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Trash TV, Obsessive Love and Colette

It’s been eight years since local boy Richard Glatzer performed the alchemic feat of turning his stint as a producer on television’s Divorce Court into cinematic gold. Grief, his 1994 feature debut, was a hilariously scathing look at the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of the fictional series The Love Judge. But the movie also had heart, and beneath the bite there was compassion for the relationships — professional, romantic, lustful — that transpired off-camera. The Weekly recently took advantage of the release of his long-awaited second film, The Fluffer, to catch up with Glatzer, whose day job has him toiling for MTV.

L.A. WEEKLY: How did you end up at MTV?

RICHARD GLATZER: The need to earn a living. I’ve always had an affinity for trash TV, and it seems that when I’m between films, I just gravitate toward that in order to pay the bills. I worked for [MTV’s] Road Rules for about two years, and once you have the stamp of reality TV on you, it’s easy to get work. Now I’m working for Tuff Enuff, this wrestler reality show on MTV that I vastly prefer. There was always this bad Joan Crawford–movie quality coming from Road Rules that kind of rubbed against my grain, whereas Tuff Enuff is more down and dirty. I can more readily understand it.

How did you and [Wash] West divide up directing responsibilities?

You know, [cast member] Robert Walden said at one point that Wash was the juvenile delinquent and I was the cineaste sage. Wash has this trigger mentality where if he sees something, he immediately has an idea about it. He’s just right in there, whereas I tend to step back. It’s difficult to have any kind of contemplative time, because people want instant responses, you know — is the set gonna be blue or green? So, it’s great that there’s somebody with an immediate-response mentality, and someone else who can keep an eye on the big picture.

What attracted you to The Fluffer?

I love frustrated-love stories. Grief was a bit about that. And I was taken with the idea of a fluffer who’s obsessed with a porn star because nothing demystifies sex faster than being on a porn set. I thought this story was about the most extreme romantic obsession — if you can be on a porn set, see sex deconstructed in the most mechanical way, day in and day out, and still maintain this romantic illusion, then you really are a deep-dish romantic. The whole idea of submission, somebody’s ego being totally subservient to somebody else’s, I think is really interesting. Also, the unrequited love theme — I think all of us have had one of those, but we tend to associate that with adolescence. But Sean [the lead character] is someone who carries that kind of adolescence into his adulthood. I liked that idea, too.

I think a lot of gay men have a prolonged adolescence because so few of us have the designated time to work through our stuff.

I agree completely. That’s one of the things we wanted to examine in the movie. People think you come out of the closet and suddenly you’re a happy, healthy human being, but the movie suggests that there’s always stuff you need to go back and examine. Part of that is the whole gay attraction for straight men. Just look at the personals — everyone is “straight-acting” or wants someone who is. The biggest gay porn stars are those who deny they’re gay. We bring a lot of baggage with us when we leave that closet.

Do you have any new film projects lined up?

Yeah, Wash and I have two scripts that we wrote this summer, and we’re really keen on both of them — they’re both about sex and money, but from very different angles. One’s about a Russian trophy bride, and the other is a neo-Sirkian romantic triangle with political overtones. We’re also really excited about doing a project on Colette. She was the Madonna of her time — a performer, bisexual. It was all about acting things out and sorting through her stuff in a public arena. Oh [laughs], and she also happened to be a really good writer.