Joe Komar as Tyler in The Girls Guide to Depravity
Photo credit: Nick Clark/Cinemax
If you turn to Cinemax at midnight on a Friday, you’ll see a sinister series called The Girl’s Guide to Depravity, a funny, flesh-baring drama based on writer Heather Rutnam’s book and blog of the same name. While the show focuses on two female protagonists and their gripes with the rules of dating and sexuality, a gay bartender named Tyler offers additional perspective and more than a few lurid suggestions. Tyler is played by out actor Joe Komara, a former gymnast and New York theater vet who delivers Tyler’s crass dialogue with unassuming straightforwardness. Though we’ve only seen Tyler in a naked situation with another female cast member so far, Komara suggests that we may be in for some man-on-man closeness in season two.
We caught up with Komara to discuss naked Cinemax auditions, the manager who told him to change his voice, and how the CW may be manufacturing heterosexuality.
photo source: J. Dorta
The Backlot: What was the audition for The Girl’s Guide to Depravity like? You’re a key player, but you’re not one of the more naked people on the show.
JK: My audition was actually less painful than a lot of other people’s auditions, but I went in and there were about 13 people in the room. They had lights set up, cameras, and people running it, everything. I was straight in there, did it. I did a couple scenes, then I had to do a thing called “the body check.” [Laughs.] It’s for Cinemax, just to be OK with — you know — the content. I actually did have a scene where I had to take off my clothes. We did a body check where we basically disrobed, dropped trou, said, “Thank you very much!” and walked out.
TB: Do you have favorite lines on the show? You get pretty vulgar. Are any of them difficult to get through?
JK: I definitely had a few lines where I sort of channeled Kim Cattrall a bit. It’s impossible not to do, I think, when you’re playing a character with great one-liners. The other characters were talking about this elusive “magic pussy” myth they heard. I was like, “Well, I knew this girl in school…” and start talking about it. So one of my favorites was, “How do you know it’s not a magic mouth instead of a magic pussy?” I’m a pretty outlandish bartender in the series, so I’m always making up these crazy, fruity, overly sweet, gay bar drinks, that’s what the girls call them. There are a couple of those where I have to list off 18 ingredients, and it’s as I’m shaking up and pouring and not trying to make too much noise. There are times when it’s like — It’s an Aquapolitan! Water, soda, vodka, ice, champagne, and lime, and mint! And I name all these things.
TB: Is there even a moment of hesitation on set before you guys launch into another graphic dialogue about sex? I take it you’ve all heard everything at this point.
JK: I think for the girls it is, for sure. But there’s not too much talk about myself doing these things. It’s more like, “This is what I think.” I think people generally in my industry are just open to talking about everything. For the girls, it’s a character thing where they have to act like people who are trying to get sex all the time, and that’s not really them.
TB: Your background is varied; you did some New York theater, some TV singing/dancing gigs, now this. Do you prefer TV or Broadway people?
JK: Nowadays I prefer TV people. I love that you can put all your eggs in one basket when you’re doing TV. Then you do it and it’s done. It goes into a place where people watch it, and then it’s over! In film, you do eight takes of something, then it lives on forever. But you can’t negate the rush of an audience. When you get that mirror back to you, it’s definitely an unparalleled and constant support. It’s constant reassurance. You’re doing something good by hearing applause and hearing people react right in front of your face.
TB: You’re an out actor, which is still something of a novelty in 2013. Are managers and publicists still goading people into the closet in the same old ways?
JK: I think people in general in this town are still told to not come out. It’s still that it’ll be detrimental to their career. I don’t necessarily love talking about my personal life anyway, so for me it’s not really a big deal. But yes, people tell you all the time that you need to act a certain way for a certain image. It’s very Hollywood. I’d never experienced anything like it in the theater community of New York. People tell you it all the time. And you think about it all the time.
photo source: J. Dorta
TB: Are these closeting instructions specific? “Change that mannerism. Make your voice sound different.”
JK: It’s absolutely that way. 100%. I did go into a meeting with a manager onec, and he said, “You’re great! You’re a good actor! And I think if you changed your voice, I would represent you.” I was like, “What do you mean ’change my voice’? I’m a man in my thirties.” He was just a guy who was used to grooming young men from the age of 16 or something like that. He thought about molding people into things, nice shiny packages for Hollywood. I was like, my career is relatively established. I’m not going to “a voice coach.” [Laughs.] My reaction was, I’ve studied at the #1 music school at the country. I’m pretty sure I know how to use my instrument. I was offended, and then I said, “You know what? We don’t have to work together.”
TB: I’m picturing someone sanding away at your voice box, hoping to alter its sound.
JK: If you watch the CW at all — and I feel like a 14-year-old girl sometimes because I love the CW — but I feel like all the guys have gone through a similar training. They all have this [lowers voice] raspy, sort of whispery kind of voice. I don’t understand why this is the new thing for young guys to do. But they might be all going to the same manager. It means you’re a heartthrob!
TB: I saw an interview you did for your movie eCupid where you talked about how longterm gay relationships are rarely portrayed on film. What other types of gay roles do you wish we saw more of?
JK: I think my biggest pet peeve with gay roles in general is they’re first and foremost gay. It’s my understanding that people sort of fight that in their daily lives. To have characters who are more than just “that gay guy” — I would like to see more varied roles where it’s a part of them, but it’s not the first thing that is on the breakdown of the character.
TB: Do you have secret desires for your character on Depravity? How will he change this season?
JK: I definitely go through a few outlandish and bizarre situations this season. Tyler does meet someone. He gets a love interest this season, which I think is pretty cool for such a male-driven viewership on Cinemax. It’s nice to see they’re open to that. There’s actually a same-sex couple of two women, as well as Tyler and his boyfriend. I guess in general I’d like him to be more involved with the girls. They do fun shenanigans. Getting to witness that is fun, but getting to do it is much more fun.
TB: Will Tyler’s relationship ever get physical? Will we see that?
JK: We shot some stuff. While we shot it, I was pretty much like, “Yeah, that’s never gonna make it!” I guess we’ll see. We did have some moments of physical closeness. I’m just not sure how much will make it. So who knows? I guess I’ll have to wait and see along with the rest of the group.
photo source: J. Dorta