It’s an unusually warm September day in Los Angeles and actor Harvey Guillén is supine on a hot pink background, sporting dainty boy shorts, a black bra, and a classic white button-down that’s unbuttoned and falling around him, framing him in the pink.
In one hand, the star of the campy vampiric hit What We Do in the Shadows holds the receiver of a corded landline — a relic from days past — and in the other he clutches, in some shots, a teddy bear, and in others, a boy doll.
Britney Spears fans and former ’90s kids will likely recognize the call-out to Spears’s iconic 1999 Rolling Stone cover, although in her right arm she hugged a stuffed Tinky Winky, what was then a political lightning rod that sent conservatives into a tailspin over the fictional character’s perceived gender and sexual identity.Though it's not a political act per se, Guillén’s desire to upend traditional gender roles by re-creating Spears’s sexy cover is in line with his lifelong ethos to unequivocally be himself and to model that for others.“The image that I always thought was so cool was the Rolling Stone Britney cover,” Guillén says of the aesthetics of the era. “And being a person of size, as a child, I never saw someone like me on a cover in that pose.
Given the chance, I jumped to it. I want to show that little Harvey out there to love their body and to not let anyone dim their light.”From the instant a 5- or 6-year-old Guillén first saw the movie version of the musical Annie on TV, he knew he wanted to be like the kids on the screen — a performer.