“I Am Michael” directed by Justin Kelly and Executive Produced by Gus Van Sant filmed in 2015 made the rounds on the film festival circuit winning rave reviews at Sundance. Two years later, the film earned a distribution deal. The true story based on Michael Glatze, a former LGBT advocate and San-Francisco based editor of the gay magazine XY, abandons his “homosexual” lifestyle to become a Christian pastor.
We hear stories about men living heterosexual lifestyles who engage in DL activities or leave their families for the same sex. But rarely to do we see the flip side. James Franco plays Michael with ease. His performance as a gay man in a relationship who enjoys partying and threesomes is comfortably effortless.
Franco’s partner played by Zachary Quinto is his support system and biggest cheerleader. However, Michael is never satisfied. He seems to want more out of life and has a deep desire to help gay youth on a grad level. He wants to change the world.
Michael is neurotic often having panic attacks. He lives in constant fear he will die of a heart attack. Due to a health scare, Michael turns to prayer. One is left to assume he thinks God saved him. Michael becomes obsessed with reading the bible. He seems lost; you can see it in his eyes.
As Michael rejects his former life, he is deeply conflicted with feelings of lust for other men. That doesn’t stop him from marrying a fellow bible student played by Emma Roberts. She accepts him and his past. Their chemistry feels awkward, somewhat forced.
I don’t know if Michael truly becomes “heterosexual” – the point being it doesn’t matter. “I Am Michael” is about removing labels and self discovery. A topic Franco embraces with delight.
“I Am Michael” is showing in select theaters and is available on iTunes and OnDemand.
My New Years resolution was to work with James Franco. I wasn’t sure in what capacity, but I was determined to manifest it. About two months later, I read in Variety, James Franco was producing a remake of the 1996 cult classic Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? The orginal starred a teenage Tori Spelling involved in a dangerous love affair with a guy who turns out to be an obsessed psychopath (Ivan Sergei).
20yrs later, the Lifetime updated classic features Tori Spelling as a mom, her daughter Leah (Leila George) is seduced by a lesbian vampire. What campy fun!
I saw a notice on LA Casting that production was looking for people with upscale Halloween costumes for an upcoming scene. I jumped at the opportunity. I ransacked my closed and this is the best I could come up with. I submitted several photos and with much delight – booked the job!
We filmed the following Saturday night at Griffith Park. As I stood on my patio, I stared at the Hollywood Hills. I was satisfied to know Mr. Franco was waiting for me.
When I arrived, I went through hair and make up. Shortly after, a PA took me and the rest of the background talent to set. We were given our marks. I was placed next to the DJ with cocktail in hand. I looked straight ahead and Mr. Franco appeared through the slits in my skeleton mask. My heart began to race. He looked at me and took notice. I could have died and gone to heaven.
I had a blast dancing the night away knowing Mr. Franco was watching on the monitor. I did whatever I could to catch the attention of the camera. I danced with men, women and a little person. James came out from behind the camera to give direction to his cast of Night Walkers. He walked next to me as he instructed the girls how to creep into the room. Our arms rubbed against each other.
James Franco appeared nothing like his wild Instagram persona. He was the quiet professional – completely focused. He is handsome and confident but looks like he needs a vacation. I’d be happy to join.
During a break, I spotted Tori Spelling standing to my left near the buffet table. She wore a white dress with pink feathers in her hair! This was another surreal moment: I grew up watching Tori on 90201!! And now…I was working with her?? Wait, what!!? She’s an icon in my book.
Next up, a pivotal scene. Tori rushes out of the party to look for her daughter. The AD placed me right behind her. When Tori reached her mark, I was instructed to swing open the door, run and rip off my mask to investigate the screams. In dramatic fashion, I complied take after take. You will have to watch to find out what happens next….It’s not pretty.
When I got home that night, as I lay in my bed. I thought I had been dreaming. In a way, I was.
Dreams really do come true…
Here’s a clip – see if you can spot me!
Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? is currently showing on Lifetime and is available OnDemand.
Over 25 years ago, 16-year old Debbie Gibson exploded onto the music scene with her debut album “Out of the Blue.” Her self-penned, infectious pop songs “Only In My Dreams” and “Shake Your Love” rose to the top of the Billboard Charts. She became the youngest artist ever to write, produce and perform a #1 hit song, “Foolish Beat.”
1989’s “Electric Youth” paved the path for the music marketing trends of today. She was the first pop star to launch a signature fragrance to support an album. Her image was plastered on the bedroom walls of kids across America. In fact, she sold more than 16 million albums worldwide –all while keeping her clothes on and maintaining a squeaky clean image.
After conquering the pop world with three consecutive albums and world tours, Debbie set her sights on the theater and starred in 17 musicals in 17 years like “Les Miserables,” “Grease,” “Funny Girl,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Gypsy,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Chicago” and the Broadway revival of “Cabaret” with Neil Patrick Harris. Debbie has also appeared in numerous television and film projects including “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Sing Your Face Off,” the SyFy hit “Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid” (opposite fellow 80’s pop star Tiffany) and most recently starring in the 2015 UP original movie, “The Music In Me.”
When I was a kid, growing up in Brooklyn, I wanted to be her best friend. She lived close by in Merrick, Long Island. I was jealous she had a recording studio above her garage. But knowing she wrote her own songs and got her start at home inspired me. Debbie made me feel like I could make my dreams come true as well.
I had a fantasy of contacting Debbie asking her to reflect back and to find out what’s going in her world on now. My fantasy became reality – the “Original Pop Princess” agreed to talk.
Debbie, tell me what is the best part of being a pop culture icon?
It may sound cliché but getting to do what I love to do and making other people happy is fabulous!
No, not cliché at all, I think that’s great. It is an artist’s job to uplift others. We do what we do to make others happy.
Let me ask you, if you could step into a time machine and go back to 1987, what message would you deliver to your former self?
Relax and take time to enjoy what’s happening. It’s not a race.
That’s great advice!
Having reached such a high level of success at such a young age, how were you able to manage that?
It wasn’t without its ups and downs. But basically, I’m in this business to be creative and not for the fringe benefits, which tends to keep one grounded and focused.
You were always perceived as a “good girl”….perception or reality?
I’m an authentic girl! I was never into any club scene or drugs or alcohol so if that makes me “good” …then reality. But, I’m not a fan of labels and I wouldn’t say that anyone’s journey is “good” or “bad” as long as they are being themselves and not hurting anyone else.
Tell me something that would surprise people about you.
I can hula-hoop for hours on end without dropping it! Seriously. Also, I was once on CSPAN because I went and spoke to Congress on behalf of artists, and represented ASCAP, when professional caliber digital recording machines were first coming out. Much like Taylor Swift protected artist’s rights with her letter to Apple, I was out to make sure that artists got compensated for their work.
I didn’t know that, that’s cool. I would be terrified to speak to congress!
Since love is a constant theme in your songs. I’m curious, what would be your perfect date?
Well, for starters my current boyfriend would have to be there! (Laughs) And, we would go to our favorite burger joint and I would get sweet potato fries and we would leave the rest of the plan open, cause we hate plans!
Speaking of boyfriends, I heart James Franco, do you have celebrity a crush too?
I’m definitely in the James Franco admiration club too! But, back when I was a kid it was Ricky Schroeder from “Silver Spoons”!
Moving on, I read in Billboard you are a Madonna fan. She has been harshly criticized for being too provocative given her age. What are your thoughts on that?
Everyone deserves to be whoever they are at any age with no regard for others’ perceptions. Madonna is living proof that you can rock it in every decade!
What advice would you give to an aspiring pop star?
Keep doing what you love to do, and look to be open to collaborating and learning and training all you can. As your career gets further and further along, technique will come in handy and so will your passion for what you do.
Photo by Troy Smith
So musically, what’s next for Debbie Gibson??
I’m sitting on a bunch of new songs and I’m dying to record and just waiting for the perfect window of time to do that, which is coming soon!
Cool – I’ll be on the lookout. In the meantime, I’m gonna throw it back to one of your classics and “Shake Your Love” – it’s one of my favorites!
Instagram & Twitter: @DebbieGibson
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