Ah, July 16th, the final day of Outfest. For me. This was Awards Night, and Boy Culture was set to close the evening after either winning—or not so much—a judge's award or two. See, by being the Awards-Night film, you can't win any audience awards, but the trade-off is the prestige. And also the kick knowing that all the famous faces in attendance for the ceremony will likely sit through your movie after the last statuette is handed out.
I had wanted to wear a jacket. What can I say? I'm from Manhattan. But I went in a long-sleeved shirt and still felt ridiculously overdressed, with presenters and winners taking the stage in board shorts. I drove with Philip and Christopher in their convertible (there goes the hair...wow, I needed a cut anyway, but post-drive it was so flat it scared me) and we were asked to head over for "red-carpet" photos. It was at the Ford Amphitheatre. Like Reinas, we'd be seeing it under the stars.
The red carpet was fun. I'm used to assigning people to cover them, not being on them. I hovered in some group shots for a few, grateful that even a somewhat little guy like Derek can make an excellent accessory when you want to camouflage your gut. I finally met Emily Stiles, now Emily Brooke Hands, and found her to be delightful. Her part in Boy Culture—as indelible as it is—is quite small, yet she had taken care to read my novel and told me so right off the bat. Derek was very Polo in yellow and Jonathan and his GF Katrina were basic black. I got to see my girl-crush Kether again, albeit briefly, and we all sweated bullets inside the pre-party. The pre-party was held in the guts of the backstage (understage???). The lighting made it feel like a fake gay bar you'd find in a low-budget gay movie. No comments from the peanut gallery.
As we milled about, Jeff Stryker sailed past, eliciting simultaneous exclamations of, "Oh, my God!" and "He hasn't aged well..." Fuck, at least he's aged. Where the hell are Bill Henson and Jeff Hammond and oh, shit, I know too many of them by name. I thought he looked pretty good, if short. But then it's not the vertical size that counts.
As we took our seats, I realized Bryan Singer was seated on the aisle of our row. I was kind of flabbergasted by this. And I found it pretty cool that he would bother to show up to a gay film fest in the midst or at the tail end of all his Superman Returns promoting. Derek's mom was on hand, as were Jonathon's parents (didn't see them, unfortch), a cool producer by the name of David Van Houten who became my seatmate, the classy actress who plays the unclassy Jill (Peyton Hinson) and lots of others.
The awards show was a hoot, hosted by Bruce Vilanch, who I'd just met at the pre-party, and featuring a drag queen known as Mama in the role of a Price Is Right beauty. Bruce made fun of each category after an award was handed out with a quip such as, "The runner-up in that category was Anna Nicole Smith in Dead Man's Chest," or "...Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for Mission: Impossible (But So Far We're Getting Away With It)." It was nice to see David Dean Bottrell take home an Outie for Available Men—if only for his entertaining acceptance speech—and there were some surprises. I was shocked Another Gay Movie's Michael Carbonaro won for Best Actor—that kind of comedy is rarely rewarded. But the biggest and most pleasant surprise was when Boy Culture won for Best Screenplay! I immediately filmed Philip Pierce and Q. Allan Brocka taking the stage and was a touch touched when Allan thanked me. Philip sweetly thanked Christopher, "my boyfriend of 20 years, who had to hear about Boy Culture for about half of that." I don't mean to take away any credit because if I'd written the screenplay, it would not be movie it is. But it was especially nice for Boy Culture to be recognized for the writing. Guess I should have tried harder on that screenplay all those years ago!
The ultimate award, given by a trademark-sassy Loretta Devine (can you believe she's only three years shy of 60?), went to The Gymnast, another surprise. I had hoped for Boy Culture to win, but it was nice that it won for writing, which allowed Philip and Allan, the creative forces behind it, to share a trophy.
The surprises were not over. When Allan returned to the stage to introduce Boy Culture, he called up Derek, Jonathon and Emily and thanked the producers, then Jonathon—who I think I've somehow groomed to like me as much as I like him—suggested Allan call me up, too. I definitely felt like an interloper, but once it was called for I couldn't not run up there. So I did, handing off my camera as its card filled up on cue. I felt bizarre up there, but it provided everyone with an excuse to say hi to me at the after-party. (Just look at Jonathon in this pic with me and Katrina...you can see how nice he is just from his smile.)
The film played and I watched it for close to the tenth time. I felt the print looked dark, and I still feel a cerebral movie like Boy Culture loses something outside. But there's no question that the audience was very appreciative judging from the warm applause (maybe it was the 90-degree heat, too) and approving buzz.
The after-party was a blast for me. I got to spend time socializing with friends, chatting with the Coffee Date cast (including Wilson Cruz, who is a far cry from the femme-bot he was on My So-Called Life, wow) and meeting several interesting people. I met a soon-to-be-published author, a cute film editor with hair so great everyone assumed he must be gay (but wasn't), the talented Fernando Arroyo from Broken Sky (finally, after my earlier stalker posting), a Matthew Rettenmund fangirl named (I think!) Adora from the UK who I adora-ed for being so kind in her praise, I met the dashing Michael Carbonaro (praise for whom has now gotten a bit icky on this blog) and, last but not least, Bryan Singer. Phil Lobel sweetly made sure to introduce me, and Bryan could not have been nicer. In fact, he was so unaffected it was hard to picture him directing anything. He very generously praised my "beautiful" story and Allan and Philip's film, seizing on some of the boys' flashback scenes (which are quite affecting) and saying he'd found himself really enjoying the film throughout, laughing out loud. He'd come straight from Euro-touring for Superman Returns—that in itself is a great compliment to Allan. A friend said, "At some point, you gotta sit back and say, 'The director of Superman Returns and X-Men likes my movie.'" It's not "my" movie, but the point is valid. And don't forget Apt Pupil! Don't forget Apt Pupil! I was very invested in the moment.
Finally, I had to take off. Phil Lobel, Allan and Allan's shoulders-for-days date Nick dropped me "home" at the Roosevelt. I had a flight to catch the following a.m. from L.A. to N.Y., but any jet lag was outweighed by the buoyancy Outfest had given me, the inspiration—surrounded by creatives—to try harder, or to try hard, to make the time to do things that I'm passionate about, as opposed to passionately doing things that just happen to be about. Regarding creative projects, love the one you're with and all, but choose your company wisely—because even the bad movies or novels or paintings out there are better than anything you've done just for money.
(Thanks to Phil Lobel for some of the photos in this post!)