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One Good

One Good


The actors behind daytime television's cutest (and only) gay couple come clean for National Coming Out Day.

There have been queer characters on daytime TV before -- even cute blond ones, like One Life to Live's Billy Douglas (played by a very young Ryan Phillippe) -- but when Noah Mayer (Jake Silbermann) arrived in Oakdale last May and stole the heart of resident gay Luke Synder (Van Hansis), CBS's As the World Turns became the first soap to depict a fully realized romantic male couple as an integral part of the show. At first Noah seemed devoted to button-nosed Maddie (thereby maintaining his heterosexual veneer), but by the end of the summer, he and Luke were sharing confidences...and big juicy kisses. Just in time for National Coming Out Day on Thursday, October 11, Silbermann and Hansis spoke with The Advocate about the attention the story line has generated, their on- and offscreen relationship, and what deep, dark secrets they're ready to reveal.

Van, you've been playing Luke for almost two years. Is it nice to have him in a relationship instead of just being the angst-ridden gay kid?

Van Hansis: I'm totally psyched that we've been able to open the character up some more. But I think Luke was pretty fully realized all along. He hasn't been this perfect angel -- he crashed his car; he pushed his mother down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant and put her in a coma.

Sounds like an angel to me. How have viewers reacted to Luke and Noah?

Jake Silbermann: The fan response has been really great to both the individual characters and where we're taking the relationship. Noah and Luke were voted top couple in a Soap Opera Digest poll. The funny thing is, a lot of people want them to be happy, but a lot want them to suffer heartache and tragedy -- because that's what couples on daytime TV do. It's a good sign, actually.

VH: They've been really supportive. I get tons of mail and almost all of it is positive. If it's a negative letter or e-mail, it's usually people who can't see past their own limitations and prejudices. And they don't have a very good grasp of grammar or punctuation.

Do you guys hang out offscreen?

JS: Van's a good friend. I was just at his surprise birthday party.

VH: It was a great party. I was totally surprised. Elena Goode, who plays my cousin Jade, was there, and so was Alexandra Chando, who plays Noah's old girlfriend Maddie. We're all pretty tight.

What's the latest development with Luke and Noah?

JS: Well, Noah sat his dad, Colonel Mayer, down and officially came out to him. He said his whole life has been a lie -- including believing he wasn't good enough for his father. He told the colonel he's happy with who he is and doesn't want to change, but he doesn't want to lose his dad either. It seemed at first like the colonel accepted him, but he invited Noah and Luke on a fishing trip where something sinister happens.

Oh, my God, is Luke going to be "sleeping with the fishes"?

VH: [Laughs] I don't wanna give too much away. Let's just say Luke is not happy at the end of the trip.

Obviously there's more at stake with the portrayals of Luke and Noah than typical daytime characters. How has it been being the focus of so much media attention?

VH: It does throw you a bit, especially since this was my first big role on television. You go from waiting tables to doing interviews with national magazines and people saying that you changed their lives. It's definitely tricky.

JS: I knew what the role was when I signed on, but I guess I'm jaded -- I honestly didn't think it would get so much press. Of course, I'm grateful and honored to be telling this story and doing it in an interesting and respectful way.

Jake, did you ask Van for advice on how to play a gay character on a soap?

JS: I think we can all relate to being young and conflicted like Noah is. So I just looked for the truth in the role -- for the Noah in me. The show writes him well enough I could find what I related.

VH: [Laughs] I'm hardly the wise sage -- I think I gave him some advice about the soap opera world in general. But we all approach our characters in our own way.

Assuming Luke and Noah survive, what kinds of story lines would you like to see them involved in, gay or otherwise?

VH: I like the realistic, family-driven stories. I'd like to see Luke's biological father return to stir up trouble. Then again, maybe Luke should be involved in some kind of espionage and be on the run. Something exciting.

Van, in addition to the show you're also starring in Die, Mommie, Die! with Charles Busch at New World Stages. How do you manage that kind of schedule?

VH: Both the show and the play have been great about working around my schedule. It's not easy, but Charles is so incredible, I couldn't pass up the chance to work with him. He's really been great and supportive.

Since its National Coming Out Day, is there anything you'd like to "come out" about?

VH: I'm addicted to reality television. It's the only kind of TV I watch. My favorite is Big Brother -- I'd rather watch it than some serious, important drama like Six Feet Under.

JC: I think I'm in denial about being totally addicted to fantasy-league football. I spend hours a day checking scores and updating my roster. My friends want to stage an intervention. Also, I'm trying to get back into fencing. I use to do it as a kid because it was as close to sword-fighting as I could get. But I'm actually proud about that.

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