Jes Tom, How Are You So Hot?

“These are my activities: Eat, masturbate, and lie down.”
Jes Tom holding a red rose against an orange background
Collage by Cathryn Virginia | Photos by Bridget Badore and Getty Images
It's not a set of rules—it's a state of mind.

The interview series “How Are You So Hot?” is a thirsty journey into the minds, tastes, and attractions of foxy people we like.

Over a recent video call, the comedian Jes Tom raised one of the prettiest pieces of pink glassware I’ve ever seen. A few months ago, their bedroom was rigorously set-designed: As of February, Tom hosts Dear Jes, an Instagram live advice show for the Netflix @Most social media accounts, where the comedian doles out aid to “queers in need.” And so their bedroom-turned-office-turned–cushy talk show platform has been carefully tailored to reflect Tom’s spirit: wiggly patterns, light-up planets, peculiar stuffed animal-alien creatures. The bedroom is a cozy world of imagination—and it’s also the historic place for sex, as Tom points out in the series. 


Tom’s first stand-up performance, in their hometown of San Francisco, at a café-bar-laundromat combination called BrainWash in 2011, is now a full decade ago. Since then, they’ve crystallized an absurdist yet clear-eyed, cynical yet continually delighted approach to the world. Their sets often consider such subjects as: navigating the world as a non-binary person, Asian-American representation, the endless appeal of older lesbians, working at a “an upscale sex toy store for people of Karen experience,” and the apocalypse. Many of Tom’s experiences converge for their online advice show. In a recent segment, guiding someone newly ready to enter the queer world, Tom suggests some things to consider while looking at a crush’s social media profile, including “what their neck might smell like.” It’s a moment that underscores their whole comedic ethos: disarming and mischievous, but also weirdly gentle. 

Certainly Tom’s style of comedy—speed, levity, sharp social observation—is a central component of their advice, but Tom’s background as a sex toy store employee also comes through clearly. They’re exceedingly unfazed, and truly interested in setting everyone up for success. Tom’s listening skills are sharp, they’re astute about hearing people’s desires, and they know how to give actionable advice. And so, of course we needed to know: How are you so hot? 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 


VICE: So, in Zoom intimacy fashion, I know that you have cool bedding! [Tom’s sheets have a 90s-ish confetti print reminiscent of a Saved by the Bell credit sequence.] How did you get such distinctive sheets?

JES TOM: Netflix bought them for me! I sent them a Pinterest board and they sent me back options, and I was like I want this, this, and this, it was so easy and fun and free for me. 

I have to know more about this board. What was the mood?

It was funny: a lot of the pictures were not actually photographs, they were like drawings of depressed teens in cool anime rooms with a lot of stuffed animals and weird lights and stuff. Really, what I’m saying is I’m trying to act about 15 years younger than I actually am. I’m a pre-teen now; I’m taking testosterone, I’m literally, physically in teenage boy mode. I’m masturbating all day. It is depression, and also this stage in my life.

To add a third factor, we’re also all not socializing out in the world. 

Yes. So those are my activities: Eat, masturbate, and lie down. 

When we were scheduling this call, you pushed for a little later, saying you’ve become nocturnal recently. Why is that? 


I very much am a slinky creature of the night. I’ve always liked to do things when it seems like other people aren’t around. I used to love to do “back to school night” when I was a kid. It’s not when you’re supposed to be there! I would love to stay overnight at a museum. I’ve never done that, but I dream about it. 

I like midnight: a classic witching hour. Early enough that the night can just be starting for some people, but late enough that squares have already gone to bed. I’d be remiss to leave out that night time is for queer people. That’s when, historically, we have been allowed to come out and do our thing. That’s in my body and my blood. 

I say this as though I have ever been a genuinely fun person. I’m a stand-up comic—that’s a nightlife job. I like going to work; I don’t drink. I’m a person who goes to a party and stands there and looks around.

What was initially appealing to you about stand-up? 

This is probably the most annoying kind of kid you could be, but I was the kind of kid, when we were reading in class and taking turns, I would wait for my turn. I was ready to read the book out loud to the class! I like people’s attention, and I like praise. Stand-up comedy is just people laughing because they love you so much. It’s irrefutable feedback. 

In addition to stand-up, you previously worked at, in your words, “an upscale sex toy store for people of Karen experience.” What was the most interesting part of working there?


What was interesting about it now is, I have a lot of extremely specific product knowledge that is routinely useful to people. I tend to forget that I worked in a sex shop because a lot of my friends used to work in a sex shop, too. Not every person has that experience of being a sex educator–lite. I don’t realize how specific it is until I say it, and people are like, Oooh!!

I was on a Zoom comedy show with a couple of men recently. The host was a cis dude and the comic right before me was a cis gay man, and they were talking about having a hard time bottoming. One of them said he’d never really done it before because he didn’t know how to prepare himself for it. Or he didn’t even know that [preparation] was a thing. Sex education is bad—that’s not on him.

I got on after, and I was like, “Have you ever thought about getting a set of anal plugs that increases in size so you can train yourself up? What it does is it relaxes your sphincter and you get used to it…” 

He was like, “Oh my god, is that what people do?” 

And I was like, “I hope that’s what people do. That’s what I used to tell people eight hours a day for three years.”

You’re just using comedy as a beneficial Trojan Horse for sex education! 

I want people to have their best lives possible. I want people to have fun!

You were such a good employee, I can tell.


I wasn’t! [Laughs]

Even better, tell me more.

They tried to ban me from coming back. I didn’t work there anymore at the time—they were using a store as a venue that had comedy shows. I got booked to do some, and while I was there, I happened to see that one of my exes, who also worked there, was teaching a class on ethical non-monogamy. And I had been in what I consider unethical non-monogamy with this person. 

At the time, we still used Facebook. I wrote a status like, hahaha my ex who surprised me by moving to another city to be with their other partner is now back teaching a class on ethical non-monogamy. I didn’t say who it was or where it was, but I subsequently got an email from [the store’s] HR. Mind you, I had quit before this, I didn’t work at this company anymore. HR was like, “Your Facebook status has made employees feel unsafe and you are no longer welcome to come and perform.” But I’ve been back. I thought that was a really good example of people using social justice language to say some nonsense thing. Because I don’t think anybody felt unsafe about [the Facebook status], I think that is someone who didn’t want to face the fact they did a bad thing to me. And that is funny! I was trying to make a joke: It’s funny this person did this thing to me and is teaching a class on ethical non-monogamy. If you don’t want me to make a joke, don’t do funny things. I’m going to notice!


What’s something you fell in love with for the first time recently, and what do you love about it?  

In an extremely classic stoner way, I’ve become extremely obsessed with watching my giant new lava lamp. It takes a lava lamp three hours to heat up. Did you know this?

I did! 

I love to watch it when it’s still in the hard wax phase before it gets totally liquid. I find myself setting myself up so I can watch TV and the lava lamp at the same time. Really, I’m just watching the lava lamp instead of the show. Other people are bettering themselves at this time. Me, I’m looking at the wax. 

What accessory (literal or not) do you adopt for a fresh feeling of hotness?

Necklaces. I feel jewelry is very powerful. I’ve always been like this. I was looking at old pictures of myself the other day and when I was a kid, I had this chain necklace with a Neopet on it. I desperately wish I still had that. 

In substitution of the lost Neopet chain, what piece of jewelry is doing it for you now? 

What I’m wearing right now is a peep show token [on a chain]. My girlfriend gave it to me. [The sex store I worked in] sells these, and I never bought one, and it was something I wanted. My girlfriend went on eBay and bought a bunch of just the tokens and drilled a hole in it. I treasure it. It’s two kind of genderless humans entwined, long hair, and it say “ADULTS ONLY” at the top.


What did you find hot 10 years ago?

I used to go hard for any brown-haired white girl with fringed bangs. A Zooey Deschanel type, but, like, meaner. If Zooey Deschanel was mean. 

What do you hope to find appealing in the next 10 years?

Something I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t gotten a chance to yet is date a significantly older woman. I hope in 10 years I’m doing some Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor thing. 

Is there anything you formerly didn’t care for at all that you now find unendingly hot?

I’m suddenly very interested in pursuing sex with gay men, which I’ve never done before. I feel like, historically, people who are more dyke-identified can be sort of interested in gay men and gay sex lives. Anyone can, no matter what they’re doing to their body, but now that I’m on hormones, I sort of have this dream opportunity: Maybe I can enter into that world. 

In one of your acts, you get into the concept of an “apocalypse boo” and answering questions in your Dear Jes advice series on “love at the end of the world”—which doesn’t feel irrelevant to the situation in the past year. Have you been thinking about how attraction will work when we’re released into the world? 

I’ve always fantasized about this love at the end of the world scenario, where something happens and everyone goes and professes their love to whomever and consummates these relationships. And then suddenly, we’re in this apocalypse, but it’s one where we can’t do that! That bums me out. 

I am fully in a relationship—it doesn’t matter what I think about this. It’s a non-monogamous relationship, so it might have worked in a different apocalypse. In the future, on the one hand, I’m like, I’m going to go out and fuck all my friends. I’ve never really done that before and now I’m going to try that! Who cares! No holds barred! On the other hand, we’re also all going to be super weird around each other. Now, I get impatient in social situations that I normally could smile and nod through. I get so irritated I’m like I have to leave! I just need some sort of slut catalyst.  

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