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Friday, October 9, 2009

Deeper Dish with Del Shores

If you've never seen Del Shores' Sordid Lives, you're missing out on a fabulous film that features almost everything I love in life--gorgeous gay guys, Tammy "Stand by Your Man" Wynette, Designing Women (Delta Burke), the lovely Olivia Newton-John (whom I've adored forever), and hilarious black comedy (about white trash) that will make you wet yourself. But in between all the laughs is an important message of acceptance as both Brother Boy and Ty--two very different homosexuals--are eventually embraced by their friends and family. I love all of the movie's memorable characters, and I just want to thank Mr. Shores for creating and sharing his Sordid Lives with the rest of us.

Del's other plays/screenplays include Daddy's Dyin' (Who's Got the Will?), Southern Baptist Sissies, and The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, and in 2008, he continued his Sordid Lives saga with a television series prequel that starred most of the original cast plus the wonderful Rue McClanahan as the family matriarch. And this Tuesday (October 13), Sordid Lives: The Series will be released on DVD in Canada with lots of extras including bloopers, five Olivia Newton-John song performances, and deleted scenes (I can't wait!). Del is currently touring the country in two shows--Del Shores: My Sordid Life (a solo performance in which he shares real-life stories that have inspired his writing) and A Sordid Affair, a stand-up comedy show with actors from the TV series. And last but certainly not least, the man is married to actor/producer Jason Dottley and is the proud father of two teenage daughters.

I am thrilled and honored to have Del Shores here on the Dish to discuss his career and answer a few pop culture questions, so let's begin:

What inspired you to write Sordid Lives (which began as a play in 1996 and became a movie in 1999)?
Coming out. Ty's journey in the play and film was my journey. I just added a funeral and a mental institution and some gun-toting big-haired women!

What was your favorite episode of Sordid Lives: The Series?
I have two. I loved the episode where Sissy killed the goat (which was inspired by my real Aunt Sissy killing her neighbor's goat) and I loved "Call Waiting" where Ann Walker (LaVonda) was trying to stop the rumor and the entire episode was a phone call. Ann rocked it, and I think it was the perfect blend of stage and TV.

You recently mentioned on Facebook that you're planning to write two Sordid Lives movie sequels, including A Merry Sordid Christmas. Can you give us any storyline hints on what we might expect to see?
You can't have everything. But Ty will be getting married in A Sordid Wedding (the second one).

If you could have any actor/actress whom you've never worked with before appear in one of your upcoming projects, who would you choose?
Whoopi Goldberg because she called me after she saw a few episodes and told me to write her in!

You grew up in Zapata, Texas, and now you live in Los Angeles. In three words or less, how would you describe each place?
Zapata -- Small border town. Los Angeles - Exciting amazing HUGE.

What has been the most interesting and/or funniest moment that you've experienced while touring with A Sordid Affair and Del Shores: My Sordid Life?
The funniest moments seem to be when I pick on someone for coming in late (which I love). In Dallas, I stopped the show when I saw a shadow coming in late from an entrance way in back of the theatre. Since I'm a writer, I'll write the dialogue:

Del: Why are you late?
Young Gay Man: I had to take my mother home.
Del: Why didn't you bring her?
Young Gay Man: She doesn't know.
Del: Doesn't know what?
Young Gay Man: You know.
Del: That you're gay? Honey, I can't even see you and I know you're gay.

Do you have any plans to bring one of the shows to Chicago or anywhere else in the Midwest in the near future?
We are looking into booking Chicago for A Sordid Affair with our collection of Sordid folks.

In high school I was:
Obsessed with speech and drama. I lived in the church and the theatre basically.

The last good book I read was:
George Jones' biography, I Lived To Tell It All. I would love to write the screenplay of his life.

If I could go back in time and see any Broadway show, I would see:
The original Chicago. Love the show and LOVE Bob Fosse.

When I was growing up, I never missed a television episode of:
The Carol Burnett Show, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Gilligan's Island, Olivia Newton-John specials, Dark Shadows, Laugh-In and Maude (when I visited my Aunt Sissy because my parents wouldn't let me watch it.)

Today I never miss a television episode of:
Brothers and Sisters (my favorite), Project Runway, Top Chef and only recently lost interest in Desperate Housewives.

If I could go back in time and write for any television show in history, I would write for:
The Carol Burnett Show. The irony is that I did get to write for her. There was a series called Eunice that never made the air because of legal battles over the character with Carol and her ex-husband Joe Hamilton. The creators of the show Jenna McMahon and Dick Clair saw my play, Daddy's Dyin' (Who's Got the Will?), and hired me for one episode. The show, of course, never saw the light of day, but to work with the writers who created "Mama", "Eunice" and "Ed" was huge!

The very first album, tape or CD that I purchased with my own money was:
Donny Osmond's "Go Away Little Girl".

If I was stranded on a desert island for a year, I would want to listen to:
Tammy Wynette's 20 Greatest Hits, Olivia Newton-John's Gaia, Levi Kreis' One of the Ones, Debby Holiday's Greatest Hits (doesn't exist, I'd have to make it from my computer before I got stranded), and Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill.

My favorite Olivia Newton-John song is:
"I Honestly Love You." Oh, the teen angst and memories it brings. Drove to Brownsville, Texas, when I was 16 (250 miles, parents let me cut school) to see her Have You Never Been Mellow tour. I was 16, she was 26. I had hopes we would marry.

Five movies that I think everyone should be required to watch are:
Tootsie, Ordinary People, Brokeback Mountain, Terms of Endearment, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?--okay, you have to let me have seven--A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I left out Sordid Lives, but it does beat Prozac for depression.

If I could give an Oscar for any neglected film performance of the past, I would give one to:
Wow, good question. Can I have two? Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream and Donald Sutherland (who wasn't even nominated!) for Ordinary People.

If I could have anyone in the world--living or dead--be a guest at my dinner party, I would invite the following three people:
Tennessee Williams, Jesus and Meryl Streep.

If you could choose People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive of 2009, it would be (besides your handsome husband):
Ted Detwiler, who played Jacob in my series. Go to my Facebook and look at the shirtless pictures or see the hot lovemaking scenes on the DVD with my husband. So sexy and such a sweet man. Hugh Jackman already got it, but, oh my!

What's next for Del Shores?
A new play, Yellow. Raising the money for my Sordid films, then shooting them as well as two other Del Shores films. A Sordid Cookbook. The novel, Southern Baptist Sissies. . .and the list goes on. I'm not done yet!

Thank you, Del, for getting Deeper with us here on the Dish. To learn more about Del Shores, check out his website at You can also become a Facebook fan of his and for Sordid Lives: The Series. And click here to purchase a DVD copy of the TV series (the Region 1 three-disc set from Canada will play in the US in case you're wondering).


Michael Rivers said...

"Sordid Lives" is one of my favorite movies! This is a great interview. Thanks!

Deep Dish said...

I'm glad you liked the interview, Michael!

Lizzi B. said...

Sordid Lives is great~! We all love it & want the series back~! Thanks for the interview! Loved it!!!

Anonymous said...

Just found your site b/c of this Del Shores interview. Great job, looking over the site though and under groovy gals, I see that you missed Dolly Parton. How could she be missed when so many on there below her are on that list :( makes me sad.

Deep Dish said...

Hey, Anonymous, I promise to feature Dolly Parton as a Groovy Gal on her birthday (January 19)!

And, Lizzi, I'm happy that you loved the interview!