Ever since the teen comedy came of age in American pop culture, sex has been the subgenre’s predominant guiding principle: What it is, who wants to have it, how soon can they have it, are they doing it right, and can they put this here? While earlier, more chaste films could only allude to the deed, the ’80s ushered in a new era of bawdy teen romps that were unafraid to be horny on main. But, in the evolution from Porky’s to American Pie and beyond, the lusting was mostly left to the straights, especially white young men looking to get laid at any cost. If you were a young viewer learning about sex for the first time from these films (as so may were) it was almost as if these straight white boys were the only ones allowed to feel this way.
Though the media landscape has grown more inclusive in recent years—centering teen narratives on young women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ youth—the element of sex and sexual discovery has been downplayed, at least in comparison to the era when teenagers where sticking their appendages into baked goods and instruments into their body parts. Perhaps that’s why a film like 2006’s Another Gay Movie feels so taboo, even today. Ostensibly a spoof of the de rigueur sex comedies and the pervasive parodies of the decade, writer/director Todd Stephens set out to make a raunchy teen spoof for queer audiences so that they could have their own piece of the American Pie. In a time when “gay coming-of-age stories” were still synonymous with “coming out stories,” Stephens envisioned a colorful fantasy world where the closet didn’t even exist and his characters could instead worry about what any other teen worried about: Having sex.
Fifteen years later, Another Gay Movie is the definition of a cult comedy. A low-budget, crass parody, it was never meant to break through to a mainstream audience, but the viewers it did reach fell in love with it—except for the ones that hated it. Tasteless or not, Another Gay Movie was groundbreaking in its depiction of the messy sex lives of gay men, and its frankness has made it a defining (and educational!) viewing experience for young viewers in the years since. In celebration of the film’s 15th anniversary, a “Director’s Cut” re-release provides an opportunity to reach new audiences, which raises the question: Will a provocative product of its time like Another Gay Movie still feel relevant today, or will it just feel offensive? To answer that, The A.V. Club spoke with some of the film’s key players, reuniting them for the first time since filming, to hear the story of how it all came together, how it changed their lives and careers, and how they think it will hold up today. What follows is the definitive oral history of Another Gay Movie.
Interview material has been edited and condensed for clarity. All credits refer to Another Gay Movie unless otherwise noted.
The A.V. Club also had the honor of reuniting director Todd Stephens with his Another Gay Movie cast for the first time in over 15 years. You can watch the reunion conversation in full on The A.V. Club’s YouTube channel.
The independent film movement of the ’90s paved the way for New Queer Cinema, both a response to the AIDS epidemic and the under-representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in media. At the tail end of the decade, filmmaker Todd Stephens found success with the gay coming-of-age feature Edge Of Seventeen, which he wrote for director David Moreton. It put Stephens on the map, although he encountered pushback with his own directorial debut a few years later, Gypsy ’83. He wanted to reach a broader audience, but the industry was insistent that queer stories were still a niche interest.
Todd Stephens, writer/director/producer: I got lucky with my first film, Edge Of Seventeen. We didn’t even know what we were doing, but it struck a chord, got into Sundance, and got released. I almost expected Gypsy ’83 would have the same path, but it was one of those movies where nothing fell into place.
So we shot it, but when it came time to find a distributor, I remember hearing, “Oh, it’s really nice and sweet, but I don’t know what the movie poster is.” Then they’d say, “Well, it’s got this gay element, but it’s not gay enough.” I was really trying to find a wider audience, but, back in those days, the feeling was that most gay stories were only seen by gay audiences. I thought, “What do you mean it’s not gay enough? Fuck you; I’m going to give them the gayest movie ever made!”
Another Gay Movie really was born out of feeling hurt and a rejection, to some extent. I think sometimes comedy comes from anger, and in this case, it absolutely did. I was really hurt and mad when I wrote it.
Mitch Morris, “Griff”: For some historical context, this was the peak [George W.] Bush years. The Iraq War is raging, and the president is in the Rose Garden saying that we should have a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. This is a deeply conservative and troubling time—and only 15 to 20 years removed from the peak of the AIDS crisis, where queer people had been so stigmatized in their lives.
But out of that there was this great explosion of LGBTQ-themed media. There’s Will And Grace, which allowed everybody to laugh with gay people instead of at them. And then, a couple of years later, Queer As Folk began on Showtime, which had the comedy element and the in-your-face sexual component, but that was all mixed with a really complex, human drama. From there, there’s this wellspring of all these gay movies just cropping up. They were mostly dramas, though there were some sex comedies [like] the Eating Out series.
Todd Stephens: I was in my underwear folding laundry with my now husband, Tim [Kaltenecker]—we’ve been together for a million years—and somehow the idea just popped into my head: “What about a gay American Pie?” I love those kinds of movies, and I love spoofy things—Scary Movie was big! So I knew the genre, and I thought that was a great way in, to spoof all the gay films that I loved.
At the time, so many gay films took themselves so seriously, and so much of the conflict was the very fact of being gay—including Edge Of Seventeen. They’re “coming out” stories. So I wanted to make a movie where being gay wasn’t the conflict, it’s just these teenagers trying to get laid like any other teenager wants to do. I wanted to take a step back and have a moment where we could laugh at ourselves. I thought there was something revolutionary about having a stupid movie for gay people.
Jonathan Chase, “Jarod”: It was the American Pie for the gay community. And it wasn’t trying too hard to be something that it’s not, it was just like, “We are in this world, we are who we are.” It was going to be this absurdist, romantic-comedy, coming-of-age story, and it just filled this gap. Nothing else like it existed at the time. Nothing else still does.
Ashlie Atkinson, “Muffler”: It was going to be as wild as the teen comedies from the ’80s, and as raunchy as American Pie. For once, gay kids wouldn’t have to translate that stuff into their lived experience.
Todd Stephens: I was definitely pulling inspiration from the crude humor that was big in comedy at the time, and that’s a different side of me. I’m a Gemini, so I have that more serious, heartfelt side—that’s where Edge Of Seventeen and [the upcoming] Swan Song came from—but that’s the part of me that got hurt because of the Gypsy ’83 rejection, so that’s why I wrote Another Gay Movie. One of my all-time idols is John Waters, just the feeling that there was no holding back with him. So I thought: No restraint. This is a part of me too, and it felt like an act of rebellion. George W. Bush was president, and we hated that conservatism, so it was like, “Let’s buck the system!
But mostly I wanted to do it as a celebration. Sure, it’s making fun of our day-to-day gay lives, but also celebrating it in a very sex-positive way. I refused to be ashamed of those parts of our world.
Mitch Morris: From the beginning, I always felt a great sense of defiance in Another Gay Movie. We were doing something that we weren’t sure we could get away with.
With Another Gay Movie written, Stephens and his collaborators made plans to stage live readings of the script at queer film festivals, both as dry runs for the joke-heavy dialogue, and to build buzz among audiences and potential financiers. But first, they needed to find their cast.
Todd Stephens: It’s something I had done with all my films. I don’t know where I got the idea, but I know we did a run for Edge Of Seventeen, we did two of them for Gypsy ’83. It seemed like it used to be more of a thing to do for independent films back then, to try to get buzz building, especially before the internet really took off. But it got people to see it, it got potential investors to see it. And, in this case, it really helped the casting process because we cast for it like we would a movie.
Michael Carbonaro, “Andy”: I got a phone call from my agent who said, “You don’t have to do this [project] if you don’t want to, I’m just throwing this your way because I thought of you. I want you to just look at it.” He’s a really great guy, and he was being sensitive. He knew I’d be good for this, which I didn’t even know. But this was not a phone call to go and [audition for] a movie—this was a phone call to do a staged reading of a script they’re trying to raise money for.
Ashlie Atkinson: I didn’t have any representation—I saw the post for it online. I was living in New York after graduating from The Neighborhood Playhouse School Of The Theatre, and my friend pretended to be a manager and called to submit me to Eve Battaglia, who did the casting. We were basically like two kids in a trench coat because we were not fooling anyone that we were legitimate. But Eve thought I was interesting, so she called me in and I got the part. Later, she let me know that we had not fooled her at all. [Laughs.]
Jonah Blechman, executive producer/“Nico”: I had just finished doing the equity Hedwig And The Angry Inch in San Francisco, and I moved to New York, like, [In a sing-song tone.] “What is New York going to have for me?” This was one of the first projects that came along and, initially I was like, “I will never be a part of something like this.” [Laughs.] I had never done any comedy, and it was just it was so crude, it was so intense.
But it bothered me how much it bothered me, so I knew, as an artist, that was something worth exploring. I rented Todd’s other films and I was like, “Okay, so this is a real filmmaker.” So I decided to meet with him and we really hit it off. By the time we started doing the readings, I was like, “You know what? This is actually brilliant.” It became clear that my initial [fear] was telling me to explore this deeper and support it. So I committed!
Michael Carbonaro: I read that script, and I was like, “I want to play Nico,” Jonah’s role. I didn’t see Nico as flamboyant as much as he was like this dark, goth, edgy character—I loved how he was written in the script with roller skates and black eye makeup. I wanted to be like that. But they said they wanted me to read for Andy, and I was like, “What?” Because I’m picturing this, like, red-haired child, like a very American boy, and I just didn’t see me because I’m lanky and Italian. But then I realized Andy was supposed to be like Jason Biggs in American Pie, and that’s when it clicked.
Jonah Blechman: I initially told Todd I was interested in reading for Andy because he’s more like the everyday kind of guy. But he said, “I really see you for Nico, let’s try that!” And that really terrified me because Nico felt so much like this stereotype that I was trying to get away from. Growing up, everyone thought I was queer or too femme or whatever, and, as an actor at that point, it was limiting my career. So playing the total queen was scary.
Todd Stephens: I wanted to write Nico as an unapologetically queer femme—not as a stereotype, but as a part of myself, and a part of the people that I know and love. I love men that are feminine, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I was like, “Let’s celebrate it!” So that’s what his character represented to me. I know there was some fear involved with that for Jonah, but once he let go of his hesitancy a little, you could tell he was liberated.
Jonah Blechman: Todd calibrated me into this sort of vibration, and Nico really did become total freedom for me. I really got to explore my femininity in that, and it made me so much more secure about my masculinity. Letting go of my fears to play Nico helped my own understanding of myself, really.
Ashlie Atkinson: As a bisexual woman playing this out lesbian, Muffler, it was difficult for me knowing how I fit into a framework, because identifying as queer, as an umbrella term, wasn’t really a thing back then. I felt I needed to sublimate the aspects of my personality that did not line up with traditional lesbianism. But that may have just been me—that definitely wasn’t coming from anyone involved with the project.
Todd Stephens: The Muffler character was based on the same person in my life as Lea DeLaria’s character from Edge Of Seventeen. She’s this lesbian woman who is outrageous and amazingly loving, but also sort of shocking, and she was my role model. So I wanted to include a version of her in this movie, too, and Ashlie was hilarious in the part. She just got it.
Ashlie Atkinson: But the funny thing with Muffler is, the loudness and the brashness are genuinely more “me” than most of the roles I’ve played. That, essentially, is who I am. I mean, I don’t wear a strap on in my life. [Laughs.] But I do have those Hugh Hefner silk pajamas. That is a place where I feel very good, very strong, and very confident.
Ashlie Atkinson: The cast wasn’t solid throughout. Michael, Jonah, and myself were always there, from the readings, but Mitch Morris and Jonathan Chase weren’t hired until later when we came to LA for the movie.
Jonah Blechman: I think Scott Thompson was in those readings, Stephanie McVay, and I remember Wilson Cruz and Justin Vivian Bond reading parts too, though they didn’t do the movie. Lypsinka was in one of them, too, I want to say.
John “Lypsinka” Epperson, “Andy’s Mom”: At first, I was reluctant because I guess I’m a bit old-fashioned and I think gross-out movies are not particularly intellectually progressive, shall we say. But I read the script and I started to realize that, well, it’s a parody of gross-out movies, and what they’re asking me to do is not offensive to me. At that point, they were just asking me to do the live reading at the Philadelphia Gay And Lesbian Film Festival in 2004. And I thought, “Well, that can’t hurt.”
The producer Jesse Adams had a vehicle, and he offered to drive me to Philadelphia. So he picked me up, and then we picked up Jonah Blechman, so we were already driving to Philadelphia when Jonah said to Jesse, “So Lypsinka’s going to be there!,” and Jesse chuckled. [Laughs.] I don’t remember at what point Jonah realized that Lypsinka was sitting in the front seat!
Ashlie Atkinson: What I remember is that we became really fast friends; we became very close very quickly from traveling and doing these readings together. And then there’s [Stephanie McVay], the dreamboat who plays Nico’s Mom.
Todd Stephens: Stephanie was one of the actors that auditioned for Edge Of Seventeen—she just had this warmth and this realness that reminded me of the Ohio moms I grew up with. But she has this quality that’s really unique, and just immediately fell in love with her and put her in the movie.
Stephanie McVay, “Nico’s Mom”: [Todd and I] really connected on Edge Of Seventeen, so we’ve been friends ever since I met him in mid-’90s. He’s made four movies now and I’ve been a part of all of them. Even if it’s a small part, I’d drop anything for him. So when I read this script, I went, “Uh-oh!” [Laughs.] “Will my family see this?” But the fact that is was a spoof, I was in—and we were really able to create in those readings.
Michael Carbonaro: The readings were a fucking trip. I’m telling you, it was live performance, it was edgy, the people were sitting right there! Todd was trying to get the community there—it felt like it was the whole gay world. It was like a real theatrical run, and it had that energy. We were only really acting out some of the scenes, but even what we were reading was outrageous.
Todd Stephens: It was a place to try out jokes, too. We would record them just for our own reference, and then look back at the script. The 5% of the time that the [audience] didn’t react, I was like, “I need to find this laugh.” But it was just great to see what was connecting.
Jonah Blechman: It was just so shocking; I think that it was always an audience favorite. It might have been harder for investors, or even other actors, to step into it, but it just so played to the audience, to the community. After the first go, I remember being outside [the theater] afterwards with Michael and Ashlie, and we were just so zingy and so excited about how awesome it was, feeling the audience loving it. It just totally energized us.
Lypsinka: It seemed to go well! But, you know, we still didn’t know if they were going to put the money behind it or not. One of the reasons that the reading happened in Philadelphia was because that’s where TLA Releasing’s offices were located, one of the early financiers. Todd wanted them to witness the energy of the live reading.
Todd Stephens: They sold tickets, but they were fundraisers for queer film festivals—we didn’t take the money. It just gave us an amazing opportunity to get the word out there. They were always sold out, and they were always really fun. It really bonded us together as a family and bonded the actors together. It was great to build that camaraderie early on.
Ashlie Atkinson: Todd and his partner Tim and [producer] Jesse really fostered that energy in us from the beginning. I mean, I don’t think they’re much older than me, if at all, but I feel like they really were “mother hen-ing” a bunch of young queer kids that had just come into the industry.
Michael Carbonaro: By the time we went to make the movie, [doing those readings] had put us at ease. But it was like, “Whoa, this is for real. We’re really going to be doing this now—we’re not just saying that we’re doing it on a stage.” I probably would have done it anyway right out the gate movie, but there was an easing into it that made a big difference.
Having proven itself an audience favorite, Another Gay Movie was ready to make the move from stage to screen. Stephens had found his producing partners, a distributor, and had even secured a bit of a budget—but not much of one. The creative team worked hard to stretch their funds and build the gay fantasy world of their dreams, all in a historic neighborhood south of LA.
Todd Stephens: So I had partnered up with TLA, which still exists; they were this big distributor of gay films, and they were actually putting these movies into theaters. They had done Latter Days and Boy Culture, these other indie gay films I really liked. And they were like, “Go for it! You have final cut, do whatever you want.” They agreed to release it unrated! So that was huge, and they financed a big chunk of the movie—they became our partners.
Jonah Blechman: I had come on board as an executive producer, so I helped with bringing in financing and some relationships with our distributor. I had moved back out to LA by the time we did get it financed, and there weren’t a lot of people that were open to supporting this sort of thing. But TLA took a big risk with us.
Todd Stephens: The other thing is that this film wouldn’t have happened without our producer Jesse Adams. We’d known each other since our teens, and he helped with my first two films. After I first wrote the script, another producer had wanted to make it, and I was literally about to get on a plane to LA to start preproduction when I had a fax come to my office. It starts coming through, one page, two pages—15 pages of notes, and they were all about toning the script down. I immediately called the producer up and said, “This is cutting all of the jokes—this is crazy! This is the whole point of the movie!” I just said, “I think we’re trying to make two separate movies. I don’t think this is going to work out.” So, luckily, I got out of it, and that’s when Jesse and I started working together. He completely understood and supported Another Gay Movie one-hundred percent, and he really helped find a big chunk of the money to make the movie happen.
Jonah Blechman: It was a modest budget, comparatively, but independent queer cinema has not had that kind of budget since. This was one of the last big, queer genre films made before the [financial] crash in 2008. The whole model shifted so much then, and has never really risen back. So there hasn’t been anything like it since. But the cast and the creatives that we were able to bring together for this film were just totally magic, and that had nothing to do with the budget.
Todd Stephens: I’ll also say, there was a lot of product placement involved. [Laughs.] [Manhunt.net] was one, Instinct Magazine, and I believe there was a lube, too. Those companies paid us chunks of money to be featured in the movie, so we wouldn’t have made it without them.
Todd Stephens: I’m just really proud of how we pushed the boundaries of our budget to achieve a specific look, which is a huge credit to the production team. We created this exaggerated California suburbia with The Brady Bunch as a big influence, but with an even more amped up color. I told my costume designer [Jim Hansen] and my production designer [Chris Anthony Miller] I wanted it to look like a rainbow flag exploded on the screen.
We called the look “Tomorrowland Today,” and we referenced that mid-century modern style from the ’50s, and leaned into the sort of retro-futurism of Disneyland. We shot in this neighborhood in Orange, California with all these Eichler Homes. The architect, [Joseph] Eichler, had this style that was very utopian—these pre-fab houses that just lined the streets. They’re clean and utilitarian, but also amazingly gorgeous and highly designed. Andy’s house, right when we shot there, was in the process of being restored, so they gave us free rein to transform the house since they were going to rip it all up and redo it anyway. We got lucky because it probably costs a fortune to film there now.
It was a bit of a challenge, getting everyone down to Orange from LA, so I had to really convince my producers for us to spend the money and time to shoot down there. But I’m so glad that we did because it was all in service of this sort of fantasy, better-society vision. It was like how things could have been—and how we want them to be—if being queer had always been an accepted part of society. It’s like this subverted nostalgia world where it’s like, “What if the gay teen really could just worry about getting laid like everyone else?” [Laughs.]
Meanwhile, Another Gay Movie still needed to round out its cast. Though many of the roles carried over from the staged readings, Stephens was on the hunt for his Griff and Jarod, the film’s will-they/won’t-they pairing that gave the shocking spoof its heart.
Michael Carbonaro: I wanted the part so bad—I didn’t know that I was a shoo-in because of the staged readings. When I heard they were doing [additional casting out of LA], I went there to be like, “I’m here! Do you want me to read sides?” I didn’t want them reading any other Andys, so I was really nervous about that.
Todd Stephens: Truthfully, we already knew we had Michael, Jonah, Ashlie, and some of the others from New York, but we couldn’t find a Griff or a Jarod. We had these amazing casting directors in LA, and they’d have chemistry readings where they’d narrow down all the top contenders for the parts and they’d partner swap, reading lines. These actors would be playing boyfriends—or, at least initially, two guys that had a deep connection. I always ascertain that. I don’t care how good an actor is in terms of their training and technique—[chemistry] is like a pheromone thing. The chemistry between two people is a very mysterious thing that you can’t really manufacture. So we took the search for them very seriously.
Mitch Morris: I had been acting for several years—I had just finished doing a role on Queer As Folk, the American version. My agent sent me the script and said, “They’d like to see you for this. I’ve read the first 20 pages, and I don’t know that I get it, but I want to pass it on and see if you’re interested.” So I read it that evening and wasn’t sure that I got it either. I mean, I sort of saw what it was going for, but I thought, “Oh man, I don’t know that this could really work.” And even if it did, I didn’t really know that I was right for it. I was really a dramatic actor and that’s where I felt comfortable.
Todd Stephens: I originally wrote the character of Griff to be African American—his name was Kai when we did those first couple staged readings. But I just could not find the right actor to play the part [for the movie]. It was difficult; very few people responded to the casting notices at the time. And we tried for a long, long time because I didn’t want them all to be white, to be honest with you—in this idealized world, I wanted the friend group to be [diverse]. But I have no regrets with the cast we ended up with, because they were amazing together, and when Mitch came along, it just clicked. So a lot of Griff ended up being shaped by what he brought to the role.
Mitch Morris: I went in and read for it a couple of times and, after I met Todd and he had walked me through some of the audition scenes, it started to make a little bit more sense how outrageous it really was going to be. I had seen Edge Of Seventeen, which I admired tremendously, so that’s what I think what threw me off. I wasn’t quite sure how to take this, but it was certainly something fun to try.
Jonathan Chase: I was working at FAO Schwarz in LA as a toy soldier and I had only done an indie horror film by the time I heard about this part. You know, at the beginning of a script, you just see where you land—see what resonates, see what chooses you. And I thought it was really, really funny. I was laughing out loud, but it made me so uncomfortable that I was laughing. But I really wanted to explore myself in this; I was like, “I know that I can do funny well. I would love to be in this film.” So I remember auditioning several times, because there was a mix-and-match for Jarod and Griff.
Todd Stephens: From the chemistry reads, it was really clear that Mitch and Jonathan just had this major click. They looked great together and they just hit it off, so it was the kind [of thing] we didn’t have to do too much thinking about, it was just clear.
Mitch Morris: I was surprised at being cast in it at all because I couldn’t do anything that the role required: I can’t play baseball, I can’t dance, and I wasn’t a comedic actor. So I was completely out of my comfort zone. But once we were on set, all that kind of went away, the fear went away as well. And Jonathan was great, we were able to emotionally connect early on, which set the stage for Griff and Jarod’s story.
Jonathan Chase: The love I felt for Mitch was very much real. I always try to find something to love about the person I’m working with, and he was such a beautiful screen partner. He immediately made me feel safe in that story, and that was a big part of the experience for me.
Mitch Morris: I remember feeling that there was something kind of special about Jonathan and I together. You never know whether the people on the other side of the camera also feel that, but I certainly felt it.
Todd Stephens: The movie is crazy and it’s outrageous and it’s pushing buttons, but, to me, the relationship of those two guys is the heart. And it worked in the end because of those two actors and their chemistry.
While the film’s principal players were largely unknown at the time, Stephens turned to some veritable queer icons to fill out the supporting roles. While a few big names passed on the opportunity, others were eager to play, imbuing the film with more gay cache.
Todd Stephens: Scott Thompson and Lypsinka were part of some of the cast readings, so we were lucky to have them for the film too, as Andy’s parents. Scott and Michael bonded from those rehearsals and got really close. Scott was funny because he doesn’t like to rehearse and it would be like, “Oh, god, does he know the lines?” But then the camera would roll and I’ve never seen anything like it—it just clicks and everything comes together. He brought so much to the role—he’s brilliant to watch.
Lypsinka: I was very impressed to be in a movie with Scott Thompson because I’d seen The Kids In The Hall and I knew how talented and funny he was. Later, when the movie came out, I was top billed in the trailer, which really surprised me! [Laughs.] Because Scott had a much bigger part than me. I certainly thought that Scott and Graham Norton were bigger names than mine.
Todd Stephens: Graham wasn’t as known then as he is here now. But I think he was working on developing an American show at the time, which is hilarious to think he would make Another Gay Movie his introduction to American audiences. [Laughs.] But it just goes to show how brilliant the guy is. And he was fearless as Mr. Puckov. But we had auditioned a number of different actors for that part, and I had seen his show and just got of fell in love with him. So we offered him the part, and he took it! I couldn’t believe it.
Jonathan Chase: I believe they were also in talks to have Ian McKellen for a role. I think it was the “silver fox” part—we almost had Gandalf!
Todd Stephens: That’s absolutely true. Ian McKellen was going to play Grandpa Muffler. We had talked, like we actually had a conversation about the role, but he was just ultimately unavailable. So I was sad when it didn’t work out with him, because we wanted to get a “gay elder” to play that. I remember we offered it to Charles Nelson Reilly, but he passed on it, and Rip Taylor, but he passed on it too. They were idols of mine!
But then we found George Marcy, who wound up playing the part perfectly; I adored him. He passed away several years ago, but he was 100% fearless in his career and down to play it.
Jonah Blechman: I also had some great scenes with Richard Hatch, and he was just so game. I mean, by the time we got to the bedroom scene, and I’m dancing in front of him and we’re about to make out—and he’s just totally naked—he really was so gracious and easy to work with. I knew he was not an actor, so I wasn’t sure how it’d go, but he was quite lovely.
Todd Stephens: I think I wrote Richard in from the beginning. I was a big Survivor fan, and I just thought he was so brazen and outrageous on that show. I mean, he’s one of the most famous reality TV stars of all time, and back then he was an especially big deal, so I was shocked he agreed to do it.
I had written that he was naked the whole time, just playing off of him being naked in Survivor. And I remember that scene where he gets up to leave, I was like, “Richard, wouldn’t it be funny if—what if you just stood up, you know, and your dick, like, fills the frame?” And he was like, “Oh, yeah, totally, I’ll do it.” He was down! He loved to push buttons, and he was he was very comfortable with himself. So that was one of those moments in the movie where I had to pinch myself. I felt like I was on another planet.
Todd Stephens: Another moment that felt [surreal] was when Marty [Beller, composer] and I were in this old-school recording studio, and there’s Nancy Sinatra singing our song! The score of the movie started with that song—again, we were influenced by The Brady Bunch, so we wanted to have a sort of sitcom theme. Then we used different elements of that theme throughout the movie.
I have always been obsessed with Nancy Sinatra, and I still am. It just so happened that [her manager] was a fan of my first two films, so he talked to her about it and she was really into it. It was that simple, and she basically did it for nothing. I couldn’t believe it.
When the film was finally ready to shoot, time—and budget—were of the essence. Luckily, a few days of rehearsal and a natural chemistry among the cast made filming a breeze.
Todd Stephens: I think one of the cool things about how all this came together was that we did have this time to bond and rehearse before we shot. We spent like four or five days just rehearsing full-time.
Jonah Blechman: Rehearsal was so helpful, in terms of us getting to know each other, considering we’d be playing this group of best friends. So that gave us some real grounding. One of our first actual rehearsals, we were all [doing a scene] on a couch, and remember I started crawling over everyone, being ridiculous. We were all kind of touching each other, joking around, getting physical, and it was so clear that we were all so game.
Michael Carbonaro: I do remember feeling instantaneously like, “Oh, these guys are fucking funny!” They got the tone like that right off the bat.
Ashlie Atkinson: Todd was very clear from the beginning that, the more that the group of us liked each other, the better the film was going to be. The film rested on the group—and especially the four guys—genuinely liking each other. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment with those boys.
Angela Oh, “Tiki”: The filming experience was amazing. A lot of my scenes were the big party scenes, but Ashlie Atkinson was probably one of the first people I met. Just from the go, I walked on set, and she’s like, “Tiki! You’re our Tiki! Welcome!” I’ve been on plenty of different sets since then, and not everybody is so open and loving and happy and accepting from the jump. It was special.
Jonathan Chase: We started with the comfortability bar pretty high because we rehearsed at some blackbox space, or some rental space, and they were shooting a gay porn next door.
Michael Carbonaro: Oh yeah! We shot in a porn office. [Laughs.] I didn’t get that at the time. I was like, “Oh, look! A movie set!”
Lypsinka: I remember being there for a costume fitting one day and this young, attractive guy knocked on the door. He came in and he was wearing a robe and he said, “May I use the bathroom?” The wardrobe person said, “Sure,” so he went and the crew told me they’re filming a porn movie next door, and that we have to share the bathroom. Well, a little later, this same guy was back again to use the bathroom, and I said, “Well, if you were just here a few minutes ago, they must be really giving you the once over.” [Laughs.]
Jonathan Chase: I didn’t put it together! [Laughs.] There were these bears walking around with sex toys, and I was like, “Wow, that’s a different energy next door!”
Ashlie Atkinson: This movie was made on a—it wasn’t even a shoestring budget, it was like a garbage bag replacing a shoestring. They were like, “We have enough money for one car and for one hotel room for you and Michael.” So we shared them.
Michael Carbonaro: I was staying at a low-rent hotel, and I remember Jesse pulled me aside one day and was like, “Listen, Ashlie’s coming to shoot some scenes, could she crash with you?”
Todd Stephens: We shot in 16 days—that’s what we had the budget for. The only way that it worked is because we had rehearsed, because we had done those readings—that’s the only way we could have shot that film so quickly. Everyone knew their lines, so we would get the cameras up, run a quick warm-up, and do take one, and usually it was pretty spot on. Then maybe I’d give a little tiny bit of tweaks, and then take two. I’m happy! We were shooting at a breakneck pace, but I had a great DP, Carl Bartels. He could get really great stuff done very quickly. And so sometimes we shot things with two cameras just to save the time.
Stephanie McVay: Everything felt busy; the house we were filming in was laid with cables—everything was covered [in equipment]. It was hectic, but I remember standing next to Todd in between takes, leaning into him, and just feeling like, “This is heaven—this is where I want to be.” He was so patient with everybody. He made it so easy, and we just had a ball.
Mitch Morris: We shot this movie fast. And we spent all that time together. As soon as we were wrapped for the day, we were off having dinner, going out, or rehearsing for the next day. It made us instant friends. And there was always the sense on set after every take, like, “Can we do this? Can we get away with this?” And we laughed constantly on that set. Usually sets that move that quickly are stressful because there’s no time to waste—you’ve got to get everything spot on—but it was such a fun time.
In what became one of Another Gay Movie’s most memorable scenes, Stephens couldn’t resist spoofing the most predictable of queer cinema tropes, the coming out scene. He took inspiration from his own work, Edge Of Seventeen, staging Nico’s emotional confession to his mother the exact same way as the drama’s emotional climax—but with a hilarious twist.
Todd Stephens: The whole point of Another Gay Movie was that I didn’t want being gay to be part of the conflict—I didn’t want any of these characters to have shame about that. The message was, “Let’s move beyond the drama and just have a good time.” There’s a time and a place for coming out movies, and Edge Of Seventeen was one of them, but there are plenty. So I wanted to make fun of that a little bit.
Stephanie played the mom in Edge Of Seventeen, and she’s much more serious in that, but I knew she had this really funny, naughty side too. So the part of Nico’s Mom was always hers, and I wanted to take the opportunity to send up my own scene.
Jonah Blechman: It was so great to do that homage with her because I loved what she did in Edge Of Seventeen. She’s just so sweet, and then it’s hysterical because she can rip-roar with these doozies.
Stephanie McVay: “Well, duh!” [Laughs.] That dialogue about how she knew [Nico] was “a little special,” is just the brilliance of Todd’s writing. So I just repeated his words and added a little bit more facial expressions; we got goofy.
Todd Stephens: “Carol Channing was on fire that night!” [Laughs.] I wrote those jokes because those were my idols—her and Karen Black, the Airport 1975 reference. Stephanie just had so much fun with that scene; she was terrific to watch.
Stephanie McVay: Just being in the presence of Jonah made it hard to hold a straight face for it. Thank god I was at the piano because I could just turn my back and die laughing. [Laughs.] And he’s just standing there in this colorful outfit and a forlorn face.
Jonah Blechman: It was the funniest day on set. It’s the perfect example of what this film could do: It’s just ridiculous, high camp, but with such a grounded heart. So to [spoof] that scene—it could only work if it was as heartfelt and vulnerable as possible.
Like many of the teen comedies of its time, Another Gay Movie was not afraid to show some skin. So, no matter how close the cast had gotten, the movie’s abundance of sex scenes meant they would need to go to some vulnerable places. From page one—literally—Stephens and his crew made sure they were creating a safe environment that would give their stars the power to set their own limits of comfort.
Jonah Blechman: You know, if you had read the script, you were either game or not game. It asked a lot of all of us. Mind you, there was no real frontal nudity in any of it. And everyone kind of signed their waivers.
Todd Stephens: I really wanted to see our lives—gay lives—represented. Like, straight people got to have real kisses in movies, so why does it have to be a fake kiss in a gay movie? I wanted to be really explicit about what was what was to be expected.
Jonathan Chase: There was a note on the front page of the script that said, “This screenplay contains scenes that are sexually graphic in nature. Despite what may be implied or imagined from the printed page, it is our intent to keep full-frontal nudity and sex acts out of frame, à la R-rated films such as Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Porky’s, and American Pie. When body parts are specifically mentioned, they will be shown by means of over-the-top prosthesis, in the spirit of films like There’s Something About Mary (Ben Stiller’s balls) and Scary Movie (the penis through the gloryhole). Bare butts, however, are fair game.” [Laughs.] And that “bare butts” part is a separate paragraph, it’s its own line.
Todd Stephens: I absolutely remember that little blurb. I wrote that because people would read the script and think, “Is this going to be a porn?” They were shocked. So I just had to make it clear that we weren’t going to show actual sex. Otherwise, agents and managers would be like, “What is this going to be? What are you going to show?”
Mitch Morris: Todd was just giving us everything that we needed. I don’t think this was a time when people really talked about feeling safe on a movie set—it’s a discussion that happens quite vigorously now, but I don’t think that was happening in 2006. But Todd really established that from day one. None of us could have done any of this without feeling like Todd was there behind the camera making us feel safe. And that it was OK for us to draw certain lines. I don’t think anybody drew very many lines here, but we just felt comfortable knowing that we could if we needed to.
Ashlie Atkinson: Consent felt really important to me. Even the party scene, with everyone in the background, Muffler was very grope-y, so we had to be very precise about that stuff. I’d be like, “Okay, I’m going to have my hand here, and I’m going to come through here, and is it okay if I touch you here, or kiss you here.” We took it all seriously.
Michael Carbonaro: There were scenes where it felt harder. Like, when Andy runs down the street naked [after Rodzilla]—we’re not on a soundstage, I was really outside in daylight. But there was such a safety net behind the camera. Everyone was working together.
Todd Stephens: When it came time to do a sex scene, no one was surprised. We were ridiculously specific because, you know, shooting sex scenes can be hard! Everybody gets nervous. I believe in rehearsal—I mean, it almost sounds weird—but we would literally rehearse the sex scenes. Like, “Okay guys, you’re going to be fucking him from behind here, so let’s get into position,” you know? It just made everybody comfortable; everybody knew exactly what was expected of them on the day that we shot. There were no games being played.
Michael Carbonaro: Todd had brought this amazing group together, cast and crew. Everyone in every job was part of that bubble that made it safe. Like, if we had just hired a grip who is like in the corner, like “What the fuck are they doing?,” that could have made things weird, but everybody was in on it. So it wasn’t like you had to step in and do this thing in front of strangers. We all knew what we were doing, and we were all doing this together. Like, here we go!
Mitch Morris: When we were preparing for [Griff and Jarod’s] sex scene out in Orange County, I was in wardrobe getting my modesty patch on, and Krissy Rudell in the costume department asked, “Are you are you feeling okay? Are you ready? You’re going to be fine!” I told her I was a little nervous: “This is weird. I’ve never done anything like this before.” And she looked at me and said, “If it makes you feel any better, Jonathan’s nervous too.” It just felt so good to hear from her. Everybody was working to help everyone through it.
Jonathan Chase: I felt really safe doing that film. I think I was the only straight actor of the leads, and I remember the guys took really good care of me.
And that scene in Orange County—we were on the deck of some house in the hills. It was freezing in the middle of the night, and we were shooting a sex scene by the pool, wearing only that protective thing they kept on you. But it was so cold, and the sock wouldn’t stay on. It was embarrassing but it hilarious, and I said to Mitch, like, “Are you okay?” And I was fine, I was almost too comfortable, and said, “Let’s just keep going; let’s keep filming!” We just had each other’s backs. [Laughs.]
Todd Stephens: That was the thing: The script demanded that all of them—and myself—be fearless, you know? And it’s like we all held hands and jumped off the cliff together and decided not to be scared. Since they knew what was expected of them, it was an incredibly liberated place to play.
Todd Stephens: The magic of that film is that somehow all of those human beings got on the same wavelength together. Everybody just wanted to be free and push it as far as we could. There was no holding back, and it was probably the most fun shoot that I’ve ever done. It was just this crazy world that we invented. And then we all just like threw fear and caution to the wind and just like jumped in.
The day after the final day of shooting, we did a photo shoot for the movie poster. The guys got in their costumes one last time, and I wasn’t even directing it—it was the photographer. So I just kind of sat back and like watched him direct my guys! I remember being like, “Wow, we really created something.” There was this love that the four of them had for each other—and Ashlie too—just this palpable chemistry, that they all just clicked. I watched knowing that this would be the last time that they would be these people together, and I was just so proud of these characters that we created, this world that we created
Stephanie McVay: I remember us coming down from the hotel rooms when we were done and it was time to leave. Everybody saw each other, and it was just, “Oh my god, look at what we created! We did it!” Now we’re going home and we’re going to cross our fingers that it makes $20 million, you know? No? Okay! [Laughs]
By spring of 2006, Stephens was ready to unleash Another Gay Movie onto the world. It would make its grand premiere at that year’s Tribeca Film Festival before hitting a handful of LGBTQ+ film festivals, and then rolling out into select theaters that summer. Suffice to say, not every audience was ready to see “the gayest movie ever made.”
Michael Carbonaro: We premiered April 28, 2006—on my birthday. It was my 30th, and there I was playing 17 when it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Todd Stephens: It was really one of the hits of the festival that year, in terms of it being a totally sold out premiere. There were lines around the block of people trying to get standby seats, so there was this surprising excitement about it.
Angela Oh: It was still so early in my career, I didn’t really understand what it meant to be [at Tribeca]. But I was in New York, so I went and I walked the carpet; I was just in some random outfit, I didn’t do my hair, I had no makeup on. But there were pictures, there was press, there where so many people—I didn’t get what a big deal it was to for us to premiere there.
Michael Carbonaro: I mean, we were at Robert DeNiro’s film festival! But I had no idea how it was going to play—I had watched some of the scenes while Todd was editing, but that was it. So my dad’s there, my mom, my friends—I brought everybody… and it was a total bomb. I remember curling up in my chair.
Mitch Morris: For the first 10 or 15 minutes, we were sitting there sort of melting in our seats. People didn’t know where to laugh—or if they could laugh.
Ashlie Atkinson: To be fair, they warmed up to it! It was a tonal thing, where this was something very different for Tribeca, you know? But they figured it out, they got it.
Michael Carbonaro: Cut to two days later at the Miami Gay And Lesbian Film Festival, the film plays like a roller coaster ride. The audience was all gay, so it was made for them, and they ate it up. They got that it was a spoof. It was that tone that Another Gay Movie took, that hadn’t really been seen before—they needed it, we needed it that. So it just clicked with that audience in a way that it didn’t at Tribeca Film Festival.
Mitch Morris: Once it started playing to the right audiences, I feel like it really took off. My most vivid memory of the entire experience was when we opened the movie at The Castro in San Francisco. They had closed the balcony for the cast, so we were up there watching the movie for the 40th time, and it was like an earthquake was happening down below. We couldn’t eve hear half of the movie because the laughter wouldn’t let up.
Todd Stephens: There were so many people that got it and were able to laugh at themselves, but there were also people that hated it. I remember I went to the bathroom after a festival premiere, when a couple came in that was discussing the movie at the urinals. One was saying that it was “the most brilliant thing” and “exactly the movie we need.” But the other one just hated it and thought it played into all these offensive old stereotypes about how gays only want sex and things like that. I was sitting there listening to that conversation, and I kind of loved that! Because I really did want to press people’s buttons, you know, and provoke this sort of debate. I could already see that this film I made had started a conversation, and that was an honor to me.
What followed was a national press tour, bringing the film—and its cast—directly to the audiences it was so lovingly made for. But publicity put its stars in the spotlight, and they suddenly felt how risky and boundary-pushing the film really was. With the future of their careers in question, not everyone was able to show their support for Another Gay Movie.
Jonathan Chase: When the film came to Outfest [in LA], I remember my team at the time said they were worried it was going to [lead to] typecasting for me—these were conversations you would have back then, and fear was something that was used. So I remember, when the film came out, I didn’t attend the festivals. I didn’t say anything negative about the film, but I didn’t go that extra mile.
Michael Carbonaro: I was never out to press during any of Another Gay Movie. I was out in my life, but I cannot remember when I came out to press. I never wanted it to have it be a thing. At the time, we were all just being coy, like, “Some of us are [gay], some of us aren’t, but we won’t say who!” I guess there was—and I’m sure there still is today—the concern that, if you were gay, you couldn’t play straight.
Jonah Blechman: In my own career, I started off in film kissing Leonardo DiCaprio, and after playing a queer character in that film in the early ’90s, I ended up losing my agents and managers because of other roles that were coming in that were queer. They were like, “We don’t want you to do this. We don’t want you to get stereotyped.” And I wasn’t even out, but I feel like I went through a lot of this then, too. You know, having to figure out who I was, and who I wanted to be in my work and what it even meant to have a voice.
Ashlie Atkinson: I think we were all sort of experiencing similar things. As a bisexual woman, Todd was absolutely like, “Yes, talk about the full breadth of your experience.” But bi erasure was so intense at that time that I would go to these festivals and I try and talk about it, and [people would] be like, “Yeah, we don’t actually care—we only care as much as you dovetail with this character. We’re not that interested in who you have at home, or the nuances of that.” It was never from our end, but from festivals and press sometimes. Like, “Everybody assumes you’re a lesbian, so let’s just run with that.”
Mitch Morris: To be an actor and to do something like this was exceptionally risky. Even though people might have been on board for us to do it, once it was done, you were expected distance yourself from it even before it’s really out on the market. That was difficult. Jonathan’s a straight actor, I was a gay actor trying to find my way through a very homophobic business, in a lot of respects. A lot of young actors and actresses—gay, straight and everything in between—were trying to find their careers through playing roles in films that meant a lot to them. We were often not encouraged to promote them, or take full advantage of the work that we’ve done, when it’s explicitly queer.
Jonathan Chase: [Working on] Another Gay Movie prepared me to just step into my own sexuality, without question. When we filmed, there was nothing holding me back. And I think that’s what scared me when I saw the early cut. It wasn’t just how much of my ass you saw, but other parts of me that I held close, and I was a little bit sacred to share. I was nervous to be a part of it then. I mean, I feel deeply there’s wounds there that need healing.
Mitch Morris: [Jonathan’s] not the only one with those kinds of wounds. I think a number of us—from the people we were working with—were getting a lot of mixed signals. Like, “Oh, you should do this,” and then once it was done, it was kind of like, “Back away. You only want to get so close to this.” And that speaks a lot about how where the industry was, and where the industry has begun to change.
Jonathan Chase: I regret not supporting the film. I distanced myself from it early on, and—just to be fair and completely honest with the community—it was 100% because it was a gay comedy. That was the fear. There was a lot of fear from my team that they injected into me and I have regrets about.
Todd Stephens: We were sad at the time that [Jonathan] wasn’t there because it was so fun, all the screenings and everything. But we totally understood—I understood. I got it. He always made it clear to me he loved the movie, and the experience.
Michael Carbonaro: I always felt really bad because he missed the ride. Once it came out, we were touring the festivals and being flown to all these places—and then getting to watch it with these audiences who loved it. That was the best.
Mitch Morris: It became a really transitional period for a lot of us. For me, I kind of broke out of my shell doing this movie, and then in promoting it over the next year. There was always the, “Maybe we can get you out of this—it’s not too late,” from people, but I was glad that I stuck with it. I think it’s a testament to just always being true to who you are.
Todd Stephens: There’s this whole other topic of the sequel, Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild!, which I know is not what this is about, but that was sad because I wanted to bring this family together again and go back to that crazy world, it didn’t work out with everyone [of Another Gay Movie’s four leads, only Jonah Blechman returned for the sequel]. Maybe sometimes things are only just a moment in time. But it made me realize there was a lot of magic in what we had.
Fifteen years later, Stephens has linked up with independent distributor Breaking Glass Pictures to deliver a “Director’s Cut” in time for Another Gay Movie’s anniversary. The re-release gave the director the opportunity to restore a deleted scene featuring a personal icon of his, but it also had him thinking twice about a specific aspect of his film: A supporting character that made him wonder, “Is this offensive?”
Michael Carbonaro: I called Todd early last year and I was like, “You know, we’re coming up to 15th anniversary of Another Gay Movie!” So we talked about the possibility of doing a couple of screenings this year, and do like a Q&A or something. And then the pandemic hit. But Todd told me that was the reason why he wanted to do this whole thing, to re-release the director’s cut.
Todd Stephens: There were a number of scenes that got cut out originally, so I went back and looked at them again for this, and some of them are really nice scenes. There’s one with Daisy, Nico’s friend, who kind of discovers Grandpa Muffler and Jonah on the pool table the morning after. It’s great, and I tried to put it back, but then I remembered why I didn’t want it to be there—it just ruined the flow.
The one thing I added was this scene with Mink Stole going on a rant [in the bathroom of the bar]. She’s an idol of mine—you know, speaking of the John Waters influence, I’ve just always worshipped Mink Stole. We had such a fun time shooting it, but it originally got cut out because we felt like it slowed things down too much. But part of the problem, I realized, is that I was using the wrong take of Mink. Like, we had three takes of her whole speech, and she nailed it every time. So I regret that I had cut her out, and it’ll be a nice thing for fans to see that they haven’t before.
But it’s really not much different except for that one scene. [Laughs.] It’s kind of funny we called it the director’s cut because that’s what the first one was, really. I didn’t have any limitations; I got to make the movie we wanted. And when I look at it again, I’m like “Damn, this is edited really well—it really moves!”
There is another detail in revisiting this for the director’s cut that I had wanted to change, and it makes me uncomfortable now, to be honest. It’s the stuff with Tiki, the cheerleader played by Angela Oh. The intent was to spoof characters like Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles, she was meant to be a comment on that trope. But where’s the line between riffing on that shittiness and actually still depicting a stereotype and propagating that shittiness?
Angela Oh: I got the audition [for Tiki] either through my agent or manager, and I was excited. I was excited for Tiki because I had been in improv classes studying at the Harvey Lembeck Comedy Workshop, and I had been working on an Asian character—really embracing the accent and the details, and just how fun an Asian character could be. So I just remember how exciting it was to audition with this character that I’d been developing and getting to know.
There was something to the ability to embrace the character and just really to go for it, someone who was comfortable in her skin. I think growing up in Ohio, I probably shied away from that because I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to be different. I want to fit in, to blend in.” There weren’t that many Asian people in my neighborhood—in fact, I don’t think there were any at all in my high school. So this opportunity really opened things up for me to explore.
I remember hearing some of the other actresses [at the audition] chit-chatting among themselves, and a few of them were like, “Is this insulting? Like, this dialogue and this accent—should we even audition for this?” Overhearing these other actresses, I was just like, “Oh my god, I pray that I book this role because I so want to do this character. I love her!” So I was thrilled when I booked the movie. It was like the stars aligned.
Ashlie Atkinson: I had so much fun working with the sweet, sweet actresses that played Muffler’s girlfriends, the cheerleaders. Angela was great, and I know [Tiki] was meant to kind of comment on the stereotypes in other [teen movies.] But I remember being scared of, like, “Will people get it? Will they know it’s a call-out?”
Angela Oh: I was just thrilled [Stephens] included an Asian character. The thing is, I feel like you can look at the character and be like, “Oh, she’s so stereotypical with an accent.” Or you could flip it and think, well, people with accents do exist, and also it’s so great that she gets to be a cheerleader. Todd didn’t write her as a bookworm, or a biology student, you know? For once, I got to play the cheerleader, which I really was in high school.
There’s the scenes with Ashlie’s character, where it’s [mentioned] that she hooked up with all the cheerleaders, and there was no comment that Tiki was “an Asian cheerleader.” She just hooked up with all of them! [Laughs.] So you can also look at it like that, that I wasn’t really “othered.” There was no comment on race, just a funny joke of Muffler hooking up with the whole squad. So you can look at it through that lens.
Todd Stephens: For the director’s cut, I called up Angela and we attempted to re-voice her, to make her sound like more of a valley girl. We did an ADR session to try to replace the original stereotypical voice, and it just didn’t work. It didn’t fit right.
Angela Oh: He told me he was worried she might come off as offensive now, so I said I’d absolutely re-record the lines, I was happy to do it. I did the lines with a bit of a vocal fry. But I also told him I always thought Tiki was kind of awesome the way she is. He was just trying to be sensitive, and I appreciate what he was saying, but I like her how she is. Some people may be offended by her, but I wasn’t.
Todd Stephens: The other choice would have been to cut the character out, removing Tiki for the director’s cut. But I didn’t want to lose her. I love Angela, and I love Tiki as much as she does, so we kept things as is. And people might come for us for that, I don’t know. But I get it—I totally get it. It was meant to parody the stereotypes—it really was done with love, not with malice.
Ashlie Atkinson: I want to acknowledge that it doesn’t matter what our intent was, it matters what the impact was. But I think the conversation is really important. It’s important to acknowledge the impact of portrayals like that, regardless of what was intended at the time. And we can say what was in our hearts, but we do need to be in a receptive place to be able to acknowledge the oops and the ouch. Because it’s out there, and it’s going to exist for the next hundred years or whatever, and people will be encountering that wherever they’re at.
Todd Stephens: I wouldn’t do that again; I feel badly about it. It’s like, at the time, [the industry] felt like making fun of Asians was the last acceptable group of people to make fun of, which is disgusting to me. So I feel like I’m guilty of that. But life is a process, we all are evolving and learning and trying to understand. And [Tiki’s] still there, so it’s valid to have that conversation and to see how far we’ve evolved.
Ashlie Atkinson: I think it’s an aspect of living in draft while you’re trying to make art along the way. So I am appreciative that Todd didn’t cut her [out of the movie], because I think it’s important to sit in the discomfort of that. We were all pushing ourselves into these really vulnerable spots, and now we need to sort of acknowledge, “To who’s benefit?” Who’s getting the story out of it, you know?
Angela Oh: I don’t know that we can go back and censor everything. But it should be a conversation. If it offends someone, that’s worth [acknowledging], but that doesn’t mean it should be the end of it. Because then we can actually see our history, and see these victories made by more inclusion, openness, and acceptance. You can’t erase everything.
In the ensuing years, Another Gay Movie has predominantly found its fans in curious young viewers, its colorful promo image catching the eyes of video store browsers and streaming platform scrollers. But the re-release has the potential to reach the film’s widest audience since 2006. As the cast reflects on the comedy’s legacy, they also find themselves wondering how it might play to a whole new generation.
Michael Carbonaro: It’s not a movie that’s for everybody. But it really touches on the experiences of being gay, that it’s not just the coming out struggle. It’s all the other questions that come with it, and I think that really stuck with people. I always think about that Miami festival crowd—you know, the gay scene—who were watching and laughing because they got it, it was their lives. But I never thought before about, like, the closeted group of friends in Ohio watching this movie at home and discovering new things about themselves. That’s incredibly fabulous to hear.
Stephanie McVay: When I got my agent when I moved to LA, she was pitching me as a gay icon because I did Another Gay Movie and Todd’s other films. [Laughs.] I went, “Okay, whatever works, whatever got me in the door!”
Mitch Morris: I teach at [college] now, and Another Gay Movie is in the campus media library, along with Queer As Folk. I’ve had students come up to me and say, “Are you Mitch Morris?”—because I teach under my full name. I’ve even had it in my course evaluations where they say, “It’s so great to be taught by a movie star!” [Laughs.] So, I’ll still get recognized me from it, and it’s so funny to hear their reactions to it.
Jonah Blechman: I’m really excited to see what today’s youth—the modern queer community— gets from Another Gay Movie. It’ll be interesting! It really does deal with a lot of stereotypes, it’s really in your face. It’s a lot! [Laughs.] But I also know that [over the years], so many people have been so touched by it, were so impacted and even educated by it. It was so helpful for so many people to see growing up, and I hope it still gets to be.
Stephanie McVay: It’s nostalgic, thinking about it now, and the fact that there are people who are still watching it and discovering it is incredible. Hopefully, here’s something that they can go to and say, “Yeah, there’s other kids out there like me,” that they’re not alone. That’s how I feel about it, as far as its legacy goes.
Todd Stephens: I think the younger generations don’t have the same hang-ups that we used to. And I know that’s a generalization, but I think that people have gotten more comfortable with queerness, with expressing femininity, with fluidity in gender and sexuality. And thank god because, back then, a lot of people were ashamed of those parts of ourselves. If anything, this silly movie can help us celebrate who we are and how far we’ve come. And maybe it’ll inspire conversations about whether or not this is offensive.
Angela Oh: Just the existence of this is amazing. When we were teens, you kept things repressed because it was a very scary experience to be open if you didn’t see examples of people who looked or acted or thought like you. But now there are so many successful, happy people who are allowed to express who they were deep inside. So I hope that younger generations will be able to see this as fun because they have the benefit of coming of age in a time where society really has shifted, where we just have so much more knowledge and exposure to information and acceptance.
Mitch Morris: Especially because things right now feel so horrible, the world feels like it’s crumbling around us, I hope the movie brings just a sense of sheer joy and levity, that people allow their selves to laugh.
Todd Stephens: Laughter is the main goal. I mean, that’s what it always was: To laugh and be able to laugh at ourselves. It’s just that style of movie that is no apologies, no holds barred. You don’t really see that so much anymore, that type of humor. If I made a movie like this today, would I be canceled? Somebody would really think twice before they made a movie like this now. [Laughs.] I don’t even know if it’s possible.
Lypsinka: I’m assuming the youth are more evolved now, so I hope that won’t stop them from watching the movie just because it has the word “gay” in the title. I don’t suppose they could change the title to “Another Pansexual Movie,” could they? [Laughs.] Or, at this point, “Another Human Movie.”
Jonah Blechman: I think the movie could be incredibly shocking to someone seeing it for the first time, and I kind of hope that that’s the case. I feel like kids know so much more now, you know? So maybe it’s really not that shocking, and maybe they’ll just be offended. But my message would be: Be shocked, be critical, but also surrender to it and let it make you laugh.
Todd Stephens: What better compliment that you make a movie and that doesn’t just get forgotten, that it could still be relevant to look at in a different way, by a different generation. I’m lucky that people still care about it.
It’s this wacky, gross-out movie, but I really feel that my heart was still in it. And I think that that’s something that struck me when I watched it. This is the wackier side of myself, and it’s less autobiographical than my other movies, but it’s still a part of me. To get to that place—to just jump and drown out the voices in your head that say “No”—is really hard. And that we did that collectively! I’m making it sound like this fucking Citizen Kane, and it’s not, but that we did that!
Jonah Blechman: We were on the edge of the edge. We were all taking risks to step into a project. And when everyone’s taking that risk, that fosters such a clear bond. But the movie is so powerful in that sense—making it [felt like] such a protest. I think we just all really stepped into it and that’s what made a difference.
Todd Stephens: I’m still insanely proud of it. It was probably the most fun time I’ve ever had making a film. Just being in that world that we created and just, like, fearlessly played in—I would love to go back to that world in some way. I don’t know how or where, but it was like a free, free place, you know, and free of fear.
I’ve always wondered if John Waters ever saw the movie. He probably hates it, I don’t know. [Laughs.] But I would sort of love it if he hated it.
For more, don’t miss Another Gay Movie’s virtual cast reunion.