Known as The Zakar Twins, Michael and Zach are the brains behind Pray The Gay Away. After attending film school at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, they found inspiration in their “unique” home life. They studied improv and acting at the IO Theater in Chicago and thank their coach Jeris Livengood Donavan.
Though modeling is what brought them their initial fame, they are pushing barriers as activists in the LGBTQ+ community, often challenging how Arab-American men are perceived. They have appeared in many gay magazines in North America since 2015, including OUT Magazine, Instinct, and the Gay Letter. They pride themselves on telling their unique story in the hopes of normalizing LGBTQ+ P.O.C.
From YouTube to Runway and now the National Off-Broadway tour stages, they are two storytellers with a BIG story to tell! The Twins invite you to chat with them on their mobile app MyTwin Chat!
At what age did each of you come out to yourself? And to your twin?
Michael – I was around the age of 16 when I accidently hooked up with someone and then I felt awful about myself. I hated myself and then slowly starting loving myself.
We have a very funny sex story……I came out to Zach, and a little while later Zach came out to me. When we started talking we realized we hooked up with the same boy. And yes, the boy was a player and knew he was with twins.
Zach – I also came out about 16. I watched some gay adult movies and was very confused. I then realized I was gay.
Your family is Middle Eastern and Christian. How hard was it to tell them and how long did it take them to accept the two of you for who you are?
Michael & Zach – It was very hard to tell our family as the word “gay” in Iran translates to a negative word so they associate the word with “Cancer.” Therefore, as you can imagine it was very hard for us to come out to them. It’s been roughly 10 years and it’s still hard with my mom, but she has come to terms with us being gay. However, she always makes a side comment.
Are you as close as most twins?
Michael & Zach – We are super close, we went to school together, work together. We do everything together, except sex. We are like an old married couple.
What made you write the book Pray The Gay Away?
Zach – we both went to film school and when we both came out our mom threw holy water on us, and I told michael write that on a sticky note for when we do a movie. She kept doing things for us to write on sticky notes and them we realized that it was more of a book then a movie. We wanted to create a positive LGBTQ piece instead of the numerous sad stories we hear every day.
When did entertaining become your career, or was that always?
Michael – half way through college, we dropped out because we found it useless and we found ourselves learning more stuff in the real world. We decided to put the money we were saving into making and pitching the book.
Zach – Michael and I have always really been entertaining. We loved filming and then decided to go to film school. Our end goal was always to make films and star in them. We were lucky enough to have teamed up with NYC playwright Bobby Brower.
Whose idea was it to turn the book into a show and did it translate easily?
Michael – Murray and Peter asked us if we ever thought of doing the book off Broadway. Well we always thought it would be a movie, but we liked the idea and we sat down with some show writers and came up with this show that we are really happy with. It turned into a giant campy show that is very funny.
Are either one of you in a relationship?
Zach and Michael – We both ended our relationships because of the immense amount of traveling we do. Unfortunately having boyfriends right now doesn’t work for us.
Describe your twin in three words?
Michael – keeps me grounded.
Zach – Ying to my yang (yes, I know that’s 4 words).
What does the future hold for you guys?
Michael – Right now we are in the process of writing a 2nd and 3rd book and a couple of scripts we are hoping to pitch to Netflixx. We loving doing this show, but after this show is over we would love to portray other characters that aren’t us.
Why should our readers come to Pray the Gay Away?
Zach – Pray the Gay Away is, in our opinion, the next big gay show that the world hasn’t seen yet. It hits home to lots of people that are coming out. It hits a lot of important topics, and it’s a good night out of theater. It’s a show you will want to come back to, and bring your friends to.
Is there anything else you want to talk about?
Michael & Zach – Yes, we want to thank Bobby Brower for helping us bring our book to the stage. We would also like to thank our music director Eric Swanson. In addition a special thanks to our producers Murray and Peter Present for bringing the play to the world
For more information on the Zakar Twins go to their website: ZakarTwins.com or follow them on social media: @ZakarTwins