So, while Showtime is still in limbo regarding a potential third season of The Real L Word (either in LA or an east coast city) I caught up with Auto-friend Kelsey Chavarria to chat about her foray into the big, bad world of reality television and learned quite a few fascinating tid-bits about dear Kels. For instance, did you know that she lived in Europe as a teenager and has cultivated a passion for poetry, acting and film?
Did you know that she does modeling and just finished a photoshoot with amazing photographer Kat Bagley and that we’ve got those for you – exclusively!
Where are you from originally?
My father was in the Army service so I grew up moving around all over the United States. I went to high school in Germany, and then after high school, after graduation, I moved to California– Orange County for two years, and then the LA area. I moved to LA because of acting to be an actress and pursue what I want to do with my life. It was either here or New York, and California’s warm. [Laughing]
Have you acted since you moved to LA?
I have, I’ve done a lot of community theater. Of course, my major in college was theatre, so I did a lot of plays for college, and then other things here and there for friends. I really have a passion for theater and the arts… my release is through acting.
What plays were you in?
My first actual play was a musical called Once On This Island, and I was part of the ensemble and did dancing and singing, and then I did Huckleberry Finn, which I actually loved because that’s one of my favorite stories of all time. Unfortunately, I’m a female, so I couldn’t play Huck. [laughing]
Word on the street is that you’re quite the poet. Have you been published?
Well, I’ve only been published in one magazine, in Germany, and it was for all the students that were on military bases. I would also post stuff back in the day on MySpace. Writing is basically a way for me to process what’s happening in my life, and for me to put it out of my brain and look at it on paper to really realize what’s going on. Occasionally I will do open mics, but I kind of feel like my poetry is more for a personal level but at all the same time, with close, intimate people in my life, I want to share it with them. If there’s ever something that I want to share with more people, then I go ahead. It’s more like a big message that I want people to hear.
Would you be willing to share a poem with Autostraddle?
What other literature do you enjoy?
I really like stories where there is a lot of conflict, a lot of inner conflict and inner turmoil. Love Angels in America. Stories where people really have to reflect on what they are going through and at the end they kind of come out a better person or they go through something that is real and its raw and sometimes at the very bottom of the barrel almost hitting rock bottom but somehow they get themselves back up. I love also love Sylvia Plath…I’m kind of melodramatic in a way. I’m pretty emotional… I’m definitely one to wear my heart on my sleeve and at times it could be hard for me to show how I’m feeling because I can bottle it all up inside and then out of nowhere I just explode with emotion.
How did it feel watching your relationship end on television?
You know, the experience of the show is very interesting and I learned a lot from myself just by doing the show. And I learned a lot about my relationship and who Romi was and who we were as a couple and together. This really was was a journey. I do not regret doing it. I’m glad I had the opportunity to do because it was a learning process and it was one step of my life that made me a stronger and a more secure person with who I am and what I want for my life, really.
What was your takeaway from the whole experience?
I basically learned that what I want for my life is to show people love. Show the person I’m with love as well as wanting it in return and it being somewhere on a basis that it’s equal and not one’s taking from the other or one’s giving too much, you know. And of course, people show love in different ways.
Do you know about the five love languages?
No, what’s that?
So, there are five love languages and each person has a primary way of expressing and understanding they have received love. One is through acts of service, like cooking and cleaning. For some it will be through verbal communication or through physical touch. So, sometimes there can be conflict because your love languages are mismatched. [FYI: They include Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.)
Exactly. On the show people only got to see one aspect of who I really am, which is unfortunate because I feel there is a lot more to me than just drinking and the way it made me seem like I was at home waiting for my girlfriend to get home which wasn't the case at all. I had a job which they pretty much never showed and I was in my acting class at Santa Monica Community College. I rode my bike everywhere, busting my ass and at the same time I was still emotionally and physically available for Romi. Of course I didn’t have a lot of money coming in but what money I did have coming in it went for us and they don’t show that part. If there was one thing I really wanted to clear up it’s that I wasn’t someone who was just lazy and sat around.. I actually tired my hardest to bring my portion to the table.
What you were talking about the five levels of how you show love-- I also show love by constantly writing. That was a way for me to get my feelings out of my head and onto paper. I would express myself to Romi through poetry and I would also do other things as far as like cook and clean stuff like that of course, who wouldn’t? Romi did the same. She cooked and cleaned as well. But I think the biggest problem was financially that our whole relationship we were struggling financially and of course that can be a huge burden on your relationship.
No. I’m not embarrassed by any of it to be honest with you. I feel very comfortable with nudity and I feel like I’m very comfortable with sexuality and expressing it. I feel like it’s one of those things that needs to be seen more. Especially sex or I feel like it’s one of those things that needs to be put out to the masses because until people see it more and more they’re not -- its still gonna be something that’s not accepted. And, you know, that’s unfortunate because there’s a lot of homosexuals and there’s a lot of people out there that say they are straight that need to be comfortable, and homosexuals as well, that need to be comfortable with sexuality. And I don’t have any regrets. Even looking back and in the process of watching the show. You know there were times when I was kind of drunk, of course, where I was like “Oh, Gosh. I was really drunk,” but I think everyone in their life has been drunk before so I don’t feel bad about it.
If Showtime approached you as a full cast member for a third season of The Real L Word in LA, would you be open to it?
I think I would definitely consider it... I wouldn’t say no. I actually really, really like the show and I thought the second season was better than the first season. And, I feel like its one of those things that could only get better. I think that it is important that there is a lesbian show that’s out there that is a reality show. Of course we all loved The L Word, but to see real women, real scenarios, real life, and for people all around the world honestly, not just in the United States, all around the world to see this and be able to relate to something its a beautiful thing and a great thing. So, I hope the show continues to do really, really well and I hope there is a third season. If they asked me to come back I would definitely consider it.
Who was your favorite on The L Word?
I loved Alice.... Alice was my favorite. I love her. I just thought she was brilliant and witty. And not only that, I loved Leisha Hailey because of The Murmurs and the whole angry girl riot scene. So I loved her as a person, and then I was like, oh crap, her character is pretty genius at the same point! I think she’s a great actress too. I think all those women on the show were pretty much really good actresses. But attracted to? I think the character Carmen was like my ideal lady of choice.
Did your parents watch the show?
No... I mean, I actually told my parents to not watch the show because my parents are Christian and they’re very conservative and my dad, obviously, was in the military, he was a Captain in the service. So they have their views as far as sexuality goes. And they love me, of course they love me. Now, do they agree with me being gay? Probably not. But at the same point I’m not gonna want them to watch me having sex on TV or making out with my girlfriend. It’s not one of those things that they accept. So they’ll love me either way, of course, but it’s not something they are going to sit down and tune into and be stoked about you know. [laughs]
When did you come out?
Well, I knew I was gay probably at a young age. I’m gonna say probably around twelve or thirteen years old. And from there I went to high school in Germany but never came out, but I was always dealing with this inner turmoil, of course. Finally when I moved to California, I got involved with musical theater and my best friend Andrew he was the one that kind of showed me around and I could confide in him cause he was a gay man. At first I came out as a bisexual and I did a lot of experimenting to figure out who I was as a person. I just came to the realization that I’m gay and I don’t want to be with a man.
How did your parents react?
I was scared to death how they would take it. And me, you know, I’m religious myself. I consider myself a Christian. And I consider myself full of faith. I was dealing with it in ways that weren’t the best… a lot of drinking to kind of numb what I was going through. I finally came out to my mom when she was dropping me off at the NOH8 Campaign photoshoot.
So, she’s driving me there she’s said “Kelsey, are you dating any men?” and I said “No. You know. No one’s really stuck my fancy.” Something like that. And then finally there had been so much tension and it’s something that I’d been feeling for such a long period of time that I finally just came out and said “Yes, I’m gay.” And my mom kind of gives me a double look. And I felt a sense of relief that it was out there. At the same point I felt that I was scared just for the way that they might look at me. I still wanted them to see me as Kelsey – their girl that’s fun and outgoing and not weird, you know. Which I feel like a lot of girls go through… they don’t want to look different. They don’t want someone they love to look at them in an awful way. That’s how I came out and that was age 21, a little over two years ago.
There have been a few sex scenes on the show by now but the scissoring scene with you and Romi received a lot of comments online. Why do you think it received so much attention?
I think it got a lot of attention because it had never been shown before. It’s something that is very natural. In my opinion it’s not raunchy at all. It something that– you know, its making love. And people will always criticize stuff that isn’t familiar to them or something that‘s not fully accepted. And that’s why I’m glad that I did it because its out there and it needs to be accepted.
How did they even film that? Set up a tripod and let you have at it? [laughs]
Yeah. I actually didn’t want any camera crews in the room during that. It was basically–they set a camera up and that was basically it. I wasn’t completely comfortable with the camera crews in the room while I’m doing that, so…
Did they ask you for a sex scene? Clearly there’s some degree of planning because they need to set up the camera. How much of it is set up and how much just kind of happens?
Actually, I don’t know if I can even talk about that. Cause I did sign a confidentially contract. But I mean basically this is how it works is the camera crews were there for us. You know they were following our story and whatever we wanted them to do, they did. If we wanted them to film us a certain point, they filmed us at a certain point. If we said “Hey, stop we don’t want to be filmed anymore,” then they had to leave. So it was completely up to us when and where we wanted the camera there.
Quite a number of our readers have crushes on you. Are you single now?
I’m very single now [laughs] and I don’t plan on getting in a relationship anytime soon. I feel like I’m enjoying being single and I’m enjoying where I’m at in my life and I’m focusing, basically, on me. I noticed in my past relationships that my life is no longer about me, it’s about the other person and I kind of put Kelsey on the back burner and realize now that I don’t need to do that. For the first time in my life I need to put Kelsey first and foremost in the front and not forget about myself. So, yeah, I’m not even really dating anyone right now. Having fun, of course, like everyone should. [laughs]
What’s your type?
My type is hot and easygoing. [laughs] Pretty much. I love attractive women. I love people that aren’t uptight and I like people that are– I’m very neurotic myself, so I tend to be with people that aren’t that way. But I don’t know. I love, love, love femme women, of course, who are really strong and don’t take bullshit. And, I’m not gonna lie, I kinda like someone that kind of keeps me in check. Makes sure that I’m like doing what I’m supposed to do. I like that. I like someone slapping me around a bit. [laughs]
How would you describe your personal style?
Well, I do love fashion. I like to wear what’s comfortable. I’m not gonna wear something and be like, “It’s uncomfortable, but it’s cute so I’ll wear it.” I’m not that type of person. I want to be comfortable. My look changes constantly. I really like to wear boots. I feel like they are classy so anytime you wear a boot you’re never going to look like you are not put together. I shop at a lot of vintage stores. I shop at a lot of rummage sales. My favorite place to go is actually on 4th Street in Long Beach. And they have this huge rummage sale where you go through huge piles. I like stuff that you aren’t going to go down the street and find on any other person. My whole thing is, I’m not trying to be different or stand out, I just feel like I have a different type of eye than, I guess, the normal person would, I don’t know. I like neat patterns and colors. It’s kind of like an art piece– putting on what you are going to wear. It’s fun.
How are you pursuing your acting career?
Well, I recently stopped working for Greenpeace, which I was doing full-time for five months. I stopped doing that because I am starting film school in the fall and going on regular auditions, etc.
What will you study in film school?
I like cinematography. I’ve always been into film. Gus Van Sant is one of my favorite directors. I feel like I want to learn all aspects of the art of film and acting. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little girl and I saw Shirley Temple and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I want to be Shirley Temple.” Unfortunately it never happened because I had to move around so much. But, I’m going to take some film classes. Just learn a bit about how the cameras work and at the same time still take my acting classes. Taking acting classes is very important for me because it keeps me working and in the theater. It keeps me emotionally and consciously available to be ready when I have an audition and I’m on top of my game.