today, as soon as you open your computer you could easily fall victim to a criminal persuading you into the world of prostitution.

It’s encouraging to hear you are using your platform to educate others of these injustices.

It’s not easy. Ten years ago I wanted to stop. I said I couldn’t do it anymore because we couldn’t keep up. We were working so hard but I felt like I didn’t see any change. My mentor looked at me and said, “Ricky, you’ve got to stop being so arrogant. Who do you think you are? Do you think you will change the world? You’re not Superman! How about focusing on saving one life? And one life can become two.” We went back and built a holistic center in Puerto Rico in an area affected by trafficking, and right now we have 132 children coming to the center. We are educating them about human trafficking and opening their eyes to the predators. It’s a lifetime commitment. We are not going to save everyone, but we will save one person at a time.

What else can we expect from you this year?

I’m getting more prepared as an actor, meeting with great writers, producers, and directors and I think there are some great opportunities on the table. I am so lucky to be at a place where I can pick and choose the projects that speak to me. Aside from still making my music, I really want to jump into acting more and playing amazing roles that can have a positive impact on society. My acting career is very personal to me right now; I am obsessed and don’t want to stop!

coat and shirt by Prada, pants by COS, sneakers by Dior Homme, ring by John Hardy

Hair by Joey Nieves @ Grey Matter LA using Hanz de Fuko, Makeup by Maital Sabban @ MS Management, BTS Video by Lavoisier Clemente, Photo Assistant Amanda Yanez, Art Direction by Louis Liu, Editor-in-Chief Marc Sifuentes, Production by Benjamin Price