Carla: Based on the controversial, award-winning British TV hit, Queer As Folk takes a bold, sexy look at the contemporary gay lifestyle in North America. Shot in Toronto, Queer is raising even the most liberal of eyebrows thanks to its graphic portrayal of gay sex and romance. I paid an eye-opening visit to the tightly-closed set and got one of the 'queers' to introduce us to the other folks on the show.
Hal: [voiceover] This is Peter Paige. He plays my friend Emmett. He's the resident queen of the group.
Peter: Certainly every portrayal you see of a group of gay men has a sort of outrageous queen running around but what I love about Emmett and what I think sets him apart from most of those portrayals is that he's a real person, and that he doesn't hate himself.
Hal: [voiceover] This is Scott Lowell. He's the loveable, likeable, sad-sackey Ted.
Scott: I loved the character, I related to him so much, I understood him so much, and felt that he had a real universal appeal beyond the gay world. I felt, you know, that everybody knows Ted, has felt like Ted, IS Ted...
Hal: [voiceover] This is Randy Harrison. He plays Justin, the bane of my existence, but you know... he grows on you.
Randy: This was a great break for me, I had just graduated from theatre school, and this was one of the first auditions I got and I was thrilled by the opportunity to be able to do it.
Hal: [voiceover] Gale Harold plays the role of Brian, and they couldn't be more different if one of them was oil, and the other one was evil.
Gale: He doesn't really care; apology never comes into it, so he has that energy that just drives him forward, and I think that that can be really captivating.
Hal: [voiceover] And I'm Hal Sparks. I play Michael... quite well, I might add.
Hal: I think a Canadian is responsible for the big wave of gay television right now: Scott Thomspon, from Kids in the Hall. Because when Kids in the Hall was on HBO, it was the hip thing to watch. College kids all over the place were watching, and they were okay with Scott being gay, playing a gay character, playing straight characters, playing men and women and it was just hip to like it. So he was part of that, and that made it easy. He never kissed anybody, but had he done it, nobody would have blinked.
Peter: I certainly think it helped us being in Canada. I don't know that we got the show more or less 'right' because we're in Canada, but on a lot of different levels as actors, I think it's sort of like pulling us out of our own lives, and sticking us up here... we didn't know anybody else, we all sort of had to hunker down together and say, "Alright, we're going to make this crazy TV show."
Carla: Are you being recognized and is your family still speaking to you, or loving you even more, or...?
Randy: Yes, my family is great, and everyone I know is very positive about it. I mean, you know, my parents would prefer not to watch me have sex, but any parent would be like that.
Carla: Yeah, because really, Randy, if your parents were like, 'Oh boy, I think it's another sex scene, Aunt Martha, get in here!" [Randy laughs]
Carla: Two directions I want to go here, you know, when you talked about the cinematic history of blacks, gays, and obviously there was Ellen, in most recent times, then it's over to Will and Grace, where it's not about that, I mean I just adore that show, and I think that's another plateau, then you get Queer As Folk, are you at the extreme limit, or what's next?
Hal: No, I think the next level is acceptance, that you know what, you don't need a token gay person, or you don't need a gay show; you have a show that involves all types of different people. Some of the people may be gay, some of them may be straight, it's nobody's business.
Peter: If you look at the portrayal of blacks in cinema, they started as servants and minstrels, and 'step-and-fetch-its,' and then came the sort of Sydney Poitier 'sainthood' years, and then came the Shaft years where they were like, 'Screw You! Look at this! This is it, this is who I am, this is what it's about, you got a problem with it..."
Carla: And good news for the folks, Queer As Folk has been renewed by the powers that be for another naughty season. Queers airs on Showcase Monday nights at 10.