He made LGBT history playing Michael Novotny on Queer as Folk. Now, in this Hal Sparks interview, Hal talks with Paul Hagen about his continued support of gay rights, his career as an actor and comedian, his passion for motorcycling and his fears about the future of Donald Trump’s hair.
You’ve been performing in the “Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour.” Have you run into conservative backlash?
We had Westboro Baptist Church show up, but now they’re, you know, the clown car of protesters. I mean, now that the more egregious bullshit from them — where they picketed soldiers’ funerals — now that that’s been nipped in the bud a little bit, the rest of what they do is kind of cartoonish.
On the show Lab Rats, you play a billionaire inventor with bionic powers living in a house full of teenagers. Would you say that’s more or less of a stretch than what you dealt with on Queer as Folk?
Far less. Because I actually am a physics geek.
Is there anything you look back on now from your Queer as Folk days and you kind of think, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that on film?”
At the time, the way the show was marketed revolved so much around how boundary-pushing it was. Considering how social values have advanced, do you think it would be quite as shocking today?
Well you would just take it further. You’d have to live up to the standard of the day. Now keep in mind, if you don’t think time travel is possible, get on a Greyhound bus going the wrong direction one day and you’ll wake up in the ’50s. There are many places in the country that are barely in the 20th century, much less the 21st.
I love your NOH8 Campaign picture. Was it the opportunity to play with face paint and duct tape that attracted you to the cause?
Clearly, it’s political. I’ll play with duct tape and face paint any time I want.
How do you decide which causes you are going to donate your time to?
There’s some level of, “Do I think I can help the conversation?”… Like, with marriage equality and marijuana legalization for example: two activities I don’t intend to take advantage of. Gay or straight, I don’t really see marriage in my life, but I support the right of gay people to get married … Same thing with Marijuana Policy Project: I don’t smoke pot, but I do think it should be legalized for all kinds of public health and financial, fiscally conservative reasons.
You have a passion for motorcycles. Have you ever thought about riding with Hells Angels, Hunter S. Thompson–style?[No, because] one of the things that attracted me to riding was that, in [my very public life], it’s complete solitude. … I have two assistants and a baby boy and nice agent/manager types that I work with regularly, and production people who want to make sure I’m where I need to be on time and club owners and marketing people and PR people and you know — there’s an army of human beings I deal with every single day. And so being on a motorcycle just gives me that space.
I love you on those VH1 Countdown specials; since this is our year-end issue, could pick one of the top moments of 2012?
Donald Trump’s level of self-importance reached a fever pitch this year. I was worried, because his hair does look like the soft metal shavings that you use for starting fires, that if he gets and angrier and more full of himself that his head might burst into flames.
Originally Published in 2012
Last modified: February 16, 2018