MB: There have definitely been times where I felt like, wow, this is an important moment. One was when I was doing my Ask Mr Mickey advice column. William Grimes did a story for the New York Times about me, E. Jean Carroll, who later sued the former President, Glenn O’Brien, and Dan Savage. It was the new group of advice columnists and they photographed me and it was a huge deal. Ironically the day it came out I had just gotten fired and sent to rehab for being on drugs—separate story—so it was kind of a bittersweet moment. But being in the New York Times, the same way with being in Vogue, it’s the kind of thing that no matter who you are someone is impressed. Being in the front row at the Marc Jacobs show was life-changing too, because to me that was always: the icons. You know, I’m from the Midwest, I’m from Hanover Park, Illinois, outside Chicago.
NP: I lived in Roselle and Glen Ellyn, we were practically neighbors! If I had to name your defining characteristics, Mickey, I’d say they’re your enthusiasm and your candor, especially on Instagram.
MB: The reason I’m so candid on Instagram is because when Drew Elliott bought Paper Magazine and was reinventing it he said to me, “you should write about your weight.” I said, “Why? Who wants to hear about my weight?” But I did it, and people responded to it, even people who I thought didn’t have weight issues. People like it when you’re real and when you’re honest. But with me, it’s not a calculated thing. I am how I am. I’m from the suburbs of Chicago, we ate at McDonald’s, it was very strip mall. I always find it fascinating when people lie about where they’re from to make it seem more glamorous. I always think it’s so much better, if it’s like, you’re from Roselle and you’re front row at the Tom Ford show. That’s a better story to me than, like, oh I went to private school in Switzerland…
NP: How interactive are you with your fans?
MB: I remember there was this kid from the Ukraine. He reached out to me a couple years ago and was like, “I love looking at your feed. You know, I’m in Ukraine and it’s hard to be gay here.” So I just feel it’s great to have access to freaks from other places so you can see, okay, your life goes on and you’re actually fabulous, you’re not a freak.
NP: Putting sparkle in people’s lives.
MB: Absolutely. If people have a little sparkle in their lives thanks to me, my work is done.
This interview has been edited and condensed.