By Nelson Branco
Lately, gays are all the rage on daytime television. ABC's One Life to Live, which told arguably the best gay storyline in soap history with then unknown actor Ryan Phillippe in 1992, is the latest sudser to spin a tale of love, lust, and betrayal from the rainbow perspective. A lot has changed since 1992, which is why the Emmy-winning series is returning to its gay roots. This time around 'the smart man's soap' is tackling a new perspective on the age-old coming-out tale: last month, it was revealed that "straight" police officer Oliver Fish (played by Scott Evans) and gay med student/technician Kyle Lewis (played by Brett Claywell), shared a sexual past in college.
Written by out head writer Ron Carlivati, the surprising storyline has, in a relatively short time, become one of the most realistic and buzzed-about gay couplings on the daytime dial. One reason the storyline has gained much prominence (including mainstream headlines and attention) is because a recurring One Life to Live actress, Patricia Mauceri, refused to participate in an upcoming story that involved her character mistakenly thinking her son Cristian, Fish's roommate, is gay. Mauceri told her executive producer, Frank Valentini, that her Latino Catholic character could not realistically be pro-gay. The actress was quickly fired and the role was recast with soap vet Saundra Santiago, who debuts on September 3.
The controversial news story, which came not too long after The Young and the Restless's Chris Engen walked out in the middle of his contract when he allegedly found out his straight character, Adam Newman, would have sex with a gay male character, Rafe Torres, was so talked about that even Perez Hilton stood up and took notice.
In their first joint interview, Out spoke with Scott Evans (yep, he's the real-life out gay brother of movie star Chris Evans) and former One Tree Hill scene-stealer Brett Claywell about pushing As the World Turns's super-couple Nuke (Noah and Luke) out of the spotlight and where Kishmet, as their onscreen couple is being referred to, is headed.
Out: Hey guys! How are the two most famous people in the soap world doing today?
Scott Evans: [Laughs.] I'm not sure if they are here today!
Are you enjoying the mainstream attention you've been receiving thanks to Kyle and Fish's surprise gay romance?
SE: Yes, absolutely. As they say, any press is good press. I have to admit, I was shocked at how much attention we've actually received. I didn't expect it, but so far, it's been awesome.
Brett Claywell: We were so involved in the storyline that we weren't aware of how much interest our romance would elicit. It's nice to know when you're doing good work, people stand up and take notice.
Your 'squish' name is either Kish or Kishmet. Which one do you guys prefer?
SE: I wanted it to be Kyliver. [Laughs.] Kish works.
What's been the reaction from your family and friends over this highly publicized storyline?
BC: My family has been supportive of my career since the beginning. Ever since One Tree Hill, really. Even though the storyline could be controversial to some people, my family and friends are really excited. Even my extended family from Kentucky to North Carolina is very aware and supportive of the storyline. I think it's been good for them to watch this storyline. In fact, they watch me on the show every single day.
Brett, you're from Greensboro, North Carolina, which isn't necessarily the most gay-friendly of states. I know that's a generalization but --
BC: It is a generalization but it's absolutely the truth. Like I said before, when I began this storyline, I had to go through all the emotions of this story including calling my father to let him know who and what I was playing on One Life. So in reality, it was like I was coming out to my parents. There have been a lot of real emotions that have tied my reality and [the show's locale] Llanview together.
Hopefully, your casting and talent will help change people's perceptions down south.
BC: That's the entire purpose of this storyline. When I spoke to our executive producer, Frank Valentini, about this character, I said my intent was to make Kyle the homosexual next door -- who doesn't fit any stereotype, who just happens to have a different sexual preference.
It's ironic that Scott, who is out in real life, is playing the character in the closet and Brett, who is straight in real life, is playing the out-and-proud gay character --
SE: I think it's ironic but some of the dialogue and scenes I'm playing out have happened to real-life people I know, so it's easy in a way. I've seen the struggle up close and personal.
BC: I think the fact that Scott is an out gay man makes the dynamic between us more effective because it's almost like I'm putting myself in Scott's shoes, so it allows us to understand each other better.