A maker of modern classics, John Cameron Mitchell is the indie darling whose films foreground subculture and sexual ecstasy. He’s perhaps best known for his directorial debut and starring role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a musical comedy about a gender-queer punk-rock singer from East Berlin who takes America by storm. Yet in more recent years, John has become renowned for his iconic depiction of Joe Exotic – aka ‘The Tiger King’ – in the 2021 TV series exploring the bizarre underworld of big cat breeding. In conversation with Paul Dallas for Extra Extra magazine no. 19, John discusses his 2006 masterpiece Shortbus, liberation and orgies in early 2000s New York.