By Michael Gioia
06 May 2013
|Photo by Monica Simoes|
SEX IN HIS HEEL
Long-time stage actor Billy Porter takes on the role of a lifetime in the new Cyndi Lauper-Harvey Fierstein Broadway musical Kinky Boots, which recently earned 13 Tony Award nominations, the most of any production in the 2012-13 season. Porter, who has previously been seen in featured roles on Broadway in Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease and Smokey Joe's Café, takes center stage in Kinky, where he shares top billing with co-star Stark Sands. Tony-nominated Best Leading Actor Porter is being recognized for his remarkable femininity, sassy comic timing and downright sexy strut. The Broadway favorite plays Lola, the passionate and fabulous drag queen who encounters straight-laced Charlie Price and helps him by creating and designing the show's "title character" (if you will) — Kinky Boots. We chatted with Porter at the May 1 Tony nominations press junket, where he talked about a role that he holds very close to his heart.
|photo by Matthew Murphy|
BP: There's nothing competitive. Dare I say that he's Ricky Ricardo to my Lucy. It's his steadiness… He's my rock. If he was not as present, and if his performance was not as solid and ego-free as it is, I would not be able to be the Tasmanian devil that I'm required to be every night. [Laughs.]
You guys have great chemistry. When you yell back and forth at each other, it's heartbreaking. Tell me about working together so closely and these moments that you share.
BP: Well, it's a "bromance." You know, the story is a "bromance" between two unlikely people who have daddy issues, and one of them happens to wear a dress. We watch these two men platonically fall in love, and, just like in any loving relationship, when there is turmoil, it's heartbreaking.
Where did you begin to create the character of Lola?
BP: I began with myself. I've lived a life as an African-American gay, out, Christian man for my entire life. I know what it feels to be on the outside. I know what it feels like to be denigrated. I know what it feels like to have people say that my life and what I represent is invalid. So, you know, I started there and kept going.