Interview With An Idol
Andy Cohen chats with gay porn legend Ryan Idol!
You may have heard that Joe Mantello is directing the Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's comedy "The Ritz", and you may have heard that it's an outrageous farce set in a gay bathhouse, and you may have heard that the show stars Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin.
But did ya hear that gay porn legend Ryan Idol (his real name is Marc Anthony Donais) makes his Broadway debut in the show? He portrays a patron of the bathhouse. Touche, I say! Buckle up, folks, for a world exclusive interview, and you had better believe that I asked my assistant to hold all calls while Mr. Idol was on the line....
HAVE YOU APPEARED ONSTAGE BEFORE ?
Yeah, I have quite a bit in a few way, way off Broadway productions. The first of which was a play called "Making Porn" about the ravaging of the gay world by HIV. There was someone in the play who was a lot like myself who was an aspiring actor who fell into the porn world but he wanted to act and his wife went into the porn world with him. When she saw how mechanical it was and how it was a business, she realized it was interesting and she tried to convince her husband to get more into it even though he wanted to be an actor.
IS IT INDEED A MECHANICAL PROCESS?
When I was in it, it really was. It's like show business now, but back in the day when we had the directors like Matt Sterling and Jim Hodges it was mechanical and pieced together.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO IT?
Lookin' for love in all the wrong places! (laughs) Actually I did PLAYGIRL magazine with my real name, Marc Anthony Donais, and they asked me to be their Man of the Year. They had misled me when I signed the contract and I passed on the honor though. It turns out they had offered it to other people who had passed, too. From there, someone gave my number to a porn scout and someone contacted me and got me hyped up about being in a movie and then I found out it was a porn movie and not just a porn movie, but a gay porn movie....
OH WAIT -- SO THEN ARE YOU NOT GAY?
Over the years I have chosen to not label myself because there are plenty of others who will. I am happy to not label myself. Even though I come from that business, if one were to look at the plots from the films that I did - I only did 6 - it's art depicting life and life depicting art. My first movie was close to where I was in my own life, and that was being curious about the gay world but having come from a catholic background.
AND WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THAT MOVIE?
"Idol Eyes". I played a straight lifeguard who became curious of gay sex. And every movie since then I was marketed and each movie depicted my own life...
WHO CAME UP WITH THE NAME RYAN IDOL?
It was a collaboration of sorts but I made the final decision. They wanted to call me 'Brian Idol' but I asked if there had ever been a 'Brian Idol' before and they said 'yes' and I said, 'Well, then that rules that out..' I kind of liked the "Idol" part of that, not even knowing at the time what 'Idol' meant. I am half Irish so I said 'take the B away and make it Ryan and I wont be a B star I'll be an A star!'
AND THAT'S JUST WHAT RYAN IDOL BECAME.
Yes and then Marc Anthony disappeared for a long time and I became Ryan Idol, a character that I created.
MANY APPEAR IN ADULT FILMS, BUT ONLY A FEW BECOME SUPERSTARS... WHAT WAS IT ABOUT RYAN IDOL THAT WAS DIFFERENT?
I don't know! It takes different things to be a popular anything in show business. Looks have something to do with it, and the body. Unlike real Hollywood, the penis doesn't come into play except behind the scenes I'm sure. I think charisma and like-ability are important. At my time I was an overnight success before the movie came out because of my vulnerability. I had an 'innocent lost boy' thing. They were putting me up there with (porn legend) Jeff Stryker and I realized there was a phenomenon happening and I rode the wave and it has been a very big wave.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE RYAN IDOL MOVIE?
I always like to refer to love as being what rules my life, and the quest for it, so I would have to say "Idol Country". I play a city slicker who goes to the country and falls in love on a farm. And there's some comedy in it too which is kind of interesting.
AND ARE YOU IN LOVE NOW?
I'm focusing on my career right now. I'm 41 and I have that deep desire to have genuine affections for people, whether male or female. Love has different degrees, from genuine affection to the unattainable thing we aspire to of absolute love. It doesn't come often but if you don't have other elements in your life in place you can't have love, so that's why I am focusing on my career. Don't go looking for it, I always say, it will find you when you least expect it.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING IN A BROADWAY SHOW?
I don't believe there's a hard thing. I believe if you love what you do and love the people you work with then it's all good. There's nothing to complain about. I love working with Rosie Perez and Kevin Chamberlin and Brooks Ashmanskas and all the others!
WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING IN A PLAY WITH ROSIE PEREZ?
I really think Rosie is fabulous. I've never been starstruck. We have a scene in there where she has a number that she's performing in the bathhouse and we get to watch as though we're in the audience. Terrence McNally's play is beyond farce and Joe Mantello's direction is right on. I leave there every night with a smile on my face. I enjoy all the other leads as well. Kevin Chamberlin is right on and Brooks Ashmanskas and Lenny Venito, who's a famous actor in movies. It's a cast loaded with stars and great performances...
WHAT DO YOU SAY TO PEOPLE WHO WILL GO TO THE SHOW EXPECTING TO SEE RYAN IDOL NAKED?
I don't know what to say. We're in a bathhouse and that's what I can say. We're in a bathhouse. I can't say one way or another..
TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE WORKING ON NEXT.
It's a show called 'My Messy Bedroom: Anatomy of an Idol". It begins with my childhood story and continues through the rise and fall of Ryan Idol and then the after... I collaborated with a bunch of writers who I paid to collaborate with, and at this point and time am working hands on with Jerry Douglas who's a writer/director in the adult industry. We were going to put this up this fall until "The Ritz" came along, which I couldn't pass up.
WOULD YOU EVER DO ANOTHER ADULT FILM?
No. I have retired from that as of 1996. There was speculation that I would return, but that was other people and their manipulative mouths wanting to make money off me. Someone said it was God's interest for me to go back into gay porn and that's when I knew I couldn't. It's a 4 billion dollar-plus industry a year with no union or anything close and people die all the time, even recently someone died of an overdose... And it continues, so it's a sore subject with me.
WELL GOOD LUCK ON BROADWAY, MARC ANTHONY!