Is he Adam or Steve?
Craig Chester’s plate is full. His cup runneth over. But he doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The forty-one year old is currently starring in the gay comedy "Adam & Steve," as Adam. But Chester also wrote the film and directed it – and dances in it. Line dancing, mind you. Not the stereotypical bouncing around on a gay club dance floor ‘dancing,’ with your shirt off, showcasing your perfectly oiled biceps and eight-pack.
"Adam & Steve" was completed in twenty-two days. "It couldn’t have been done without a lot of under-eye concealer," chuckles Chester. "While everyone else went home for the night, I was editing and rewriting and setting up shots for the next day. I was lucky to get four hours of sleep during the three weeks we shot the film."
Not since "Trick" has there been a theatrical gay comedy with such star power.
"Adam & Steve" posts Chester’s best friend, in the movie and in real life, Parker Posey, as well as Tony Award nominee Malcolm Gets, as his boyfriend Steve, and Chris Kattan as a friend. That’s not all. Academy Award nominee for Best Actress, Sally Kirkland also stars, as does two-time Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, Melinda Dillon and Julie Hagerty, Razzie Award nominee for "Freddie Got Fingered," yet best known for "Airplane."
"I am very lucky to have such a great cast," says Chester. I spoke to him the day his film was released in Los Angeles. He was planning to attend two showings of his film that day. "I am going over to Pasadena this afternoon," he says, "to give it some support and to gauge the audience reaction. And later tonight, I will be going to the Sunset theater with Sally [Kirkland] to sit in the back and get a feel for what the West Hollywood crowd thinks of the movie."
The movie has been out for more than a week, now, and from all indications, it’s a hit.
Chester, who was born in California, raised in Texas, moved to NYC and now divides his time between both coasts, plays Adam, a Jewish goth boy, as the film begins in 1987, at a gay club in NYC. He meets Steve, a dancer at the club, replete with REO Speedwagon hair. The two go home that night, but something goes horribly wrong. Steve has done a few too many lines of coke that have been laced with baby laxative. And the movie spares the audience nothing in the way of imagination.
"I had to do that scene that way," laughs Chester. "I had heard a story in high school, of someone shitting themselves, uncontrollably, while having sex and thought, can there be any more embarrassing experience during a first time?" Apparently not. And, for the record, I asked Chester if he was lying about the ‘high school’ story and if the scene was not based on an experience more closely related to him. "It wasn’t," he says, nonchalantly, which leads me to believe he is telling the truth. "Aspects of the movie are autobiographical. When I sat with Malcolm, before I wrote the film, we talked about experiences we each had with boyfriends growing up and some of the real life events are incorporated into the movie. And Parker Posey. She always wanted to play a comedian in a movie who was the only one who laughed at her jokes. So I wrote that role specifically for her."
The traumatic sexual experience between "Adam & Steve" in 1987, at the beginning of the film, sends Steve packing, before they can consummate their relationship.
Flash forward fifteen years. The two randomly meet – I won’t give that surprise scene away. Steve is no longer a dancer, rather, a psychologist and Adam is, well, no longer goth. So, neither Adam nor Steve, after fifteen years on the loose, having each slept with how many men, know who the other is.
Chester, who plays Jewish in the movie, is not of Jewish decent. "I am pure white-trash. I have Tater-Tots in my freezer, right now," he laughs. "I was raised a Born-Again Christian. But I thought the best way to do this movie would be two characters who couldn’t be more opposite than the other. I am the dark haired one and Malcolm’s Steve is the hot blonde. It just so happens that Steve’s parents, in the movie, resemble mine more than his, in real life." You’ll just have to see the movie to find out what that means. But the two sets of parents in the movie, almost steal the movie.
Chester’s parents, at the moment, have moved on from the Born-Again religion and are two of the film’s biggest supporters. "They just love it," laughs Chester. "And it just so happens, my only sibling, my sister, is a lesbian. When you have two kids who turn out gay, as my parents did, you have to make a choice. Religion or family. Or put religion into perspective, at the very least."
Currently, Chester is writing a comedy with Chris Kattan about straight men who are cross-dressers. "It’s more common than you would think," reveals Chester.
"Adam & Steve" is slowly making its way across the nation. So be patient if it’s not yet in your town’s art house theater. "It’s a word of mouth movie, and we’re moving the film out slowly," Chester points out. "Bigger cities, cities with a larger gay population, first. By the end of May it should be in most major markets."
A little box office trivia. In its second weekend of release, "Adam & Steve" only dropped 2.1% at the box office, while on the same number of screens as its opening weekend. Compare that to the drop of 50% for "Ice Age 2" in its second weekend and the precipitous drop of 70% for "Basic Instinct 2" in its second weekend.