Thursday, June 18, 2009

Conkel: Blogging Bloodworks

Joshua Conkel:

The idea for my play, I Wanna Destroy You, came from my December brunch piece, although they couldn’t be more different. The brunch piece, A Super Shiny Precious Thing, is a quiet (for me, anyway) and sweet ten-minute play about a desperately poor gay couple in Brooklyn who suddenly realize they want to get married.

The only commonality it shares with I Wanna Destroy You is that it’s also about a poor Brooklyn gay couple, albeit in a very different way. I’ve been going to a lot of gay rights protests this year and am, in all actuality, one half of a broke-as-a-joke Brooklyn gay couple, so questions of gay identity within straight society are on the front burner of my thoughts.

Specifically, I’m interested in the gay man as best friend, confidante, and catty fashion expert in our popular culture. It’s a fairly new clichĂ© (we used to be perverts and psychopaths!) and while I’m glad for the positive rebranding, I can’t help thinking it’s one that’s actually damaging. Gay men have become like the adorable woodland creatures that helped Cinderella get dressed for the ball. Cute, but irrelevant. Also, in what ways do I as a gay man play into this stereotype, purposely even, to gain access into stuff I might not otherwise?

Think of Anthony, Charlotte York’s wedding planner and “friend” from Sex and the City, for example. He was certainly funny, and always at hand to answer a question about blow jobs, but was suspiciously missing during all of the key moments of his gal pal’s life. So was Stanford, Carrie’s “gay husband”.

To steal the vapid first line of every column Carrie ever wrote: In a city like New York, I had to wonder… To which I follow with; are gay men only acceptable if they’re planning your wedding, cutting your hair, or rearranging straight people’s furniture? And how much of our culture can mainstream culture steal without actually giving us equality? I mean, is it ironic to anybody else that our first black President is ignoring civil rights whilst his wife stands next to him wearing a gown by Jason Wu?

Anyway, I digress…

Beau, the protagonist in I Wanna Destroy You, is for all intents and purposes, the perfect gay man. He’s cute, funny, a snappy dresser, and the personal assistant to a famous romance novelist. Except that he’s getting older. Except that he’s broke, but still expected to wear designer clothes. Except that the woman he works for treats him like a yorkie or a hand bag. Except that his boyfriend burnt his face off whilst trying to deep fry a turkey on Thanksgiving and now wants to move back to Kentucky. I Wanna Destroy You is an examination of gay men and materialism, identity politics. In short, it’s about a gay man who turns thirty, freaks the fuck out about his life, and decides to destroy it.

Thanks for nothing, Carrie!

Joshua's Bloodworks reading of I Wanna Destroy You happens next Wednesday (6/24). 7 pm. @Seaport. Check back next week for the details!

No comments: