Nude maids, blackmail and evil twins…can you cope with this soap???
If you're like me—have lots of gay friends, know the Barbra Streisand canon backwards and forwards, enjoy gay camp—a soap opera with mostly gay characters has been sorely needed for years. Sure, gay characters are starting to inhabit mainstream soap operas, but, my fellow friends, gay life is a soap opera. Director, writer, and producer Alisa Christensen saw the need and attempted to fill it, with Culture Q Connection's West Hollywood Stories. This project is low-budget, filled with unknown actors. Volume 1 contains the first two episodes. As fun as a Bud Lite in Santa Monica, or as bad as an aging drag queen hanging out on the Sunset strip?
Episode 1: Welcome to the Jungle
Tony (Tom Young) is a popular soap actor with a porno past. His friend Sandy (Nicole Balick) lives in the same apartment complex in West Hollywood, CA, as does Jose (Jimmy Prada), the nude housekeeper. As their lives mix and mingle, the characters of West Hollywood start to cause trouble. Trevor (Allan Anderson) can't stand his sister, Ashley (Aura Wright), and his law practices leave something to be desired. Sloane is a bitter, sniping doctor and colleague of Dr. Jerry, the kind doctor who runs a local clinic. Will they all live happily ever after? Why no, silly! Then this wouldn't be a soap opera!
Episode 2: Match Made in Hell?
Sandy and Trevor flirt with marriage. Trevor believes he'll be promoted more quickly if he gets married. Ah, but he's sleeping with Tony! In the meantime, good ol' Juan, he of the reverse-V 'stache and adorable "Lat-eeno" accent, keeps stealing booze and watches from his clients. Ashley gives Dr. Jerry and Sloane $50,000 so their clinic can keep running, and they all celebrate at a casual party at the end, where Dr. Jerry's young nymph of a boy toy, Ernie, rolls his eyes and acts bored. Oh, and Rosie O'Donnell effectively gets outed. I'm hoping this was released in early 2002.
I was really hoping this would be fun, trashy, and outrageous. The cheesy dialogue is here; the decent but simplistic acting is for all to see; the story lines…just aren't that interesting. Some of the plots had me vaguely interested, but not enough. And where's all the bitching? I was promised bitching! The love triangle is half-hearted, there aren't any pregnancy scares (okay they're gay people, but still), and there isn't nearly enough of the silliness the back of the cover promised me. Either that, or my eyes were so glazed over I didn't notice. In other words, boring with a capitol B.
As for picture quality, West Hollywood Stories is filmed on video and the presentation is of course full screen. It's just fine since, after all, this is only a soap opera. The lighting and photography is fine as well; colors, shading, and definition were clear and sharp. This ends up being your basic clean video.
Sound is paltry, as expected. Obviously a mono mix, sound was flat and boring. Music sounded canned and mixed on top of the dialogue as opposed to within it, but I must say, it adds to the whole cheesiness, so I'm really not complaining. I mean, this isn't exactly Lord of the Rings, you know? (Now THAT'S something I'd like to see! Lord of the Rings: The Search for Liza!) Well, one can dream. And to tell you the truth, this is a good addition to any gay cult fan's collection. It might even add up to a fun viewing evening, but don't count on it—especially with a lack of extras (you get nada).
West Hollywood Stories is a footnote in homosexual cinematic history: The first (almost) all-gay soap. Will and Grace without the laughs!
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Studio: Ariztical Entertainment
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