Playbill Magazine has an interview with Ben Curtis, a.k.a. Steve, the “Dell Guy.” Items of note:
1. He went through a time of depression after doing the Dell campaign when he used marijuana heavily
2. His father came out of the closet and left his mother when he was in his teens
3. He’s playing a gay character in Joy
4. He is open about his bisexuality, but ultimately would consider himself “straight, but not narrow.”
I have to wonder if he’s not narrow, that mean’s he’s wide?
Read the interview yourself. It’s refreshing to see a guy be open and honest about his feelings.
Full text of the interview is in the extended entry as well.
HEâ€™S MUCH MORE THAN THE CHARMER IN THE DELL
As Steven, the Dell computer dude, Ben Curtis really clicked with TV audiences. But heâ€™s now experiencing the greatest Joy of his life: getting loads of laughs and rave reviews in John Fisherâ€™s gay romantic comedy at the Actorsâ€™ Playhouse. The six-foot charmer from Chattanooga, TN, plays a sweet-faced stoner named Christian, and his deadpan delivery and goofy grin make him such an endearing delight. Directed by Ben Rimalower, Joy follows seven gay and lesbian friends in San Francisco and stars Paul Whitthorne, Christopher Sloan and Ken Barnett. At first, Christian is seen going out with a gal, but soon heâ€™s sleeping with a guy. Curtis says, “Christian is a free-loving boytoy and explores his sexuality through experimentation. I donâ€™t see Joy as a gay play. Itâ€™s a play about sexuality, and itâ€™s a beautiful story.”
Curtis, who has a bisexual sister, knows the showâ€™s issues firsthand: “My father is openly gay. He really loved my mother, but their marriage fell apart. When they separated, he told me he was bisexual and unfortunately, I was 12 and trying to figure out my own sexuality. I was really upset and angry and took me a long time to get over it. Iâ€™ve seen him suffer. Now weâ€™re best friends, and heâ€™s seen Joy many times.”
Asked if heâ€™s ever “experimented” like his character, Christian, Curtis says, “Absolutely, yeah. I appreciate men just as much as women, but I lean toward the female side.” So is it fair to say heâ€™s straight? “Umm â€¦ Iâ€™d say Iâ€™m straight, but Iâ€™m open-minded. As Darryl says in the show, â€˜Iâ€™m straight, but Iâ€™m not narrow.â€™” Curtis, who even dresses in drag in Joy, adds, “I love it. Itâ€™s fun to bend ideals about gender.” Currently single, he says he had his most romantic date when he was 17. “I blindfolded my girlfriend at night and led her into the woods, where I had a blanket, rose petals, champagne and candles. I played a song I wrote for her, and the rest of the night turned out great.”
Though the Dell commercials were “a great way to make money and pay for college,” the one-time NYU student says, “Suddenly everyone was recognizing me and yelling at me. It was very traumatic. I had moved into Ground Zero before Sept. 11. I really needed to get help and therapy, but the Dell commercials exploded. It was too much, too soon. I got arrested for buying a small amount of marijuana, and it was horrible. I spent the night in jail and was handcuffed to a wheelchair in Bellevue. But it was great because it helped put a stop to a vicious downward spiral I was going through.”
Meantime, Curtis has made “Raccoon,” an award-winning short that will premiere in Montreal and Palm Springs film festivals this month. “Itâ€™s an amazing story about two best friends during the Vietnam draft. We shot during a blizzard in upstate New York, and it co-stars Christopher Togo [‘CSI: Miami’] and a raccoon named Lizzie.” Heâ€™ll also star as a surveillance expert in “Spy,” an upcoming action thriller.
Besides acting, Curtis, 24, sings blues and rock and has written songs since he was 12. “Theatreâ€™s my passion,” he says, and heâ€™d love to play Hamlet, Biff and Puck. He probably picked up his love of performing “from watching my father as a minister spread the message of love. My mother works with refugees and my sister works with cancer patients, so Iâ€™ve always wanted to make a difference in the world. I donâ€™t want to be known as the Dell dude forever. I want to be a great artist. Our cast is incredible, and I love making people laugh. Iâ€™m the happiest Iâ€™ve ever been, doing [theatre].”
For more information, visit www.ben-curtis.com.