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Friday, August 21, 2009

Deeper Dish with Steve Hayes

Good times and bum times, Steve Hayes has seen them all and, my dear, he's still here!

I just felt this interview with the fabulous Mr. Hayes should begin with a show tune because the guy knows how to belt one better than Ethel Merman--okay, equally as well for all those Merman fans who are probably reading this. I first became a fan of Steve Hayes from his delightful appearance as Christian Campbell's friend, Perry, in the 1999 gay comedy, Trick, in which the character sings the hilarious "Como Te Gusta Mi Pinga?" (available on the soundtrack CD) in a piano bar scene.

Some other career highlights for Mr. Hayes include winning Outstanding Actor at the International New York Fringe Theatre Festival in 2006 and appearing to great acclaim in the GAYFEST 2008 production of his one-man comedic play, Steve Hayes' Hollywood Reunion. He is also the author and co-lyricist of the musical, Kiss Me Quick Before the Lava Reaches the Village, and the co-lyricist of Girl Of My Dreams as well as a nine-time nominee and three-time winner of the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs MAC Award for Outstanding Comedian and Characterization AND the recipient of the Backstage Bistro Award for Comedy Performer of the Year. And next month you will be able to see Steve in his new movie, The Big Gay Musical, in which he plays God (check him out in the film's trailer below).

I'm very honored to have this talented man as a Deeper Dish interviewee (i.e. a fascinating person who will answer pop culture questions along with giving us some insight into their life). So without further adieu, let's get deeper with Steve Hayes:

How did you get the role of Perry in Trick? And what is your fondest memory of working on the film?
The director, Jim Fall, had seen my comedy act for years and called me in when the script was being developed to read the part of Perry. I did about ten readings for various backers. When it came time to shoot the movie, Jim said that although the producers liked my work, Perry was a flashy part and they felt they should try to get someone with a name to boost the box-office potential. I did a kick-ass audition for them and then went to Seattle to oversee the production of my musical, Kiss Me Quick Before the Lava Reaches the Village. Years ago I heard Gregory Peck say that there's often no reason as to why you do or don't get cast. Sometimes it's just your turn. Suddenly Jim called me up and said that they couldn't see anyone else in the part but me! It was my turn! My favorite scene was the romantic scene with Kevin Chamberlin, where we get back together. He was so incredible to play off and it came off exactly as I had pictured it might in my mind. Of course I loved the song, too. When you have a killer piece of comedy material like that, it's Heaven sent.

In The Big Gay Musical, you play God. How does one approach playing such an important role?
It's a musical/comedy part and so I couldn't make him too real. It's GOD. So I just thought, I want him to be sort of sweet and cuddly. I imagined him as a cross between Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland.

Obviously your new movie is a gay musical, which is reason enough to go see it, but what else can you tell us about it?
It has beautiful music and the MOST talented cast. They're all "Broadway Babies", all in shows currently running and they're the prime singers and dancers in the business.

If I had to gain 30 pounds for a role, I would eat:
Anything that's not nailed to the floor, which is exactly what I eat now.

If I could be part of any TV show in history, I would choose:
I would want to be someone Clint Walker had to save by doing mouth-to-mouth on Cheyenne. OR, I would be the murderer on Perry Mason, so I could stand up at the end of the show and scream, "Alright! I killed him! He was a louse! You wanna know why I stabbed him 31 times? I couldn't turn off the carving knife, that's why!"

The very first album, tape or CD that I purchased with my own money was:
Where Did Our Love Go? by The Supremes.

In high school I was:
The class clown in order to keep people from picking on me because I was gay.

The last good book I read was:
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark. My favorite British author.

My favorite "so bad it's good" book is:
The Carpetbaggers
by Harold Robbins.

My very first concert was:
Three Dog Night...remember them? My mother called them "Five Dogs in the Night"!

My favorite movie quote is:
"I was born when you met me, I lived while you loved me and I died when you left me" from A Lonely Place (1950).

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
Laugh-In, The Twilight Zone, The Rifleman, Johnny Quest, and NBC Saturday Night at the Movies.

Today I never miss a television episode of:
Midsomer Murders (I LOVE British whodunits).

My favorite Broadway musical I've ever seen is:
Production-wise: Nine and Dreamgirls. But my favorite musical is Gypsy.

The worst play or musical I've ever seen is:
Musical: Victor/Victoria with Liza Minnelli...poor thing. She was just too "out of it to do it." It broke my heart because I love her.
Play: Copenhagen - that play was so long, the kid in front of me grew up!

If I could go back in time and see any Broadway show, I would see:
Musical: Gypsy with Merman.
Play: Separate Tables or Sweet Bird Of Youth.

If I could give an Oscar for any neglected film performance of the past, I would give one to:
Angels in America should have been released theatrically and should have won everything ever given (and I loved the play just as much).
Robert Shaw in Jaws. One of the GREAT character performances of all time.
Ed Harris in The Hours. He just summed that whole horrible time up for me again in one characterization.
Kim Novak in Vertigo. She was 22 years old! Incredible!
Kathleen Byron in Black Narcissus. Unforgettable as the mad Sister Ruth.
Clifton Webb in Laura and The Razor's Edge. He's perfection in both.
Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard. I know they were up against each other, so make it a tie!

My three favorite show tunes are:
"Folies Bergeres" (Nine), "Being Alive" (Company), and "Could I Leave You?" (Follies).

Six movies that I think everyone should be required to watch are:
Vertigo, The Last Picture Show, Black Narcissus, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard, and Some Like It Hot.

If I could star in any role in any Broadway musical or play, I would be:
Ben Hubbard, the bachelor brother of Regina in The Little Foxes.
Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest.
Harvey Fierstein's lead role in Torch Song Trilogy.
Any part I could get in Angels in America.

Since you're a big fan of the classic screen sirens of the 1940s and '50s, if you could have dinner with three of them, who would you choose?
Gloria Grahame, Jean Harlow and Mary Astor.

Who's your favorite: Brenda Vaccaro, Brenda Morgenstern, Brenda Blethyn or Brenda Starr?
Blethyn...although I was obsessed with Brenda Starr's boyfriend, Basil...the guy with the patch on his eye. "What patch? I thought somebody belted him!"

Who's your favorite: Mary, Rhoda, Phyllis, Georgette or Sue Ann?
Sue Ann

Who's your favorite character in The Women (1939 version, of course): Mary, Crystal, Sylvia, The Countess, Miriam, Edith, Peggy, Nancy or Lucy?
The Countess! I actually got to play her for one performance at Town Hall in New York! SO much fun!!! Charles Busch played Mary, Lypsinka played Crystal, Miss Coco Peru played Miriam, David Drake played Peggy, I played The Countess, Varla Jean Merman played Little Mary, Justin Bond (Kiki & Herb) played Sylvia. Such fun! But alas, it's such a drag because I am a dog as a dame!

Could you share with us the story of your meeting porn star Jack Wrangler at a party years ago?
Okay, well, I won the very first MAC Award as Comedian Of The Year. This was in the late 80's. I was thrilled to the bone because I'd never won anything before and it's such a fantasy. Afterwards everyone went to this VERY swanky penthouse in mid-town for the party. I was feeling like I owned the world that night. I was standing out on the balcony, holding my award and feeling that nothing could top this, when I turned and standing right next to me was legendary gay porn star Jack Wrangler, looking sensational in a tux. I was so turned on, I could barely breathe. We just stood there, the two of us, gazing out at the view. Finally, he smiled and said; "It's pretty, isn't it?" Without missing a beat I replied: "It certainly is. I've seen it in all your movies." He turned and stared at me for a moment. I just stood there frozen in shock at what I'd just said and not knowing what to do next. He started to laugh, then smiled instead and walked back inside. And I fainted.

What's next for Steve Hayes?
I'm doing my one-person show, Steve Hayes' Hollywood Reunion, at Out in the Adirondacks, a big gay festival in upstate New York. Then I come back and go into rehearsals for Moisty the Snowman Saves Christmas. A VERY irreverent and HILARIOUS Christmas show in which I play Tranny Claus, a transvestite Santa. It's written by and also starring one of the most talented new comedian/performance artists I've ever known, Bradford Scobie. It's being directed by Scott Farris, who just directed Bette Midler's Las Vegas show.

Thank you, Mr. Hayes, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about his groovy new movie, The Big Gay Musical, click here.

1 comment:

Tom Judson said...

Steve Hayes is one of those actors who walks out on stage and does his thing and you say to yourself, "How do you *do* that?" His talent is limitless.