Proud 2 Be: Julio Torres! The Actor/Director dishes on his new show “Fantasmas” & what’s next for the rising star.

Interviewed by: Sebastian Chicchon (@jager.noon)

To help celebrate our annual Proud 2 Be Issue, We’ve tapped writer-actor-director Julio Torres. One of Latin leading queer figures in Television and film, Julio is hard at work and has just aired his newest show, “Fantasmas.” Julio spins a fantastical six-part tale of when he lost a gold oyster earring. In his search to find the precious object, Julio reflects on the offbeat characters he encounters in introspective, often eerie, and always comedic vignettes set in a dreamy, alternate version of New York City. A kaleidoscope of color and surrealism, Fantasmas weaves together stories of people looking for meaning, purpose, and connection in an increasingly isolating world. 

We chat exclusively with the El Salvadoran-born actor and talk all about his new project, his upbringing, being one of the Latins leading queer figures, and what’s next for the rising star. Julio transforms into five characters, all with their own personality and looks. You can watch Fantasams now on HBO!

FEATURED INTERVIEW:

Did you always envision yourself being where you are now? Were there moments when you doubted your talent, or did you always believe you would achieve your goals regardless of the obstacles?

I guess I define “where I am” to be a place where I can make a living from doing what I love, creating in ways that feel true to me with people I enjoy – In that regard, I certainly always wanted it but didn’t trouble myself with wondering if it was going to happen or not. I’m thrilled and grateful for the way my life looks. I’m not sure what “making it” looks like, what the dollar amount is, or what the amount of followers is; I just know that I’d love to continue to make it work.

Didi the Lantern Fly

She’s never been to Trader Joe’s, and she loves it! When she’s not avoiding getting run over or stamped on, she enjoys munching on free samples or taking dangerous little naps by the shore.

Cape: Willie Norris for Outlier (@outlier)
Ring: Austin James Smith (@austin.james.smith)

Can you tell us a bit about your new show “Fantasmas”? What do you hope the audience takes away from it?

It may technically be a sketch show, but it is woven together with a throughline. It’s a little Fantasia, a little Dogville. I encourage people to enter it and allow it to guide them. You may discover things you enjoy.  

Globi

A green goo subletting the inside of an anglerfish. Rent in the deep sea is pretty high, so anglerfish have found that a relatively easy way of making ends meet is by subleasing their mouths to creatures like Globi, who come in droves in the summer hoping for DJ gigs, modeling careers or to fall in love in the hustle and bustle of the deep sea.

Headpiece: Willie Norris for Outlier (@outlier)

“Fantasmas” translates to “Ghosts” in English. How did you develop that title, and why did you keep it in Spanish? How would you define a “Fantasma”?

I love the sound of the word. But also, I’m very preoccupied with what it means to be a “ghost” in a city – to be visible only sometimes, to be misunderstood, lonely, limited, and hung up on something.

You’re known for being deeply involved in all your projects, making them very personal. How do you decide which aspects you should handle yourself and which ones you should delegate to others?

Well, directing is very involved! But no writer/director makes work entirely on their own. You rely on a whole ecosystem of people, from minds that give thoughts on scripts to tangible labor that keeps a set running. I’ve been lucky to find so many incredible collaborators who understand the soul of my work because maybe they see themselves in it somehow and are thus able to put pieces of themselves in it. I tend to sketch sets and wardrobes and have specific ideas for what a character sounds like or moves like, but you need other minds to fill in the blanks and make things happen – and finding compatible ones is the key. For example, when I first interviewed Tomasso, our production designer, he suggested that the conference table for Crayola be a big white piece of paper and for the executives to roll balls of color to each other to indicate when the next person could speak–we ended up not doing that. Still, that suggestion alone made me realize Tomasso and I were operating on the same frequency. I didn’t need to “explain” much to him, and I could always count on him to execute and create under the same vision.  

Do the stories and characters you create usually stem from your experiences and the people you’ve met?

Sometimes! People stay with me, and I’m an inquisitive person. I have so many muses, but they’re often people who are misunderstood, obsessive, lost – ghosts, if you will!

Growing up in El Salvador, how did your environment shape your identity? Was it easy to express who you were, or did you need to hide parts of yourself?

I felt like I was in an incubator.

Vrndr

A beach vampire who has discovered SPF 100 and now enjoys walks on the beach. Vrndr tends to lure in local birds for a quick snack, then slyly buries the leftovers in the sand.

How would you compare the experience of being gay in El Salvador to being gay in the United States?

I can’t. I wasn’t anything in El Salvador. Or, I was, but I was just… waiting. So, any answer would be unfair.

Your new series is set in NYC. What is it about this city that you find so special?

It immediately felt like home—an asylum for people who can’t find a home elsewhere. So much of “Fantasmas” is a critique of how New York is becoming less and less hospitable to people who don’t have a lot of money and access. 

Full look: Mondo Guerra (@mondoguerra), Nose Ring: Austin James Smith (@austin.james.smith)

Do you find that your work is received differently in South America compared to North America, or do audiences in both regions tend to have similar reactions?

My work is for some but not for everyone, and that’s true regardless of where you live. 

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with their identity?

If you mean queerness, I’d just say… in your own time. Don’t let anyone’s expectations change how you live. There’s no rush.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Don’t get braces. Fucked up teeth are cool. 

Your movie with Tilda, “Problemista,” was iconic; what did you learn from that experience?

That work is best done in the community. Much like Tilda, I’m compelled to find a family of collaborators and nurture each other.

Andreniquete

A lagoon creature was doing a summer internship in the big ocean. She loves a venti iced moss and knows her dad will “put in a good word” in her industry of choice no matter how much she underperforms.

Dress: Andrea Maris (@aandreamariss)

Where would you be if you didn’t go into filmmaking/comedy?

Creating in some other way! Designing, painting… sewing?!  

What is your signature scent?

Yikes, I guess my BO!

What is your Zodiac sign?

Aquarius to the extreme.

What song are you obsessed with at the moment?

Honestly…. the freedom to make fun of projects out of photoshoots. Genuinely thank you for that! 

Geronimoro

A humanoid from Tampa who thrives in cool, dark environments such as under docks and on men’s spa floors. When exposed to the sun, however, its skin reddens, its brain goes numb, and it becomes easy prey to scam callers, picking up every unknown number and even going as far as emailing private data.

Sand Tank inspired by Willie Norris for Outlier, Shorts: Willie Norris for Outlier (@outlier)
Necklace: Sweaty Pigeon (@bysweatypigeon), Bracelet: Austin James Smith (@austin.james.smith), Boxers: Hanes (@hanes), Shoes: Ugg (@ugg)

CREDITS:

Editor-in-cheif: Prince Chenoa @princechenoastudio

Galore Cover Art + Interviewer: Sebastian Chicchon (@jager.noon)

Photographer: Brian Vu (@brianvu)

Fashion Stylist: Angel Emmanuel Ramirez (@angelemmanuel)

Makeup Artist: Cyler Daigle (@cylersays)

Hair Artist: Sean Bennett (@uhmmwhat)

Stylist Assistants: Laura Napoliello (@lauranapoliello), Daniel Roa (@danielroaart)

Makeup Assistant: Angela Di Carlo (@missangedc)


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