Earlier this week I was invited to the latest event in the WIRED Insider Culturazzi Series hosted by Marriott Hotels & Resorts. The events are a way to showcase some of the awesome innovations at Marriott Hotels and Resorts around the world, including new common spaces and a devotion to style, design and technology. To be upfront, I was compensated for my time but as always my thoughts and opinions are completely my own. The event I went to was a showcase featuring the hilarious comedy video website “Funny or Die.”
The show took place on the rooftop of the Marriott Marina del Rey, which is a couple of blocks from Venice Beach in Los Angeles. The massive space has stunning 360 degree views of the beach, marina and of course Los Angeles. The room was packed for the event mostly with 20- and 30-somethings who were excited to spend a night out at the hotel for the show; the free food and open bar didn’t hurt either. Before the show, I sat down with a couple of the stars and while they were good enough to agree to on-camera interviews, I had a technical SNAFU. There was a massive audio error and so let me apologize to the gracious comedic stars for being unable to post the actual video. But, all is not lost; I’ve transcribed the interview with James and what follows is the transcript of my totally frank talk with the irreverent and charming James Adomian.
James is a rare thing in the world of entertainment, not only he is openly gay, but he’s really openly gay. His stand up routines include stories from all facets of his life, including being gay and true to “Funny or Die” form he never holds back. As a gay writer I was eager to talk to him to hear his thoughts about what it’s like to be a closet-phobic gay comedian in 2012.
He walked into the room wearing green pants and a purple long sleeved shirt, what he later called looking like a bag of Skittles. A jaunty cap added a little bit of hipster style, but I was pleased to discover that none of that attitude is present in James’ personality. He’s a completely down to earth, imminently charming guy who likes Budweiser and a raunchy joke. With that in mind we sat down for just a few minutes to talk about travel and his life.
Matt: Ok, to start with I’m a travel blogger, so I’m going to mix some real questions with travel if that’s ok?
James: Sure thing
Matt: So you grew up in a few different places as a kid, including not too far from here in Southern California. Did your family ever travel when you were growing up?
James: No, we really didn’t. We were poor; we didn’t have any money so we really never went anywhere. Well, maybe that’s not true, I mean we went to Disneyland a couple of times as a kid and places around Southern California, but that’s it. It wasn’t until I was 18 when I first went to Mexico that I left the country. Now I’m all over the US and Canada with my job.
Matt: You’re an openly gay comedian and entertainer, which is a rare thing in any industry but especially yours. A reporter once wrote that you’re “doing more for gay rights than most politicians do in their entire career.” Do you feel pressure to be a gay icon, to represent all LGBT people and is that fair?
James: I am who I am and I don’t care what other people think. I like guys, I’m attracted to guys, I like having sex with guys and it’s just who I am. I don’t pay attention to the other stuff, I just do my own thing. Has it set me back professionally? Yeah, I’m sure it has. It’s nice though that now we live in a world where that just doesn’t matter as much any more, where you can be who you want to be and that’s it.
Matt: So you also are a big deal in the world of online media, which is obviously a passion of mine. You’re big in the podcasting world! In fact you once said that “podcasts are the most essential tool that comedians have stumbled upon since the banana peel.” What did you mean by that?
James: Yeah, I’m big in the podcasting world and I love it. Podcasting is great because there’s no editing, at least most of the time, so you can be completely honest and unfiltered. It’s also really free and liberating because it’s not TV or radio; you can say whatever you want. It’s the ultimate in free speech. It’s a great way for comedians to try out new stuff and just be creative.
Matt: You’ve also said before that in your teens you were a ‘right wing asshole.’ I think a lot of adult gay people can say the same thing and it’s a weird sociological quirk. What is it about being a closeted gay person that creates this phenomenon?
James: Ha, you listened to my Marc Maron interview. There’s so much self-loathing when you’re closeted. You know, some of the people who hate gay people the most are closeted, and they’re in state legislatures…
Matt: And Congress!
James: (chuckles) Yes, and Congress. I was lucky though in a weird way when I was young, like college young, I went through some traumatic stuff and I came out of it ok. A lot of people wouldn’t have. They would have killed themselves, which happens all the time, or become an alcoholic or druggie. We’ve got to get past this hate, but it’s just human nature to hate what you’re afraid of.
And with that question James had to run off to the show. Huge thanks to James for taking the time to sit down with me for a few minutes and thanks to WIRED and Marriott for putting together such a fun and exciting evening.