Metro Weekly

Coverboy: James

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

I first met James, a tall, shaggy University of Maryland alum, on his first day in D.C in the summer of 2014, and quickly convinced him to enter the Underwear Contest at Cobalt. “It was my first gay bar in D.C. and you came up to me and you’re like ‘Sign this paper!'” he says. “I didn’t know I was going to take my clothes off until I was onstage — and I also wasn’t wearing cute underwear. I was wearing boxers.” Still, James won. “You gave me 200 dollars that night and I was on top of the fucking world!” What better way to introduce yourself to D.C. society?

James grew up in Hartford County, Maryland, on a farm — “I used to show pigs at fairs and sell them” — and matriculated at UMD, where he studied accounting and Chinese. Now, the 25-year-old fitness enthusiast is a government contractor. He lives in DC, which he describes as “way too expensive,” and is prepping for the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride to End AIDS, to “memorialize the AIDS epidemic and what people went through to give me the privileges we have today as a gay man.”

It’s a privilege that extended to his very public coming out on his twenty-first birthday. “[Friends] threw me a surprise party, and like any good surprise party, I didn’t know and got drunk on my own,” he says. “By the time I was surprised, I was drunk. They’re like, ‘Surprise!’ and I’m like, ‘Surprise back, I’m gay!'”

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

What’s on your nightstand?

Two bottles of water, a box of Kleenex for “runny nose,” and a book called How to Survive a Plague. I’m about 350 out of 500 pages. It’s a long book.

What’s in your nightstand drawer?

Not much. There’s those condom packages I get from Town, toothpicks, Whitestrip things, nail clippers.

So nothing to relieve stress?

Well, Kleenex. That is stress relieving.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I’d love to control minds. I wouldn’t control yours though.

Good luck cracking that one! What did you last binge watch?

Grace and Frankie, season three. I especially love Frankie, the one that smokes weed all the time. She’s just awesome.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Brad Pitt.

Which Brad Pitt?

When he was dating Jennifer Aniston. I hated her because he was beautiful.

Name three musical artists you’re currently listening to.

I love Lady Gaga. Beyonce, I’m just always putting her on when I want to get amped up. And I’ve been listening a lot to Pentatonix.

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

What are your three favorite night spots?

Town, Nine, and Flash.

What’s your drink of choice?

I’m drinking beer right now. It is not my drink of choice, it’s just because it’s sunny outside. I love either whiskey on the rocks or whiskey and ginger. I like whiskey. It breaks down people pretty quickly.

What’s your pet peeve?

People chewing noisily. Not necessarily chewing with their mouth open, but just chewing disgustingly, like there isn’t anyone else at the table.

What is your favorite food to chew quietly?

I could go healthy and be like, “I love chicken and broccoli,” but that’s not true. I fucking love ice cream.

What kind?

I get down and dirty, so I’ll buy a cookies and cream ice cream, but I’m going to put cookies in the ice cream and make it even worse.

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

That sounds amazing. What animal would you be?

An octopus. I fucking love octopuses. They’re multi-taskers, they can change color, they can change form to get into anything they want to get in.

You’ve watched Finding Dory one too many times.

Yes! That octopus. He’s so smart. They’re not fighters, but I’m sure they could fuck someone up if they wanted to!

Boxers, briefs, or other?

Briefs now, but clearly I started with boxers.

What do you prefer on other men?

Workout briefs. Underarmour. They’re wearing workout briefs because they probably came from a workout, so they’re a little bit sweaty or have a little bit of adrenaline pump in them.

How do you like to meet men in workout briefs? Grindr, Scruff, or in person?

In person. I’m terrible at using my phone, so I don’t come across very well in text. I actually don’t think I’ve met with anyone on an app — I’ve had the apps, but I fail at arranging and gathering. Grindr, I’m just “Well, I’m at work, let’s plan something later,” and then they disappear. And then with Tinder, I got confused by the concept.

How old were you when you had your first kiss?

Oh, man. Seventeen. He worked at Hershey Park. I drove an hour to meet him and I didn’t even know him.

What is your biggest turn-on?

Confidence.

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

What’s your biggest turn-off?

Flightiness? Flakiness? And also being nice. I’m okay with you being kind, but I don’t want you to be nice. I want you to be a man and have a good heart, but don’t be a pushover.

So no doormats, got it.

Well, I tend to be a pushover myself.

Describe your dream guy.

I’m going to start with his penis. The aesthetics of the penis are very important. It doesn’t need to be really, really big, because that’s difficult. It’s just got to look like a penis.

What about outside of his pants?

He’s well-kempt. He’s got very kissable lips. He’s got to have pretty eyes and be able to look you in the eye. Definitely not taller than me — not that I have a complex, I promise you. On the muscular side. I’m not a big hair guy. A hairy chest is not my thing. Personality, they’ve got to be confident. I want them to know who they are. When I like somebody, I like somebody — I want you to know that same thing. They’ve got to be dominant, but also willing to be dominated.

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

You’ve basically described the perfect D.C. gentleman, just jacked up a couple of notches. Define good in bed.

Actually, much of what I described above translates to the bedroom.

What’s the most unusual place you’ve had sex?

On a beach.

I’m from Florida, so I know what sex on the beach is like.

I felt like a turtle. It was messy. The chemistry was so awesome but…

The sand?

Yeah, it was better in your mind than in real life.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened during sex?

I’ve thrown up while giving a blowjob. It didn’t get everywhere, but we both knew that it happened.

What’s the most romantic thing a guy’s ever done for you?

Taken me to meet his family. I’m a family man.

What’s your ideal proposal?

I’m not about a big charade, unless there’s a reason. So for a proposal, it wouldn’t be very important, we’d just do it over dinner. But if my family is mad at me or something and I need to make it real fucking tacky, I’m willing to do that.

What is your greatest fear?

Being alone. Yeah. I need people. I like people around me, which is why I love D.C.

If your home was burning, what’s the first thing you’d grab while leaving?

Things that are important to me, I would leave. Unless there’s an animal with me, I would get out.

You’re not connected to your possessions?

I don’t have nice things in D.C.

What’s your porn star name?

Annie Holycross.

I love that. What would you be known for?

I’m going to say the pure one. There would be white sheets, it would be a romantic.

What would you like to be remembered for?

Man, that’s a big one. I would, at this point in time, like to be remembered for making my family’s life greater than it already is, or making the gay community’s life better than it is. My two priorities are the gay community and friends I’ve collected, which is my family of choice, and then my actual, blood family.

What do you like best about your life?

I love the freedom to do whatever I want, but be valued and disciplined to do the right thing.

What do you like least about your life?

I’m really annoyed that I’m pretty much broke, because everything in D.C. is so expensive. Every month I’m like “Jesus.”

Coverboy: James — Photo: Julian Vankim

What are you most grateful for?

The people I have around me.

Would you rather live longer or be wealthier?

Live longer.

Who’s your idol?

I have two. Barack Obama. I know that’s cliché, but he just embodied a lot of the moral standards I try to embody. And just the way he carries himself, I absolutely loved him. Also my grandfather, just because he’s one of the hardest working people I know.

What inspires you to be better?

The mistakes I make today, ’cause I fuck up a lot.

What’s your philosophy of life?

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

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