PC: I always like to begin with names so is it James or Jimmy?
JP: James professionally and Jimmy for my friends… so, call me James. (Laughs) Nah, you can call me anything you like.
PC: Who decides these things: your parents, family or schoolmates?
JP: My name? Ultimately me. Because there were so many Jimmy’s in my family, when I was born they decided to call me the Greek version of James which is Demetri. Having a ’weird’ ethnic name in Brooklyn during the 70’s was asking for trouble and ridicule. I found out my birth certificate said James Robert and I was like what the fuck guys I’m getting killed out here as Demetri, so I went by Jimmy since and decided they no longer make any decisions as far as naming goes.
PC: Your surname, what’s the origin of that, Greek?
JP: As Fuck !!!!
PC: Where did you grow up?
JP: Mostly in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. My Dad got a house in the Poconos, PA when I was around 8 or 9. I’d spend summers and holidays there, which is where I learned to ride motorcycles.
PC: Tell me about what kind of boy you were at that very impressionable age of 7?
JP: A lot happened. My parents divorced when I was about 5-6. I was diagnosed with abnormal platelet dysfunction, but the first quack of a doctor told my mom it was leukaemia and that I was going to die. I started public school which felt like a penitentiary and made me learn to fend/ fight for myself. My mom was caught up in this psychotherapy stuff. She was basically a guinea pig for a lot of the medications that would eventually be used throughout the 80’s, so she was basically out to lunch parenting wise. Did I mention my dad basically disappeared for about a year doing work for the government? I would get all these odd gifts from places like Central America and South America…oh and I got my first cat, Bum Bum…loved that cat! I suppose I was left to my own devices and imagination. Even though I had friends I spent a lot of time by myself, and I lived in my dreamlike imagination which eventually fuelled my desire to become a musician, actor, and writer.
PC: Who did you have that fought in your corner, inspired you, or just kept you on the right track?
JP: Well, as far as fighting for me, I suppose my mom did to a certain degree. We were poor, on food stamps and welfare, and my mom had no real education. She was always fighting to keep us afloat. As far as inspiration, in a way I think I was raised by television, the culture of the time, and the influence of the streets and school. I think that as kids, we’re always looking for approval and acceptance and I was no different. I was picked on and made fun of, and it always felt like a battle just to be liked by people.
I would get into stupid things like vandalism and graffiti and riding the trains as a 10-11 year old. But when I found the guitar and Led Zeppelin and music in general, I found a direction and purpose. I did have a secret desire for acting too but felt too shy at the time. Even though my first real gig was at Radio City Music Hall doing a little skit with Lassie the dog as the pre-show entertainment, no one took it that seriously. It was treated as a cool little thing for my mom to brag about with her friends, but I always thought… What if? I’ve always enjoyed being on a stage. It’s something about the height of it above the crowd and all eyes are on you, and of course you get to be something else other than you.
PC: What did you imagine you would be when you grew up? Were you already displaying creativity?
JP: Yeah, I believe I was always creative and never really fit in with anything mainstream even though it was expected of me. I did marginally ok in school just so that I could get out, but I never had a plan or a track to follow. I knew I wanted to be a rock star and professional musician, and I did achieve that at some point. I’ve always been weirdly connected to the idea of death, and that someday I’ll go nipples up and everything I’ve ever done or was will just be some sort of story. So I figured I’d better get busy doing something cool worth people’s time talking about when I’m dead.
I became a professional musician and did thousands of gigs, and a bunch of tours, and my own album… check out Groove Assault on Spotify. I’ve done some cool TV shows and my own movies, such as The Prime. ’YouTube’ it, but add my name to the title. I also finished my first published self-help book called The Asshole’s Guide to Everyday Living available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Audiobook is on Audible. It’s a self-help guide for assholes like me who hate self-help and maybe people… Oh, and I also learned how to be a shameless marketer for my stuff… Hey, if I don’t love me, who will?
PC: We will talk about your book more later. What were your go-to TV shows as a youngster, on a Saturday morning eating your cereal sitting in front of the TV, without a care in the world?
JP: I was basically raised by 70’s and 80’s TV shows. I loved them all… from The Dukes of Hazzard, to M*A*S*H, The Abbott and Costello Show, Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Six Million Dollar Man, All in the Family, The Incredible Hulk, and, of course, the Friday night line-up. I would watch with my dad… The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, and Quincy with Jack Klugman. Saturday morning cartoons were the staple as well… Bugs Bunny, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Woody Woodpecker. I could go on and on… The Odd Couple, The Brady Bunch, The Jeffersons, The Jetsons. Oh, and who could forget my childhood fantasies of Charlie’s Angels… Farrah forever!!!!
Television and movies really were a window into another world for a kid like me who never felt comfortable in his current circumstances and was an outsider. But TV and movies provided a home for my childlike imagination and inspired my own sense of story and the idea that no matter how sad or hard things got there’s always somewhere else in the world that is safe and welcoming. Even though it lived in this box called a television, it truly was a window to a better place.
PC: Moving onto your teenage years, how did they pan out? When did you become interested in music, specifically learning the to play the guitar?
JP: I was basically an awkward and obnoxious asshole trying to get chicks and look cool, but I wound up just being like all the other obnoxious, horny assholes. I started guitar at about 11 years old, I started taking it seriously in high school when I met all these other kids who played really well. I realized that there’s a competitive nature to the arts, and that I was going to have to put some discipline and time into it if I wanted to get anywhere with it. I think that’s what music did mostly for me, it taught me to focus and to concentrate on what I wanted to achieve… something I probably need to get back to, actually.
PC: We’re you a good guy or a bad guy?
JP: Hmmm… a good guy with bad tendencies or an inadvertently bad guy struggling with the good in him? Who’s knows? I think the concept of good and bad is relatively subjective. Just don’t do anything against another’s free will, and you’ll be mostly ok. Well…kinda…sorta, maybe?
PC: You are a good-looking guy. Were you a hit in the romance department?
JP: I had to beat ’em off with a stick…. Yeah, I wish. I’ve had my fair share of ladies in my life. Some broke my heart and some hearts I’ve broken, you know? Life.
PC: You have been in a few bands. What genre were you playing?
JP: Many different styles. I started off rock and roll, metal, and all that stuff. Then I got into jazz, and fusion, and really amazing guitar stuff. I loved Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Queen. Then I got into Metallica (first four albums), Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, and Racer X. But I got into great jazz bands like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Duke Ellington, Clifford Brown, and one of my biggest heroes – Miles Davis. I’m also into great guitarists like Alan Holdsworth, Danny Gatton, Mike Stern, and Frank Gambale. I have such eclectic tastes, it’s hard to say that one thing is my overall favourite.
PC: Did you get to a point where you had to choose between pursuing acting or music? Or did they go hand in hand easily?
JP: Oh yes, I made a definitive decision in 2005. I had been wanting to make the jump for a while but thought it might be too late. Then I get a call from acting legend, Danny Aiello, he needed a guitarist for his upcoming tour. I got the gig and Danny inevitably became a huge influence and mentor to me as an actor. I figured if he could become an actor in his 30’s, so could I, and I went for it. I met my first acting coach, Glyn O’Malley, and started my journey, but I had to make a clean break from music though. I felt torn between two masters and worlds. The acting world was so new to me and vast. I had to make a clear dedication to it, and I did. It has paid off and it’s hard to admit and sometimes weird, but I don’t miss being a working musician which feels crazy to say considering how much I dedicated to being one.
PC: You have had parts in some solid TV shows. Talk me through how you got to that point.
JP: Yes, thank you. I guess the main thing is perseverance, I just kept at it. I did a ton of theatre here in NYC. I had just booked the role of Henry in Henry V for a tristate area run. I ran and told Danny Aiello and he was like “That’s great kid,” then he said, “so you’re serious about doing this, then… for life, right?” I told him yes. Then he said to me, “After this, hold off on theatre for a while. Concentrate on TV and film. That’s where a guy like you will make a career of it.” I took his advice and put my head down and started doing many of those Meet and Greets with casting directors and putting it out there. Soon I started getting small films, and I did a bunch of the re-enactment roles on A&E and networks like that. When I became SAG I started pushing to get an agent. I got Maultsby Talent Agency to start sending me out, and soon I started booking roles on Billions, The Blacklist, Ray Donovan, The Deuce, and some films like Trial of the Chicago 7 (don’t blink you’ll miss me) and I Know This Much Is True with Mark Ruffalo as well as many short and feature-length indie films.
PC: In 2020, a lot of actors’ worlds fell apart because of the restrictions forced upon them during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. How did you fair?
JP: Not well. To be honest, it feels like it all went away. I was booking a lot and my last in-person audition was in February 2020 and then everything went dark. I have been auditioning again via self-tapes and my agent does get me some good ones, but it still feels slow. It gets very depressing and makes you wonder if it’s over. I am a very persistent person so it’ll never be over until I say it is, but it hasn’t been easy to say the least. The only solace is talking to fellow actors and seeing it’s been tough for us all. I hate to see this many talented people struggling and at the same time so many shows being produced. It’s very frustrating but I have no choice except to hang in there till the wheels fall off.
PC: Let’s talk about the success you have had with short films. I am a big fan, and try to watch all that are sent to me. I do get sent a lot of shorts. I have to tell you I am very impressed with The Prime, I can easily envision it being a big Netflix type production. I am watching The Last of Us just now which gripped me from the start just as your short has. Tell me about the whole production, was there a particular incident that propelled you into writing The Prime. Has it been well received?
JP: Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was in roughly 25 festivals and won many awards for best film and acting and directing. My dear friend, Jessica Green, directed and edited it. It was done in four days for a film challenge. The craziest part is that the film was done in 2017 and is about a post-pandemic Orwellian world so I basically Nostradamus’d that shit!!! (laughs). It’s set in a world about 7-10 years after a worldwide pandemic kills off most of humanity and the leaders created a one-rule society called The Prime, where people are controlled by a chip in their arm. My character, Jefferey McKenna, removes his chip and starts to get visions and voices from somewhere, God perhaps, or maybe just the universe and realizes humanity has been duped.
Do with that info what you will regarding our current world, but I think good film making and art is always left to the audience. It should be their experience.
PC: Three grand souls – how long did it take from writing the first word through to the very end when it was ready for screening. Please tell those of us not familiar with the process.
JP: Oh boy, that’s a hard one. I basically wrote it in my head from the time it took to walk from my local grocery store to my apartment. I went right to Final Draft and started writing, I had the first draft ready that night. I brought it into the Brazen Giant ensemble. An acting/writing ensemble I’m part of. We did a reading and from there I started different drafts. Johnny Greenlaw who directed it, was part of the ensemble as well and really liked it and we started planning on pre-production. I think from the moment I started to the final shoot day might have been like 8 months or so.
PC: I really liked the twist. Can you give a brief synopsis of the story? How well was it received?
JP: I call it a post traumatic love story. It is very loosely based on an acquaintance Matt Murphy who served in the U.S. Army Ranger Team. Matt had severe PTSD and was deemed unemployable and received $3000 a month from the government. Sadly he passed away July 1st 2023.
The story is about a veteran named Chuck who has PTSD and is drinking himself away. He meets a mysterious lady named Melinda who is a prostitute and has some dark secrets herself. The question throughout the film is who is more dangerous and fucked up…
PC: Are you writing currently?
JP: Currently I’m writing two features: Kill The Rabbit, a psychological horror about a few law students who get away to a private island after taking the Bar exam, one of them will find their ‘true calling’ as a sociopathic killer. Then there’s Salvation On The Twenty, a thriller seen through the eyes and experiences of a broken hearted San Francisco bus driver’s journey driving his route while a serial killer is on the loose. I like killers (laughs).
PC: You have recently published your first book: The Asshole’s Guide to Everyday Living – it’s described as: A satirical yet real perspective on individualism, sovereignty, spiritualism and social discourse through the eyes and ears of every-man/woman/they/it/them/mammal that hates the taste of kale, has no time or patience for kundalini breathing exercises and is just trying to get through life with as minimal damage as possible in the ‘New Normal.’
JP: Yep I sure did Buy it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
PC: Is it anti-establishment or does the content apply to every man, woman and beast. It has had very good reviews, do you think people appreciated you were willing to put down on paper what many are thinking but not comfortable or brave enough to say?
JP: The point of the book is to engage one’s own sovereignty in a world that has gone off the deep end with control via media, politics and social discourse. The personal grip that all these elements are gaining on privacy and personal discernment has gotten out of hand in my humble opinion. The book takes a humorous perspective in standing up for your own self. It basically says in this day and age if thinking for myself over instant group thought acquiescence, discerning truth for myself, not believing mainstream aggregate thinking makes me an asshole then so be it! It was inspired by all the craziness happening in 2020 and the divisive/manipulative tactics being inundated into society to fall into line with given narratives. My answer to any of the that is, fuck off! So in that respect I’m sure it’s considered “anti-establishment” but when has the “establishment” ever really served the individual above the system that creates the establishment in the first place?
PC: Is that typical of you in everyday life? I have found you to be a very straight talker but people may be surprised at your more gentle and spiritual side. You have shown me great empathy and been very supportive in the short time I’ve known you. Have you had any backlash for what you wrote?
JP: I think it really is me as best as I can express it in words. I really do love this world and am always in awe of our universe, humanity, history and the human condition in general. BUT then I go outside and some dumb schmuck opens their trap and fucks all that up – hence “The Assholes Guide to Everyday Living”.
I got one nasty review but I think it’s hysterical because the dope basically attacked everything the book is about and inevitably gave it a great description for other potential buyers.
PC: Are you planning a follow up book?
JP: Maybe, not sure yet. I kinda write as I feel. I’m not a big planner type of person.
PC: Amongst the other hats you wear are motorcycle instructor and guitar teacher – are you passionate about both or are they more of a side hustle to keep paying the bills?
JP: Maybe they started with passion but they inevitably turn just into side hustles. Teaching depends on the type of students you get. Guitar wise I always taught one on one which is nice and I’ve made some lifelong friends from it. Teaching the basic riders course for motorcycles gives me a borderline stroke and makes me question my own psychopathy! Seriously folks…WHY DO YOU WANT TO LEARN TO RIDE A DEATH MACHINE IN NEW YORK FUCKING CITY….geez practice suicide somewhere else for Christ sake!
PC: If it was your last meal on Planet Earth, what would you have to eat and what drink would you choose to accompany it?
JP: I’m a picky eater. I think it would encompass a lot of things from salad to grilled chicken with olive oil and lemon to chocolate cake and ice cream, different flavours of course i.e. vanilla swirl and pistachio, maybe some sweet potato with sour cream and olives. Ooh don’t forget chocolate chip cookies, some liquorice would be nice too. Wash it down with both Coke and Pepsi and chocolate shakes…. I mean c’mon it’s my last meal. What do I care about diarrhoea?
PC: Which book do you have on the go just now?
JP: I’m mostly listening to books these days I’m just too lazy to turn pages anymore. I listen to Tao Ce Ching or Kybalion, maybe some Neville Goddard stuff.
PC: Describe how you would spend your perfect day.
JP: How would you spend your perfect day? That’s one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever been asked (laughs). I can go with something trivial like being on an amazing movie set where I’m being praised and glorified for my talents knowing that it’s going to be a game changer, working with some great people. It could be the day after that where I’m back on a racetrack going the fastest I’ve ever been knowing I had a day like the previous one. It could also be the day where I meet the love of my life after I’ve done both those previous days of being on an amazing movie set and totally kicking ass on a racetrack. Riding the track with a new Yamaha R6, laying down some fast laps with my buddies and my beautiful lady there, her being super impressed with my “prowess”… that part is definitely in my imagination!
But I think the perfect day would be the day you leave this world and you realize you’ve had many many of those days and the days you’ve all lived where the summation of the day you’re living now and you realize it was all perfect. The ups, the downs, the victories and the failures. I think we seek perfection in lieu of what we are experiencing that’s perfect. And I think once we realize that every day is perfection, because today is past the one we previously lived and we’re still breathing and we’re still striving and we’re still dreaming that’s when we realize it’s all been perfect all along.
Of course the perfect day could also be a day where my fucking back doesn’t hurt and I can just have a good meal and pay my rent. (Laughs).
You can find James at www.JAMESPRAVASILIS.COM/
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