Cumming on strong

Out actor Alan Cumming, who will be seen in Showtime’s Reefer Madness in 2005 as his new cologne hits stores, shows his political side at a benefit for New York City’s The New Festival

BY Ryan James Kim

December 17 2004 1:00 AM ET

Swirling around him was a swanky Manhattan benefit party—complete with silent auction, open bar, hors d'oeuvres, and DJ Girlina—but actor Alan Cumming was having a political moment, talking about the November election.Comparisons between the role of same-sex marriage in the 2004 presidential race and Ralph Nader’s failed run for presidency in 2000 are unfortunate, Cumming said at the recent Newfest Winter Benefit for New York City’s New Festival, the city’s long-running international gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender film festival.“I was very angry with Nader in the last election, and I think it’s sad that people think that gay marriage is the cause of John Kerry’s defeat,” he said. “What’s more terrible is that George Bush used the gay marriage thing as sort of a touchstone to get all those right-wing, more middle-of-the-country groups to vote for him because they feared all these moral values were not going to be upheld.”Cumming was the center of attention at the benefit, which honored the out actor’s work in such films as X-Men 2, The Anniversary Party, Urbania, and Spy Kids and television programs including Annie, The Goodbye Girl, and Showtime’s upcoming musical Reefer Madness.But in an interview with Advocate.com, Cumming was more interested in talking about gay rights than in recapping his resume. Addressing partnership rights, Cumming said for him the benefits of marriage are more important than the word itself.“It’s a semantic thing—it’s not to say that if you’re gay you have a different relationship and that should be reflected in a different ceremony and what you call it. What is really important are the civil rights,” he said. Gay people “should have the same financial rights, same tax rights, same partnership rights, health benefits [as straight people].”He noted that a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit and nullify existing same-sex marriages goes up for consideration this spring in Massachusetts—the only U.S. state in which same-sex couples are now allowed to marry. Same-sex marriages began there on May 17.“Seven months ago, we really thought that the gay marriage thing had left the station, it was on its way, and there was no stopping it,” Cumming said. “Now it looks like it’s going to go into the water. It’s not a good time to be gay in America right now, it really isn’t.”A native of Scotland, the Tony award–winning actor said he would be celebrating Christmas this year in his house in upstate New York with his boyfriend.In the new year he’ll be out and about again, not only promoting Reefer Madness and the theatrical film Son of the Mask, but also stumping for his new cologne, called simply Cumming. He described the scent, which hits stores in February, as “manly.”“It’s got truffle in it, it’s got edge in it, it’s got smokiness,” he said. “Imagine there’s a big basket of fruit that was really, really ripe and the way that it smells so sexy just before it goes off. It’s just that smell. That’s the way I think about it.”The cologne will cost $69 and will be available at the high-end retail beauty chain Sephora. Why that price tag? “I thought it was [priced at $69] to be funny, but I don’t know,” Cumming said. “I didn’t choose that.”More information about the cologne can be found at http://www.cummingthefragrance.com.

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