Fairies, Queens and handsome Princes
Photo by Aaron GangIf conservatives are already in an unholy snit about the annual Gay Day at Disneyland, they'll really go nuts when they learn this year's event will feature a film festival. That's right, a sodomite picture show, at the Happiest Place on Earth! Walt would plotz. But as Pixie Flix's director Matt Marxtyyn explains, this show is intended to be as family-friendly, in its own way, as the rest of the park. In addition to his festival duties, Marxtyyn is a production manager at a Fox sub-affiliate, a producer of infomercials for everything from nutritional programs to battery-free flashlights, and an aspiring filmmaker in his own right. He took a few moments from his busy schedule to speak to us from work in Utah.
OC Weekly: What inspired you to do this thing? How did you come up with the idea to show a bunch of gay movies at Disneyland?
Matt Marxtyyn: The idea originated at the 2001 Gay Day at Disney World in Orlando. I was talking to a friend and we were saying that there should have been something else for people to do there besides partying all the time, there should have been more of a cultural event available.
Disney walks this weird line, where they try to be very inclusive toward gays, but if conservatives give them grief, they'll say they don't sponsor or endorse these events. How do you feel about that?
Well, I understand the position they're in, frankly. They have some obviously gay people in their, uh, cast groups, I guess they call it, and I know they have to be very circumspect and careful. They're trying to project a family image, and unfortunately in America there are still people who can't accept that gays are part of families too, that people have gay sons and lesbian sisters and that gay, single fathers can be responsible parents.
I assume the Disney people had some fairly strict content restrictions about what you could show in this festival.
Well, they do have some regulations, but they've been very helpful. I think there were three film entries they may have objected to showing in the park. The directors have been very understanding with the content of their films. But this event isn't actually within the park; it's at the Disneyland Hotel. The films we're showing are PG, there's nothing NC-17 in there. We've tried to find films with a family slant. They're not all necessarily about families, they're films from all kinds of genres, but we did try to find films with positive messages, films that show the realities of gay life.
I'm very tired of seeing these movies where it's all partying, sex, drugs and rock and roll, and then everybody dies in the end. I swear, sometimes I honestly wonder if these filmmakers who make those kinds of films are really even gay. Drugs are not normal, and our lives are not all about partying and dying. I'm tired of seeing drugs portrayed as this acceptable, normal thing in gay films. Drugs are not normal, and we don't just party all the time.
Care to name any specific movies like that that have bothered you?
I'd rather not name specific filmmakers, but I did see a really funny short a while ago that kinda parodied the whole thing, it was called Jeffrey's Hollywood Screen Trick. It showed gay people that were all very wild and everybody parties, and then in the end they whip out a chainsaw or drill and kill everybody. I mean, what are these filmmakers trying to say with that stuff? Even South Park doesn't go to those extremes; they're deliberately outrageous but ultimately they have a message of acceptance, of freedom of speech.
What kinds of crowds show up at these Gay Day events? Is it like a wild gay pride event, with lots of crazy costumes, or is it more of a subdued, conservative crowd?
Oh, it's a real mix. You get the muscle-bound, pretty-boy types, along with the more sophisticated crowd. In Orlando there's a lesbian group called Girls in Wonderland; they bring in comedians and they brought in an acoustic guitar player. There's one film in the festival, Experiment: Gay and Straight, about a group of 10 people living together for a week, five of them gay and five straight. . . . When we held the fest in Utah, I'd say the crowds for that were probably 40 percent straight. We get a very diverse crowd.
But at the Gay Day event within the park, I'm wondering how visible it is, if the straight tourists know what's happening around them. I read about a group of drag queens that were turned away at the Disney World event because the Disney people thought tourists might mistake them for Cinderellas or something.
Disney does have very strict policies about costumes; they don't want you to wear wigs or anything because they don't want people thinking you're one of the cast members. Especially after this thing that happened like 12 or 15 years ago, where a girl and her brother faked a rape at one of the hotels.
A girl . . . and her brother?
Yeah. It was some Halloween thing, and he was dressed as Dracula so nobody would recognize him. She went into a room and tore her clothes and came out and ran around the halls, saying she'd been attacked. Her brother pretended to be a stranger. So she sued Disney for having bad security. Disney paid a lot of money, they settled out of court, and later it came out these people faked the whole thing. So Disney's very strict about costumes now. I've seen a couple of drag queens who managed to sneak in and not get recognized, but they were dressed very conservatively. From a distance they looked like women. I had a friend they wouldn't let in once because he was wearing these thin, Japanese boots. I think they said it was a security issue, like how gyms make you wear your shoes when working out.
Maybe they were afraid people would think he escaped fromMulan. I guess you could say that Magic Mountain is really magic: they let people run around in there without shirts. Do you get a lot of conservative whackos protesting at these things?Not at the film festival, no. I've only attended during the past few years, so I've missed a lot of the protests. There are some protesters every year in Florida, but after the first year the park made them all move away outside the park. It's like five people now. We've done Pixie Flix twice in Orlando, but this will be our first time out here. It's really a shot in the dark to see who shows up. Hopefully we'll get some straight people coming, too. I'd like people to see that we're responsible, that we can have a good time without making fools of ourselves. The Pixie Flix Fest Screens at the Disneyland Hotel, Sierra Tower, Balboa Screening Room, 1150 W. Magic Way, Anaheim, (888) 602-0009; full screening info at www.pixieflixfest.com. Sun., noon-1 a.m. $4-$10.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.