The year was 1999; The end of an era where pioneering Queer filmmakers told our stories without apologizing for it.
That’s one part of the latter 90’s I remember vividly. It was the first time that I can remember films finding their way into mainstream consciousnesses that focused on the lives and amplified the visibility of LGBT characters, putting them front and center. It was an era of burgeoning new voices and quality content that reflected our experiences with an authenticity you’re hard-pressed to find even today. In the decades that followed, there was a significant lull in prominent feature films that resisted stereotypical rhetoric or sensationalized caricatures of queer people for either comedic or shock value. LGBT Hollywood seemed to suffer a squelching, replaced mostly by straight filmmakers trying to re-manifest the magic of the 90’s by aiming for an Oscar instead of speaking to an audience using the medium of film.
I was in my late teens when the wave of high profile indie queer films rose to the awareness of every LGBT kid living in small town America. We had Todd Stephen’s “Edge of Seventeen,” Greg Berlanti’s “The Broken Hearts Club,” Lisa Cholodenko’s beautiful lesbian drama, “High Art,” the celluloid masterpiece from the UK, “Beautiful Thing,” the festival sensation “But, I’m a Cheerleader,” and the brilliant noir drama from the Wachowski Sisters, “Bound” starring the incomparable Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon. We also had Guinevere Turner’s “Go Fish” and Tony Vitale’s “Kiss Me, Guido.”
These films were my window into the world beyond the boundaries of your typical heterosexual suburbia where I was watching people just like me. They weren’t angst ridden characters composed solely of obligatory self hatred or stories that ultimately resulted in their untimely tragic deaths- a territory so many films, like “Philadelphia”, had exhausted. These people were happy; that simple fact made a tremendous difference in my own life during those vulnerable, formative years. We could find love, success, develop healthy friendships and relationships, explore our identities without it being ultimately catastrophic.
“Trick,” a comedy written by Jason Shafer and directed by Jim Fall (Who also directed “The Lizzy McGuire”) hit theaters and consequentially broke new ground. Starring the impossibly charming Christian Campbell (Gabriel) and the delectable JP Pitoc (Mark) the film centralizes itself on two young New York City men who simply want to engage in a casual hook up but encounter every obstacle imaginable. The result of the pursuit of a quick sexual encounter gone awry leads them to develop a far more intimate relationship and mutual respect, learning more about each other than they intended to at the onset. It was a sweet, unassuming love story, pre-grindr or scruff or tinder, that resonated.
Beyond that, it was an absolutely hilarious, campy film that introduced us to unforgettable characters and perpetually meme-able moments before memes existed. The film co-starred Tori Spelling (Of “Beverly Hills 90210” fame.) and exploited her natural- dare I say genius comedic abilities that made her performance stand out as more than just the daffy best friend- but the best friend we all wanted. That, coupled with unforgettable cameos by drag legend CoCo Peru, the hilarious Steve Hayes, the formidable writing and incredible direction of Jim Fall- who, by the way, most recently directed the hit comedy play Damaged Furniture– “Trick” earned its place as one of the most memorable films in the history of queer cinema.
20 years later, it’s returning with most of the original cast in tact to give us the next chapter in the lives of the characters we came to know and love. The landscape has changed a lot since the late 90’s and dating itself has shifted considerably with the development of social media and right swiping at the speed of light. It will be fascinating to see how the creators behind such a relevant film representative of a time not so long ago have evolved their protagonists and adapted them to the future as we know it, but few could foresee.
Trick 2 is also the only film from that pink era of cinema to revisit a story framed in an entirely new period, similarly to the Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy trilogy of Richard Linklatter directed films “Before Sunrise,” (1995) “Before Sunset” (2004) and “Before Midnight” (2013).
“Trick 2″ is set to debut in 2019, and like many, I’m eagerly awaiting its arrival.
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