It is all to well known a fact that I am an avid fan of the 1990s NBC sitcom ‘Frasier’ and have been ever since my youth (around age 13), I started watching the early season reruns in the mid 90s and then, once I had caught up to the current story arch, I started catching it in prime time. For whatever reason my family weren’t fans of the show (probably too intelligent for them…sad but true) but I had always been naturally drawn to it. It was often asserted by my friends at school that the show was ‘so gay’ and around my freshmen year actor David Hyde Pierce, who played Niles Crane, came out of the closet after much speculation on the part of the general public and media. It made a lot of sense to me and more over it made sense that he was the character I was most drawn to.
Well, in recent years I downloaded the entire series and have been enjoying it in my free time, often times I throw on a playlist of my favorite episodes to listen to while I sleep, and, naturally, I have become interested in Frasier trivia…its the natural path of any fandom, you want to know all about it. Well, it turns out that David wasn’t the ONLY gay actor playing it ‘straight’ on the show…in fact it seems producer & main star Kelsey Grammer has a bit of a thing for putting gay actors in straight rolls and having straight characters mistaken for gay for comedic purposes. One of these I’m sure most of my fellow Frasier fans have already guessed but I’m betting the other two will surprise you ever bit as much as they did me.
We’ll start w/actor Edward Hibbert AKA Gil Chesterton, KACL’s premier food critic and absolutely flaming fop. On a number of occasions Gil has gone out of his way to ‘IN’ himself, as Frasier put it, by mentioning his ‘wife’ (more mutual beard as she is most likely a lesbian, it is HEAVILY implied) Deb whom his coworkers all assumed was his cat. He rants about how people are so presumptuous and that ‘honestly, just because a man dresses well and knows how to use a pastry bag makes people jump to wild conclusions!’ (Season 5, episode 17 ‘the perfect guy’). However, off & on throughout the series it is continually hinted that the character Gil is in fact gay and in the third episode of season 11 ‘The Doctor is Out’, the audience is finally given a nod that yes, Gil is indeed on the ‘down low’ and as queer as a football bat, when he is seen lurking outside bad billy’s reading the paper when Roz & her boyfriend approach to enter her apt. after they go upstairs he tosses the paper on the stack and runs down stairs after straightening his bow tie. As I have mentioned in a prior post on the blog, actor Edward Hibbert is one of our fine gay actors & advocates for our queer rights. Finding this out was about as surprising as learning that David was gay, a pleasant surprise but hardly shocking :).
NO, the real surprise are the two actors who’s characters play it so straight you probably never would have suspected. That would be actors Dan Butler (Bulldog Brisko) and John Mahoney…OMG SHUT UP :O! (no wonder he ended up on my foxy grandpa list…when I was first looking up cast members a few months ago I pulled up an image of him to see how he was aging and was like ‘yeah, I’d totally hit that’ ;) mystery solved) for real real, he’s well known in the Chicago GLBT scene, though he’s not out to the general public in the sense that no one has ever asked him and he has never felt the need to make a public statement about it. Understandable given the generation he’s from, he learned to fake it really well to avoid getting beaten up doubtless. Even if he’s not out entirely, at the very least he knows he can go around his neighborhood etc. w/out being harassed about it etc.
Upon finding out about the later two I was stunned ridged, it explains why those were the characters I was always most drawn too (not unlike my natural draw to George Takei as Sulu in original star trek), and I never would have suspected either of them because they are so talented as actors in those rolls that you really cant’ tell. I gotta say though, it made my day finding out because it makes every episode of Frasier that much better now and I have all the more appreciation for the sheer talent that went into that silly little show. I have always said that one of the truest tests of an actors ability is how well you can convince your audience while playing opposite your true sexual orientation (if I had seen Patrick Stewart in Jeffery first and not star trek NG, I would have SWORN he was gay and I don’t think anything short of the actor saying so himself would have convinced me otherwise…speaking of, he guest stars in the episode ‘the doctor is out’ as a gay opera director and he once again flames FABULOUSLY!). Frasier truly was the gayest show on tv at the time, the only male main cast member who ISN’T gay (unless he’s still in the closet, though i never really got gay off him) is Kelsey, how fun is that?
I certainly have all the deeper appreciation for my Frasier & its cast now, I hope you do too. Be sure to go out and have a giggle at some of their hilarious antics, especially ‘match maker'(S2, E3), ‘out with dad'(S7, E15), ‘the doctor is out’ (S11, E3) and ‘the dog that rocks the cradle'(S7, E5) all showcase some of the best mistaken orientation gags in the series (dog that rocks the cradle is really more Dan Butler playing it straight amazingly well, like he always does). Watch & enjoy, and be sure to read up on the actors on their wiki pages (their names are hyper linked). Here’s to the INCREDIBLY flaming cast of Frasier! Thanks for the years of talented acting and great comedy you brought us in the 90s! CHEERS!
PS- Below is the latest update from Carmen, telling us all about how her surgery went, since I’m following her transition I thought I’d share to help keep y’all updated. Cheers (omg, you gonna look amazing once you’re all healed…not that you weren’t already FLAWLESS ;) but you knew that <3)