|Mike Pitt is boyishly sexy, like a young Marlon Brando with a generous dose of Leo DiCaprio, pre-Titanic. That is what turned Pitt into a teen’s wet dream for the season he spent on Dawson’s Creek. But before the adolescent fandom world could claim him, he quit to make films that would discourage those ready to plaster him on the cover of Teenbeat. From a scene stealing part in Gus Van Sant’s Finding Forrester to his role as Tommy Gnosis in John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Pitt proves he has the ability onscreen to enthrall. It’s the way he blows smoke out of the side of his mouth, as if blessing the wind. The way he carries himself, with the outward confidence of a street tough and the inner vulnerability of your average nineteen year old. He seems constantly on the edge of unraveling, as if using all his strength to nobly protect a fragile rose. But he usually succeeds at keeping it together and unraveling those around him instead like he did me in the following interview. J.T. Leroy|
Mike Pitt: I don’t think I have a favorite place to make love.
JT: Do you prefer it on the floor or on the bed?
Mike: I do like it on the floor, only because it seems like you can get in there better. But sometimes on the bed you can get good leverage too, because it’s high off the ground and you can be hanging off of it.
JT: So, you’re staying in a lot of hotels because you’re filming a Sandra Bullock movie right now called Fool Proof. Do you worry that the maids are aware of your sexual habits?
Mike: Yeah, I’m always worried because every night they have to replace the body lotion but not the shampoo and conditioner. I always wonder if they know I’m jerking off with it.
JT: Do you just leave them a big tip or something?
Mike: Yeah, I actually do give them a big tip, only because they put up with it a lot. I’m really dirty.
JT: When was the first time you masturbated?
Mike: About fifth grade, in CCD class. I was always really bored, so I would go to the bathroom and try to masturbate. I thought masturbation was fake, I thought everyone was just kidding about it because nothing would happen for me, nothing would come out. But I would just do it anyway. I remember there was a crucifix right over the toilet. Then finally one time, all of a sudden, it just went off and I couldn’t believe it. It was all over my hand so I tasted it, because, you know, I was just a kid and I was curious. After it happened, I was like, Oh my God, I’m doing this all the time.
JT: How did it taste?
Mike: It tasted like, you know, like how it tastes. I know you know what semen tastes like.
JT: Yeah, I know.
Mike: I remember walking back into class and they were talking about the word of God.
JT: And you had just discovered it!
Mike: Yeah, I did. I didn’t feel guilty at all. I thought, Wow, maybe God isn’t so bad.
JT: Well, in the play that you got discovered in, Trestle at Pope Lick Creek by Naomi Wallace, you had to jerk off, right? And you masturbate in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Do you ever worry that you’ll be known as the Jerk-Off Boy?
Mike: No, I think to worry about something like that would probably cause it to happen in some way. I’m not really modest when it comes to sex stuff. If there’s a reason to do it in the story, then I do it. I feel like I’m in a great position to show people that things that aren’t necessarily “normal” are okay. We’re so uptight as Americans. I think just showing that you’re comfortable doing those things, stuff rubs off no pun intended.
JT: Did your mother come and see the play where you were whacking it?
Mike: Yeah, they did. They said that they liked it, but you could tell that they were kind of weirded out. I got weirded out during a Sunday show where all these senior citizens got in for free and they really didn’t know what they were going to see. The whole front row was old ladies.
JT: Oh my God.
Mike: My face was literally a few feet away from them.
JT: Were you wearing clothes?
Mike: Yeah, I was wearing clothes. Well, they were half on and half off.
JT: Well, what did they think?
Mike: I don’t know, my eyes were closed. But they were really loud. I remember this one lady saying, “What’s he doing? Agnes, what’s he doing?”
JT: Did Agnes answer? “He’s whackin’ it, Ethel.”
Mike: No, or at least I didn’t hear.
JT: So how do you feel about being turned into a sex symbol? You know, with men and women falling in love with you, like the way they do with Brad Pitt. How do you deal with that?
Mike: I don’t think I’m considered one right now. But I think if it happens and starts getting in the way of doing things that are important, there are ways to fix that. Like Johnny Depp. He was a sex symbol and he totally turned it around. And you can tell it was a conscious choice, you know? It wasn’t something that just blindly happened. He was kind of forcing people to look at him the way he wanted them to see him. I admire that.
JT: Yep. Um . . . You’re a very romantic kind of guy.
JT: Yeah, you don’t think you are? You strike me as really tender.
JT: I find you very sweet, very tender, very sensitive.
Mike: [Very quietly] Yeah, well I find you the same way.
JT: Well, now you’re making me blush. [Laughs] But like . . . I mean . . . I guess . . . So, when you’re . . . Oh gosh . . . Rewind!
[J.T. stumbles, turns off the tape recorder and turns it back on.]
Mike: Wow, that was easy.
JT: What? To get me flustered? Well, the thing that’s intense about you is when you’re with someone, you’re very much with them. You’ve got an intensity of focus with them, like what you bring to your work.
Mike: [Quietly] It depends on the person.
JT: What makes the difference?
Mike: I don’t know, like good people and bad people.
JT: I mean in a romantic sense . . . Are you always intense with someone you’re with?
Mike: No. It’s not as one-sided as you think it is. I think I give off what’s given.
JT: Kind of like acting in a scene and rising to the level of others?
Mike: Oh, let’s not talk about acting.
JT: Is it easier to talk about sex?
Mike: Yeah, I guess.
JT: So you have very sensitive nipples?
Mike: Oh, God. I have weird-looking nipples. I have girl nipples.
JT: ‘Cause they’re so sensitive?
Mike: No, ’cause they’re so girly. ‘Cause they’re kind of big.
JT: Well, I think that’s really sexy. You don’t like them?
Mike: I don’t really like ’em; some people like ’em.
JT: I think the combination of your lips and your nipples is going to make the gay community just totally fall in love with you.
Mike: Well, what about the straight community?
JT: Well, the girls will love you too. Take River Phoenix: he was somebody that girls loved, men loved and he didn’t really give a fuck what people thought. He was so fucking great. Like Martha Plimpton said, River would just fall in love with people’s souls and it didn’t matter what sex they were. You know, that’s so great in a world where people constantly have to define themselves. Like Tom Cruise always denying that he’s gay.
Mike: Well, I think that’s more about being secure. I look at River as someone who was really secure about himself.
JT: Do you get fan mail?
Mike: My mom gets the fan mail for my role on Dawson’s Creek. I didn’t like to read and respond to them because it always depressed me for some reason. I went from doing theater where adults would come up to me and tell me I gave a really incredible performance, to having twelve year olds sending me mail saying, “I think you’re hot.” It got really hard for me to play the game, to pretend like it mattered, because I felt like I was lying to people by doing it. But my mom gets a kick out of it for some reason. She tells me she gets all these letters from guys in jail.
JT: That’s hot. Do you answer the letters from jail?
Mike: Well, my mom’s kind of sweet and gullible. She’s sending them headshots.
JT: How do you feel about being the San Quentin Pin-Up Boy?
Mike: I feel like I probably shouldn’t get arrested.
JT: That’s a good answer. So you’re not answering twelve-year-old girls, but you’re answering these hard and fast criminals?
Mike: No, my mom answers everyone. She’s still doing it and I ask her, “Mom, what are you doing this for? It’s all little girls asking things like, What’s my favorite color?” And she says, “Yes, but that’s important, that’s important stuff.”
JT: Do you think Hedwig is really going to change your life? People really, really love it.
Mike: I don’t know if it’ll change my life, but I hope people will like it. Your life doesn’t really change.
JT: Well, it does if you get really famous and you can’t walk outside. I know how you like to ride the trains.
Mike: Yeah, but a lot of times I see people looking at me, but they don’t say anything because I’m on the subway too, coming home from work or whatever.
JT: Do a lot of teenage girls recognize you?
Mike: They did when I was on Dawson’s Creek. It was really, really fucked up, ’cause you feel like a circus clown. They’ll literally just start screaming and pointing at you, like you’re a three-headed donkey.
JT: And for them it’s not even you, it’s what you represent. Speaking of representations, is Tommy Gnosis, your character in the movie who falls in love with the transsexual Hedwig, bisexual?
Mike: I don’t know; I didn’t play him that way. I played him as a straight kid who just fell in love with someone. I felt like he fell in love with her the first time he saw her. I could have played him gay or bisexual, but I thought he’d be more interesting if he was straight and there was nothing he could really do about it because he had already fallen in love.
JT: I think that’s absolutely perfect. I think that’s a lot more interesting. When a straight guy falls in love, he can’t help it, despite the situation or who the person is . . . Just one last question. What’s the most erogenous part of your body?
Mike: What’s “erogenous” mean?
JT: You know, what has the most sexy feeling, what’s most sensitive. What part of your body feels the most incredible when somebody touches it?
Mike: It really depends on the person. My lower back. That’s really weird, but I really like my lower back being touched. That’s horrible.
JT: Why is that horrible?
Mike: It just seems like a really unexciting way to end an interview.
J. T. Leroy is the author of the new collection,
Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.
The Bedroom Interview: Mike Pitt
J.T. Leroyand Nerve.com, Inc.