BILLY EICHNER I don’t remember that at all.
TAYLOR My back was to Billy’s back, and I remember hearing him and being like, “That’s exactly the kind of conversation I came to Northwestern for. I’m gonna make you my best friend.”
EICHNER He came to this “Ray of Light” party and he was this little boy from Iowa, and he wore these fake cat ears that I guess you could buy at Bloomingdale’s at the time? And I was like, “No. Who’s that person? I’m not into it.”
TAYLOR I knew you were going to bring up the cat ears.
EICHNER To this day, I don’t understand why you would walk in with cat ears.
TAYLOR I was from a very small town, I had just come out of the closet, and it was very proto-radical faerie, without the hallucinogens.
EICHNER It was like our generation’s version of cutting. Months later, we decided to move to a bigger apartment and we needed a fifth roommate. They were like, “That guy Robin said he would take it,” and I was against it. But we were desperate. To make matters worse, we had to move in the summer before junior year, and Robin and I had to live — just the two of us.
TAYLOR I had a car.
EICHNER And I was like, “Well, that’s something.” So we would go to the mall, and we would go shopping, and we’d go to the movies.
TAYLOR It was “Living Out Loud” that did it, I think.
EICHNER There was a series of movies we went to see that normal college-aged men were not going to see in the Midwest: “Living Out Loud,” with Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito; “Isn’t She Great,” with Bette Midler and Nathan Lane. We were the only people in the theater, opening weekend of “Isn’t She Great” at the Old Orchard Shopping Mall. We would watch movies at home; we’d watch “Truth or Dare,” and I had a VHS of this thing called “The Oscars’ Greatest Moments.”
TAYLOR We memorized that tape.
EICHNER He was this quiet closeted gay boy in Iowa, and I was this louder closeted gay guy in New York City, but we were both locked in our rooms watching cable TV and sucking it all in. When we found each other, it was like, “Wait, you’re interested in —— ?”
TAYLOR Like, a “Whales of August” joke.
EICHNER We were theater majors in a suburb of Chicago and we were being gay and going to gay bars for the first time, together. Then we caught the last gasp of great New York gay night life. We could go out every night of the week.
TAYLOR And we did.
EICHNER Tuesday nights we’d go to Beige at B Bar. We both met boyfriends at Beige. We’d go to Spa on Thursdays, Starlight and the Cock on Friday, and then ——
TAYLOR Opaline is in there somewhere.
EICHNER Opaline on Saturday, or the Roxy. We were doing ecstasy, and it was the days of big club DJs ——
EICHNER Twilo, Junior Vasquez. We partied, and I’m so glad we did, because it doesn’t really exist at the moment, and we couldn’t do it now. Except, I still do it. I shouldn’t do it. It’s a bad look.
TAYLOR We lived in this crazy loft two blocks south of the World Trade Center. No doors, no walls — just curtains.
EICHNER Ten days before 9/11, we moved.
TAYLOR We lived for about five years, then, in Chelsea. I was doing commercials and little things here and there. I mostly played stoner skater types.
EICHNER I’d gone to a ton of open calls and never got anything. I was temping and bartending. No one was taking me seriously.
TAYLOR Billy was sitting on the couch one evening and asked if I would like to make something together. He even had the title, “Creation Nation.” I was sold immediately. We took where we were in our lives, and created these heightened versions of ourselves.
EICHNER I created this angry, irrationally passionate persona that “Billy on the Street” grew out of, which is not close to me. It’s coming from somewhere, I guess, but it’s very much a character.
TAYLOR I was playing a closeted actor, refusing to come out.
EICHNER Robin’s in the very first video. You can watch it on YouTube. At the end he’s running around with me.
TAYLOR I remember when the woman chased us onto the subway. Billy had yelled “Lucy Liu” in her face and she was screaming for the police.
EICHNER I told Robin to stick the tape in your underwear or something?
TAYLOR It’s funny: Our current projects are the closest we’ve ever been to working on very similar things.
EICHNER I think he’s so brilliant on that show, but I’m not a superhero person. Robin would call me and tell me what’s happening on “Gotham” and I’d be like, “Dude, I don’t know what you’re talking about. You walk with that cane and put on that prosthetic makeup, and I’m gonna go write some jokes.” Now, I’m on “American Horror Story,” and I honestly do — he would call me and tell me about these violent scenes he had to do, how you have to choreograph it, how much time it takes — I have a new appreciation for it. Our careers also never were a source of tension between us, ever. There was no friction. Maybe friction because I didn’t clean the apartment.
TAYLOR Well, just that time you vacuumed vomit into the non-wet dry vac.
EICHNER I was the roommate who paid half the rent that he paid and still wouldn’t clean. I always had a great sense of entitlement.
TAYLOR Billy has always been completely unafraid to speak his mind and tell people what he believes. And that’s something I struggle with.
EICHNER I do feel like I’ve made Robin meaner, in a good way. When I met Robin, he was wearing those stupid cat ears, and he wanted everyone to like him. If I taught Robin anything, it’s that not everyone needs to like you. Granted, everyone does love Robin. He’s, like, the nicest person in the entire world. Not everyone loves me, but I think between the two of us, it’s a yin and yang.
TAYLOR All I want to give Billy would just be a connection to love and family. I just want to be a constant in his life and a connection to someone who loves him unconditionally.
EICHNER That’s nice. I said I made people hate him! But that’s why this works.
An earlier version of this article, using information from the website about the Fox series “Gotham,” misstated the date the series returns. The show, originally scheduled for Sept. 28, will now return on Sept. 21.
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