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John Stamos pops
our cork!

John Stamos pops
our cork!

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John Stamos is having a hell of a second act: The former sitcom babe has sparkled up his nipples in Cabaret and pumped life into ER. Now, in the A&E movie Wedding Wars, he goes on strike for our right to marry.

John Stamos and I have a mutual friend who does penis tricks. By "penis tricks," I am referring to this particular acquaintance's habit of dropping his pants at parties and forming his privates into various unexpected and admittedly impressive shapes. "Have you seen the Hamburger?" Stamos asks me as we stroll through the sprawl of the Warner Bros. back lot. I nod, and Stamos immediately shoots me a grin conveying that thanks to our mutual pal and his unlikely talent, we're now friends as well.

For a moment I'm awed by Stamos's nonchalance--as if discussing penis tricks is the most ordinary thing in the world. But after spending the next hour with him, his ease doesn't surprise me in the least.

Here's the thing about John Stamos: He's completely, refreshingly open-minded, the kind of guy who is nonjudgmental about things like the public display of a penis, the kind of guy who has no reservations about taking on the role of a likable gay rights activist--despite being an actor best known for marrying a supermodel and making all the girls (and boys) swoon.

"John's incredibly charming," says Jim Fall, who directed Stamos in Wedding Wars [premiering Monday, December 11, at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific], "which makes him the perfect conduit for the message of this movie." A family comedy that manages to tackle the issue of same-sex marriage with light humor and a deft touch, the A&E feature stars Stamos as Shel, a wedding planner who impulsively decides to fight for his own right to marry after his brother--played by Grey's Anatomy's "McSteamy," Eric Dane--becomes engaged to the daughter of a conservative governor.

"I didn't want to make just another 'gay' movie," explains Fall, whose debut feature was the gay indie Trick--and who married his boyfriend on the Wedding Wars set in Halifax, Canada. "I wanted to make a point and really say something, but subtly. I wanted to show both sides without vilifying anyone. I wanted to win people over with comedy--and who better to help with that than someone who has been coming into their living rooms for years now?"

It's a savvy strategy. Take Full House's sweet, hapless Uncle Jesse and General Hospital's brooding, darkly handsome Blackie, and combine and transform the popular characters into a likable, smart, authentic gay man. Because of Stamos, Middle America will start watching and--fingers crossed--won't be able to stop.

Former Full House costar Bob Saget, for one, will be watching. "I love John like he's the sister I never had. Truly, he's one of my best friends and has always, always been there for me," Saget says. As for Stamos taking on such a role, Saget has no concerns. "He's such a good actor. When researching his part for ER, he not only hung out in a lot of emergency rooms, but he literally performed four illegal surgeries. The patients didn't even mind. They felt safe with him 'cause he was Jesse from Full House. He did two heart bypasses, one hip replacement, and a colonoscopy on a man named Gerald."

Fall says he never worried whether Stamos would have to "play gay" in order to be believed: "I remember in rehearsals he was telling some story with such enthusiasm and energy, and I said, 'That's it--that's Shel!' " There's this light inside of John, and all he had to do was turn it on, and there was the character."

That "light"--a luminescent, infectious likability--has kept Stamos in the game for over two decades. It's carried him through those teen-dream General Hospital days and the eternal flame of Full House syndication; seen him through a "tabloid-perfect" marriage and subsequent divorce with model-actress Rebecca Romijn; powered him past the short-lived Jake in Progress; and landed him a hot new on-screen life on ER.

With Wedding Wars, Stamos may be adding "gay icon" to his resume. "John was always the first choice for the role," says producer Neil Meron. "He's been one of my best friends for years, and we were always wondering when we would be able to work together. This was the perfect chance."

That Stamos, the giddy pretty boy with a heart of gold, would completely reinvent himself--with parts like Shel and a raunchy revamp of Cabaret's Master of Ceremonies--might come as quite a surprise to his longtime devotees. One can imagine Full House fans watching with mouths agape as Uncle Jesse passionately kisses another man. But this is how the renowned gay producing team of Craig Zadan and Meron operate: with a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.

And in the end, Shel and the emcee aren't actually that different from Stamos himself: All are tolerant and exploratory gentlemen who have seen enough of life not to be flustered by two men necking or a guy pressing his penis into something that resembles a hamburger.

I sat down with Stamos after a day on the set of ER to discuss all the dirt we have been so curious about.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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