Sign in to follow this  
TopBilled

Soap hunks and divas

98 posts in this topic

I would like to see Mr Walters in some gay theme movie with lots of love scenes of course;)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

What American soap has done the best job portraying gay relationships/romances?

Hardly any of them. If you take away the eye candy (most know how to use a gym but not an acting workshop), the weak or else over-the-top plots, the obvious box-ticking by politically correct producers who attempt these stories for headlines and image awards without really figuring out where to take the characters long-term, the miscasting that usually reinforces homophobia (straight actors playing gay characters so they can tell the audience in the bible belt that he or she isn't gay in real life, or gay actors playing straight characters so the audience will think deep down they really are straight off camera)-- plus aborted or marginalised stories, an over-emphasis on youth as if there can't be loving but drama-filled gay relationships for anyone over 50 or 60-- the genre in America has done a dreadful job with this topic. Rant not over and to be continued in other posts I'm sure. LOL

Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 9.06.23 AM.jpg

For the men, I'd pick Brian Starcher's character on As the World Turns. I am going to profile him in a separate piece. He played American daytime's first regular gay character Hank Elliott back in 1988 and it was truly groundbreaking. Those were still the years of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s so his character's romance had to occur off-camera (his partner lived outside Oakdale and was never seen but often mentioned). However, Hank had a real romance (he was not asexual or a eunuch) and he had real relationships with the town's straight population in meaningful ways. Definitely one of Doug Marland's best stories (and Marland had dozens of great stories).

Today's soaps don't know how to present gay men and women in sensible, non-sensationalised storylines. They've become rather devolved. Starcher and Marland brought integrity to the screen and set the bar high, and it was important they do that so other LGBT representations could follow. However, many subsequent gay storylines have not followed the original example and have failed colossally. It's truly mind boggling when you realise there are so many gay men and women working behind the scenes who should be handling these stories more competently and more knowingly.

Screen Shot 2017-11-19 at 9.05.34 AM.jpg

For the women, easily it's "Otalia" the pairing of Olivia and Natalia during the last year and a half of Guiding Light. Crystal Chappel (married to actor Michael Sabatino, with two sons) is an out and proud bisexual actress. She earned an Emmy nomination when the show ended for this storyline, and she has since gone on to create and star in Venice a web-based soap that highlights lesbian and bisexual relationships.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a very specific line drawn in the sand that you do not cross. You may be able to cross over it sometime in the future, but the time isn't right now.  Especially given the present political climate.

Television, like a public forum such as this one*, must please a large demographic and there must be a middle ground where those easily offended won't be. Gay relationships will be tolerated as long as they maintain a certain protocol on screen. Until a large enough portion of that population can handle it, you just can't depict heterosexuality and homosexuality equally on screen. The same is true in public parks, beaches and other areas: it is totally acceptable behavior for a man and a woman to embrace and show affection. You will see a lot of that everywhere you go regardless whether you want to see it or not. However it is only acceptable for the same genders to do the same in very discrete areas or specified urban districts where it is more commonplace a.k.a. West Hollywood, Greenwich Village, parts of San Francisco or Winton Manors. Likewise a cable network like Bravo can show a series with gay characters, albeit more chaste than any heterosexual counterpart, provided those who say "I don't mind others doing it as long as I don't have to see it" can easily flip past with their remote.

It doesn't matter whether the TV producers or owners of a website are tolerant. It matters whether or not a large portion of the public is.

*One of the reasons, perhaps not the only reason, why a post got removed recently may have been due to a shot of two women looking like they might... potentially... kiss each other.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the comments.  From what I remember soaps do a pretty poor job with their gay characters.  There's really no reason they can't do better; we know there is gay talent in front of and behind the camera.  Most of the audience is women and gay men.  Concerned about declining ratings?  Write for your audience.  Trust your audience; straight people have gay family members, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. and should be able to deal with different characters.  Create character-driven interesting stories.  When I watched BOLD & BEAUTIFUL I was amazed there were no gay characters on this show which takes place in the LA fashion world.  Then they had a gay couple (one half was the above-mentioned Crystal Chappel) but they were hardly ever on after their introduction.

I sort of remember the Hank Elliott character from ATWT.  Cute photo above!  Again, hats off to Doug Marland.

Before I started watching Y&R, I read that the writers were considering having the Katherine Chancellor character have a lesbian affair but backed out because they were afraid of viewer reaction.  Of course this was years ago but now I think what if Katherine had been bisexual?  It would have added a whole new interesting layer to her relationship with Jill.  She would have been mad at Jill for stealing her husband but also mad at the husband for his interest in Jill beyond the usual reasons.  It might also explain her relationship with the hapless Esther and vice versa.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"As The World Turns" -

Luke Snyder and Noah Meyer, who were portrayed by Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann.

They were daytime television's first gay male supercouple.

When Noah became blinded in an accident, Luke, a very rich boy, hired Dr. Reid Oliver (Eric Sheffer Stevens) to restore his sight.

Dr. Oliver, who was extremely arrogant, fell in love with Luke.

The resulting triange was full of a great deal of anguish.

Tragically, Dr. Oliver died from a car accident - before he died, he donated his heart to one of the show's characters, who had become very ill.  

The final scene between Luke and Reid - and, then, Luke and Noah - was truly heartbreaking.

Daytime television's first gay male supercouple -

ln016.jpg

Dr. Oliver cannot help himself -

InexperiencedSmallDove-max-1mb.gif

tumblr_o6h55hvdpj1qga6nfo1_500.gif

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't want to sound too pessimistic in my above post. Yet we all know that social progress never follows a straight line. Instead it meanders forward and then backwards. Hopefully it moves forward again.

It was a decade ago that I recall women I was working with discussing General Hospital. Apparently there was a gay couple on that show and the comments were along the lines of  "Well... I guess that show has to include a couple like that to please them." The pronoun "them" was emphasized in pronunciation to distinguish from "us", the ladies discussing. They taped the show but fast forwarded "all of the gay stuff".

Again, to be fair, this was a decade ago and maybe, just maybe, those same viewers would be more tolerant today? In addition, they were just temporarily annoyed rather than outraged. They weren't going to write ABC in protest as sometimes happened in the past.

We had this discussion on other threads, comparing the progress of gays on TV with that of interracial heterosexual couples. An inventory of those in daytime soaps is worth a discussion all to itself since I seriously doubt there have been any more of "them" than gays and lesbians.

Going back through the decades, I was reading up all of the outrage over Petula Clark having an innocent but interracial "bonding moment" with fellow singer Harry Belafonte on her TV special taped in March 1968. NBC was swamped with angry letters and Clark, in particular, suffered a bit of a downturn in her career. Her latest movie with Fred Astaire, Finian's Rainbow, hadn't been released yet and it was speculated that, because she wasn't entirely forgiven, its box-office was hurt to some degree. Chrysler Motors was also upset that they sponsored her show.

Nonetheless NBC executives stood by their airing and even decided to push the envelope further. When an actual, more pronounced, interracial kiss occurred on the same network with Star Trek that November (between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner), there was again plenty of outrage but it wasn't as bad as earlier. This was partly due to the surprise of the Martin Luther King assassination and resulting civil unrest that happened in-between. Maybe American TV viewers had gotten a little more tolerant as a result?

Apparently not tolerant enough since Star Trek was quietly cancelled the following spring and it would still be quite a while before you saw more interracial affection shown on TV. Remember also that, despite Guess Who's Coming To Dinner being a smash at the box office around the same time as Petula/Harry's TV controversy, the only real display of affection between Sidney Poitier and Katherine Houghton was fleetingly seen in a taxi rear-view mirror. Otherwise that movie was all talk-talk-talk and no action. Also, just because a movie is popular does not mean that the movie-goers flocking to see it necessarily approve of what they see. (Even my own mother said multiple times that she thought it was a "cute" movie but that didn't mean she approved of those kinds of marriages because they are "so unfair to the children". Mind you, she is deceased and I try my best to get over all of my parental issues after all of this time.)

It is interesting to note that British TV had interracial kissing well before American TV. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_interracial_kiss_on_television

Although a British soap, Emergency Ward 10 featured an interracial kissing scene in 1964, this article in People, dated June 20, 1977, suggested that society on the other side of the Atlantic was still not ready during daytime. http://people.com/archive/interracial-love-in-the-afternoon-tv-soaps-arent-ready-for-it-tina-andrews-finds-vol-7-no-24/

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see there has definitely been progress. Ten to fifteen years ago, that scene would still be taboo even though there were thousands of heterosexual counterpart scenes that would raise no eyebrows. The one sad part now is that every gay guy on TV looks like a Ken Doll who has spent 4-5 days a week in the gym since he was 12. Definitely more hunks than divas.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, being "beautiful" and "being in shape" is A REQUIREMENT -

for example, Paul, on  "Days Of Our Lives" -

the face and the body can send you "reeling" -

Will, too, is an extremely beautiful young man -

and, when his shirt is off, you are "mesmerized" -

Sonny does not often display his body - 

but the total package, especially his face, is gorgeous -

but I have no objections -

I enjoy "the spectacle" -

"the spectacle of perfection" - 

will-questions-paul-about-his-love-life-

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, rayban said:

Yes, being "beautiful" and "being in shape" is A REQUIREMENT -

for example, Paul, on  "Days Of Our Lives" -

the face and the body can send you "reeling" -

Will, too, is an extremely beautiful young man -

and, when his shirt is off, you are "mesmerized" -

Sonny does not often display his body - 

but the total package, especially his face, is gorgeous -

but I have no objections -

I enjoy "the spectacle" -

"the spectacle of perfection" - 

will-questions-paul-about-his-love-life-

He has a certain **** appeal;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian Starcher was one of the American soaps' trailblazers, and he did not intend for that to happen. It just did. Brian came from a very large traditional home, he was the middle child in a family that had mostly boys. As the middle child, he felt lost in the shuffle and did not gain confidence until he took up sports and drama. In college he decided to be an actor by profession and moved to New York City. However, acting jobs were hard to come by.

screen-shot-2017-11-19-at-9-06-23-am.jpg

Before he was cast as daytime's first regular gay character on As the World Turns in 1988, he had auditioned for two previous parts. Originally Brian tried out for the role of Craig (when it was being recast after Scott Bryce's departure, but Bryce ended up returning to the show). Then he auditioned for the role of Kirk (which went to Tom Wiggin). Brian was straight, and if he had been hired to play either Craig or Kirk, he would have had his share of scenes with the ladies. Though he wasn't hired for either of those characters, Brian made an impression on the producers and casting director. They remembered him, and a few months later, when head scribe Doug Marland was creating the character of Hank Elliott, the genre's first openly gay man, Brian was contacted. They asked if he'd be interested in playing a new kind of character.

Screen shot 2017-11-20 at 8.59.09 AM.png

I should mention that they did not tell Brian right away that Hank would be gay. Yes, he was being introduced as a new fashion designer from the east; but his sexuality was not addressed initially. Two weeks after accepting the job, before he had even filmed his first episode, Brian had a meeting with the producers who told him their plans for Hank. They gave Brian the option of walking away. But after talking with his girlfriend and his parents, Brian decided to stay in the role. He felt he could do a lot of good playing an openly gay man on a soap opera, and the chance to be on such a popular series might not come around again.

Screen shot 2017-11-20 at 8.56.57 AM.png

Though Hank exhibited some stereotypical traits, he did not "come out" until several months after he had been introduced on the air. There was a special two-part episode that dealt with this. Marland had carefully worked him into several plots and built up strong friendships between Hank and most of the show's most important established characters. The older ones accepted Hank for who he was, and so could viewers. The younger characters, interestingly, were a bit more confused and had a lot of questions about how a guy they looked up to was so different from everyone else. It was a thoughtful story, about community reactions, one of Marland's very best. 

screen.jpg

In an article that appeared in a magazine shortly after the big reveal, Brian said his girlfriend didn't mind him playing a gay man, because it meant he wouldn't be kissing other gorgeous women on the show! He didn't kiss any men either, since this was still the height of the AIDS epidemic. Hank did have a lover who lived back east, and when Hank exited the program two years later, he went to take care of Charles who was dying of AIDS. Marland made a point of showing that Hank did not contract HIV himself, leaving the door open for him to return later. Hank never did come back to Oakdale, but he would always be remembered by his employer Barbara Ryan (Colleen Zenk) and her son Paul (Andrew Kavovit).

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

1 hour ago, TopBilled said:

Brian Starcher was one of the American soaps' trailblazers, and he did not intend for that to happen. It just did. Brian came from a very large traditional home, he was the middle child in a family that had mostly boys. As the middle child, he felt lost in the shuffle and did not gain confidence until he took up sports and drama. In college he decided to be an actor by profession and moved to New York City. However, acting jobs were hard to come by.

screen-shot-2017-11-19-at-9-06-23-am.jpg

Before he was cast as daytime's first regular gay character on As the World Turns in 1988, he had auditioned for two previous parts. Originally Brian tried out for the role of Craig (when it was being recast after Scott Bryce's departure, but Bryce ended up returning to the show). Then he auditioned for the role of Kirk (which went to Tom Wiggin). Brian was straight, and if he had been hired to play either Craig or Kirk, he would have had his share of scenes with the ladies. Though he wasn't hired for either of those characters, Brian made an impression on the producers and casting director. They remembered him, and a few months later, when head scribe Doug Marland was creating the character of Hank Elliott, the genre's first openly gay man, Brian was contacted. They asked if he'd be interested in playing a new kind of character.

Screen shot 2017-11-20 at 8.59.09 AM.png

I should mention that they did not tell Brian right away that Hank would be gay. Yes, he was being introduced as a new fashion designer from the east; but his sexuality was not addressed initially. Two weeks after accepting the job, before he had even filmed his first episode, Brian had a meeting with the producers who told him their plans for Hank. They gave Brian the option of walking away. But after talking with his girlfriend and his parents, Brian decided to stay in the role. He felt he could do a lot of good playing an openly gay man on a soap opera, and the chance to be on such a popular series might not come around again.

Screen shot 2017-11-20 at 8.56.57 AM.png

Though Hank exhibited some stereotypical traits, he did not "come out" until several months after he had been introduced on the air. There was a special two-part episode that dealt with this. Marland had carefully worked him into several plots and built up strong friendships between Hank and most of the show's most important established characters. The older ones accepted Hank for who he was, and so could viewers. The younger characters, interestingly, were a bit more confused and had a lot of questions about how a guy they looked up to was so different from everyone else. It was a thoughtful story, about community reactions, one of Marland's very best. 

screen.jpg

In an article that appeared in a magazine shortly after the big reveal, Brian said his girlfriend didn't mind him playing a gay man, because it meant he wouldn't be kissing other gorgeous women on the show! He didn't kiss any men either, since this was still the height of the AIDS epidemic. Hank did have a lover who lived back east, and when Hank exited the program two years later, he went to take care of Charles who was dying of AIDS. Marland made a point of showing that Hank did not contract HIV himself, leaving the door open for him to return later. Hank never did come back to Oakdale, but he would always be remembered by his employer Barbara Ryan (Colleen Zenk) and her son Paul (Andrew Kavovit).

Why didn't they bring him back?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, rayban said:

 

Why didn't they bring him back?

I'm not sure, Ray.

Knowing head writer Doug Marland's penchant for telling groundbreaking stories, he probably wanted to do more with the character if Hank were to return.

I do know that getting Hank on screen was a BIG deal. Marland had tried to introduce a gay character on Another World in the late 70s but NBC said no, definitely not. CBS allowed Marland to introduce Hank in 1988, but I think they made some compromises. Giving Hank an off-screen lover meant he would not be a "threat" making any sexual advances towards other male characters on the show. But if he came back to town after his lover had died, then this would have freed them up to have Hank fall in love with someone in Oakdale. Maybe the network wasn't quite ready for that in the early 90s.

After Hank exited ATWT in 1990, I don't think the next regular gay character appeared on a U.S. soap until Ryan Phillippe was cast as a gay teen on One Life to Live in 1992. But that was a cautionary tale about bullying (based on sexual orientation) and Phillippe didn't last long. 

Doug Marland died unexpectedly in 1993, so his co-writers took over and carried on with what he had mapped out through 1994. But then a new producer came in, the stories shifted towards more "comfortable" viewing and a lot of what Marland had built was neglected. ATWT went into decline in 1995, and it didn't experience another resurgence until head writer Hogan Sheffer took over in 2000. Sheffer referred to a lot of Marland's original stories, and brought back many of the cast that worked with Marland but had left in the mid-90s. Unfortunately Brian Starcher was not one of them. He doesn't have many IMDb credits (just one besides ATWT), so my guess is he went on to do something else with his life. I'd like to find him and interview him.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"One Life To Live" - that gay teen - summertime shine -

an irony about the Ryan Phillippe storyline was that his homophobic father was played by Jonathan Hogan, an actor who achieved fame on Broadway playing a gay man in "As Is" -

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, rayban said:

"One Life To Live" - that gay teen - summertime shine -

an irony about the Ryan Phillippe storyline was that his homophobic father was played by Jonathan Hogan, an actor who achieved fame on Broadway playing a gay man in "As Is" -

Yes, almost like an inside joke with the casting.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"One Life To Live" - Ryan Phillippe - April 1992-May 1993 -

Ryan Phillippe played the first openly gay teenager in a television series

BILLY DOUGLAS, who just happened to be a well-adjusted young man -

the character was created by Michael Malone -

when Billy began going out with another young man, Rick Mitchell, who was played by Joe Fiske, there was a negative response from the viewers and the character was written out of the daytime soap -

below, Billy Douglas and his parents, who were played by Susan Pellegrino and Jonathan Hogan -

20130725-oltl-before-stars-susan-pelligr

below, Biily and boyfriend, Rick -

hqdefault.jpg

 

   

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Ray for posting the information about Ryan Phillippe's character on OLTL. Can't believe it's been 25 years since that storyline!

I found an address for Brian Starcher and sent a letter off in the regular mail. I wrote down a few questions and provided my email. I also told him about this thread and the piece I posted about him and the character he played. Hopefully he will see it and be in touch! If not, that's okay too...it's been fun to discuss that part of ATWT history. Now it seems we're on to OLTL history and other hunks and divas. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Thanks Ray for posting the information about Ryan Phillippe's character on OLTL. Can't believe it's been 25 years since that storyline!

I found an address for Brian Starcher and sent a letter off in the regular mail. I wrote down a few questions and provided my email. I also told him about this thread and the piece I posted about him and the character he played. Hopefully he will see it and be in touch! If not, that's okay too...it's been fun to discuss that part of ATWT history. Now it seems we're on to OLTL history and other hunks and divas. :)

I do hope that you will get a response.

His story will certainly be an interesting one.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got to hand it to you, TopBilled. Your analysis of the history of soap operas is even more penetrating than mine for vintage theatrical short films of the 1910s-80s. Daytime TV does reflect the changing times of America.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Jlewis said:

I got to hand it to you, TopBilled. Your analysis of the history of soap operas is even more penetrating than mine for vintage theatrical short films of the 1910s-80s. Daytime TV does reflect the changing times of America.

I think you both are doing a great job.  Your thorough research is appreciated.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

I think you both are doing a great job.  Your thorough research is appreciated.

Nice of you to say. You're a very kind person (and we need more of those in this world).

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us