A Zoom screen separates me and Jordan Firstman as we chat on a Thursday afternoon. It’s the day after the Brooklyn screening for his new film Rotting in the Sun. The campy, sexy, comedy thriller stars Firstman as a fictionalized version of himself, who is a vapid social media influencer. While vacationing on the shores of Mexico, he makes a ploy to work with filmmaker Sebastián Silva, who plays a fictionalized version of himself, who is navigating suicidal ideations and floundering creativity.
When their powers combined, they bring in a world of problems, a treasure trove of drugs, and a collection of naked gays having sex on the shores of a queer Mexican beach town. Interestingly enough, the film was inspired by Firstman’s own social media presence, of which Silva thought would make perfect fodder to tear a part on film. While many would shy away from this type of proposal, Firstman relished in the idea of creating a character that’s truly a clout-chasing, public relations nightmare.
But it’s not like he hasn’t had practice creating some truly chaotic characters. Firstman, a comedian, actor, writer, and producer, first rose to prominence with his comedic Instagram videos called Impressions in 2020. Maybe you’ve seen him playing a man “fooled by the rocks that J.Lo got” or his impression of the publicist of the infamous fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head during a presidential debate.
Outside, of portraying Gen Z in therapy on IG, he’s also walking in fashion shows for Thom Browne, snagging roles in Ms. Marvel and You People, scoring writing credits on Search Party and The Other Two, and a producer spot on Big Mouth. And when he’s not busy expanding his artistic endeavors, Firstman’s occupying our feed with plenty of thirst traps.
Needless to say, Firstman’ social media presence leaves no questions about who he is, but after attending a Brooklyn screening of Rotting in the Sun, I was left with several questions and an interest in visiting queer Mexican beach towns. So, I chatted with Firstman to get some insight on his new movie, how he and Silva convinced beachgoers to go the “extra mile” on film, and if he’s ever met an influencer like the fictionalized version of himself.
The trailer to Rotting in the Sun makes the film seem like it’s all about naked men, partying, and chaos, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. How did this film come together?
I think Sebastián was living in Mexico City, and all of a sudden he had this maid that came with the building, and he was depressed, felt like a failure, and doing a lot of ketamine. And he was like, “I’m a failure [and] a bougie person living in Mexico City with a maid. Like, what’s going on?” But there’s a lot to mine here. His apartment was under construction, and there [were] construction noises he would get. That’s where, I think, the story just came from a very natural, real place in him. And then he was looking for some sort of foil to Señora Vero, someone to really like, juxtapose. He knew the story he wanted to tell. And then he met me, and he was like, “This clown is suited to go up against Señora Vero.” He hated my Instagram. He thought I was super annoying and yet he saw something in me that he wanted to spend some time with, I guess, and learn more about.
Have you ever met influencers who give off that fictionalized Jordan vibe?
They often are way more. I think the way I’m depicted is a little more chaotic. I’m not the traditional influencer. I think a lot of influencers fight really hard to be perceived as famous, where I think my character is using the fame to go back to the real world and be celebrated there instead of separating himself from the real. You go to parties in L.A , not even influencers, even some real artists where I’m like, “I like your work, but I’m like, why? You don’t have to act like this. You don’t have to live this way.” But yeah, they’re out there.
Your character is obsessed with social media and you obviously have a large social media following. What’s the first social media app you check and what’s the last one you check when you go to bed?
You know what, I would say first in the morning is probably Instagram and then bedtime, TikTok. It’s killing me. But I’m so addicted and I hate [it]. Why did I just watch a four minute video of a woman in Tennessee talking about the drama with her neighbor? But I watched the full thing through, and I’m like, “Why that?” Literally, there is no benefit to my life in any way and there’s no way around it. I wasted my life.
Your character also has an eccentric fashion sense, which gets called out by Sebastián. As for yourself, what’s the queerest piece of clothing that you own?
In the movie, I wear this little charm necklace that says, “I love cock.” I don’t think you could read it in there, but I had that custom designed. So that’s probably the queerest item of clothing I have. It’s too small to read, but it’s there.
And speaking of cocks, there are plenty in this film. How did you all recruit all these folks to drop trou and engage in cruising on film.
Surprisingly we were at an actual nude beach. We had our friend Pedro who lived there, who knew everyone. He kind of prepped them and just kind of asked around. And I will say, people are more open than you would imagine. There’s a lot of guys f*cking and having their dick shown. And it felt so chill. I was like, “Wait, we have all these people? I thought we were going to get, like, two people.” Then, for the guy that sucks my dick, that little, cute fire twirler, we were kind of scouting around. And they had casted someone without me knowing and then I saw the fire twirler [and] I’m like, “No, it’s got to be him.” So we just kind of approached [him] and we’re like, “Hey, do you want to act in a thing? You would have to suck his dick.” His one condition was that we had to show him twirling fire in another scene. So it was a trade off.
On that note, there is a lot of unsimulated gay sex scenes and your character has his fair share of sex. How did you mentally prepare for these scenes?
I mean, the orgy scene was a really difficult one because there’s a lot that happens in that scene. It’s the first time my character realizes this person could be missing and not ghosting me. So it’s kind of an emotional scene for me. So I had to be in that headspace and then also, there’s just a lot of choreography. We were all pumped up, filled with Viagra, and it was still hard. I was just violently masturbating in between takes, trying to keep it up, and I don’t know if it ever fully got to 100%, but we did what we could. And then the beach thing, I spotted this guy. I actually thought he was really cute. We did have a cute little connection. So I took him over to the rocks and I got hard pretty easily, and that felt natural and right. So one of the scenes was super easy. And then there was a scene that got cut where I’m getting my ass eaten. You kind of see that bearish kind of guy from the back [in the film], but he was actually eating my ass. And that was kind of nice to just be laying down. It just felt like a massage or something.
We might have to trade jobs. On another topic, is there anyone that you desperately want to collaborate with just as badly as the fictionalized version of yourself wanted to work with Sebastián.
Mean? I I recently met Pedro Almodóvar, and he’s my king, and that would be an absolute dream. And then Mike White, who does The White Lotus, I would love to work with. I think we would, maybe, trigger each other in similar ways [as] me and Sebastián, but I think he could get an amazing performance out of me. I’ll just say it.
Of course there’s plenty of sex in this film, but there’s also a “whodunnit” situation that you and Catalina Saavedra’s Señora Vero are dealing with. What was it like acting opposite of her and how did you create the characters’ dynamic?
I mean, it was extraordinarily real because I don’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak English, so we had no way of communicating off set, besides using the app. Also, we were so tired that we didn’t want to use the app, so we often just gave each other a hug, but then not talk. So then it made it super fresh when we were acting because we didn’t really get a chance to get to know each other so much. Whatever came up on that app is what she heard and whatever came up on that app is what I heard. We had to just roll with the punches. There was no maneuvering it any other way practically. So it always just felt super present and super exciting. And she’s one of the most amazing actresses I’ve ever seen, let alone gotten to work with. Just watching her presence and the way her face – she says so much with her face. It was a true honor to work against someone of that caliber.
Now, after working with Sebastián, what was one of the biggest lessons that you took away from the experience?
He asked a lot of me. He asked me to expose a lot of myself internally and externally. So I think I was struggling a lot in the beginning. At a certain point, I had complained to enough friends after shooting at night, and they were like, “Dude, you said you were doing this. You respect Sebastián, so just trust that he knows what he’s doing. You like his movies.” So I did that, and it really worked out, and I’m really glad I let my guard down and let myself be both really free and vulnerable, because I think it does come through in the performance. So, yeah, I think I learned how to trust, be open, and present.
Well, last question, what do you hope that people actually take away from watching Rotting in the Sun?
I hope that they just spend some time and think about their place in society, the way they live their lives, the way they treat people, and the way they treat themselves. But also, I hope that, in a film sense, I hope that they see this and they want to see more things that take the risks that this film does. And I hope people want to see more complicated subject matter and movies that don’t give them a clean answer and movies that challenge the norms. So, yeah, I would love to see more films like this one.
Check out the chaos below in this SFW trailer, but maybe close the office door just in case.