Jawbreaker with Brad Fraser

Bruce Gray (ex-George Schickel on QAF) was a guest on Brad Fraser's Jawbreaker on Friday, October 25. The topic of discussion was 'Aging Gay Gracefully' and what it's like to be a mature gay man in a society where, according to Brad, older gay men become almost invisible. He did qualify this, however, by saying that his guests were aging gracefully, and were the 'anomalies' in a sense. Bruce, along with the other guests George Hislop (Gay Activist, Entrepreneur) and Tom Diamond (Director) talked very openly about their personal and professional experiences--everything from career moves to working out at the gym.

Bruce Gray

I've tried to summarize the highlights of the conversation between Brad and Bruce--some of it related to his role on Queer As Folk, and some of it was more general in nature--but interesting nonetheless.


When Brad introduced Bruce after returning from a commercial break, he reiterated that he was speaking to "mature members of the community" and Bruce proposed the alternative title, "seasoned veterans," which earned him a laugh from Brad and the other guests.

Brad began listing off the work Bruce has done, reading from his extensive resume. He has a Masters degree in Psychology, worked in England for two years with Donald Sutherland when he was starting his acting career, then returned to Canada to work across the country in various regional theatre (Bruce interjected at this point that he loves hearing all this stuff). Brad mentioned a short-lived soap opera that ran here in Canada for a couple of seasons called Strange Paradise which had a supernatural bent, like Dark Shadows.

Bruce elaborated on this, saying it was a good cast, but the story writers boxed them all in, and they were all wandering around this island with some voodoo thing going on. "One day we got new writers and they said all the characters have to go. We had the bloodiest week in the history of television. Every day, you'd read a script and you'd go, 'Oh I loved another day!' and then you'd find out how you were going to die that day, and you'd think, 'Oh no!' "

He continued his work in the States with William Hurt, and then appeared in another Canadian soap called High Hopes ("and low expectations," Bruce added jokingly). Comparing the writing styles of Canadian and American soap operas, he told an anecdote about how on High Hopes they talked for three weeks about someone losing their wallet, but when he did Edge of Night it was the complete opposite. "One morning I woke up and my daughter had been shot. My son was french kissing her--so we have assassination and incest--she falls drunkenly down the stairs--alcoholism--and there's a knock at the door and this little red-haired detective played by Frances Fisher from the Titanic comes in, and I make a pass at her--adultery. We're four lines into the scene!"

Bruce Gray

The roles continued for Bruce with appearances on Star Trek, Chicago Hope, Beverly Hills 90210, Murder She Wrote, and of course his five seasons and Gemini award-winning performance on Traders in Canada. Brad asked if Bruce misses Traders.

"Yes and no, I mean, god knows you miss the money, and it's great to be working, and all the perks that come with that, but we had kind of run out of things to say and as an actor, I couldn't think of anything else to bring to the character. They were really doing every wacky thing they could think of to keep us expanding, but, I think it was time to move on."

Brad admitted that what he knows best is Bruce's part as George Schickel, the Pickle billionaire on Queer As Folk, who had an affair with Emmett. He asked, "Didn't you die while you were being sodomized by him or something?"

episode 214

Bruce explained how the scene came about. "The best part was, in the original script--this was before you [Brad, who is now writing for QAF] were on board--the script read that I was on a plane, and I was being sodomized by Emmett, and I had a stroke, and then [he holds up his hand and makes a circle with his thumb and index finger] my sphincter clamped over his thing, and he couldn't pull out, and they had to send down to Economy for a doctor who arrived with four pats of butter and a glass of scotch. Now who says they don't write 'em like they used to?" (Everyone laughed at this).

Bruce Gray

"Is that how it actually played out?" Brad asked.

"No, we flipped, and I was the guy behind and I had a heart attack and I wedged him in and he couldn't get out."

"How was that experience? I mean, Queer as Folk is a controversial show but it's also a show that people are very interested in, it's Showtime's flagship show in the States... do you think it helped your career? Do you think it was a good thing to do?"

"I don't think anything helps your career," Bruce replied. "I just think you do the next thing. Everyone's always saying 'This will help you now'... I'm doing My Big, Fat Greek Wedding... and it's a big hit, I'm telling you, it's not helping anything with anything. You just do the next thing. But it was great to be on the show, Queer as Folk was great to do, I was really happy to get the part and first of all to play a romantic part, now that you're no 'poulet de printemps' [that's French for 'spring chicken'] was really thrilling, just to be... romantic."

Bruce Gray

"Right," Brad agreed, nodding. "To be romantic with a man."


"How fabulous."

Brad asked Bruce about the changes he's seen in the gay community since the 60s and 70s, and jokingly asked him where he scored when he was on tour. Bruce said that he remembered thinking to himself, the reason he wanted to become an actor was that he could probably have sex every night, because there would be somebody at the stage door waiting to do it with him. "It was the only reaon.. not that 'arts' crap," he joked. "It happened once--in Cleveland."

Bruce admitted, however, that he's not really acquainted with 'the scene' in Toronto right now. He talked about being in Montreal in the late 60s, shooting a commercial on a Saturday, and around 5 o'clock in the afternoon they all went for a drink at a pub, and didn't bring ID with them because they figured they were going to go out to dinner and dancing later, and didn't want to lose their wallets. They were on the patio, amd hadn't even ordered their drinks, when the police raided the establishment and hauled them off to jail. The people who were in the paddywagon had to be seen to be believed, he said. Although there were twelve jail cells, the cops threw them all into one cell, and there was fifty people in a small space, and they were there until three o'clock in the morning... peeing, and shitting, and throwing up, and passing out and everything...

Brad interrupted at this point to ask jokingly, "Because you were all so crammed in together or because that's what people were into?"

Bruce Gray

Bruce laughed. "I like that. That was good."

"Because if you did that now with a group of gay men..." Brad began, and Bruce continued, "They'd call it a party!"

The story went on, but basically had a happy ending in that he was finally let go, and no charges were laid, although he never did get much of an explanation as to why it had happened in the first place.

Bruce Gray

In the final segment, the show ended on Bruce's words of wisdom about aging: "As you get older, you realize you don't have to be anything but what you want to be. You've got to default to your own position, and stop putting on the act you've been putting on for so many years, being something your parents wanted you to be, or that everyone else wanted you to be, and you were trying to live up to that, and then you get a certain age and you just get to be yourself because... who are you trying to impress? And then what happens--the great dividend--is that when you get rid of all that crap, people start to come in because you're open and available."

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