It’s not often you hear about a nearly seven-foot tall, gay DJ and former drag queen who’s become an iconic character on one the most watched and talk about shows on television, but that’s the story of Kristian Nairn, who plays the beloved, if not loquacious, Hodor on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Nairn, along with Game of Thrones co-star Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran Stark), took a break from the show and sat out the filming of Season Five. He’s been using the time wisely, though, hodor-ing from city to city on his wildly popular Rave of Thrones (get it?) tour.
“Rave of Thrones has been better, and more, than I ever imagined,” shares Nairn, who is far more loquacious than his TV character.
But the actor and longtime DJ wasn’t so sure when the tour was first proposed.
“Being truthful,” he admits, “when I heard the idea, I scoffed a little. But then it dawned on me that, on top of it being a great vehicle to expose people to my music, it’s a great way to bring people from all walks of life together and that, I believe, is what clubbing should be all about!”
His self-described DJ style is “chunky, deep, dark, and always with attitude,” but that hasn’t always been the case. He told the GoT fan blog Winter Is Coming that he “was a total metalhead as a teen,” listening to everything from “proper glam stuff like Poison” to “thrash and death metal like Sepultura and Obituary.”
So how, then, did he transition from blistering guitar riffs to dank House beats?
“I think it’s all about big bass and a certain element of darkness I look for,” he admits. “I once did a remix for legendary producers The Freemasons, and they described my sound as like a panto villain; dark and menacing, but a little bit camp too! I loved that.”
What DJ wouldn’t love getting props from them? But if Poison and Sepultura are no longer in his musical stable, who is?
“I’ve been going on about the label EDX fronts, Enormous Tunes, for ages now,” he proudly tells me. “I don’t mean to go all hipster about it, ‘I liked it first, etc,’ but on my first tour to my most recent one, the difference in people’s reactions and awareness to that stuff is huge. House has arrived back in the states in a big way.”
“Goodbye fucking shitty bro-step,” he laughs.
Nairn’s upcoming appearance at Pink Party Comicon will be his second stop in Seattle, as his tour made a stop here at Q Nightclub last December. Although it was a short visit, he was suitably impressed.
“My only regret was that I couldn’t stay longer,” he confesses. “What a great night, and what a beautiful city. I really hope to get to spend some proper time there someday.”
“Let’s just say the climate is ‘familiar’,” he adds, and laughs.
It takes more than just heavy beats to get his juices flowing, though. Nairn is a self-professed geek who enjoys battling online in games like Guild Wars 2 and, of course World of Warcraft.
“I mean anything Blizzard do fills me with joy,” he exclaims. “Except Starcraft. I’m just too bad at it.”
So what else turns his geek gears then?
“I love technology and everything connected to it,”he admits, “almost to an obsessive level. I geek out pretty hard about some of the Marvel Universe and Tolkien stuff. I have to say that Warcraft lore is a big area of enthusiasm for me too.”
No matter how we act, butch, femme, closeted, whatever, we are all the same, and I would love to see the day when we stop sectioning ourselves into certain boxes.”
Nairn is at a unique crossroads, then, at the intersection of gay, geek, and celebrity. It’s one of the reasons he was asked to appear at Queer Geek! Seattle’s upcoming Pink Party Comicon, in fact.
The Pink Parties, both PAX and Comicon versions, are, of course, meant to be celebrations of queer geeks of all stripes. They’re also meant to offer a place for queer geeks to be comfortable being themselves. That’s not to say that the conventions aren’t a welcoming place to fans who fall outside of heteronormative lines, as PAX Prime and Emerald City Comicon have made great strides both towards inclusiveness and recognizing diversity. One look at the comments around this IGN announcement of Phil Jimenez’s appearance at the upcoming queer comic fan convention Flame Con, though, is enough of a reminder that there’s still a long way to go with some fans.
For what it’s worth, Nairn has yet to experience any of the divisiveness some fans have expressed towards the queer geek community.
“I have to admit,” he confirms, “I’ve not noticed much of a tension between LGBT and geek. Why the hell would there be? Maybe I’m just being idealistic, or maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I would hope that any tension between the two is on its way to being a thing of the past.”
Although Nairn has been out and proud since he was a very young age, it was barely a year ago that the media caught wind of it, following his confirmation of being part of the gay community in the Winter Is Coming blog interview. What impacts, if any, has he seen since becoming a newly minted role model and gay icon? Does he even see himself that way?
“I just do what I do,” he admits, “and live my life being as true to myself as possible. Hence I tend to get in trouble in live interviews. I tend to speak from the heart and I refuse to learn not to. Life is too short. I don’t see myself as a role model, because I don’t think I deserve that endorsement.”
Whether or not he sees himself as role model doesn’t mean he isn’t one, of course, and he seems well aware of that. Nairn’s message to his fans, and the queer community, geek or otherwise, is one on the importance working together.
“It’s important to me that stereotypes are broken,” he offers, “that I, and many other people I know, don’t fit the media gay mold. But that’s not something I’m separately proud of. No matter how we act, butch, femme, closeted, whatever, we are all the same, and I would love to see the day when we stop sectioning ourselves into certain boxes. We have enough people in this world who will box us off, without us doing it to ourselves and our brothers and sisters. I would LOVE what I say and do to be of some use or help to my community, but I think a lot of that is still ahead of me. We are entering an interesting and challenging age, and I think that more than ever, we need to find and be part of our community. We are rather strong together, you know.”
No small part of his character is owed to his mother, to whom he was able to come out at a very young age. Having her support since then has been a critical part of his development as a person.
“My mother is just the most amazing woman,” he suggests. “I’m incredibly lucky to have her. Having her behind me, right from the get go, is definitely the foundation for the strength I have today.”
Was it also that support that also encouraged his early appearances as Revvlon, the drag DJ?
“Oh god. It must be ten years now,” he exclaims. “I did drag simply in reaction to someone saying that I could never do it; basically a middle finger, if you will.”
Will we ever see Hodor in heels again, I wonder.
“I would do it again for the right project,” he claims. “And maybe to cause a stir sometime.”