Félix Maritaud

Interview by
Gert Jonkers
Photography by
Spyros Rennt


French actor
Debut: ‘120BPM’
Role: member of ACT UP Paris
First lead: ‘Sauvage’
Role: very convincing rent boy
Bicycle suit fetish
Self-described lazy boy
Total babe
Keeps a tattoo gun at home
Attended an undisclosed queer punk art school
Shares cigarettes when asked
J’adore hardcore!
Will direct someday

Gert: I noticed all these posters around Paris today with you on it, for ‘Dustin’, the short film that premieres this week.
Felix: It’s a really good film.
The picture shows you in a something of a signature pose, as if you’re just coming down from a really good afterparty.
Ah, I stopped afterpartying a month ago.
I’m getting older. I can’t do what I did when I was 20, partying five days a week. The thing is, if I start doing drugs I do way too much and for way too long, going for 60 hours…
What shall we drink? A pichet or a bottle of white wine?
A bottle is like three glasses each. I think we’ll manage. I have a really nice romantic date later tonight.
With who?
We met three days ago. First, we started to comment on each other’s Instagram posts and found we had a similar political point of view about Palestine, so we started talking, then we decided to meet for a coffee and a walk in the Jardin des Plantes, and it was a beautiful day, and then I got really shy…
Shy? You?
I know…but it just felt really precious. It doesn’t happen all the time, you know? Do you mind if I smoke?
Not at all. And thank you for taking time to talk. So, while I was looking at the poster for ‘Dustin’, and remembering your roles in ‘Sauvage’ and ‘120 BPM’, I was wondering about the importance of costume design in cinema. Maybe it’s just my dream that somebody else selects and prepares my clothes…
It is important. What I don’t like is that a lot of times, in ‘real’ cinema, the costume designer wants you to bring some of your own clothes, to ‘express reality’. I hate that. Because as soon as you dress me up into something, this something has an effect on my body and it gives me a lot of narrative keys. The costume, and especially the shoes. Did you know that a lot of American actors have different heights of heels inside their shoes to change the way they walk and feel? That’s fascinating, no? De Niro, DiCaprio, all the good actors play with the inclination of their shoes.
I totally understand that.
Yes, just look at the difference between wearing a very fancy suit with nice shoes, or a pair of jeans with trainers. And this job is 100 percent body language. The rest is all blah, blah, blah.
Which job? Acting?
Yes, being an actor is body language. All the rest comes from that. Your voice comes from the body too. (Chablis arrives) Ah, c’est bien sec, cet Chablis. Cheers to BUTT magazine!
Have you been very busy? I guess, as an actor, you have hectic months when you’re filming and then long stretches of nothingness?
It’s been a lot of nothingness in the last two years because of Covid. I got to shoot two movies last winter, one French and one in Serbia, and since then, I’ve not done much. First of all, I’m lazy, and second, I don’t like French movies or the French cinema industry. There are some people I respect, but on the whole, it’s so conversative. It’s not that I care about being respected or not when I’m working, because I know I respect myself. But I hate it if people think that their beliefs are better than mine, or that their reality is more real than my reality. I think that all truths are true. At least to me…
I feel like, say, Donald Trump’s truth isn’t always true…
It is not? I mean, it exists, and it drives a lot of people, so it’s true. We have a problem defining what’s true and what’s real. But everything is true and real in the mind of somebody. It’s all about perception. If you see something, it’s true.
It surely takes an actor to say that!
Or maybe I took too much acid? All truths are true. I’m doing a project on Foucault right now and he says that even the notion of mental illness is a dogma. 100 years ago, being a homosexual was a fucking mental illness.
As an actor, can you play everything and anything? Or are there roles you wouldn’t play?
I wouldn’t play the role of a black man or a trans woman or a person of color. They’re not skills or practices, but identities and it’s unethical to play those. But my next role is a drag queen and then I’m going to be a serial killer from the Russian mob. I would love to play a cop just to wear the uniform.
Has the filming for the drag queen role started?
No, I’m leaving for Montreal in one month. Wow, that’s going to be cold… The director is this girl who’s amazed by the drag and vogue community and she wanted to write a movie that gives the viewer a clue about the relationship they’re in. The thing is, when I received the script, I was in a toxic relationship myself and reading it made me quit my ex.
It was really intense. I cried for two weeks, took loads of drugs, and then I felt better.
When you read the script, did you immediately picture yourself in that role?
Instantly. The girl said she wanted her film to make someone in a bad relationship get out of it. And it worked for me, so the script was good. Job done! It’s so sexy to be a drag queen. It’s so far removed from me, and I can be the total slut I want to be, so it’s perfect! Sorry if my English is really bad.
It’s not bad at all. C’est mieux que mon francais.
Moi, j’arrive en anglais. I’ve been speaking English for the last three days because of this guy I’m dating. He’s Persian American, really nice, and he loves flowers. So cute!

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Weren’t you thinking of becoming a gardener around the time when you were approached in a bar to be cast for your role in 120BPM?
Had you ever thought of being an actor before you were asked?
What a pain in the ass! I’m kidding. I’d never tried. I mean, I’m really proud of what I’ve done and I don’t feel bad about myself at all, but I don’t have that much interest in myself. In order to have the desire to be an actor, I think you have to have the desire to be more powerful than just serve a role in a movie. And I don’t care about being more than that. My career can stop now, I don’t care. I know I can act well so I want to do it for the purpose of the people who make films. But most actors, surely a lot of young actors I meet, want to be bigger than that role they play and that’s not good. Only Isabelle Huppert can do that, she’s the only one who has a big desire to be the best actor in the world, which she actually is, and at the same time she can totally give herself without judgement, because she has a lot of confidence. I have a lot of confidence too.
It’s interesting; what you say about actors is what I often feel about successful artists: they are their own biggest fan. Maybe they need to be because ultimately the world doesn’t need art like it needs a baker or a doctor or a train driver.
The world doesn’t need art? We need art so badly! Life can’t exist without art! Of course, there’s two types of artists. You have people who are really rich and they have the possibility to call themselves an artist. And then there’s people who have no choice, they need to make art. I’ve been a cook and a waiter and an escort guy, and all these jobs weren’t making me happy because creating and poetry are the only things that make me feel worth something. I love art.
You studied art, didn’t you?
In Paris?
No, in a small city, but it was a really queer punk school, which was really nice. I loved my years in art school. We were putting up these concerts in our flats, it was super alternative.
Were you in a band?
No, but I think making music is really cathartic. I’d never show the music I make to anyone, but I do make sounds, noise, and I can DJ for fun. And I sing with the ukulele to calm myself down when I have an anxiety attack.
The ukulele? Wow!
Yeah, I learned myself to play the ukulele. ‘Do you be-lee-hieve in life after love…’ It’s actually a really nice afterparty skill to get to fuck a guy.
Is it? Good tip.
I’m kidding! Singing really calms me down. It’s not sexy but it’s nice, your whole body is vibrating when you sing and it helps you breathing. I cannot sing that well or hit all the notes but I sing and it makes me feel better.
Tell me more about your date for tonight please.
We met two days ago and it’s amazing. He was supposed to leave Paris tomorrow, but he’s now staying for an extra week. I definitely don’t want to be in a relationship. I need to find new ways for that because I’ve been in three relationships with toxic guys. I guess I attract them. But I must say I feel more confident ever since I left my last ex. It wasn’t like the situation was unbearable, but it wasn’t what I was looking for and I made my choice and I feel empowered by the decision.
When was this?
One year ago.
Why does the toxic-ness happen, do you think?
I’m a free person and people tend to want to take care of me. That’s not a good idea because I don’t need people to take care of me. They should take care of their true self.
Is it very odd that this reminds me of the lead character you played in ‘Sauvage’?
What you take away from a film is just a projection of what you feel like. I don’t want people to project too much on me. It happens all the time. In my last two relationships people were projecting things on me without asking me who I was. I play a lot with people, you know, to protect a part of myself.

I'm half Nietzsche, half Nina Hagen, half a football player and half Cardi B.

Do you play all day?
Maybe half the day. Depends on who I’m with. With straight people, I play all the time. I’m really heterophobic. I hate heteros.
How does that come out? Do you tease them?
Most of the time I play the really masculine guy and that makes heteros uncomfortable. I would love them to stop being heterosexual. I mean, what a shit life to be straight! Because it’s a life based on dogmas. People make the mistake to think that to have a life is to have a job and a house and children and all that stuff. It’s just a system. Life is the sperm in my balls right now, the chill in your stomach, a woman giving birth, a flower opening itself. That’s life. All the rest is dogmas. I took too much acid.
But how to avoid dogmas? It’s not a bad thing to have a house to live in. Or a career.
Yes exactly, and I want all of that. It’s not that I want to be alone in my cave and not speak to anybody. And I don’t judge people that live life according to those dogmas. I just know that to take a step back and look with wider eyes to the situation we’re in can only bring us to a better situation. Look at the state the world is in. We’re about to go into a third world war, the economy is fucked up with really rich people and people struggling, and the climate is collapsing and we’re all going to die. So. I mean. I don’t want to say I have solutions; I just don’t think that obeying these dogmas is the solution. I took the COVID vaccine because I want to be able to work and to travel. I accept the situation because of the life I want to live. But I understand my friends who are against the vaccine. All those truths are true, I think.
Maybe, but I’m going to say something extremely conservative here.
That’s okay. You’re Dutch.
Don’t you think the world is easier to manage when people are willing to follow certain rules?
Of course, but is the world, is life something that needs to be managed?
What do you think?
I don’t think so. I understand that to live together you have to find solutions to survive, but if the solution is to fuck up the planet and make the climate crash, then what the fuck? It makes no sense. Maybe management isn’t always the solution. I feel like most gay people don’t want to react to homophobia with violence. They just want the powers that be to take care of homophobia. Well, if someone acts homophobic to me, I’m going to kick his ass really hard, and maybe way too violent, and it may not be good or nice, but I’m not here to show the good side of homosexuality. Doing good and behaving isn’t always the solution. I’m not saying we need anarchy, but we have to think outside our dogmas.
Dogmas, anarchy.
I’ll get to it later.
Do you have a clothing fetish?
I like bicycle suits. That’s sexy. And leather makes me happy.
I love your leather jacket.
Lanvin gave it to me to wear to the show last week. It’s a bit fucked up now that I wore it out in the rain, but it’s nice.
Do you know Bruno, the designer at Lanvin, well?
Yeah, we’ve known each other for 12 years. He was really close to one of my best friends, so we used to hang out a lot. He’s really free into what he’s doing. He does his own thing and doesn’t give a fuck about fashion. He’s not trying to break the internet with what he’s doing.
Do you often work with fashion houses?
No, I don’t need that to exist. I like it when someone gives me some clothes to wear, but I’ve not signed any contracts with any brands ’cause then you have to show up whenever they want you to and then your experience is suddenly way less interesting. And my life is all about having good experiences. I mean, if Balenciaga says we’ll give you a million euros, I’ll say yes. I’m 28 and I want to buy my flat and travel around the world, so I’d say yes.
But what if The Kooples offered you a million euros?
Oh no. They will never. I did porn, so they’d never work with me.
What porn did you do? Can I find it?
I wouldn’t recommend it. First because it’s with condoms, so it’s not really fun to watch. I did it ten years ago because I thought it was fun to do. Six months of my life when I was 19. Five videos, maybe six.
And it probably didn’t pay well either, did it?
Not at all. It pays the same as sex work, but you have a video afterwards and get reminded of it sometimes. But I like porn as a weapon. I like sex work as a weapon. You step out of this capitalist system by using your body to make money without anyone saying what to do and what not. It’s the freest job in the world. I feel like being an actor and being a sex worker is exactly the same thing: you put your body to use to fulfill someone else’s desire. It’s the same. When I said that to the people from French cinema, they were shocked. You can’t say that! But it’s the same thing, you’re just looking at it with your fucking conservative judgement, that’s it.
Were you good as a sex worker?
The best in town! I don’t know actually, because, well, yeah, most clients wanted more, so I guess I was good. Most guys were happy in the end, I could see that. But it wasn’t doing good for me, so maybe I wasn’t that good. I don’t know.
It’s nice to give someone a good time.
Yeah. It’s funny ’cause I know a lot of escorts that do it only for the money. I started when I was really young and it was more a way of controlling my sexuality than to make money. I always had other jobs as well. Just for one year I was only escorting. That wasn’t the best time.

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We’re out of wine. Shall we order another bottle?
I’m giving you the most uninteresting interview ever. You’re actually the first journalist I’m talking to about the porn I did. I was never able to talk about it, but now I can because I watched it again recently.
When? Last night?
No, like six months ago. I was at a really hot sex party and we were all super high and all the guys said: put on some porn. I was fucked up, so I said: you want to see me in porn? It was crazy.
I feel like the times are changing and you don’t have to be so shy anymore about things like that. Like people aren’t shy anymore about being a bottom, which feels like a recent taboo that got torn down.
Oh please, yeah, can we change that? Was it ever a shame to be a bottom? Respect to the bottom.
Do you have other future plans besides acting?
I think I will direct. From experience, I know that my view on the world is quite strange and special, so maybe it’s good if I share that in a big way through directing. But I’d like to be able to fund the whole project myself. I don’t like to be told by a producer or a financer what to do and what not, because I know that already too well from the job I do now.
Do you have an idea for a movie you’d like to direct?
I want to do a movie about chem sex because I was really into that for a while. I think it’s a really interesting subject. Most of the time we talk about it in terms of it being a problem, because we want homosexual culture to look like heterosexual culture. But they’re not the same. We’re not the same. And it’s okay to not be the same. I’ve read some people saying chem sex is the new HIV. Wow! What the fuck? You want to compare a practice to a virus? Is that okay? No, it’s not. So maybe I want to make a film about the experiences I had that were so crazy fucked up and I think it’d be quite revealing. But I also want to direct a really beautiful drama about love. I’m writing that at the moment. Most of all, I want to work with actors. I’m really good at saying to someone: do this, do that, and it works. (laughs)
That’s a great skill.
That, and I’m doing tattoos for people.
Do you have a tattoo gun at home?
I have a pen. It’s not a gun, it’s a pen. And I never charge for tattoos because that way I feel free to do shit.
And people are happy with the outcome?
Yes, sure. Wouldn’t you be happy if I gave you a tattoo? I mean, I’m quite good.
Have you done your own tattoos?
Most of them, yes, that’s why there’s so many on my left hand and arm. I’m now trying to write RIEN on my fingers, in white ink, to cover my porn last name that I had there. I’m not ashamed of the porn, you know, and I had fun doing it, but I don’t want people to focus on something that was only six months of my life. It’s not the most interesting part of my life. Although, I guess, people find it so amazing and hard to imagine, and that makes you particular. I don’t think the porn or the sex work is what makes me particular.
What do you think it is that makes you particular?
Eh…the artistic trouble, the drug addiction, too much acid, ha ha ha. I’m kidding. What makes me particular is that I always felt free to think of the world the way I want to, and to look at things the way I feel like.
Back to the chem sex film: do you think you can give the subject a positive twist?
If you do chem sex one weekend per year it can be a great experience of mutual love and sharing and polyamory. The problem is, drugs are chemical products that work on your system and you can’t control them. So, when it becomes a routine and a need, that’s painful. The thing I want to say is, it’s okay to do drugs and have sex. What is not okay is to need to do drugs in order to have sex. I had crazy good moments during chem sex, and really bad moments, ’cause drugs make everything extreme. But I think the system we’re living in is really extreme, so I find it hypocritical that drugs and sex are the two biggest taboos in the world.
Is sex still really such a taboo?
Sex is a real taboo. You and I are gay, we can talk about sex. You cannot do this same interview with a straight guy. I cannot speak about sex with my parents even though they’re really open minded.
Do you want to know about your parents’ sex life?
No, not really.
You don’t want to know, and they don’t want to know!
It’s funny, but every time I see my father, who is a single guy, and we talk about things, I feel like he’s going to come out to me. But he won’t. My brother is gay too, my father’s brother is gay, so I don’t think my father would have an issue with coming out. My grandmother was a lesbian even though she didn’t accept it. Wow. Beautiful story.

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Next up, Félix stars in the supernatural horror movie 'You won't be alone' and in a French drama called 'Tom'.

Do you think your grandmother had wanted to come out?
Hard to say. She married a straight cis male asshole and society didn’t allow much space for queer people. So, I feel lucky that I can make my own space even though life is still difficult.
Even if we live in liberal times, we all have unfulfilled desires, don’t we?
I don’t have that many unfulfilled desires. I did most things I wanted to do. The desire I have now is to move away from craziness to…I don’t know.
Maybe you’re ready for the mumsy comfort of settling down.
Who knows? Nietzsche was saying that there’s a devil coming to talk to you and, eh… I met a philosopher once who was talking about Nietzsche, and I found myself finishing all his sentences, so he decided that I was Nietzsche. And Paul Preciado says I’m Nina Hagen. So, I’m half Nietzsche, half Nina Hagen. Half a football player and half Cardi B. That’s my gender agenda. (laughs) I don’t know what I wanted to say, but I think Cardi B. is quite hot. Her ‘WAP’ anthem is so vulgar!
And very free.
And really popular. But to go back to what you said about sex not being a taboo anymore; I think most people don’t want to hear the hardcore stuff because hardcore stuff is vulgar and proletarian. Even if it’s the same thing.
You love hardcore, it says on the T-shirt you’re wearing.
J’adore hardcore!
Do lots of people recognize you here in Paris?
I cannot go out without people knowing me, recognizing me, or worse, wanting to talk about my work.
It’s not nice?
It’s just inappropriate. I don’t mind it if I can inspire people. But I’m not only alive on the screen, you know? I’m alive the whole time, and when I die, I’m not alive anymore. But while I’m alive, I’m alive the whole time, and people think that their projection has to fit the reality I’m living, and that’s crazy. Most of the people who saw ‘Sauvage’ wanted to hug me and take care of me and say everything would be alright. Well, thank you, but I am alright! I’m okay! You saw a movie, not me.
I’m looking forward to you in the role of a drag queen.
It’s funny that me, being gay, playing a woman, is something I feel I have to justify while fucking Rami Malek, playing Freddie Mercury as some bisexual version of who he was, gets an Oscar. Everybody was saying I would never play in a historical movie because of all my tattoos, but I did. I would never play a straight person because I’m gay, but I did. Nowadays, you can be gay and get acting jobs. The gay community, at least in Europe, is strong enough, to get opportunities in life. But I still don’t want straight people to play gay roles.
You could say that Rami Malek played the role of a closeted popstar who for a long time pretended to be straight, which Freddie Mercury was in a way.
Yeah, right? But Freddie Mercury was high on poppers half of his life and what we get is a Disney version of Freddie Mercury as Mickey Mouse.
Time to overturn the system! Well, Félix, thank you for talking. Such a joy to meet you.
Ah, you’re welcome. I speak a lot.
I like that.
We’re down to the last cigarette. Shall we share it?
No, it’s yours. I don’t really smoke.
You don’t really smoke? What the fuck, you just smoked half my pack.

Originally published in BUTT 30