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Dykes in Hollyweird
I want to say at the outset that I really do like gay men, love them in fact. Not only are most of my best friends gay men, *all* of my best friends for many years were gay men. So what this week's column is about is not anti-boy stuff, but just one of those things that made me go hmmmm.

We already know that Hollywood is full of gays and lesbians who work at all levels of the industry. And that Hollywood is notoriously homophobic. But in the last couple of decades, Hollyweird has let a few films out of the closet and dealt specifically with gay issues. But that's the problem: GAY issues, not lesbian. Almost without exception, general release films from major studios have dealt with gay men, not lesbians. Except for the occasional
part-time lesbian who also works nights as a crazy person or murderer.

Now my question is: Why is the portrayal of a fully developed lesbian lead character virtually absent from our celluloid fiction? What exactly is Hollywood afraid of? Petrified that they won't gross $150 million per picture, sure. But every film that comes out of the studios isn't designed (hoped for, but not necessarily *expected*) to bring in 50 times cost. And when they make "Bent" or "Philadelphia" or "In and Out" they surely don't expect to draw the same mindless audience demographic as they know they'll get for "Air Force One" or "Independence Day".

The obvious reasons (sexism, greed) don't seem to be enough to explain overlooking what they must know is an unfulfilled, untapped market. Usually a population easily targeted which has never had a particular toy sold to them
will have the marketing people overjoyed. Lesbians, like gay men, are relatively easy to find. Lots and lots of us live in major metropolitan areas, areas which are finite. The marketing guys can actually look up and name American cities with populations of 100,000 or more. Lesbians are relatively easy to contact: lesbians who go to movies also read newspapers. They even read lesbian newspapers. I'd venture to say that the lesbian underground and above ground communication system is so extensive and pervasive that if she set her mind to it, one persistent woman with a phone tree could get the word about an event to every out lesbian in the country within a month. And to millions of lesbians who say they're *not* lesbians. She tells her friends who tell their friends who tell their ex lovers who tell their ex lovers, ad infinitum. Granted there would be a *lot* of overlap but the circles are tangent occasionally: bar dykes talk to softball dykes who talk to lipstick lesbians who talk to their dentist. And we *are* on theInternet now and have friends with whom we have not actually lived.

So lets say on the low end of the Kinsey scale we have 5% of American women who are lesbians. Or interested. Or curious. And then there are the straight guys who want to explore their libidos yet again. Whatever. We're talking millions.

The film that would draw these folks to the box office would not be expensive to make. It would not have to be an Edwardian period piece with costumes; it would not required high tech equipment or special effects; it would not
require a multitude of high speed chases or flaming crashes. Well, ok, those, but bar scenes and dyke drama divorces are not expensive to film.

So where are the *real* dyke dramas, the films about our lives? Films with funding, with star appeal, with a coherent plot and dialogue, with a sound track not made on an old poke and play tape recorder in a basement shower stall. All I'm asking is just a *leaning* toward equal time. Gay guys have had serious films about their lives for at least two decades. I realize that straight men don't want the secret acknowledged that lesbians exist in numbers that actually constitute a market segment. I realize we threaten them. But the commercial success of well-made films about gay men should tell them that there is yet another group of people who would fork over $6 to see a slice of their lives on the big silver.

I think maybe we need a producer who understands us. Somebody with millions. Somebody with connections.

Oprah, honey? You out there? Jodi? As a happy coincidence, I just happen to have this screenplay already written if anybody's interested.


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