Norm Korpi: The Voice of 1 of 7 Strangers

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Celebrity, Gay Weddings, Relationships on January 6, 2009 at 3:59 pm


Remember when the Real World aired back in 1992? Well, we got a chance to catch-up with a trailblazer named Norman Korpi … remember him?

Equal4all: When you first auditioned for the show (Real World: New York) back in 1992, did you think it would last as long as it did … I mean, 20 seasons is a VERY long time!

NK: NO … no … no … I never thought it would make it past Season 2. But looking at Real World’s format with changing casts members, and cities, the format somehow keeps it fresh or predicable with the marketing and the teen machine.

Equal4all: Do you consider yourself a role model for the GLBT community; why/why not?

NK: I don’t consider myself a role model for the GLBT community. Candidly, I would rather be considered a role model for the straight community. Why? I think people are starting to see the green impact that gays share a light on. Upholding population control and resource consumption with same-sex (or no sex, in my case) lifestyle which I celebrated through helping others around me achieve their happiness by staying out of the rat race and lines which plague us all. I am glad my trend-setting role on the Real World has also had a positive cultural impact after all these years with other fancy-free-folk and such, making their waves of acceptance in the pond of pop-culture more splashy then I. In short, gays reduce traffic. Traffic and pollution are not good. Go Green … GO GAY!

Equal4all: Was your season really “real?” How so? What was your most “real” moment throughout the filming? Do you think the seasons that came after yours weren’t as valid as far as reality was concerned?

NK: The show was only 22 minutes long and it was in a forced semi-controlled space. I think I reacted as I would in that type of environment. If you knew me before the show, you would say that I was pretty much me. What MTV aired, I think, was a nice portrayal… but it was limited due to the time they had to show. Also, there was time when there were no, I mean no gay people on television. This was a huge commercial event … PBS nor the NEWS aired this kind of thing. Pop-Culture. Soda Pop. I was new, and so it was a very unusual event having a gay cast member … and the “real” was what made it work. Once we changed the way people watched, people saw it for some kind of a stage to be famous, and they wanted to celebrate their issues and learned from/had fun with others. I think you can do this all now on facebook and YouTube.

Equal4all: Do you think you portrayed a realistic sense of the gay lifestyle throughout the duration of filming of the show that would someday hold an iconic status in pop-culture?

NK: I am not sure there was anything called a “gay lifestyle” back then. It was disco, and we did the best to have fun and keep from catching the bug. It was a sad time and we protested a bit more than the kick back “IKEA chill.” Also, I like deer hunting, and golfing; I am not sure how all that played out either.

Equal4all: Besides making “The Wedding Video,” what else have you done since your season was all wrapped up and aired?

NK: I have been painting and exhibiting my artwork with various galleries, commissions and shows; I have few art shows coming up this summer (at The Contemporary Center of Art in Orange County). I have a few other projects that will be surfacing about water control and renewable energy, but that’s too long and dull to get into.

Equal4all: Are you married? What are your stands on gay marriage?

NK: No, I am not married – I am for whatever works for the people!

Equal4all: Who have been your top 5 favorite gay cast members over the last 20 seasons and why?

NK: What I have learned over the years is this: favorite, like, and dislike are traps and don’t offer much to me; those steps create a hierarchy or reward structure in which others will follow, because even when there is a likeness assumed, there is a dislike or someone’s life wasn’t as meaningful when the editors made choices. I will say the cast members who were straight did has much or more for the gays … by making relationships that were caring, combative, and real. All of this happened for all to see!

Equal4all: Please give advice to anyone who is struggling with coming to terms with who they truly are:

NK: Take a step forward … Stop being so needy … Learn to listen to other people … The Meteor is coming, so help us stop it from wiping us all off the earth! (It’s part metaphor, and it’s also on the horizon) Oh yes, and you can’t change anyone…just yourself. This is sad but true. Once you get that, you’ll go much further down the road. Make a party of it, damnit! You can be “out” in your mind and when you have control of your life, you feel safe that day. Out you go – wear whatever you want and thank the people with a flower for the freedom. It’s not free … so vote, you little shit. But remember, you can’t change people… people change themselves. So you make yourself safe. Find those friends … the truth will set you free.

Photo taken by James Yeramian

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

  1. […] – Equal4All: Norm Korpi – The Voice of 1 of 7 Strangers […]

  2. I loved the real world! I completely agree with his advice, “you can’t change people”.

  3. I always liked Norman. He still seems like a nice guy who’s incredibly down to earth. I should check out his Wedding Video movie.

  4. […] in time – that one fleeting second. I find that so profound. I’ve photographed, as you know, Norman Korpi, from the first season of MTV’s The Real World; Kristin Hersh of the seminal rock-groups Throwing […]

  5. […] is a follow-up to Norman Korpi’s interview. He has been up to many things over the past 10+ years, but art has been his main […]

  6. […] click here for an interview with Ryan Kehoe – OR click here for an interview with Norm Korpi. ▶ Comment /* 0) { jQuery(‘#comments’).show(”, […]

  7. I remember watching this season during an MTV marathon..I don’t think I liked him that much

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