While smokers puffed away nearby, Adams—who has dazzled audiences in A Chorus Line, Guys & Dolls, and La Cage aux Folles—sipped on a vodka and soda and fielded some of our queries, ranging from his 2008 feud with Mario Lopez to how Midwestern evangelicals respond when they see Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the very gay Broadway show he’s currently starring in.
Queerty: Let’s talk gossip. You and Mario Lopez have had some drama in the past—there was a New York Post item where he supposedly told you to go to the back of the stage in A Chorus Line, so you wouldn’t upstage him. Was that manufactured by the press?
Nick Adams: I mean it’s ridiculous! (Laughs) I’m very good friends with him. I set him up with his fiancée—the mother of his child.
You set him up with Courtney Mazza?
I’ve known her for over ten years, and she was in A Chorus Line with me. I went with them on their first date. We were never feuding. There was never a fight between the two of us!
So the whole story about making you wear a hoodie to hide your muscles was made up?
When he joined the show, it was beneficial to all of the cast members because it helped us run another six months. So I’m not going to be upset about celebrities, I understand the point of star casting, he came in he helped us run longer, and I got paid longer. He wouldn’t specifically say it to my face, “I’m gonna put you in a different costume.” He would have talked to our producers and our wardrobe team. They may have changed my costume and put me in the back but, like, I still got paid so I’m not mad about that.
And now you’re in a huge Broadway smash. How long do you expect Priscilla to run on Broadway? It’s had a really solid run right now, but Broadway can be a capricious beast.
Yeah, we just celebrated our one-year anniversary last week.
You think it’s going to go two, three, four more years?
I always think it’s a gamble to predict how long a Broadway show is going to run but we’ve been doing well. Given the fact that we weren’t nominated for Best New Musical, we’ve really kinda defied the odds with the season last year—a lot of shows closed and opened up since then.
Did you feel cheated by not getting the nomination?
The Tony Awards are very political, and I learned that over the years of doing new shows what the critics like and what the Tony voters like. and it’s a much more political beast than about awarding excellence, which was the idea I had of it while I was growing up.
Is it more political then, say, the Oscars?
It’s all money-driven really so, um, I think it’s probably on a smaller scale but in the same sense.
The Trevor Project is about helping LGBT kids who are at risk. I know the cast of Priscilla gets a lot of letters from teens saying the show’s helped them come out or that it educated their parents about the gay community.
Yeah, that’s why I was excited to become involved with the Trevor Project. The message of our show is really parallel to what the Trevor Project is all about: acceptance. A lot of LGBT youth come to see the show and they’ll write us emails and send us letters and say that you know the show has affected them in such a large way, they now feel like their an individual and can celebrate who they are, feel like they belong to a community. And I’ve never been part of a production or anything that’s really touched people in the way this show does.
At the end of the show we always sing “We Belong” and “I Will Survive.” And I think anybody that’s struggling—I mean in any community, but especially LGBT kids—can come see our show and look at this crazy three drag queens traveling through the desert, and people dressed as flowers and animals and koalas and get caught up in the world, and realize we celebrate individuality.
It’s a testament to the show that it can draw those conservative crowds from the Heartland and be super-successful. Have you ever had any fundamentalists say Priscilla has changed their views?
We have a lot of Midwest families that will be at the stage door afterwards or we will see them in the audience, you know. What’s incredible about the show, I think, is at the beginning a lot of people are not familiar with the film the show is based on, so they come not knowing what to expect. They see that Bette Midler is our producer, and they see that it’s big and flashy and that attracts them to it. So at the beginning they realize they are going to see a story about three gay men, three drag queens, one transvestite on top of that, a transsexual on top of that.
Plus a gay guy with a son on top of that!
What we love to see is when people come to see the show from the Midwest and have a misconception of what it might be about or they don’t know anything about it. And by the end of the show they are rooting for the three central characters. With a straight dad, who might be uber-Christian—to have him feeling for our characters and rooting for us, then I know that we told a story, we did our job, you know. It’s universal in that way everyone can pull something from the show, and also take a different look at the LGBT community then they did before they came in to see it.
I do a workout called Priscilla Queen of the Desert eight times a week. That’s what I do.
Do you have a trainer?
I like to have a trainer. I’ll get stuck doing the same exercises every day, too. But I feel the best way I see results with my body is to have a trainer mix things up and challenge me in different ways, then I notice the next week, “wow I’ve really progressed.”
We see you around the city a lot and people generally leave you alone. Is it weird that Broadway doesn’t always equal celebrity or do you prefer your privacy?
My goal was to become an actor—a performer, an entertainer. I didn’t set out my goal as a child to become famous to become a celebrity. I think that’s a whole other beast. People are famous today for absolutely nothing, for having no talent, no contribution to society. I mean look at reality television—those people become stars in a way and are absolutely famous, but for what?
I like that I’m recognized for the work that I do, and I’m proud of the shows I’ve been a part of. And for me that’s more than enough. I get to reach people, like with the Trevor Project. This platform on Broadway has allowed me to reach way more people in my life then I ever thought possible. So for me that’s more than enough, you know?