Remaking the Castro Clone

12.1.2008

By Eddie Shaprio

'Levi's gave me a tremendous amount of access to both their archive and retail store,' says Glicker. Hanson (who is gay) and Levi's, an early pioneer and longtime stalwart supporter for gay causes, thought the film was a perfect match for the brand. 'The movie is really about a very specific movement at a specific time in the city,' Glicker says. 'These people wore Levi's. It was what they were about and where they were. It's more than just a brand of clothes in this case, it's an iconic part of America and the Castro.'

'When I started reading about what people wore,' adds screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. 'I thought, What was that Levi's clone look about? It didn't take much to realize that it was about a group of people who had been called 'pansies' and 'fags' reclaiming their masculinity and being 'men.''

That held true even when going butch went beyond the basics. 'I remember reading someone complaining that the guys were actually going too far with it -- trying to be too butch,' actor James Franco, who plays Milk's longtime lover, Scott Smith, told Black in his Out cover interview. 'I saw a lot of guys from the Castro where they [actually] looked like construction workers.'

That's why the Castro clone, Glicker says, is actually a deceptively simple look. 'It has to be perfectly played,' he says. 'In order to make it look good, you have to find the perfect fit and you have to feel great in it to be able to sell the outfit. It was a uniform because it was accessible for everybody. It wasn't out of people's grasp. It was about the wearer more than the means of the wearer.' And whether or not Milk launches a vintage resurgence, the basic elements haven't been put out to pasture. 'I see the influence of it everywhere. It's not going anywhere. It's like the gay community's little black dress.'

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