equal4all

Perry Moore Rides his Personal Waves of Success

In Being Gay, Dating, Gay Business, Gay Celebrity, Literature, Relationships, television on March 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm

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You may have heard of this man before; he is the executive producer of the Narnia films, author, and yes, even avid surfer. We’re talking about Perry Moore! We were lucky enough to catch-up with this hunk and have him spill about what it was like on a major movie set and his all-time favorite superheroes. Speaking of superheroes, have you read his latest masterpiece, entitled HERO? If you haven’t, well, read on…

Equal4all: Did you ever think you’d be an out and proud producer and author? When was your first “I’ve truly made it” moment?

When I was a kid I couldn’t see past college, because I thought I’d have to kill myself because I grew up going to church in the south and the pervasive message was that I had this terrible secret that I liked men and consequently I would go to hell for it and ruin my family’s life. So I had to come up with an exit-plan to save them before the shame ruined their chance at heaven. Sad as that sounds, it was true … and it was constant.

I did always want to be an author – I have such tremendous reverence for all the great authors of all the literature I fell in love with that gave me hope and opened up my imagination and dared me to dream beyond what I was being spoon-fed. There is such power in that, and that’s why I went after the Narnia rights so hardcore to make it the right way into a movie. Ultimately, I’m incredibly proud of the role I play in the team that brings the Narnia movies to the screen. In my wildest dreams, when I was eight and drawing pictures with my crayons of all the great creatures of Narnia going to battle, I could never have imagined that I’d be the executive producer of the movies. So… dare to dream! And be prepared to work harder than you’ve ever worked for it!

Hmm … regarding the first moment when I first felt “I’ve truly made it?” Well, I’ll let you know as soon as I have that moment – I can’t wait!

Equal4all: How did it feel to be the executive producer of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Can you tell our readers and your fans alike any juicy tidbits about what it was like working on the film? Will you be working on any other aspects of that series?

I was tapped by the CS Lewis Company, since I’d been the one to get the ball rolling and because I’d been there for each part of the rights negotiations, development, pre-production, production, post-production, and release, to be the author of The Making of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Longest title ever – so many juicy tidbits in that.  Georgie (who plays Lucy) donated her taped journal and Anna (who plays Susan) did as well – along with numerous pictures behind the scenes.

I’d probably get sued for telling any other story that didn’t make it to print (just kidding)! All those great stories are in that book. And I mean ALL of them. I think that’s why the book was a bestseller, which is pretty atypical for a “making-of” book. I’d always wanted to be a NY Times Best-selling author. Never thought it would be for my first, a making of a movie book, though.  Have to admit, it’s really good, though – because I was just chronicling the real-life magic going on while making the on-screen magic of The Chronicle! And yes, when I committed to the first movie, I committed to all of them. Being the rabid Narnia fan I am – those are the books that started me to embark on a lifelong love affair with storytelling – I’d be happy to see all seven of them made!

I’m trying to think of anything else I can say, because Narnia is so dear to me and to so many … it was so difficult at times, but that’s to be expected with making an epic of that nature.

I will say this; it was not as hard as you may think being the only gay producer. No one ever questioned me about it, if that’s what you’re wondering. And everyone knows, the kids who star in and their parents included. Those special young people are really the great joy of working on those movies for me. On Prince Caspian, we were in the first month of production, and I had to leave because my uncle suddenly died, and we went to dinner, and all the kids got me this t-shirt made up, and I unwrapped it and it said, “Perry Poppins!” I laughed through tears. They make me so strong, each and every one of them!

Media likes to create a division between religion and sexual orientation. That’s not necessarily true. I happen to believe you can be deeply spiritual and loving, and God wants diversity among His (or Her) congregation. And we were very careful to make the movie so that it held the same spiritual appeal as the book, while updating it to present-day values where no one felt left out. Our director, Andrew Adamson, felt very strong about that last point, and I think that’s part of his genius.  He’s a true populist. You can see it in all his work: Shrek’s and Narnia‘s.  I feel so lucky to have worked with the greatest team on earth to create the most magical place in our minds and hearts … Narnia!

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Equal4all: In your latest work, HERO, does Thom Creed’s journey and newfound courage mirror the turmoil every gay kid has to endure in real life in order to find out who they truly are?

Thank you, I take that as a supreme compliment. I wanted the book to touch the heart of anyone who grew up different. It’s funny, because in school, I remember it being mandatory to read a book about growing up different, but there was nothing, and I mean nothing that had a cool, protagonist – i.e. someone I would possibly like to be – featured in the novel.

To me, that’s criminally negligent. Almost like trying to pretend gay people don’t exist. I think the world has made at least a modicum of progress. Despite some of the appalling news you see that concerns LGBT issues, there is no denying now that we exist. We are everywhere. And when you have a child, you have to take that into consideration that your child may end up gay, and that child is still a blessing. Whereas in the past, or at least what I saw growing up, gay people were either ignored and swept under the carpet, not to be mentioned in polite company, or vilified with the occasional gay rights piece on the news. Let’s all hope we’ve moved past that. I like that the book takes a personal look, but by design, being gay is not Thom’s ONLY issue. He has so many challenges, and coming to terms with and embracing his sexuality is just one of many major things he has to deal with. I deliberately avoided the after-school special “Timmy-has-a-secret” approach.

Make it real. That was a big thing to me. Make it as real as possible. Which is strange thing to say about fiction, but it’s true. Once you create these characters, they breathe on their own and make their own choices and tell you what to do. As a writer, you have to learn to listen. And those truths are sometimes very hard to face. For instance, some people have mentioned the masturbation scene as something that may be inappropriate. Well, guess what, Thom’s a high school senior, and healthy young men masturbate. It’s totally normal. Shouldn’t even register on the shock-o-meter. I wonder if it would have raised any eyebrows if Thom had been jerking off to a shirtless Warrior Woman online?

Think about it.

And I named him Thom Creed, after Doubting Thomas. But I wanted to reverse the trajectory, where he ends up believing in himself. You phrase your question in a way that makes me think you get the book perfectly. Thom is riddled with self-doubt – aren’t we all – as he embarks on this epic journey to discover himself. And it isn’t until the last, climactic battle that he fully embraces who he is, for all his differences, that actually make him evolve into a greater hero of greater power, and greater person who can shine, shine, shine in this world, the he’s supposed to.

I like that.

Nice to see a character who happens to be gay emerge victorious through that struggle.

Isn’t it?

I think that’s why the book has received such a warm reception. I am so proud of winning the Lambda Award for HERO, and the ALA top books of the year accolade. They are such honors, and I’d never imagined HERO – with its pioneering character and themes – would earn these awards. I am deeply humbled by them, and now I’m driven more than ever – especially because of all the e-mails I get asking me about it – to write the SEQUELS to HERO. There’s so much more to come, so many more stories to tell about these characters and the new challenges they’ll face! Some new mysteries, some old mysteries, some new characters – all of it will weave into a greater tapestry that will keep going through the SEQUELS. Please write me and let me know what you want to see more of!

Equal4all: How do you relate to your central character of Thom Creed in everyday life?

In many ways I still think of myself as that young man facing those same struggles of self-doubts. I think we all do – gay or straight. Don’t you? And Thom’s epic continues, just like all of ours. To answer your question, I draw on strength from Thom on a daily basis. To me, he is very real.

That kid who longed to find his place in the universe, well I’m still that kid who is still struggling to find his place in the universe. Only difference is, I’m a man now, with a mortgage, and many more responsibilities.

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Equal4all: What inspired you to write a book about a gay superhero in the midst of the hardest years of his life? I’m talking about being an adolescent – and you add being gay on top of that? I can’t even imagine…

Well, I COULD imagine, and that’s exactly what I did.

Equal4all: What other aspects of your life bleed through onto the pages of HERO? For instance, what inspired the character of the boy who could inflict disease on anyone he so desired?

I’ve talked pretty extensively about how my father, a real life Vietnam Veteran who won a Bronze Star, inspired the character of Hal Creed. And I grew up in a conservative Christian home in the south … you can connect the dots from there.

By the way, my dad is still one of my biggest heroes – always has been, always will be.

Many of the characters were inspired by people I know in real life.  Scarlett, for instance, even though her circumstances are totally different, her voice is EXACTLY the voice of my best friend since I was nine – Bretta Zimmer Lewis. Ruth is an amalgam of many southern relatives in my family who didn’t mince words. Those two characters in particular came very easy to me because of a my great love for Bretta and some of those relatives.

Equal4ll: Obviously you had to have been an avid comic book buff in order to write such a piece of literature in the style of the genre – what comic book heroes of the past inspired you to write Hero?

All the great team books: The New Teen Titans, The X-Men, The Legion of Superheroes, Elementals, Avengers, Infinity Inc*, heck even the All-Star Squadron, and Freedom Fighters (Black Condor had such potential…).

Colossus. Hot hot hot. Hot. Such a great big galoot with a heart of gold, and a longing to express himself, even if he could not find the words. How could you not fall in love with the big guy? He’s my absolute favorite.

All the hotties in Legion of Superheroes. Don’t tell me none of them were gay. A thousand years in the future?  No way. Star Boy (you think THOM’s first name in HERO was a total coincidence?) Chemical King – If you’re listening, DC, I’d LOVE to bring him back. We never even got to know him really.

Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Tyroc, Element Lad, Sun Boy, Colossal Boy … and you know Mon-El and Ultra Boy were always dying to do it.  I pitched an Imperial Guard book to Marvel, but they already had one in the works.  I WOULD STILL LOVE TO DO IT.  Then I could do the Legionnaires as I’ve always wanted us to see them.

Hercules – Love the Marvel version. Greg Pak is doing a great job with the book. Not shying away from the mythology of Hercules having a long list of men he loved. He pines away for his lost Hylas, and they draw a parallel between their relationship and Herc’s with Amadeus Cho. Hercules is funny, powerful, flawed, and hot … always a winning combination.

Wonder Man – that retro 70s costume actually came back in style!  If Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers can’t appreciate Simon Williams, why not give him a boyfriend?

And of course Green Lantern/Green Arrow. If I could ever fulfill my true dream of writing the Justice League movie, I’d pair them off. Legendary, groundbreaking roadtrippers during Denny O’Neil’s classic run.  What they did to Hal Jordan was such a shonda.  (Why do you think I named Thom’s dad Hal?) Those two earned such a true depth of feeling for each other. And Black Canary would make the best fag-hag ever. Or lipstick lesbian. Or both! C’mon, Judd Winnick or Geoff Johns, do it. I dare you! They at least had to test the waters once or twice. At least a kiss!

*Obsidian – I’d like to make a point about fans who complain when certain characters are written all of a sudden to be gay. In Obsidian’s case, let’s ignore the writers who attribute his dark side and gay orientation to being molested by his adopted stepdad. Instead, let’s look at his depiction in Manhunter, and let’s wish for more of him in the pages of the JSA. The point I’d like to make is – other than that campy, one-joke Rawhide Kid debacle, Obsidian’s evolution as a gay man is realistic in that many of us – including me – dated girls throughout college until we came out of the closet later. Many gay men wait until even later. If that happens in reality, then why wouldn’t it also happen in the pages of comic books. That doesn’t necessarily mean anyone is making a character gay for shock value. I hope we can all agree that there aren’t enough gay heroes in the pages of comic books, and I for one praise the good folks who’ve worked hard to establish Obsidian as a strong hero who happens to have romantic relationships with men. Let’s see more of that! I don’t think we’ve ever even seen Northstar hold hands with a guy, much less kiss him; whereas Marvel has no problem killing him off with alarming regularity.

And of course, there were the obvious ladies: Kitty Pryde (I always wished I was her!), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy – not that silly new one), Princess Projectra/Sensor Girl, The White Witch, Dream Girl, Phoenix, Polaris, Illyana Rasputin (I’d love to restore her to her former glory, too.  The original Goth Girl!).

I’m still waiting for a great hot guy in Fables to let us know he’s gay. I was hoping Willingham was going in that direction with Sinbad or that Kipling hottie from the Jungle Book. That book is so creative, it seems like a cop out to have no gay characters.

Wolverine – I dream of ways for strong, gay characters to humiliate this cliché. Ironically played in the movies by a certain, well-known often-rumored-not-to-be-exactly-straight actor. After what he did to Northstar, brainwashed or otherwise, I just can’t overlook the boring little guy. Check out Snaggletooth in HERO. My homage. There was actually a later issue in the same arc where a resurrected Northstar begged Wolverine not to kill him … again! How pathetic! Almost makes you miss the closeted version of Northstar. Almost.

And speaking of comics, I say most of the anti-gay sentiment I picked up on growing up was from church, school, my sports teams, and society. But I can’t let the topic go by without discussing 80’s Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter’s well-known ban on gay characters in the Marvel Universe was a real inspiration to me, as well. Sorry, Mr. Shooter, we exist, and gay people can in fact be heroes. I hope you get pushed in at your next book-burning. I would love for you to read a copy of HERO.  Please send me your address. I’d love to enlighten you as to how wrong you were with your no-gays policy.

For more comics discussion – and I’m always up for these discussions with fans – please write to me on my site: perrymoorestories@gmail.com. I love interacting with everyone who writes in.  All opinions allowed. Resist the urge to hate. Think about ways to make the world better! (It may be harder to do, but it’s so much more rewarding, and fun, too!)

Reading comic books from a young age taught me some important things. One is that heroes matter. They really do. The lay of the land gets defined by whom we chose to venerate.

But almost more importantly, like all the best children’s literature, comic books told well have the power to spark the imagination of all who read them. Often that includes young people. Not dissimilar to the power of Narnia! So I learned a great respect for the medium.

And I have a funny story about it. When I was in fourth grade, my mother took me and a group of my friends at school to the comic book store in Virginia Beach, Virginia, every Friday after school. We’d spend our allowance on our favorite books, and then Mom tells me you could hear a pin drop at home for the next few hours as we all tore through them. But one day in particular, I had soccer practice in between, and one mother had the audacity to ask my mother why she let us read “that trash.” And my mom, bless her heart, said, “Hey, they’re reading!” Which was true.  We’d read, discuss, draw our own battles, imagine our own stories, etc. It was an essential part of our education, and like all the time I spent reading books, I wouldn’t trade that time I spent with comics for the world!

Equal4all: What’re your thoughts on GLBT marriage? Is marriage in the cards for the handsome and talented Mr. Moore?

Is that a proposal?

Equal4all: HERO seems to talk about an age-old story about acceptance. In your opinion, how long do you think it will take President Obama to address GLBT equality?

I think you have to ask him that question. Ruth, in HERO, could see the future, but not me. I was an intern in the White House during Clinton’s first year in office, and one thing I learned was that in politics, you can’t do anything without a million people telling you why you’re wrong for doing it. To be honest, I have no idea how anything gets done in government. That’s why I left.  That’s why I write and work on telling stories!

It’s not my job to keep all the news networks running and to get all those ridiculous pundits paid for commenting instead of DOING.

In general, I’m a much bigger fan of DOING things than talking about what others do.

I hope all those who are reading this choose to do something to make a positive difference in the world. It’s fine and dandy to have your own opinion, but what are you going to do to make the world a better place? Ask yourself that, and be prepared to act on the answer!

I do hope his wife and children will be a fan of the book and the series that we’re doing with Stan Lee for SHOWTIME!

Equal4all: Please give advice to anyone who may be struggling with coming to terms about who they truly are:

The truth will set you free.

Not an original thought, but a damn good one!

It’s just that simple. Stop fighting it. Be who you are. Embrace yourself. Consider all your differences to be special, that which makes you uniquely you, like a superpower. Once you embrace who you really are, then and only then can you fulfill your real potential.  Imagine the light at the end of that tunnel! There is so much power in it! So much happiness waiting for you.

The immediate transition may be hard, but not nearly as toxic as holding it inside forever. Lies will corrupt you from the inside out. I’ve seen it happen. It’s not a choice to be gay. But it is a choice to be truthful. Look at it that way: do you want to corrode from within, or do you want to set yourself free to shine like you were always meant to shine?!

Equal4all: Please give advice to a GLBT youth who may want to follow in your footsteps of being an author/producer when they grow-up:

Turn off the TV, carve out some time for yourself (listening to your favorite, inspiring music is okay, but no TV), and just IMAGINE. Think of what story you want to see most in the world, one that doesn’t exist. Then go for it, and make it happen. (That’s what I did, with both Narnia and HERO). Either produce yourself or write it yourself. Create your own miracles Dare yourself to dream!

Quick, on your toes…

Blue or red?

Blue – it’s the color of the…

The ocean or a lake?

That’s an easy one…

The Ocean! – I’m a big, if not great, surfer. Lots of great life lessons in surfing. You can get knocked down for a few waves, but you get up again, wait, watch the sets come in, take the third or fourth one, and when it all works out, you’re one with the world.

Cook or take-out?

Cook – definitely! With lots of friends! Then some dancing, goofball-style to some new wave tunes after a great day at the beach until you drop With the kids, too. Showing them how. A perfect day.

Blonds or brunettes?

Brunettes.  Look at Goran.

What kind of car do you drive?

I live in NY, so I didn’t drive for years, but we finally broke down and got an old Volvo station wagon to get back and forth from Montauk, and to get to Maurice Sendak’s to film our interviews and to film the documentary about him.

Favorite candy bar?

Power Crunch protein bar, strawberry cream flavor, or vanilla, refrigerated.  Least amount of sugar, most amount of protein.  Tastes like a candy wafer bar.  Yum.  I take boxes of them with me when I go on set for production of a movie.

Favorite website?

perrymoorestories.com

Do you know why I love it so much? One of the biggest and wonderful surprises about writing HERO has been connecting with the readers. There has simply been no greater pleasure. I set up a website to promote the book, to inform readers about the book, readings I’d be doing, awards I’d won, interviews, articles, reviews, etc.

But the most important thing I did was to set up a forum where people could contact me directly and tell me their thoughts. This section has been amazing, the responses so personal and amazing!

For example …

Even though I can get busy, I try to get back to each and every one who takes the time to write me! After all, they were moved enough by HERO to write, it’s the least I can do to write back, and some of those conversations have been pure gold, totally inspiring. I have young people who tell me HERO has saved their lives, inspired them to be HEROES of today, straight people who said it’s saved and secured friendships with their gay friends because now they understand, parents who’ve thanked me because they now finally have a tool, that isn’t so bleak, with which they can share and understand their gay children. This one flight attendant sent me a letter about giving the book to her gay son who is fourteen, and I saved it because the letter made me cry. I get so many of these deeply felt letters, I am just so grateful HERO is out there in the world.  Please help! It still needs to find its hands into the hands of so many others who need it – and my Hyperion publishers tell me that positive reviews on Amazon are the best way to spread the word!

Otherwise, it is you, the fans and intelligent, hopeful readers who keep me going when I hit the rough patches! (and we all hit rough patches from time to time!)

Thank you to everyone who’s written and I encourage everyone who’s reading this interview to reach out to me through perrymoorestoriees.com and let me know your thoughts and what HERO means to you and what you want for the sequel. I will, sooner or later, get back to you.

Like I said, this interaction is my favorite part. Working in movies affords you little, if any, personal interaction.

Surfing or Rollerblading?

Surfing!!!!

Some Narnia producers, who shall remain nameless, love telling me this joke:

“Q: What’s the hardest part about learning to rollerblade?”

A: Having to tell your dad you’re gay.”

Welcome to my life. Seriously though, these are some of my best friends, and they feel comfortable enough around me to tell the joke.

Ironically, in real life, I told my dad I was gay while surfing. Dad is hardcore body-boarder. He stays in the water all day for eight hours straight until his fingers are purple. I’d already told my sisters, my mom while sitting on the beach, and then the hardest my dad – I went in the water and just went for it.

They love me very much. I’m sure it was hard for them to handle it, but my mother did a ton of research, even found an article in the New York Times about how there was genetic evidence supporting why people are gay.  I think that helped tremendously. That it’s not a choice.  Moreover, that they’re not somehow responsible. My dad’s initial response was something to the effect of, you have to understand, I come from another time. And of course my mother is still concerned for my safety. She saw terrible things done to gay people when she was growing up in depressed areas of the deep south. She prays for my safety every day.

Oh yeah … and speaking of my favorite online spots, check out anything writer GAIL SIMONE writes. I wish I could work the message boards like she does. That writer is a wizard.  I love Secret Six, and just about anything she writes.  Her list, “Women in Refrigerators” was so influential to me. She’s a real hero of mine. You can always look her up online by entering her online writing name, “You’ll All Be Sorry.” It’s been such a pleasure to meet fellow writers, like Gail, like Stan Lee. They know so much more than me, and I learn so much just from talking to them!

If you would like to purchase Perry Moore’s book HERO, please click here. To read “Moore,” click here.

Interview conducted and written by J. Federico

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  1. Why wouldn’t you ask him questions about the potential Showtime series for HERO? He even briefly brings it up and you sail right by it.
    THAT’S what fans want to know about, not whether his favorite color is green or blue!

  2. I think its kind of interesting that openly gay celebrities are often either behind the scenes, from reality shows, or have minor roles in most films. Its been frequently discussed by the media, etc. but its interesting to see how little things have changed even with all the advances in rights, exposure of gays in the media.

  3. I’m definitely going to buy HERO now, it sounds like an amazing book, great interview

  4. LOVE this interview, he has so much to say! I read Hero recently, amazing book!

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