Since childhood, the late gender-fluid visionary artist, actor, and creative Harry Hains felt the need to be free and express himself in the ways that he wanted to. Not feeling like a boy was supposed to feel, but not feeling as though he was gay either, he did not believe in the social constructs of gender and sexuality. Growing up in Melbourne, he was an imaginative child and created horror films on his camcorder and wrote short stories and poems, inspired by the likes of Sylvia Plath and EE Cummings. Eventually moving to London for modeling and then to LA to pursue film and music, he had a deep passion for film, music, and art. He later created the moniker of ANTIBOY, born out of his desire to kind-of have a philosophy where people could just be who they were, not because of labels. ANTIBOY represents a genderless transhuman living in a future non-binary world where there is no judgement and people are seen only for their inner pure consciousness. Although he passed away in January of 2020, his mother Jane Badler has kept his memory and message alive through ANTIBOY, posthumously releasing his debut album A Glitch In Paradise in December of 2020 and has released several singles since. As the driving force behind Harry’s ANTIBOY project, she has become a relentless advocate for LGBTQ+ equality, mental health, and the ongoing epidemic of drug addiction, with her personal experience as Harry’s mother allowing her to channel her grief into purpose- to help those who are struggling and to promote understanding and acceptance. Most recently, Badler and director Michael J Saul have released the music video for the ANTIBOY track “One Love”. The track seems to encapsulate what Harry was all about-spreading love and acceptance.
Interview with Jane Badler, Harry’s mother:
What can you tell me about Harry as a child and how he later came to create ANTIBOY and his vision for the project?
Well, Harry was an incredibly creative child. I think he just came out of the womb different. We lived at the time in Melbourne…we’re talking many, many years ago. At that time, I think Harry was an unusual and unique child, because he kind-of identified at a very young age…terms like non-binary didn’t exist, but Harry really didn’t feel like what a boy was supposed to feel. And yet, he didn’t really identify as gay. And he felt this need to be free and to be able to express himself in any way he wanted to, which got him into a bit of trouble in school. Like if he didn’t want to go to sports but wanted to go to art. I think that really embedded in him this desire to kind-of have a philosophy where people could just be who they were, not because of labels or because someone said “Oh. You were born a boy or you are a boy or a girl.” For him, it extended beyond that, to the color of someone’s skin or someone even being in a wheelchair. Harry was very, very open and loving and really didn’t see the differences in people. It was just a bit of an unusual vision for someone young, and I think at some point he created a moniker for himself called ANTIBOY, which really was kind-of a play on words- ANTI-BOY. He had a huge vision. He created music and wrote scripts. He wanted to create an empire really, based on that philosophy.
What can you tell me about the single “One Love” and working with Michael on the music video? What role did you play in the concept behind the video and getting that going?
I’m really the concept behind the song and Micheal’s the concept behind the music video. The song, which was released a while ago, we didn’t have a music video for yet. The song had quite an interesting background, because when Harry passed away, he left behind some demos that he had worked on in a studio in Miami with RedOne, who is a very big producer. And we all listened to it and thought, “Are these songs worth saving?” and decided that “One Love” was an anthem that was completely about what Harry believed in. It was very emotional for us all and we felt that we really had to finish the song. So, Fernando Garibay finished it and I, with the help of Sizzy Rocket, wrote the bridge and I sang on it. It was really an ode to Harry and also to everyone in the world who struggles with their identity. And then Michael, who directed Harry in his first film, really out of nowhere…I hadn’t spoken to him in years…called me up and asked “Do you mind if I create a music video and a dome experience around this song?”. And I said “Sure”. I didn’t really expect too much and didn’t really know what he was going to do, but when I saw it I was completely gobsmacked at what he created! For me, it was an avatar of Harry traveling through this fantastic world of color and beauty and everything that Harry wanted for us all on this earth. It was just wonderful and exciting and I got right behind it and said “Let’s get some PR and make this happen.” So now we are working together and it’s just very touching. He directed Harry in his first film many years ago, so it’s been very moving for us to reunite after all these years.
I read an interview you did where you mentioned that when Harry was alive, he never wanted you to sing on his songs, but you did sing on “One Love”. What was your approach to deciding to sing on this song and writing the bridge? What did that moment mean to you?
Yeah, that’s so true! I mean, I think he just felt like “Mom. You’ve had your career”. I’d had this big career as a sci-fi icon and he sort-of, like, wanted his own identity, as most young men do. He really, truly, underneath it all, wanted to work with me. Whenever he had an audition, he’d call me from LA and we’d work on the audition over the phone. I helped him with a lot of his work, until he got a little bit older. I think that this idea at first was slow in coming around. I was very intimidated by those people like Fernando Garibay, who’s worked with Lady Gaga and Sia, and I thought “Oh my god! How scary for me to be a part of this.” But it just seemed like nothing else would have been right…the emotional aspect of it. To say to my son that it’s always been right there, the belief in yourself, even though the world might tell you that you’re not good enough or you’re different, that right there inside of you is the belief that yes you are. And it just felt so big and so huge that I kind-of felt like I had to do it.
What can you tell me about your advocacy for LGBTQ+ equality, mental health, and the ongoing epidemic of drug addiction? How has that allowed you to channel your grief into purpose?
You know, I’m a very creative person, and so for me, most of what I try to do is through creativity. I recently produced a short film that Harry wrote, which was about a trans, dual personality young man who morphs into a trans and has addiction issues. That has been showing around festivals all over the world and is called Sapphire and we’re doing a screening here in Melbourne. I’m writing a memoir right now to help others and to chat about the journey I’ve been on with my beautiful son and how unusual he was and the trajectory he was on and how the addiction started and the mental health and the help was not available at that time for young people. People did not understand a lot of mental health in young kids. The school system…it’s just so important to me, the education of the school system. So, I’m trying to do a lot of it through creative channels. I am also a supporter of a lot of organizations, and one of them is the Ali Forney Center in New York that helps homeless LGBTQI+ youth. And also here in Melbourne, we’ve just given a lot of money to The Gender House, which works with persecution of refugees. I feel it’s very close to my heart. Very, very close to my heart.
What has the general response been to ANTIBOY by the community and the world at large? Have you received messages from people who really respond to the message?
Yes! Absolutely. We’ve kept all of Harry’s channels open, like Instagram. We started out with a flurry of activity when Harry first passed away. There was a year of lots of videos. My other son is a very brilliant visual artist and he did a lot of the videos and we had a team of people. We had a lot of response then and we were very active and worked with a company Fluid and put out t-shirts and raised money for The Ali Forney Center. But honestly, I couldn’t keep up that pace and time has passed and we’re going on 3 years. Now we have very specific, individual projects that we do once a year or the film and now this song’s being released, just to remind people of the message. I think it’s going out to the bigger community now. It’s not just about Harry. It’s a bigger message and a really important message. People definitely are responding and are very touched, and I get people’s stories and it’s really moving to me.
What can you tell me about the recent video premiere and the response?
The video premiere is happening, I guess, as we speak. I think we’ve got another day and it’s going to be premiering on Queerty, the online magazine (queerty.com). That’s going to be happening and we’ll be doing interviews and different articles. So yeah, I think it will be beautiful and wonderful and my expectations…if I can reach just one person, it makes me happy.
In keeping Harry’s music, art, and hopeful wish for a more inclusive world alive, what do you see as Harry’s lasting legacy?
Oh that’s such a good question! I guess for me, I feel like it’s the fact that Harry’s free. Because I do feel that way. I feel that when we are in a human form, we suffer. And Harry did suffer. He suffered with mental health and addiction and there’s a sense of freedom now. And I can see the purity in his message, which was this sense that there are no differences in all of us at the very pure form of consciousness and love. And really, love is all we have. And when you feel love, you’re so happy. When you stop judging, when you’re not jealous or envious and don’t come from your own trauma. It’s such a beautiful sense of freedom. I think that’s who Harry was. Harry was that and didn’t even have to work at it. He was a little celestial being. I don’t know where he came from (laughs). I think that message of who he was, just by his being, is a beautiful thing, and if we can all just be a little bit more of that it would be a much better world. It’s not easy to get there, but we’ll try.
Interview with Michael J Saul:
What can you tell me about meeting Harry when you cast him in your film The Surface, a story about queer love and chosen family? What was it about him that drew you about his spirit when he was alive?
Well, Harry was a very unusual person. As an actor, he was remarkable and sort-of magnetic in his personality and had a creative spirit that was really unique and amazing in Hollywood, from my experience. I really enjoyed working with him. He was always bringing something interesting to the table. But he always had this sort-of air of mystery about him with our working relationship. Once the film was completed and in distribution and out in the film festivals and such, we then sort-of found a friendship afterward. And I also found out that he was very funny and really enjoyed life to the fullest, when we would see each other at parties and such. And I don’t know. He just had this unusual aura about him that I really was taken by, and I think that people who watch the film get that from him, as well.
In directing the video for “One Love”, in what ways did you utilize Harry’s spirit and ANTIBOY’s message of compassion and love without borders to create the visual world of the song?
When I first heard the song, it was a song I just couldn’t get out of my head because it has this very joyous feeling. I thought immediately that it would be a wonderful thing to visualize. And they hadn’t created an official music video for it, before this, and so what I visualized mostly was the Harry that I knew. The spirit of Harry that I knew, which may be different for other people. I knew him as this just sort-of curious person who just loved life. And so, when he first developed ANTIBOY he was talking to me about it and telling me about the fact that he would be able to express himself as this alter-ego in ways that he wouldn’t necessarily otherwise do. And so I used that, knowing Harry to be very fanciful in his thought and the way he conquered songs and things of that nature. I just decided to create this world that I think he would have loved to live in of beauty and happiness and love and candy colored kaleidoscopic things. I mean, it’s very child-like in a lot of ways, and the opposite of most of the work that I do on my own. But, I could just see Harry flying through this world and that was sort-of the emphasis for it.
What can you tell me about approaching the making of the video with a directorial filmmaker perspective? Did you have that specific idea in mind from the start to shoot the video almost like a short film?
It’s all animation, so I could really create anything I wanted it to be. So, it was really me just sitting at the computer and just creating this world out of 3D objects and the moving camera. And I found this very sort-of cartoonish vehicle for Harry to ride around in throughout this whole world. So it really was just an exercise in fun for me and was really just having a good time with images I thought he would enjoy.
What can you tell me about creating 360° Fulldome version of the video? Was that type of video something you had done before or did you have to take some time to learn how to do that sort of animation?
For the past 6 years or so, I’ve been the director and primary animator for 2 feature length Fulldome shows, the first of which traveled the country before the pandemic, called Mesmerica. It’s basically a musical track by James Hood, who used to be the drummer for The Pretenders in the 90s. And he created the wonderful surround sound musical soundtracks and then my job was to basically put the visuals to that. And then I also work with animators from around the world. So we did that and that’s about to come out again now, post-pandemic, and we’re following it up with a second one called Beautifica, which is even more sophisticated than the first one. So I have a lot of experience working with the Fulldome format, which is becoming much, much more popular amongst film artists and animators because it is such a sensory, immersive experience of watching your work in a planetarium or that kind of dome surrounding. So I had a lot of experience with that, and that’s why I thought it would be fun to make the video initially in this format, because I was looking for some way to express myself in a short form version in the dome and thought that would be a fun way to do it.
What can you tell me about the video premiere process and the response to the video?
We got accepted into a dome festival here in California, in Orange County/Costa Mesa, called Dome Fest West. It’s really only in it’s second year but it’s beautifully curated over about 4 days. There are a lot of professionals and artists and people come from all over the world to attend it. It was a great way to show off the film for the first time and was in a program with other short films that were very music-oriented, so it was in good company. It was very well-received and we had a Q&A afterward and people were asking great questions. It was just a lot of fun to see it on the big screen, in the dome and surrounded by music, and was great fun.
What are your thoughts on ANTIBOY and being a part of that concept that Harry created? What do you hope people take away from his message and his vision for what he wanted the world to be?
For Jane to include me in this has been really remarkable. I feel sort-of like we’ve come full-circle with Harry’s existence and afterlife, in a way. It’s been a great joy to be a part of that. I’m also gay and an LGBTQ+ filmmaker, so it’s very meaningful to me to try to continue that story of his. Especially with what this song says to me, which is that we’re all basically the same. We’ve all got the same body parts, the same brains, so why can’t we find some way to just love each other. There has to be some way to do that and I think it’s message that we all need right now so badly and hope it helps anybody out there who is struggling with any of these issues, and gives them some sort of hope, or even a few minutes of entertainment.
Jane mentioned that you had contacted her to direct the video, so was this song one that really spoke to you on a deep level that caused you to reach out to her to make the video?
Oh absolutely! I listened to the song quite a few times and every time I heard it, these images just came into my brain, and that’s always a good sign that I should do something. And so, I did contact her and said “Jane, I’d really like to do this. What do you think?” and she said “Yeah. That would be great.” I sent it to her and she really liked it a lot, and so it just sort-of took off from there. The song has this wonderful spirit to it and a rousing finale that reminds me a bit of a revival meeting, in a way…a crescendo of choir voices. And it just lifted me up and I just thought that I should really do something.
Do you have any other videos in the works at all or hope to do more in the future?
Yeah. I’m doing a remake of a short film I did in 1985 with a collaborator named Steven Michael Miller, who’s also now passed. I am remaking it in the 21st century with 21st century technology and it’s an experimental film and has a lot of dance in it. That will hopefully be out sometime next year. And I’m developing several other feature projects.