Producer Paul Serrano recently brought this movie to my attention, a quirky comedy about gay parents and their adventures with bringing up their two sons. It’s the second film by writer/director T.S. Slaughter.
Boy, this film was wild from start to finish. The film tells its story through flash backs, with one of the sons telling his story in a bar to a random stranger in the nineties. It’s Slaughter’s satirical take on television sitcoms from past decades. Rod Gay (Frank Holliday) and Bob Gay-Paris (Chris Tanner) are like the “gay mentors you never had.” They raise their two children, Tommy (Flip Jorgensen) and Alex (Mike Russnak), to be the best homosexuals by giving them…intriguing lessons and advice to “empower the boys to bend the world over, lube it up, and snap one off!” Yes, you’ve heard correctly. What I enjoyed about the film was the John Waters feel it has. It’s campy, has memorable but crazy characters, and very raunchy humor. It’s really in your face.
I can see it becoming a cult classic in twenty years. Now, there are some over the top gross scenes (like the birthing part, oh god). The film does get pornographic at a few parts, but if you like hot naked men (like I do) then you really won’t mind it. The words, “tranny” and “fag” are mentioned a couple times. It all depends on how you view those kinds of things. Other than that, it was a fun watch. I’m looking forward to Slaughter’s and the actors’ future projects.
What do you guys think?
I was lucky enough to interview T.S. Slaughter and ask him what the hell was going through his mind when he made this. What could have inspired him? How’d he select the right people for these parts?
Hyde: Something about the film seemed very John Waters-esque, which I liked. Is he an inspiration to you?
Slaughter: “Very much so. Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Desperate Living are among my favorite films of all time. He is the original gay badass of underground film. I especially admire his talent for coming up with memorable, quotable lines and really offbeat characters.”
Hyde: What kinds of things inspire you to make films about LGTBQ culture?
Slaughter: “I really object to the mainstreaming of LGBTQ people that is taking place in the US and Canada in recent years. We are not all warm and cuddly like you see in the media. Many LGBTQ people fought hard for the right to have anonymous sex in bathhouses and tea rooms, to be open about who they are and not ashamed of it, etc. In short: to be accepted as different from average str8s. Many LGBTQ folks feel that sleazy, “irresponsible” (from a middle-class str8 perspective) behavior should be celebrated, not sanitized out of us. That’s why you see such outrageous sights at gay pride parades everywhere: because LGBTQ folks really are different, and they want to celebrate that difference, warts and all.
Gay filmmaking, even indie filmmaking, has come under the same pressures as the rest of LGBTQ culture to be respectable. Well I’m not having it: No sappy coming out stories for me. No sentimental tales of love and tragic loss. I like to push buttons to remind viewers of all stripes that some of us still have an edge.”
Hyde: This movie is really outrageous. How did you come up with the concept for “The Gays,” after your 2007 horror comedy film “Skull & Bones”?
Slaughter: “Indie film-even LGBTQ indie film–has to be outrageous to get noticed, especially if you don’t have the connections to get into mainstream film festivals and a distribution deal with, say, TLA, Strand, or Wolfe. “Skull & Bones” relied on the horror genre (and a trailer that went viral) to get picked up by a Hollywood distributor. The added twists of the killers being gay, sexually predatory, and floridly anti-social sealed the deal!
“The Gays” started with my thinking about how different LGBTQ parents–good and bad parents, because both kinds are surely out there–could potentially be from str8 parents when raising children, now that the notion of gay marriage has become so commonplace. Would they promote the often questionable behavior some LGBTQ folks engage in to their children? Should they? How do you balance street smarts and cynicism with moral and ethical considerations when giving advice to kids? The film idea blossomed from these thoughts and questions.
I am also a huge fan of Bea Arthur, especially how she played Maude in the 70s TV show of that name, so I modeled the mom in “The Gays” on her and added a gender-bending twist. I modeled the dad on my own stern, cynical father.”
Hyde: I heard that the lead actors, Chris Tanner and Frank Holliday, have been well known artists in NYC for years. How did you get them to be in the film and why?
Slaughter: “I put out a casting call in NYC and Frank answered it. He read for the father and I thought he would be great in the role. But I was having trouble getting anyone to play the mother. I had written the part with the gender-bending actor Alan Rowe Kelly in mind, but Alan wasn’t interested in being in the film. It was Frank who suggested I contact Chris Tanner because he thought Chris could play the mother. Chris came for an audition and I was simply amazed at his talent. Chris, in turn, suggested Mike Russnak as someone who might make a good older son, Alex. He was right! I am so thankful to everyone in the cast and crew for all their hard work, senses of humor, and most of all patience.”
Hyde: What kind of people do you look for to be a part of your movies? How does the process go?
Slaughter: “I seek actors who have few inhibitions: people who can laugh at themselves, at the absurdity of human existence, and especially at the absurdity and banality of middle-class values. Sasha Baron Cohen has been a huge inspiration to me because that is exactly the sort of person he is when he acts, most especially in the hilarious role he created for his comedy “Bruno.”
The process is straightforward: I put out a casting call on various actors’ websites describing the film and the roles needed to be filled. When people respond I send them sides (i.e., the lines they will be speaking and the stage directions) to prepare. Then I hold auditions by having actors read their parts opposite me. I also have the auditions filmed to see how the actors look on camera. That’s important because many who audition have only done theater–not film–before, and film is a really different medium with different requirements from actors.”
Hyde: Can you give us a hint about what your next project might be about?
Slaughter: “I don’t want to say too much, but the most promising current ideas concern (1) a sadistic, closeted drill sergeant or (2) a bullied gay teen who exacts revenge on his tormentors.”
I enjoyed interviewing him and it was great to know we shared similar views on things such as how LGTBQ people are portrayed in the mainstream media. If you are curious and want to buy or rent “The Gays,” here is where you can get it. (all photos are from the official site)
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