Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interview: Meet Parrish Hurley, Part Two

As promised, the second half of my interview with Parrish Hurley:

6. What are your plans from here on out? Do you have a timeline or battle plan in mind?

Well, time is ticking away, because I have to play myself in my early thirties, and I’m not quite sure how much longer I’m gonna be able to get away with that. No one who has considered ‘the (718)’ doubts that it’s decent storytelling, but the boy-on-boy content is making a lot of the money people nervous, so I’m hoping that a little Internet notoriety will help our case. With all the gay bullying that’s going on, one could argue that this isn’t the best time to fund a project with queer content, but I’d like to argue that now is the PERFECT time to fund a project such as ours.

7. What are you currently working on?

Unfortunately, a lot of XY scatter graphs and pie charts. I do all of the graphics for investor relations at a hedge fund, and the fall is when we hold investor conferences, so now is the time when I make my mad money, which frees me up to pursue other projects during the year (for example, I just returned from my third season with Vermont Shakespeare Company, which is a fantastic little gig tantamount to a punk rock vacation on the lake with an AMAZING bunch of actors). Ben Beckley just contacted me, looking to write another ‘(718)’ script, so we’re gonna flesh out the St. Stephen arc and maybe introduce a Tyler Clementi-type storyline. I think [my character] Stephen needs to be slapped out of his LGBT apathy.

8. Why should readers of this blog check out the (718)?

I’d like to hope that people will find it to be good, entertaining storytelling with an ability to change a point of view or two. It’s a universal story—I’m just looking for love and trying to find my place in the world after my friends start moving on. If nothing else, it is at the very least honest storytelling, so much so that I may have to place some distance between myself and the character in subsequent episodes; when filming the pilot, I often felt I wasn’t acting so much as I was reliving some of my most painful and embarrassing memories. No exercises in cleverness here—‘the (718)’ is my story, and I’m sticking to it. I’m excited that women are responding to it as strongly as well, as are men of every sexual persuasion.

And I never set out to be political with this project, but given the political and social climates these days, I think a prominent gay character that is sexually active and a normal Joe might do a world of good. I kind of think that television has created a gay ghetto—Most of the very few gay characters I see on television are either (1) completely neutered, single, possibly closeted and emotionally tortured; (2) the mean, bitchy sidekick to the villain, or (3) competing on a reality show, outdragging the other queens. I don’t wish to discount any one of those varieties (except maybe #2). Be loud, be proud, or stay closeted—it’s your trip. Homosexuals account for 10% of the human race, so there is need for not only a bigger representation, but a more varied one.

And I’m quite adamant about making my sexuality a given circumstance, and not the only thing that defines me (although it seems as if that’s all I’ve been discussing with you). Patrick is a master improviser, and while filming would throw in an ad lib or two referencing my sexuality and I’d beg him not to—the strength of our relationship lies in the fact that none of my friends care that I’m queer and we co-exist very well. Some of the nicer compliments I’ve gotten on ‘the (718)’, particularly at the gay and Lesbian film festivals, have nothing to do with the writing or my performance, but of the premise itself—I get thanked by gay men for creating a show that reminds them of their friends, who are straight, and this is the first time they’ve seen that mix reflected. Being a homosexual does not make you an anomaly. And being a homosexual that counts the minutes until the 1pm NFL kickoff with your straight pals doesn’t make you an anomaly either.

Failing all of that, at least you get to hear me rap about the pleasures of giving oral sex. Very awkwardly, I might add. It’s completely ill, as the kids would have said seven years ago.

9. Who are you, anyway? Where did you come from? How did you get here?

I was born Stephen Bernard Parrish on a St. Patrick’s Day in the 1970s to a close-knit Irish Catholic family in Brooklyn. My father got transferred to Allentown, PA when I was in elementary school and a long, awkward adolescence followed. I enrolled at Penn State to study film production, found that I preferred film theory and decided I was going to pursue either journalism or academic writing. Wound up covering pop music for a Times Mirror newspaper before the Chicago Tribune swallowed it up, but fell in with a fantastic, now-defunct theater company in Allentown called the Theatre Outlet and did a LOT of theater. Did as much as I could in Allentown, decided to try acting in New York City, got into the actors unions, which told me they already had a Stephen Parrish so I changed my name to Parrish Hurley (my mom’s family name). Booked a national tour with the National Shakespeare Company and played Gremio in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ opposite Darren Coyle as Hortensio. We became instant friends and drank lots of beer. My father died suddenly a month into the tour, flew back to Allentown to be with my family, stopped in to visit the Theatre Outlet before going back on tour, saw its production of ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ and remarked, “My God, that guy playing the lead is amazing! Who is he?” and was answered with “That’s Patrick Edgar, he’s moving to New York soon, is it okay if we give him your number?” and I said “Sure.” Finished the tour, Darren and I were both homeless at its conclusion, so we got an apartment together in Brooklyn. Shortly thereafter, Patrick Edgar called looking for a hot shower and couch on which to crash. The three of us became thick as thieves and drank lots and lots and lots and lots of beer. Darren is now married and living in Washington, DC and Patrick is married with a two-year old son and living in the Bronx and I’m still single and living in that same apartment in Brooklyn and doing just fine. GO GIANTS!


Megan Paff said...

Thanks so much for doing this interview, Kate! It was great to learn more about Parrish (trust me, he's just as awesome in person ;)) and the (718). Crossing my fingers the show gets picked up.

Maia Strong said...

Thanks, Kate and Parrish, for the great interview! And more thanks to Parrish for "the (718)"! I just watched the pilot and I loved it! I very much hope some network out there is smart enough to pull its collective head out of its corporate ass and pick up the show.