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Monday, May 3, 2010

More from the Bryan Batt chat

Posted By on Mon, May 3, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Bryan Batt admits that he "likes to blab" — and luckily for journalists, loquaciousness is an ideal quality in a subject. Unfortunately, not all of his quips could make it into our Q&A with him that appeared in this week's issue, where we discussed his new "momoir" She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother. Here's some other things the actor/philanthropist/designer/business owner and notoriously pleasant interviewee had to say.

Image courtesy of Crown Publishers

On the similarities between Sal, his closeted character on Mad Men, and himself before he came out: Right now I’m an open book — I have been for years and years and years. However, I can definitely identify with Sal’s fear and denial. I think everyone knows what it’s like at some point in their life to not fit in or to fear ridicule. So multiply that by a million, and there you have Sal.
On how his brother, politician Jay Batt, reacted to the book: I was worried initially about my brother’s reaction, however when he read it, he sent the nicest email and said the nicest things he’s ever said to me in his life, and it just warmed my heart. He said something like “I’m always amazed with how brilliantly talented you are, and now the whole world well get to share your gifts. If this isn’t a best seller, then people just don’t know how to read.” (laughs)
On his decision to reference New Orleans street names, restaurants and other aspects of the city in the book: I wanted to paint clearer pictures. It’s also because I love being from this city, and I love calling it my home. That’s one thing I love about New Orleans: people call it the “city that care forgot,” but I call it “the city that loves itself.” We love being New Orleanians. I guess that was a natural course to follow in the book. I also wanted readers outside of New Orleans to understand what is Galatoire’s is like, what Commander’s is like, what parades are — all the different aspects. And also, you know, entice them to come down here even more.
On why he chooses to still spend a lot of time in New Orleans: (After graduating college) I really had this burning desire to be on Broadway and to work as a professional actor. And although there were some professional theaters here at the time, there really weren’t. I wanted to do it on the next level — I wanted to be on Broadway. Also when you’re young and green like that, the world’s your oyster. You graduate college and you can conquer the world. And I went up to New York and after living there for nearly 20 years I thought, I could not live anywhere else. I tried L.A. for a little while, didn’t like it, and when we (Batt and partner Tom Cianfichi) decided to open up the store (Hazelnut on Magazine Street), the plan was we’d open the store, then we’d live back and forth. And that’s kind of what happened. But as time went by and I was doing theatre in New York and filming in L.A., I found myself not missing New York, not missing L.A., but really missing New Orleans the most. And I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been able to spend more time with my family and my friends I’ve kept in touch with through all the years, but there’s something about the easiness. It’s not a battle to walk down the street and go to the grocery store or get in a cab. It’s not a fight. In New York it’s this constant aggression and even in L.A., driving in L.A. is a form of combat. But although there’s something to be said about our drivers here, there is an easiness and appreciation of life as it’s happening around you and celebratory sense that I’ve always identified with and always loved. We opened up the store in 2003 and it was an adjustment, especially for Tom. Then when Katrina happened, I turned to him and said "We can call it a loss, start over and go back to New York” and he goes “Are you kidding? I’m not giving up. There’s no way I’m giving up.” To hear him say that inspired me even more. I hate to sound corny, but I do know what it means to miss New Orleans.

Bryan Batt signs She Ain't Heavy, She's My Mother 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Octavia Books (513 Octavia St., 899-7323;, 7 p.m. Monday at Barnes & Noble (3721 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 455-4929; and 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 11 at Borders (3338 St. Charles Ave., 899-1501; Image courtesy of Crown Publishers.

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