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Pittsburgh Degayed, and Other Mysteries



Nathaniel Rogers is older than Penélope Cruz, younger than Nicole Kidman and has neither dated nor signed a contract with Tom Cruise. He blogs daily at The Film Experience.

Take One Now Playing.

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? It's nothing like Queer as Folk promised. After Showtime's long running series painted the city's downtown as lavender as the Castro, Pittsburgh simply had to be reclaimed for heterosexuals everywhere. Writer/Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) was the man to do it. His new film shares a name with celebrated author Michael Chabon's novel THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH but not much else.

Jon Foster (pictured above) plays the slightly sexually confused Art Bechstein. When you're confused you should always stare dreamily into foggy bathroom mirrors and ask yourself the important questions like:  "Why, in 2009, would a filmmaker feel it necessary to pretend my boyfriend doesn't exist?" Filmmakers are expected to take some liberties when they adapt novels but this is ridiculous. Bechstein's male lover "Arthur" was no minor character in the novel, but one of the three leads. Anybody who grew up with the novel as a coming of age touchstone should probably steer clear as various die hard Pittsburgh fans, like Frank Anthony Polito (author of Band Fags), have been warning us for some time.

Tyra_shoeNot that Hollywood has that many other options for you this weekend. Maybe you'll join the crowds to see ubiquitous Seth Rogen in Observe and Report (the second mall cop related comedy of the year, what's up with that trending?) but if you're over 16 you probably don't care about Hannah Montana (The Movie!) although the plot line "she can't go on living this double life!" does seem ripe for an eventual drag send up. Not that it's not already camp what with the shoe warfare and the Tyra Banks mugging. Psst, you can get that cheaper on the endless cycles of America's Next Top Model.

Do we care what Dragonball is? No, but James “Spike” Marsters does appear as the villain so there's that. Remember when he was taunting Buffy or causing out actor Tom Lenk to go all goo-goo eyed for his undead cool? Remember when he was making out with John Barrowman on Torchwood? Good times. Gay old times. Better times.

Take Two Movie Bits.

What on earth does John Waters need a super-sized bottle of poppers for?


Find out, AFTER THE JUMP...

 road Financing for John Waters wonderfully titled Fruitcake may have fallen through, but the Serial Mom director is keeping busy. The TakeAway has been chronicling his latest project, an art exhibit which features a super-sized bottle of poppers among other embarrassments. "I always try to glorify things people try to hide," he muses. There's also a hilariously cheeky piece called "Rear Projection" which mixes, you guessed it, asses into old movie stills.

Willswenson road If you're in the NYC area any time soon, run to HAIR. The Broadway revival recently opened and it may make you forget all about the 1979 movie. It doesn't lack for energy, resonance or nudity. Super sexy Will Swenson, who used to star in Mormon films (!), stars as "Berger". Expect it to nab TONY Awards this summer.

 road Esquire has released their new "How to Be a Man" issue featuring 66 Guys to Emulate. They lean heavily on actors (George Clooney on the cover) but not one gay man appears. This is 2009. We can't get even get a shout out to a Neil Patrick Harris or a Cheyenne Jackson? Boo.

Isabella_penis road Isabella Rossellini has gone crazy for phallus in the second season of her hilarious outre Sundance series Green Porno. "A penis has disadvantages in water... "  

 road A new clip from the reboot of Star Trek suggests that they're sexing the movie up and definitely playing with the Captain Kirk is a horn dog angle. Hottie Chris Pine, who used to have to play second fiddle to Princess Anne Hathaway and Lindsay Lohan seems to be enjoying his big cocksure break out in front. But with Pine and Zachary Quinto and a ton of other lookers starring, why haven't they incorporated some of that Trek slash fiction into the mix (Spock ♥ Kirk). It's a mystery.

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  1. THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH is one of my favorite books & I am so unhappy that the makers of this film just didn't get it!
    Another of Chabon's books- THE WONDER BOYS
    was made into a superior film version with a great screenplay & spot on casting. It can be done.

    Posted by: Stephen | Apr 11, 2009 11:46:31 AM

  2. I went to visit someone in Pittsburgh and there were cigarette butts everywhere. i also saw a guy carrying a rifle under a burlap bag and then 2 minutes later the McCain entourage came through into the diner i was sitting in. It was very surreal. Oh yeah, I didn't see many gays.

    Posted by: AS13 | Apr 11, 2009 2:54:05 PM

  3. I saw the movie last night and, yes, it feels a bit off without Arthur. Not even because he was Art's lover for most of the book, but because conflating him with Cleveland just doesn't work--the relationship between the three leads is inane.

    I will say, however, that beginning your critique with a comparison to Queer as Folk is a little ridiculous. I'm a gay man originally from Pittsburgh and I thought the show's depiction of the city was more than a little vulgar. Did Pittsburgh have to be taken back by straight people? No. But I'm glad that The Mysteries of Pittsburgh did a better job of showing what the city is actually like.

    Posted by: vanityferal | Apr 11, 2009 2:57:56 PM

  4. Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? It's nothing like Queer as Folk promised

    Queer is folk is nothing like reality.

    Does anybody remember ever seeing any non caucasian gay man anywhere in their version of pittsburgh? hell they didn't even show any caucasian men with a deep tanning bed tan let alone any gay asians, latinos, black guys, etc

    though i'm white I always felt more in common with the guys on Noah's ark than queer as folk. The guys on noah didn't go to a bar every single night. Not even coced up 21 yr old twinks without jobs to go to in the morning can live that for more than a few months. Every single night at a bar/ club? Come on

    Queer as folk was cool in that it was showing gay guys as the main characters of a show for that era but it was totally not realistic in any way.

    Posted by: jimmyboy | Apr 11, 2009 3:03:50 PM

  5. Regarding "66 Guys to Emulate"...Since when is Barney Frank straight?

    Posted by: Meg | Apr 11, 2009 3:13:46 PM

  6. Oops. Thanks Meg! 66 people was so many to keep track of ;).

    But in regards to Pittsburgh. I have been there, yes. But um... that intro was meant to be with tongue firmly in cheek. I'm the last person who wants Queer as Folk to represent reality.

    Posted by: Nathaniel R | Apr 11, 2009 3:25:34 PM

  7. Kudos, Nathaniel! Thanks for the shout out. I hate to say, "I told you so..."

    I just had a thought pertaining as to why WONDER BOYS made for a better page-to-screen translation: isn't the screenwriter, Steve Kloves, gay? (I thought I've heard that somewhere.)

    My assumption is that Rawson Marshall Thurber is NOT, though I'm surprised no one has questioned his removal of gay Arthur as blantant homophobia.

    Like I've been saying all along: if RMT is such a fan of MOP as he claims, why would he feel it necessary to CHANGE this story one bit?

    Also, I went to grad school at Carnegie Mellon post-QAF. While Pittsburgh is inded nothing like it was on that show, I enjoyed my time there very much.

    Posted by: Frank Anthony Polito | Apr 11, 2009 4:18:18 PM

  8. I'm sure some of those 66 guys like cock but won't admit it publicly.

    Posted by: brentbent | Apr 11, 2009 4:42:44 PM

  9. FAP - Have you seen the movie? Yes, Arthur is gone, but Cleveland takes his place in many instances. Like the pretty graphic gay sex scene between him and Art. Thus, it's unfair to imply that RMT is homophobic or that Arthur was deleted because RMT is straight.

    Also, every change RMT made to the book in the adaptation process was approved by Michael Chabon himself. Adapting source material is a tricky business and different for every project. Sometimes drastic changes have to be made, sometimes not; a movie isn't a book.

    I don't particularly like the movie, but isn't it enough that the book still exists just as everyone has always loved it?

    Posted by: vanityferal | Apr 11, 2009 6:21:55 PM

  10. I always have trouble believing that "the original author approves" tag because that gets brought up every time something like this happens. But unless Michael Chabon had some sort of particularly unusual and incredibly specific contract drawn up, signing away the rights to your novel generally means signing away the rights.

    I completely agree that adaptations are tricky things and i never understand when people want movies to be exactly like books but the changes are so huge here... shouldn't he have just written his own material? but yes great that the book still exists obviously. Everyone should read that!

    and also: the opening was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I don't actually believe that Queer as Folk was meant as realism or that city of Pittsburgh recruited Thurber to degay the place ;)

    Posted by: Nathaniel R | Apr 11, 2009 8:23:55 PM

  11. I loved Michael Chabon and am very excited about The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.

    And I guess I'm showing my age (so to speak), but I'm excited about Dragonball too. I remember my brother and me running home to watch the anime cartoon everyday after school.

    Posted by: Eric | Apr 11, 2009 8:30:32 PM

  12. Too bad really. I really love Jon, in an anonymous star struck kinda way. I hope The Informers is better.

    Posted by: Critifur | Apr 11, 2009 8:43:33 PM

  13. This movie has been in the can for over a year. I thought it was going straight to video. Too bad it's taking up space best occupied by REAL gay movies.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Apr 11, 2009 11:17:36 PM

  14. Having lived in Pittsburgh my entire life, I can tell you that it is NOTHING like Queer As Folk, which I do not believe was even filmed here.
    Trust me, there is absolutely nothing about this city that needs to be reclaimed for heterosexuals, as they never lost any of it.
    That said, didn't the filmmakers "combine" Arthur and Cleveland, and not just delete Arthur entirely? A confusing thing to do, yes, but they must have had their reasons?

    Posted by: Aaron | Apr 12, 2009 9:46:00 AM

  15. I saw Mysteries several months ago at the Seattle International Film Festival. I would disagree that it's been de-gayed, maybe gay-reduced would be better. The director was there and said the combining of Arthur and Cleveland was approved by Chabon. I have no reason to doubt that.

    But, de-gayed, or gay-reduced, I didn't think the film really worked.

    Posted by: Fred | Apr 12, 2009 3:01:08 PM

  16. I lived in Pittsburgh for 7 years. It was fun at first, then it was lame and I got tired of all the rednecks. I consider Pittsburgh, West Virginia with buildings. The gay scene was a decent size, but small enough to know or have seen most people out.

    Posted by: Ty | Apr 13, 2009 11:01:58 AM

  17. Queer as folk was shot... wait for it.. in Canada!!!

    Posted by: David B. 2 | Apr 13, 2009 6:18:07 PM

  18. James Marsters fans who are looking for some skin will be very disappointed with Dragonball. James appears in full body makeup as a green alien.

    Posted by: jay digory | Apr 13, 2009 7:55:54 PM

  19. Um... Pittsburgh is fabulous. I was there last weekend for their Pride events. I have to admit, not only is this city clean and beautiful, it was gayer than most cities I have been to. I was pleasantly shocked. Their street party and next day march and festival was huge. Maybe not New York or Chicago, but they definately appear to have a top 10 pride for entertainment and attendance. What an amazing thing to see such a large LGBT community in America's most livable city. My BF and I plan to move their from Chicago.

    Posted by: Brian | Jun 16, 2011 8:58:15 AM

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