Ask the Flying Monkey! (October 26, 2009)

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to aftereltonflyingmonkey@yahoo.com! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)

Q: OK, I’m
a Gleek — I love the show. But
is it only me or are the "adults" on this show really, really
annoying (and stupid)? The whole fake pregnancy thing between Mr. Shue and
his wife? WTF? How can a reasonably intelligent man live with, and
presumably share a bed with the same women night after night and not catch on?
There are definitely some storylines that just detract from the greatness of
this show, and most of them (except for Jane Lynch) just need to go
away. What are your thoughts? — Brian
B. North Hollywood,
CA

Glee’s main adult cast members: Matthew Morrison,
Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays and Jessalyn Gilsig

A: Truthfully, I haven’t quite drunk the Glee Kool-Aid. There are some things I
like about the show – and, like you,
many of them involve Jane Lynch. I also like the kids and much of the music.
And I really appreciate how different
the show is from (a) everything else on TV, and (b) especially all the other
high school shows, like Gossip Girl,
with their nonsense teenage characters.

But if there was ever a show that’s hit-and-miss
for me, Glee is it. I understand that
it’s supposed to be over-the-top, but sometimes it’s as if the show isn’t even trying to make sense: the principle
whose character seems wildly inconsistent, Emma agreeing to marry a man she
openly despises (for reasons I can’t begin to understand – she can’t find
anyone else in the whole town to marry in order to get over Will?), and, yes,
Will’s wife, whose whole character I find unbelievable anyway, being able to
hide a pregnancy from the man she’s sleeping with. And I thought the whole
storyline about 41-year-old Kristin Chenoweth returning to high school as a student was just stupid.

I agree with you that the kids’ storylines are far
more successful, but the perfectly-choreographed first run-through rehearsals
are really starting to bug me. I know it’s a fantasy, but unlike the old show Fame (which was also a fantasy), there
doesn’t seem to be even the slightest nod to the idea that performance actually
involves, you know, work?

The kids launch into yet another perfectly orchestrated
and choreographed impromptu performance

Now all this said, we’re still in the first
thirteen episodes of the very first season. I think about how bad some of my
other favorite shows were in their first season or two. But I must confess that
there have been a couple of times that I’ve been so annoyed with Glee that, if I wasn’t writing for
AfterElton.com, I might have turned the episode off.

Next page! An update on the U.S. version of Skins. Plus, is it time to find a new food guru?

Q: For years, I’ve enjoyed watching Alton Brown on the Food Network.
What I didn’t know was that he was a born-again Christian and a member of Johnson Ferry
Baptist Church

in Marietta, Georgia.
Johnson Ferry supports an in-parish ex-gay ministry, a variety of national
ex-gay ministries, and offers as suggested reading the usual horrific library
of fundamentalist pseudo-psychology
. Now that I
know that he tithes (it’s a membership requirement) to a Church that harms gay
and lesbian persons by pathologizing our sexual orientation, should I continue
to watch or find a new food guru? – Stuart,
Walden, NY

Alton Brown

A: I know what I think, but what do others think?

(Incidentally, I chose “C.”)

Q: Any
movement or plot development on the US version of Skins? Last I knew (from this glorious website) was that it was
going to be placed in Baltimore
and that MTV was making it. Anything new? — Dan, Baltimore

A: Since MTV announced at the end of August that
they’re bringing the show to pilot? Wow, aren’t we an impatient one?

Here’s what we know: it will probably be set in Baltimore
(a final decision hasn’t been made yet). MTV has only greenlit the pilot, but
if all goes well, it will become a full series, most likely on the air by 2010.
And Bryan Elsley, who co-created the U.K.
version with his son Jamie Brittain, will write and executive produce (along
with two of the U.K.
version’s executive producers, but without Jamie).

Skins creators Bryan Elsely (left) and son Jamie Brittain

Next page! Kevin Alejandro on playing Justin’s dad

Like its U.K. counterpart, the American version of Skins also plans to cast unknown teenage actors and
have teenagers “write” the episodes – although I suspect this means story ideas
will merely be suggested by teenagers (I’ve always felt that the “written by
actual teenagers” aspect of this show was probably overblown).

FYI, regarding casting, the show is currently looking
for folks sixteen to eighteen years of age and has actually set up a Twitter
account called SkinsCastingUSA.

The teen cast of the original Skins

My personal fear? It’s not what everyone else is
worried about – that they’ll “tone it down” for American audiences. I’m certain
they’ll keep the seamy, “shocking” emphasis on sex and drugs in order to drive
up controversy and ratings – hell, that’s what the show is known for – but I fear they’ll dumb down the characters and
storylines.

And to me, the sex-and-drugs part is the least
interesting aspect of the show. Speaking as a former teen (and someone who
works closely with today’s teens), not all teens (or, frankly, even most) are strung out on drugs and having
insane amounts of sex. But, sadly, that seems to be the only way to get the
“authentic teen” label these days.

Q: So Kevin
Alejandro is Victor Webster’s love interest on Melrose Place. First, yum! Second, has he ever played gay before?
Third, how long will he be on Melrose? – Malcolm, Santa Barbara, CA

Kevin Alejandro

A: Don’t be fooled by Alejandro’s handsome,
leading-man looks – the guy’s a genuine acting chameleon. In the past year,
he’s gone from playing Celia’s hot, but hapless Mexican revolutionary kidnapper
on Weeds to button-downed Detective
Nate on Southland to that gay fashion
designer on Melrose Place.

And don’t forget his turn as Justin’s blue collar,
but ultimately loving father Santos
on Ugly Betty. Of all his recent
roles, that one is his favorite.

“I was bummed [when the character was killed],” he
tells AfterElton.com, “because I formed a great relationship with Ana [Ortiz,
who plays Hilda] and Mark [Indelicato, who plays Justin]. To this day, we still
text each other, we still keep in touch. That was the hardest thing, leaving
those great people.”

Next page! Reappraising Demetri Martin.

How did Alejandro play that famous scene on the subway
when Justin breaks into a song from Hairspray
– and Santos sticks
up for him by facing down the disapproving comments of a fellow passenger?

“I approached that the way I would in real life,”
he says. “If someone was to disrespect someone I care about, the first thing
I’m gonna do is stand in their face and, pardon my language, say, ‘What the
f*** did you just say?’ You can disrespect me all you want, but not someone I
care about.”

The Ugly Betty subway scene.

How does he pick such great shows to work on?

“I think the shows are picking me,” he admits.
“I’m one of those fortunate guys that I can’t think of a job I’ve had that I
haven’t enjoyed and hasn’t been a good job to have.”

Alejandro has definitely played gay before. He
played a gay hustler on Big Love, for
one. And he’s only on Melrose Place
for two of the first ten episodes. It’s possible he could be back, but the show
looks reasonably likely to be canceled before then.

Q: How
about the totally adorable Demetri Martin? Is he gay? — Natalie, Wilmington, NC

Demetri Martin

A: Nope, straight. I guess you missed it, and I’m
sorry to be the bearer of (slightly) bad news, but he got in a little bit of
hot water when he told a story on The
Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien
about how uncomfortable the gay kissing
scenes in Taking Woodstock made him:

Next page! Bryan Safi’s new gig, and a Three Rivers character pings the gaydar.

Q: While
watching the credits at the end of an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show
last week, I noticed the name of a new writer/producer — Bryan Safi! I’m
assuming this is the same Bryan Safi of infoMania and That’s Gay!
fame. While it’s awesome that he’s part of Ellen’s staff now, I hope
he’s staying on with infoMania as well. Can you find out any info about this? —
Roni, Massachusetts

Bryan Safi

They are definitely one and the same!

"I’m a staff writer on The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Bryan tells the Flying Monkey. "I got the job basically because I heard they were looking for a new writer. I don’t know that Ellen was familiar with That’s Gay beforehand. I do know that other people in the office were, but I’m not sure if she was. I guess if she ever refers to me as a Gayngel or as her GBF, that’ll be my answer."

What exactly does he do for the show? "I participate in the writing of her monologues and her ’desk pieces’," Bryan says. "She’s a brilliant woman, and it’s a thrill to be working for someone who’s done so much. Even some of my parent’s more conservative friends are actually cool with gay marriage because of their adoration of Ellen and Portia. They’re less cool with my dick and pussy jokes in That’s Gay." 

Does he plan to keep doing That’s Gay!? "I will totally still be doing it!" he says. "That’s the thing that makes me the very happiest. I have so much fun doing it. The best is when I get comments from straight guys who actually say to me, ’I don’t mean this in a gay way, but your stuff is kinda funny.’ If some fratty dude in Lubbock, Texas thinks it’s now uncool to say ’no homo,’ nothing could ever beat that." 

Q: I was
watching Three Rivers, and the
character of Ryan Abbott was setting off my gaydar. Is there any word on
whether he’s gay? And do you have any information about the guy who plays him,
Christopher J. Hanke? — John

A: The character pinged our gaydar too, but if
you’re watching the show, you know that he recently expressed an interest in a
woman. Meanwhile, Hanke, the actor who plays him, is not an out gay man.

Three Rivers’ Ryan Abbott (Christopher J. Hanke)

Q: Are
there any plans to release Broadway Backwards
on DVD. — dinky chix, England

A: Nope, no plans right now. “But who knows what
the future holds?” says Dan Whitman of New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender Community Center, which sponsors the charity event where actors
sing songs written for the opposite sex.

Sandra Bernhard sings a duet with Cheyenne Jackson
during this
year’s Broadway Backwards
.

Next page! The Monkey on life and love.

Q: I am an
18 year-old gay college freshman looking for a gay place to dance and hang out
in Boston. I have tried looking and it is proving to be difficult because of my
age. I was wondering with your wisdom and knowledge if you could dig up
anything and help a boy out! – Jake,
Boston, MA

A: Try Quest, Ryles Jazz Club, or Paradise which
all have 18+ nights at least a couple of times a week.

Jake, you’re 18, and I’m – ahem – a little older
than that. You didn’t ask for my advice about love and life, but I’m giving it
to you anyway:

First,
there’s no such thing as a “soul-mate.”

You’ll never find the “perfect” guy, even if every guy seems perfect for the first six months of any
relationship. Sadly, that’s an illusion. In the end, every relationship takes
work (but boy, is it worth it).

Second,
while there’s no such thing as a “soul-mate,” not all boyfriends are created
equal – and you’re not equally compatible with every person.
Relationships are work, but they’re not that much work.
Most of the time, it should be fun. If you’re always fighting or unhappy,
something is wrong.

Oh, and for the record? You don’t want to be with
someone who doesn’t love you back. When you’re “in love,” you might think that
staying with that person is the most important thing in the world, whether or
not he loves you. But you’re being a jackass. Staying with someone who doesn’t
love you will, little by little, destroy your self-esteem. He won’t respect you
– in fact, he’ll resent you – but even worse, you won’t respect yourself.
You’ll end up doing things you really regret.

Sure, if you break it off, you’ll be sad and
lonely for a while. But there’s always
another guy – trust me. More importantly, accepting that you can’t control
other people – and that we don’t always get what we want – is a part of growing
up. Plus, please understand that part of what you find so incredibly attractive
about him is the fact that he doesn’t want you. It’s human nature to be
attracted to that which we can’t have. (Which means that – hey! – by dumping
him, maybe you’ll suddenly become more attractive to him. It may be the only real shot you have at ever having him, at
least if you can feign disinterest convincingly.)

Third, you
only live once, so have fun.
All the
clichés about how life passes in an instant are true – and the thing they don’t tell you is that the older you
get, the quicker life seems to go (because each year is less time relative to
the whole).

So don’t blow it. Take some risks! Don’t settle
down too soon. Ask the hot guy out – and the nerdy, adorkable one too. Go to
Europe – and South America – or better still, live overseas. Fall in love with
a straight guy and get your heart broken. Skinny-dip. Work on a play or an
indie film. Volunteer for a political campaign.

Fourth,
have fun and take risks, but not when it comes to HIV/AIDS (or anything
life-threatening).
Always practice
seriously safe sex, at least until you’re well
into a committed, monogamous relationship where you’ve both tested negative and
talked at length about your expectations for each other (and even then,
acknowledge that you’re taking some risk because a lot of sucky guys
cheat).

Some of your friends will make a different choice
when it comes to safe sex … and in five or ten years, almost all of them will
be HIV-positive. As a result, their options in life will be severely limited in
terms of their career (insurance will dictate all), their travel prospects,
their overall health, and, yes, their potential relationships.

Basically, here’s your choice: have unsafe sex,
which will feel a little better while you’re having sex, but eventually make
almost everything else in your life far more miserable. Or have safe sex and
avoid all that.

For some reason, there’s this weird moratorium in
the GLBT community for saying that HIV is a really bad thing – as a result of
this stupid mass denial we’re all participating in, but also because (I think)
of a genuine desire not to make anyone feel bad. I don’t want to bring anyone
down either, but facts are facts, and you want to avoid this disease at all
costs.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, “safe sex”
also includes being discriminating about who you have sex with – not having sex
with anything that moves, and not doing it while stoned or drunk.

My last piece of advice? Surround
yourself with fantastic friends – and move heaven and earth for them.
As
you grow older, you might be surprised by how much there is in life you can’t
control. But there’s one thing you will always
be in complete control of: the people you hang with. And I can’t tell you how much your
friends will shape your view of the world and your view of yourself. In fact,
good friends – not lovers, it turns out – are actually the true secret of
happiness in life.

There are very few truly fantastic people in this
world: people with wit and intelligence and insight and integrity. It’s far
fewer than ten percent in my estimation. So when you find one of these people,
hold fast. Be a good friend to him or her, and soon you’ll find yourself
surrounded by a whole collection of funny, interesting, supportive people who
will suffuse you with positive energy – no matter what’s going on in the rest of your life.

By contrast, if you allow yourself to be
surrounded by superficial, bitchy ***holes, or if you abuse your friends or
pick them based on how they can help your career, you’ll almost certainly end
up lonely, bitter, and unhappy no matter what the rest of your life holds.

If you ignore all my other advice, don’t ignore
what I’m saying about friends. It’s the most important thing I’m saying.

So … that’s it, Jake: my unsolicited advice.
Follow it, and I predict you’ll be happy. But email me in 20 years and tell me
if I’m right, okay?

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to aftereltonflyingmonkey@yahoo.com! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)