On Thursday Morgan and I ate dinner with two screenwriter friends of mine at Kitchen 24, a trendy but warm diner on Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of gay West Hollywood.
“Cohen” is short, muscular Jewish guy with an infectious smile. And “Drake” is a handsome, trendy black man in his early 40s with skin the color of cinnamon. They are close friends and met each other soon after migrating to Los Angeles from other parts of the country. They sometimes collaborate on writing projects
“Did you guys see the cover of Star Magazine with Will Smith and Duane Martin,” I asked. “I brought it at the airport in D.C. to read on the plane. Isn’t that old news?”
“Yeah, everybody has known Will Smith is gay for awhile,” Drake said. “The funny thing is that his wife Jada Pinkett is supposed to be playing around with women so what’s the big deal.”
Will Smith is a millionaire many times over, has climbed to the top of the Hollywood heap, and is a respected actor. He is also in his early 40s so probably won’t be able to play the action hero much longer. So I asked Drake and Cohen what was the big deal about him coming out now if he wanted to and just living his life.
“Immanuel, nobody in Hollywood is gay,” Cohen said. And he and Drake gave each other a knowing look across the table and burst out laughing.
I glanced out the restaurant window at all the gay men strolling down Santa Monica Boulevard, past clubs where muscled and twinky go-go boys openly danced on top of the bar at RAGE or swung from poles at the Abbey. It was not unusual to see men holding hands in broad daylight, something that was very rare back home in Washington, D.C.
“You guys have got to be kidding,” I said. “Los Angeles has a lot of gay folks.”
But Cohen and Drake explained that although many actors are gay or lesbian they play the straight part so they can continue to get jobs and sell movie tickets in the Midwest and other parts of America that are not as open and accepting of gay people as Los Angeles, Hollywood or New York.
Because ultimately an actor’s success in Hollywood largely depends on whether you can bring in bucks. The U.S. movie industry is expected to generate $9.99 billion in revenue from ticket sales alone in 2012, down slightly from $10.2 billion in 2011, according to The Numbers, a Nash Services LLC Web site that follows the entertainment industry.
The “I’m Not Gay Rule” does not apply to writers, camera men, sound guys, makeup artists, stylists and other professions that support the celluloid industry. They can be as flamboyant as they want because they are behind the camera.
Cohen and Drake rattled off a brief list of actors who are gay. The list included the usual suspects such as Tom Cruise but also a recently divorced, grandfatherly black male actor with a melodious voice who has appeared in a slew of hits since the 1980s.
“I have a buddy who is a male escort and this actor is a regular customer,” Cohen said. Later on that evening I Googled this actor’s name plus the word “gay” and sure enough there was gossip on him. It seemed he really liked getting his dick sucked by hot younger men.
Morgan used to live in Oakland in the 80s and he would come down to play in Los Angeles from time to time. Morgan is usually pretty discreet but even he has told me about actors who either hit on him or he had sex with back in the day.
When we got back to our hotel room we turned on the TV set and an episode of the old cop show “T.J. Hooker” was playing.
Morgan glanced at the screen and told me to look at a slender, dark haired actor who was regular on the show.
“You know I fucked him,” Morgan said. “He really liked black dick.”
I had to smile at his confession. Morgan has a rule about kissing and telling about sexual encounters. He thinks it’s tacky and faggoty in a bad way. That’s the opposite of me. Shit I blogged about the stuff I did.
“Wow, how was the sex?”
“Oh, it was just okay.”
And we flipped the channel and watched something else.