Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Reel Thoughts: Sordid Affairs

If you enjoyed taking a trip down the pink carpet with Leslie Jordan, you will love watching playwright Del Shores dish about his "sordid life." in Del Shores: My Sordid Fife, available on DVDthis week. Shores gained popularity with his hit play Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will? but really hit the big time when his play Sordid Lives played for several months in Los Angeles. The film version, starring Olivia Newton-John, Delta Burke, Leslie Jordan, Beau Bridges and Beth Grant, became a iconic favorite for LGBT audiences, as did the short-lived Logo TV series which brought Rue McClanahan into the dysfunctional mix.

You will laugh out loud as Shores describes the real life inspirations for his crazy characters, all provided courtesy of his mother’s side of their Southern Baptist family. “They’re the back-sliding side,” he confides. There really was a man with two scary wooden legs, and an uncle who had to send off to a vein bank in Baton Rouge to get a replacement vein for his leg. Shores has gone on to write Southern Baptist Sissies and the award-winning play Yellow, and he takes a more serious moment to perform an angry monologue he cut from Sissies. He brings up the much-ignored fact that religious bigots tend to ignore parts of the Bible that they don’t like, so Shores calls them on all of the times the Bible condemns gluttony and obesity, a condition that afflicts many of the most virulent equality foes.


One thing is for sure: do not be an ass to Del Shores as an actor, because he will call you on it on stage. Shores' entire show has a dishy confessional feeling to it, as he calls Thomas Hayden Church (from Ned & Stacey) and Judge Reinhold (from Daddy’s Dyin’) assholes for being difficult. Looking into the audience for Reinhold, he said “Is he out there? I know he’s not working…” He also has some choice words for Queer as Folk cast member Randy Harrison, who very vocally complained about the writing on the Showtime hit, and who Shores paid back in season five with poetic justice.

One thing that Shores does not touch on is his divorce from husband Jason Dottley, who starred on Sordid Lives. The sad break-up hadn’t happened when the show was filmed, but otherwise, Shores holds back nothing as he talks about stars he loves, like Rue McClanahan, and people he dislikes, like Perez Hilton, who brought his pet Labradoodle to lunch with Shores and McClanahan without asking.

Watching My Sordid Life is like spending the evening with a dear friend who always has the best stories. It is ninety-nine minutes well-spent, and for a closer peek into Del Shores’ interesting life, check out his Facebook page. He is not afraid to stand up to bigots like Tennessee politician Stacey Campfield, author of the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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