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When it comes to Hollywood interviews, theyre just so f@#king straightforward and boring and everybody asks the same questions and it just gets redundant, explains Nico Tortorella.

by Chris Azzopardi for The Rainbow Times

But our interview is different, he says.

This is a straight-up Love Bomb episode, acknowledges the 28-year-old actor, likening the conversational tone of our exchange to his love- and sexuality-centric podcast, now in its second season.

Though he touches on Menendez: Blood Brothers, his Lifetime movie about the infamous, parricidal siblings, and the upcoming season of TV Lands Younger, Tortorella greatly expounds on his ever-evolving sexual identity, which has been an ongoing dialogueinternally and externallysince the actor revealed his label-less fluidity a year ago.

Now identifying as a proud bisexual, the Chicago-born dreamboat candidly discusses his desire for a polyamorous relationship, struggling with his sexuality as a kid before finding his queer safe haven within the theater and his current mission to normalize the abnormal.

Your sexual identity has really evolved over the last year; in 2016, you revealed you were label-less and emotionally fluid. Then, you said you identify as bisexual.

I really like the term bisexual, and I fall somewhere under the umbrella that is bisexuality. I use the word bisexual because people have fought for so long for this word and the fact that it even exists in part of the LGBTI-etcetera is just a beautiful thing, and Im not gonna be the person to take, like, fluidity or emotional fluidity or pansexual. Im comfortable somewhere under the bisexual label, and Im proud of it.

After you revealed that youre open to dating men, did you hear from more gay male admirers?

I think it was actually more when I came into touch with my own sexualitynot in terms of who I prefer, but just me as a sexual being. I just became more aware of different energies.

When did you embrace your bisexuality?

Honestly, I think with the work that Im doing on my podcast really exploring sexuality as a human condition has educated me on many different peoples lives and the importance of labels and the unimportance of labels, for that matter. Im in a really interesting place where I can talk about these things, but Im really doing the work outside of myself on it.

When were you first aware that you had a gay following?

Thats an interesting question. I grew up in Chicago on stage, and I was constantly surrounded by a bunch of queer people. I really got along with them as a little kid and they really liked me too, so I dont think there was one moment in my career, like, Oh, now I see I can get along with these people. I feel like it was always there. It was always in me; it was always part of me.

Recently, on your Instagram, you posted a pic of you sporting a shirt that says, The Future Is Non-Binary. Whats the story behind that shirt?

I bought it when I was shooting the Menendez movie up in Vancouver at this little thrift store. And yes, the future is non-binary, but I am a hardcore believer that so is the past. It has been forever, but for whatever reason, during these past 300 years, we haveand it probably has to do with religioncreated the binary. And listen, nothing else exists. But finally, over the last 50 years theres been this amazing breakthrough and clearly now it is the zeitgeist. Im just so fascinated by that whole story.

Do you think people are too sexually rigid because society forces people to choose boxes to put themselves into? Is Hollywood influenced by this rigidity?

Look, in Hollywood these are the stories that are being told that everybodys watching. And if you look at mainstream television, basically since its been created, theres only been one story thats been told. For the most part, its about the heteronormative, white family and that has been whats been pushed in our faces for so long.

Finally, in the last 20, 30 years, things have really been changing. So the answer is yes, absolutely. Its what we know; its what weve seen. Religiously, it is what weve been taught. It is everything. So, I think, yes, for so long people have been so oppressed in who they are because it doesnt match what were being shown. Now, in the age of the internet and social media, theres just so much being thrown down our throats constantlypun intended (laughs)and its like, it exists. Finally, it exists. Finally, peoples stories can be told. And my purpose in life is to extend these stories. Im in love with people and Im in love with their stories.

How do your views on sexuality influence the roles you choose as an actor? Are you looking for roles that challenge peoples views on sexuality?

Yeah, for sure. Its a natural thing that happens once I put myself into the role, and those types of projects seem to be floating in my direction, which Im all for. But I think as an actor it is my job to transform, and as obsessed as I am with the community and our stories and everything, Im obsessed with people in all facets of life. Its my job to become them. So, I really think that theres always gonna be a whole slew of different characters I play.

Jacob Wells, your character on FOXs serial-killer thriller The Following, enjoyed the company of both men and women. What was your read on his sexuality?

Its funnyat that point in my life I had a boyfriend in L.A. and a girlfriend in N.Y. and it was pretty intensely life imitating art. Granted, we werent killing people (laughs), but I was living that and wasnt comfortable with myself to the fullest extent probably because that was before I got sober. I was somewhat of a mess. But I was really navigating what that meant to have two lives, almost.

How have your Love Bomb guests enlightened you and your approach to your sexuality?

It really is an extension of who I am. My sexuality is a part of my story its not all of my story and to just normalize things that are deemed abnormal is really important. Thats my driving force at this point, so it affects everything that I do because it is me.

What topics do you seek to normalize during this second season?

In the second season, I have everyone from Courtney Love to Todrick Hall to Johnny Weir. Some really, really heavy episodes. And its everything from ageism to intersectionality. The most amazing thing about this show is that every single person who comes on has a completely different story, and nine times out of 10 the story that is told is different than the one that I thought I was going to hear. Thats where the real magic is. So, the spectrum is wide. Its a universe, really.

What was it like sitting down with Courtney Love for The Love Bomb?

I love her so much, and Im just gonna open with that. The second we locked eyes and had, like, an exchange, it was magical. Were kindred souls, and we spent a lot of time in Vancouver (shooting Menendez together). We went to a native-led sweat lodge and were just in interesting parts of our lives at the time and really opened up to each other. So, when it was time to sit down with a microphoneI mean, I felt like we were having the Love Bomb_conversation for months before we even had the real conversation in the studio. It was amazing. We had gotten so close by that point that there wasnt a wall, and she has such an incredible story. I mean, shes an icon, shes royalty. People are really gonna see a softer, human side to her that I think is just so lovely.

Did she go thrift shopping with you?

We went shopping together a couple of times. Shes kind of like a gay man just in general, and I think she stands by that. I love that about her.

Lets talk Younger. Based on last season, Liza and your character, Josh, seem to be broken up. During season four, will we see Josh rebound with a boyfriend, perhaps?

Yeah, I was just gonna say: The big secret of season four is Josh and Charles are gonna get together. (Laughs)

Who wouldnt love that?

I mean, I would, lets be honest. But no, theres definitely not gonna be a boyfriend for Josh anytime soonnot that I know of, anyway! But I think after Liza hes definitely exploring other options, and we really get to see a part of Joshs life thats lived outside of everybody elses story in this fourth season, which is nice. And since it is a Darren Star show, Liza and Josh wont be that far apart from each other for that long.

Theres been talk about you developing the The Love Bomb into a sketch-based TV series. Whats the status on that?

The idea has evolved into something. I left a development meeting this morning, which I cant talk too much about. But it is definitely happening. It is moving at a really sensible pace, and its the one thing that Im most excited about right now. Honestly, theres great acting jobs in the future and different movies and TV shows even, but this is the soul.

What about it excites you?

Its just an extension of the podcast, I think. Everything I learned on the podcast I wanna take to the next level. The way I see it in my head is, its some sort of segmented show where Im talking to different people all over the world and learning and really diving into different cultures and people and sexuality. Its a sexploration of love.

I hope that its been picked up by a cable network so you can push buttons and boundaries.

Im gonna get naked at some point, I promise. (Laughs)

You really are challenging peoples feelings on sex and nakedness, arent you?

And love too! People are so f@#king uptight about love. Love is supposed to be one specific way. Youre supposed to get married and have kids and thats it oh, and youre probably supposed to marry the opposite sex. That just isnt the case for so many f@#king people.

Like all my gay friends who are in open relationships.

Even on that note: Why is it socially acceptable for two gay people to be in an open relationship, but if you hear about a straight couple in an open relationship people are like, What? How does that work? It doesnt make sense to people.

Also, being somebody that dates both, how do I maneuver that conversation? Like, Look, I want a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same timeare you cool with that? Thats even more confusing. But Ive done it, and at the end of the day thats who I am. I think Im coming more and more into my own acceptance with polyamory and how I think that I can just be the best partner, if that is an option.

Have you always been as comfortable in your skin as you seem to be now?

I just wanna make it clear that it was not always easy for me. For sure, as a kid. I had a really bad stutter from 8 to 11. I wasnt doing any theater, and sexuality in my household was one thing and one thing only. Anything heard or talked about or seen outside of it was gross in one way or another. I mean, big Italian family in Chicago. It didnt exist anywhere in my family. I didnt have any gay relatives. It just wasnt anywhere.

Did you grow up Catholic?

Yes, yes. And the theater is a safe haven for queer people everywhere; it just is. Thats where they go to let the flags fly to transform, to create, to fall in love, and it was the best training that I had for acting, for sure, and just for human experience. And once I started seeing (gay people), I started getting more comfortable talking about it with my family. But the struggle was real. When I got sober, really, is when I decided that I wasnt going to not be unapologetically myself, and I really just stepped into it.

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‘All Of It Is You’ Poetry Book


A debut poetry collection from actor Nico Tortorella exploring “all of it,” from the smallest cells in our bodies to the outer limits of our universe.

Amazon USA   Amazon UK

The Love Bomb
Actor Nico Tortorella explores love and the labels associated with it. An At Will Radio Production.
  iTunes        Photos        Official
Current Projects
Younger

Role: Josh

A newly single, 40-year-old mother tries to get back into the working world with her friends’ help.

Fluidity

Role: Matt

The story of ten millennials living in New York City whose sexual lives intersect in the age of social media – where likes, impressions, and virtual “connections” threaten the very notion of personal relationships and human intimacy.

Affiliates
Chad Michael MurrayJay RyanMarie Avgeropoulos

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