For the last 17 years, fans of the the 2000 cult hit film “Sordid Lives” have been asking its creator Del Shores questions like, “Whatever happened to Brother Boy?”
This week, Central Kentucky followers of the franchise can find out for themselves by attending a special, one-night only viewing of Shores’ long awaited sequel, “A Very Sordid Wedding,”at the Kentucky Theater.
Sponsored by Bluegrass United Church of Christ, the event includes a Q&A after the show featuring Shores as well as producer and actor Emerson Collins and actor Ann Walker.
“Sordid Lives,” a wacky southern comedy about coming out as gay in a conservative Southern town, first made a splash as a critically-acclaimed play in 1996 before being adapted for the 2000 film. MTV’s Logo network also produced a 12-episode prequel in 2008, which Shores said helped to grow the fan base even more and led to more and more requests for an update on the original characters’ lives.
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“People just kept asking and asking and I was thinking, ‘How can I make this fresh and different and still honor the franchise and those beloved characters?’” Shores says.
“I just looked at the news and the progress that had been made during the past 17 years with gay rights,” says Shores, who grew up the son of a Southern Baptist preacher and a high school drama teacher in a small, conservative Texas town.
While the original “Sordid Lives” was set in the late 1990s and focused on coming out, “A Very Sordid Wedding” brings the characters to the present and shows the town’s struggles to accept the consequences of the Supreme Court’s landmark marriage equality ruling of 2015. In other words: There’s a big ol’ gay wedding coming to town. How will they handle it?
Shores began writing the film before the pivotal ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land, and like many LGBTQ folk and their allies, he didn’t think it would happen at the federal level.
“I thought it was going to be state by state,” says Shores, who was already deep into the writing of the film when the ruling was announced.
“I wrote it where Ty and his husband were traveling from state to state every time they became legal,” says Shores. “They would go there as a publicity stunt and get married and it was part of his job.
But on Friday, June 26 in 2015, the narrative literally changed.
“It was an amazing day,” says Shores. “I remember where I was standing when I heard that news. It was so great to have that amazing news and to feel that victory because we didn’t know it would happen.”
After that day, Shores made some of the most joyful edits of his life.
“It was my pleasure to do that rewrite,” Shores says of changing the plot to accommodate the new rule of law.
“A Very Sordid Wedding” has enjoyed the praise of both critics and fans since it began rolling out a limited release in March.
Shores says he has especially experienced positive feedback from churches and faith communities, many of whom have hosted private screenings of the film.
Bluegrass United Church of Christ can now add its name to that list thanks to Pastor Marsha Jean Moors-Charles, who says the church has hosted an LGBTQ film screening for the past four years.
“What I hope is that folks know there are churches like ours, and many others in Lexington, who will not just tolerate them but will affirm and celebrate them and will celebrate relationships that lead to marriage,” Moors-Charles says. “Second and more importantly, it offers an alternative message of the gospel and an inclusive god that celebrates when two people find love.”
Candace Chaney is a Lexington-based writer and critic.
If you go
“A Very Sordid Wedding”
What: Screening of movie with post-show Q&A with writer, director Del Shores, actor and producer Emerson Collins and actor Ann Walker.
When: 7 p.m. June 22
Where: Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main St.
Tickets: $15 movie, $75 pre-screening reception and movie