The Campus Times recently had a chance to talk to Renaissance man Hal Sparks, who balances acting, musical and comedic careers with ease and passion. He leaked information concerning his new reality show, his experiences on past shows and his political views, most notably his belief that all Presidents should be getting laid to avoid going to war.
Campus Times: So, what is life like after “Queer as Folk?”
Hal Sparks: I have been touring doing stand up, which I didn’t really have a lot of time to do because of the time commitment. When you are under contract, there are limitations on the types of projects and the length of projects that you can do. Now that I am not under those limitations I can do those things – I can do a movie that takes more than three weeks to shoot. I’ve been really busy – it’s nice.
CT: What are you doing now out in California with the WB?
HS: I’m hosting a reality show. I don’t have an aversion to [reality TV] except that most of the shows don’t really have a message – they are like looking in someone’s window. I kept turning down all of these offers to host them and finally one came along and I was like “you know what, this actually looks like we can say something worth saying.” I feel like it actually has a moral to it. I like to care about the stuff that I am doing.
CT: Do you think that your role on “QAF” will limit your future options?
HS: Nope, and if it does, it’s my fault. If you play John-Boy Walton on a series for seven years, and then play a farmer in your next two movies and you get type cast as a farmer, whose fault is that? The truth is, as an actor, I really think that you should be in danger of being type cast for whatever role you play. I went into this hoping that people would see Michael and go, “that guy’s gay.”
If I were worried about people thinking that I were gay, I shouldn’t have taken the part, and I’m not.
CT: What inspired you to learn Mandarin?
HS: I have been studying martial arts since I was eight and have been studying kung-fu for 14 years. My instructor is from Beijing and out of respect for him, I wanted to learn at least a polite amount of Mandarin, so that when I would see him, I could say my pleases, thank yous, hellos and good-byes. I just really loved it and love Chinese culture, so I started studying it on my own, and it came to me pretty easily.
CT: Can you write the characters?
HS: I can write very little. I’m like a three-year-old kid. I can chat your ear off, but I can’t spell my name. I can write my name, though. I do have a Chinese name.
CT: What is it?
HS: Huo, Guang Hao. My last name is Huo, and my first name is Guang Hao.
CT: What are some of your favorite memories from the “I love the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s” series?
HS: I love ’80s hair metal. I like it because it’s a lot friendlier than modern metal. It comes from a more melodic standpoint – I really enjoy that kind of music a lot. People always ask me if it’s my guilty pleasure and it would be if I had any guilt, which I don’t.
I was a big Star Wars fan as a kid. The best thing about the ’70s series – that was a hard one. Pet rocks – I had a pet rock but we had to put it to sleep – ya know, it hit the mailman. Just being able to talk about the ludicrous things culturally that we have been through. For me, those shows are called the “I love the” for a reason – I don’t get on there and bitch too much.
I’ll make fun of something lightly. If I come across something that I really hated, I’ll usually pass. It’s the “I love the” not “I hated the,” or “I had a horrible time in the” [series].
CT: How do you keep up on all of your pop culture knowledge?
HS: It’s just all observation – I just kind of remember everything.
CT: What’s missing today that we could bring back from one of those generations?
HS: From the ’70s, it would be nice to have a good anti-war movement again.
From the ’80s, it would be nice to have primary investment in technology and a real competitive market with the Japanese and with Europe to genuinely create products [again].
And from the ’90s – how about Clinton? I’m now officially a big fan of presidents who get laid. Everyone we’ve had that doesn’t starts a war. Even Bush Sr. was having an affair, and the second he got busted we went into Kuwait – that’s funny.
Let the guy get laid. I would rather have peace and pregnancy – could we do that?
CT: Any words for our President concerning his actions with Katrina?
HS: The fact that our aid was already being dropped 48 hours after the Tsunami in Indonesia and India is in stark contrast to the way we treat our own people. Part of me thinks it’s just utter incompetence and then the darker side of me thinks that it’s genuine conspiracy. Like, the minute that the levee broke, the people who want to develop downtown and the rest of the Gulf coast and turn it into a tourist place by getting all of the poverty stricken people out, said ‘let it soak.’ I think that Bush himself doesn’t care.
I don’t have the patience to talk to Republicans anymore – even if you only care about yourself, you want everyone to have health care just so that they are not spreading diseases to you. These people need to learn how to be selfish correctly. If you’re going to be selfish, do it right.
Anybody that is still a Republican looks at politics like it’s sports, but it’s about lives and what actually helps people.
CT: Do you like acting, stand up or performing in your band best?
HS: I don’t think that you can compare them.
I’m a big fan of people being generalists – of being capable of doing multiple things. We’ve been brought up in a Puritanical society which says that you pick one thing and stay with it, but we don’t live in that world anymore. I’m a big fan of do what you love to do, to the extent that you can do it.
CT: Are the highs that you get from your respective crafts different?
HS: Yes, they are. The high with acting is very small and it happens several times.
With stand up, it happens when there is a big laugh and when you’ve got the audience and when you are all riding together. I focus on everyone having a good time. I obviously have a message and I mix it in a little bit, but for the most part I really want it to be a good time for everyone.
CT: What can we expect from you on Friday?
HS: A cross between Steve Martin and George Carlin because I like to be very persnickety about detail, but I also like to throw a lot of physical comedy into what I do.
I don’t think that anyone who watched “Queer as Folk” will know what to expect. Nor, would anyone who watched “Talk Soup” or “I Love the ’80s” have an idea. They have only seen my head in a box, so it’s nice to see the rest of me.
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