By James Booth
Photos by Matt Kalish
Beau Swartz stars in Adam in Fragments, a provocative and gritty drama about a male hustler navigating Los Angeles’ insidious underground sex trade.
Premiering this November on Dekkoo, each episode of Adam in Fragments builds a new picture of Beau’s character, Adam. Viewers witness his encounters with johns, pimps, other sex workers, and Lucy, a young and naïve aspiring adult film starlet that Adam decides he needs to protect. For the first time in his life, the rentboy allows himself to become emotionally accessible to someone, triggering a series of violent events.
While most television shows and films about sex work glorify the trade or exploit it, Adam in Fragments does neither. It examines the profession through Adam and finds the humanity in the characters. “They’re not painted as heroes, villains, or victims,” Beau Swartz explains. “They merely exist.” We spoke with the actor from his Los Angeles home.
How did you land the lead role in Adam in Fragments?
Back in 2019, Omar Salas Zamora (the director) and I started talking about making a film centered around a hustler in Los Angeles. I was interested in how two people can experience the same trauma yet have a completely different outcome in their lives. We developed it into a short. Dekkoo saw it and premiered it on their platform. It was well received, so Omar and Calvin Picou wrote it into a larger project.
Were you familiar with the Los Angeles underground sex trade?
I was aware of the scene through movies and art. I’ve also lived in Hollywood for more than ten years, and I’ve walked the streets late at night. You can see the not-so-subtle reminiscences of the scene that is still out there. By the time we got to filming, Omar and I had done a ton of research because of the short we made. I also watched a lot of documentaries like Wiktor Grodecki’s trilogy Not Angeles But Angels and read photo books like Eve Fowler’s Hustlers. I really liked studying the 90’s photo books of hustlers in LA. I found an unspeakable truth in their eyes. I felt like I knew them when I studied the portraits.
How did you approach Adam as a character?
Adam is a lost soul. He’s misunderstood, running from his past and doing everything he can to ignore it. He’s searching for a place to belong, yet pushes people away. I approached Adam like I do all characters. I start off by finding the place in our lives that we intersect and then go from there. I create a life as if it were my own, just having made different choices that led me to the place that Adam ends up.
What were some of the challenges with playing Adam?
Understanding that some of Adam’s demons have also been mine at some point in my life. He and I have a lot in common, and it was difficult to experience some of the choices he made.
Was it important that Adam be likable?
I don’t think I thought it was my job to make Adam likable or unlikable. He’s just human; at times, people like him, and other times, they don’t. It wasn’t important to make him likable but to make him a person with lots of layers, both good and bad.
What is it that draws Adam to Lucy?
They are both lost, yet she still has her innocence. She also has the capacity to love him unconditionally, unlike his clients and pimp. Adam desperately needs something outside of himself to care about, and he wants to protect her from going down the same path he has gone.
What was it like filming with Keiva Bradley, the actress who plays Lucy?
Kieva is such a talented actress and having the opportunity to act with her, as much as I did, was an honor and a pleasure. After we wrapped filming, Keiva gave me a card that kinda looked like a ransom note! It was actually a beautiful letter from Lucy to Adam.
What did it say?
I think that it is something I won’t tell. It was special.
Have you seen Keiva or any of the cast or crew from Adam in Fragments since filming?
We all keep in touch. I’ve known some of them for years and consider them to be good friends. Everyone on this project was just so awesome, and I hope our relationships continue for a long time.
How do you hope viewers feel about Adam and his circumstances?
I hope that they feel a kindred spirit to Adam. I want them to relate to him and his circumstances and not judge his life. When all is said and done, Adam is like everyone else, doing the best that he can with what he has.
What is one thing that we can all learn from Adam?
One thing that I learned from Adam, and maybe others will as well, is that loving myself isn’t selfish; it’s crucial. Also, we need to be able to forgive ourselves. We all make mistakes. What matters is what we do with the lessons we learn.
Adam in Fragments premiered on Dekkoo on November 17. For more information, visit Dekkoo.com.