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tommy dorfman's computer is protected by ⭐️CHRISTINA AGUILERA⭐️
Welcome to mixed feelings’ Hyperspecific, a profile series of increasingly intimate questions in which we ask our favorite artists, scientists, musicians, and the like to unveil their innermost selves — their weird existential musings.
Tommy Dorfman came to our studio just three weeks ago, and since then, a topic of conversation that she brought up has become my go-to dinner party temperature check: In the cinematic version of your death, what would the soundtrack be?
I’ve thought long and hard about this and I oscillate between something meaningful (“Little White Boat” a Chinese children’s song my late grandfather used to lull me to sleep with) and something funny like “Parklife” by Blur. All this to say, Tommy gave me a lot to think about, which is on brand, seeing as the trans activist, actress, writer, and director just entered the media space with the launch of CURRAN, a community platform dedicated to nuanced conversations and expressions of queer joy.
This month, Tommy launched CURRAN’s inaugural podcast, “My First Time,” and the lineup is already stacked, with Dylan Mulvaney and Patrick Stewart making appearances in episodes one and two. To celebrate, we got Hyperspecific. See her answers below.
Something you’re always hoping people bring up in conversation when you first meet. I love tarot. I love astrology. I feel like they are great ways of getting to know someone, if you can bond over some version of that. I'll also counter with this: My least favorite thing that people bring up in conversation is gender. When I’m meeting someone, I feel like so many people want to talk to me about trans things right off the bat, and I'm like, can we talk about french fries? Unless you're also a doll, in which case we can obviously chat.
A positive trait people always tell you you have. I think a lot of people would say I'm pretty generous.
One destructive trait you know you possess and wish you didn’t. Time management! I grew up as a ballet dancer and it was so regimented and strict that when I stopped dancing in my teen years and stepped into a version of adulthood at 18 or 19, one of my ways of reclaiming power was managing my own schedule and managing my time. But it's definitely not a great trait.
If a bodega were to name a dish after you, what would it be? Not sure about the name, but the dish would be: an everything bagel, toasted, with cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, and capers.
One song that makes you feel understood. “Being Alive” from Company, which is a Sondheim song. I am nerding out right now! I would follow that with “What A Girl Wants” by Christina Aguilera. When I was a kid [my siblings and I] shared a computer, but we all had our own logins on the desktop. I really didn't want anyone to see all the gay shit that I had on the computer, so I made my password “Christina Aguilera” but her name spelled out backwards.
Something you hate so much for no apparent reason. Clogs. They're like a terrible shoe. I don't hate them aesthetically, I just think they're impractical. Especially the fancier, wooden-sole clogs…I just can’t get into it.
A movie you watch when you want to self-soothe. I watch Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I know is problematic, but “Moon River” is one of my top five favorite songs of all time.
Your problematic fave artist/actor/musician (dead or alive). And why?Alexis Neiers is probably my problematic fave. Ziwe did an Instagram live with her and she talked a lot about how she's grown throughout her sobriety journey and answered a hypothetical question Ziwe posed about being a white parent to Black kids. It made me realize she has an immense amount of humility, and an ability to speak on what she does and doesn't know about the world.
She also spoke about what she has learned from what I would imagine to be a deeply, deeply traumatizing upbringing. I can't imagine having my craziest teenage rebellions broadcasted globally…And while she's problematic, I really admire her honest approach to where she's at now as an adult. I think it's really powerful when anyone can admit they're flawed.
A line from a TV show/film that plays on a loop in your head. “I don't want to see that.” It's from The Comeback, which is this old Lisa Kudrow show — post-Friends — where she plays a fictional character named Valerie Cherish who is trying to make her comeback. Valerie is older and kind of washed-up in her career. There is a beautiful moment where she's preparing for their first day of shooting. Her character walks into this apartment and sees her very young hot roommate making out with this guy and she's like, “I don't want see that!”
One time you laughed so hard you cried. It was actually when I was getting ready for the Met Gala the first (and only) year that I’ve gone. In the van on the way there, I was so anxious and nervous I started laughing hysterically. I was laughing so hard that I started crying, but I couldn't cry because of my makeup. Then the minute we arrived at the museum and I had to step out on my own and leave my friends behind, I think that release was helpful because I just kind of went into a numb, ethereal state of just floating through that moment to the best of my ability. The minute I got inside, I ran into my best friend and the tension broke again, which was nice.
One time you cried so hard you laughed. I was really close with my grandmother and she died a few years ago. We were on hour six of her final hours, and all of us — there were like 40 of us there — were gathered around her bed. My grandma requested (or we decided) that she wanted to die to Vivaldi’s “Gloria”. So, we put on a playlist of these really weird versions of the piece. We were all sobbing and my aunt declared that she had died and went in to feel her breath. At that moment my grandma took the loudest croak back to life. That was a period in which I went from sobbing and mourning my grandmother to laughing hysterically with my family. It's those in between moments in grief that are so poignant to me.
Something you bought recently after lots of research. I bought my first piece of art recently. I spent a lot of time researching what I wanted and what would be a good investment. I bought a Tyler Mitchell photograph. I love Tyler's work. He's also from Atlanta, where I'm from. I wanted to invest in a younger artist that was exciting to me.
What’s an anecdote you usually tell to describe how you were as a kid. I would force my family to sit down and watch me do performances for them. And during the holidays I would get in a lot of trouble. I would steal the skirt off from the tree and wear it as my own skirt, and I’d perform with my blanket as my wig doing TLC reenactments.
What is your low-key hell and actual heaven? Showing up to the train as the doors are closing. It's just so disappointing and I feel so much shame that I couldn't make it in time. My actual heaven is a pint of ice cream on the couch with my dogs.
Share a quote of one of the most meaningful things someone has ever said to you, context optional. It's cheesy, but I think it’s “suit up and show up.” I think I heard it for the first time when I was getting sober. It’s this idea that anything I do or you do or we do is for the first time, in a way. I'm never going to be qualified for most of the things I do for the first time. You can only be as qualified as you are that day, so sometimes I just have to suit up and show up and get into whatever drag I need to do the thing.
How you exit a party. If I even go to the party to begin with, I will set a timer and then just leave. How long depends on if it's contracted or not…But sometimes it's as little as 20 minutes. Sometimes it's an hour.
How you wanna go. I would want to die in a freak accident or plane crash or a situation where someone runs me over abruptly. But it needs to be on a day when no other celebrities die because I'm just not famous enough to get the spotlight that I think I deserve when I die. As for my death soundtrack? I’d probably want Stevie Nicks playing while I die, or Fleetwood Mac. I want to be brought into whatever the next phase of life is by some version of witchcraft. I’ll take Stevie for that.