No Shrinking Violet
BY Brandon Voss
July 08 2010 2:25 PM ET
How did Violet Tendencies come about for you?
I got offered the film, so it came as a phone call. I’ve been out in L.A. auditioning, working, and supporting myself quite well for 25 years, but I’d never received an offer like that before. I’d been looking for a part like Violet for a long time — someone who has no fear. Casper was unsure about me because he didn’t know who I was, so Jesse, Casper, and I Skyped a lot before I got to New York. It sounds so Oprah, but we had amazing Skype conversations. By the time I got there, not only was I comfortable, but so was Casper.
How did Casper not know you?
I think the country he’s from is the one country Facts of Life wasn’t in. Then people would come up to me when we were shooting on the streets, and a couple of the crew members took it upon themselves to be my bodyguards, so I think Casper was like, Who the fuck are you? Why does everyone know you? How are we getting the best tables, and why are you getting so much free stuff? It was cute.
Were you familiar with Casper’s movies?
No, but I was familiar with Jesse. I had actually read Jesse’s book [You Can Run: Gay, Glam, and Gritty Travels in South America]. Jesse Archer is a character — we get it, we love him for it — but I yell at him because he’s such a fucking brilliant writer, and sometimes I think that’s glossed over because he’s such a character and some of the things he writes about are so out-there. While this is a Casper Andreas film — and this is no slight to Casper — it’s Jesse’s film, and I did it because of Jesse and his script.
Jesse also stars as Violet’s gay roommate. Have you ever had a gay roomie?
I used to have a house in Laguna with a gay guy, Glenn, who has been my close friend for 25 years. There were other gay men I cohabitated with who are unfortunately no longer with us. I lost a lot of dear friends and people I considered family to AIDS. But Glenn is alive and kicking, so he’ll hopefully be at Outfest with me.
As we see in Violet Tendencies, a good “fag stag” — a straight guy who hangs out with gay guys — is hard to find. Did having gay roomies and friends make it more difficult to find a boyfriend?
Yes and no. My girlfriends have hit on all my gay male friends, who are very masculine, not knowing they were gay at first blush. So there might have been moments where someone who wanted to invite me to do something salacious didn’t come up to me because he thought I was with a straight man. But I tend to be a good pimp daddy. Take me to a gay bar and you’re going to get a date.
The film explores the unhealthy potential of a straight woman’s friendships with gay men. Can you relate?
That’s never been my experience. While there are times I am very enmeshed and comfortable in the gay community, I don’t live there like Violet, who doesn’t have anything other than this family of gay friends. I’m such a different “fag hag” than Violet. I’ve never wanted to be a gay man, and I don’t want to have sex like a gay man.
When you first signed on, the film was called Bye Bye, Fruit Fly. Some women bristle at the terms “fruit fly” and “fag hag.” You embrace them?
I do embrace “fag hag” because I’m old enough to have earned it. But “fruit fly” bothers me, and I want you to know that Violet Tendencies came from yours truly. The first thing I asked Casper was, “Is Bye Bye, Fruit Fly for sure the title?” At the end of the shoot, he came up to me and said, “Well done. Violet Tendencies it is.” Straight people are just as represented in this movie as gay people, so I wanted it to be a little more ambiguous. I support gay cinema and gay film festivals, but why does it have to be so separate? It bothers me when they’re marketed that way because more than just gay people should see these movies. What’s so beautiful about Jesse’s script is that it doesn’t hit you over the head with AIDS or gay couples with children; that’s just part of the fabric of the story, and any audience would appreciate that. It’s a gift to be able to fold those issues into a sexual romp.
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