HBO's Looking Premiere at the Castro Theater
Amid all the drag queens, well spectacled, upper-middle class gay couples, and "Roll Out The Barrel" style organ works, and the scent of buttered popcorn at the Castro Theater -- here's what I noticed at the HBO Looking premiere: Two gigantic twin brothers to the left of the stage who were bodyguards. Who were they protecting? The cast, ostensibly, though basically no one on this show is a big enough star yet to garner rabid fan attacks.
The dudes were swarthy Italian types, with eyebrows like bushy inverted Vs slapped on their chubby faces in some sort of sinister afterthought. They scanned the crowd like concerned robots, the same sort of thing we've all seen with Secret Service types. Occasionally they would adjust their earpieces, which was a perfect touch, natch.
"I'm obsessed with those guys," I said to my friend Chad. He giggled. He was too busy watching the Q&A with the cast. The audience was asking some great questions, like, "Will there be full frontal male nudity on the show?" and, "Why are you making Oakland look like such a shithole?" (To paraphrase.) The reaction of the crowd to the show wasn't exactly a standing ovation, but it was well received, for San Francisco. We don't care about celebrities here, it's really weird when you think about it, considering how cosmopolitan our city is. The creator of the show, Michael Lannon, told me that filming here was divine because there were no looky-loos, unlike L.A.
Chad told me that he had never seen his experience as a young gay guy portrayed on a TV show before, and that it was groundbreaking.
"Really?" I said. "What about that one Showtime show?" I asked, unable to remember the name of "Queer as Folk." Chad didn't know what I was talking about anyway.
"Nope," he said, "this is the first one."
HBO The fourth castmember, MUNI
An audience member had made the point that Looking does do something very different, and that is that all the sex scenes are used as plot points to move the narrative along, not as gratuitous eye candy.
After the screening we went to The Cafe for the afterparty. When I learned that HBO sets up its people at The Clift when they are in town, I knew this wasn't going to be catered by Chipotle. I was right. Full bar with free drinks, wandering trays of awesome sushi, dim sum, and grilled-cheese thingies, and then there they were: Mongo and Bongo, the Wonder Twins of Security.
The brothers were flanking some of the cast members, still focusing their Manchurian Candidate gaze on the crowd, still adjusting their earpieces. "White Horse" was playing. Limos were lined up outside. Weren't events like this supposed to feel a bit more, erm, "supernatural?" The head of HBO programming was there. Do you know how many people would love to have five minutes with that guy to pitch a script? But it just felt like another San Francisco bar night. We are fabulous, but not that fabulous.
Frankly, harlot, we don't give a damn.
UPDATE: For those looking for a review of the show, we'll be reviewing the entire first season -- check back for the first review this Monday!