When you think of Nick Jonas – and let’s face it, you’ve been thinking a lot about him lately – a few things come to mind: the straight-edged Jonas Brothers. Former flames Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. His abs.
Per his handlers, two of those topics were off-limits during my chat with Nick, but so what. Ever since he posted a salacious Instagram pic of his fit, V-cut torso in 2013, it’s been ab this, ab that. The 22-year-old BFF to the gay community is also releasing a self-titled, post-Jonas Brothers album, which he chatted about during our interview. You know, in addition to his abs.
You said recently that part of the reason you’re so adamant about reaching out to the gay community is because you don’t feel like the Jonas Brothers did enough of it before. So, is this gay media blitz your way of making up for lost time?
(Laughs) Maybe! I think my brothers and I did what we could, but at that time, in our career and during that moment in our lives, it was pretty crazy. We had so much going on that we were, I think, just trying to stay on top of everything. I’ve had a little time prior to the promotion (of this album) to establish exactly what I want to say, who I wanna talk to and the steps I wanna take.
Did the lack of gay media have anything to do with your handlers? Were people telling you not to do gay press to maintain your conservative Disney image?
To be honest, I don’t think it was that. I think if we had wanted to make an effort there it wouldn’t have been an issue. It was important and it is important to me, and it’s also important to me as I transition into acting.
I’m on a show called Kingdom where my character goes on a pretty interesting journey. I can’t give anything away – no spoilers – but it’s been fun as an actor to be willing to go to that place. I love playing this role that I play, and I’m excited for the audience to go on this journey with me.
Considering you’ve revealed there’s a nude scene, we are also excited to go on this journey with you. What’s it like shooting a nude scene?
It’s pretty bizarre. The way you have to go into it… it’s not real. As actors, it’s our job to tell these stories, and with a show like Kingdom, you go the extra mile and push the boundaries and keep it very real. So, in that moment, it’s just about telling the story the best way you can while trying to be honest. As far as any of the physicality goes – or nudity or sex scenes – it’s just about knowing that it isn’t real.
Wait, your sex scene is not real?
(Laughs) It’s not.
Why is it so important for you to reach out to the gays for your solo debut?
When I was setting up this record and meeting with the team about it, I told them that I really wanted to make an effort to embrace that part of my audience. I’ve known for a long time that it is a great part of the audience, and I just never felt like we made all the effort we could to embrace them. It’s been really fun and really incredible.
When did you know the gay community was embracing you?
I think it was a combination of things. I did theater prior to recording music, and so at a very young age I made a lot of really close gay friends. When I started recording music, and my brothers and I started recording and touring, we saw pretty quickly – this was back in 2005/2006 – that this was a big part of our audience. As the years went on, and as I went back into theater, I made the (gay community) a priority. It’s about embracing all sides.
You’re currently on tour, and considering how much attention you’ve given the gays lately, how gay are the audiences that come out to see you?
It’s been pretty awesome to look out and see a difference in the crowd. It’s not drastic by any means; it was kind of there prior, but there’s definitely more of them embracing this next chapter in my life and my music. All that, I can feel. Looking out, there is probably a handful more gay fans out there, which is incredible.
So, like, if you had to rate the gayness of a Nick Jonas show, where would it fall on the Kinsey Scale, 1 being straight and 6 being totally gay?
(Laughs) I don’t know if I can answer that just yet. I think I need to let it continue to evolve. It’s in the early stages here. Let’s see where we get in the next couple of months and then we’ll make that call.
You have a point. Considering you just performed in San Francisco, the number would be skewed.
Because your abs are now famous as well, do you feel obligated to show them at every show?
(Laughs) Umm, no. I haven’t showed them at any of my shows. That was more so when I was in New York celebrating the release of the new music and I went to a couple of gay clubs and… (Laughs) They kind of made me do it, so I had to! But as far as my shows go, I keep it fully clothed.
I saw the video online, Nick. I didn’t see anyone taking your shirt off for you.
It was a few drinks in at that point. All bets were off.
When you show up at a gay club like the ones in New York, do guys hit on you? Do they flirt? And how do you approach a situation like that?
Yeah, it’s interesting. Whether it comes from people who are aware of me and my personal life, or the person who was on the microphone saying it, there’s a general awareness that I am straight but totally embracing of the gay community. I love my gay fans, so it was just a lot of love, and there wasn’t a whole lot of hitting on me and flirting. A little bit, which was actually kind of fun. (Laughs) It was a pretty new environment for me, so I was just trying to take it all in and have a good time.
What do you make of naysayers who say you’re just using your body to bait the gay community?
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I think it’s unfortunate that some people have to find a negative in every situation. Clearly my heart is in the right place, and more than anything, if they just looked at my life and my gay friends and the authentic nature of where my heart is, they’d just see that they’re kind of ignorant.
The nature of where we are today is, we’re in a time where we need to make strides and step forward as a society and embrace all people from all different walks of life. When you’re trying to make a bold statement like that, some people aren’t gonna fall in line with that. And that’s OK. You gotta stay on your own path.
You’ve recently opened up about your religious journey and how you’ve taken off your “purity ring.” Did the gay people in your life have anything to do with reexamining your religion? Have you always been this accepting of homosexuality?
That’s a good question. I always have been. I think that’s a testament to growing up in the theater and from an early age being surrounded by (gay people), and my parents – although my dad was a pastor – were very open-minded and said the same thing that I say, “We have to love people from all walks of life, and that’s the key.” It was nice to come from that.
Definitely my opinion and my feelings on faith and religion, specifically, have evolved over time just having seen some of the judgments that other people show toward the lesbian and gay community. It really burdens my heart, and it saddens me in a huge way because I feel like it’s not our place to judge at all. Some of the most loving, caring relationships that I’ve ever seen are between my gay friends, and some of my straight friends’ relationships are the worst examples of what love is.
With your parents being as open-minded as they are, were there gay people in your life even before you pursued theater?
There were. My parents were always good about having an open mind toward everyone. Like I said, although church and religion were a cornerstone for us in a lot of ways, they (my parents) were open, and especially after we left the church and had to develop our own faith is when my views and opinions started to take shape.
Would you still consider yourself Christian?
I say now that I have a relationship with God and that it’s my own relationship with God. It’s one of those things that I try to keep most personal because I think that’s the healthiest way I’ve learned to deal with it. I keep it as that, and I know that I love God and he loves me.
By Chris Azzopardi
Photos by Andrew Zaeh