Don't Pick At It

It's not enough that filmmaker Thomas Jason Davis' new movie is called Scab, or that it's a gay vampire flick about promiscuous sissies who want to suck another guy's, um, blood. The real kicker is that the subtitle for the film, which makes its local debut this week at the Out Far! Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, is "Fangs and Loathing in Las Vegas." And the movie's tag line is "Vampires, Lube and Loathing."

That's okay. Davis' film has gotten a lot of local buzz, thanks to its appearance on the indie festival circuit. He'll be at Out Far! to discuss and promote the film, and in the meantime he's eager to set the record straight, so to speak, about the upside of being a gay vampire.

Robrt L. Pela: Your movie is called Scab.

Thomas Jason Davis: It is. It started out as Breeding a Scab, a phrase that means, like, breeding discontent or causing trouble. I actually had this title before I wrote the movie itself.

Pela: And you've made vampirism into sort of a rite of passage, like a biological change. Like puberty!

Davis: Yeah, and especially for the character Teague, who's sort of a doormat when the movie starts out. Vampirism gives him balls, and it lets him stand up to Ajay, who he's in love with but who treats him badly. I was trying to say that vampirism isn't inherently bad or evil, that vampires are like humans who make bad choices. Vampirism could be a good thing for people who need some guts.

Pela: Is that a pun?

Davis: What? No. If you break it down, [being a vampire] kind of evens out: There's the bad thing about having to take the life of another living thing to stay alive, but the upside is you get eternal life. It's a gift.

Pela: You can't talk about gay movies today without mentioning Brokeback Mountain. But if I read one more interview with the stars about how hard it was to play a homo, I'm going to throw myself into traffic.

Davis: I know! You never read about some actor who anguished over having to play a serial killer or a rapist. But now it's, "Oh, God, it was so difficult to pretend to be in love with someone who had beard stubble." And I'm also sick of gay people making movies about being gay. Especially when they're about how hard it is to be gay. It's not hard to be gay. That's why I made Scab about these messed-up people who happen to be gay. They're messed up, but not because they're gay. Subtle, huh?

Pela: Very. But homos have been really popular on TV and in films for a while now. Aren't pansies ever going to go out of style?

Davis: I'm more worried that we're going to pass out of being cool and go straight to being passé. What I hope will happen is we'll hit a groove where gay people show up in movies but the fact that they're gay is uninteresting. In the meantime, though, I'm ready for us to not be the hot thing anymore. I'm ready for gay people to be depicted more normally, like black people or Jews.

Pela: Until then, you're busying yourself with another gay supernatural thriller called Scary Mary. That's a lovely name.

Davis: Thanks. It's like Scream but without so many pop references. It's a fun, fast horror movie about some gay college students who are paying for their parents' sins of 20 years ago.

Pela: Are there black people in this movie? Or Jewish people?

Davis: At this point, I'm still putting together funding. So it's not cast yet. But whoever plays the parts, it will be incidental that they're gay. I really mean that.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela