Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



Mark Patton on 'Nightmare on Elm Street 2' gay subtext
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

This article shared 19649 times since Wed Oct 9, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

To say that Mark Patton's journey has been fraught with ups and downs is to define the cliché.

A fresh-faced young actor from Kansas City, Patton arrived in Manhattan in the early '80s and quickly landed the role of Joe Qualley in Robert Altman's off-Broadway sensation, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Patton co-starred with Cher, Sandy Dennis, a then-unknown Kathy Bates and a batch of other well-known actresses. The play became a must-see for the New York glitterati and soon Patton was nightclubbing with David Bowie, Andy Warhol and the like. When it came time to make the film in 1982, Patton was immediately signed to repeat his role as the fey teen boy who transitions to female, becoming the coolly controlled woman played by the late Karen Black in one of her most intriguing roles.

After moving to Hollywood, Patton won the coveted lead in 1985 as Jesse, the mixed-up teenager opposite Robert Englund's maniacal Freddy Krueger in the first sequel to the Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. This coup and the financial success of the movie were bittersweet, as Patton found being open about his gay sexuality was a taboo in Tinseltown. A few years later, torn between accepting a leading role in a television series as a gay character but told he'd have to remain in the closet, Patton decided to leave acting behind. That bitter blow was followed by a positive HIV diagnosis and years of health challenges.

More than 25 years later Patton—now 49, healthy and relaxed—has reinvented himself as a successful Puerto Vallarta-based interior designer who lives with husband Hector. He has come to embrace his time in the spotlight starring in A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge and, thanks to the movie's infamous gay subtext, his status as the world's first male "scream queen."

The film will be shown Saturday, Oct. 12, as part of the annual 24-hour horror marathon The Massacre at the Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Rd. Patton will be on hand to sign autographs, pose for photos with fans and regale the audience with tales from his fascinating time in Hollywood. Patton chatted with Windy City Times from his home in Mexico.

Windy City Times: You had this great success with "Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"—a year on Broadway and then the filming which led to a life-long friendship with Cher and the others in the cast—an incredible experience.

Mark Patton: It really was. In fact, I am writing a book about that fantastic period which should be coming out early next year. I'd been thinking about it for quite a while, but losing both Marta Heflin and Karen Black recently really lit a fire under me.

WCT: I look forward to that. And Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean eventually led to Nightmare 2—which was a really coveted part, right?

Mark Patton: It was huge, absolutely. Michael Murphy, one of the producers of the film, said to me, "You're never hired as the star of a movie by accident." Even if you've only done one of those big Hollywood movies, it's an amazing experience to be selected in that way. It was wonderful.

WCT: I'm going to guess that while you were filming the movie you were maybe not closeted but a little circumspect. This was the mid-'80s in Hollywood, after all.

Mark Patton: Well, actually, the way that it worked was this: When I was in New York I just lived my life, which is what one did in New York. Then I went to Hollywood and it was a completely and utterly different story. Personally, I was always out. I don't think I've ever been in the closet in my life and my boyfriend at the time who was on Dallas—he's passed away now—and we would do things like go to Merv Griffin's house for dinner or to big A-list gay parties. Everybody was out but the actors.

Generally, people sort of protected you. But socially, I was not allowed to live in West Hollywood and I could never go into a gay bar because the agencies would post people at the door to sabotage people's careers. There were only about 20 actors at the time—including Matt Damon and Brad Pitt, who both auditioned for Nightmare 2—who would be considered for these roles and agents would do anything to get an advantage. It was pretty brutal.

During the middle of Nightmare on Elm Street I began to realize there was something fishy going on with the script and it was really terrifying. I thought, "I'm in a box here and I don't know how to get out of it." This was my first leading role in a big movie and the question was, "Could I play a normal guy?" I had the chops to play people having nervous breakdowns but could I be the boy next door and be straight?

WCT: I can see where you'd read that script and not get the gay subtext but when you were filming—in that S&M kinda bar and that shower scene—did you immediately get that?

Mark Patton: We filmed the bar scene at the Detour [an infamous West Coast leather bar]! I was way past it at that point—I knew what was going on at that point. But literally the straight guys on the set—the director, the DP, the producers—they were dumb as a box of rocks about this. It would not have entered their minds. Bob Shaye, the owner of New Line, plays the bartender in the gay bar!

WCT: I believe you've said that the person who inserted the gay subtext was the screenwriter.

Mark Patton: David Chaskin, yes. This has been the big question—why did he do it? He always said that he didn't write it as a gay movie and he denied it forever. When really pushed up against the wall he would say, "Well, the actor in the lead—not even using my name—was so gay that he made the film gay" and I don't know whether David is gay or straight but I will tell you this: I think a closeted gay person in a position of power in show business is one of the most treacherous people that a gay actor can ever encounter.

WCT: Did Robert Englund know about this?

Mark Patton: Not a clue. It just wasn't on the radar of those guys. I mean, please, the coach, before they strap him up to the wall, he's getting shot at by balls—he's playing with his balls and they're shooting at him like they're ejaculating out of penises. [Laughs] If you watch me in the bedroom scene when I'm naked in the bed and the room starts to melt—the candles look like big dicks and they're dripping white wax on my body like they're coming on me. If you really take it all the way, like a couple of doctoral students have—look at Freddy Krueger in context—he's always vicious to women.

WCT: Talk about closeted.

Mark Patton: Right—but he's lovely to me. He's always very tender with me. The only people who are killed in that film are boys. Any boy who gets close to me, he kills them. So, it's been interesting for me to watch the revisionism on the tours I've done. Robert [Englund] will now say he knew all along and that it was part of the subtext for both of us. I love Robert but that's total bullshit! [Laughs]

WCT: It's hilarious to see this now but at the time…

Mark Patton: It was terrifying. I started getting fan mail that said, "Faggot, faggot" and "Jesse's a homo" and all that kind of stuff. It was a terrible time. My lover was dying and everybody had AIDS and I quit the business. I should have gone back to New York but instead I said, I'm done and I took off in another direction.

WCT: As an out gay man, what I love about your journey, Mark, is to see someone come full-circle and not only embrace your past but to be at peace about it and have a sense of humor, to boot. You know how rare it is to have an out gay man in a horror-film franchise.

Mark Patton: Thank you—there was always a little voice in my ear whispering, "Show business isn't through with you" and it seems that that voice was right. They call me the Greta Garbo of horror because I disappeared for so long. Now they call me the Joan Crawford of horror because I'm so good to my fans.

WCT: [Laughs] "I AM one of your fans!!!"

Mark Patton: I do, I love my fans—especially my GLBT fans and I can't wait to meet them in Chicago.

See and .

This article shared 19649 times since Wed Oct 9, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

REVIEW Randy Rainbow tackles politics, shows talent at The Chicago Theatre 2021-10-24
- YouTube sensation Randy Rainbow brought The Pink Glasses Tour to The Chicago Theatre on Oct. 22. Best known for videos that parody musical numbers with a focus on politics, the heavily curated show began with a ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, Haring/Ortiz mural, Jamie Lee Curtis, Billy Porter 2021-10-24
- Dancing the foxtrot alongside partner Jenna Johnson to Olivia Newton John's "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee (Reprise)" for Dancing with the Stars' Grease night, 18-year-old social-media star JoJo Siwa received the season's first perfec ...

Gay News

Stage Left Theatre names new artistic director 2021-10-21
- Stage Left Theatre announced Bobbi Masters as its new artistic director. Masters has directed plays at theaters around the nation such as No Strings Theatre Company in Las Cruces, New Mexico (The Bald Soprano); and Kitchen ...

Gay News

THEATER E. Faye Butler to star in 'Fannie' Oct. 25-Nov. 14 2021-10-21
- Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., will host the run of Cheryl L. West's Fannie (The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer), which will run Oct. 25-Nov. 14. E. Faye Butler stars as U.S. civil-rights ...

Gay News

Hubbard Street Dance back on the stage with 'RE/TURN' 2021-10-21
- Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC) will present Fall Series: RE/TURN to herald its return to the stage at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St. The program will feature new premieres as well as audience favorites ...

Gay News

Lyric Opera presenting 'Florencia en el Amazonas' Nov. 13-28 2021-10-21
- During Nov. 13-28, Lyric Opera of Chicago will run the company premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas—the first Spanish-language work to be presented as part of Lyric's mainstage opera season. There will be evening performances on ...

Gay News

Theater review: This Wide Night 2021-10-17
- Title: This Wide Night. Playwright: Chloe Moss At: Shattered Globe Theatre/Interrobang Theatre Project at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. Tickets: $25-$45; Runs through: Nov. 13 The landlord calls ...

Gay News

MUSICALS 'Pretty Woman' tickets go on sale Oct. 15 2021-10-15
- After a pre-Broadway run in Chicago and being on Broadway, Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on one of Hollywood's most beloved romantic stories of all time, returns to Chicago. The production will run at the CIBC ...

Gay News

THEATER Broken Nose presenting looter drama 'Primer' Nov. 15-Dec. 5 2021-10-15
- Broken Nose Theatre, a pay-what-you-can theater company, will run the world premiere audio drama Primer, described in a release as "a deeply honest look at the prioritization of property over people. Ensemble member Spenser Davis wrote ...

Gay News

THEATER 'A Rocky Horror Picture Party' at The Den on Oct. 30-31 2021-10-12
- Haven is presenting Science Fiction / Double Feature: A Rocky Horror Picture Party—an immersive Halloween experience that brings to life in vivid technicolor the world of the cult-classic film—directed by ...

Gay News

THEATER Rivendell's '8:46' to run Oct. 21-23, stream Nov. 1 2021-10-12
- Rivendell Theatre Ensemble (RTE)—Chicago's only Equity theater dedicated to producing new work with women at the core—announced 8:46 (Breathing Room), a new play festival of four commissioned plays each eight ...

Gay News

COMEDY Janeane Garofalo at The Den Theatre on Nov. 19-20 2021-10-12
- The Den Theatre will present comedian Janeane Garofalo for four performances on Nov. 19-20 (at 7 and 9:30 p.m. each night) on The Heath Mainstage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. Garofalo has had many memorable and critically ...

Gay News

DRAG Utica Queen finds a home in Chicago 2021-10-12
- Ethan Mundt rose to fame as Utica Queen in season 13 of the Emmy-winning show RuPaul's Drag Race. Ultimately placing sixth in the competition, this young, gay 25-year-old showed creativity and personality. Mundt's latest project, Homecoming ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog' running through Nov. 6 2021-10-12
- Black Button Eyes Productions is welcoming back live audiences with the popular internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog—an authorized fan production to benefit the Chicago charity Season of Concern—playing through ...

Gay News

THEATER 'I'm Not A Comedian… I'm Lenny Bruce' returns Nov. 5 2021-10-08
- Theatre 68 and the Venus Cabaret Theater, 3745 N. Southport Ave., announced the return of the critically acclaimed production, I'm Not A Comedian… I'm Lenny Bruce, to Chicago beginning Friday, Nov. 5. Ronnie Marmo wrote and ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.