Comedian And Actor Joel Kim Booster Is On Fire

Starring in ”Fire Island” and in the Maya Rudolph-led series ”Loot,” the comic actor has now pulled a hat trick with his stand-up special, ”Psychosexual.”

Joel Kim Booster is having a moment. Well, at least three of them. He wrote and stars in Fox Searchlight’s Fire Island, now streaming on Hulu. And he has a Netflix stand-up comedy special out called Psychosexual. Plus, he costars with Maya Rudolph in the new Apple TV+ comedy series, Loot.

Booster told LAMag that he was still recovering from Pride festivities when we caught up with him at his Hollywood Hills home by phone. An L.A. resident since 2018, he says he wouldn’t live anywhere else.

“I feel like this is my town and I belong here,” he said during our conversation. As a gay Korean-American stand-up comedian, he’s on the road frequently, but he chose to tape his new special in his adopted hometown.

LAMag: What are the cultural differences between L.A. and New York in the circles in which you travel—and do you feel part of the scene here?

Booster: New York is a better city to visit, Los Angeles is a better city to live. In New York, you walk out the door and there are many things within five blocks in any direction. L.A. feels much smaller, in that you have to build your own community and know where to go and what to do, but you can find lovely pockets once you establish yourself. People here are more homebound, and the city is more spread out, but once you find your tribe it’s wonderful and nurturing.

In your movie, Fire Island itself is a safe space for people to express themselves and party without judgment. Is there an equivalent in the Los Angeles area?

There are a lot of queer pockets, and really wonderful underground warehouse parties that I enjoy that give me flashes of Fire Island.

What was the dynamic like among the cast and crew of Fire Island as well as working with your close friend, Bowen Yang?

I mean, it was very close, very much like a family. I’ve been close to Bowen for nearly a decade and really wanted to work with him. There’s lots of talk of a sequel, and I would definitely work with those people in a heartbeat.   

It was very difficult to get the film sold and it took years. It’s a niche story and there are not a lot of gay creators. Once we found a home at Searchlight, they were very supportive. 

Where are the best places for queer people of color to hang out in L.A.?

There’s a party called Ostbahnhof, named after a train station in Berlin, with different locations all over L.A. It’s one of my favorite parties. It’s thrown by queer people of color but everyone’s welcome and it’s definitely a positive experience.

What are the things you like most about L.A.?

Obviously, the weather. I was born in Chicago and then lived in New York, so I’ve put in my time in winter and never need to experience it again. The space here… I love being outdoors and the access to hiking. I’m a huge beachgoer and I love being as close to it as possible.

You taped your special in L.A. What was that experience like?

We taped at Catch One on West Pico and Norton, one of my favorite dance clubs that’s also one of the first Black safe spaces. I knew I didn’t want to film in a comedy club or theater. It was mostly a victory lap after a couple of years mostly on the road.  

Your set features a lot of material about drug use in the gay community.

It’s an important part of the culture and I don’t like to shy away from it. I didn’t want to sugarcoat my experience as a gay man. It would have, sort of, felt false to not address it— also in the movie—about your experience.

You’ve said in the past that the most you can imagine yourself doing is playing a sassy gay assistant but that’s actually what you do in Loot, with Maya Rudolph.

It was a dream come true to work with Maya. Watching her on SNL shaped my own comedic sensibilities. To work with her was a dream, and I felt like I hit the peak. 

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