For the past five years, actor Tom Harlan has played Mars 2112’s Dr. Mars, who works alongside Empress Glorianna, her right-hand man Orion, and QTP, a.k.a. Cutie Pie the Math Wiz. “Most of the Martian actors have gotten positive careers,” he says. “A lot of them go on tours.” Not him, though — Carlin boasts that though he’s been on Chinese TV, he isn’t leaving his sweet gig anytime soon. We asked what’s keeping him at Times Square’s most famous (infamous?) theme restaurant.
You’ve worked in a rather peculiar environment for the past five years. Does it ever haunt you in your sleep?
It’s an acting gig. Quite honestly I don’t know many other actors who have an acting gig like this — they’re mostly unemployed.
How has this helped your acting?
You have to be on your feet because things are going to come from left field. Let’s say they like my costume. I say, “It’s Halston 2 Intergalactica.”
What do you do when kids get scared of you and start crying?
I try to make them know the Martians will be out soon by intergalactically stating, “We have a game room.” Talking to the kid directly helps because it makes the kid smile.
Do people come just to rag on the place and get rowdy?
I’ve seen rowdy people, but it’s a rowdy that likes the place, not a rowdy that’s negative.
How potent are the “Marstinis”? Do they ever get people sloshed?
I don’t drink — I’m on the PG side of the equation. I’ve never seen anyone get obnoxiously inebriated, so they’re not that potent.
So nobody ends up hitting on Empress Glorianna?
I’ve seen gentlemen hug her and hug Cutie Pie. The girls like to hug and pose with Captain Orion.
What’s the main difference between your out-of-town patrons and the New Yorkers?
Usually I can spot the New Yorkers because they have the know-all attitude on their face. When we go up to the table, they start to break down a little bit. The kid in them comes out.
Was Bill Clinton really there? What other celebs?
He came two times. I believe he brought his nephew here — he was 6 years old at the time. Brad Pitt was here with his son Maddox. I’m not going to name names because of lawsuits. I’m an actor myself — I understand.
Do Trekkies come in for dates?
We’ve had a gentleman bring his fiancée there and propose to her at Mars. He was a sci-fi fan, and so was his girlfriend. The girl that got proposed to was totally ingratiated.