The Pitch: How and when did you start acting?
Patton: I, in fact, started my career in New York City. After graduating from North Kansas City High School, I moved to New York with about $130 and a one-way plane ticket. I was very hardworking and unwilling to be lumped into the crowd of people that believed all the wisdom of others (it is impossible, New York is dangerous, you need to go to Yale, you need lots of money). I just went, and then I went to work, doing whatever I needed to do to pay rent and audition.
I made a lot of commercials for McDonald's, Coke, Pepsi, etc., and then made my Broadway debut in Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (directed by Robert Altman, native of KC, starring Cher, Kathy Bates, Sandy Dennis, Karen Black, and me). After the show closed, we went on to make the film with the same cast and crew. We opened the New York Film Festival and won festivals all over the world, including Berlin, Cannes, etc. I continued to work onstage and in film in New York for a number of years. I first went to Los Angeles to appear on General Hospital. After some time, I was hired to star in Nightmare on Elmstreet 2 (NOES2). I found that I did not care for the business in Los Angeles. It was extremely confusing and cutthroat. At the time, I did not have a killer instinct. After many years, I found that in any highly rewarding profession, the attitude is virtually the same, so I did find that little voice inside that said, 'Get out of my way. I am coming through.' It took a long time, though.
What are you doing now, and where are you located?
I have a gallery in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta, and I sell Mexican art. But really, in fact, the paintings that sell the best are my own, and some really cool painted bags I make are our bread and butter. I have had quite a journey discovering myself as a painter and a writer. I will be having my first show in London at the Misty Moon Gallery. My writing is on display at Static Mass Emporium, a London film magazine. My serial, Jesse's Lost Journal, is quite popular, and book two is about to arrive.
Why did you stop acting for some time, and why did you decide to pick it back up again?
I did stop acting (I would direct from time to time, including a beautiful time spent putting up small shows at the Atlantic Theater in New York City). I was rediscovered a few years ago by the people who produced the award-winning documentary Never Sleep Again, the go-to documentary on NOES. My section was much loved for its humor and the fact that we took on the homosexuality aspect of the film. NOES2 was hated by some very vocal, young 14-year-old, loved by the New York and London Times, but in the world of horror, the Net and 14 wins almost every time.
After filming the documentary, I was told, 'You are the Greta Garbo of horror; everyone wants your autograph,’ and so went on tour. That is what brings me back to Kansas City. I would like to think that NOES2 has mellowed well and it is now on the top of many lists (and I will take ownership of the fact that I worked pretty hard for that to happen). We always top the list for the “Gayest Horror Film of All Time.” I am usually on the top-10 list for “Scream Queens.” We laugh, but there really is magic behind this madness. At conventions all over the world, we have been able to discuss the issues of homophobia in the film industry, bullying, cyber bullying, all in a really fun way. I sell shirts that say things like, 'Mark Patton Scream Queen,’ 'Jesse is a Homo,’ etc. These quotes came off IMDB, but my slogan is take the bricks people throw at you and build a nice foundation. The money from the shirts goes to the Trevor Project.
It has been a real journey and has now taken me around the world. In January, I am headed to Melbourne, Australia, for OZ HORROR CON and the Mark Patton Film Festival. Only two movies, but two really good ones! I have seen Amsterdam, Berlin, Bottrop, Stuttgart, Scotland, and most of the U.K., about 30 cities in the U.S. (along the way I made a new film, Night, filmed in Berlin), and the response is always the same — there is a very loyal group of people out there that love NOES, and Jesse, and me. It is a total thrill.
Will you be doing anything special upon you return to Kansas City?
I return to KC to visit family often. My niece and godchild, Ida, is a freshman at the KC Art Institute — so proud. Perhaps we can have a two-person show at the Kemper one day. See, there is the key to me — I am an optimist and always hopeful for the future.
Horror on the Boulevard 2012: the Second Coming is October 12 and 13, and begins at 4 p.m. both days. Cost is $30 a carload. The triple feature both nights includes A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Demons and Dawn of the Dead. Come to the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre (1051 Merriam Lane, 913-602-1427). For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.