Ask Broadway-star John Lloyd Young what his first onscreen gay kiss was like, and the straight Tony-winner of Jersey Boys might not give you the answer you would expect.
On the set for Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! Young first met his co-star (Queer Eye For the Straight Guy’s “Culture Vulture” Jai Rodriguez) while shooting a love scene three-quarters into the film.
“The chemistry we needed was crucial so far into the film,” says Young, “and we kept re-shooting it. I was convinced we were going to be fired, so I just learned how to play gay — quick.”
“It was, well — uncomfortable really,” adds the out Rodriguez. “This comedy isn’t really about sexuality, and I wanted to be respectful of what John wanted to do or not do with his character, to not feel like he was going up on some dude. In fact there was no kiss originally in the script at all, until John suddenly grabbed me and just did it.”
One might consider Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! as the Jewish companion to Canada’s Mambo Italiano. The film had its world premiere in Montreal on Aug 29, with a wider US commercial release set for this fall. Amidst the comedy chaos created by co-stars Lainie Kazan, Saul Rubinek, Carmen Electra and The Sopranos’ “Big Pussy” Vincent Pastore, Young and Rodriguez play a happy, out couple — until their verklempt parents find out about them.
Upping the ante for coming out comedies with its positive portrayal of gay characters, Oy Vey! explores subjects from gay marriage and adoption to cross-cultural relationships and queer activism. As the prodigal Jewish son, Young took on his own brand of research to prepare for his role.
“Nelson is not a self-loathing character,” Young comments, “but I did call a bunch of my gay Jewish friends for a reality check. I didn’t grow up as much Jewish as Jew-ish, simply because I was surrounded by that culture growing up. Some of that comes out in the dialogue, but the rest is about a guy who is successful, young, and accepts himself — it’s coming out to his parents that he has to get over.”
Inseparable on and off set, Young and Rodriguez had more in common then they imagined. Both AIDS activists (Young a Cystic Fibrosis advocate after losing a parent to the disorder), they voted against the Prop 8 legislation that took down Californian gay marriage.
“John’s super gay-friendly,” says Rodriguez, “and you know, he also looks like Lainie Kazan could have birthed him.”
Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay! premieres in Hollywood and New York on Oct 22. Visit Oyveymysonisgay.com to view the trailer and check back later for information on the film’s Canadian commercial release.