“One, two, three, four, five, six, take it down…” This past December 3 marked the 21st anniversary of the day Babylon’s dance floor exploded on TV. It was Showtime’s Queer As Folk, still remembered as a groundbreaking drama back when gay marriage wasn’t legal in the U.S. and when DADT was still in place…remember those days?
With its finale on August 5, 2005, Queer As Folk became more than just an 83-episode show but one that had a huge impact on all viewers exploring critical gay political, health and other LGBT issues.
As we start this column for the girls and as we celebrate love this month, who better than one of my favorite girls who brought one of the QAF’s characters (Melanie Marcus) to life and made it unforgettable. I recently spoke to Michelle Clunie about her memories of Queer As Folk and what’s going in with her now.
This past December 3rd marked the 21st anniversary of QAF‘s release in the US, and it is still the best series ever. I know if has been too long, but what comes to mind when you think back of taping the pilot?
The pilot was so wonderful to film, so much passion and excitement. I was very focused on making certain the love scene between mine and Thea’s character had the feel of a couple that had been together for seven years. We were both aware of that and so we practiced kissing before we began filming. After we shot that initial love scene, the producers came back to us the next day and said it was so intimate that Thea and I really set the bar for intimacy on the show. I was always proud of that.
I understand there is a reboot of QAF taping in New Orleans with a new cast. Were you guys contacted to be a part of it, maybe some guest appearances you can share with us? Would you even want to do it if asked?
Oh I would share but no, we have not been contacted.
I have seen different cast reunions and it is hard not to get emotional and still see that chemistry, specially between you and Thea…it is like seeing old friends. Is Melanie that one character that will be remain a big highlight in your career?
I could win an Oscar and Melanie Marcus would always be front and center in my heart and soul. She was such a big piece of me that I was never able to express in other characters. She was the first, fully out, never in the closet, series regular lesbian character in the history of television. She gave zero fucks and to find that kind of character written for a woman is rare, at least it was rare then. That said, when she did care- it was heartbreaking. So she had that beautiful duality and contradiction which I love.
Throughout these 20+ years you still remain a supporter/activist of LGBT rights. How have you seen us change or grow over the years as a community?
I think the biggest change I have seen in the LGBTQ community over the last couple decades is the inclusion of transgender rights. In the very beginning when I first became involved in activism I was always questioning why the T in LGBTQ was never included in the conversation around fighting for rights. I would get upset with very big organizations. I was always in shock that no one acknowledged leaving members of the community out of the national dialogue. I also see representation becoming more diverse, finally. I also see this new generation with fewer hang ups around sexuality and a more fluid approach which is beautiful .
After QAF your career was very active and maybe some readers don’t know that you became a mom in 2015, and since you have being playing your best role. How did your son change your life, both personal and professional?
Having Dashiell, who just turned 7, changed everything. I worked some when he was born but I really turned my focus to raising him. I knew I would not get these years back and I wanted to take it all in. He is such a unique and extraordinary little boy with an outlook that blows my mind. When he was only 4 there was a group of us adults sitting around discussing where space ends and I saw Dashiell listening intently. Dashiell said, ” It ends in the future because it is constantly expanding”. We all stopped and stared at him. I still to this day think about that. The genius that comes effortlessly tripping out of his mouth just slays me.
How have you survived Covid-19, both personal and professional? Have your priorities change?
Ah, yes, the pandemic. Well, so far so good. My priorities shifted to ‘how do I get Dashiell through this and keep him safe?’. We are going into our second year of homeschooling and it is going really well. We wrote a children’s book together based on one of his Kindergarten stories he wrote. It is for my Father who passed away. I also finished a script on the French Resistance. You know. Dashiell will wake up and put on a pirate costume and dance around the living room to Simon and Garfunkel- that’s just how we roll. Creativity is our savior.
How do you see your career from this point on once we get to the new “normal”?
I think If we can gleam one thing from the pandemic maybe it is this idea of seizing the moment. If there is something in your heart, some burning desire, go and create it, do it- take that trip, see that part of the world, call that person, go on that date, paint that piece of art, write that script because tomorrow is not promised. Whatever you do, do not live an unexpressed life. That’s my plan and if that involves another series, a movie, directing a short film, a long film, writing more children’s books, scuba diving with Dashiell.. wherever that takes me I am going to live full out.
Michelle Clunie: By Alan Wiesman
Cast: Showtime/She Magazine Archives