A dance on the edge of truth
While working as a writer-producer on “Six Feet Under,” Christian Taylor decided to pursue a childhood dream while chronicling it on film. The result is the slyly amusing yet poignant “Showboy,” which Taylor describes as “faction.” This means he knew how his film would begin and end but the getting there would be discovered in the making. The result is a deliberate conflation of fact and fiction that yields unexpected emotional impact.
The film opens on a fictional note: While “Six Feet Under” is shooting a sequence in Las Vegas, the HBO series’ creator Alan Ball calls Taylor into his trailer. A BBC-TV crew that is following him around for a series on Brits working in Hollywood overhears Ball telling Taylor that he’s not picking up his option for the next season, which in reality did not happen. However, this purported development is enough to get the story going. Taylor will stay in Las Vegas to try to become a chorus boy and will persuade the BBC’s Lindy Heymann to continue filming him, telling her that he’s staying for the summer, researching a script for a project of his own. As co-directors of “Showboy,” Taylor and Heymann are good enough actors to persuade the viewer to go along with this premise.
Settling in the home of an acquaintance, Erich Miller, an ex-chorus boy, Taylor goes about fulfilling his dream, seeking all the advice he can get, taking dance classes, putting together a resume with photos and going to auditions. Taylor is young, has classical good looks and light brown curly hair. He is slim but not buffed out -- no six-pack abs and a hint of a stomach that drives him to investigate liposuction. At the same time he has a natural grace, loves to dance and, with a crash course with experts, just might land a minor, not-too-demanding spot.
In the process there are some wry and amusing encounters. Siegfried & Roy discover swiftly that he can’t do splits and are a bit taken aback by his sheer audacity. Whoopi Goldberg offers to put him in touch with a contact at the “Boylesque” show and remarks, “No dream is crazy if you want to live it.” He even auditions as a male stripper.
What makes “Showboy” intriguing is its subtext, suggesting, as does the current fictional Italian movie “Adored: Diary of a Porn Star,” that the sense of loneliness and alienation that gays sometimes experience can feed self-absorption.
Taylor knows how to come across as a nice guy, but the pursuit of his chorus boy dream becomes obsessive and therefore much more important to him than he ever thought it would. Being constantly made aware that his body is less than perfect by Vegas standards only makes him all the more self-preoccupied. Yet when he reaches out to another dancer who attracts him, he gets absolutely nowhere.
Taylor takes an amusingly detached look at himself and his predicaments, but that he is so striking and charismatic drives home all the more acutely just how isolated even the most personable gay man can feel -- and by extension, how isolated anyone can feel. Because “Showboy” has such a light, witty touch, the serious chord it strikes resonates all the more deeply.
MPAA rating: Unrated
Times guidelines: Adult themes, some sensuality
Christian Taylor...Christian, a writer
Lindy Heymann Lindy, director of the
BBC-TV documentary on Christian
Erich Miller...Erich, a showboy
Adrian Armas... Adrian, a
Billy Sammeth...Billy, close friend
A Here Films presentation. Directors Lindy Heymann & Christian Taylor. Producer Jason Buchtel. Executive producer Pam Tarr. Written by Taylor, Heymann and Buchtel. Cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay. Editor Kant Pan. Music Daniele Luppi. Choreographer Anne Fletcher. Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.