Underwear Fashion Show Benefits Gay Indie Film

Guys get into their skivvies for art's sake

Kelly Burkhardt

As the new gay thriller Regrets starts shooting in Philly this winter, the independent film’s openly lesbian director Michelle Pollino, and several of the homegrown film’s producers, are raising money this weekend to start the cameras rolling. At Skivvies on Saturday, Dec. 11 (9 p.m. – 12 a.m.) at Voyeur Nightclub, guests can not only pitch in a $10 cover to benefit the film, but they’ll enjoy a gay underwear fashion show with $3 drink specials and music by D.J. Carl Michaels.

Kelly Burkhardt, a queer filmmaker and one of the film’s producers, sat down exclusively with G Philly to tell us about the movie and what the LGBT independent film scene is really like in town.

How did this event come about?

A bunch of friends with various connections to the film industry decided to pool our resources and make a film in Philadelphia. We wanted to throw a fundraiser that reflected the kind of movie we’re making, which is sexy and a little risque. Underwear is actually a plot point in the film, so we thought an underwear fashion show would not only be fun – and hopefully profitable – but also generate some buzz about Regrets.

What are you raising money for exactly?

To make Regrets, but also to continue to shoot LGBT films in Philadelphia. We recognize that in the current economic climate it would be extremely tough to find an investor, so we are going to our community.

Tell us about the film.

It’s a psycho-sexual thriller, a sort of noirish take on a gay hookup gone bad. Local filmmaker Michelle Pollino (Looking For) is directing from a screenplay by Rob Williams (Make the Yuletide Gay). There are plot twists to be guarded, but we can promise a sexy, nearly naked man on screen for most of the movie!

Who else is involved with the project?

There are four of us producing Regrets. Me, Michelle, Paul Fitzgerald, an Emmy-winning editor, and Brian Gannon, an award-winning editor. I guess you could say we’re an award-winning team.

Quite a few films have come out of Philly in recent years – and a new major motion picture has been blocking traffic for a few weeks now (thanks, DeNiro). How would you describe the LGBT scene for indie filmmakers?

Honestly, I don’t think there really is one. Occasionally filmmakers shoot a film here, but it’s really few and far between. There are so many talented actors and crew, but there doesn’t seem to be a cohesive LGBT network to grow the queer film industry. I will say, though, that there are a few projects happening that might be under-the-radar to most, like the recent “It Gets Better” video. And I believe there are two documentaries starting – one on the local drag scene and another about transmen.

Has the gay Philly film scene – or lack thereof – changed in recent years?

For a few years, Pennsylvania was a great place to shoot film because of the tax incentive the state offered. Philadelphia was one of the premier cities to shoot in. But in the past couple of years, many other states have had better incentives, so filmmakers head to where the best deal is. The economy has also affected the industry in general. People see films as a luxury and not a necessity. In my opinion, immersing yourself for two hours in a film is a perfect way to take your mind off of daily life and stress. I am sure I will get chastised for saying this, but Philly’s LGBT community is segregated between gays, lesbians, trans folk, race, class and gender.

What could that change?

I keep thinking of Rodney King: “Can’t we all just get along?” That may sound schmultzy, but seriously, we, the producers of Regrets, are doing it. If you have to label us, we have one lesbian, one queer and two gay men coming together to produce this film. We are all passionate in our own right and we all recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses that move this production forward in a very positive manner. I think it is slowly starting to happen in our LGBT community, but there always can be more.

What about you, Kelly? You’ve been involved with Philly’s gay film scene for many years. What are some of your other credits?

I wrote and directed a lesbian noir short film called Tremble & Spark. Recently, I also associate produced Butch Cordora’s documentary Straight & Butch. (Burkhardt filmed Cordora’s longtime-running In Bed With Butch show at the studios at Drexel University.)

So what can people expect from this event?

Simply put: nearly naked men and cheap drinks! The PhillyGayCalendar hotties will be mingling in their skvvies all night, and Voyeur is offering $3 drink specials. Underwear and other fashions will be provided by local designer and entrepreneur Matthew Izzo (a G Philly contributor), with a fashion show previewing his 12th Street clothing store which is set to open in February. And D.J. Carl Michaels will be spinning all night. You get all this, plus a 50-50 raffle, and it’s only $10 to get into Voyeur on a Saturday night.

And when do you start shooting the film?

We are planning on shooting in January or February 2011, but it’s all contingent on raising money, so keep your fingers crossed!