‘A Very Sordid Wedding’
5612 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Tuesday, Oct. 3
Local fans of Del Shores’ LGBT cult classic movie “Sordid Lives” have reason to rejoice. In a special one-night-only celebration on Wednesday, Oct. 3, “A Very Sordid Wedding” will finally march down the aisle and make its D.C. premiere at the Avalon Theatre. The event will be hosted by Del Shores and Emerson Collins.
For anyone not familiar with the original movie, “Sordid Lives” (2000) is about the extended Ingram clan and the other zany inhabitants of the small conservative town of Winters, Texas. The family matriarch Peggy has died under scandalous circumstances (she tripped over his younger married boyfriend’s wooden legs in a seedy motel room) and her eccentric family is preparing for her funeral.
Among them is her grandson Ty Williamson (played in the movie and sequel by Kirk Geiger), an aspiring actor in Los Angeles. While he’s gathering the courage to tell his mother Latrelle (Bonnie Bedelia) that he’s gay, all kinds of family shenanigans ensue.
Writer, director and producer Del Shores explains that the popular “Sordid Lives” franchise started life as a play based on his own life. The play opened in May 1996 in a 64-seat theater in Hollywood and quickly grew an enthusiastic fan base. The original production ran for months in Los Angeles and many of the same cast members are still involved in the franchise.
“It started with my relationship with my mom,” Shores says. “My mom was the real Latrelle. She truly was my first ally when I came out, so a lot of the play was lifted right from our lives. Then I added my aunts and it just built from there.”
Shores, who is really from Winters, explains that while the play was “inspired by real characters, it’s a fictitious story.”
While the stage version was running, Shores started brain-storming about making a low-budget feature film of the play.
“My buddy Beau Bridges said, ‘This would make a really great movie and if you do it I would love to wear that black bra.’ Once he got on board, I got a birthday call from Olivia Newton-John and she was interested in it, and then we got Delta Burke and Bonnie Bedelia and it just came together.”
Bridges played G.W. Nethercutt in the film and got to model a black bra when his character lost a bet.
“Sordid Lives: the Series,” a prequel to the series, premiered on LOGO in July, 2008. While the show only lasted one season, Shores says “the fans kept wanting more.”
The fans got their wish earlier this year with the release of “A Very Sordid Wedding.”
The movie depicts what happens when marriage equality comes roaring into Winters. It takes place right after the Supreme Court decision in July 2015. Two events collide: the 17th anniversary of the death of the family matriarch Peggy and an anti-equality revival at the local Baptist church.
“The movie ultimately celebrates the strength of family,” Shores says. “Not only do we need to celebrate our amazing progress, but we need to celebrate those people who evolved with us.”
In the movie, Ty’s mother and aunts rally around him and his husband and other queer characters in the film.
In addition to Ty and Latrelle, the new movie includes fan favorites LaVonda (Ann Walker), Sissy (now played by Dale Dickey), Noleta (Caroline Rhea) bar-fly Juanita (Sarah Hunley) and Brother Boy (Leslie Jordan), who performs excerpts from his new show, “We Three Queens of Oper-y Are.”
Producer Emerson Collins, who also appears in the movie, says audience members don’t need to be familiar with the franchise to have a good time.
“It was important to me to make sure this movie stood on its own,” Collins says. “There’s an entire new generation that we hope will enjoy this on its own merits. All they need to know is everyone’s got a little crazy somewhere in their family and you figure out how to love them despite those things.”
Collins plays Billy Joe Dobson, a heavily tattooed bisexual escaped serial killer who befriends Brother Boy. Shores wrote the role for Collins who has worked closely with him for the past decade.
“I loved the reaction of the rest of the cast when he walked on set,” Shores says. “They were so excited for him.”
The D.C. screening is part of a national rollout engineered by Shores and Collins. In the past six months, the film has played about cities, building up to the DVD release on Oct. 17.
In between appearance across the country, Shores says he’s writing a new show that’s more theater than stand-up called “Six Characters in Search of a Play.” It opens in Palm Springs later this month. They’re also working on a new TV series but details are under wraps.