The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Grindr digitized cruising, and Covid terrorized the planet.
This week, Brocka returned to Los Angeles‘ iconic queer film festival to debut his Boy Culture series, a follow up to the 2006 film (which was itself an adaptation of the Matthew Rettenmund novel of the same name) that continues to explore the exploits of X, an anonymous gay escort.
In anticipation of the screening, we kiki’ed with Allan about the new series, this year’s Outfest, and the evolution of sex work in the age of apps.
What motivated you to follow up 2006’s Boy Culture?
Ever since we made the film we thought it would make a good series, mostly because of the book and the way it’s structured. It’s a series of confessions and each confession is its own story. The idea was every episode is centered around a different client X would visit. But, that was back in 2007. The series is very gay and very sexual. It wasn’t a very good combination. People were interested in something gay that had zero sex in it, or very sexy things but not if it had gay people. We pitched it a few places and it didn’t get much of a response.
Then in 2013, the producers said, ‘Well let’s start writing something and see what we can do with it.’ The climate seemed to shift just a bit and there was a little more interest in seeing that aspect of us. So we thought, why don’t we make it on our own so we can show what it looks like. We’ll do 15 min episodes and if nothing we can stream on the web. Now there’s every expectation for you to shoot a pilot on your own before a show gets picked up. It’s been like that for LGBT projects for a while.
You mentioned how culture has changed. Let’s delve into that. What do you feel is the biggest difference between gay culture now versus how it was 15 years ago?
The acceptance and prevalence and a sheer number of voices. There are so many LGBTQ voices now. It’s more evident in television, not so much in big-budget feature films yet. But in television, there are so many LGBT characters that are so well realized. They have sex lives and breakups and romance. They aren’t just sidekicks or the butt of jokes anymore. They have entire shows built around them.
If you could have known something in 2006 that you know now, what would it be?
Shoot it right away, rather than wait. We waited until 2013 to write it. Now it’s 2021. The world has changed. Some of the topics we cover, I felt were ahead of the curve when we wrote them. Now some of these things feel dated.
The whole idea of how the sex work industry has changed. From being word of mouth and posting ads to going online and using apps. When we wrote it early on it was kind of a bigger deal and more interesting. Now I feel like it’s pretty well covered. Everyone knows you would go online.
But not OnlyFans anymore.
[Laughs] I saw that. Great, now that’s dated!
Another big change is Covid. With the rise of the Delta variant, did you feel safe at this year’s Outfest?
So far I really have. They are checking proof of vaccination, everything inside is masked, nothing is filled to capacity. It feels safer, but also not as exciting because it is not filled. It’s certainly more exciting than being told your film is online now and wait for email comments.
As a veteran of Outfest, do you have a favorite screening venue?
The DGA is my absolute favorite. The prestige, and history, and the feeling of being part of Hollywood and accepted in the industry. Its weird to think we were ever outsiders, but my first Outfest was in 1999. I didn’t know what Outfest was going to be. I thought it was going to be in the gym of a high school. Then when I heard it was at the Director’s Guild and went and saw it there, it was an overwhelming sense of community for me in Hollywood.
Will Boy Culture be screening in other festivals this year?
Yea, we’re doing the rounds. We’re in Austin next week, and next month in San Diego.
Do you have a favorite festival?
Oh, I have a lot of favorites, all for different reasons. Outfest is my all-time favorite, I think because of the history I have with it, and how much I owe to it, and the connections I’ve made. The next would be Film Out San Diego because we will be screening in person the entire series (Outfest is only showing the first two episodes). I’m excited about that.