They Have Many Straight Friends

Putting on gay drag for fun and profit

In the grand tradition of comedy classics like Soul Man—where the alpha male disguises himself as Other and subsequently achieves popularity, success, and above all, booty—Hollywood is readying a string of movies in which heterosexual men masquerade as homosexual. First up is this week's Happy, Texas, in which two recently escaped convicts (played by Jeremy Northam and Steve Zahn) arrive in a small Texas town and are mistaken as the gay duo in charge of the local children's beauty pageant. Next month, Matthew Perry is the willing victim of a similar misunderstanding in Three to Tango. The Friends star plays a businessman whose employer mistakes him as gay; "Chandler" is then entrusted with babysitting the boss's mistress. Initially reluctant, he changes his mind when he discovers that his charge is beauty queen Neve Campbell.

Two other films, The Closet Case and Envy—both in development—transplant the scenario to the fashion industry. The Closet Case follows the misadventures of a bottled-water delivery boy so smitten with a supermodel that he poses as gay to infiltrate her circle of friends and coworkers. Envy, meanwhile, casts Damon Wayans, also the screenwriter of the film, as a straight fashion designer who experiences an enormous surge in popularity and prestige when he pretends to fancy boys. But he soon falls in love with a female model, forcing foreseeable shenanigans.

Finally, in the strangest twist on the formula, I Now Pronounce You Joe and Benny revolves around two firemen, one a widower with children and the other a confirmed ladies' man, who marry each other for the insurance benefits. Currently in development at Universal, with Tom Shadyac (Patch Adams) rumored to direct and Nicolas Cage and Will Smith being courted to star, this could be Hollywood's most sensitive and mature depiction of a same-sex couple since Saddam Hussein and Satan cuddled in South Park.

 
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