CHRISTIAN WILKINS THE PRINCE’S GAME
Words Andy Kelly Photography Harri Dunwell Hair & Makeup Ellie Trimarchi Styling Beth Chalker Assist Robert Thompson
Christian is sitting on the ugliest couch known to man, this is his personal opinion. He openly hates it. It’s a reupholstered relic of sentiment from his youth that he has been stuck with because his father refuses to get rid of it. When he was a little boy, he would stand up on the ottoman and perform Kylie Minouge’s millennial pop classic ‘On a Night Like This’ for him and dinner guests. Christian grew from the soil of sentimentality, a place where objects are awarded special privilege due to the love they may have witnessed. Christian complains about the couch, and his father for insisting on keeping it (and suggesting it be recovered in pink satin for Christians bedroom), but in reality he’s just as sentimental.
‘I think the story started out relatively honest, but it’s grown and grown so much that I’m not even sure what’s real at this point. It’s evolved in a positive direction, but it wasn’t as easy as they/I make out.’
He is referring to his coming out story, a subject that has been commented on by a number of media sources at this point but before you can fully appreciate Christian’s path to self acceptance, you first need to understand him as an entity. To try and understand Christian Wilkins is to have a lesson in duality. There are three Christians in total, two in play at any one time and all are an authentic representation of the man. He is a closed lidded box, locked, but made of glass, completely transparent.
Before you get to know Christian you have to first meet and pass the rigorous testing of The Prince Wilkins - a character study 8 years in the development who is both a master of comedy and distraction @theprincewilkins is the must have IT-girl at your party.
Flippant and irreverent, The Prince is allowed the ignorance of privilege, and revels in it. He is unashamed and unabashed, toxic sure, but less in a Chernobyl way and more in a 2004 Britney Spears pop classic way. A guilty pleasure.
Most people never get past Prince. Most people don’t want to. Most people don’t realise the The Prince is mostly satire of the environment he exists in, taking the complete piss not only out of himself, but out of those you don’t see the irony. Thats the real genius of Christian’s alter ego. The master punchline that Wilkins has artfully written into his own identity is that he beat you at judging him before you even got a chance, he is not only in on the joke. He wrote it.
The Christian that comes after this, the puppet master of the public one, hides pretty much in plain sight. Waiting for the rare opportunity when he finds something actually worth responding to. He is less interested in the public attention and hollow gratification of an ‘I love your outfit’, even the dollar value of himself as a product is of no concern to him. Instead he is looking to engage, sharing new ideas with people who challenge him. He yearns for growth even more than love. His venerability is guarded sure, and few are ever allowed to witness it, but he is warm and grateful when you prove that you won’t play the Prince’s game.
‘I remember on school camp I told these girls I had a crush on this other boy, Jonah. This boy was my friend by the way, one of the two male friends I’ve ever had. They went around telling everyone and then told Jonah and I remember I was so humiliated. I was the first person at my school and it wasn’t bad, but it was a lot of attention around it and I wasn’t ready and I was
A shame complex is something no gay man is a stranger to. The Prince’s self given privilege may have been able to avoid it, but Christians road to self acceptance has been just as long and just as heavy as anyone else. Talking to him, meeting his family you see that understanding in the family unit was found quickly and an unwavering support network was formed. However acceptance in the self was much harder to reconcile. It seems a common theme through the narrative he writes for himself, that his harshest critic is often himself.
Christian is a romantic, raised on a healthy diet of Disney. His ideas of paradise are not so much focused on Cinderella’s castle, but on the happy ending that she found. The son of parents divorced at 18 months of his existence, Christian has been raised in a blended family soup of love. His mother, a strong and fiercely independent women, unwavering with her moral compass. His father a public personality, camera charismatic and face to face shy, you can’t help but wonder was this self rejection of a genetically disposition towards an alternative life made greater by the alternative family he was born into.
‘I wanted that fairy tale, I wanted that Disney ending, and I guess the closest I could get to that was by putting myself in the position of the princess now.’
‘I don’t think my story is more important than anyone, but I’m given this platform so I need to use it, even if that is just to enjoy it sometimes.’
Now he is steadfast in his homosexuality. He is proud of it, uses it as one of his defining factors. Pushing for it to be celebrated not just as a novelty but an important path of development. He is more concerned with who can become, opposed to where he has come from. Using these experiences he has gained and the platform he has been granted to help move the conversation forward.
Nepotism is a word that is thrown at him a lot, but he has managed to elevate himself high enough above the sneers of the hateful rabble that the jeers can’t even clip his heels. Actively he turns away from reality TV opportunities, things “The Prince” would love to do. Instead he carves a path of absolute passion, cutting through a brush of uncharted territory. His contribution remains always considered and relevant to his ideas of what he thinks will add value to the bigger picture. He has the fresh voice of youth on his side and its clear and well researched, particularly when bending the ear of the influential he his lucky enough to be surrounded by. He is a champion of the people he surrounds himself with, aiming to always life up rather than tear town. A conscious decision he made a long time ago. Being the subject of public criticism has not made him bitter, instead he chooses to be better. A task he then forces onto those around him also.
It’s not a fear of being unable to measure up to the legacy laid down by his Father before him. It’s not a fear of failure, it’s not a fear of one day losing his semi-celebrity privilege. In fact it’s not fear that drives Christian to do what he does, its love. He approaches each opportunity he is given with sense of consideration normally reserved for people much older and further in their public careers. His concern is not to amass a fortune or to build a media empire but instead add another layer to what has already been put down before him. He takes these opportunities as a way to add further value to what his dad has already done, to widen the appeal and to speak louder more diverse language each time.
His currently preferred medium of self expression is fashion. In recent times, Christian has been easily identified more so than anything by the way he dresses. His sense of style, or lack of, as some say, is attuned mostly to his mood. He isn’t afraid to have fun at the party of life. He isn’t scared to not look conventionally masculine. Instead choosing to present himself as an individual, and although this may be less digestible to some it is more evidence pointing to the fact that he is dedicated to authentically being himself.
‘When I was 18/19 the Prince character maybe took over a little too much, I was playing it too often and around people who liked it. I was doing and acting and dressing... I guess... more to make these other people happy and not myself. I let Prince run the show, I didn’t work for a year, I would go out for extravagant lunches and put it on my Dad’s credit card and it was completely inappropriate, and at the end of that year I was so unhappy, I had no purpose I was very lost.’
He has a voice, not because of nepotism, but because he has had a unique experience that the gay community is only finding in itself in now. The young live in a space where they do not need to fight for the acceptance of the community but instead the battle that is completely with themselves. Christian is the poster boy for this new wave of sexuality reconciliation. He represents a privileged generation, having battle won for them but still enduring turmoil. He speaks for a generation who is constantly told to just be thankful and that they have, that they have nothing to complain about. Christian will not accept himself to be dismissed, and nor will his experience Through this he inspires many to claim their space, own their sexuality and celebrate their individuality. To live as authentically as possible even if it does come in compartmentalised packages of personas.
So where is Christian now?
He has a social issues podcast, Radical Fashionism, with Podcast One, he reports for E!, he lives his life. He shares the stories he thinks will help the world, he keeps the harder ones to tell a little quieter. Him and the Prince live mostly in harmony, although they can annoy each other a little sometimes. It is a business partnership of both success and self preservation. Following in the footsteps of a parent is both an impossible pressure, and a cliche. Romantic enough that the parent may have a theatrical moment of disappointment if the child chooses not to, but not imperative to us enough that you’ll get that glass slipper for doing so. So, Christian as always will undo the unexpected. He’ll carve his own path, the moral compass he has inherited from his mother will guide him through
any storm doubt.
That is where his self assurance comes from.
That’s the big secret about Christian.
That’s why you read this, to find out what he is really like.
The revelation, about the enigma that is The Prince.
Is that, he’s one of the kindest people you will ever meet.
Bet you didn’t see that, did you…
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