In our exclusive interview, Del Shores, of “Sordid Lives” and “Queer as Folk” fame, tells guest author Jeremy Stubbs he’s endorsing President Obama: “I’ve got his back.”
Del Shores is a busy man. His latest movie, “Blues for Willadean,” has been screening in L.A. and takes on the serious subject of spousal abuse and violence while still providing some of his well known southern comedy. It stars the always engaging Beth Grant, Dale Dickey of “True Blood,” and Octavia Spencer in the first movie following her Academy Award winning performance in “The Help.”
I could feel over the phone his excitement about the screening as he spoke with me about the recent attempts in Texas to block his famous play “Sordid Lives” from going into production. Despite a warm welcome from fans — since 1987 — of his plays, movies, and his production of such shows as “Queer as Folk,” Shores’ work still gets met with strong resistance in places like the Deep South. Has it ever stopped the refreshingly outspoken Del Shores? Not for one second.
“You know what I think?,” he says as we jump right into what felt like a conversation you might have with a neighbor or friend. “That play is about love and acceptance. These people have just refused to enlighten themselves over the years, hiding behind a few scriptures to feel their own hatred. They try to call it offensive or complain because it has the f-word or whatever, but what they are doing is hiding behind their own homophobia.”
“I would like all those people that tried to block the show to come out to the Wimberley Players for the preview so we can have a civil conversation about censorship,” Shores continued. “I’d especially like to talk to the ones that made all those comments and have never even read the play,” he tells me in his message to the very vocal minority who threatened to pull funding from the Wimberly Players playhouse. “If they won’t do that, and they to come out to picket, then bring a camera. I am the son of a Southern Baptist preacher and I will go toe-to-toe with them on scripture. There are gay people in anti-gay states like Texas and North Carolina, where they voted hate into their constitution, that need to know that there are others fighting on their behalf.”
Mr. Shores is also scheduled to appear at nearby Texas State University to speak with playwriting students, LGBT groups on campus, and perform sections of his one man shows on November 8. The show will be followed by a meet and greet and will be hosted by the university’s Honors College, where an LGBT studies program has just begun earlier this year.
Del Shores’ work often includes such subjects as religion, family, and LGBT issues. It all pours onto the page at once after the characters have brewed in his mind like he mentions they are now for his next play, already titled, “This Side of Crazy.”
“I always tell people I’m just this side of crazy,” he jokes. “I just don’t tell them which side I’m on.”
Del Shores is a native of Texas, a well-known Republican stronghold in the upcoming election, and he will be in the state on election night. “I feel good about it,” he tells me. “I was talking to a relative lately who said Obama hasn’t been able to get us out of this debt and fix our problems. There’s something lost when it comes to these people’s expectations. It’s going to take longer, and in my opinion there is one big elephant in the room that hasn’t gone away. His name is George W. Bush.”
“I do get political in Naked. Sordid. Reality, also,” he continues. “I talk about Newt Gingrich and Victoria Jackson. The audiences have really been responding to her and the part about Kirk Cameron. They are some of the biggest hypocrites and haters towards the gay community.”
In addition to politics, Shores’ most recent show discusses his divorce, being single again, and his real Aunt Sissy, who is a favorite of his characters among his fans. Sharing how he is looking forward to performing at Texas State University he tells me, “I love playing the South. It’s like group therapy. I start off with one twisted story that no one has been able to top yet. It really is my hope audiences will walk away laughing and forgetting about everything else for a while. If they also walk away thinking just a little bit, then that’s an added bonus.”
Before hanging up we shared the last of many laughs throughout our conversation. It was a bit of laughter through tears after we both got choked up when he allowed me to share with him a cherished memory, from a summer in Alabama at age fourteen, of watching his first movie with my late grandmother. It was the same kind of heartfelt moment we see often in his shows and movies. It indicated to me that when we watch his work we are truly seeing his heart, his humanity, and that he is very much enjoying his true to life characters right along with us.
“Blues for Willadean” premieres at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, CA this weekend.
Images of Del Shores by Bryan Putnam (top) and Alan Mercer (center).
Guest author Jeremy Stubbs credits his parents for his twisted sense of humor. He currently lives just outside of Austin, Texas with his wonderful partner and their pesky cat. When he’s not working to pay the bills he is photographing and writing about the world around him.
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