dishin' it

Blake Abbie on baring it all for ‘Bling Empire,’ childhood crushes, and why Celine Dion’s the GOAT

Image Credit: Getty Images

Classically trained singer? Check! A supporting role in a massively popular Chinese TV series? Check! Co-founder of an acclaimed fashion magazine? Also check!

At just 32, it feels like Blake Abbie has already done it all. But now he’s adding one more accomplishment to his resume: Star of a reality television show. Bling Empire: New York, to be specific—an East Coast spin-off of Netflix‘s buzzy series about wealthy East and Southeast Asian-Americans socialites.

Born in Canada, the Chinese-Scottish tastemaker began his professional career in Paris before relocating to NYC, bringing both a youthful energy and worldliness to Bling Empire, not to mention a welcome queer perspective. Look no further than the eyebrow-raising scene where Abbie tells off a co-star after he’s asked more than a few offensive questions about his sexuality (“F*ck off old man!”)

But it’s definitely not all about the drama for Abbie, who keeps busy as an editor-at-large for A Magazine Curated By, and is currently working on a few television pitches of his own. Somehow, we managed to sang some of the mutli-hyphenate’s all-too-rare free time to have him as our latest guest in our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It.

In our conversation below, Abbie opens up about fan encounters, the misconception that all Canadians are polite, and the “unnerving” process of sharing his life with the world—especially since he’s a Scorpio!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

QUEERTY: Is there a piece of media/pop-culture—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, etc…—that you consider a big part of your own coming-out journey? Why does it stand out to you?

ABBIE: I don’t really have a coming out story. I’ve always kind of just moved through the world fluidly and lucky to have never really questioned my sexuality too much—and I think it was because I was supported by my friends and family. But when I was younger I was obsessed with Gregg Araki films—and still am. It’s a dream to be able to work with him. I really think I might have been born in the wrong decade. The ’90s feel so loose and free and raw. Happy Together by Wong Kar Wai is also a favourite film of mine. It’s heart-crushing but such a masterpiece. I love when I can really empathize with a character, almost physically feel them. And these two directors really know how to do that so well.

Related: That time Tony Leung went totally gay in this queer cinema classic

You’ve got plenty of acting experience, but Bling Empire is an entirely different thing because you’re bringing the camera into your day-to-day life. What’s the most intimidating part of putting yourself out there, and sharing your life on screen?

When you’re playing a role, you’re not yourself, you’re embodying someone else, someone else’s story, mannerisms, point of view. With Bling Empire: New York being unscripted, I had to be myself, as authentic as I could be to myself—otherwise you’d know that I was somewhat faking it. It’s a totally different process. What was great, was to spend hours talking to my producer to make sure the story they were crafting around me and my life was as real as possible. I’m a Scorpio, so I generally like to keep things private and close to my heart, and since I’m really bearing it all, I have no idea how people are going to receive me—that’s pretty unnerving!

Given your own musical background, we’re curious to hear: Who is your # 1 all-time pop music diva and why?

Celine Dion. Have you heard the dexterity in her voice and her ability to change tone and style at any moment? Hilarious and doesn’t take herself too seriously—and Canadian. The perfect diva.

Where’s one of the first places you can remember that made you feel a part of a queer community?

Definitely in music and fashion. They’re both communities made up of misfits, who’ve found themselves through their together in spaces they’ve made for themselves.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

You were born in Montreal and raised in Vancouver—what’s the biggest misconception you think Americans have about Canada?

That we are all incredibly polite! Maybe it’s because we say s-oh-rry all the time? We’re just not as direct as Americans, so we do the run around and can be a little passive aggressive.

Who’s a fictional character you had a crush on when you were younger? What do you remember loving about them?

I definitely was infatuated by all of the Sailor Moon characters, but particularly Sailor Pluto and Tuxedo Mask. I never knew, and still really don’t, if I wanted to be them or be with them.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

What’s the funniest, strangest, or most awkward place you’ve been recognized by a fan?

I was in Toronto with my mom a couple of winters back starting some Christmas shopping at Yorkdale Mall. And we needed a little refresher so popped over to the bubble tea shop, as any Asian of sound mind would do, and the whole place erupted in “OMG OMG OMG, it’s THOMAS!” That’s the name of my character in Meteor Garden. Everyone came out from the kitchen and behind the counter to get photos. I don’t expect this kind of recognition! And it’s so funny, whenever I’m in Paris for fashion week there are always kids running from show to show who grab me for photos, like once after a Raf Simons’ show deep in the 16th [District of Paris]!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

Who is a queer or trans artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

Martine Gutierrez is a really close friend of mine, and I’ve been really honored to have been able to collaborate with her on a couple of works. The most recent was when I sang the soundtrack for her short film she showed at The Momentary Museum. In her work, she explores her identity and ultimately her femininity through her ever-shifting relationship with it as a trans woman. But also as someone who is continuing to question gender, race and pop culture; nothing is static. We have such a fun time talking, and I always learn so much from her and her work. And now she’s an actor too—she’s off to Sundance this weekend for the premiere of Rotting In The Sun by Sebastián Silva which just got acquired by Robert Pattinson’s production’s company! Constantly impressed and inspired by my friends.

Scroll down for more pics from Abbie’s Instagram page…

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Blake Abbie 王立民 (@blakeabbie)