The latest Entertainment Weekly cover with the headline, ‘Gay Teens on TV,’ is a fantastic visual to behold. Especially if you think about all the people wandering through airports, supermarkets and bookstores, who are probably doing a double take to make sure they actually saw the word ‘gay’ and ‘teen’ in the mainstream press. We’ve come a long way for sure, and I was really excited to find out that an ‘indie’ film from 1997, titled SPARKLER, is finally available on DVD. A good reminder of a time when queer characters were incorporated into the fabric of a story, long before the in-your-face ‘pop-a-tude,’ glamor of Adam Lambert.
Co-written and directed by Darren Stein, who brought us Jawbreaker, the bitchy good, dark comedy about murderous high school girls and Put the Camera on Me, a touching documentary that turns it’s lens to young kids talking about adult subjects such as jealousy, cruelty, and sexuality (maybe a precursor to the whole ‘It Get’s Better’ campaign?), both films played Sundance to wild support and have left indelible impression on the pop landscape. He’s also produced several features including the gory, love letter to midnight movies All About Evil, directed by Joshua Grannell.
SPARKLER tells the story Melba (Park Overall), a trailer park sweetie who is married to a loser of a husband. Discovering her hubby’s illicit affair with a friend, Melba takes off in a huff and meets three cute, young men in a bar: Trent (Jamie Kennedy), Brad (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and Joel (Steven Petrarca). The guys are on their way to Vegas with the hope of winning big. She decides to join them and the minute she arrives, lady luck is on her side, as she wins a million-dollar sweepstakes. Melba, nicknamed by the boys as ‘Sparkler,’ has seventy-two hours to claim her prize setting off a chain of comical yet touching experiences including one of the boys coming out of the closet to meeting a lesbian stripper named Dottie (Veronica Cartwright) who performs at her girlfriend’s club titled The Crack.
SPARKLER is currently available, exclusively through TLAMovies.com and will be available through Amazon in a couple of weeks. Don’t miss this charmingly warped comedy as it serves to be a good reminder, that queer filmmakers like Darren Stein, have help paved the way for Glee’s characters Kurt and his fellow gay Blaine to grace the pages of a Time Warner publication.