Falling for Angels Covers the Gay Threesome Issues

Episode Five of Falling for Angels:

Finally, an episode of Falling for Angels, Here TV’s anthology series examining gay Los Angeles life, detailing the things people love to hate about Angelenos. In no particular order: the excess, the hedonism, the superficiality, the accent, the ostentatiousness. Seeing them at play with characters in “Silver Lake” is great for audiences who know these stereotypes, not least because these characters are ultimately sympathetic.

Here is a story of a three-way gone awry. “I just think we have so much, we could share this with someone,” says Brendon (Daniel Franzese of Looking), spitballing to husband Jeffrey (Johnny Kostrey) on why a three-man relationship is a good idea. “Maybe somebody else might help us appreciate more what we have.” “I do miss having sex. I miss the passion we used to have,” says Jeffrey. “We don’t have to live in that normal box that straight people have to live in,” replies Brendon.

And so the guys go down a road they’ve labeled badass queer radicalism — when they probably both worry they’re making a mistake. After all, for some this becomes the gay equivalent of an unhappy straight couple making a baby to save their marriage.

The Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake is full of guys like film editor Jeffrey and event-planner Brendon: hairy, curvy, vaguely alternative. “Hipster,” to put it briefly, though these two are sliding out of young adulthood. They aren’t kinksters, but they’d fit in on harnesses night at the neighborhood leather bar. These men are from a gay scene that only thrives in cities big enough to support gay bars that are not overrun by bachelorette parties every weekend — where ethnographer Jason Orne describes a vibrant, shady, queer sexy community existing contra gay assimilation into straight culture. Writer-director Billy Clift, who lives in Silver Lake, did research with “throuples” when writing his script. It shows. This feels very much like an urban gay story. “This is something that is very Silver Lake,” said Clift.

At any rate, we know this is a deeply L.A. story when a bright-eyed aspiring singer-songwriter who has taken the name Star (Diego Escobar) arrives on the scene from some backwater called Phoenix. The two pick him up at the Tom of Finland House in neighboring Echo Park, so beginning their vapid relationship.

Star makes out with each in turn at a bar, though he lingers with the smoother Jeffrey rather than Brendon, who is heavyset. Brendon instigated finding a third, and Jeffrey pauses before they take him home to make sure he’s still down. He is. They take Star home. This is another thing that Clift knows well: The born-into-show-business writer-director was, while modeling as a teenager, the guest of a rich man or two at the Beverly Hilton. “I eventually wised up,” he told me, working for years as a hair-and-makeup artist before making a leap into writing and directing and fulfilling a childhood wish.

I hate to even comment on the PrEP-talk in this episode because I want to see it normalized, but I am so overjoyed that it occurs. One of the partners is poz, the other on PrEP. Star is on PrEP too. “That was the first thing I did when I got out here,” he says. “Nobody really talked about it back home,” but his friend in L.A. sat him down right after he moved and convinced him to get on it. PrEP seems to be the norm at this point for HIV-negative gays in big cities, and it’s good to see this reflected on television. The scene ends, and the plot thread reaches a satisfying, quick conclusion.

Star shares his weed with a youthful stoner’s boundless enthusiasm, clearly proud of himself for delivering the goods. “This is really good shit. It’s organic, from Humboldt. I know this guy who used to work at the farm, and they’re so conscientious about the way it’s grown.” Tally another point upon which outsiders hate on people from LA: their over-indulgence in save-the-earth hippie life. “I do that with everything. Won’t eat unless it’s organic or anything like that." Brendon reenters the room, offering the kid an organic whiskey.

They go to bed, where Brendon is progressively left out. He rises early and makes an extravagant breakfast, then goes to fetch the guys and sees them having super-hot sex without him again. Brendon behaves with a profound degree of petulance until Star leaves. Brendon continues to behave petulantly until his husband questions their future together.

The third act is a lovingly directed interaction between a sister (Calpernia Addams) who chills out to incense and a tanpura’s drone and her wounded gay brother. Special is the show that really embraces actors portraying a messy emotional crisis (that primordial gay state) and a sister’s freewheeling emotional support while both are pretty inebriated. “I can’t hold your hand through all these bullshit feelings,” she gets out after Brendon tearfully spills from one store of self-pity to another. She talks him down as only someone who has known him his whole life could.

I realized that the reason I liked neither one of the married guys was that we might be seeing them at their relationship’s breaking point. The intention was to invite a third into the relationship, but they couldn’t even handle a three-way. “I just wanted to observe and bring up what could occur if we look at this kind of experience. I can’t imagine that every gay couple, especially if they’ve been together for a while, ponder something like this,” said Clift. Drama surrounding an open or closed relationship, whether a single man can fully satisfy another: these are never-ending issues for gay couples, tales as old as time. “I think that my episode could possibly give an insight into that.” Amen.

 

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