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John Cameron Mitchell directed, starred in and co-wrote, with Stephen Trask, the musical film Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), for which he received the Best Director Award at the[…]

The “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” creator ponders the “ongoing understanding and quest” of love.

Question: What is love, and does the experience of love rndifferent between LGBT and straight culture?

John Cameron Mitchell: Well, there’s, you know, obviouslyrn different kinds of love and the Greeks had all different terms for it. rn And in the strongest relationships we have, those kinds of love inter, rnyou know, they are simultaneous, they ebb and flow, sometimes they’re rnall there at the same time.  You know, eros and agape, which is the rnmore, sort of love of mankind, you know, selfless kind of love.  And rnphilia, which is a kind of deeper, sort of non-sexual affinity.  And, rnyou know, so I don’t really have any, there’s no rules that I’ve learnedrn about the ebb and flow of those experiences.  I mean, we know that, we rnseem to learn some things from relationships that don’t always seem to rnwork the next time around.  I mean, you try to avoid patterns and we rnlearn about ourselves, you know, over time.  Oh, I married my mom again rnor I, you know, I made that mistake again.  It’s strange but it’s, you rnknow, you hopefully learn along the way what is useful, what isn’t rnuseful, and then the next time someone comes around, you forget it all. rn So, I don’t know.

You know, there’s an understanding of rndifferent kinds of connection and as long as you don’t mistake one for rnthe other, I think that’s useful.  You know, there’s an infatuation withrn someone, there’s the depth of a long relationship or friendship or lovern relationship that feels very different and in the is perhaps the most rnvaluable.

And there’s, there’s a kind of a hard-won wisdom that rnmaybe comes out of all those, all those relationships, while ultimately,rn you know, are trying to help you understand what it means to love rnyourself and to love the time alone.  At the end of "Hedwig," there’s rnthis fragmented face that kind of comes together as she seems to find a rncertain wholeness in herself internally rather than by defining herself rnas a half and seeking another half.  You know, when you are defining, rnwhen you’re thinking of a lover as someone who completes you, it almost rndisrespects them and yourself, by calling both of you incomplete or rnyou’re nothing but something to, you know, fill the wound.  You know, torn cover the, you know, to, as something complementary rather than rnrespecting someone as a whole.  And that might not always be useful, rneven though it’s very powerful for people.  So, you know, it’s an rnongoing, it’s an ongoing understanding and quest and I hope there’s, rnwhat’s nice about Hedwig is that it doesn’t define anything too stronglyrn and seems to have different interpretations across cultures.  You know,rn being in different countries and people’s reaction to the myth and to rn"Hedwig" is really interesting, it feels international.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen