A GoPride Interview

Frankie Valenti

Changing his stripes: Frankie Valenti sheds his past to deliver strong performance in Tiger Orange

Sun. September 21, 2014  by Jerry Nunn

I was lucky enough to land a role that allowed me to play myself essentially.
Frankie Valenti

frankie valenti in 'tiger orange'

Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival rolled out the red carpet for its 32nd edition on Thursday, Sept. 18. One standout feature is Tiger Orange, the story about two estranged gay brothers living in a small California town with a single father after their mother left.

Tiger Orange has not only won critical acclaim, but it also demonstrates the acting talents of former porn star Johnny Hazzard, who reinvents himself using his real name, Frankie Valenti. The praise of Valenti's performance as the younger brother (Todd) is well-deserved, his energy and charm is captured in the feature film.

Valenti stars opposite of Mark Strano (Chet) who won the Best Actor Grand Jury Award at Outfest and is also the screenwriter and producer.

Jerry Nunn tracked down Valenti overseas to learn a little more about the talented actor.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) How did you hear about the project in the first place?

FV: (Frankie Valenti) Mark Strano had reached out to me after seeing a small sizzle reel I had done online for a reality show idea. I think he also saw me walking dog and was impressed with my uhm presence...

JN: What was the reason behind not using Johnny Hazzard and where did that name originate?

FV: It's not a porno. Johnny Hazzard was and is a porn actor. At some point I wanted to have a line drawn between them. The name came from the mind of Chi Chi LaRue.

JN: How was your family compared to this one in Tiger Orange?

FV: Quite a few similarities to be honest. Strong, somewhat absent father. Estranged brother. I too left home very fast and went very far. My father died without hearing from me that I was gay and I too dealt with a feeling of not belonging anywhere.

JN: Your character in Tiger is very likable. Who did you model him after?

FV: I was lucky enough to land a role that allowed me to play myself essentially.

JN: What did you learn in the process for making the film?

FV: Hurry up and wait...

JN: Tiger Orange's title refers to being a bright color and the loudest thing on the block. It's about the struggle of the main character correct?

FV: It's about Todd's in your face sexuality against Chet's "behind closed doors" sexuality and his realization that it's ok to be who he is.

JN: It has a lot to say about small towns. Where was this filmed?

FV: San Luis, Obispo county.

JN: What is your favorite tattoo?

FV: The trademark one on my right shoulder area.

JN: I met you at IML years ago in Chicago where you promoting a clothing line. How is that business going?

FV: I have a line called SPITSHINELA that will encompass my hand done pieces as well as printed T shirts and eventually small pieces of silver jewelry for men.?

JN: What are your future projects??

FV: Return to LA after Thanksgiving and start playing the Hollywood game!

Tiger Orange roars into Landmark's Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark Street, at 9:15 p.m. on Monday, September 22. Tickets and more information about Reeling 32 can be found at reelingfilmfestival.org. Visit tigerorangemovie.com for current updates about the drama.

ChicagoPride.com review of Tiger Orange: [Mark] Strano and [Gregory] Marcel are quite good, but it's [Frankie] Valenti, who like fellow porn actor Sean Lockhart (aka Brent Corrigan), proves there's more to him than what we've already seen. (Read more)

Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.