Alec Mapa’s mouth/iPhone. While negotiating an interview with the actor-comedian in conjunction with his headliner appearance at LA Pride on Sunday, June 10th, I assured him I would be gentle (with my questioning, that is). He replied, “I never asked you to be gentle.”
Mapa, for those of you who have been hiding under a rock the past 25 years, has carved quite a name for himself in GLBT entertainment history. Since appearing in an ABC Afterschool Special in 1987 and succeeding B.D. Wong in the original Broadway production of M. Butterfly the following year, Mapa continues to distinguish himself in the worlds of television, theatre and film. While perhaps best known for playing Vern, Gabrielle’s gay best friend, on the recently-ended Desperate Housewives and imperious fashionista Suzuki St. Pierre on the late, great Ugly Betty, the Filipino-American Mapa has also appeared in such classic TV series as The Cosby Show, Friends and NYPD Blue as well as the mainstream, hit movies You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Marley & Me.
Here’s my own (slightly edited) rollicking, revealing conversation with the delightful Mapa.
CC: So, how did you dethrone B.D. Wong and George Takei as “America’s Gaysian Sweetheart”?
AM: (Laughing) I was the only one who showed up to accept the bouquet. I always kid George by telling him he should have come out 40 years ago if he wanted to be the queen. I love George, and he’s had an amazing career since coming out. I was actually doing a sitcom a few years back but was jetting off to a benefit somewhere. I’m always doing benefits for HRC and the Matthew Shephard Foundation and AIDS support. Anyway, I told that to someone on the set as I was leaving and they said, sarcastically, “Well, aren’t you America’s Gaysian Sweetheart?” I thought, “Oh, I like that."
CC: This will be your first appearance at LA Pride. Why only now?
AM: For an out performer, June is like December if you’re playing Santa Claus or an elf. You get invited to all the Pride events everywhere. I’d been asked to perform at LA Pride before but this is the first time our schedules finally aligned. I’m absolutely looking forward to it. This is a good time in terms of how the tide is turning regarding gay marriage.
CC: You know that Queen Latifah just performed at Long Beach Pride but didn’t actually come out.
AM: I know, what’s that about? Is there anyone who doesn’t think Queen Latifah is a lesbian?
CC: What can attendees look forward to during your LA Pride performance?
AM: Well, I’ll be keeping my language as clean as possible since it’s outdoors, but I’ll be taking on all the hot topics of our time, meaning gay marriage. It amazes me that my relationship and family are the subject of such debate and division, that some people are scared of us. If those people came over to our house, they would see me doing laundry and steaming broccoli and making macaroni and cheese. What’s so scary about that?
CC: How are married life and parenthood treating you? (Mapa and his husband became legally married during the brief time when it was legal in California, and they have since adopted a son.)
AM: Really great. I always liked the idea of being married, because I’m lazy (laughs). I’m too lazy to be with lots of people. My husband and I just celebrated our 10th anniversary of being together, which is a lot of apologies (laughs). I think a lot of relationships would last if couples apologized more. So many relationships end because one person or both people won’t say “I’m sorry.” My husband is a terrific father. I think I’m a good parent because I’m comfortable with people not liking me. When my husband yells at our son, who is 7, it’s because he’s done something wrong. When I yell, it’s because it’s morning (laughs).
CC: Any thoughts on the recent end of Desperate Housewives?
AM: I’m sad I wasn’t in the finale. I died in the tornado a couple of seasons ago. I’m sad it’s over but believe the show will become emblematic of our times. (Series creator) Marc Cherry is a genius and I loved how the show exposed all the secrets of suburban life.
CC: What current projects are you working on?
AM: I’m reviving my show Baby Daddy at the LA Center June 1st and 2nd. 100% of the proceeds will be going to the Center. That’s how I’ll be kicking off Pride Week. I just did a guest role on a new TV show, Bad Girls.
CC: Will you be playing one of the title characters?
AM: (Laughs) No, I’m the gay BFF of one of them. And I love that Ugly Betty is still running on the TV Guide Channel.
CC: Anything else you want readers to know?
AM: Happy Pride, everybody! Oh, and the President loves you! We’ve waited a long time to be able to say that.
Interview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.