Online auctioneering company eBay has yanked a listing for a gay film’s soundtrack from its mainstream sales section.
“It’s just crazy,” says Tim Sullivan, director of I Was a Teenage Werebear, a short, gay-themed musical spoof contained in the B-movie anthology feature Chillerama. “We sell it in Walmart, Target, Best Buy, but not eBay. It’s just pop songs like you hear in Hairspray or Rocky Horror.”
The film tells the tale of closeted high school kid Ricky (Sean Paul Lockhart, aka gay pornstar Brent Corrigan) who, when aroused, turns into a werebear. According to Sullivan – whose past work includes 2001 Maniacs and Detroit Rock City – Werebear is “pure mainstream entertainment” but has at its heart an anti-hate, anti-bigotry message. “And here I find myself in a fight with eBay over those same issues.”
The soundtrack, which was released on Valentine’s Day, features original songs (co-written by Sullivan) of an innocent, albeit cheeky, High School Musical ilk. Even Bobby Vinton’s “Where Were You When I Was 17?” is included.
But when Sullivan listed the soundtrack on eBay, the ad was yanked a day later and all sales were cancelled. When he called eBay to find out why, Sullivan says that he was told the listing was “miscategorized.”
The person he spoke to suggested he list the soundtrack in its “Adults Only” section, with the pornography. EBay did not immediately return phone calls for comment. But according to eBay’s listing policy, it will ban or relegate all material to its adults-only section that is deemed sexually oriented or that contains “nudity or adult material.”
“It’s not pornography,” says Sullivan. “It’s got music with gay themes. So then is Glee not allowed on eBay now?”
According to Sullivan, eBay’s problem appears to stem not from the soundtrack itself but from a promotional photo that accompanied the CD ad. It features a scene from the movie in which Werebear sports only red briefs.
Sullivan says that, following a failed appeal, he received a note from someone in eBay’s safety and trust department. The writer, who identified himself only as Steven, explained that the Lockhart photo featured “engorged male genitalia” and thus violated eBay’s listing policy.
“It’s not engorged,” Sullivan laughs. “And what you see is no different than what Burt Ward wore in Batman, or [swimmer] Michael Phelps in a Speedo.”
Sullivan believes strongly that the removal is related to the gay content of the production, which was emphasized in his listing. He says the same photo had already appeared on the cover of a magazine sold on eBay without incident.
As well, there have been no issues with Werebear when it’s listed under the Chillerama film name. The same offending photo appears in an eBay listing for the Chillerama DVD, albeit with the crotch area cropped and under the notation “gay-interest.”
Because the listing was rejected twice, eBay will not list the soundtrack ad even without the offending photo. But it’s no matter to Sullivan – he’s through dealing with eBay.
As for I Was a Teenage Werebear, the short film has taken on a life of its own. It is currently being expanded and remounted as a stage musical, set to premiere this September in Los Angeles. Lockhart is scheduled to reprise his screen role.
“Werebear continues to find an audience,” Sullivan says. “None of us got rich on this project. We did it because we love these movies.”