Interviews

Belgium / Interview With Timo Descamps [Judas Kiss]

Belgium / Interview With Timo Descamps [Judas Kiss]

Timo Descamps
Photography by Alek & Steph

Timo Descamps is an openly gay Belgian actor and singer. He is best known for his former roles on the Flemish television shows Spring and Familie. In 2007 he released his first music single "Phonecall" which rose to 36 on the Ultratop 50 and last year  2010 he filmed Judas Kiss playing the character of Shane Lyons. He was also named "Belgian Gay Icon 2011".

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You come from Belgium where gay marriage is legal. Have you ever experienced any stigma about being openly gay?

I've been very lucky. Belgium is a very open minded country, a little like the Netherlands. Being openly gay hasn't really affected my work in Belgium. It's kinda like living in a bubble. I'm an openly gay actor working mainstream jobs in Belgium. I hosted my own kids show on a Belgian channel, I even worked for Disney Channel Netherlands for a few months. In the end people don't really care if celebrities are gay or straight. And that's the way it should be I think.

But then when I released the single 'Like it Rough', which is on the Judas Kiss soundtrack, the music video got a content restriction on You Tube. They marked it as 18+ because there is a scene in which I am making out with another guy. I was shocked to see this happen only two days after I posted the video, but it does make me realize that I'm really living in a bubble. Everything might seem ok in Belgium but there's still a lot of work to do before people will stop making a distinction between gay and straight. I think this all starts in the industry. Networks, filmmakers and celebrities should set the example, I really believe that if they combine powers they can even be of bigger importance than politicians.

Read the full interview after the jump.

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Timo Descamp and his partner Danny photographed in L.A. by Alek & Steph.


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We saw Judas Kiss and loved the movie, and it is your acting skills that amazed us. How did you decide to become an actor ?

I think as a little kid it was always obvious that I was going to be some kind of performer. I was always singing, dancing and making my own radio shows at home. Luckily, my parents always have been really supportive. They told me that I could do whatever I wanted, as long as I finished high school. At the age of 15, I started to audition and got my first acting jobs while I was still in school. When I turned 17 I got my first television role, one year later, at 18 I graduated and decided it was time to focus on the fun part of life and I put all my energy into becoming a professional actor.

Do you have a regular job or acting gig in Belgium?

I've been fortunate to work in my craft continuously since I was 17. Mostly as a Tv actor, but I also did a lot of Tv hosting and voice over work in Dutch translations of movies like Happy Feet, Toy Story, How To Train Your Dragon,… In May 2011, I signed on to host Out Tv in Belgium and The Netherlands. The network has recently expanded to Sweden, with plans to blanket Europe. I host "Out Wanted" which is a show to find new talent for the Out Tv network. I’m also working on a travel show and I committed to a few new projects in development.

You have grown from the teen idol/singer, to an amazing talented actor, was the transition difficult?

I can't complain, but I wouldn't say it was easy. My first big break was a really popular Belgian kids drama series called "Spring". I was a lead on that show for 3 and a half seasons and to be honest, a show like that easily gets you labeled as "just a teen idol". After my first 2 seasons in that show, I participated in a celebrity singing contest. I got third place and that really helped me raise my profile as an artist. On the other hand, this combination also made it really hard for me to find serious parts to play. Every great thing always has a downside I guess… It's definitely not easy to get rid of the "teen idol" label and try to become a serious actor, but I think the last two years I've managed to make the right decisions. I started doing theater and that really helped producers to take me seriously. In November the musical version of Canadian play Lilies will have it's world premiere in Belgium, I'll be one of the leads. Most people probably know the movie. The story is the same, the gay theme is very prominent. It will be interesting to see how the Belgian mainstream audience will react to a story like this. Of course there is my role in indie movie Judas Kiss. When the Belgian press learned about this project, I immediately got rid of the "kids entertainment" label, which eventually turned out to be a good thing, but I must admit, it was kinda nasty. Because we don't really know the term LGBT movies in Belgium and Sean Lockhart (who has worked in the adult industry under the name Brent Corrigan) was one of the actors in Judas Kiss, the tabloids in Belgium went totally crazy. They wrote stuff like "Is Timo going to do porn in America?" Of course everybody with a healthy mind knows I would never do that, talk about a career change! What followed was a true media circus. It was ridiculous! Radio hosts calling me out of bed, newspapers and magazines stalking me with the same questions, … I had to deal with this for a few weeks, luckily there are always new scandals for the tabloids to focus on so the media frenzy eventually died off.

How did you get involved with Judas Kiss in the first place?

You know, I live in Belgium a very tiny country with 3 official languages. A little over half of the country speaks Dutch, like me. Having all these different languages also means that there are less acting opportunities. Half of the country watches television, movies or plays in another language. As you can imagine the options are very limited. I've always been a little bit of a dreamer, as in: I like to think big. One day I just decided to go and look for representation in London. I just contacted talent agents and casting directors through the official channels, but these people had no idea who I was, they don't care if you're big in Belgium or not. At a certain point I was looking at imdb.com and learned about Judas Kiss. I don't know why, but for some reason I started looking for the director of Judas Kiss on Facebook and sent him a message. I thought it was a cool project and I told him if he ever needed a European actor in one of his next movies, I was interested. We kept on talking, he asked for my resume and show reel and then after a while he asked me to make him an audition tape. You can imagine how I felt when he officially asked me to be part of this movie.

How was your experience filming Judas Kiss ?

For me it was a dream come true. Hollywood was definitely on my list of "things to achieve in this lifetime", I always make goals for myself and being in an American movie was one of those goals. Hmm, I think I need to find myself a new career goal now 😉 So yeah, a dream come true, but also just a very awesome part to play. My character is Shane Lyons, a self-centered spoiled prick who, together with his very wealthy parents, moved from Europe to the US a few years before the story takes place. All the characters I played before Judas Kiss were really nice and sweet, so this one really was a challenge. Working on set kinda felt like going to school again. We shot the movie at the University of Washington in Seattle, and we each had our own student dorm. In real life I started working right after high school so for me this was a very cool experience. While in high school, the only thing I could focus on was getting out of there as soon as possible. I had no idea student life could be so much fun! There was definitely a lot of bonding with my colleagues, I consider them real friends now.

You come from Belgium where gay marriage is legal. Have you ever experienced any stigma about being openly gay?

I've been very lucky. Belgium is a very open minded country, a little like the Netherlands. Being openly gay hasn't really affected my work in Belgium. It's kinda like living in a bubble. I'm an openly gay actor working mainstream jobs in Belgium. I hosted my own kids show on a Belgian channel, I even worked for Disney Channel Netherlands for a few months. In the end people don't really care if celebrities are gay or straight. And that's the way it should be I think.

But then when I released the single 'Like it Rough', which is on the Judas Kiss soundtrack, the music video got a content restriction on You Tube. They marked it as 18+ because there is a scene in which I am making out with another guy. I was shocked to see this happen only two days after I posted the video, but it does make me realize that I'm really living in a bubble. Everything might seem ok in Belgium but there's still a lot of work to do before people will stop making a distinction between gay and straight. I think this all starts in the industry. Networks, filmmakers and celebrities should set the example, I really believe that if they combine powers they can even be of bigger importance than politicians.

How does the vibe of acceptance for gay people in America compare to Belgium?

It’s definitely different. To me it feels like acceptance is better in Belgium and the Netherlands, but then you see places like San Francisco or West-Hollywood in LA were half of the population is gay, so it’s hard to say. I do know that in Belgium a school would never be able to deny access to a gay or lesbian couple on prom night. That’s just unthinkable. I do hope and believe things will change for the better when it comes to gay rights. Hopefully not only in the Western world, but worldwide.

You were recently named "Belgian Gay Icon 2011" – how did that happen?

Well actually it was a public vote. I think the reason I got nominated was because when I came out publicly in Belgium, I was the youngest celebrity to do so. A lot of the time I get comments from Belgian gay teens that they think it’s so great how I deal with being gay, how I talk about it in interviews and never make a big deal out of it. For them it’s like confirmation that there’s nothing wrong with them, and it’s ok to be ‘different’.

Are you planning on actively supporting some kind of GLBT charity?

This past year I've been an ambassador for the Damien Foundation, which is Belgium's number three charity organization. Damien Foundation locates and treats patients infected with leprosy or TB globally, these are huge problems in a lot of underdeveloped areas, but also in countries like India and China. I visited one of their projects in India to see what they are doing for these people. My visit was a real eye opener. We made a short documentary about my trip. I also recorded 'Tomorrow' a really positive and up-tempo song with a message of hope. I wrote this song for Kannan and Arun, 2 young with TB and Leprosy infected boys that I met in India. They were really crazy about singing, dancing and everything about their local movie industry. Of course they were totally proud to be in my music video. After my return I visited schools all over Belgium to talk about Kannan and Arun’s story. It felt really good to use my so-called celebrity status to help an organization like this. One of my goals is to do something similar for gay youth living in countries were homosexuality is illegal. I remember watching the news a few years ago, they showed pictures of two gay teens in Iran about to be hanged. My stomach still turns when I think about those pictures. I truly hope that one day I can get to a point in my career were I can really make an international difference.

When you have time off, what do you like to do?

I don’t really have a lot of time off so whenever I do, I like to spend time with my boyfriend Danny. We enjoy travel and discovering new places together. When in Europe, we travel to other countries to see plays and musicals. We just spent 6 weeks in California and Las Vegas. Danny is a big fan of Disneyland so we spent a day there with some of my friends from Judas Kiss. We traveled to San Francisco for the Judas Kiss premiere at Frameline Film Festival and we got to experience gay pride. Las Vegas was amazing. There’s so much great food! I’m not much of a gambler myself so we had time to see some shows like Jersey Boys and The Phantom of the Opera. I have to admit that we did a lot of shopping, so much that we had to buy an extra suitcase to get everything back. We had a beautiful suite at Palazzo and honestly, Danny and I spent a lot of quality time together, just hanging out at the pool and spa, enjoying each other’s company, we really need that kind of together-time.

What is your favorite food?

I really like the Asian cuisine, Thai food, Japanese, I’m a huge sushi fan. I also love seafood. Belgium is really big on dining, nice dinner, good glass of wine in a cozy restaurant. We got that from the French I think. I like almost everything, but my favorite dish would be anything with shrimp in it.

What is your favorite country and city on earth?

I'm in love with LA. I don't know what it is. I think maybe it's just the atmosphere, everyone has a goal to make it big, everyone is so driven to make it happen. It's all happening in LA. I really hope that one day I'll be able to move there. You know, it’s not only the film industry, LA also has some of the best music producers in the world. I would love to work with one of them in the future.

Are you thinking of releasing an album?

Oh yes, I have a lot of unpublished songs ready, it’s just a question of finding the right producer to record my first album. I love what Max Martin is doing for Britney Spears. All the major artists in pop music release songs that are so extremely well produced, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, I guess you just need to be in the States for quality like that. You know what? Maybe I have to set myself a new goal here, haha. Yeah, I wanna move to LA, find an awesome producer and record a killer album!

If you would move to LA, what do you think would be different vs. living in Belgium?

Sunshine! We don’t get enough of that in Belgium! My mood can be really dependant on the weather. And we get a lot of grey rainy days over here…

You seem very 'down to Earth', how do you think fame and fortune might affect your life in the future?

My parents raised me to be very humble and thankful for the opportunities presented in life. I think they couldn’t have done a better job preparing me for the dangers of fame. Also I’ve had ups and downs very early in my career, that made me realize how relative success really is. One day you can be a huge star, the next day no one’s interested in you anymore, but then out of nowhere, you can come back. Believe me, I can handle this roller coaster.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    10/10/2011 at 11:24 am

    je n’ai jamais entendu parler de ce Timo…
    il y a réellement une frontière culturelle entre le nord et le sud de ce pays….
    Chris (brussels)

  2. Johnny

    11/10/2011 at 6:45 am

    The cast, crew, producers, investors and friends of Judas Kiss, all lucky enough to have met and worked with Timo Descamps, all instantly fell in love with this amazingly charming Belgian gentlemen. A multi-talented actor, singer / songwriter, TV host and voice over specialist, Timo is one of the busiest celebrities in Belgium and The Netherlands. For the past several months, he has worked seven days a week. His boyfriend Danny is equally charming and a delight. Timo and Danny were born to find each other. I was lucky enough to spend a week with them in Las Vegas when Timo took some much deserved downtime. There is no stopping this powerhouse of talent. In addition to his many gifts, Timo can be of great benefit to the LGBT community here in the USA by educating youth as to the power of equality and goodwill toward all which he has enjoyed as a Belgian citizen. 2012 will be Timo’s year to shine in the USA. I truly believe he will be a major force in our fight for equal rights here in America in the very near future.

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