Thom Bierdz and I have much in common, and we share those traits with Michael Fairman who I interviewed here at www.lgbtSr.com not too long ago. We three amigos have worked in the world of soap operas for years, we each hail from Wisconsin, and we are all proudly-out parts of the LGBT community
Catching up with Thom and slowing him down enough for an interview may seem tough (you will see he is one busy guy), but Thom was right on top of this interview, and we appreciate his time with lgbtSr.
RR: Hey, fellow Cheesehead, you have been known to fans of Young and the Restless (set in Wisconsin) for over 25 years as the sexy Phillip Chancellor who has loved many women over those years and who has conversely been loved by many women. When you came out somewhere within those years, were you surprised the role was not recast? You survived it all and still return to the soap on a recurring basis! How’d the story play out in real life?
TB: 20 years after Phillip died, he came back as gay – having faked his death in 1989! It was a brainchild of me and the producers. It’s very cool to be gay in real life and onscreen.
RR: So we all know “gay for pay,” but how does a gay man play a straight man, especially in the steamy, sexual world of daytime drama?
TB: It’s acting! Smiley face.
RR: Living now in Lake Arrowhead, CA, you are painting away as another means of expression. Tell us about your current exhibit “Hollywood in Red: Gay Celeb Paints Straight Celebs Gay” which lgbtSr’s and others can see at Belsito & Roach Gallery in Long Beach through January 21. Who did you paint?
TB: I painted as gay couples: OBAMA & CHRIS ISAAK, ROBERT REDFORD & BURT REYNOLDS, SEAN PENN & JOHNNY DEPP, BRAD PITT & ROB LOWE, ELVIS PRESLEY & JAMES DEAN, LEONARDO DICAPRIO & JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, BRUCE WILLIS & RUSSELL CROWE, GEORGE CLOONEY & JAKE PAVELKA, DANIEL RADCLIFFE & TAYLOR LAUTNER, SYLVESTER STALLONE & ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JOHNNY CASH & JOHN WAYNE, COLIN FARRELL & MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, MARIO LOPEZ & DWAYNE JOHNSON, AND BRET MICHAELS & JAMES FRANCO. This show is a statement for gay marriage and is endorsed by both the Seth Walsh Project and the ACLU, who will receive a percentage of the profits.
RR: How did you get permission…or didn’t you? Wink.
TB: I did not get anyone’s permission. We do not have any gay out presidential candidates nor any out gay movie stars who can greenlight a film. I wanted to create visuals, using straight guys, to relax people into the idea. Some day we WILL be represented in every job, even as out movie stars, and if this is a scary concept to some, I wanted to show them how sweet it actually is.
RR: You were named Out Magazine’s ARTIST OF THE YEAR in 2005 for your work depicting cows. Ah, you are a better Wisconsin boy than me! Do you get back often?
TB: I try to visit my brother and sister who still live there about once a year.
RR: Next year, it will be 23 years since your mother was killed at the hands of your brother who is still in prison in WI and 10 years, since your brother Gregg killed himself. What was the top thing that helped you rebound from your mother’s death and still keeps you going?
TB: Simple. I’ve always believed in life after death.
RR: Is that what became the top factor in your finding forgiveness for your brother Troy?
TB: Yes. We are closer than most brothers now.
RR: Your book about this part of your life, FORGIVING TROY, has been called “a terrific, gut-punching memoir; chilling, hopeful, spiritual” by TV GUIDE. Where can folks find the book?
TB: If people order it at thombierdz.com I can sign it and send it.
RR: Soaps are disappearing. We are down to five. What’s up with that?
TB: Soaps are expensive to create. Producers and distributors can make more profit on talk shows. I cannot decide anyone’s future. Sure, it will be sad if Y&R ends. There are so many wonderful people associated with that show.
RR: Are there other gay actors on daytime? Have they opened up to you?
TB: I am the only openly gay actor on soaps as far as I know. Yes, I know of several closeted ones
RR: You are constantly reinventing your career. Did the changes you make provide better or worse financial security? More passion or less? Have you found what you really want to do?
TB: I am a gambler by nature. My life is always about tackling one creative project after another. That’s all I have ever done. It gets my juices flowing – excites me.
RR: Have you found the “love of your life” in another man? I have on a couple occasions,, but they have been straight. Perhaps you can share some insight: Can a straight and gay man be in an intimate monogamous relationship without sex being a part of it?
TB: I don’t know. I am not one of those guys who has had crushes on straight guys. I wouldn’t put myself in a no-win situation like that.
RR: As we chat, I am in Wisconsin. I’ll share with our readers a pairing I like of my favorite beer with favorite cheese. Cranberry Swiss with Leinie-Berry (Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss). What’s yours?
TB: That sounds good. Smiley face.
Gosh, I love this guy!