It’s Not a Hair Flip: Catching Up With Chris Crocker

3.8.2013

By Michael Narkunski

After a regrettable porn vid and epic failures, we discuss what fame means to the Internet star of the documentary, 'Me @ the Zoo,' in what he calls his 'most honest interview'

Do we know yet what to call Chris Crocker’s fame? Does he?

His introduction to the entertainment industry, as a hysterical fan in “Leave Britney Alone,” one of the first viral videos, certainly set the stage for one kind of definition. But Valerie Veatch and Chris Moukarbel's documentary Me @ the Zoo—now available on DVD and VOD—paints a different picture, contextualizing Crocker in a larger framework of hilarity and humanization (he’ll never get legitimacy by Hollywood standards or a fruit basket from Britney, but at least he gets a movie showcasing his talents and sass!).

But is even that the whole reality? While the doc closes out by playing his catchy pop single, and seems to be a triumph for has-been Crocker, it is clear from talking to him that this is hardly a happily-ever-after in his now un-painted eyes.

Sure, he has more music, more funny videos, a YouTube partnership, and a porno; but he also has no direction, no money, no time—and a porno.

Whether it was the mood of the day, being thankful not to have to talk about Britney, or just responding improvisationally and emotionally to his own thoughts as he said them (a good chance why he’s been able to create over 500 videos), Crocker here makes the beginning, if awkward, steps to assessing his unglamorous situation, without the brand-able sass.

Out: In the movie you say make the observation that you’re the inverse of Paris Hilton, and you’re famous for not being famous.

It’s people’s favorite thing to say to just write me off.

Does that happen a lot?

I think that it happens more so than not. But I think the chances that I’ve been given to showcase what I actually do and just my story in general—those chances that I was given at 19 to film my reality show—went down the toilet really quick, for various reasons. And so career opportunities for me have been very slim to none.

In a recent video, you actually said that “Leave Britney Alone” hurt you, and I think most people would think, “But oh, that’s what made him so famous and that’s what he wants.”

Completely. A lot of people think the Britney video is what got me famous and what gave me all these opportunities, but if I were to have gone to L.A. as an unknown actor—I probably could have gotten a lot more work. I don’t regret it necessarily; I think it just gives me more hurdles to overcome…Which, you know… and obviously doing the porn thing didn’t necessarily help me.

It kind of created a whole other box that I have to overcome. But when you’re known as the Britney-boy, or you’re in a "15 minutes of fame" box, it’s very interesting, because the offers start coming at you really quick. And when they dwindle, you don’t know what to do. And I’m wrapping up an album that I’m self-funding, so every decision that I make is survival-based.

Doesn’t the movie show you becoming a YouTube Partner now, with big checks?

It’s not what people think when you’re in my position. Having done the porn, everything’s a little bit tarnished right now… but, you know, it’s pretty much up to me to make those little calculated moves. I dropped out of school in the eighth grade. So even if I just wanted to go get a regular job—even a job at Starbucks—a lot of people wouldn’t hire me. So it’s like, do I just pick up the pieces from here and go back to school? Which is… likely, at this point.

Are you saying that you regret the porn? Or, was it maybe not as purposeful as you made it seem at the time [in an earlier interview, Chris urged the decision came from an “empowered” place]?

It wasn’t just going to be a one-off porn, it was going to be the porn and then a website, with the same companies, so, the only thing going through my head was setting up a future with my boyfriend at the time, and getting us a house and a mortgage and things like that. I said, “Well if I’m going to do it, then let’s make it worth it.” So, then we broke up a week before the porn came out. So then, yeah, it kind of ended. You have to contractually, and things, promote a porn. So I regret doing it with my ex more than I regret doing it in general…

Could you do it again, if the circumstances were more favorable?

I could do it again, but honestly…where is the reality show? And where are the people that have seen how interesting my life is? Not that many people were, like, the first of their kind to be an Internet celebrity—what happens after that? What happens after you extend your 15 minutes of fame to 30 minutes of fame, and it’s six, seven years later, and you’re still living at home in Tennessee? I think that’s an interesting story, a little more than Honey Boo Boo…

This is a big thing for you, this reality show. Do you have a plan to attain it?

I feel as though… a lot of people don’t realize this, but World of Wonder, the same people that do Rupaul’s Drag Race, shot a pilot with me, and um, for various reasons that I won’t name—some of which involve Perez Hilton being on their roster at the time, and him and I not being friends at the time—my show did not go through. It wasn’t pitched correctly and it wasn’t—I was 19 and I kind of let that fall. It’s also hard to pitch a reality show in Tennessee.

If you’re a production company, and we have ties that go way back, shouldn’t you be massaging my back a little bit and prodding me? I can only pitch myself so much from my bedroom. My YouTube videos are like my antenna on my head to the universe. Like, how much more do you need to see to know that I am entertaining? But for some reason…some unanswered reason, I’m just completely useless to the entertainment industry… and they don’t see a story there.

So… it’s just been a series of disappointments, is that what you’re saying?

Completely. Completely.

Completely?

I’m just being completely honest with you, this is the most honest interview I’ve probably done in years.

I’m just a little thrown because in your videos and the movie you are always very upbeat, despite the setbacks. There always seems to be an inner-confidence and direction.

Mm-hmm. Well this is all coming from the last 2 weeks. I’ve been content just living in my grandparents’ home for too long, and I’ve been content, not living for too long. I think that um you know, the outlet is gone for me, what used to be an outlet, the videos used to be an outlet, everything’s gone for me. So any interview that I can use as a therapy session—I’m using it.

Don’t worry about it. Do you ever think you could just go to school and throw the cameras away?

Ab-solutely! It’s more so I’m terrified of the south. I’m terrified of day-to-day interactions. That’s why I’ve been so immersed in videos here. When I was given that opportunity to work with World of Wonder, I wholeheartedly believed that was my ticket out of here! And I don’t know what psychologically snapped in me, where I decided I wasn’t worth anything, to do anything to get attention to keep that attention to get me the fuck out of TN? But that’s always been in my inner-monologue, all along.

And what about the question of your gender?

Oh here we go.

Ha. I just noticed a difference in your videos, in how you come across, now looking more like a boy than a girl.

I definitely feel the most connected with myself I’ve ever felt. Maybe that’s because before I began to explore my more masculine traits, I thought I was going to go through with a boob job. And now that I feel like I’ve explored both sides, I feel like I know myself very well. But, this is what’s completely weird—I never knew what it was like to not be so paranoid walking through a grocery store. I can’t even imagine that same bravery that I used to have, which is really bizarre to me to think about.

I know it’s not the answer anyone wants to hear because it’s such a vague answer, but I really don’t feel like just boy or just girl.

I accept that answer, it’s just clips in the movie show you definitely as thinking you are a girl. Do you know what changed that?

Well here’s one thing that I can tell you…. as recently as like, last week. My grandmother is so happy with my current look—it’s what she always wanted me to look like. And again, feeling that acceptance, and her being able to show me off to her family members, like, “Oh, he’s so handsome,” that’s something that’s new for her. But in a way that kind of upsets the other part of me that is like OK, where was all this before? ...I told her, I’ve honestly never been more uncomfortable inside my own body. But I really only said that to be a little more provoking towards her. I’m comfortable with myself. So I think when you’re comfortable with yourself, you kind of go with whatever aesthetic you choose.

So you’re going for what’s easier on your family and society.

Yeah...[long, contemplative pause] Sorry, this has been a complete unload of information! I feel like interviews are to mark a certain time of your life, and this is this time of my life.

You’re a fan of catchphrases—like "its a hair flip" or "we're on a first-ring basis, bitch"give me the catchphrase for this time of your life.

I was going say the title of a book I’m going to write—I’m always doing 50 things at once. I started writing my book, Chris Crocker: Behind the Curtain? Because in the video they think I’m like under a bed, it’s really a curtain… oh hold on! Chris Crocker: More Than a Catchphrase. I don’t even know if that’s a catchphrase—but yeah.

After our interview, Crocker wrote about this interview in his Tumblr, after it happened, reiterating its honest nature, and thanks people for helping him realize it is his fault he is stuck as much as anyone else’s. Although many might write him off, there is a kind of bravery in admitting to a magazine some of your bad decisions and being blunt about your wishes. Just because someone’s a has-been and a never-was, hopefully doesn’t brand them forever as a never-will-be.

Watch the trailer for Me @ the Zoo below:

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