We sat down in late February to talk with John Suazo, who plays the heteroflexible porn star and escort Kip in ‘Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie’, on Dekkoo. We wondered what it was like for a straight guy to be playing gay and bi in various film productions and web series the way he has.
Suazo’s first LGBT role was the J.C. Calciano-directed web series ‘Steam Room Stories’, also on Dekkoo, which was produced by fellow actor Nicholas Downs from ‘Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie’. Suazo said the producers asked, “‘Are you okay with twerking on camera?’ I said, ‘I’ll try.’” A legend was born.
Before he was modeling and acting, Suazo was in the Navy, and he was there when the infamously restrictive Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was repealed. Suazo says, “I had a couple of gay friends in the Navy. After the repeal a couple more came out. But as far as being accepting, I really hadn’t had gay friends until the military. And even though it is a very macho atmosphere, you work so hard and you sweat and bleed next to these people, and it really kind of opens your eyes to the fact that it doesn’t matter. Nobody’s trying to peek at me in the shower or try anything. They’re just people, and good guys.”
When Suazo moved to Los Angeles, before he turned to acting, he found that a number of photographers wanted him to model for them, and demand rose for Suazo as an underwear model. Almost all of the photographers were terrific to work with, Suazo says, and he met a number of gay men who welcomed him into their broader artistic community.
Given the revelations of the #MeToo movement, did Suazo have any experiences with photographers taking liberties during that time? He says, “Any shady experiences I’ve had were very few, and they were when I was brand new to L.A.” But a few times, Suazo admits, he had to say, “That’s not a legitimate project!” Suazo even walked out on one name photographer who was acting inappropriately.
Fortunately Suazo had a number of colleagues and collaborators, gay and straight, who could keep him working with strong professional photographers, and that’s one of the things that contributed to his acting career.
And his LGBT roles have continued. In fact, at press time, Suazo was up for another gay role in a pilot. We asked him whether he senses straight actors having any trepidation taking on gay roles like they may have had in decades past. He replies with a wink, “Not real actors!” Then he adds, “I have met one or two out there that don’t want to take on a gay role or wouldn’t feel comfortable doing a scene where they have to be in love with a man. But every role you take on its not you, it’s not your real life. You’re playing somebody else.”
Suazo recalls that one straight actor was accused of being gay on social media. “An interviewer asked him ‘If you’re straight, why haven’t you defended yourself?’ And he said ‘I don’t see the need to defend myself against something that’s not offensive.’”
And how about actors outing themselves as LGBTQI in today’s Hollywood? Suazo says, “Actors are far more comfortable being out.” He adds, “I come from Arizona and, growing up in a red state, it was not quite as accepting of different lifestyles. I could see the difference in California and Los Angeles where I’m surrounded by artists, and the culture and the atmosphere here is based on people expressing themselves. So I think it’s wonderful we’re very comfortable being who we are.”
And now Suazo has numerous productions under his belt, including multiple LGBT ones. And in case it isn’t clear, he loves his gay fans! Suazo gets recognized from his various productions, especially in his neighborhood of West Hollywood. Do those fans ever overidentify with his gay or bi characters and get flirtatious? Well, Suazo admits sometimes he has to resort to saying he has a girlfriend. That way, he says, he positions it as “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Suazo has been working on honing his already sharp comedy skills since his ‘Coffee House Chronicles’ shoot. He says, “You hit your beats better when you are taking it very seriously. And when you have some very funny writing behind you.” High praise to his shows’ writers!
As we wrapped up our conversation, we found out one last detail: that John Suazo has stunt driving experience. And he even went to stunt-driving school briefly. Now we wish there had been a chase scene in ‘Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie’.
Watch ‘Coffee House Chronicles: The Movie’ on Dekkoo!