Jack of All Trades
John Barrowman is a busy man, with Series 2 of Torchwood on our screens, a new talent show, an album and tour all in the pipeline, 2008 looks to only get busier. Simon Savidge managed to steal some time in John’s hectic schedule to get all the latest from Bent’s Man of 2007.
So what can we expect from the second series of Torchwood?
You can expect a lot of action, much more adventure, and tons of sexual chemistry. It’s going to be really exciting with a lot of surprises and shocks. You’ll meet some new characters and there will be romances. There’s a lot of passion and violence, basically everything you want out of a TV show. It’s like series one only bigger and better.
So has the change to BBC2 been a better one?
Of course. The move happened as we were the highest non sports based show digitally and it made sense to move us onto a more mainstream channel. Plus now the BBC is doing an edited pre watershed version for the kids, so that we can reach another audience, it’s been really incredible.
The pre-watershed version cuts out a lot of the violence and not the ‘man on man’ action. Do you think this was a wise move?
Yes of course. What’s wrong with love? Be it with a straight couple or a gay couple younger people should not see it as a bad thing. I would much rather they were watching that than people shooting each other, which you can see on the news anyway. Most of it is kissing anyways, there’s no full on sex.
My sister is ten and Torchwood/Dr Who has been great for her because if she has had any issues she can say ‘well Captain Jack is gay’.
Well technically he’s omni sexual but you are right. I mean my nieces and nephews have known I was gay since they were born, it’s always been Uncle John and Uncle Scott and that’s the way it should be. People joke ‘oh John get off your soap box’ but it is a soapbox and it’s something that matters to me. It’s normal, we have partners, we have sex, and we do the same, well sort of, things that men and women do. I mean I put a willy in my mouth like a straight man’s wife puts in hers, you know what I mean? I’ve worked a lot with kids and kids don’t care, they are open to stuff. At a signing a father asked his five year old son if he wanted my autograph and he said ‘yeah, I don’t care if he likes men, he’s still my hero’.
It’s a chance for kids to see these things and see it’s not a problem. That’s why I have always said get rid of the shooting pre-watershed rather than get rid of the sex or kissing. It’s not gratuitous anyway, it’s just raunchy. Maybe that’s why the show has become popular worldwide because we give a more realistic view of life… bar the aliens, but you never know.
Are you surprised by the success in America which known for being more reserved and anti-gay?
They can be fucking ridiculous about things and ironically so stuck up their own arses if you get my drift. I was surprised and wasn’t surprised by the success. The viewer-ship has been incredible, because we are representing every aspect of the planet. People, without getting all political, are so fucking hypocritical it’s not even funny. It’s fine to have your local video store renting porn films by the truckload but in the back room… if you wanna watch porn, watch porn – who cares?
So moving on from Torchwood, your album has sold really well, how does that feel?
It feels great. I never hesitated over whether I should do it or not, I am going to do anything I want and either people like it or they don’t. I have an audience of gays, straights, children, dad’s and mum’s and I think they seem to like it.
Talking of Mum’s, all the Mum’s seem to fancy you, yet they know your gay. How do you do it? I mean my Mum was thrilled that I was meeting you?
Did she get moist? (Starts laughing)
I might be sick.
(Laughing) Did she, come on you can tell me? Are you moist?
(Laughing more) Are you excited? I mean I am already wet! (Roars with laughter) Where were we?
(Composing myself) Your audience… and how it doesn’t seem to have any boundaries.
It’s really strange. Russell put in a line in the last episode of Dr Who with the Master where he says to the Dr, Martha and I ‘you three and your perfect demographic’ or something like that and we span the whole gamut. I mean maybe this answers your question or it doesn’t but I have a hard time when people come to me asking me if I will do work and others will say ‘why are you doing that?’ My response is people will watch it or listen to it because they are a demographic, what I am saying is ‘I don’t understand it, I can’t explain it.’
You’ve done Panto again, what is it about Panto that you love?
Panto is a chance for kids today to get into theatre and see the magic that can be created. If someone young can see me doing all these varied things they know that anything is possible. I can also play the fool and talk back to the audience, which I never get to do and couldn’t do in the West End. When I first did it at Wimbledon I was shitting myself. I’d never had an audience talk back to me before, but I loved it so wanted to do it again. That’s a prime example of what I was trying to explain before. People have said to me ‘why are you doing Panto it’s a step backwards for your career?’Isit fuck, it’s something I want to do and I will do it. I don’t give a shit what everyone else thinks. I want to have fun and I love my career.
What would you say is the down side of ‘celebrity’ for you?
Celebrity is the upside for me. No negatives. All these Britney’s and the likes moaning… shut up.It earns you money and you work and you get great benefits. It’s about being a positive role model and I embrace that. As a gay man, I’m still a gay man and a person and I can send that message to others. I’d like to see more ‘closeted’ gay men in the industry come out. No one can fire you for being gay, just get on with it.You suck dick, so what? I won’t stop this for anything, I love it. I get to do Dr Who, Torchwood and make an album. I mean it’s great.
After the success of the album you are now going to tour with it. Is it going to be like a Celine Dion, Elton John Las Vegas affair, all fireworks and glitter?
(Roars with laughter) Me floating across the sky and doing somersaults in the air. Sadly no, maybe next time. There will be glitz and glamour how could I not? It’ll be an evening of entertainment. After doing the Maria and Joseph shows, of which a new one is coming, I have a real desire to give people a chance. There will be no warm up act, instead, during the middle of the performance someone unknown from the local area or just someone we’ve heard of will take the stage. It then gives me a chance to change into a more fabulous outfit and have a rest.
With all these different shows and projects how do you have time for a social life and more importantly time for Scott?
To be totally honest with you it’s really difficult. Scott tends to have to go where I am so he comes to Cardiff a lot.
What would you say are the ingredients to a lasting relationship? People tend to believe gay men cannot manage those.
Its crap! It’s been made that way by the media and by narrow minds. Until recently it was like we weren’t allowed to have them publicly. That’s why Scott and I decided to get married. It’s there and it’s amazing that we can do it so we should. All I would say is that you have to know you are doing the right thing. Scott and I were together 14 years before we did the whole civil partnership. We’ve had ups and downs, humps and bumps, and stuff happened. Our choice is now that we care for each other so much we wanted to show our commitment. What we need to understand is we aren’t straight… there is a difference but we should all have the same rights. Scott is the most important thing to me. That’s why now I have a list of criteria in terms of days off. I am a little more powerful now so I want to use it. We are taking a long vacation to South Africa before work gets busy again. What’s the point in having a great career but no life with it, you know what I mean? I do love being busy though. I came into this business to work. My mother always used to say you are a long time dead. You can rest when you’re dead.
Well not if you’re Captain Jack.
(Laughs) Then you are never dead, imagine that?
So back to Torchwood and a very, very important question, will we be seeing Captain Jack naked in Series Two?
Is this a personal question or one for the readers, I don’t just get naked in any old interview anymore. (Starts laughing again.)
It’s for the readers and me.
Well let me be honest with all my boys out there and ladies too. We have different types of gay boys and girls, you know, bears, twinks, muscle Mary’s, you know the whole lot. The area I come from is the group who like to stay trim, without going over the top, and after the last series of Torchwood, the muffin top has come. I haven’t been to the gym in over seven months, and do you think I am going to let any producer talk me into taking my clothes off?
You could have done it for the nation?
(Laughs) No. Not when I have a muffin top and my six pack has gone to a none pack. There are some cheeky torso shots where I breathed in somewhat. I gotta sort it out. Next season if there is one we’ll do it.
Is that a promise?
Simon, it’s a promise, I’ll talk to Russell and we’ll sort it out. I will get my kit off. You can hold me to that.