In 1973, PBS aired An American Family, a revolutionary look at a Santa Barbara clan’s collapsing under the weight of infidelity, deceit, and the son announcing he’s gay.
It was basically the original reality show, and it’s just been revived on PBS, and it also forms the subject of HBO’s Cinema Verite.
Well, five years later, I interviewed the son — Lance Loud — for The SoHo Weekly News and got some very lively insight into his progression.
Then fronting the rock band the Mumps, Lance (above left) was charismatic, tongue-in-cheek, and totally adorable.
By this point, he hated the show, but he allowed me to coax his thoughts on it anyway.
“I think the only thing that series did was stigmatize. My band hates, despises it. We’ve always thought of it as something to rise above and ignore. I get along best with people who haven’t seen it.
“My mom came off the conveyor belt of middle class marriages really well. She’s a literary agent. She’s behind that book Dancer From The Dance. She found the book, got it published, and lined up the promotion.
“My dad is still in the foundry business. My dad, of course, always wanted me to be a hairdresser. He thought I could give a good basic bubble.”
Then why was he so upset when Lance came out?
“He wasn’t upset. When I told him, he said, ‘Sexuality is one finger in the hands of 10.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t really matter as long as you’re happy.'”
“I’m making more subtle, long-term mistakes now. Nothing as blatant as blue lipstick and hair combs. Things that are more insidious.
“My whole art is the art of clumsiness, of cosmic left-handedness. I find it to be one of the best human forms of expression — to express yourself by stumbling, making mistakes — and being sincere about it. Sticking your foot in your mouth so many times that you get athlete’s foot between your teeth.”
And finally, about sex:
“I’ve decided to go out with girls. I recently found out you can’t have babies if you don’t go out with a girl.”
Relax. By this point, Lance’s tongue was so far inside his cheek that it got athlete’s foot.