It was like we never left Liberty Ave.
On Friday, May 1, the cast and crew of Showtime’s groundbreaking series Queer as Folk reunited for a fundraiser benefiting LGBTQ community centers.
Scott Lowell, who played Ted, hosted the virtual reunion with co-stars Sharon Gless, Peter Paige, Michelle Clunie, Hal Sparks, Randy Harrison, Robert Gant, and Rosie O’Donnell. Series co-creators Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman also joined, as well as episode directors, the hair and makeup team, and other crew members.
The benefit raised more than $21,000 for CenterLink and its network of more than 250 LGBTQ community centers around the country. Centerlink, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to “support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers.”
The “world’s longest gay telethon” lasted four-and-a-half hours, and listed below are just some of the fun behind-the-scene tidbits we learned from the series’ cast and crew.
Club Babylon was a tourist destination
Club Babylon scenes were originally filmed at Toronto’s Guvernment nightclub. The location became so popular with fans of the show that filming could no longer take place at Guvernment, and a new club set had to be built. Footage shot at Guvernment for the first episode was used “many times” over the seasons.
The most difficult part about playing MichaelShowtime
Hal Sparks joined the conversation, and he revealed that the hardest part about playing his character, Michael, was that Michael never saw anything coming and was always “blindsided by everything.”
Hal Sparks actually hit Justin
Speaking of Sparks, in the Season 1 finale scene where Justin (Randy Harrison) is gay-bashed, the shot where Justin was hit was filmed later, and it was actually Sparks delivering the blow on set.
Debbie (Sharon Gless) slapped her son, Michael, many times over the course of the five seasons, but confessed she was “petrified” to do it the first time.
Rosie O’Donnell First Met Gless at CabaretShowtime
The “Queen of Nice” guest-starred in the final season of Queer as Folk, working in the diner with Debbie. O’Donnell and Gless first met at a performance of Cabaret on Broadway. When the idea was floated of O’Donnell joining the QAF cast, she said she would only do it if she got to kiss Gless.
They welcomed the female viewers
Co-creators Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman spoke with Lowell about being happy when they learned that a large percentage of viewers were women: “Because maybe they will have kids, and their kids will be gay, and they will pass that kindness and compassion on to their kids,” they explained.
Visit from original Queer as Folk familyMatthew Horwood/Getty Images
Russell T. Davies, who created the U.K. version of QAF, also swung by the livestream to relive his memories of the one time he visited the set for the U.S. version. After his set visit, he flew with the cast down to New York for the premiere, and Davies called it “two of the best nights of my life.”
Debbie’s iconic hair
Debbie wasn’t always a fiery redhead. Gless originally went wig shopping in L.A. and bought 17 wigs, one in “every color of the rainbow.” They eventually settled on the iconic red hair we all know and love today. The actress rotated through about three identical wigs per season.
What Debbie is up to now
When asked what she thinks Debbie would be up to now, Gless imagines that Debbie married her boyfriend, Carl, and is still running the Liberty Diner, serving grub to a new generation of boys.
Justin’s New York City days
Randy Harrison, who played Justin, thinks his character would still be in New York but now partnered and living in Westchester or someplace right outside of the city. He reassured fans that Justin had his “Chelsea days,” partying it up in one of Manhattan’s most famous gayborhoods, before he settled down.
Queer as Folk invented “cock socks”Paul Archuleta/Getty Images
Robert Gant, who played Ben, claims that “cock socks”—which actors use to hide their privates during sex scenes—were invented for Queer as Folk. He even brought a couple to the livestream which he still had from filming.
Ted and Blake end up together
Scott Lowell believes his character probably ended up with Blake, his boyfriend who introduced him to crystal meth, but eventually got sober. Blake came back into Ted’s life later in the series.
The Schitt’s Creek connection
Salvatore Antonio, who played Sheba, the drag queen host of the King of Babylon contest in Season 1, went on to become a writer on the fifth season of Schitt’s Creek.
“Full Circle” favorite
Multiple cast members said their favorite episode was “Full Circle,” also known as “the prom episode,” the first season’s finale.
The cast has not aged
Thank you @scolo for hosting this incredible reunion + fund raising livestream!!! You deserve a huge Please please drink some water or tea or whatever is good for your throat now, after talking like almost 5 hours! Lovely to see the cast & crew! Plus I did make a donation pic.twitter.com/QkK4OTJC2J
— Vivien Qi (@VivQi) May 1, 2020
The entire cast still looked so good it was hard to believe that the series premiered 20 years ago! Maybe all of that Pittsburgh (Toronto) air was good for the skin.
There was plenty more revealed over the course of the long livestream reunion. Clear your afternoon and check it out for yourself below.