Bash Compactor: From the Ashes of Typecasting, Fag Hag Debra Messing Rises Again

Written by Evan Mulvihill on . Posted in Bash Compactor, Posts.


Yes, I know: “fag hag” isn’t exactly the most delicate way
to talk about a lady who loves her gays. How else to say it? I like “friend of
a friend of Dorothy”—rest in peace, Judy—but not fruit fly, which evokes an
extra bitch who tags along with gay men who secretly want to see her put into a
Saw mansion. There’s also rice queen,
for Asian fag hags, but that begs confusion with the gay men smitten with
yellow fever.

In any case, theater-’mo-in-a-woman’s-body Debra Messing, of Will & Grace fame, is coming back to your television next
February for a show called Smash and,
never one to be typecast, is playing a virulently anti-gay female motorcyclist
who goes around town “smashing” sodomites with a bloodied rainbow flag.
Kidding. She’s playing a Grace type again.

D-Mess hit the red carpet this Sunday for the kick-off gala
of the New York Musical Theater Festival, which NYMF publicists used to create
“the first public outing of the cast of Smash!”
In the show, Messing plays Julia Houston, a struggling lyricist trying to make
it big on Broadway. Her writing partner, composer Tom Levitt, is apparently a
homo played by guy-who-divorced-Sutton-Foster Christian Borle.

At the step-and-repeat, Debbie Dancepants made a point of
pretending to be Chrissy’s BFF, so much so that other reporters and I were
wondering what the fuck was going on. I quickly Wiki’d Mess Mess and saw that
she had been married for over 10 years to some dude named Daniel Zelman who she
met on her first day of graduate school at NYEw, which threw me into
gossip-reporter mode: a scoop! Debra Messing is cheating!

Then I looked up Smash
and saw that various gay blogs had picked up on the fact that Messing’s
male co-star was to play gay. “Who Will Play Debra Messing’s Next Will?”
pondered an After Elton writer. (I imagine he wrote this post in his diary
while lounging in a canopy bed, pink pen with a feather on its end poised on
his pursed lips.)

On the carpet, Messing was aggressively in character.
“Should we make out?” down-with-the-gays Deb joked as she held Chrissy close
for a dramatic, hand-on-his-chest pose. She and Borle did interviews with TV
stations together, Borle’s hand clasped firmly around her waist—which prompted
me to wonder where her wedding ring was. To me, their charade came off more
newly minted boyfriend-girlfriend than “Hay Gurl, whatchudoin”.

Before I could stuff my voice recorder into their faces and
ask why they were being so narwhal-unicorn, the two twirled away at the
fumbling publicist’s request. Good thing they got seated for dinner early,
because the presentation didn’t start until over an hour later.

For what it’s worth, the show is going to be much more than
just a thespian wet dream. A friend of mine who’s seen a screener took umbrage
at my myopic G-Chatus (“Debra Messing is playing a fag hag… again.”) and
typed at me, unprompted: “It’s a great show, fag hag or not.”

That surprised me, since “Smash” doesn’t have much Hollywood
brass backing it. It germinated when a little known director named Steven Spielberg asked has-been
producing team Craig Zadan and Neil Meron—who, not so coincidentally,
were honored at this NYMF gala—to make a TV show about the backstage,
behind-the-scenes goings-on of a Broadway play.

An odd choice for Spielberg, since Zadan and Meron have only
produced two Broadway features—both disastrous flops. I mean, who saw Chicago or Hairspray?
Straight women? Gay men? Metrosexuals? Pretty small target audience there.

How did the obscure Spielberg reach out to them? “A phone
call,” Meron told me. “I think it’s based upon the work we’ve done, in terms of
television and feature films,” added Zadan. “And when he wanted to do something
that had the DNA of Broadway musicals for TV, we were very very
pleased to have gotten that phone call.”

I did want to stay for the gala’s big celebrity appearances
on stage—a Katharine McPhee song and
the presentation of the award to Zadan and Meron by Harry Potter (stage name: Daniel Radcliffe)—but after being strung
along about snagging a seat by the gala’s PR team—I was very, very pleased to
get on the train back to Brooklyn Heights.

– Evan Mulvihill’s Bash Compactor runs as a monthly column in Our Town Downtown...

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