Soap Operas

All posts in the Soap Operas category

Va-Va-Villainess: Deanna Wright

Published April 26, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

“Talk about a makeover!” – Kay (post body morph) 

In marked contrast to Robyn Lively’s kindly Louise Miller, Deanna Wright’s Kay Bennett was definitely a very mean teen witch. Wright’s character on the quirky, supernaturally tinged soap opera Passions was so determined to capture the handsome Miguel (Jesse Metcalfe) and steer him away from his true love Charity (Molly Stanton) that she used several varieties of supernatural mayhem to achieve her goals. 

After zombifying her rival and even sending her to Hell (often with the help of the town’s revenge filled witch, Tabitha), Kay’s arc during Wright’s heyday reached its apex when the creepily resilient lass enacted a spell that turned her into her rival. Due to this effective disguise, Miguel misguidedly slept with her…and the resulting pregnancy (and birth of a child) nearly destroyed his relationship with Charity. 

As the soap entered into its latter years, Kay, as then played by Heidi Mueller, achieved a certain sense of maturity. But the character’s adventures with the occult – how can anyone forget when she accidentally turned herself into a panther during the program’s 2001 Halloween episodes?!?- were definitely the highlights of her run. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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The Edgy Delusions of Mark Hamilton

Published April 4, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

As The Edge of Night hurdled towards its cancellation in late December of 1984, the powers-that-be organized one last darkly grotesque adventure for Raven (Sharon Gabet), its standout diva and favorite anti-heroine. Nine months pregnant, Raven found herself secreted away by a mysterious captor. Sequestered in a room, filled with beautiful lounging gowns, diamonds and an overwhelming Venetian theme, Raven soon discovered her keeper was the rich and handsome Mark Hamilton (Christopher Holder). Hamilton, who had tragically lost his own wife, was convinced Raven was his former bride and was, happily, awaiting the birth of their child…via some very deluded jailor techniques. The reality of Raven going into labor, though, seemingly, brought Hamilton back to his senses and, after helping her deliver a healthy child, he stepped aside so that she and Skye (Larkin Malloy), her true love, could live happily ever after…or at least until the final broadcast.

Interestingly, Holder, who applied a silken kindness to Hamilton’s madness, was then best known for playing the incredibly gullible Kevin Bancroft on The Young and the Restless. Bancroft spent months believing that he was the father of (popular vixen) Nikki Reed’s child and left town, heartbroken, upon learning the truth. Thus, Hamilton must have seemed like a nice change of pace for the actor.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Holder went even deeper into character driven psychosis in the low budget 1985 slasher The Deadly Intruder. The film’s interesting cast included Hollywood heavyweight Stuart Whitman, The Partridge Family’s trouble making Danny Bonaduce and Elvira hunk (& Italian exploitation movie regular) Daniel Greene.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

The Gothic Plots of Reginald Love

Published March 27, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Windswept manors…candelabra style lighting…a delusional villain…Another World activated all these gothic melodrama stereotypes in the winter of 1988 as the powerful Reginald Love (John Considine) ended his reign of terror. Targeting his impulsive, pregnant daughter Donna (Philece Sampler), Love was determined to steal her away from her lover Michael (Kale Browne) and raise his soon-to-be born grandchild in his own domineering image. 

Fighting back, Donna and her wicked pater familias wound up free falling out of the windows of a towering mansion. Ever resilient, this pair survived that tumble. Thinking that twice might prove the charm, Reginald soon confronted Donna again in the same setting. The plunge that this damaged heroine took this time, in the middle of her sister Nicole’s highly dramatic fashion show nonetheless, caused her to lose her baby – a misdeed that even the most cherished baddie can’t return from. Thus, Reginald soon took another tumble (off of a high rise building) himself, perishing for good this time.

The legacy of madness he left behind would eventually claim his other offspring Nicole (Anne Howard), though. On the eve of her marriage to the show’s favorite anti-hero Cass (Stephen Schnetzer), this Love sibling, in a moment of passion, did away with Jason Frame (Chris Robinson), a longstanding thorn in her family’s side. Losing herself in self-protective delusion, Nicole then allowed Felicia Gallant (Linda Dano), the program’s eccentric diva, to take the rap for the crime. When all was revealed, Nicole descended the final step into pure illusionary dementia, ultimately being carted off to an asylum to recover.

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Howard, an accomplished performer, is beloved by genre enthusiasts for her portrayal of Susan Cabot, the radiology student who begins the satanic reign of terror in John Carpenter’s celebrated Prince of Darkness. Sampler’s previous soap gig on Days of our Lives, meanwhile, put her Renee DuMonde in direct contact with Stephano DiMera, perhaps the most baroque, moustache twirling daytime television villain of all time.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Flashback: My Fair Psycho

Published March 6, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

The pride of both Broadway stages and sophisticated cabaret venues, the precise, velvet toned Christine Andreas proved that she was a master of her craft with her work as the manipulatively deranged Dr. Taylor Benson during the 1990 – 1991 seasons of Another World.

Initially presented as the diligent psychiatrist for the soap’s tortured Sharlene (Anna Holbrook), a popular character suffering from multiple personality disorder, Benson soon revealed her own mental weaknesses. Fixated on Sharlene’s handsome husband John (David Forsythe), Benson did everything she could to make him her own. After gaslighting Sharlene into believing her treatment wasn’t working, the twisted doc eventually lost herself in psychosis. After kidnapping Sharlene, she seemingly murdered her in an explosive encounter on her boat. In her last scenes, though, this extremely misguided therapist was so lost in delusion that she couldn’t even recognize John, the man who motivated her diabolical schemes.

The winner of the American Theater Award for her work as Eliza Doolittle in a 1975 revival of My Fair Lady, Andreas proved her daytime mettle here by imbuing this deliciously unsavory character with both a determined sweetness and a calculating intensity. The plot line itself also speaks to this genre’s exploitation parallels – twisted women, gothic crimes and the ability of multiple characters to return from the dead – as Sharlene, Benson’s favored victim, did several years after her fiery “demise” during this iteration of the show.

Andreas, who recently performed a successful show featuring the music of Edith Piaf, meanwhile, is always creatively resurrecting herself at http://www.christineandreas.com.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Va-Va-Villainess: Dorothy Lyman

Published March 1, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

As the kindly Gwen Frame, actress Dorothy Lyman spent much of 1980 on the late lamented soap opera Another World mentoring Ray Liotta’s down to earth Joey Perrini, helping him navigate a rocky romance with Bradley Bliss’ well to do Kit Halloway.

But when this seasoned performer, perhaps best known for her comic portrayals on Mama’s Family and All My Children, returned for the show’s 25th anniversary in 1989, the writers played a little loose with her history to create some friction filled drama. Fueled with rage over the death of a relative, previously a nonissue on the show, Gwen crackled with anger. Determined to bring down the show’s longstanding heroine Rachel (Victoria Wyndham), who she blamed for the demise, she interrupted a heartfelt monologue by the surprised woman. Later, during a confrontation, she pushed her newfound enemy and knocked her out, leaving her to die in a gas filled room. Of course, Rachel survived and, ultimately, forgave Gwen – probably due to the fact that was Lyman was only contracted for a handful of episodes and a long trial was simply not in the cards for the character.

Decades later, re-watching these episodes, what is most apparent is the caustic joy that Lyman took in Gwen’s turnaround – she bites into her lines with a vicious glee and gladly rides the highs and lows of the character’s emotions like an exuberant child on a roller coaster. It’s a delightful performance – a viper with a bleeding heart –and just one of the many seemingly effortless performances in this skilled veteran’s long career.


Horror Hall of Fame:

A frequent figure on television screens, Lyman made appearances in In The Cards, a first season Tales of the Darkside episode, and The People Across the Lake, a spooky movie of the week with Valerie Harper.


Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Flashback: Crystal Gayle Meets the Sin Stalker

Published January 18, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

“That was a very naughty song, Crystal! You should be more careful” – The Sin Stalker

Once upon a time, the powers-that-be at Another World conspired to make country goddess Crystal Gayle the final girl with the longest tresses ever! In the spring of 1987, Gayle, who was a huge fan of the daytime drama, guest starred on the show for a week. While she performed plenty of musical numbers during her stay in Bay City, the producers also worked this raven-haired singer into a major plotline by making her a target of the Sin Stalker, a ghoulish entity who was terrorizing women that struck him as being anything less than moral.

Finding some of Gayle’s sweet pop ballads a bit too suggestive, the peeved stalker wrote her threatening letters, spied on her in her dressing room bathtub and eventually, disturbed beyond all measure, went in for an aggressive kill. But this momma fixated psychopath should have known better than to count this satin voiced yet rough-hewn country gal out. Fighting back with a ferocity, this slasher reminiscent scenario found Gayle leading the killer through a myriad of unoccupied hallways and backrooms of the hotel she was booked in – trying to, desperately, escape him. Her extremely luxurious locks floating, spirit like, in her wake, she eventually clobbered the killer with a fire extinguisher. Momentarily stunned, this malicious entity was, ultimately, scared off by the arrival of Adam Cory (Ed Fry), the show’s handsome police detective. Determined not to let this lurid attack offset her life, Gayle rounded out her run on the program by performing its new theme song with her duet partner, fellow hit maker and future Broadway star Gary Morris.

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“I’m going to sing. No one’s going to get the best of me!” – Crystal Gayle

Nicely accentuated by the participation of a sweet character named Lisa Grady (Phantoms’ Joanna Going), a young psychic with a strange connection to the demented marauder, the story developed further horror film references as it continued. Much like Psycho, the twisted exterminator here was soon being egged on by the voice of his dead mother, a demented audio presence that encouraged him to kill. Unfortunately for dedicated viewers, a surprise victim of those sadistic monologues was one of the show’s elegant, longstanding citizens, Quinn Harding (Petronia Paley). Thankfully, while devotees mourned her departure, the talented Paley later found work on Guiding Light, playing the matriarchal Vivian Grant for 7 years in the ‘90s.

“Good boy! You knew she was living with that lawyer.” – The Sin Stalker’s Mother after Harding’s Murder.

Happily, for the curious, portions of this macabre undertaking, including the entirety of Gayle’s run, can be found on YouTube.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Getting Fearless with Freddy’s Nightmares’ Magnetic Liz Keifer

Published November 29, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

This past summer, I was asked to do a Freddy’s Nightmares retrospective for Grave Face Records annual Halloween magazine. This assignment gave me the chance to talk with actress Liz Keifer, who played the dual role of Kim/Tania on a second season episode of the anthology series entitled Interior Loft. Keifer, best known for playing Blake Marler on Guiding Light, was an eclectic soap hopper, playing everything from the heroic best friend to misunderstood villainesses on a variety of shows (General Hospital, One Life to Live, The Young and the Restless, Days of our Lives) with zest and skill. She also brought her empathetic flair to a multitude of iconic nighttime programs like Full House and Married…with Children. During our conversation about her work on Nightmares, we dove into the psychological underpinnings of the character she played, a young author whose husband encourages her to record messages for a sexually oriented 1-800 number. It was a fascinating and important chat about the emotional truth of that role and how abusive that relationship reads now in a (hopefully) more enlightened age. Since only a portion of the chat was used for its original intent, I decided to reproduce the entirety of our heart-to-heart here for everyone’s enjoyment. It should give you much to think about, particularly in how genre work can provide a much deeper context to our lives than may be immediately apparent.

BGHF: Hi Liz! I am so excited to talk with you about this. What are your first thoughts when you revisit your experience working on Freddy’s Nightmares?

LK: I remember an intense two weeks of shooting. Wow! That was a lot. I remember the continuity people trying to keep track of who I was. Was I the character in the book? Who was I? …and all the different men who kept coming through…and the killing!

B: Ha! Your character certainly did some of that! Were you aware of the A Nightmare on Elm Street phenomenon at the time of filming?

L: No. I wasn’t. I was aware of the films. I had not seen them in the movie theaters. When did the films come out?

B: The first one was in the mid-80s. Then with the sequels in the late ’80s and early ’90s, they really took on a cultural momentum.

L: Yeah. I kind of missed that. I don’t know what was going on. I was off busy doing musicals or something!

B: Soaps! You were doing soap operas!

L: Yeah. I was doing soaps. (laughs) I was busy learning lines. So, I was not aware of the huge impact. I just remember the breakdown for the character. They were looking for a Michelle Pfeiffer type. They wanted somebody who could play a dual role. I was like – They are never going to cast me. I remember thinking that. But…I seemed to do that well throughout my twenties, playing the dual personality. The good girl-bad girl. I can go both places and I seem to have made a career out of playing a good girl who did bad things. (laughs) I got away with a lot.

B: Blake on Guiding Light always seemed to be messing up her relationships, sleeping with the wrong person…

L: Yeah… but with good intentions always. Like the nun (on General Hospital) who was psychotic…going crazy, falling in love with her brother!

B: Well…speaking as a very, very lapsed Catholic, I believe to be a nun, there has to be a little psychosis present, no matter what the circumstances!

L: (Laughing) This is a true. It really wasn’t a far stretch. So, no, back to your question I really wasn’t aware. I was just interested in the meatiness of the role.

B: Which there is plenty of! So, how did you approach the more sensitive aspects of the role? There is a lot going on there.  

L: We all knew we were telling a story. It starts with that – plus I have to say, what the outside never sees, is the crew. There is always a huge crew there. And for the most part, most crews have been really supportive…and for some reason, I have been able to magnetize really great sets – sets where crew guys are almost protective of me. I’ve really been lucky that way. I do remember that there was this humorous game going on with this particular crew. I think it’s called clipping. I think that’s the name for it. It’s when you take the clothes pins that they use for their equipment, to clip wires together and that type of thing. It’s part of the tool kit for the crew, the camera guys…the sound guys. But the object was to clip people’s backs – to get the pins onto their wardrobe or their clothes without them knowing – to do it with a sense of stealth. During rehearsals, one day, they managed to put three of them on my back and I didn’t know! Nobody said anything. But after a while, I was feeling this kind of energy – like I’m in on a joke, but I don’t know what the joke is. It was this game to see how many clips that they could clip to the back of my sweater. That made me one of the crew! There is levity to that. I didn’t know that game existed. But from that point on, I did!! (laughs) Ever since then, I’ve been on the look-out for it! But that was my initiation! It was a bonding game. It is things like that that have always grounded sets with levity and humanity. We’re in it together and this is all a game! I have to say that is helpful to balance out those dark places. I do remember that I was game to go to those dark places. But after a while…it was not something I wanted to make a career of. It was super dark. That scene where I talk to him with him as he was being poisoned…where the character explains it, minute by minute. That was intense…and a little scary that I could just go there.

B: You have a very calm, serene quality in that scene. You made a very interesting choice to perform those moments with a chilling matter-of-factness.

L: Oh, just make it like…oh look what’s happening right now. Hmm…

B: Like the character was taking notes for the next novel!

L: This is going to happen. That is going to happen. As if it were nothing more than an experiment for me…like he was some sort of insect that I was experimenting on. That was kind of the feel of it. Yeah, you know, it was intense. It was intense.

B: It was almost like a 3 person play, each act of the episode. Did you spend a lot of time rehearsing with other actors to achieve that intimacy?

L: There was just the regular amount of time – which would be that day, the day of shooting. So, it certainly wasn’t like other projects, like theater projects where there would be six weeks of rehearsal. Film is like that. I had the different characters mapped out. I had a timeline in my head, a very strong sense of life and the work and everything. It’s important that you come to the table with the arc of where you’re going and that you keep track of your character, be mindful of where she’s going. They were very helpful with that, too. You just did it scene by scene…so it was the day of rehearsal type of thing. I guess I am so used to soap operas where there is no time, so any time that I get more than a couple of shots at it, I’m thinking that I’m indulging.

B: Interesting. Was there any one that you used as inspiration for Tania?

L: No. There was nobody that I can think of. If there was, I don’t remember. I just think that it was so far from me that I looked at it as an opportunity to play the flip side of the coin. It wasn’t who I was! Usually I’m the Midwestern “You’re so cute, stay that way!” type. When I grew up, everyone was telling me to stay cute. So, I think it was just the opportunity to play the shadow side of that. Let me be something that’s not cute! In a way, it might have been therapeutic, at the time. I was awfully young when I was doing that.

B: That’s the wonderful thing about the arts…you get to work those things out.

L: True! You get to play these little sub personalities. They’re maybe just a little part of you, but you get to expand them. They get to take over. They get to direct us. It’s kind of fun. It is fun! You know it’s not real. When I watched it now, I was a little – oof! – the lingerie and all that! It was a little creepy. And the 976 number. The fact that husband wanted me to do that to make money…I see where it just messed with her psyche…that he would want her to do that. I can’t…that is nobody that I would like to be married to.

B: Exactly! I found him questionable even in that beginning moment. He is totally uninterested in her, sexually, until she pretends to be someone else – a seductive stranger inviting him for a romp.

L: I saw that, too! It kind of filled me with rage. Wait a second! She comes down and makes it like it’s this clever surprise. Oh, my god! He thought it was somebody else! I guess she’s got some issues to work out, too! Yeah, that was really not a good foundation for a healthy marriage, I’d say.

B: Hence, Freddy was able to intervene with her…in whatever mystical and mysterious way that the producers and writers decide that he intervenes on the show!

L: True! It was an opening to intervene. That’s what it was! That’s what I thought. Here’s the opening for him to invade with that poison. They were open for it! This was not an empowering scenario for the woman.

B: Not at all! It kind of gave me Basic Instinct vibes – I checked the dates and this episode was done a number of years before that, though. You were ahead of the curve on that show!

L: Yeah! I was tapping into something else!

B: Is it surprising to you that all these years later that people like myself are still interested in this show and your work on it?

L: Yes…and no. I have found that I have been part of some shows that have just been iconic. I did an episode of Full House that, to this day, still makes my kids the most popular kids on campus. I was on this one episode where I kissed everybody. I was Jesse’s girlfriend…I was everybody’s girlfriend. So, I seemed to have hit on some shows that are now hitting the next wave of pop culture. There’s an obsession with it. My daughter is in her early 20s and she’s obsessed with ‘80s movies. I forget that they didn’t grow up with that. So, for them, they are seeing it with brand new eyes. So, I don’t know. I think that everything has its way of coming around. I’m curious what the Freddy’s Nightmares segment might find in it. Why is that its intriguing for you?

B: I’ve always looked at horror as reflecting the times we are living in and I think there is so much diversity in it. As a gay man and a self-described feminist, that is so important to me.  Despite an abundance of inadequacies, horror still has such strong female characters. Even with Kim/Tania in your episode. She kind of turns the tide and winds up being the one who revels in revenge and vengeance. It may be twisted in a way, but it’s still powerful.

L: Yes! it is twisted, but it’s a part of her that is taking over to protect her. She’s realized that what has happened to her – what her husband did to her – isn’t right. This was not right what happened. What you were supporting and suggesting and pushing me/her to do. It was like she was restoring a sense of justice – restoring her autonomy. It is a female comeuppance. Because it does make you cringe. I was cringing when I watched that relationship. It was like, “Oh, god!” And at the time, I didn’t know anything about relationships – so probably everything around me was dysfunctional. So, I was probably just like, yeah, yeah, yeah…this is it! It was a reflection of what you’ll accept and now the narrative is completely different! Thank god! Like my daughter would go, “That’s just crazy!!”

B: And she would be right.

L: Yeah! She would be right. In fact, when watching it I was like, “God, I hope my kids don’t see this!” I just forgot how creepy that part of it was. Then I was looking at it as this meaty role. I just got to play something completely different. It’s very interesting about how we change.

B: It is. I have a technical question now. There was some glass exploding in one of the bathroom scenes you are in. Do you recall how that was done to keep you safe?

L: Oh, there’s always stunt men. I was looking at that scene, too. I don’t even think I was there. I think they pulled me out when the glass was breaking. And there is a way that they shoot that kind of stuff. I’ve always found that fascinating. I love that stuff! That stuff is so much fun. I love the behind the scenes info – how they make the illusion happen. They make it look like I’m in it, but I’m not. It’s just a long shot. So, I don’t recall ever feeling in danger. It was a good crew. There is always some sort of stunt guy that protects you and it was probably special glass, too. Sugar glass…nothing that would cut you.

B: But you have cut your teeth on a strong variety of roles throughout your careers, a true testament to your talent.

L: Thank you. It was fun. I enjoyed playing different types of roles. I was very fearless about playing comedy. With Married…with Children, I was like, “I’ll go there!” I loved playing. I’m very good at looking at the tone of a show and I can match it. I can go big and I can go quiet. I find that very interesting, It’s just like playing different notes on a piano to me. I can go there!

B: Speaking of going there, Rising Storm, your big action film opus, is now available for viewing on YouTube.

L: It is? No kidding! Yeah. (laughs) That was going to make me a movie star. That was a lot of fun. June Chadwick, who played my sister, was just lovely. My character in that was Blaise March. I saw her as a cross between Goldie Hawn and Sigourney Weaver. That was where I was going with that. I just loved that – walking around with a machine gun! I had to run down a flight of stairs and, at the bottom of the stairs, I had to shoot this shotgun. I had to shoot a lock off. They basically said, “Just come down and shoot at it. Then we’ll cut and put in the special effects. That’ll be the shot of the lock being blown off, so don’t worry about it!” So, I came running down, pumped the gun and I shot at the lock and I blew it right off. I did it without any special effects! They couldn’t believe it. So, that was fun! I thought I was pretty bad-ass.

B: I have to agree with that assessment. I could never do that.

L: I had never done any work with guns before. So, I thought, “Oh, wow! I must be good at this! So, don’t give me a real one! I might like it!”

B: That’s what I think is so great about genre films…even as an exploitative genre, they have so much to offer women. Where else can someone play a bad-ass neurosurgeon with a vigilante fetish or a nuclear scientist-fashion model who saves the world? They are silly, but so powerful in their own way, as well.

L: I love that perspective. That’s great!

Speaking of great…you can always keep up with Liz’s amazing life and further ventures (including career coaching) at https://www.lizkeifer.com/.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Shark Bait Retro Village: As The World Turns (The Willows)

Published May 9, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

From satanic possessions and trouble making clones to distressed heroines being buried alive, daytime dramas have been utilizing elements from horror (and science fiction) novels and films for decades. During the ’60s and ’70s (and into the ’80s and ’90s), their daily format also bested all suspenseful movie of the week offerings by being able to truly concentrate on in depth plotlines that often took months to unfold. This, ultimately, allowed for layered character development and truly intense homages to other works. As a specific case in point, the classic Procter and Gamble soap As The World Turns, carried out an elaborate reconstruction of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca throughout the many months of 1979.

Here, though, it was Eileen Fulton’s worldly and often notorious villainess Lisa who was offered up as the stand-in for du Maurier’s innocent Mrs. de Winter. Known for her romantic manipulations, often involving the show’s steadfast Dr. Bob, this long running antagonist found herself on the receiving end of some dark and stormy conniving during this gothic adventure which, proudly and lovingly, carried the huge imprint of its source material. 

Finding romance with a seemingly kind, but often volatile author named Bennett (Doug Higgins), Lisa ventured away from Oakdale, the standard suburban setting of the melodrama, and settled into a remote country lodge known as The Willows with her new paramour. But Hester (Ann Stanchfield), Bennett’s demandingly loyal housekeeper, and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Ruth, Bennett’s adulterous former wife, almost immediately started playing havoc with the new calm in this beloved anti-heroine’s life. Slashed family portraits, hidden hallways and candle drenched evenings soon became the norm for her – and as marriage bells started to knoll for this hopeful yet mismatched twosome, acquaintances, including one of Bennett’s publishing buddies, began to meet their bloody ends. 

With the serial’s writing staff smartly playing up the fact that either suspected party – Bennett, a man capable of blind rages and compulsive jealousies, and Hester, a woman radiating with a quiet and shrewd devotion to her handsome employer – could be the one responsible for trying to secretly dispatch with one of its most popular creations, Fulton was able to add softer layers to her often acerbic character. Radiating with curiosity, fear and sorrow, she encapsulated why audiences developed such a strong attachment to her nuanced dramatis personae, a situation that continued until the show’s sad ending in September of 2010. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

http://www.facebook.com/biggayhorrorfan

Ghosts – Winter Romance

Published December 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

It is a time of despair and worry. The man at the socially distanced break room table is energetically talking with a female supervisor. Until recently he was an international sales director for a 5 Star Hotel, a position he frankly admits will never exist again. After decades of rising through the ranks, he now wipes down self-serve checkout counters and is grateful to her for the extra hours that she has allowed him to stay tonight. His dogs will miss him he jokes, but the security of another shift or two assures them of receiving the name brand kibble and chewy treats that they so expectantly crave. In the face of such inoperable, life altering changes, he is surprising resolute, upbeat…and I try to take my cues from him in the days that follow.

For despite it all, people are still celebrating. Our first pandemic dictated Christmas is coming soon and the lights and twinkly stars are disappearing from the shelves in the store’s seasonal boutique. I restock those aisles often, growing less and less surprised at everyone’s insistence on clinging to the predictable joys. I, too, start to take a distant comfort in the comical Santa’s and cheery cartoon elves that are popping up in window displays of the storefronts that I pass on my daily neighborhood jog. All those bright and glorious neon shades of red and green are comforting – but I can still feel something else lurking. Flickering shadows. Hazy specters. Seasonal ghosts.

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I am 19 and I am waiting for my boyfriend at his place. He gave me the keys to his apartment earlier and I bustled through the February frost to his one bedroom loft. Now, I am feeling suspiciously adult, like a big city mistress of some high-ranking business exec – although, I do legitimately belong here. I am not a secret. Everyone at work knows about us. They are aware that I am happily anticipating his presence as he finishes up his bartending shift. Anxious for our romantic evening to begin, I pore through his box of VHS tapes, trying to find something to distract myself. It is all porn videos. Well, porn videos and a bootleg copy of The Color Purple. But we have just recently watched that sterling Spielberg-ian example of Oscar bait…and I know better than to throw in a sex tape. I did that last week, and while I tried to resist jerking off to Jeff Stryker pounding some smooth curly haired model-type in an alley, I eventually couldn’t help myself. Thus, making for a less than receptive offering when AJ finally arrived home. I don’t want that to happen again. So, I turn on the television and settle on Saturday Night Live, already in progress. Just after the cast bow, he arrives. I greet him, happily. He receives my kisses mutely, situates himself on the couch, telling me that we have to talk. Valentine’s Day is a week and a half away and I am sure that he wants to make plans. This is the first year in what seems like an incredibly long life that I will have someone to celebrate with and I am thrilled. But instead, after a deep sigh, a Dear John monologue softly peters out of his lips.  Murmuring something about needing space and the strange curves of life and time, he breaks up with me. I am shocked, unexpectedly thrust from one extreme, anticipation…happiness. to a totally different one, shock…despair.

Of course, as I write this now, it dawns on me that this was an incredibly heartless way to break up with someone. There had been no clues, no warning shots fired before this moment. Everything had been kept close to the wrist. Therefore, he certainly could have told me in some other space…at some other time. Set a kinder rhythm, bought me coffee and a gourmet cookie as consolation prizes, taken me to some park, dark with leafless trees. The mood should fit the occasion, I believe. Obliterating a weekend dream state seems particularly cruel to me, especially in my secluded COVID state of mind now. Still, I find myself feeling a wispy sorrow for him, somehow, these days. In fact, it almost feels like maybe it is his sad face that wavers down alleys and across those amber corners as I wait for the light to change, walking to work.

I, honestly, don’t blame him for breaking up with me. I was silly, a devastatingly insecure child whose only concept for relationships was my parents frustrated, frequently violent union and soap opera romances. Once during our short time together, I “seductively” ignored him when I saw him unexpectedly at a bar. Our eyes met and I sharply turned away, dancing quickly into the arms of the female friend I was club hopping with. Purposefully calling him the next day, I innocently and insistently claimed that I hadn’t seen him the night before, a classic missed connection turned amusingly wrong. Another time, I pretended the managers at work were horribly upset about our dating, throwing him off balance for a moment until I confessed my senseless, idiotic ruse. Like my favorite daytime divas, I thought I always had to keep him slightly out of tune. To maintain his interest, I had to create drama…intrigue…social unrest.

Of course, I didn’t need to manufacture such moments. Tension was beating there, sharply, all along. There was an ex…another young, blue eyed blonde. We could have been brothers I ascertained, the one time that I saw him picking up his remaining belongings from AJ’s closet. It was unnerving. Months later, I would catch AJ in the restaurant’s staff bathroom, crying…not over me, but him. The other one. The original angel. The truly loved. My twin.

But there was one day. One gloriously perfect day. Its ectoplasmic embers float around me as I move throughout this month. January 1st, 1988. My roommates were still away on their holiday adventures. AJ and I lay in bed, recovering from a joyous night of public reveling, ignoring any burgeoning breakfast hunger pains. Instead, we pawed through my vinyl collection, taking turns deciding what to play. We talked and cuddled…slept…eventually heading down to the neighborhood greasy spoon. Returning with burgers that tasted inordinately of grease and that venue’s overused grill, we watched The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful on someone’s tiny TV. Later, we trekked across town to catch The Running Man at one of the city’s notoriously chilly, ill kept second run theaters. We held hands as Richard Dawson taunted Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Conchita Alonso bravely plotted an escape.  We brought in that new year with fries and sex and Stephen King and it felt like a miracle, like the life I had dreamed about for so long was finally beginning. It was the first ideal afternoon I had ever experienced and it seemed to finally confirm my worth to the world. My importance to the universe seemed completely sure. In that moment. I would have never recognized myself as that soon-to-be tremulous lover who needed emotional games to feel in control. And for a moment, perhaps he too, thought his sorrow was over. My doppelganger banished from his mind in that still glittery seasonal glow as the world reset itself…bringing not only a new year, but a new sense of hope…a heart completely reborn.

So, maybe it is not only just his silvery outline that whispers to me slightly out of frame, as of late – but my own, as well. For that momentarily confident version of me belongs to this year, somehow, just as much as that unburdened version of him – though I have not regarded this past self seriously for decades. This year of hopes dashed so unreservedly, a year where light’s dearth has blinded us all, if only for smaller pockets of time, most assuredly would be the one to bring his essence back, unchecked – that past, very wishful, soon to be obliterated self. He worries me again beneath the piped-in carols…besieges me bittersweetly upon restlessly waking.

But perhaps he also teaches me that all this current sorrow, much like that old, old hurt, is survivable. He fills me with understanding, and most beautifully I think, compassion. Compassion for the person that I once was and, perhaps most importantly now, for the person that I am soon about to become.

In Remembrance: Christopher Bernau

Published October 30, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Christopher Bernau made me gay.

Well, he actually didn’t strap me down on some slick gurney and take me into some underground laboratory with lightening crackling overhead and test tubes exploding all around us… But I did come home one day from school — and there he was on Guiding Light, all shirtless and delivering his lines with a sadistic sneer as he ordered the distinctive and talented Sofia Landon Geier, the actress playing his employee-lover, around and…. Well – I got that special little tingle.

Years later, I discovered that some other handsome performer actually probably gave Bernau that exact same sensation when he was growing up. Living his life as openly gay as was possible in an era when that was frowned upon, he seemed like a hero to me. This isn’t surprising, though. He was definitely someone who made an impression on many folks – first as Phillip Todd on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and then, most famously, as the manipulative and occasionally cruel Alan Spaulding on the afore mentioned Guiding Light. There, the story of his illicit lover affair with the sweet Hope Bauer (the always honey-lit and eternally warm Elvera Roussel) raised many of the temperatures of the local ladies in my tiny neighborhood like few others did, before and after.

Nicely, in addition to his Dark Shadows experience, he also played a wildly seductive Count in the 1977 Off-Broadway production of The Passion of Dracula.

Unfortunately, Bernau, as with many of that era’s extraordinarily special creative types, was also stricken with AIDS. He ultimately died of the disease at the age of 49 on June 14th, 1989, leaving behind a legacy of amazing performances…and loads of stardust sprinkled inspiration for many a young small-town homosexual who dreamed of bigger and better (and, unfortunately, occasionally unfair) worlds.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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