Bruce Vilanch on “A Sophisticated Evening With Jeff Stryker”
by Nicholas Messing
Thursday Jul 5, 2007
Bruce Vilanch is one of Hollywoodâ€™s top comedy writers, counting among his celebrity clients Bette Midler, Diana Ross, Rosie Oâ€™Donnell, Billy Crystal and countless others. Here the wisecracking Vilanch dishes on why he couldnâ€™t resist the opportunity to write a play for Jeff Stryker.
How did the opportunity come about to work with Jeff Stryker?
I did an AIDS benefit with him and brought him on as a sight gag, because everyone would recognize him. I became friendly with him after that and stayed in touch over the years. Then he did the play “Jeff Stryker Does Hard Time,” which was an excuse for him to do his disco act, and after that we had dinner and he said, â€™I want to do a play, what should I do now?â€™ I said, â€™You should do “A Sophisticated Evening with Jeff Stryker” and it should be your life story,â€™ because his story is remarkable. He became this icon while becoming a single parent, so here you have a porn star dad. There were many opportunities to explore, so we came up with the show. It opened at the Celebration Theatre, a gay theatre where Hollywood meets West Hollywood.
How did the play go over in its first run in LA?
I went very well. It wasnâ€™t really what they were expecting, or what Jeff Stryker was expecting, to be telling stories about himself. It got looser and more fun as the show went on.
Will you be seeing the show in Provincetown?
I probably will be coming around July 14. I like going to Provincetown just to hang out- itâ€™s a great place. I need my bubble burger infusion, so I stand outside Spiritus and look at the shirtless guys.
What do you think of Jeff Strykerâ€™s acting skills?
He has an enormous talent, and people will be surprised at how sweet he is. He made is name as a hard-edged icon, but heâ€™s really loveable and quite adorable. There is nobody quite like Stryker in the world of theatre.