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The following interview was conducted by pop-culture poster boy, freelance blogger, and executive editor of Gunpowder & Gold Alexander Mayfair. It originally appeared on Washington, D.C.-based online magazine Brightest Young Gays.
It’s a beautiful spring day outside; the sun is shining, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and it’s only mid-March. It’s not even just beautiful, it’s actually hot.
I walk in the door and immediately start stripping off the layers. By the time I reach my bedroom, I’m down to my briefs, holding my button-down and suit jacket while shuffling with my pants around my ankles. I throw everything on the bed and turn on my music.
Diplo’s “Express Yourself” fills our apartment, and my room instantly becomes my private dance floor. Per usual, I’m running late and I have only about 20 minutes before I meet up with this week’s interviewee, Brant, at Point Chaud on 14th. I keep pulling clothes out, assessing them, and then throwing them on my bed in disapproval. Who knew that deciding on the perfect T-shirt and jort combo could be so hard? I finally decide on a black-on-black combo (surprise, surprise), grab my messenger bag and head out the door.
On the way there, I decide to text Brant to let him know what to look for. He responds with, “Green tee, jorts and what I’d like to pretend isn’t a purse.” I turn onto 14th from Riggs and spot him right away. He’s carrying a bright red canvas tote with “Keep Calm and Carry On” scrawled across the side. I can’t help but laugh. We look like mirror images of each other -- he’s the color to my all-black tee, jort, and bag combo. We walk into Point Chaud, order tea and crepes, and head back outside to sit and enjoy the delicious evening air.
Alexander: Alright, let’s start with the question everyone seems to like answering the most. If you were stuck on a desert island and you could only have one cocktail for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Brant: Uhhhh ... [hesitates] ... this is sooo gay, but probably a Cosmo. I don’t even like saying that; I feel like I’ve just watched "Sex and the City" for the first time when I say that. I really love Cointreau though -- I drink it straight. I work part-time at the Green Lantern and the bartenders there make fun of me for it. They’re always telling me that it’s not a drink when I ask for a Cointreau on the rocks. I ordered that at a restaurant once and later caught the waiter making fun of "the guy who ordered Cointreau on the rocks." It was really embarrassing, so now I get Cosmos if I want to have Cointreau.
Alexander: Well, that’s definitely ... different [laughs]. You mentioned "Sex and the City," so let’s talk soundtracks. If you were a music genre, what would you be?
Brant: Genres can’t be very eclectic. I’m a Gemini, so I don’t have a constant pace. Music is really important to me. If they didn’t have iPods, I’d still be walking around with a 32-CD disc case and my Discman -- like I did in high school. I had these huge headphones that made me look like a total idiot.
I would say I’m world music, though. I hate that label, but I really like international music. I’m thinking of the different places I work at. Sometimes I’m really up, and sometimes I’m not at all so it depends. I’ve got some really great Quebecois Celtic-sounding a capella, but then I also really love [Paris-based Italian-Egyptian diva] Dalida. She’s the greatest ever; I wish she wasn’t dead. People don’t know who she is, which is upsetting, but I always tell them she’s the best French disco queen.
Alexander: Dalida? Really? You certainly are full of surprises. Keeping the Saturday Night Fever alive, though, who’s your dance icon?
Brant: Robyn. Robyn live is the best experience I’ve had with music in my life -- I was in the very front. I was in the very front for Yelle, and there was no guard, so I was literally up against the stage, at her feet, and it still was not as good as being behind a guard for Robyn. She killed it. I feel like I just dance really well to her music, and I can just queen the f**k out. Oh, and I want her hair! I want her pixie haircut on a boy, but it just won’t work on me ever. My head’s too big! She has a tiny head.
Alexander: Well, apart from being a Robynhead, what’s the first thing that attracts you to someone?
Brant: This is going to sound weird, but how they interact with me. It’s not what a person has, like their eyes, but it can be the way they look at me, the way they carry themselves. If you maintain eye contact with me while we’re talking, that makes a huge difference -- regardless of how you look. You know what I mean? I mean, you may not be that attractive to me right away, but if we have an interaction that’s really successful, that can change things by leaps and bounds.
Alexander: An equal opportunist, I see.
Brant: I mean, I always want to say something like "eyes," but everyone has eyes. I guess I just don’t want to discredit anyone.
Alexander: Let’s talk dates. What was your most awkward first date?
Brant: This was when I was in high school and I used to have to report in with my parents -- tell them where I was going and what I was doing. I came out when I was 13, and I dated my first boy when I was 14. This was in high school, though, and I told my mom I was going out with one of my friends. When the guy came to pick me up, my mom immediately noticed that it wasn’t my friend’s car. She asked me who it was, and I had to tell her that is was this boy named Mark. She made him come in and introduce himself. That was awkward because I was 17, and I had to have this 20-something-year-old come in to meet my mom.
He was super-gorgeous and suddenly my mom made us stay at my house. Upon seeing how handsome he was -- well, I don’t know if that was actually the reason, but it’s definitely how I perceived it -- she took us to my room, turned off the lights, and shut the door behind us. Basically, I got my mother’s permission to hook up with him. It was super-awkward.
Alexander: Wow! Way to go, Mom! So what’s your ideal vacation destination?
Brant: I want to say Paris, even though I've never been. My only experience outside the U.S. was in South Africa, and I think I'd like to see how I do with something a little more familiar. Since Thomas Jefferson was a Francophile, and Pierre L'Enfant was actually French, a lot of D.C.'s layout was inspired by the same things that inspired the design of the French capital, even though it's in a tertiary way. D.C. has the museums, the food, and the historical and political elements that I love, and I think Paris would offer those things as well, but with even more cute boys with accents.
Alexander: OK, Francophile, what makes your mouth water?
Brant: Spice. I love spicy foods and things that have a lot of flavor. Bland things have their place, of course, but I just cannot get enough of stuff that makes my eyes water as it goes down my throat. Spicy Italian food and Thai are really where it's at for me.
Alexander: And here I thought you’d say "French cuisine." Go figure. Let’s switch gears and talk literature. What was your last good read?
Brant: I don't know how I feel about this question because I love reading so much that what I read can vary greatly. I just read a linguistic study of Japanese and am now reading Julia Child's "My Life in France," both of which are excellent. Next up is either "Filosofía de la liberación latinoamericana" or "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen." I really love non-fiction, obviously.
Alexander: Finish this sentence for me: "In 2012, I’d like to see …"
Brant: More of the world.
After the interview, I rush home to pick up my straight roommate; he’s my plus-one to a dinner party that night. It’s past 8 p.m. by the time I clamber through the door, even though I've reminded him several times that day that we absolutely need to leave the apartment by no later than 7:45. He's sitting on the couch, freshly pressed button-down on, ready to go, while I try to convince him that in Gay World, time works differently. We end up getting there 45 minutes late, which I inform him is practically like being on time.
We sit down to a beautifully cooked Mediterranean meal with our British hosts to our left, our Italian friends to our right and a Uruguayan friend next to them. Ironically, my roommate and the cook are the only two homegrown Americans. As we feast on the decadence and enjoy glass after glass of red wine, I am reminded of Brant’s quest to explore more of the world. Granted, I never think you can see enough of the world, but I think that’s also one of my favorite parts of D.C. -- the world comes to you.
Check out the latest installment of Grindrphiles over at Brightest Young Gays.