|Interview with After Elton.com|
If David Beckham and Rip Torn had a love child, his name would be Jonny McGovern. Also known as the Gay Pimp , this in-your-face comedian is quickly taking the world by storm. From comedy and music to television and night life, there seems to be no realm McGovern hasn't conquered.
His popular podcasts, Big Gay Sketch Show characters, and musical spoofs of heterosexuality (including the insanely catchy and hysterical viral video smash "Soccer Practice") make him a one-of-a-kind entertainer. Not only does he embrace his sexuality, but he's made a career of it. AfterElton.com recently caught up with the ever-busy McGovern to get to know the man behind the pimp.
First off, how great is your job?
It's pretty great, baby. All my different jobs are pretty nice. I've
been able to surround myself with the gayest people possible. I love
the fame and the glamour of being on TV. And doing the
And there's an added bonus of all the naked guys you surround yourself with!
Oh let me tell you, that is very lovely. I created that life. I call myself the Gay Pimp for a reason, baby. I like to be surrounded by nude dudes. That's the thing: confidence. If you say you're the Gay Pimp, people will believe you. It worked. It helped that I wore rhinestone jeans and had choreographed dances to do.
Did you always want to do this?
I went to acting school after I finished high school. I was a big theater fag, of course, in high school. When I first moved to New York, I started to pursue a regular career in acting. But I soon realized it was boring waiting around for people to give you the part. I also realized as I got older that I was less interested in being what someone else wanted me to be than I was interested in being my gay big self. I wanted to put that and my feelings about that and my point of view in mainstream pop culture. So I started doing one-man shows. I was working with a group called Grindhouse A Go Go, which is where the Gay Pimp was created in a show called The Wrong Fag to F--- With .
Where did the Gay Pimp come from?
It started off with Eminem. I was appalled by him ripping on fags and talking mad s---. People were protesting, but how could you protest a pop star? I figured my best way of protesting was to write a big, flashy, glamorous, funny show that I worked on with Martine, who co-hosts my podcast with me. We wrote a show called The Wrong Fag to F--- With: The Gay Pimp vs. Eminem . It was where the Gay Pimp was a pop star/superhero who came out at the MTV awards to battle Eminem. Of course it did end with Eminem getting it up the butt and being humiliated while all the gay teens were set free. And then the songs that were part of the musical were getting play around town in New York City. I started performing as if Gay Pimp was really a pop star with dancers and trannies and all the stuff that eventually came in the video. One time I was performing at a place called PS 122. We were doing a show called Dirty Gay Teen Pop Superstars , and this producer, Richard J. Alexander who directed Barbra Streisand tours and Bette Midler's Kiss My Brass tour he saw it and said: "You were pretty good, kid. What do you want to do next?" I said, "I want to make a video." So he produced a video for me, and it started from there.
Critics of the character might be concerned with the way that it reinforces negative stereotypes of gay men as sex-crazed heathens. Are you spoofing this stereotype or embracing it?
It's a little bit of both. We are men. There is a reason gay guys get with each other. Men like sex. There's an aspect of sexuality being a positive thing, which is part of the video. Also the Gay Pimp character isn't some slave to some straight man's identity.
How different are you, Jonny, from the character?
I don't dance into every room. I usually don't pop up in locker rooms and sing songs. But we have the same confidence. We have the same sense of humor. And I am surrounded by nude dudes a lot. I throw a party every Saturday night here in New York City called Boys Gone Wild. So every Saturday night you can find me with half-naked dudes dancing around dressed like pretend Abercrombie & Fitch frat boys.
Can you talk about the experience of Big Gay Sketch Show ? What have been the biggest challenges in getting the show off the ground?
It's been a long journey. We all auditioned tons of times. Then we did the pilot episode, which was more of a presentation based on what we'd do for the show. We worked on it in the MTV offices. and Rosie [O'Donnell] would come in and see it. Getting it to that point, we were all working hard and were all nervous. We all thought, "Today's the day we're going to get fired." We never did. ....
What are your favorite characters on the show to play?
One character is Chocolate Pudding in the sketch "Tranny 911." I got to work with Michael Serrato, who played one of his old characters called Heaven. We're great friends, so doing that together was fun. I also did a series as Gay Werewolf, which haven't been on the show yet. I'm a straight guy who once a month, by the light of the moon, turns into a gay werewolf, which is just as retarded as it sounds.
Do you feel that the label of "gay musician" or "gay comedian" has helped or limited your success?
I'm not interested in being anything except a gay comedian or gay musician. That's what I am. I've devoted my life to doing gay stuff. The only way I'm interested in crossing over is if people come to me. And with "Soccer Practice" and the podcast, a lot of people have. But I'm not about changing myself to please a straight audience. I'm about being as gay as possible. And that means also being as real and as funny as possible, and letting people come to me and discover that. When you're funny, that can happen. My new album, Gays Gone Wild , which comes out at the end of the month, I've declared is the gayest album ever. I was listening to it with my producers who were like, "This is so gay. Oh my God damn!" The titles of the songs include "Girl I F----- Your Boyfriend" and "Bossy Bottom." I even have a song for the ladies called "Don't Fall in Love With a Homo."
What are your thoughts on other musicians, like Mika, who court a gay audience but won't speak about their sexuality?
There's no reason to out everyone in the world. I think seeing Mika onstage or in a video or listening to any of his songs, you're pretty sure that's a gay man. I don't think anyone is doubting it, maybe some 13-year-old who is a big fan. But that's no big deal; she'll find out soon enough.
Now, are you still with Kevin?
I sure am. I'm marrying that boy.
How did you meet and what do you guys love to do together?
I met his roommate a few years ago who said, "My roommate thinks you're really cute." He came to one of my parties in New York. It was magic from then on, really.
It seems like the internet played a large part in your success, in terms of getting your videos and name out there. Do you find it hard as a gay artist to get exposure via the usual channels?
It's always a challenge, especially since I push the envelope and don't want to step back. The internet is how I got started in being famous, and this was before YouTube or anything like that. My success always starts in a grass-roots way. I pushed into TV, and hopefully it will continue that way. Do you have to deal with censorship? There's always someone telling you it's too gay. On my podcast, I'm the boss. There are no rules on podcasting. On The Big Gay Sketch Show , they always say, "Be gayer."
When did you come out?
I came out in college. I went to high school in Egypt. It was not a homocentric environment. I knew I was gay. The only role model on TV I had then was Blanche's brother from The Golden Girls , and he was not someone to look up to. I wasn't like, "I want to be like Blanche's brother on The Golden Girls , ashamed of [my] gayness." When I went to Boston University I was in the acting program, which was like Fagapalooza. I was able to see other gay guys who were well-adjusted cool, interesting people. And I was like, "That's me." And when I finally had sex with a guy, it all fell into place. It wasn't scary or weird. It was exactly who I am. Coming out made me more myself then ever.
In " Soccer Practice ," you lampoon the latent homosexuality in sports. Does that come from your high school days?
Definitely. That is the stuff I find erotic and sexy. "Soccer Practice" was a send up and a celebration of that kind of thing at the same time. I came up with that song when I was visiting my high school, walking on the soccer field.
What other topics are you looking to tackle?
A lot more songs celebrating different types of boys. I have a send up of that asymmetrical boy called "Electroboy Plug It In." And then there's "Don't Fall in Love With a Homo." It goes, "I know he does your hair, takes you shopping everywhere, but he ain't going to touch you down there."
Who are your influences or idols, musically or in comedy?
The people that taught me comedy were a couple of lovely ladies who lived in Miami called The Golden Girls . Watching The Golden Girls really is a lesson in timing and delivery which you can't beat at all. That's my old-school favorites. I also spent all of high school listening to black ladies screaming in my radio, like Aretha Franklin. My music doesn't sound like them, but it's influenced [by] it. These days the person I like the most is Missy Elliott. I like her style and her creativity and the artists that she works with. I love the Neptunes.
Lastly, what can we expect from you in the future?
We'll be doing a new season of my podcast this summer. I'm also doing the East Village mix tape: the Legend Series. I'm going back to all the New York City night life legends that need to be remembered, like door lady Connie Girl. Princess Extravaganza from the House of Extravaganza and I are doing a track together called "The Pier 1977." She told me all the history of being on the Pier and battling with Willie Ninja. It's a way to bring our culture and history out in a fun, shiny, pop way. And we're crossing our fingers that Logo will greenlight the second season of The Gay Big Sketch Show .