INTERVIEW: Billy Porter Makes Spring Cleaning More Than Just Routine
April, of course, welcomes spring cleaning of physical space, but it can also be a time to straighten up your mental space as well.
Multi-talented entertainer, Billy Porter, has partnered with Clorox® Scentiva® and their #YASCLEAN campaign to do just that. The Pose actor tells BET.com that the popular cleaning brand approached him to reimagine one’s cleaning routine as a means of self-care, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
“We have all these organizational and decluttering shows, and as an artist and as a self-employed, self-motivated kind of artist, one of the things that is really important to my routine is to make sure that my space is clean, to make sure that it smells good,” Porter explains.
From Tahitian Grapefruit Splash and Pacific Breeze and Coconut, Porter credits both scents for helping his creative juices flow, especially while being quarantined.
“When I tell you the house smells like you're at a spa somewhere or you're on a tropical vacation,” he shares. “It really then unlocks all of the spirits, and the energies inside my brain, so that I can move forward creatively with all of the numerous myriad things that I have to engage with.”
Porter sat down with BET, and got real in terms of the importance of cleaning your mental space, his love for his hometown of Philadelphia, and what is on his summer to-do list as the series finale of Pose comes to a close.
BET: Spring Cleaning can come in different forms like clearing out your mental or and physical space. What does Spring Cleaning look like to you and what is your process?
BP: When you declutter and clean your physical space, it engages your mind, spirit, and mental health. Being at home for a year, I've got really good at cleaning my space so that I could continue to be productive.
And I have to say, I use Clorox, and I really do use it, and before this campaign, I didn't know anything about it. So it's been such a gift because 99% of the germs are gone. And in this time of COVID. That's what's needed.
BET: You once said that being a part of the POSE taught you to dream the impossible. You are now checking another amazing accomplishment off your list, with your directorial debut of the film What if? How does it feel to be a part of this project?
BP: As a black queer man of a certain age, 51, when I came into the business, there was nothing that looked like me. There was no representation of anything that looked like me. So to be given the reins and allowed to create a space of representation for the generations behind me is such a blessing.
It's such a gift, and it does not go unnoticed; the magnitude of it is at the forefront of my mind, and I'm looking forward to July when we go into production. I'm prepared. I'm in pre-production right now, and I'm juggling a lot of things right now.
So keeping my space clean has been very necessary and has helped me maintain my process, stay on track and be present for this moment, where all of my impossible dreams have been coming true.
BET: You are a gay man from the "Steel City" where the mill and mine work would have been considered the height of success for a Black boy. It would probably be safe to say that you could not fully express yourself and your sexuality in your hometown.
What would little Billy Porter, as a young boy, have thought if he knew that someday he would be able to be the cover model for international magazines- dressed in gorgeous gowns and living on his terms?
BP: The person you're seeing did actually begin to form in Pittsburgh; yes, the person that you're seeing did have extraordinary angels who were in my life in Pittsburgh. The arts is a huge part of the legacy of Pittsburgh. We got to give Pittsburgh credit.
Yes, it used to be a steel mill, and the fabrics are from Pittsburgh, the Melons, the Carnegie's, you know, all highly creative dynasties.
So it started there, it started with my friends, it started with my four years in the drama department at Carnegie Mellon, back in the 80s. It all started in Pittsburgh, and it's all rooted and grounded there and interestingly enough, What if the film that I'm directing takes place in Pittsburgh, so we will be going to shoot in Pittsburgh this summer.
BET: Your hit show POSE is coming to an end, and you know that your fans can't get enough of you! How do you plan to keep the Billy Porter supporters wanting more? Is it coming by way of another project, a biopic, or an album?
BP: POSE happens in May. I have signed a new record deal with Republic Records. We're dropping the first single from that partnership in June. Cinderella comes out in July! I start shooting, What If, in July, so I have a myriad of projects that I've been working on and that have kept me lifted. I sold a television series to Peacock [on NBC] that I have created, written. I have been using this time and quarantine to submit my HBIC status. Because that's what I'm trying to be!
This interview has been edited for clarity.