The cast of Kinky Boots (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

20 Questions for Billy Porter of ‘Kinky Boots’

The Tony-winning actor talks about his love for New York City, why he had to give up pizza (but remains loyal to cupcakes) and what he does every night before he performs

Billy Porter, who won the 2013 Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, kicks up his heels eight times a week in Kinky Boots. He stars as Lola, a charismatic drag performer who helps save a struggling shoe factory. The Pittsburgh-native’s previous Broadway credits include Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe, Grease and Smokey Joe’s Café. He took time out of his busy schedule to answer 20 questions about his favorite places in the city, what he loves about being Lola and the one time he missed his cue.

Billy Porter at the 2013 Tonys (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Billy Porter at the 2013 Tonys (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

NY: What is your favorite part about being Lola and why?

BP: She/He, Lola/Simon is three dimensional. There’s a window into the soul of this character that we very rarely see.

NY: What is your dream role and why?

BP: Lola/Simon in Kinky Boots.

NY: What’s your warm-up routine like before a show? Do you have any lucky charms or unusual rituals?

BP: I stretch. I warm up. I listen to music; mainly contemporary gospel.

NY: What’s the most embarrassing (or funniest or weirdest) thing that’s ever happened to you on stage?

BP: I accidentally turned down my backstage monitor and was late for my first entrance. Horrifying!!!

NY: What do you do after a show to unwind?

BP: EAT!!!

NY: What’s your favorite thing about New York and why?

BP: My favorite thing about New York is that “The Art” is on the pavement. You can walk out of your apartment and just feel it teeming from every fiber, nook and cranny. It’s intoxicating.

NY: What’s your least favorite thing about New York and why?

BP: The piss smell on the streets in the height of the sweltering summer months

NY: What’s one thing every tourist must do when in NYC?

BP: See a Broadway show. I don’t understand the people who come to NYC and don’t see one. I mean, really…? 

NY: Favorite only in New York moment and why?

BP: Tony Award night. It’s like the Superbowl for theatre queens. All of the city is a twitter with excitement for theatre on this one magnificent evening.

NY: Best/favorite NYC celebrity sighting?

BP: I don’t really need to “sight” them anymore. Most of the ones I care about are coming to our show and stopping by my dressing room afterward…

NY: Cab, subway, bus or walk and why?

BP: Subway, walk, and drive (I have a car.)

NY: What’s your favorite New York restaurant and why?

BP: Too many to choose from and I don’t wanna hurt any of my friends’ feelings…

Billy Porter in Kinky Boots (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

NY: What’s the best pizza in NYC?

BP: I don’t eat pizza. Have you seen the bandage/mini-dresses that I have to wear in Kinky Boots?

NY: Gray’s Papaya or Magnolia Bakery and why?

BP: Neither actually. I prefer Cupcake Cafe. The sweetness is far more subtle…

NY: Brooklyn Bridge or Chrysler Building? 

BP: I shant choose. Both are too beautiful for words.   

NY: Where do you go for a post-theater…coffee, glass of wine, dessert, etc and why do you like it?

BP: I always have to eat after work, so I usually head out to any number of spots in midtown or I carry myself home and cook. I usually only drink on Sunday nights and Monday’s as they are my evenings off.

NY: If family members were coming to the show, where would you recommend they eat around the theater?

BP: Once again… Too many great places to just name one. I would suggest they take a walk around and just stop into the place that moved them most.

NY: Is there a special place/spot in NYC you love the most and why do you love it?

BP: The Christopher Street Pier. The renovation of the West Side is bananas. And this oasis feels as if you’re on a beach smack dab in the middle of the city. It’s also on the water so no matter how hot it is there’s always a breeze. And it’s still slightly undiscovered.

NY: What’s your perfect night out in the city?

BP: Quality time with friends. With whom I very rarely get to see anymore…

NY: What do you most enjoy doing on a day off and why do you like do that activity?

BP: I can’t really write that here…