PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIAN BUCHAN | Styling courtesy of Pechuga Vintage.
A free flowing conversation with writer and comedian Jordan Firstman about authenticity, unfinished business and being a sassy, hairy jewish sex icon.
Where are you right now? I am on Fire Island.
How did you get to FIP during the global pandemic? OMG! We’re already outing me as a Corona traveler. I get tested every week in Los Angeles, got tested Wednesday. I just had to leave L.A., it was just getting to be too much. L.A. in August is really sad.
Why is L.A. in August sad? August is a sad month for everyone because we feel the summer ending and we don’t want it to happen. And then L.A. on top of that it’s just a sad city. So, you bring August vibes to L.A. vibes. It just feels like stale and sad, and no one can be free, so I had to bounce.
What makes L.A. sad? I think L.A. is all unfinished business. I think there’s a lot of ghosts there. L.A. has only unfinished business. It is literally the land of dreams that were crushed and dreams that never got made.
Do you feel like you have a lot of unfinished business? No, I feel like I am doing my business. I can’t believe that I am going to say this, but if I do believe in reincarnation, I feel like we might be close to my last time. If it’s not this one then the next one. I feel like I am close to something.
That’s a good place to be in, spiritually, in a city like L.A. Yeah. I feel like you have to be really spiritually strong to be able to navigate such a morally complicated place. To be able to find the right people and find things that make you happy. It is a city where everyone is so focused on this goal, but no one really knows what the goal is or what the goal is for, but we’ve all kind of blindly agreed to this pact that we’re all gonna go for it.
It’s a bizarre shared consciousness for a city to have. Yeah. But I find the people that I connect with most in the city are people who can also just laugh at it and be like, “This place is so fucked.” I mean, every six months something happens in the industry of Hollywood, I’m like, this is so fucked.
When did you move to L.A.? I was 21. So it was eight years ago. I was living in New York, I was 20, and I was having a really bad time, a bad few months. I was like, I gotta go see what LA is all about. And I went. I didn’t have a driver’s license. I didn’t even really like L.A. So I went home for two weeks and learned how to drive in two weeks. I had never stepped behind the wheel. And so I had my driver’s test and moved the next day.
Have you been to Fire Island before? I went two years ago with my now ex-boyfriend. We had a really fun time. I thought I was a gay who was against Fire Island but every time I’ve come, I’ve been like, oh wait, like, this is really fun. And pretty people are way nicer than I thought they were going to be. People are nicer than in Palm Springs.
Do you get recognized in the gay world more these days? I get recognized more in general. The gays are less there for me than I’ve ever felt them before in my entire career. This is a bold statement, but I felt support more from the gays when I was making short films and had 10,000 followers and I was the underdog and wanted to make all these gay things. And then the second, like Katy Perry posts you, then they want nothing to do with you. I can’t speak for everybody, but I’ve seen it happen before. And I think it is something that we should be talking about because we were all sitting here being like, where are the gay shows? Where are the gays in culture? But then when they get there, we have a tendency to be harder on gays than we would be on straights. I won’t say the name of the show [we believe he’s referencing HBO’s Looking], but like when that gay show came out we shut that show down, when there are so many straight shows. I think this standard we hold each other up to is in some ways, just a like a fear that a gay thing is getting successful.
JORDAN WEARS BIKINI BY CHANEL AND HIS OWN PEARL NECKLACE.
The other side of that, to be the contrarian, is that when there’s only one major gay show on at a time then it has to be really good. And if it’s not, then we’re not gonna spare anyone’s feelings? If that is the case, what we should be doing is biting our tongues and showing the fuck up and watching and getting the numbers up so we can make better ones. They’re not going to give us money if we don’t make money, you know? So whether it’s up to snuff or not, like we have to show up and support everything that is gay, just so we can make more.
So you’re saying in the way that some African Americans support Tyler Perry, even though they know his shows are not very good; we should do that? Yeah. Tyler Perry’s success is a model for a lot of Hollywood, to show that there is a market for this. There’s a lot of different types of art that can be made. But I do think that there should be art that is just for gay people, but there should also be art that is about gay people that is for everyone. I’ve spent my career trying to make gay things happen, and I cannot get the money. Like the stuff that I’ve tried to make happen, like is genuinely good, good material. And it’s such an uphill battle getting anything gay financed, they just immediately close their wallets.
Do you think things are changing? I think it is still that way. I had a show, a really gay show that was highbrow and funny and like extremely gay. It dug in. It was not nice to gay people, but it was empathetic. They killed it in January with no explanation, but the subtext behind so much of the behavior that I experienced throughout the entire process of trying to make that show was no one cares about gay people. Or you hear the word niche all the time when you talk about gay things.
That is just blatant homophobia. Why can’t something niche be interesting to everyone? Yeah. No one’s like, “I relate to every moment of Edward Scissorhands,” but we see a character that is lost or sad, and that’s the stuff you relate to. My show was about loneliness and trauma. Those are universal human experiences. But the lens through which I was talking about these concepts were gay. And so a 60-year-old, white, head of the network is going to read it and like, see the word AIDS or like two men fucking, and be like, “It’s too niche.”
And yet a show about Mormon wives, or a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a meth dealer is not considered niche. But if the lead characters are gay, how could anyone possibly relate! For some reason it’s a threat. The fact that a gay man could be powerful is threatening to straight men. And the fact that a lot of gay men are more in touch with their masculinity than straight men. Sorry to bring it back to myself a little bit, but like, something I am seeing on the Internet is that a lot of women are really into me. My friend and I came up with this concept that it’s like in 2020, to be a straight man, they’re all scared of their masculinity and scared of their sexuality and scared that it will get them into trouble. But like I come in, and I’m very in touch with my sexuality and very in touch with my genuine masculinity, not the subscribed masculinity that we’re forced into. I’m in touch with my femininity and masculinity. And these girls are starving for it. They are actually starving. Like there’s no sin in being straight. And like, these women are starving for like a man, you know.
I read somewhere that you said that during the first few months of the quarantine you were very alone. Can you talk about that period and how it led to you doing all these amazing impressions on Instagram and TikTok? I went through some of the biggest life changes that I’ve ever gone through in January. This show that I put my entire heart into for four years got killed and then three days after my boyfriend and I broke up. So having this breakup and show fall apart in a week, it just catapulted me energetically back into my life, and I had all of this energy. Like in February, I was fucking living. I was on fire. Any boy I talked to, I was charming them. I was just in the world, like, oh my god, I am free at last, like Jesus, I am free. And then quarantine happened and it was like, oh bitch, you thought you wanted to be alone. We’re going to show you alone. Like this show was a tether, this relationship was a tether, and I wanted to be completely free. I thought that what was gonna happen was me continuing my TV writing career, and also taking the summer to go to Berlin and just be single and do drugs. So I had all this energy, and then when the quarantine happened, I was like where do I put all of my creative energy and all my sexual energy? The closest place was Instagram.
It’s funny, when you google your name the first thing that comes up is this Facebook post of your torso and the title “Jordan Firstman is looking for kind of anyone.” Right? Yeah. I did this thing. I did this live with Grindr at the beginning [of quarantine]. I was being a little fucking whore online. I was like, basically posting pictures of my asshole, basically posting pictures every day. There was one, I archived a photo recently. I’m like, oh, that is my penis.
You got to get it out there. Yeah. I think my friends were a little bit worried, but I’m like, girl, this is what happens. Like, let me experience it. It’s what I needed to do at the time.
So were you getting a lot of action during the early days of the pandemic? No. I was sending my nudes to every hot boy on Instagram and jacking off with guys on ChatRoulette.
Is your slut phase over? I have access to so many more people now that I can be a slut on Instagram. Not to say I didn’t have slutty phases of Instagram before, like I did. But this was taking it to another level. What I’ve learned about myself in all of this is that there are so many different identities that I have. And for some miracle, like something happened, like the world caught on. I felt, and feel, so accepted on so many levels, which I truly think is a miracle. I am like a dirty fucking pig on there. I piss on camera. It’s crazy that people are accepting that, but they are. And I think, I think it’s because I really am living my truth.
JORDAN WEARS UMBRELLA HAT BY FENDI.
JORDAN WEARS HAT AND TOP BY JEAN PAUL GAULTIER. SWIMSUIT BY SLICK IT UP.
You’ve become this hairy sex icon. How have you taken to this new exposure? I don’t know. I feel like it makes sense. I’ve always felt sexy, but I don’t think I am the traditional thing you would think about when you think of a hot gay guy. But I know in the gay community that there are people who look like me. I’m not really that thin, I don’t have a six pack, I don’t have big muscles, but I’m sexy.
You have a look that a lot of guys are into. I think I’m evoking a type of sexy that kind of went away. Like in the 70s, Elliot Gould was seen as like a huge sex symbol. There were these famous hairy Jewish man. And like, that kind of went out of style. And then in the 90s you had Jason Biggs and David Schwimmer, who were like the cute, cute Jews, but like sexy Jew hasn’t really come back. And then, I’m adding gay to that. I do think it is a real awakening of a new type of sexual icon that I want to see in the world. Like, love, love the Hemsworths. But where are the hairy Jewish sex symbols?
Have you had any attention from any other famous homos? A little bit. We haven’t gotten there yet, but there’s been some foreplay DMs with some fun people. I’ll say no more.
From a scale of one to ten how gay is Hollywood? I mean, as a concept ten, like all Hollywood is like a show. Hollywood in itself is a queer construct, even though it’s run by all straight white men. But I would say the actual industry of Hollywood is a two.
Who was the last person to make you laugh? I hung out with my friends, Lauren Servideo and Joe Polonia last night. And they’re fucking so funny.
Who was the last person that made you cry? Me. Oh yeah. In a good way though. Like I’m learning about myself, and it’s making me cry.
That’s a nice kind of cry. Are you a good crier? I mean, I just, I think it feels so good. It feels better to me than cumming sometimes. It’s just a release.
Where are you happiest? When I’m in the flow. Whenever I’m flowing in my work or flowing in conversation with friends or like anytime there’s a back and forth between me and a person or me and the universe. That’s when I’m happiest.
Do you have a good group of friends around you to help you get into that state of mind? I remember saying to my ex a couple months before we broke up, I really had this revelation that I don’t think I belong to anybody. I think I belong to the world, and I felt it so deeply. I am a person of the world, I am for everyone. I am at everyone’s service. I’m there to make them happy. I’m there to make them horny. I’m there to make them laugh. And I think this year has really proven that. I think some friends would probably call me narcissistic. And I think I’ve gotten less narcissistic since I’ve gotten attention on the Internet. Because like now there are actual people there that want something from me. And I’m giving that to them. And I do see it. I really do make people happy. And that is not a small deal. I don’t take that lightly.
That’s a cool thing to be able to give to the world, to make people laugh. It’s such a hard thing to do well. I feel very grateful to have the ability to do that. It’s been a huge lesson for me. Cause I thought I wanted to make people only feel and think and see things differently. I have always been able to make people laugh, but I was kind of resentful of it, cause I thought it was shallow or I wanted people to take me seriously. I’m really coming into a place where I’m like, “No, this is a really cool thing that I get to do. And it does help people.”
Do you have a message for the world or GAYLETTER readers? Right now I am feeling like what I want gay people to know is that they can explore so many parts of their identity and so many parts of their psyche and their own spiritual life. And they can all end up at gay culture, but they can also not end up at gay culture. My message is that there’s no right way to be gay and there’s no right way to be a person. My message in general is for everyone to keep looking deeper within themselves. I think it will save the world.
That’s good advice. Be yourself. But then keep going, be yourself and then keep going and keep looking [inside] be more yourself and then be more yourself.