When “Fire Island” star Matt Rogers was putting together his new Showtime holiday special, “Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas?,” he sent an email to Mariah Carey inviting her to be on the show.
“I do not think it reached her, which is totally fair,” Rogers tells me, laughing, on this week’s “Just for Variety.” “But I wish that one day she does read it because I did tell her a story about being obsessed with her from a young age.”
In fact, he was only 10 years old when he asked for Carey concert tickets for Christmas. “I came out when I was 19. That was when I verbally said it,” says Rogers, who has gathered quite the fanbase for his work co-hosting the “Las Culturistas” podcast with Bowen Yang. “But I certainly, emotionally and in action, came out when I was 10 years old on Christmas and got Mariah Carey tickets to Madison Square Garden. I don’t think there’s ever been a gayer display.”
“Have You Heard of Christmas?” premieres on Showtime on Dec. 2. It is not your grandmother’s holiday special. It’s naughty and features Rogers singing original tunes onstage in front of a live audience that could make mistletoe blush. It’s proudly queer with Sandra Bernhard’s comedy, Liza Minelli’s camp and Hugh Jackman’s showmanship running through Rogers’ rainbow-colored tinsel. Sketches between sets show Rogers trying to convince his team that he not only has the potential to be a successful pop singer, but also one who should release a Christmas album.
Have you always thought, “One day, I’m going to have my own holiday special?”
I never even really saw myself having a comedy special. When I was a little kid, I saw myself growing up to become an actress. You know what I mean? I saw myself winning an Oscar or something. I remember I watched Kate Winslet in “Titanic,” and then the “Titanic” fever and the Oscar mania that year. That was first what got me hooked on the whole thing. I really wanted to be a part of that community of Hollywood. And that meant to me at that age being an actor. And then, just decades go by, and I find myself becoming that through comedy. This special is really a collection of everything that I’ve done. It’s got sketch, it’s got standup, it’s got music, it’s got a narrative.
It really is naughty. Don’t you sing about Mrs. Claus getting “railed” at one point?
There’s a conversation about Santa having a lot of lube in his house because he needs to lube up the presents so they fit in the big sleigh. I guess the open question there is why do you have all this lube? Is Mrs. Claus getting it? You’d have to watch the special to find out. I do a little bit of investigative work.
And you even mention lube brand Gun Oil — in a Christmas special!
Yeah, of course. I’m trying to get product placement here. I am trying to be Mariah. Yes, it’s a Christmas special, but it’s also my special. So, we’re going to be mentioning Gun Oil, my preferred lube brand. And I want everyone to know it. This is a modern Christmas special. That’s why I’m marketing it as a modern Christmas miracle. This is for me and my people, and you’re one of them.
You asked for Mariah Carey concert tickets when you were a kid. I’m Jewish but would go to a neighbor’s place for Christmas so my parents would buy me presents so I didn’t feel left out. I think I was 6 years old when I asked for a sewing machine.
I remember sitting on Santa’s lap when I was little and asking for a Barbie and this Long Island Santa being like, “Why do you want a Barbie?” It was probably one of my first moments of shame.
Did you get the Barbie?
I don’t think I did, but my sister certainly had a lot of them. My favorite game to play with the Barbies was to throw them off the bed like they were sinking off the Titanic. And the one that always lived was this one in a blue dress that was the color of the heart of the ocean, the le coeur de la mer. I wasn’t gifted Barbies, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t run the absolute show when the Barbies were applied in terms of play in my home growing up. My sister didn’t stand a chance. She didn’t call any shots.
The suit you wear in the special looks like it would have been really hot. It didn’t look like it breathed that much.
That was a Versace suit, and it was giving everything I needed it to. What they don’t tell you about Christmas shit is you shoot it in the summer because it needs time to be edited, et cetera. So I shot that show on Aug. 27, which is the asshole of the year. Years ago, I actually left New York because of the month of August. What I was really, really strong on was that the theater better be so freezing cold, the AC better be extra. They brought in a second AC. Call me the anti-Aretha Franklin. Turn the AC up. I don’t care about my voice at this point. I was thinking to myself, “Do I want to crank the AC? Will it affect my voice like Aretha says?” And then, I stopped myself and I was like, “Bitch, you are not Aretha.”
This Q&A has been edited and condensed for length and clarity. You can hear the full conversation — Rogers also talks about meeting Bowen Yang for the first time, auditioning for Jerry Seinfeld and more — above, or listen to “Just for Variety” wherever you find your favorite podcasts.