New York off-Broadway actor and sometimes proofreader Chad Lindsey was on the C train platform of Penn Station on Monday, when he saw an elderly man fall onto the tracks below. With a train fast approaching, Lindsey jumped down, pulled the man to safety and got out just a few seconds before the train whizzed by. After calling for help, Lindsey boarded the next train and went on his way; just another New York City day.
That is, until the news caught wind of the year’s first “Subway Hero.” New York magazine crowed, “The Mystery Subway Hero: Revealed! And HOT”. The New York Times ruminated, “Subway heroes, as they are inevitably tagged even before the grease from the tracks is rubbed off, come along every now and then — indeed, as the story of Chad Lindsey suggests, perhaps more often than we know.”
Here at Queerty headquarters, we received dozens of emails about Chad, who has appeared in a bunch of gay short films. But would you believe that a day after his story breaks, when we catch up with him, Lindsey isn’t basking in fame? Instead, he’s running crosstown trying to make it to his latest audition.
Lindsey spoke with us, while navigating rush hour traffic, about what it’s like to be an instant celebrity and what he thinks about all the gay blogs asking, “Is he or isn’t he?”
QUEERTY: It’s been a crazy couple of days, I take it.
Chad Lindsey: Oh god, yeah. I had no idea all of this would happen. But, you know, I guess this is what happens.
The New York Times said that one of your friends identified you as the “Subway Hero.” Was that the first thing you saw where you realized the cat’s out of the bag?
Yeah. There was a guy on the train when I did this and he handed me a card and said, “Call the New York Times” and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever.” So, they knew the story existed, but they didn’t know who it was because I didn’t call. Then, I told my friend at work and she told my friend in Chicago, Vasillica, and she called me and said, “I called the New York Times; get ready.” And I was like, “Oh, man.”
And next thing you know, you’re on Rachel Maddow.
Yeah, that was awesome! She’s great!
How did that happen?
Her producers called me and said, “We’d love to have you do a little segment, because it would be a story that wasn’t about AIG. And I said, “I accept,” and that was that. God, I’m trying to run to this audition and I don’t know where I am. Sorry.
So, you’re still doing auditions?
Yeah, that part hasn’t changed so drastically. I’m still going to work and doing auditions in between, and I got the show I’m doing – oh, I just got dripped on – and we run for another two weeks. And after this, I have to run to start warming-up.
What’s the show?
It’s called Kaspar Hauser. It’s a musical by Liz Suede at the Flea Theater. I was actually on my way to a reading of a new play when all this stuff happened that changed the course of my week.
Is it strange to be “The Subway Hero”?
It’s ridiculous. I mean, come on. It’s ridiculous but very New York-y.
What makes it New York-y?
Look, people do amazing things for people all the time, every day. I think everybody who rides the subway fears the dirty, electrified, creepy tracks. So I think they particularly like stories about someone who jumps down there. It feeds into New York.
So, all the major gay blogs have been speculating about your sexuality. Towleroad bases its suggestion off of a comment on your IMDB profile, for instance. Is that something you’re aware of? Does it bother you?
I haven’t even gone on them yet. Someone mentioned that was happening, but I haven’t looked at any of the blogs because I haven’t had time. Also, it’s a little weird reading about yourself. It doesn’t bother me that people are [speculating about my sexuality]; it’s just what people do. I think. I don’t know. It doesn’t bug me. Look, I’ve tried to look through my Facebook messages and there’s some hilarious ones, from women and men. It’s just silly and everybody knows it. People just want to dig a little deeper.
I have no idea where I am. I’m in the middle of New York, but I have no idea where I’m going.
Well, do you think some of these sites are looking for a gay hero?
Hmm. That hadn’t occurred to me. It seems we live in a world where we’re past that. I know we’re not and I have a good idea that we don’t, but I don’t know. I’m trying to be judicious about how much I even talk. You know what I mean? I mean, “Look dude, you jumped in the train and got someone out, now shut up already.” You know? It’s enough to say I’m an actor. People are already rolling their eyes.
Well, the opposite side of this is that you have sites like Gawker saying, “Hey, give this guy some roles already!”
Gawker. They put up your actor’s reel and urged people to cast you immediately.
Oh no. See? That’s just nuts.
But, whether you see it or not, people are desperate for heroes. I mean, there were other people standing on the platform. You were the only one who jumped in and did something.
Yeah, I guess so. This is uncomfortable. It’s been rough. I don’t know how to ride the line between tooting my own horn and saying, “Look, it’s just what happened.” You know what I mean?
Well, if there’s anything people should take away from your story, what should it be?
*car honks* Oh, God, I almost got run over.
Are you okay? That would be terrible.
It would be very ironic. OK, takeaway. Here we go. Ready? I think, ultimately, you got to do something. Most people do. Most people are good people. When I finally did get on the train and went downtown, everybody was trying to help me. There were women going into their purses to hand out Handi-Wipes and hand sanitizer and trying to get the blood off me. I think the message is that if you see something that needs to be done, do whatever you can to do it. Not everybody can jump off a platform and get back up. I’m six feet tall and in okay shape, so I can do that part, but as long as people can do whatever they can do, you know? That I think, is the point.
Photo: Fred R. Conrad/New York Times