In a chat moderated by NPR journalist Laura Sydell, Ellen Page and Ian Daniel discussed their Viceland TV show “Gaycation,” a travel show in which they examine LGBTQ communities in countries such as Japan, Brazil and Jamaica. Here are a few highlights from that discussion:
- Page and Daniel met eight years ago at an “eco village” outside of Portland, Ore. and became fast friends. “It was like true love,” she said. They have been best pals since.
- The show was Page’s idea, which she pitched to Spike Jonez when the latter was putting together the Viceland network. They were into it. Page, who came out two years ago, was very into the idea of simply more LGBTQ representation on TV. “I know how much it meant to me to find ‘But I’m a Cheerleader’ on TV and hearing Natasha Lyonne’s character say that line about not understanding what the big deal was about french kissing boys and thinking “me Neither!” adding that she understood that she was a very privileged person: “I have money, I live in Los Angles and can kiss my girlfriend on the street.”
- There were some tense situations.. Discussing homosexuality with a Rasta, for example. Daniel noted there was always discussion of when their own gayness should come up in the conversation. “We needed access to the Nyabinghi ceremony, ” he said, so they didn’t discuss it right away but Daniel felt there was perhaps a little bit of understanding when they parted. On the other hand, there was an ex-cop in Brazil who admitted to killing gay people. Daniel said they were both nervous, but it was the ex-cop who seemed to feel the most uncomfortable when the two told him they were gay. Page said the guy refused to look them in the eye after that.
- The most striking moment in the first episode comes when the “rent-a-friend” the two encounter in Japan ( you can rent companions and/or spare relatives if you need some seat fillers at a wedding or need a pal to hang with) decided they wanted the two in the room when he came out to his mother, which he told them out of the blue the day before the event took place. Daniel: “we did discuss the ethics of it and we decided that he or his mother could always tell us to leave or not sign the release. We had no idea how the mother would respond and we ended up getting this raw and intimate moment between these people.”
- When asked if she worries that coming out is preventing her from getting certain roles, Page said she just doesn’t worry about it. “Being in the closet hurt my career way more than coming out,” Page said. Or as Sydell out it, “Being yourself is the best creative juice.”