Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 19, Ed. 1 Friday, September 23, 2011 Page: 28 of 48
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Gay-friendly filmmaker Kevin
Smith Phelps-bashes with his
satiric horror film 'Red State'
. k- /
THE HORROR | In 'Red State,' a family of homophobic, kidnapping maniacs get their comeuppance.
Kevin Smith threw fans and critics a curveball with Red State, his horror satire about
three teenagers kidnapped by a murderous Fred Phelps-esque religious fundamentalist
and his virulently homophobic clan (Melissa Leo plays its matriarch). It represents a
major stylistic and genre departure from Smith's largely comic repertoire including
Clerks and Zack and Miri Make a Pomo.
Smith confounded the film industry with Red State's distribution scheme, choosing to
take it on a national roadshow tour (with premium ticket prices); it plays, with Smith
participating in a live online Q&A, at the Texas Theater on Sunday.
The dependable ally of the LGBT community — "I've got a brother who's been mar-
ried to the same dude for 20 years, I work in Hollywood so I'm surrounded by the gay
community and I've always::said I'm one cock in the mouth shy of being gay myself,"
the bearish Smith has noted — executive produced queer-themed documentaries, Small
Tmmi Gay Bar and Bear Natiott, and currently spends time interacting with fans of all sex-
ualities via SModcast.com. ■
— Lawrence Ferber
Dallas Voice: Why such a dark film, Kevin? What was its genesis?
Kevin Smith: It was a bunch of factors. I saw Michael Parks in From Dusk
Till Dawn in 1995 and the dude blew me away. He was onscreen the first
five or ten minutes and he's making choices I've never seen any other
actor make. He's the truth. I said, "My God, I've got to work with that dude
one day." It took me 15 years to figure out what that would be because I
didn't want to get in touch with him and say, "Hey, man, you want to play
Silent Bob's grandfather?"
Cut to years later, my friend Malcolm Ingram makes Small Town Gay Bar.
It's about a gay bar in Mississippi and how tough it
can be in a community where nobody really wants
you there. In the midst of it, Malcolm speaks with Fred
Phelps. Malcolm sat with the beast, had an hour inter-
view with him and sent me the footage, and he came
across as terrifying to me. This dude is a fucking vil-
lain. He looks like a grandpa or uncle and speaks with
all the homespun gee-shucks-isms, and then the content of what he
says ... that's what's bracing. It's all hate, divisive, God-hates-this-and-
that, and very anti-gay. I don't think you have to be gay to be offended
by that sort of thing, to find someone like Phelps and his backwards
fucking family deplorable. And you don't have to be gay to want to do
something about it. I can't stop them from speaking but I can go out
there and do to them what they do to Matthew Shepard's family and
soldiers coming home from Iraq. They essentially stand there holding a
sign and make them feel like shit. So this is my version of standing
there holding a sign and making the Phelpses feel like shit.
Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson
Ave. Sept. 25,6 p.m. $20.
Is there any concern this would inspire the Phelps family to get a
cache of weapons together? Oh God, no! I mean, I don't think those
people are violent in the very least. This movie isn't them. We tee off on
them. It's a satirical take on them. One of their kids told me they pray for
the deaths of others, but they would never do that kind of thing.
You had a pretty great counter-protest at Sundance. I saw that one of
your group's signs said Dick Tastes Yummy. That was fun, watching
people's creativity sparked by these animals. A bunch of kids who go to
high school there in Park City, Utah, heard about the Phelpses coming to
protest us and came out to counter-protest. These kids
were holding up signs like God Hates Homework. One
dude had a sign that said Why Did They Cancel Pushing
Daisies? That one fucking blew my mind. That's how you
shatter a monster's brain: You hold up a mirror. What
they're doing is ridiculous, dude, so when you show up and
counter them with ridiculous shit like Thor Hates Straights
and God Hates Rainy Days and Mondays, you defang them. That's what
Red State is. I can't stop them from saying what they're gonna say, "Be-
lieve" — I can't and don't want to; that's freedom in this country. But if
they're going to make other people's lives miserable, that's what Red
State is. And whenever they talk about the movie you can tell it bugs
them. They stopped digging the fucking attention because we held up a
I read that you actually provided tickets to some members of the
Phelps clan for one of the roadshow's screenings and they walked
out. Yeah, in Kansas City. I'm sitting there watching [the movie with the
audience] and seven minutes in I get tapped on my fucking shoulder. I
turn around and it's Megan Phelps [Fred's 26-year-old granddaughter]
and I'm startled because you never want to see a Phelps that close. And
she goes, "Oh, Kevin, this is filthy... but we just wanted to give you a gift
before we get out of here." At that moment for a brief second I was wait-
ing for the gun to come flashing out like, "The gift is God's mighty bul-
lets!" But they handed me two protest posters. One said God Hates Fag
Enablers — that's what they've called me many times. The other was a
bit more abstract, very fucking strange. They took our title treatment
from the Red State poster and put it on a sign and it said simply, Red
State Fags, and they all signed it, like they were members of a baseball
team or cast in a movie. Megan wrote, "See you in hell... not really be-
cause I'm not going there and you are."
How kind of them! What did you do with it? My wife goes, 'You're throw-
ing that out;" I said, "You're out of your fucking mind! I worked hard for
this, I fought these fucking monsters for a year! This is a trophy, like Bat-
man's giant penny in the Batcave!" She's like, "Well, you can't let the kid
see it." My kid don't know nothing from hate. We live in L.A. and there's a
hell of a lot of liberalism and tolerance out here. There is no difference be-
tween gay and straight, there's no negativity to her. So we unloaded the
bus after we got home from the tour and there it is staring at us in the
face, Red State Fags. My kid stares at this poster and my wife is looking
at me like, "You fucking idiot, I knew something like this would happen."
And our daughter turns to us and goes, "What is this? The sequel?"
Dallas Video Fest gets a little queer
The Dallas Video Festival kicked off Wednesday, but they
saved the gay content for this weekend. Here are some high-
For a complete schedule and more information, visit
Our New Family. Dallas-based documentarians and life part-
ners James Dowell (pictured far left) and John Kolomvakis (pic-
tured near left) have made movies about other gay people (Sleep
in a Nest of Flames about poet Charles Henri Ford, The Stages of
EdwardAlbee about the playwright), but they turn the cameras on
themselves for this memoir of their efforts to become fathers
through surrogacy well past middle-age.
Through archive footage, which shows James and John as
handsome young hippies at the dawn of Stonewall, the film tracks
their family histories, as well as how the conventional mores of
1950s Texas shaped their understandings of family identity. Those
scenes are juxtaposed against their efforts to conceive with a
generous surrogate, who eventually gives birth to twin sons. In-
cluding interviews with local gay luminaries like Dennis Coleman,
Our New Family is part home movie, part social document track-
ing "the love that dare not speak its name" up to same-sex mar-
riage. With the repeal this week of "Don't ask, don't tell," it brings
into relief just how far we have come.
Screens Sept. 24 at noon at theAngelika Film Center Mocking-
Fourplay: San Francisco. Atrans "therapist" visits a dying
heterosexual man, to give him a bi-curious experience before he
passes. This unusual and occasionally sexually explicit short
turns what is basically an escort call into a poignant and oddly ro-
mantic encounter, aided by a lush and soaring musical under-
score and honest performances.
Screens Sept. 24 at 3:45p.m. at Hyena's Comedy Club at
Mockingbird Station with the "Strange Ones" shorts program.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 19, Ed. 1 Friday, September 23, 2011, newspaper, September 23, 2011; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239186/m1/28/: accessed February 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.