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 working 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.
That night, reviews were pouring in, which was more exciting than the Rue-zuh-velt-provided "Shag Bag" that came with 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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 a 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.
Oh, except the celebs had been invited to the party, not the regular old screening, and so there was a bit of a mix-up and ensuing mess in getting some seats. I think Bruce Vilanch was not having it (I don’t blame him) and left, but I hope he’ll forgive and forget because I know everyone was sick about the confusion. It happens to the biggest of films...only diff is on those films, the people responsible don't lose sleep over it.
The screening was sold out (as were all but the latest show in NYC), so we were buying tickets to something called First Snow starring Guy Pearce and Piper Perabo to get people in. Allan very gracefully introduced his baby to the crowd, and name-called all of us before we settled at the back of the theater to watch the film unspool. A zillion previews later (what the fuck is up with that oddball Salma Hayek/Jared Leto/John Travolta movie Lonely Hearts???), it started, we drank in the first few minutes, then we snuck out to take pictures in the lobby with the barely suppressed glee of schoolgirls at their first Hannah Montana concert.
We zipped over to East/West and I loved the space. It’s a gorgeous lounge with a patio and an upscale look and feel, the perfect size to let in everyone the filmmakers needed and wanted, and yet not big enough to let in everyone the filmmakers may have liked. It was pretty cute seeing these savvy, experienced producers, so distinguished, setting up their own baby red carpet and step-and-repeat signage. The Advocate and Ginch Gonch were hosting, and the former had provided stunning blow-ups of Derek’s cover. My good pals Cheryl and Joe showed up so Joe could snap photos outside, and there were also photogs from FilmMagic.com, CelebrityPhoto.com and more.
I think one way in which Allan and I are alike is our initial reticence to be too dorky and our full-throttled dorkiness once the ice is broken, exemplified by our shameless desire to take photos of, and be photographed with, stars, studs and fun folks. After hanging out with José, one of the film’s very money producers, Victor Simpkins (he of Swingers fame), indie producer David Van Houten and producer/co-writer Philip Pierce’s partner Christopher Pilafian, I planted myself near the red carpet to facilitate this take-a-picture-it-lasts-longer approach to the night.
One of the first people to arrive was massive Reichen Lehmkuhl, who was very polite and happy to pose for pictures, even when Entourage’s inimitable Rex Lee snuck up and swatted his fabled buns. I introduced myself to Rex who warmly said, “I looove your book!” We hugged it out.
I had a Madonna moment when I recognized Kevin Stea, her Blond Ambition/Truth Or Dare dancer, looking the same as he had 15 years ago except with a different haircut. I told him who I was and that I recognized him and he didn’t roll his eyes at me one bit, warmly accepting my too-old-for-this gushing. Allan had met him on a gay cruise and told me Kevin is full of dreamy and nightmarish Madonna tales, all grounded in awe and respect, so I hope to drag some out of him at some point. He was there with Joe Souza (pictured), with whom he’ll appear in the movie version of the long-running Off-Broadway smash Naked Boys Singing. Sign me up for opening night.
Wilson Cruz, so memorable on Noah’s Arc and still making the rounds as part of the gay film Coffee Date, was as supernice as he was at Outfest, saying he was mainly there for Darryl. Darryl was Mr. Superstar, partying all night and taking pictures and having fun, enjoying his last gay role for a while (but I’ll bet not his last role—the guy is in demand).
Once I got over door-stalking, the party was just so much fun!
I spent a long time chatting with Jai Rodriguez, who is cute as a button and completely down-to-earth, no attitude like the guys used to put on for the Queer Eye For The Straight Guy cameras. We just loved him and he just loved Boy Culture. He’s taking meetings and in need of material, so I promised to send him my other novel, Blind Items: A (Love) Story. Some post-ers on blogs have reacted negatively to my admission that I was at first worried about casting Andrew in Boy Culture as black, misinterpreting that I felt it meant Allan had skipped over my social commentary subtext entirely (he hadn’t), when in reality it was the same as if I’d heard he was casting the role using a chick or a man as old as Gregory or as the brother of X or something. Blind Items is ripe for racial redistribution, so if someone wants to make it with a button-cute Latino lead, call me.
There were other celebs I didn’t get to speak to, like the very funny (and recently buffed out) Jason Stuart, the very sexy (and always buffed out) Kairon John, Red Doors producer/actress Mia Riverton (flashing limited-edition Boy Culture Ginch Gonch undies) and a surprisingly handsome Jonah Blechman (hard to place as the effete queen in Another Gay Movie—we weren’t introduced). I was so happy to finally meet Anne Stockwell, who'd hired me 12 years ago (or so) to phoner Harvey Fierstein for The Advocate, and who immediately asked me to write for her now that she's the EIC. I can only hope. As we posed for a pic, I cold-cocked her with my elbow. Excellent freelancing womaneuvering on my part.
I made a point of saying hi to JP Calderon of Survivor and The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency fame. Flying high from the buzz around his memorable Instinct coming-out cover (they piggishly ran outtakes in the new issue...can’t say as I blames ’em), he was the tallest guy around and radiated innocence. He looked impossibly thin as we chatted until he removed his jacket to reveal swollen biceps that make him look like Dolly Parton lying on her back. I mean this in a positive way—just a striking, striking guy and couldn’t have been nicer.
I had a cool reunion with the Nemesis brothers, Joshua and Jacob Miller. I had met the guys in my office during my day job about five years ago. They were closeted then and I remembered them as very attentive and bright and musically driven, but had been shocked when they relaunched as openly gay twins with funny Moonlighting banter. I think they remembered me, but either way they were extremely complimentary about the film and I promised to send them my book. They were hilarious in person, too, with Jacob pointing out that he’d read for a part in a Motley Crue film (as Vince Neil!) and Joshua chiming in dryly, “We’ll see if he can act.” Very sweet boys. I think Allan was crushing on Joshua, but I won’t get too yenta about it.
Went up to the VIP room for a while, where I learned Nina Kether Axelrod doesn't lie about her age, she defies it, and where Reichen told us about how he’s got a film company of his own handling the movie version of his best-selling book while he writes a sequel. He then began working on his equally stunning new BF, who is officially just a friend. But with friends like this, who needs masturbation?
I got to speak with Boy Culture’s hysterically funny Emily Brooke Hands, who is volunteering to help families after a loved one has died (she’s so funny and effervescent she could be a prescription drug) and is voicing Allan’s new LOGO series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In All The World (debuting in June). Equally fun was the MVP co-star of the Eating Out series, Rebekah Kochan. She remembered meeting me briefly at Outfest, but mainly recalled me as “one of my MySpace friends.” She is on it with MySpace. When the girls got smashed out of their gourds, they started to recreate their Eating Out 2 roles, with Rebekah joking that she could make a traffic cone disappear no problem. I doubt it, but she’s definitely a traffic stopper, and both are way too talented not to be in a position to pick and choose their work.
The last jolt of the night was Phil positioning me into a pic with brilliant director Bryan Singer. Yes, he does the Superman series, but I will always love him for Apt Pupil. As he had at Outfest, he effusively congratulated us on Boy Culture, "a wonderful film." Aside from how flattering that is to Allan, if only I were 20 years younger...
Finally, things simmered down a bit, and we strolled out and into a cab, our only easy taxi experience while in L.A., the city that always beeps.
The next day was whiled away at Century City (see my previous post about the Twilight Zone Macy’s) until I was told I had a book signing at 6:00 PM at A Different Light. I seriously had no clue. It had been plugged as a shot to meet me, the cast and the director, but Darryl didn’t know about it either and was understandably otherwise engaged. But everyone else came, including Derek in sunglasses and a scarf that kinda put us to shame. I love ADL and want them to sell books that places like the chains sometimes don’t stock or won’t stock in significant numbers, but I wish someone on my end had kept me posted on this appearance so I could have gotten the word out. Santa Monica Ave. is not a bibliophile’s wet dream, so it was pulling teeth to pull in buyers. But the guys who came were very sweet and got books (oh, joy, AfterElton said something nice about me!) signed by all of us.
We all went back to the Sunset 5 for another meet-and-greet with the audience, then ate out (nods to Allan) together. I was hoping for a fabulous meal at a fancy place and instead got California Pizza Kitchen, which somehow is considered fine dining there and not fast food. It tasted great but it was hard calculating WW points for a giant pizza full of cheese. At dinner, I asked Derek about attending the Cleveland Film Festival and was surprised to learn they’d flown him in. He had fun with the crowd but was not terribly excited by having to get himself around. As if on cue, the next day a nasty article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer detailing his allegedly diva-like demands. As at least one blogger has pointed out, his so-called demands sound pretty reasonable, and it’s kind of a scandal to me that staffers would speak so freely and unprofessionally of a nice guy who regardless of what he may or may not ask for or get has always come through for Boy Culture. I mean, he went to Cleveland on short notice, attended a sparse club event, did an audience Q&A...so what if he asked for and was refused first-class tickets? The guy is not rude. I say he got a Cleveland Raw Dealer, and I sure hope the fest’s staffers participated unwittingly.
BOY CULTURE book signing & dinner...you read, now see!
He and Jonathon regaled us with a harrowing story about a Palm Springs stalker who’d literally camped out near their all-too-accessible lodgings while they were there for that fab film fest, and who had eventually attempted to enter Jonathon’s room while he was sleeping and to force entry into Derek’s room in the wee small hours of the night. It might have gotten Boy Culture great press to have its cast abducted and buried alive, but I can’t blame them for not wanting that kind of ink. Thankfully, the cops came and El Weirdo went bye-bye.
We saw a nice guy from the signing at dinner and he immediately said, “I’m not stalking you!” which was a funny coincidence. He wasn’t.
The next day, we killed time taking pictures in front of the Roosevelt’s haunted Marilyn Monroe mirror before flying back, arriving at 2:00 a.m., argh.
When it was all over, Boy Culture rocked at the box office with a nearly $10,000-per-screen average, beating out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and hitting #53 on the charts...eat it, Little Children! (Yes, I realize.) The news couldn’t be any better, meaning the movie will expand a bit more rapidly—hello, St. Louis, Honolulu, parts of the South, Detroit and Canada.
Here’s hoping Boy Culture will spread on contact, much like the film's least likely attendees think homosexuality does, and here’s hoping its viewers will have as much fun with it as I did with the City Of Angels this weekend.
I’ll upload tons more pix soon, but be sure to check out Mr. Nightlife's Hollywood and Allan Brocka’s visually arresting and wit-soaked blog for still more, more, more!