BY Martin Bliss
After reading “Hollywood Heartbreak | New York Dreams,” it’s hard to believe the author, Kody Christiansen, is still alive, let alone having a thriving acting career. This is a harrowing, yet ultimately inspiring, true story of a young gay man’s journey from the heights of Hollywood’s nightlife to the depths of New York’s homeless shelter system. How this renowned female illusionist beguiled Hollywood’s elite, while also battling both alcohol and drug abuse, is told with an honesty that is both scary and funny at the same time. He is a clever storyteller, taking the reader on this roller coaster journey without any seatbelts for protection. Sitting down with Christiansen for an intimate interview, this talented and gregarious man gives some hints to his best-selling book that has its official launch at the Stonewall Inn on July 10.
The elephant in the room is the identity of the famous rock star you get involved with in Hollywood. Care to give us a clue?
I changed everyone’s name for a reason. I even changed my own. I could have used real names, but even though I dislike him for what he did to me, I respect him enough as a person to not dirty his actual persona. This is my story, not his. He is just a catalyst that helped move me forward towards my destined path.
Your mother plays a very important part in your story, even though she died when you were only 18. Why is her spirit so essential to the man you are today?
My mother, Ulla, was a registered nurse in Texas and a single mother. Her strength and her love for others rubbed off on me in a big way. Even though our time together was short, the lessons she taught me helped mold the adult I have become. The skills I learned volunteering with her in the hospice she managed ended up helping me save a life in NYC. For that I am so grateful.
Do you ever feel competitive with your alter ego, Sarah Summers?
Being Sarah aka Britney Valentine (in real life) has allowed me to do some amazing things over the years: performing at Stonewall, being on national TV and movies and even having relationships with hot guys who were more attracted to her. I thought maybe I would never break out of her shadow. But now, with this book and my recurring role as an FBI technical analyst on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” I am finally making a name for the real me. I think I’ve finally got her beat!
What is the greatest lesson you learned about yourself in the NYC shelter system?
Gratitude. When I wake up in my own bed, in my own apartment and go to my own restroom in the morning, I thank the Creator. Sharing one dirty bathroom with a floor full of ex-cons, drug dealers and gang members for a year and a half will really open your eyes to just how much we take for granted. Now I don’t. I’m also just grateful to be alive. Some days I didn’t think I’d ever make it out of there.
I know it’s a cliché, but if you had to live the last three years all over again, would you?
Absolutely. I have grown as a person. I have changed. I am now at a place in my life where people actually respect me instead of feeling sorry for me. I’m inspiring people, and for that I am honored and grateful. I am living proof that if you stay strong and dream big, you truly can achieve the unthinkable. No matter your age, your demons or your current situation, it’s all possible.