Monday, October 15, 2012

Reel Thoughts Interview: Shores Del-ivers

Saying things other people don’t even want to think much less say, Del Shores is a take-no-prisoners fighter for GLBT equality and the perfect person to take on so-called Christians who use their religion to shame and demonize the GLBT community. Shores, who many people know from his hit Logo series Sordid Lives and the hit film of the same name starring Olivia Newton John and Leslie Jordan, is finishing a tour of his new show Naked. Sordid. Reality., as well as promoting his latest DVD Del Shores: Sordid Confessions.

A follow-up to his hilarious DVDMy Sordid Life, in Sordid Confessions he jumps right in and addresses how his life completely blew up last December when he and his husband Jason Dottley (who played Ty in the Sordid Lives series) divorced. “I’m living a Tammy Wynette song,” he jokes in the show, although he has no regrets about showing his anger toward his ex.

Shores grew up the son of a Southern Baptist minister, and he tried to live life the way the Church dictates, getting married and having two daughters whom he cherishes. After the success of his first play Daddy’s Dyin’, Who’s Got the Will?, Shores went on to write Sordid Lives, which ran forever in Los Angeles, and he got into television writing, first on Ned & Stacey (starring Debra Messing and Thomas Hayden Church), then Will & Grace and Queer as Folk. “I can point to the day that changed my life and it was the day the review (of Daddy’s Dyin’) came out in the LA Times. That show ran for twenty-two months in LA, and it changed my life. I started getting the chance to do television and movies, and to this day, that is still my most-produced play,” Shores explained, as he prepared to do a show in Oklahoma City.

Sordid Confessions is just what the title infers, and Shores does not hold back on his feelings about such “celebrities” as Bristol Palin and former Saturday Night Live has-been Victoria Jackson. The most hilarious part of the show is when Shores, who knows his Scriptures, turns the Good Book back on the bad people who like to wield it like a club. His standard P.S. on responses, which he actually sends to these people, is “P.S.: F*** you!”

I had the opportunity to ask Shores about his life and his decision to go back on the road after his divorce, and he was just as honest as he is in his writing and on stage:

On Sordid Lives: “It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and I’m very grateful for that franchise.”

On Sordid Confessions: “I’m really happy with that. You know, I scheduled a taping of that and then my world was rocked with my husband leaving, and I had to delay it. I was really worried about being funny. I was going. “Can I do this?”, but then I stepped on stage at the Rose Room and I felt like it was one of my best shows in my career. I just loved the audience and they allowed me to go off my roadmap and do some really funny ad-libs that made it onto the DVD. That whole bit about AOL chat rooms and the “9 ½ inches” who show up was completely on the fly.”

On Bristol Palin: The untalented TV personality gets special treatment by Shores when he reads from her book, where she claims that she got blackout drunk from wine coolers and doesn’t remember having sex with Levi Johnston. “I read from that book during my shows, but legally, I couldn’t show that,” Shores explained. “It really is comedy at its very best. The fact that she wrote what she wrote and thinks that that’s okay. It amazes me that she claims she has no memory of her encounter with Levi and had to be told the next day by a friend. I always say, “Where was that friend (who knew she had sex)? I always say that the reason that Bristol Palin was the only contestant to gain weight while on Dancing with the Stars was that the whole staff was gay,” Shores joked, adding that they probably steered her to the craft service tables, pulled her hair back in unflattering buns and put her in a flamenco dress that Shores swears in a copy of his Sordid Lives character Brother Boy’s funeral outfit.

On Sarah Palin claiming that John Kerry “diminished himself” by talking about her: “We all have. We all have diminished ourselves by keeping her relevant, and all the Palins.”

On his sold-out shows: “I think the poster (pictured above) had a lot with it. I say in my show, “I deserved that photo shoot after all the angst I went through with my divorce. I also talk about Leslie Jordan’s reaction, “Oh Del, what were you thinking? That picture! It’s so… airbrushed!” and I said, “Yes it is, Leslie, and you should try it.”

On his divorce: “I don’t hold back. In the new show, I don’t tell all the gory details, but I definitely challenge the philosophy that we have to rush to forgiveness and not be angry. Do we really wish our exes well?” Shores worried about how that would be received at first. “I have had such an outpouring from people who’ve gone through breakups or even other conflicts in their lives where they feel less guilty now for having a human response to something. Quite frankly, using my humor and using my no-censor attitude has been very healing for me. It’s the therapy I needed. And certainly I needed to hear those laughs, I needed to feel the applause. I needed to just marinate in love, if you will. I could have closed down creatively, which I did for a while, or I could have embraced this and done what I do best and tell stories. I strongly believe that tragedy, hurt, pain, anger, is the gasoline that’s needed to ignite your creativity.”

On his new film: Blues for Willadean marks the big screen adaptation of Shore’s serio-comic hit The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, starring the incomparable Beth Grant, one of Shores’ muses, as well as The Help Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, Dale Dickey from Winter’s Bone, David Steen and Debby Holiday. Shores admits that he resisted changing the title, but that the name now fits the feeling of the piece better, which is a fairly dark story of spousal abuse. The film is now playing in New York and Los Angeles, and will premiere On Demand soon, so everyone can enjoy Grant’s amazing performance.

About those ladies with C.L.A.P.: Sordid Confessions opens with Shores being accosted outside the theater by a number of women protesters calling themselves Christian Ladies Against Pornography, or C.L.A.P.. He and Jordan pitched a mock reality show where Shores and Jordan would play two Christian women who try to stop homosexual depravity wherever they exist, like gay pride parades and festivals. While the show didn’t happen, Shores really wanted to bring C.L.A.P. back in some way.

About Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield: The notorious author of Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill engaged in a nasty correspondence with Shores after Shores challenged the ill-informed legislator to a debate. Campfield, who claims that it is virtually impossible for people to get HIV from straight sex, proved himself to be just as ill-informed about legislative ethics when he demanded $1,000.00 to debate Shores. Word of the demand has prompted the State Attorney General to open an ethics investigation against Campfield.

About the future: Shores is excited to bring his play Southern Baptist Sissies to the big screen by filming it in the style of classic television shows like Playhouse 90. The format will allow him to film economically and use original cast members like Leslie Jordan.

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

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