Hal Sparks brought back the dork factor with his sarcastic “Talk Soup” banter. On “Queer As Folk” he showed his softer side. Then he blew through the reality TV circuit, wailing with Wynonna on “Celebrity Duets” and on “Celebrity Paranormal Project” summoning ghosts with something just as spooky: Gary Busey.
There’s not much this 37-year-old smorgasbord hasn’t done. But the guy just can’t seem to win.
“What the fuck do I have to do anymore?” Sparks asks from California. “… It must feel bad to literally have a sex tape cued up to come out, pictures of your nether regions all over the Internet and a great portion of the nation going, ‘Eh.'”
Post-OJ, with actors being accused of murder and sex tapes becoming as common as animated films, celebrity scandals are headed downhill from here, Sparks insists.
Sparks is stuck. Even if he were to, say, mimic Mark Foley or Ted Haggard, he couldn’t blame toxins. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t do drugs. He doesn’t smoke.
“It’s my ass,” he admits.
The actor, who fesses up to surfing Britney’s crotch shots, never thought he’d say it, but he’s sick of her vagina. “I thought the only person that felt that way was Kevin Federline,” he quips.
Her vagina, along with other pop culture guilty pleasures, will ring in the New Year during Hal Spark’s celebrity wrap-up show at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Orchestra Hall.
Young at heart
If Sparks’ New Years Eve shindig two years ago in Thailand made headlines it would’ve read: “Four million die in stampede in downtown Bangkok.”
Of course, when he relives munching on grasshoppers and watching fireworks shoot from a rooftop with six million people it’s Sparks’ twisted imagination talking.
“Basically if anybody had kicked one of those things over, the fireworks would’ve just shot in the crowd and set this stampede loose,” he imagines.
It’s stories like these that are a comic’s dream. More often than not they don’t occur, but at least they make for entertaining material.
“Isn’t it the crazy bad stories that you really want to tell?” Sparks notes. “Who wants to go to a wedding where everything is beautiful?”
Boring. Predictable. Sparks wants the groomsmen to get plastered and admit to screwing the bride-to-be.
“I’m more into experience in life than I am into it being predictable,” he says.
That’s why the decision to accept VH1’s offer to ghost hunt on “Celebrity Paranormal Project” wasn’t an easy one. Sparks grew up in a haunted house in the South.
“When I told mom I was going to a haunted site in Kentucky, she said, ‘You mean our old house?'” he recalls, punctuating the statement with a laugh.
The show felt routine. Except for the inclusion of one of the “celebrities” (Sparks notes the quotation marks). Sparks recalls the convo with VH1:
VH1: “You wanna come do this show?”
VH1: “It’s about ghosts!”
VH1: “It’s on VH1; they’re your friends.”
Sparks: “Well, maybe.”
VH1: “Gary Busey will be there.”
Sparks: “I’m in! I’m in right now!”
Sparks thought, “what a nut job. And what a great opportunity.” Opportunities have been coming out of the woodwork for the actor. These days, he’s all over the map. Recently, he finished “Celebrity Duets,” where he sang with music giants Gladys Knight, Wynonna and Smokey Robinson.
He admits the talent didn’t intimidate him because everyone’s traveling their own path. His, in fact, leans on the metal side (he’s been a Kiss devotee since he was 5 years old and he’s part of a metal band, Zero 1).
But playing genre hopscotch on “Duets,” where he performed “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” and country-rock tune “No One Else On Earth,” stretched his metal musical roots.
“Smokey’s not gonna tell a joke anytime soon. He’s not gonna play a gay character on a series,” he laughs. “We all have our own talents and capabilities … .”
The gig was for charity – and that was reason enough for Sparks to shake his shit and sing. “I’m like, dude, I’ll make myself look like a complete idiot for charity.”
Before our conversation, he was at Nickelodeon Studios lending his voice to a 10-year-old in the videogame-turned-TV series “Tak & the Power of Juju.”
“Emotionally, it’s perfect for me,” he divulges about the role.
It’s Sparks’ youthful demeanor, and avoiding toxins, that’s allowed the actor to maintain his boyish appeal. “It’s always the young at heart who look the youngest.”
Life after ‘Queer’
Sparks’ career has been pigeonholed into three categories post-“Queer As Folk.”
“Some people consider it sort of a cul-de-sac … . And other people (say) it gave me street cred as an actor. Other people will go,” he pauses, and busts out his Barry White voice, “I don’t know, man, you’re gonna have trouble out there.”
But, the truth is, Sparks, who later turned down gay roles in a few indie films to avoid softening the impact of his “QAF” work, took the role as Michael to change the hearts and minds of homophobes. The actor had barely anything in common with Michael, except that they’re both nice (most of the time, he says).
“I’m not the kind of guy who would ever have a friend like Brian. Never. The concept of having somebody that I would follow around like a puppy dog and let treat me like shit is just ludicrous. It’s so high school,” he pauses and laughs, “or middle school in some cases.”
But even adults, as he’s aware, befriend people like Brian.
“I am not one of them!” Sparks insists. “That’s my point.”
Sparks has been romancing a woman for a year. She isn’t part of the crazy celeb industry (although he’s indoctrinated her into it, he says), and Sparks prefers that.
“The people I meet, the friends I make are usually just,” he laughs, “civilians.”