New York scene socialite and gay writer, producer, director and actor, Jesse Archer, talks to Gay Star News about his new films, projects and what life in laid-back Australia is like for an American with a fast attitude and a loud mouth.
Sat in the summer sun at the Andrew Boy Charlton Pool, Sydney, and wearing nothing but Speedos, a sun hat decorated with the Australian flag and a bright smile, Archer welcomes us with a kiss and explains he’s a little hungover.
‘Did you see Roma last night (referring to one of Sydney’s drag stars, Roma Therapy)? She was wearing an outfit made entirely out of a Marilyn Monroe shower curtain! It was fabulous.’
Knowing Archer, famous for his parts in queer films Slutty Summer, Eating Out: Drama Camp and Violet Tendencies, it’s unsurprising to find him a little worse for wear. But funnily enough, it’s a love of drag queens that he particularly enjoys about living Down Under.
‘I love how drag queens are so accepted here. In fact, in the year I’ve been in Sydney I’ve only been called faggot twice. Compared to every week in New York.’
Archer, who moved to Elizabeth Bay with his long-term partner Michael, doesn’t spend all of his time lying around pools. In fact last night saw the Aussie premiere of Going Down in La La Land, an adaption of Andy Zeffer’s novel, as part of the Mardi Gras Film Festival.
An uncensored and riveting portrayal of Hollywood, sex and friendship, Archer plays the bitchy character Matthew who pushes the down-on-his-luck protagonist Adam away from the world of legitimate work and into the dark, underground world of struggling stardom.
‘I play a nasty queen who can’t have the young hot straight stud so I essentially drive him headlong into porn. It was actually a real stretch for me,’ he admits. ‘I’m not used to playing mean characters.’
When asked how an Australian audience received the film, Archer laughs, explaining during the Q&A one person wondered how the same storyline would be played here in Sydney.
‘He’d try to get into the Bondi Beach Life Savers Club and things would get very pornerific. Like Baywatch for the boys.’
Archer also recently returned from the States where he shot his first gay horror, Into the Lion’s Den, co-starring American fashion model Ronnie Kroell. It was also the first film where Archer dies.
‘You have to lie there while bodies get piled on top of you, arrow in my chest, plopped in a shallow grave, all the time not moving, not breathing. Playing dead is not easy!
‘I did all my own stunts though, including the blowjobs. My boyfriend and mother will be so proud.’
Also featuring this year, at Melbourne’s Queer Film Festival (MQFF) and Mardi Gras Film Festival, will be Archer’s latest acting and producing project, Half-Share, a sitcom where the cocktail is always half-full.
Starring big gay names such as Ugly Betty’s Alec Mapa, Meet the Fockers’ Jack Plotnick and Will and Grace’s Sam Pancake, the story follows the shenanigans of six gay men on Fire Island, New York.
Archer plays the character of Lex, the slutty yet endearing roommate of Mac, a newly single thirty-something looking to escape a tumultuous breakup.
‘I loved working on Half Share. It sounds like a drama but it’s actually high-camp hysteria,’ he tells us. ‘Although at one point I’d been screeching so much I lost my voice so badly I could barely get the lines out.’
Of course, it’s not all fun and games when it comes to his work. Archer, now 37 couldn’t be more grateful for queer cinema and film festivals.
‘When I was young, we didn’t even have Will and Grace. Without these festivals we [the gay community] wouldn’t be able to see ourselves on the screen and of course, I’d be out of a job!’
Both Going Down in La La Land and Half-Share will feature at Melbourne’s Queer Film Festival (Friday 16 March) this year and Half-Share will also play at the Paris Cinema, Sydney on Sunday 26 February as part of Mardi Gras Film Festival. Australian release of Into the Lion’s Den is still unconfirmed.
Either way, Archer has still got it no matter where he’s living. You can find his ‘Offensive Inspiration from the Freak Show’ at his blog, Jesse On The Brink, or if you fancy a swim, you may just catch him doing laps one sunny afternoon.