February 2007April 2007 

 

5 posts from March 2007

Mar 28 2007
Boy's Own Story Comments (10)

3_23_07_frontispiece_allan_et_oth_2Mondo Boy Culture.

It’s crazy recapping a trip days later, but here goes.

We went to L.A. on the 22nd in order to attend the premiere festivities around Boy Culture, two years after it was shot, 15 months after I first saw it and a year after its popular screening at TriBeCa. Time flies except for when it’s independently filmed, in which case it’s in no rush.

I pretend to approach L.A. as a vacation every time I go there on biz, which frustrates José to no end. He’s dreaming of poolside appletinis, massage splurges and Melrose Avenue finds, while I’m scheduling photo-shoot drop-ins and lunch meetings. This time, it was a happy marriage since my business involved a promo party at Tiger Heat and a premiere bash at East/West. He still squeezed in all those other things, though he had to squint while buying discount jackets at Express Men in the Hollywood & Highland Center and pretend he was finding 20-year-old T-shirts several blocks over.

I had stayed up wicked-late blogging my Barracuda experience (here's a bonus pic of me with Jesse Archer and Rentboy.com's Tom Weise), getting only an hour’s sleep before working out. How’s working out 8194874_detail550_2working out for me? So far, so good—I was not losing an ounce for a couple of months until I decided it had to be the Lipitor I was taking for cholesterol. I went off it and BOOM lost 12 pounds via cardio and Weight Watchers, which I’d been doing while on it. Don’t take a statin just because your doctor hands it to you. I’d rather have a bypass than balloon up more. My work-out helped me doze (aka pass out) on the plane, so reading Farley Granger’s somewhat disappointingly matter-of-fact autobio (still, buy it!) was something I saved for the return trip.

We spent our evening in L.A. shopping and enjoying the Hollywood Roosevelt, which one of Boy Culture’s producers—Stephen Israel—insists is the Rue-zuh-velt since it’s named for Teddy and not Roh-zuh-velt. I always said Teddy’s name the latter way, too, but then I wasn't spending much time thinking of that while feeling my way through the pitch-black lobby past chattering partytards and European wannabes. I like the Roosevelt. I stayed there pre-reno, enjoying being in the place where the first Oscars were held. Now, it’s considered somewhat chic, and I’m brand-loyal.

Img_0049_2Everybody goes to Hollywood (Roosevelt).

That night, reviews were pouring in, which was more exciting than the Rue-zuh-velt-provided "Shag Bag" that came Img_0071with condoms and a clitoral stimulating gel. I was one of the first of the Boy Culture gang to spot the New York Times valentine by Jeannette Catsoulis, to whom I’m officially proposing marriage. I was in delighted shock that it was so positive—in fact, 100% positive—because the first mainstream review I’d seen since Variety way back in the day was an absolutely opaque pan by Tom Beer, who must have been drunk in order to give the movie one out of six stars. Like it or like it not so much, there are elements in the film that can not be dismissed out of hand—one out of six should be reserved for films that are appalling beginning to end. He didn’t even have specific criticisms, just a complaint that it was narcotic. Yo, I am willing to bet the guy fell asleep watching it on a DVD screener. At least give it a two for being short.

NytThe paper of record urges viewers to get some Culture.

Oops, caring too much about neg and not enough about poz.

So I got a call from Phil Lobel, co-producer, and told him the Times was the best review the film had gotten yet (he in turn told me the L.A. Times was also terrific). Phil handed the phone to the director, Q. Allan Brocka, and I read him every word. He was at a loss for how to respond. I don’t think even Allan himself would give his own movie such an unqualified rave. He was speechless, and I think there was a sense as the night wore on that the biggest critical hurdles were behind us and they’d been leapt. (In fact, the movie has continued to draw far more positive than negative reviews, including some great notices from TV Guide, The Bay Area Reporter, Gay City News, Film Threat, Film Jerk, Next and even from hard-to-please blogs like The Mad Professah, on top of other reviews I’ve cited previously.)

Img_0065_2With the filmmakers. Had an XL sticker on my new jacket. In L.A., I felt more like XXXL.

That night was Tiger Heat, a night promoted for 18- to 21-year old gaybies that was featuring Boy Culture. I never, ever go to clubs, and here I was hitting two in a row...on opposite coasts! I didn’t know how to dress for younguns, so I went casual and still felt like I was in a tux. The club is impressively massive, reminding me of Club USA from Times Square back in the early ’90s, except packed with sexually viable young men who could not only pass for, but could easily, physically, be my progeny.

0020Young sluts, be free tonight. Courtesy of PartyWithBrandon.com.

The area we were in was lowkey early on, but then got crowded. The movie’s posters were here, there and everywhere. The Ginch Gonch Boys had shown up to the previous night’s Micky’s bash (and the pictures looked like porn stills...see embedded here courtesy of Allan and following this paragraph), so I was hopeful I’d spot them. No such luck. But the producers were there as was Allan, and I managed a great group shot despite his concern about being banned for life—they have a strict no-photography clause that was cheerfully ignored by Brandon of Rentboy.com, who got scores of great photos.

Img_4599_2From PartyWithBrandon.com, Jonathon Trent does Micky's does The Ginch Gonch Boys.

I felt old and I reacted to Tiger Heat the way I react to any shiny, distracting gizmo available to legendary children today that was not yet invented when I was in my queer infancy.

BOY CULTURE opening 3/23/07...watch, then read!

The following day, Boy Culture opened at the Quad in NYC, the Castro Theatre in San Francisco and most importantly (since I was there!) the Laemmle Sunset 5 in L.A. The plan was that the film’s stars—Derek Magyar, Darryl Stephens and Jonathon Trent—its producers and myself would show up at the evening performance of the film to support Allan in introducing it. This would be followed by a shindig at East/West on Santa Monica.

Boyc_2I had work stuff all day and had barely thought about what to wear, so I wound up Mr. New York in a black jacket and dark shirt. Everyone in L.A. seems to wear trendy, no-fuss beachwear to big-deal events and look effortlessly stylish doing so. That, along with incessant drug talk and the distinct feeling that no one is eating, is one reason why I feel slightly out of place there. But as far as NYC vs. L.A. goes, I’ve come to appreciate the Left Coast. If I could chop myself in half, I’d probably love it.

Img_0083Boy Culture makes its marquee mark.

Arriving at the theater was fun. Seeing Boy Culture on the marquee was a rush. Eyeing (g)A-(y)list celebs like Robert Gant, the men of Here! TV’s Dante's Cove, Dame Bruce Vilanch, Eating Out 2’s sexy boys Andrew Ley (he just booked an Apple campaign—I see him being as good at moving apples as the snake in the Garden Of Eden) and James Michael Bobby (see him on DVD in Cowboy Junction) and so many others was Img_0208a trip. Most of all, I loved seeing the film’s actors looking so dapper and so happy. I was crushed to hear Jonathon is no longer with his GF Katrina (I had just blogged about their adorability, too) but thrilled to see that the film’s pivotal “Blondie”—George Jonson—had flown in (pictured). Looking chiseled and as stare-worthy as his character, George informed me he’s making the move to L.A. from Seattle, where he currently cuts elaborate designs into people’s heads in an urbancentric salon. Good ol' Oliver Carnay was on hand to capture us all on film.

Img_0203Allan and I, relieved the overdue baby is now born with 10 fingers & toes.

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Mar 19 2007
Screening Queens Comments (1)

Img_0004_2The Quad hopes to get glutes in the seats.

Took a short subway ride to Union Square and walked over to The Quad to check out the poster for Boy Culture, since it's opening there this Friday. I knew it would be a somewhat covert operation since theaters don't take kindly to photography, but I walked in and snapped a pic before the usher could sheepishly inform me not to.

Img_0003_3Take a picture—it'll last longer.

I love The Quad. It's an institution in NYC because it's where you can reliably see a lot of queer film, some good, some bad (isn't all film that way?). I remember seeing a pretty terrible gay movie there called Latin Boys Go To Hell. It felt like I was surrounded by guilty, closeted, married retirees who were hoping to rub knees with some Latin boys before going to hell. It's sometimes like that—the sexier-seeming the movie, the cruisier the audience. Which is great because they paid to get in and queer film can use the support.

00068953Back in 1997, Latin Boys Go To Hell was not on anyone's radar, and grossed a pubic hair under $200,000. That was back when $2,000,000 was a realistic goal for more talked-about gay films, like Go Fish (1994, $2,500,000) or Kiss Me Guido (1997, $2,000,000). Now, gay films are not expected to make nearly as much. For example, Mysterious Skin by Gregg Araki took in $713,240 in 2005 despite near-unanimous acclaim and definite awareness outside of gay circles, and Another Gay Movie, with a B+ review in Entertainment Weekly and plenty of love from the gay media, grossed $654,132 last year. This trend has been branded as the gay community getting sick of gay-specific films.

Littledog284retAaron Hicklin, the EIC of Out Magazine, poison-penned an editor's letter for the April 2007 issue with Ugly Betty on the cover in which he discusses a recent news story on the premature evacuation of audiences from the gay-themed play The Little Dog Laughed. Prominent Broadway publicist Richard Kornberg had lamented, "Maybe I don't know the gay audience as well as I thought," to which Hicklin says:

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Mar 16 2007
Getting There: An Interview With Boy Culture's Derek Magyar Comments (49)

Derekboy

I always loved the casting of Derek Magyar as X in the movie version of my novel Boy Culture. I loved it Bctitle_4initially because of all the leads, Derek came the closest to matching the mental image I had when I was creating his character. I can’t even remember how I pictured X when I wrote about him in college (with effort, I can’t even remember college)—in my memory now, he just always looked like Derek.

Ddddd_2Because of the physical chemistry between how I wanted X to look and how Derek looks, it was just immediately comforting to see him embody “X,” an initially black-hearted, sexually dysfunctional doppelganger of one aspect of my 20-year-old self. He also compares favorably to the anonymous model whose abs helped my novel sell so well—and who incidentally was a straight go-go boy too embarrassed to show his face on the cover of a gay book, hence the mesmerizing use of those identity-concealing hands.

But Derek had more to live up to for this author and for fans of the original novel—he couldn’t just look the part. X attempts to control “this story, my story,” as well as the effects of his own emotions, to such a fascistic degree that eventually, the reader (or in this case the viewer) might wonder if X is even telling the truth. With a character that domineering, any missteps could have ruined the film.

ImpressumOnce a whore, always a whore—X has the write stuff.

“I knew X was a difficult character and the key to his success and the success of the film really was to make him likeable, so that by the end of the film you couldn’t help but understand and sympathize with X and care about him and his happiness,” Derek tells me. “I knew this was going to be the key element of the film and that it would be a challenge, but I hope I was able to make him likeable...I did my best.”

Far from ruining Boy Culture, Derek conquers it. Beginning with (literally) impenetrable iciness and changing with each passing scene, Derek’s X is every bit as hard to pin down as the fiction who began talking through me all those years ago.

Derek looks good, but acts better.

Derek’s voice-overs in Boy Culture help give the film its edge, sounding world-weary, sensual and secretive even while confessing to the deadliest sin: humanity. Because that voice is so omnipresent in the film, it makes for an odd first meeting with its real-life owner—it’s plain enough that Derek Magyar is not really X, but when he speaks, it’s hard not to flash back to scenes of X giving guys the brush-off at the bar called Boykultur or going for Backstagederek_2the jugular while sparring with his roommate Andrew (Darryl Stephens). Or you might remember his gripping masturbation scene, an oxymoronically unforgettable stretch of celluloid in which X declares auto-eroticism an eraser.

But while Derek could be described as circumspect, he’s not chilly. It could be another case of looking the part—his commanding presence might make new acquaintances worry he’ll be aloof. It’s not only his good looks that impress, it’s the cerebral quality that he projects. If X radiates intellect in the film version of Boy Culture, it’s at least in part because Derek does. If X seems to be on a restless journey, it might be because Derek is—he says of his career in acting that the struggle in getting there is all the fun.

Derekdoesd_2In Boy Culture, pinned down about why he hustles, X eventually offers, “I’m not good at anything else,” a sentiment that would not apply to Derek. Along with acting, he directed a play in Los Angeles (yes, they have them there, snobby East Coasters). “I would love to continue directing—it’s a totally different medium, very difficult and thrilling,” he tells me. “We will see what the future has in store.”

If X were an actor instead of a hustler, he’d probably want to direct, and if Derek were a gay hustler instead of a straight actor, he’d probably get the guy.

Derekanddarryl_3The performances in Boy Culture don't veer into Shortbus territory, but they're long on passion, honesty and heart.

Yep, he’s straight. But don’t let that bother you politically. I can guarantee that director Q. Allan Brocka would have hired an openly gay man for the part—if any had been ballsy enough to play it, or ballsy enough to be openly gay in the first place. But he wouldn’t have hired an openly gay man who couldn’t have played the part better than Derek does.

Like I said—I love the casting.

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Mar 09 2007
Toward The Spotlight: An Interview With Boy Culture's Darryl Stephens Comments (23)


Darryl-StephensDarryl Stephens is not who I had in mind when I wrote about a sexually confused, all-American jockboy named Andrew, the kind of guy who could win a jaded hustler’s heart while being a walking contradiction. When he was first cast in Boy Culture, I wasn’t happy—I was afraid that changing something as crucial as the character’s race meant he would never fit into my original story, which was so focused on what’s wrong and what’s right with white gay culture. What was director Allan Brocka thinking?

1477314812_lTurns out he was thinking big, bigger than my already grandiose plan to comment on all the other white gay boys out there, on love and on the prerequisites for a meaningful relationship. Allan wanted to comment on all those things without limiting himself to white people. I guess in my liberal zeal to lovingly criticize the status quo, I had neglected to include a large portion of the gay community in my loving critique.

Movie Andrew’s race isn’t the only thing that distinguishes him from Book Andrew. In fact, screenwriters Brocka and Philip Pierce (also one of the film’s producers) made him less an archetype and more of a flesh-and-blood person. In the process, he lost none of his allure and in the process became almost as much of an enigma as the central character, X. As different as Movie Andrew is on paper, I think the real “X factor” might be the casting of Darryl.

L_98b411275cb060f0ca18347f353e9676Darryl brings Andrew's humanity out of the closet.

Darryl has the most to prove with Boy Culture in that he is the only one of the three actors with any Noahsarc_1kind of star baggage—most gay people will know him as the titular character of Logo’s recently canceled series Noah’s Arc. Darryl’s Noah was not fabulous, he was faaabulous, a broadly swishy young queen with no money but plenty of conversation-stopping clothes. As over the top as the show’s situations could sometimes be, Darryl always gave Noah a winning vulnerability to go with his attitude. This impression stands in stark contrast to the character Darryl was expected to create in Boy Culture—let me tell you, there isn’t a neckerchief in sight.

Though Noah’s Arc ran aground recently (there will be no third season), it will be shot as a feature film for a 2008 release. It can’t happen soon enough because Darryl, in person—magnetically handsome and capable of filling any room in both senses of the word—is already such a movie star.

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Mar 02 2007
Trusting The Fall: An Interview With Boy Culture’s Jonathon Trent Comments (10)

Jonwow_1Star of tomorrow—today—Jonathon Trent.

The first time I met Jonathon Trent, one of the leads in the film Boy Culture (based on my novel), was during the three screenings the movie had at the TriBeCa Film Festival last spring. I had already seen his vulnerable, giddily flamboyant performance as "Blowy Joey," but despite having been assured that he was totally different in person, it was still jarring to try to connect the effortlessly cool, low-key young guy with his satyromaniacal cinematic second self.

L_c21cbdcaa52080925338a4136750b0deIn person, Jonathon is reminiscent of the younger versions of superstars like Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves—handsome but unconcerned about playing it up, above any hysteria surrounding him without seeming snobbish. His charm is in his eyes, betraying a good humor and essential kindness, traits he had to erase on camera while playing Versace killer Andrew Cunanan in the forthcoming film Fashion Victim, and also a keen intelligence, a trait he skillfully dims in helping to make Boy Culture's Joey come across as a male Paris Hilton before allowing the character to display the results of some of the lessons he's learned.

After watching Jonathon watch Boy Culture, I was called to the front of the theatre with him, along with the director, Q. Allan Brocka (that's the three of us in the picture), and all the producers to take questions from the audience. When one Dscn1441person ballsily asked Allan if any of the actors were gay, clearly hoping Jonathon was, Allan replied, with Clintonian circumspection, "None are openly gay." All eyes turned to Jonathon, whose eyes turned to me. "I feel like I'm supposed to come out or L_bfdaf0018ff4be2ea542cee902fd87e0_1something!" he stage-whispered. But he wasn't worried, he was amused. As he later told me, “I have plenty of gay friends—it's really never been an issue with me. It's not a conscious decision. I don't really think sexual preference is relevant. It's an non-issue.” (For all you fans of irrelevance, he has the world's cutest girlfriend, Katrina. They go together like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. They’re so adorable they’re not even disgusting. I don’t see any clandestine registries at Barney's with David Geffen in the future.)

Joey is a crowd-pleaser. His one-liners are outrageously funny and his (literally) naked ambition to bed his roommate, “X,” will be recognized by all of you who’ve been there and failed to do that. Joey elicits cheers practically every time he’s on screen, but I think audiences will find the real-life gifted young actor behind him every bit as endearing. I did.

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