You might remember him from such Chinese TV classics as Alien Caveman Vampires and Dial Later, My Love is Busy! but Jonathan Kos-Read is more than just a pretty face fighting scary monsters while managing a voracious sex life. He’s also a writer, photographer and, rumor has it, underwear model. Plus he DJs at my local watering hole. That all necessitates a Q&A.
Before we talk beverages, you recently mentioned a project that brings together Chinese and international photographers. What’s that about?
It’s opening this Saturday (April 19). I noticed that expats and Chinese shoot China really differently. But I couldn’t articulate what the difference was. So we put this show together where we have China photos from 20 international and 20 Chinese photographers up in opposition in the gallery.
Condensed into one sentence the theme would be: “Foreigners see things Chinese don’t see, Chinese see things foreigners don’t understand.”
The opening is this Saturday at 3 PM. In 798 at the Inter Art Gallery. Just inside the south gate. You don’t need a ticket and there’s free Slow Boat beer. (More info here.)
I’ve seen you DJ at Fubar a few times. How did you get started and is it true the DJ gets as much free booze as he or she can handle?
I just turned 40 so I am having a midlife crisis. I was depressed and getting drunk in Fubar with the owner Kevin. I said, “I want to try DJing, man.” He said go for it.
So I sort of stumbled up and gave it a shot. I always figured I would be good at it. And how hard can it really be, right? You just press play and stop. So I was really crap the first few times but Kevin was cool and now I sort of figured out how to do it.
But I told him I didn’t want him to pay me. So I do get as much free booze as I want. I even made myself a DJ shirt that says MIDLIFE CRISIS on it in Chinese.
What are your top three spots in Beijing to grab a drink after a long hard day on the set?
Slow Boat for the beer and the fryburger. Great Leap 1 for the courtyard. Fubar because it’s the perfect bar (and Kevin lets me DJ).
You’ve been in Beijing a long time. What’s one bar now closed that you wish was open so you could introduce it to newcomers?
I wish Nightman still existed. It was this awful dance club that opened in the late 90s, like an excited but embarrassing father of Mix and Babyface. But in 1997 Chinese people were experiencing that kind of thing for the first time. So nobody was jaded about it.
Remember that “Token White Guy” column you did for the former Beijing Talk, the one that covered your wild and crazy times as a foreign actor in China (see “Stupid TV Show Plots” and “I Want Her to Be Fat“). When are they going to come out as a book? And when that book gets turned into a movie, who is going to play you?
I actually optioned the columns but the project just bounced around Hollywood. The scripts they made were horrible. They wanted Jonah Hill to play me.