The new gay tube

BY Bruce Vilanch

October 24 2005 12:00 AM ET

Sometimes
there’s a gay god so quickly. Apologies to Tennessee
Williams for the postmodern paraphrase, but it
wasn’t so long ago that groups of us would sit
around the TV set and watch Linda Evans and Joan Collins
digging their claws into each other on Dynasty,
wondering what it would be like to have a gay channel
where we could watch endless variations of
Dynasty, maybe even without commercial breaks.
(Remember those? The things you now TiVo through?)

And now, a mere
wiggle of a witch’s nose later, you can indulge in
not just one but three channels of homo promo. Four if
you count Bravo, and even more if you spend time
watching VH1 or E! or any of the house, garden,
fashion, style, food, or makeover channels, or even ESPN and
Fox Sports if they’re showing synchronized
swimming or the WNBA.

You can watch
Logo, with stand-up specials and some edited and
commercial-interrupted classic movies on gay themes. Over at
Here network, with no commercials, you can see some
foreign pictures, some new independent features, and a
hilarious Canadian soap opera called Paradise
Falls.
As is the custom on soap operas, most of the
people in this small northern Ontario town are congenital
idiots—the lady cop who runs the police station
accidentally leaves her baby at an outdoor café,
that sort of thing. There’s a gay bed-and-breakfast
in town, the object of much scorn from the local
fundamentalists, but we know who will prevail. Hunks
in Speedos abound, as do naked straight guys and their
desperate housewife fling-mates. Being Canadian, even the
bigots are kind of sweet and polite.

Farther along the
dial there’s Q Television Network, which beams every
day from Palm Springs. There’s a weekday news
broadcast and a late-night talk show with an actual
budget, enough to fly in iconic performers like the
Dueling Bankheads. (If you’ve never seen their act,
do yourself a favor. There’s nothing like it.)

All these new
networks are starting to fulfill the “what if”
fantasy so many of us have been carrying around for
years. What if there were a gay James Bond, a gay
MacGyver? As readers of this magazine know, Here has
already come up with a gay noir detective, played impeccably
by Chad Allen in Third Man Out. There have, of
course, been hundreds of noir novels written with gay
private eyes—John Morgan Wilson’s excellent
Ben Justice stories spring to mind—but this first
cinematic representation is a doozy. Allen plays not a
strapping action hero but a conflicted, alternately
hard-boiled and softhearted, partnered gay man.
Third Man Out is so good, it invites a whole new
form of speculation. Now that we’ve delivered a
gay mystery with prime-time production values, it
could be time for a TV franchise where the private eye
is gay but the world in which he solves his cases is
straight. Like many of us, he is visible, proud, and
living in a world outside the cloisters of gay life.
His sexuality would come into play no more and no less
than any straight detective’s. A series like that
might even have a chance of showing up on a network
where they try to sell trucks every eight minutes.

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