The Dark Side of Del Shores

Sordid Lives creator Del Shores delves into the personal drama that inspired Yellow, his first new play in seven years, and shares some golden memories of friend Rue McClanahan.



Leslie Jordan once told me that he was a bit peeved when you hired three straight actors and one gay actor to play the four gay characters in a touring production of Southern Baptist Sissies. Do you not feel pressure or responsibility to cast more gay actors in gay roles?
I’ve gotten a lot of flack from the gay community about casting straight actors in gay roles, but I’ve also cast gay actors in straight roles — and I’ll bet you didn’t know that, but I did. I don’t discriminate against straight or gay people in casting; I’m open to good acting. Let’s take Kirk Geiger, who played Ty in the Sordid Lives movie. The day he auditioned for me, he was very gay. I didn’t feel it was my right to ask if he was gay or straight, but I cast the best actor in the role. You know what I say to people who criticize me for that? I say, “Fuck you.” In Yellow, I happen to have a straight boy playing a straight boy and a gay boy playing a gay boy, but they were the best actors for the roles. By the way, that Newsweek article, which said gay actors can’t play straight roles? That guy’s full of shit. There are so many examples to dispute that.

When you travel with your one-man show, how deeply do you explore your sexual journey? Because I imagine that audiences, whether or not they’re familiar with your oeuvre, are naturally curious about the fact you had two children with your ex-wife, accepted your homosexuality later in life, and then married a handsome man more than 20 years your junior.
Hang on, I’m writing down what you just said so I can start writing my new show. [Laughs] Yeah, I touch on all of that, but the theme of this particular show — because it’s not my last one — is more about the real stories I’ve stolen from my life and family for my work. So I do get into the real pain and damage caused by the church that I dealt with in Southern Baptist Sissies. I also dish on the stars I’ve worked with, both good and bad. If you’re an asshole and you work with me, I’m going to talk about it — and publicly.

Spill it.
Well, since I’m talking to The Advocate, which is where Randy Harrison trashed the writing of Queer as Folk, the show that made him successful, I start out one story by saying, “Randy Harrison is an ungrateful little shit.” As a result, I’ve gotten some angry letters from his fans.

Tags: Theater