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All posts tagged lgbtqia

Dagger Cast: Jaime Adrian

Published September 21, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Madonna was Into the Groove. Ariana Grande, meanwhile, was only Into You…while The Psychedelic Furs were, dramatically, Into You Like A Train. Now Dagger Cast, happily, gets Into the Mix with amazing gay dance music artist Jaime Adrian. Jaime’s latest song What Were You Drinking? has reached close to 80,000 streams…but more importantly, on this latest episode, Jaime focuses on the screams! He fills listeners in on his favorite horror film queens (including Buffy) & describes how a childhood with a genre loving father has shaped his world. So, save up all your tears for Charisma and dive into the show at:

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

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In Memoriam: Robyn Griggs & Anne Heche

Published September 16, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Dying, tragically, within days of each other, former Another World actresses Anne Heche (May 25, 1969 – August 11, 2022) & Robyn Griggs (April 30, 1973 – August 13, 2022) both had strong connections to the world of horror, as well. 

10 years after her popular reign as Maggie Corey on the lauded soap ended, Griggs began appearing in a bevy of zero budget, indie terror epics with titles like Severe Injuries, Slashers Gone Wild!, Demon Divas and the Lanes Of Damnation and Hellweek. Often cast as a villainess, her enthusiasm and love for the genre definitely bled thorough in her performances. Of special note, she gives a delightfully spastic turn as a member of a murderous tribe of ne’er do wells in Hellweek. But Severe Injuries, a feministic take on traditional slasher tropes by Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt of Happy Cloud Pictures, may just be the best of her many scare-based offerings. She also was the force behind her own homegrown horror convention, further proof that her death at 49 from an aggressive form of cancer was a huge loss to the world of genre cinema. 

The projects of Heche, who passed away after a tragic car crash, definitely had a higher mainstream pedigree. But her major terror credit, an almost frame for frame remake of the classic Psycho (1999), was a controversial offering that was, overwhelmingly, ripped apart by critics, who found its existence unnecessary. Still, the film’s queer influence can be highly felt. Gay director Gus Van Sant definitely invests understanding in the film’s outsider themes while giving us the ass shot that John Gavin never would have allowed by recasting his role with the gamely beautiful Viggo Mortensen. His encouraging Julianne Moore (in the Vera Miles role) to dive into her role with a no bullshit Sapphic energy also stands proud while Heche’s wispy beauty here makes one feel the intense attraction that Ellen DeGeneres, who she was involved with at the time, must have felt for her. Counting 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer & 2013’s Nothing Left to Fear among her other genre credits, Heche left behind not only a legacy of great acting work but an advocacy for the LGBTQIA community that has too long been under appreciated. Proclaiming the truth about her three-year love affair with DeGeneres definitely hurt her career and the stony backs that greeted her upon the dissolution of that romance were truly unnecessary- especially for a woman who helped narrow the scope of the public’s prejudices and broaden their overwhelming personal limitations. 

Indeed, both Griggs and Heche have left this coil far too soon. May their AW peers, including such profound talents as Constance Ford, David Oliver, Philece Sampler & Charles Keating, rise among them to assist them to their new planes of existence.

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

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The Night Jeff Stryker Saw Me!

Published August 2, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Suyuan (to June Woo): You have a style no one else can teach…I see you. – The Joy Luck Club

Its 21 years later and I still haven’t forgiven Jeff Stryker. Just to be clear, he didn’t break my heart or leave me hanging with the check after a 5-Star dinner. He didn’t take photos and expose my toothpaste scarred, stubble strewn bathroom sink to a mixed bag of friends and family. But as a lifelong horror fan, what he did may have even been worse. He never let me know that in 1989, under his birth name of Chuck Peyton, he starred in Zombie 4: After Death, a Euro terror epic directed by none other than Troll 2‘s insanely energetic Claudio Fragasso.

But, perhaps, all should finally be washed under that wispy bridge of time and firmly forgotten. He did give me my The Joy Luck Club moment, after all. 

To backtrack, in the spring of 2001 some mutual acquaintances contacted me about helping him place his play Jeff Stryker Does Hard Time in Chicago. After some minor false starts, a venue was secured, and I was hired to production manage-direct the project. It seemed like kismet. What could be cooler for an exploitation flick junkie than doing a male version of a Women in Prison flick featuring the very person whose picture will be placed next to the sticky pronouncement of Gay Porn God once the sands of oblivion have finally blown their last streak against the fading skies?!? Granted, there were some missteps along the way. Attuned to simpler camera techniques, he vetoed 90% of the blocking I came up with — and when he left the final dress rehearsal, mid-run, to attend to some minor business, I saw my 10 hard won years of theatrical career climbing blown to smithereens, and I had a loudly frantic meltdown in front of him and the entire cast and crew. (My own apology is firmly placed here, fellas. Read it and please don’t weep!)

But, overall, it was a fun adventure and, as most creative projects, seemingly over and done within the blink of an eye. Still reeling a bit from my miserably unreturned crush on the cute, wavy-haired actor who played the production’s bad boy protagonist, I met up with Stryker a few days after we struck set to say our goodbyes. There, next to the dryer in the laundry room area of the B and B that he was staying in, he turned to me, mid-conversation, looked me straight in the eyes and earnestly proclaimed, “You are just so sweet!” After taking a step back, I casually thanked him. Or, at least, I hoped that was how I appeared. For beneath that calm response, lurked a valley of stunned surprise. For just like that mother and daughter scene in the above-mentioned chick flick, I had always longed for someone to see me for who I really was – to recognize the lovely soul that beat beneath all the swirling insecurity and falsely projected bravado that propelled me, haphazardly yet hopefully, through my days. And here, mystically rising from the sheets of budget fabric softener, it was. This man who starred, with torso thrusting glory, in projects such as Powertool, Strykin’ It Deep and Bigger Than Life actually got me. He saw that beneath the yearning struggle and the occasional flare-ups of spite and frustration, lurked a good soul. He somehow saw what made me special…and while, decades later, I still haven’t quite distilled just what that might be, I know it is there thanks to him.

So, maybe I can actually let go of the disappointment of not having had a conversation about his undead adventures filming with a gonzo Italian maverick in the steamy Philippines. After all, the gift he gave me was actually so much greater. 

Note: Severin Films has released a deluxe version of Zombie 4 with a CD soundtrack and fun interview with Jeff.

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

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Shark Bait Retro Village (Pride Edition): Rock Hudson

Published June 21, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Immortalized as a romantic leading man, suavely surfacing in everything from frothy Doris Day gems to such lush, dramatic adventures as Giant, Rock Hudson, as many matinee types before him, grew a bit bolder as he aged. The lure of homogenized Hollywood behind him, he accepted darker roles in such projects as the 1971 comic slasher Pretty Maids All in a Row and 1976’s mad scientist inspired Embryo.

It was not these movies that deemed him worthy of immortalization as the subject of a television-film of the week, though. That distinction was due to the late-in-his-life revelation of his homosexuality and his subsequent death from AIDS shortly thereafter. This tragedy fully engaged the shocked public. This was perhaps the first widespread evidence of how blatantly the corporate dream machine could cover up the truth with fantasies and lies. It was also prime evidence of the diversity of the LGBTQIA community – yes, we were choreographers and costume designers, but we were also war heroes and construction workers…and masculine matinee idols. 

In consideration of that last occupation, the producers of 1990’s Rock Hudson definitely got their lead casting right. The handsome 6’ 5” Thomas Ian Griffith, who would go on to be a beloved part of the John Carpenter universe due to his powerfully villainous turn in Vampires, was cast as Hudson for the project. Genre fans are also sure to be thrilled with the presence of Andrew Robinson (Hellraiser, Child’s Play 3) as infamous agent Henry Willson and the ever-friendly Thom Mathews (Return of the Living Dead, Friday the 13th: Jason Lives) as Tim Murphy, an amalgamation of Hudson’s early career paramours. Of the three, Mathews, in particular, shines with an honest sensitivity and forthrightness.

The truest pleasures in this production may end there, though. The project itself follows the typical biopic beats – Rock overcoming an indifferent parent (a quirkily curt Diane Ladd), finding outrageous success and then experiencing a disheartening down curve in popularity. Even more blatantly irritating, though, are the scenes involving Phyllis Gates (Daphne Ashbrook), the woman the star married in 1955 to cover up his true orientation. Pretty much universally confirmed as nothing more than a tense business arrangement, the producers here spend many gauzy lensed moments detailing the relationship as a passionate romance. Griffith and Ashbrook flirt and cutely cavort, eventually making love in a tenderly glowing sequence. The actor’s same sex relationships definitely don’t get the same treatment here. Granted, the audience at the time may not have been able to accept the sight of a sweaty man-on-Mathews lip lock, but by playing it safe, this production suffers not only from a sense of falsehood but from a certain blandness, intimately familiar territory to we lovers of tele-films, as well.

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

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Dagger Cast: Scott Free

Published February 14, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

I’ve been blessed with meeting so many amazing people in my lifetime & LGBTQIA activist-musician Scott Free has to be one of most interesting artists that has, thankfully, orbited my world. Nicely, he is also our latest guest on Dagger Cast and his stories about his forays into the NYC Rap scene and the early beginnings of the Chicago House Music phenomenon are not only entertaining but highlight the cultural significance of those genres and their social importance. We also dive into his work on Dead Guys, perhaps the first completely gay slasher flick, and such spooky stage productions as Witches Among Us & Zombie Bathhouse. So, make like En Vogue and…(Scott)Free your mind, today!!

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

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Perks of the Trade: Mahogany

Published October 26, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Perks of the Trade will look at the varied filmography of Anthony Perkins, the queer performer forever associated with Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest onscreen psycho, Norman Bates..

While certainly a close cousin to the crazed Norman Bates, the role that immortalized him, Anthony Perkins’ take on Sean McAvoy, a tortured high fashion photographer, in 1975’s gloriously enjoyable Mahogany, is initially full of subtle traces of humor and a true sense of professional calm. Of course, as McAvoy’s obsession with Diana Ross’ upwardly climbing Tracey Chambers reaches its peak, Perkins commits to the character’s wild eyed bouts of frenzy with vigorous aplomb

This dedication to his craft is notable as Perkins, reportedly, was looking forward to playing a much more regulated persona and wanted to avoid any hysterical scare screen tactics when it came to the role. But a changing of the guard behind the scenes – director Tony Richardson was replaced by Motown founder & first time filmmaker Berry Gordy early on in the process – forced him to acquiesce to a more anticipated, Grand Guignol approach to the character. Decades later, fans of cinematic camp have to concede that Gordy’s desire to have the actor indulge in blearily erotic actions, such as wrestling a swarthy Billy Dee Williams for control of a pistol towards the film’s climax, surely enhanced the film’s long term cinematic viability – no matter how it might have hurt Perkins’ further career goals at the time.

Interestingly, for critics compelled to look at the real life personal dynamics involved, McAvoy also seems to represent some of Perkins’ personal struggles. Well known as a practicing (almost hedonistic) homosexual in entertainment circles since his summer stock days. Perkins had recently married and begun a life as a devoted father around the time of the filming of this project. Thus, his seemingly gay celluloid creation’s desire to possess Ross’ high fashion lass seems to have played a fitting, if murderously over-the-top, counterpoint to his own personal life.

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

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In Remembrance: Tommy Kirk

Published October 12, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

After gracing their lots for a wide variety of projects throughout the ‘50s, the exuberant Tommy Kirk was let go by Disney upon the discovery of his homosexuality. Thankfully, for genre fans, low budget studios like AIP were eager to bank on his childhood & teenage fame and cast him in a variety ‘60s cult projects. Indeed, titles like Village of the Giants, Mars Needs Women, Blood of Ghastly Horror and The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini have a special place in the hearts of genre lovers, worldwide.

Still, the fact that Kirk had to hide his true nature for a large part of his existence, akin to such contemporaries as Anthony Perkins, Tab Hunter & Tom Tryon, lent his death this past September a truly somber and bittersweet edge. Thankfully, though. Kirk got to see some changes during his lifetime. Openly gay (and bi-sexual) actors such as Peter Porte, Adam Huss. Matt Comer, Jim Parsons, Mike Manning & Luke Evans are often cast in projects, many of them often playing straight characters as well as gay.

In loving memory of Kirk, let’s hope this a trend that continues, ad infinitum.

Tommy Kirk – 1941 – 2021.

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

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Honoring Antonio Moreno

Published September 26, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Described as a rival to Rudolph Valentino, the dashing Antonio Moreno acted opposite many of the queens of the silent cinema – Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow and the Gish sisters. Unfortunately, the public wasn’t ready for a Spanish superstar once sound became cinema’s king. But by middle age, this consummate professional had developed a serious career in Hollywood as a character actor. The most important of his roles during that era, nicely, included outings in John Ford’s iconic The Searchers and the classic aqua-terror The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The latter project, of course, has gained him decades of respect and admiration from generations of monster kids. There, still suave and commanding, he plays Carl Maia, the man ultimately responsible for discovering everyone’s favorite Gill-man…a fact that should fill every LGBTQIA genre fan’s heart with glee.

For, as specifically detailed in Clara E. Rodriguez‘s book Heroes, Lovers and Others (The Story of Latinos in Hollywood), outside of the glaring lights of show business, Moreno lived an openly gay existence. While one always wishes, in retrospect, that performers such as Moreno had been able to passionately embrace their true natures, publicly, it is also always an honor to discover them after the fact and celebrate the perspectives of their experience with a modern appreciation. Moreno, as with many of our gay and lesbian forebears, helped pave the way for the (still, unfortunately, tremulous) freedoms that we have today. That he did so while creating works of art with figures like Alfred Hitchcock (Notorious), Cary Grant (Crisis, along with fellow queer icon Ramon Navarro) and Gary Cooper (Dallas) only proves how worthy of recognition, within our community and outside of it, he really is.

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

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Patsy Kelly

Published July 4, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Her teaming with the stunningly tragic Thelma Todd in a series of comedy shorts in the ’30s brought the zaftig Patsy Kelly fame and critical renown for her clowning abilities. But by the ’40s, her career had dried up. Hollywood was not ready to accept Kelly’s refusal to hide her lesbianism or to even downplay her preferences to the masses.

Unfortunately, this proud, unwavering stance forced her to live through some lean years. A friendship with the iconic Tallulah Bankhead (Die, Die, My Darling) carried her through the ’50s and ’60s. (Kelly worked both as a real life and on stage companion to that mercurial talent.) Thankfully, by the early ’70s (with many of the Tinsel Town executives who shunned her either forgotten or dead), Kelly found latter day success in a number of Broadway vehicles. These turns eventually found her gainful employment – of all places – in two Disney flicks, including Freaky Friday (with future notable Sapphic, Jodie Foster).

Thankfully, in 1968, this unforgettable performer (who also provided ample buffoonery to 1939’s The Gorilla with Bela Lugosi), also made a pit stop in Classic Terror Town with her affably odd performance of Laura-Louise in Rosemary’s Baby. Playing a character who is overly devoted to Rosemary’s demonic offspring, Kelly resonates most in her final moments of the film. But any time she is onscreen here, particularly when she is sharing space with fellow golden oldie Ruth Gordon, is a fine one – making this often overlooked entertainer, a true unsung heroine of horror!

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

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Great Performances in Horror: Dinah Shore

Published April 25, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Okay, okay…it’s not necessarily a great performance per se, but the affable Dinah Shore definitely adds a sunny and unique presence to the 1979 TV Terror Death Car on the Freeway. Nicely, her take on helpful tennis pro Lynn Bernheimer also ties in a bit with the lesbian community as it references the famed singer-actress’ athletic ties and her (in namesake) involvement with The Dinah, a queer woman’s golfing event and music celebration. 

With this particular outing, though, Shore’s Bernheimer is more concerned with a specific divinity in danger as opposed to a Sapphic sisterhood as a whole. Here, Shelley Hack, in the same year that she joined Charlie’s Angels as the ultra efficient Tiffany Welles, plays an ambitious news anchor named Jan who believes that her coverage of a vehicular based serial killer may be her ticket to the big time. Fighting disbelief from her peers and sexism from up on high, she revels in the support that Shore’s character, one of the titular marauder’s first intended victims, unilaterally gives her. Indeed, with warm southern twang fully intact, the former Frances Rose* pops up several times to add pertinent details to the puzzle that Hack is slowly solving. Shore’s natural, feministic glow invigorates Hack’s portrayal and when the younger woman  finally goes after the killer, fender to fender, it is not surprising due to the atmospheric tutelage that she has received. 

Directed by famed stunt coordinator Hal Needham, Death Car ultimately doesn’t have the stylistic tension of Duel, the famed Steven Spielberg piece about a maniacal trucker, but there are a number of shackle raising chases involving such familiar horror faces as Dallas’ Morgan Brittany (The Initiation of Sarah, Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat), Tara Buckman (Silent Night, Deadly Night, Night Killer) and Nancy Stephens (Halloween, Halloween H20).

Significantly, Shore, whose music has been used in various episodes of American Horror Story, Fear the Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries, continued to appear in unusual and cult-centric projects for the rest of her career. Many youngsters learned of her through her participation in a holiday episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and she, gladly, welcomed such alt-culture, heavy duty guests as Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Andy Kaufman and Tina Turner on her various talk shows over the years, as well.

*Frances Rose was the name that Shore was given at birth.

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

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