For This Middle-Aged Gay Actor, It's a Living

By Neal Broverman

Originally published on Advocate.com April 04 2013 6:00 AM ET

Making friends with Anne Heche and getting pepper-sprayed in the face is all in a day’s work, at least for David Dean Bottrell. The Kentucky native falls into that how-do-I-know-him? category of stardom — familiar but not recognizable. He’s been on a number of TV series, including Justified, True Blood, Ugly Betty, Criminal Minds, and as the homicidal Lincoln Meyer on Boston Legal. He’s next appearing in Heche’s upcoming NBC sitcom, Save Me. But in between these seemingly glamorous gigs are long periods of waiting for the phone to ring and worrying if a Hollywood career is a wise pursuit for a middle-aged gay man.

Bottrell satirizes this to great effect in his most recent one-man show in Los Angeles, David Dean Bottrell Is Working. Filled with anecdotes of careers past and present, from bagging weed to writing screenplays, the show, extended several times, appealed to everyone who drags their ass to work every day.

“I did my first-ever one-person show, David Dean Bottrell Makes Love, previously, and that was about love, and obviously, that’s very universal,” he says of the production that sold out for 18 straight months. “So I thought, what else is universal? I thought about work and out of that sprung the idea of the show.”

David Dean Bottrell Is Working begins with Bottrell heading to teach an acting class in a seedy neighborhood. As he gets out of his car, he’s pepper-sprayed in the face by a group of kids who run off and leave him. Waiting for an ambulance, Bottrell thinks, What am I doing with my life? It’s something everyone has contemplated, though usually under less dramatic circumstances.

“As an actor and writer, one of the things you don’t have a lot of control over is your next job. And one of things I love about [theater] is it allows me to plot a course and book a theater,” says Bottrell, who already has ideas for his next two shows. “Fortunately, I’ve got some fans who will actually show up and hear my stories.”