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Short Takes on Gay Days

Boys Life 2
Out of the Locker: In Peggy Rajski's "Trevor," Brett Barsky stars as a young school boy hooked on Diana Ross.

Four directors offer visions of modern gay life

By Richard von Busack

TO BE YOUNG, gay and worship Diana Ross is the ideal state of Peggy Rajski's "Trevor," the final and best offering in Boys Life 2, a quartet of short films about gay life. Thirteen-year-old Trevor (pint-sized Brett Barsky, who looks like Kurt Russell in his juvenile days) is showing proclivities at an early age: frequent study of the theme from Mahogany, addiction to the TV show Fame and a crush on a fellow student named Pinky.

If Trevor has to kill himself for being different (he plans various scenarios, a la Harold and Maude), his last request is that they play "Endless Love" at his funeral. Raj-ski handles the urge to teen suicide in a light and deft way. It sounds like terrible taste, I realize, but the film is set in 1981--the boy at least knows that there are gay people out there and that if things get too bad, he can escape to San Francisco. Steven Tobolowsky has a hilarious cameo as a priest who fails to console Trevor, and the film ends happily--two tickets to the Diana Ross concert!

Mark Christopher's "Alkali, Iowa" is a tricky, mysterious piece set in the rural Midwest. It concerns the disappearance of a young man's father and the discovery of certain gay relics: a buried rusted lunch pail full of rotting muscle-men mags from the 1950s, and a photo with the single word "Jacko" written on the back.

In "Nunzio's Second Cousin," Vincent D'Onofrio stars as a gay plainclothes cop named Tony Randozza who exacts an interesting vengeance on a queer-bashing youth--he takes him to dinner to meet his mother (Eileen Brennan). D'Onofrio, impassive and tough-talking, unreadable in lots of medium shots, is the profane thug he was in Feeling Minnesota.

This short has a fine punch line in which it is suggested that no fag-basher can ever beat up a gay man as badly as that gay man beats himself up. The problem comes in the opening sequences. Director Tom DeCerchio (Celtic Pride) sets up Randozza as being better adjusted to his sexuality than we might think when we see him later. A fine premise ungrounded turns into mere melodrama.

"Must Be the Music" by Nickolas Perry is so insubstantial as to make fluff itself seem profound. A trio of gay youths and one straight boy go to a disco. The brash, handsome one thinks he's going to score, but it's our hero, the shy narrator Jason (Milo Ventimiglia), who ends up lucking out. The end.

The short is notable chiefly for its big budget. Perry seems to have rounded up hundreds of extras. If "Must Be the Music" is to be believed, being a gay teen in L.A. is like being anybody else: You have lots of friends, you go to nightclubs and you talk in that annoying grab-assy frat-boy banter that makes youth movies such a chore for people over 25 to watch.

As empty as "Must Be the Music" is, it's more evidence that in our future--as has been true in so many other world civilizations--sexuality will be less important than social caste.


Boys Life 2 (Unrated; 74 min.), films by Nickolas Perry, Tom DeCerchio, Mark Christopher and Peggy Rajski.

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From the March 6-12, 1997 issue of Metro

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