I must admit that I was appalled. Appalled, and then fascinated. I was thumbing through Backstage West while sipping a Green Tea Frappuccino at Starbucks (oh, this is a horrid vice, but the Green Tea is so good – except I find that I’m getting a little belly, cute on the young and hairless but not so much on the middle aged) and in the back I saw an ad.
It was an ad for the “Straight Male Theater Group”. “Oh my God!” I thought, “the most entitled group in the history of theater needs a group?” I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Then I thought it must be a comedy group. Then I thought I should just call their number and arrange an interview with their “leader.” I called, and two days later had set up an interview with Robert Blanton.
We met at a local coffee shop (not Starbucks – no Green Tea Frappuccino, sob) and we discussed Mr. Blanton’s little group.
Kyrle Lendhoffer: Mr. Blanton, why a “Straight Male Theater Group”?
Robert Blanton: Well, Mr. Lendhoffer, like any other minority group we felt that we needed a support group. A place we could go to and share our feelings of isolation.
KL: You’ve got to be kidding me.
RB: It’s exactly that kind of attitude that makes the SMTG necessary.
RB: The “Straight Male-
KL: Yes, of course, I’ve got it.
RB: You have no idea what it’s like. Say you’re doing summer stock. You show up for the first read-through of Annie Get Your Gun and your gay-dar is screaming like a fire alarm. You realize that out of twenty-five men in the company that only five of you are straight.
KL: But Mr. Blanton, that sounds like heaven.
RB: How is that?
KL: Five straight men and at least twenty straight chorus girls, not including the leads. I would think that you would be happy as a little clam.
RB: Oh, yeah, that part is fantastic. Not at first… the women always think they can straighten out the gay ones. Then after a week or so they realize that they’re banging their heads against a pink wall. That’s when things get awesome.
KL: I still don’t get it. What is there for you to complain about?
RB: Well, there is the social aspect. Yes, we’re part of the company, but no one ever asks us what we think about their clothes or where there’s a great place to dance or if we’re having a good day.
KL: Maybe they could ask you about NASCAR.
KL: Yes, it does.
RB: No, it doesn’t.
KL: But you like football.
RB: Well, yes, I do. But I know lots of gay men who like football.
KL: But for different reasons.
KL: I digress. So you think you’re being discriminated against?
RB: Absolutely. But it’s very subtle. Let me give you an example. Just last year I was in a production of Urinetown. One night I overhear a conversation and my fellow cast members are talking about an American Idol viewing party that they’re all going to. Have I heard about this viewing party? No. Were any of the straight guys invited to the viewing party? No.
KL: It’s common knowledge that straight men only mock American Idol. You wouldn’t have been any fun at a party.
RB: That’s exactly what I’m talking about! That’s bullsh!t! I love American Idol! I just happen to like sex with women! What’s wrong with that?
KL: Some people find that icky. And I don’t believe you.
RB: Oh yeah? Season one winner, Kelly Clarkson. Season two, Rueben Studdard. Season three, Fantasia…
KL: Wow, you memorized a list.
RB: Season four, Carrie Underwood… What?
KL: You memorized a list. Nothing more, nothing less.
RB: You’re an asshole, Mr. Lendhoffer.
KL: And you’re a whiney little suck-tit, Mr. Blanton.
The interview devolved from there. I couldn’t possibly feel sorry for Mr. Blanton and felt nothing but contempt for the “Straight Male Theater Group”. Oh, please.
All I can say to Mr. Blanton is you have no place in MY theater. The theater that I love. Go watch your NASCAR “buddies” drive around in circles and then beat their wives. Take that, sir!
I will now retire to Starbucks for a well deserved Green Tea Frappuccino.
Kyrle Lendhoffer – Behind The Proscenium