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Chris Crocker, one of Web 2.0's most captivating personalities, gives a little glimpse into the world as he knows it.

Chris Crocker took his own advice -- he left Britney alone. Months after his delirious YouTube video launched and scored almost 18 million hits (and throngs of parodies), the platinum-topped 20-year-old from Pentecostal Tennessee speaks with The Advocate about his reality show, Britney Spears, damage control, and the antigay abuse he endures frequently, as detailed in our recent article "Homophobosphere." In his latest YouTube video, he discussed The Advocate and bemoaned Internet homophobia and threats to the safety of video bloggers. Yep, even that earned him a few scoops of Internet flak.

Has your reaction to antigay hate mail changed since you launched into the public eye?

Well, you know, I'm used to the threats online, and I always have been. That's always been there, the gay bashing. The gay bashers come out to play on my comment threads. I never took them seriously because I've never been threatened that way in person, but it's just -- it's not OK, because had I not gained a sense of self a long time ago or known how to protect myself, then I might be a really scared person right now. It just kind of concerns me for all the 14-, 15-, and 16-year-old video bloggers out there who are gay that might encounter this. I'm not so scared, but it scares me for people who have to encounter this who maybe don't have a sense of self or, you know, know how to protect themselves.

Do you still operate from Tennessee?

Actually, I'm only in Tennessee in one week out of the month. I'm mostly in L.A.

How has life in Tennessee changed for you?

You know what, it's like -- well, obviously, when I fly back [to Tennessee] it's like flying back to the future, but I think, Oh, I'll have time to wind down and catch up on my sleep. But it's really hard to just go out at all, because now I'm getting, like, middle-aged men at the mall making comments. The harassment is real in real life, but it's never as extreme as online.

What do those guys say when they spot you at the mall?

It's usually just sort of comments like "Oh, there's that fag from online."

What's up with the status of your reality show?

I actually find out this week about the status of that. We filmed for three or four months, just doing the pilot. We turned that in for review.

If the reality show works out, will you relocate to L.A. permanently?

At first I was like, I don't want to film at all in Tennessee. I'm done with that chapter of my life. I have no unfinished business here. I'm ready to move on. But now I think I really need to sort of let people see what small-town gay-boy life is still like in 2008. So I think I want to do more filming here if it's picked up.

You used to say the only gay pride in your hometown was in your own bedroom. Have you found any gay allies back home?

I have friends here, but when you're gay in a small town, you're just friends with the other gay people, but not because you have common interests, it's more ... you're both gay, you're stuck here, let's just be friends. But I have some gay friends here.

By and large, how do gays respond to you?

It's mostly positive, at least. The people that don't like me usually don't say anything, so I wouldn't know. The people I talk to are usually positive.

Since the Britney video that launched you to stardom, is life better or worse? Easier or more difficult?

You know, it's really taught me a lot about people, really. I have to say, I hate the fact, first of all, that that's the video that was launched into the media, because I did videos before that were about really important topics. A lot of people want to say my priorities are in the wrong order, but, you know, I did videos about AIDS, and I was trying to spread awareness long before that. So the fact that that's the only video the media picked up on tells me their priorities, not mine. As far as my life goes, I'm making good money now [laughs], so that's a plus.

How are you making money?

Lots of things. I'm getting lots of endorsements coming up soon and events and stuff. I mean, it's annoying that everywhere I go, I have to hear "Britney!" but I haven't had to work since that video came out.

Endorsements and events, eh? Care to elaborate?

A lot of them, I can't say ... but some commercials, a couple commercials.

Do you regret anything you've done?

Yeah. In the beginning, I sort of played up to that crazy character in the media that everyone already thought I was. But you know, it was a situation where everyone only wanted to hear about Britney, so there wasn't much I could do. I kind of wish I couldn't play up that character so much, because now everyone thinks I'm crazy.

Like that Maury show appearance?

No [laughs], I thought that was funny. It was for entertainment value.

You call yourself an "edu-tainer." What do you feel capable of teaching?

It's kind of like when you write in your journal. You write about what you've known. And what I've known and encountered the most is probably homophobia, so I can give people a good idea of what that's like. So hopefully with the reality show I can let people know that our work as gay people isn't done yet. That homophobia is still out there.

Do you feel like you're forced to defend yourself too often?

Yeah. I mean ... yeah. It doesn't matter what I'm doing or saying, I'm just going to seen as an asshole. And I've accepted that. It's just my destiny to be seen as an asshole.

You speak with regret about the Britney video. Should we not expect more videos in that vein?

It's just like this, for instance, I feel like I can't cry anymore. I feel like if I cry, they'll say I'm doing it to get attention again. Everything I do or have done from that moment on, I just have to think twice about it. I don't know, as far as the content goes when I post, I try to be as uninhibited as possible, but it's harder now, you know? I have to face that.

Do you release videos on a schedule? When is it "time" for you to release a video?

My inspiration is really inconsistent. It's not on anybody's time but my own. Just whenever something is triggered, an emotion or something. They're all very personal.

Do you have any potential topics you've been mulling around?

No, it's really just day by day, minute to minute, always. And that's why they work.

In our article "Homophobosphere," you were profiled along with other YouTube celebs. Have you befriended any of them?

I'm actually friends with William Sledd now. We just recently started talking. He's nice. [Antigay comments] are not really that big a part of our lives. I don't really think about it much -- but it is a real problem when you log on and you're bombarded with this harassment.

Who do you still want to meet?

Um, no one really does it for me in the Internet realm. But I really love Courtney Love, and I'd still love to meet her. She's someone I haven't met. I adore her.

Allegedly, Britney wasn't too pleased with your video. Has that tainted your opinion of her?

It's really hard to listen to Britney's music now after that. Because it's a really "he said," "she said" thing. You know, there's no way I can come to a conclusion whether she said that or not. So, I mean, it's a sad thing when a person you've idolized for so long possibly thinks negatively about you.

Are there any other celebrities in dire need of defense? Might you come to their YouTube rescue?

I think I'm done defending people for the most part, except myself. I'm just going to be defending myself from now on.

When people want to talk to you -- what do they most often ask?

Obviously they want to know if I'm really after Britney and how I feel about her statement. It's always Britney-related. They fail to realize I'm much more interesting than her.

What would you prefer people ask you?

It's not like I feel like I deserve to have my story told yet. I haven't done anything to really deserve any interviews lately.

So tell us -- this reality show -- what's the setup?

It's like a "docu-soap." It's not what people think it is; it's not silly or humorous. It's really like the backstory, it's not like my YouTube stuff at all. I have the first episode on DVD. I'm really happy with it.

Is it difficult to date when you're Chris Crocker?

It's not really easy to date. It's easy to get laid, though. But I'm a better fuck than a boyfriend, I suppose. I'm too much to handle for these people. Say I do an event at a club or something, they're all star-fuckers. Which is OK. I'm fine with being used for a night.

Does this apply to Tennessee and L.A.?

Everywhere. That's the one great thing about it; because there's so many star-fuckers out there. Before it was really hard for a very androgynous person like myself to get laid, but now it's not. It's really broken a barrier for me.

Are you expanding your online presence to other websites?

Totally. We're building my website and doing stuff on other websites. And I'm doing a runway show in March! I'm doing Jared Gold's runway show; they're also filming for America's Next Top Model and all this bullshit. But they asked me to walk, so that's cool. I'm so nervous, though, because they told me to practice in six-inch heels. I'm like a fashion anarchist, like I hate fashion. I hate it -- well, it's just a Southern part of me.

Aha, I bet that's why you're a Britney fan.

Right, you know? I understand when she walks out and looks like that.

So you name-dropped The Advocate. Are you a subscriber?

I'm not a subscriber, but I do read it, definitely when you have people like Kathy Griffin on the cover. I love her. Thumbs up for putting her on there, the crotch shot was great. It was amazing! And I love her Photoshopper.

After all the mania, what have you learned about fame, Chris Crocker?

I've learned that gay people really want someone to represent them, and they don't like me, and they feel I represent a stereotype, which is fine. I learned that I have to represent myself and myself only. I can't represent Britney, I can't represent the gay community. I can only represent myself at the end.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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