By Jeff Walsh
Chad Allen has a lot on his plate.
His latest entries to the Donald Strachey gay detective movies, "On The Other Hand, Death" and "Ice Blues," the third and fourth installments, are being released soon.
"Save Me," the movie he produced with Robert Gant and Judith Light, comes to theaters in September.
And, at present, he's finishing up a successful run of a play with Valerie Harper as Talullah Bankhead. But he's no stranger to theater, recently doing Douglas Carter Beane's "Little Dog Laughed," which required him to get naked onstage.
But what's most surprising is that for how long he's been out and doing good work as an actor, activist, and role model, this is his first interview in Oasis. This oversight is officially corrected.
I first remember Chad from his role on "Our House" in 1986 (yeah, yeah, you weren't born yet, I get it) when he was only 12 (and in the business for seven years at that point). He later went on to a regular role on "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman."
In 1996, when he was 21, photos of him kissing a guy in a hot tub appeared in The Globe tabloid. They were sold to the rag by Allen's then-boyfriend (I'd never heard that tidbit before, but Wikipedia doesn't lie).
He waited until 2001 to officially come out, and has since been very open about his past partying and drug addiction, his spiritual journey, and his new role as: an openly gay activist, an actor doing great work, and and "old fogie" who’s more interested in hanging out at home with his boyfriend and dogs.
I bring up his past both to give context to some of what we talk about in the interview, but mainly because in "Save Me," his character starts as a drug-addicted party boy who cleans up to find love and a better life, which (aside from the ex-gay ministry setting), seems to touch on Allen's own journey, as well.
Chad and I spoke on the phone last week. Here's what we said:
I feel like I just had a Chad Allen film festival. I watched the two new Strachey movies and "Save Me" all in the past week.
Wow! Yeah, that's a lot.
Well, thankfully, it was all quality, or else it'd've been more painful.
(laughs) Well, I'm glad you feel that way. It'll make this part a lot easier.
Less of an interrogation…
"What were you thinking?!"
I'm just amazed this is the first time that we're talking. I've been at the site since 1995, and you've been out for quite a while, too.
I thought I'd covered all my gay bases, but I guess not.
So, let's tackle things in order. "On The Other Hand, Death" is coming out on here! this week…
Yeah, which is movie three of… six I think we have planned right now.
Wow, that's great. But, I have to admit, and I think I wrote this when I reviewed "Shock to the System," I always had sort of a reaction to this genre, like "gay detective? Uh.. Really?!" I didn't quite understand why that would be something to watch… but they sent me the second movie, so I figured I'd check it out. And it is really just fun and well-done, and they have the right balance of humor and everything else going on it that I just find myself enjoying all of them…
I kind of have to admit when they first approached me with the idea, I was a little like, "uhh… gay detective movies… low budget… why do I want to do this?" You know? And then I read the books and they were OK, but then I read the script and I was like, "Oh, we can really do something cool with this," mostly because I thought it would be really fun to bring this particular relationship to life, which is different than the relationship in the book.
In the books, he's in his 40s and it's just a very different relationship. And the one that we made was much more what I wanted to do, which was a much more current kind-of, gay relationship. It's a very honest, monogamous, long-term couple that have their ups and their downs, but they work. They function well together.
And Donald's just this kind of… guy, you know? He loves what he does… he may not be the best at what he does, but he gets by and he loves it. And he's effective and he's helpful. And he's got a self-effacing kind of humor and Timothy, his partner, picks up where Donald's character drops off. I always say I don't think Donald could get through his life without Timothy picking up the pieces that he tends to drop as he goes along.
Are they as fun to make as they are to watch?
Oh, they're a blast to make. They're really a blast to make. That's the main thing to me. We make them relatively quickly, but Ron Oliver, the director, and I have seen this the same way from the get-go. We love the old noir stuff and all of the sort-of tip your hat things that we do to that just make Ron and I like giddy school kids. We love it, and we have a good time, and we pick the people we want to work with, and we enjoy it. I think it shows.