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chapter 2 “I Saw You Naked” “hard” acting in “gay” movies Christopher Bradley (Arizona State University) I was starring in this independent film, Leather Jacket Love Story. It was playing at an art house on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, and I was featured prominently on the poster displayed out front. With no clothes on. You couldn’t see anything, really, but I was naked when we shot the photo. Leather Jacket Love Story was not a pornographic film, but the marketing seemed designed to make it appear that way. At the same time, I was also a cater-waiter. Sweating, carrying four plates of coq au vin at a time to tables full of brittle rich people. This particular night, I was wearing a tuxedo I’d purchased to go to the Cannes Film Festival eight years before, when I was promoting another movie I’d hoped would be my breakthrough. It was a 1930s-style gangster movie called Killer Instinct, my first leading role. The film ended up going straight to video, but I was very proud of my work in it, and the other actors were great. Janusz Kaminski, who would soon win an Academy Award for Schindler’s List, was our cinematographer. But I was performing a far less glamorous duty in the tuxedo tonight . Serving from the right. Clearing from the left. Don’t think. Just get the food out. Don’t make eye contact with the customers. Customers were always trying to make eye contact. They wanted you to break ranks and go get them that cup of coffee right now. Or that salad fork or that dessert spoon or low-fat creamer. Once you’d made eye contact, you had to either make them mad by saying no or make the catering captain mad by breaking ranks and getting it for them. But I accidentally did make eye contact. With this willowy, darkhaired aristocratic twinkie-boy. His eyes went wide when he saw me. He poked a long, creamy finger in my direction and shrieked, “I saw you naked!” I froze. “Didn’t I? That was you, wasn’t it? In that movie! I saw you in that movie! And you were naked! Isn’t that you?” T4989.indb 41 T4989.indb 41 2/27/09 6:57:09 AM 2/27/09 6:57:09 AM 42 christopher bradley Everyone at his table was waiting expectantly for my answer. “Yes,” I said, my jaw a little tight. “Wow. Nice!” He sensed my discomfort. “What’s wrong? Don’t be embarrassed! If I had a cock like that, I’d want to show it off, too!” His tablemates laughed. My face was on fire with anger and humiliation. I wanted to grind the food right into his bony little face. But I didn’t. I thanked him and gently placed his plate in front of him and retreated as quickly as I could. I meant the film to be much more than that. As I walked back to the kitchen, a million thoughts ran through my mind. I thought about the huge risk I’d taken in making that movie— being gay and starring in a gay independent film, something that just wasn’t done at that time. A film with a nude love scene, no less. There were casting directors over the years who had refused to call me in just because they’d heard that I might be gay. If this risk didn’t pay off, things were going to be far worse in that regard. I thought about the cover story interview I’d done for Genre magazine in which I’d spoken openly about being gay, when everyone would have understood (and even supported me) if I’d lied and said I had a girlfriend. How many gay actors have taken that route over the years? I thought about how my agent told me not to do Leather Jacket Love Story because it would ruin my career, and how I’d refused to budge. I thought about my bold plan to be the first gay actor to make it big while telling the truth right from the start, rather than after years of lying. “The first gay actor to make it big telling the truth right from the start?” Where did this plan begin? I was gay bashed in 1989. I couldn’t believe it when it was happening . Halloween in West Hollywood. I was cornered, and I’d...


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