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31 May 2010 @ 10:50 am
QaF Interview  

Finally, here it is.

Queer as Folk, the groundbreaking, controversial show that took America by storm, has been over for years now, but for the fans who fell in love with the characters, and took away confidence from story lines that refused to dampen down their reality for anyone, the show, and indeed the characters, lives on.

When I first fell in love with the show, and even later, when I became a part of the fan community, contributing my words, commenting on others, and eventually running bjfic on Livejournal, I could never imagine myself sitting here today conducting an interview with Daniel Lipman, one half of the infamous CowLip, who wrote and co-produced the show, an adaptation of the previously aired British version, written by Doctor Who's Russell T. Davies.

It was one of those moments you can't prepare for. Quite literally, the opportunity to interview Dan fell into my lap. I met him through chance, and as soon as I realised who he was, I couldn't not pull out every single cheeky card I had in my arsenal and ask (in the nicest way possible) for an interview.

I don't think, looking back, I expected to get anything other than turned down, but not only was I shocked when I was granted permission, but I was lucky enough to have Ron get in on the act too, and offer his insight into the show that changed the very fabric of how America saw homosexuality.

Thinking on my feet, I hastily opened up questions to the fanfiction community I run: a place where fans who love the relationship of Brian and Justin can get together to share their creations about the pair. The response was overwhelming, and it took a lot of effort to prune literally hundreds of questions down into something manageable.

Armed with what I hoped were questions that would not only shed new light on old stories, but also give both Dan and Ron a chance to give voice to subjects they may not have spoken about so publicly before, I sat down to begin.

First impressions count. We all know that. The first impressions I received from both Dan and Ron were that these two warm, open men, truly cared about their creation, and both wanted to take pains, even now with the show over, the DVDs bought, the props packed up and sold on, to show that they put their hearts and souls into something they believed in.

Rachael: All writers imagine their characters living their lives long after they write “the end” - how do you see the characters in their futures, and in particular, will Brian and Justin remain a part of each others lives?

Dan: We felt that by the end of the series we had positioned all the characters on the right track for the future. We always thought the overriding concept of the show was "boys becoming men" -- and in Mel and Linz's case, "girls becoming women." So, by the conclusion of the final season, we felt that we had achieved our goal. Even though the show ended in the same place that it began – in Babylon -- the characters had all grown and become very different people.

Ron: The final scene is not in Brian's imagination – it is a flash forward, a few months later when Babylon has been rebuilt. And that his dancing does not indicate that he has reverted to being an ageing club boy. Michael coaxed him to join him for one last dance and to celebrate exactly what Michael's voiceover and the choice of music says: that despite the bombing, Prop 14, etc., "We will survive."

Rachael: Personally, I think the way it ended was the only way it could have for Brian and Justin at that time, as well as reflecting Brian's interpretation of how relationships didn't have to be 'hetero' to be real. But on the whole, most of the people I speak to hate that Brian and Justin aren't together at the end. Some people are incredibly angry over it, which I suppose goes to show how passionately they feel about the characters. How do you feel about this, and can you explain why you chose to have them part at the end?

Dan: The controversy of the Brian/Justin story in the last episode has always puzzled us. Of course Brian and Justin will see each other again. New York is a brief commuter flight, less than 90 minutes, from Pittsburgh. Some fans seem to focus on that and not what their story is really about. Brian and Justin do not need to say vows to each other to cement their relationship. They're beyond rings (even though Brian sentimentally keeps them), ceremonies and receptions. Just like in their "Covenant" scene, when they declared their own guidelines for living with each other, they know that their relationship transcends rules that others may need. It was, in fact, based on a lyric by Richard Rogers from the title song of his last great musical NO STRINGS: "Let the little folks, who need the help, depend upon vows and such. We are much too tall." Justin going off to New York was a declaration of freedom and a final restatement of Brian's philosophy, that sacrificing who you are for the sake of another or demanding that they sacrifice who they are for you, is not love.

Ron: And although Brian had once considered working in New York, that was before he had his own successful business. And you just don't start up a new ad agency in the most competitive market in the world -- not even Brian. As for Justin, the center of the art world in the States is New York. What young artist wouldn't want to be there?

Rachael: “It's only time,” Brian tells Justin, at the end of the show. It's become such an iconic phrase to the fans, but what does it mean to you, and what did you intend for it to mean from Brian to Justin?

Dan: Regarding Brian's "Its only time" speech: Brian didn't mean that he and Justin would never see each other again. He was merely implying that even if they DIDN'T see each other again they would still know that they were bonded forever. That's what their story was always about. An unlikely romance, an unconventional romance, but a great romance that would embrace them for a lifetime.

Ron: The idea for the speech came from a Shakespeare sonnet we all read in high school --#116. "Love's not Time's fool"...."Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom."

Rachael: That's one of my favourite poems of all time!

Rachael: Are you surprised by how much the show and characters have impacted people, both positively and negatively, all this time after the show has ended? There's still a massive fan community that tries to remain active.

Dan: We are thrilled that QAF continues to engage and enrage. We are deeply appreciative for the fans around the world who watch and re-watch the show. And how lucky we are to have the DVD's!
QAF is a very singular show. We all knew it at the time. Many people said that we opened a door for more gay drama. But we realized that there would never be another QAF. QAF was designed to shake people up, get them talking. We tried to show the truth, blemishes and all -- at least that was always our mission as writers. However, telling the truth and political correctness do not always intersect.

Rachael: Very true. Speaking of political correctness, in an interview, Randy was once quoted as saying he felt that Justin was in an abusive relationship with Brian. What's your take on that?

Dan: Brian may have been abusive at times. But that was one of the glories of writing a series for pay cable. It allowed us to create characters who didn't always have to be good or noble, or justify their actions according to broadcast network standards. Our characters could be flawed -- in other words, human. In accordance with our concept of boys becoming men, Brian was still growing up, trying to find his way through this labyrinth of a relationship that he never thought he'd ever have, yet was compelled by, dealing with someone who was tugging at his heart and who wouldn't give up on him and go away. But by the end of the series, I think he had moved beyond his conflicts and inner demons.

Rachael: Some of my favourite moments involved characters dealing with their inner demons. One of my favourite arcs in the show was the season four Justin Pink Posse arc; I felt it was very true to his character, and showed a positive evolution following a realistic reaction to the bashing. However, many fans I've spoken to hate the arc, and feel it's out of character. Can you explain your thoughts behind your ideas for this?

Dan: We're a bit baffled by the criticism of the Pink Posse arc, as well. This wasn't something that we made up out of our imaginations. We always did our research and there actually was such a vigilante group. (Just like the Fairy Gathering that Michael and Emmett attended -- that exists. And those "bug chasers" are real, too.) Perhaps people became uncomfortable by our portraying Justin as being aggressive and vindictive. But, once again, we were not constrained by any network standards.

Ron: After Shanda Leer's brutal attack, which mirrored Justin's own, and Chris Hobbes telling him that he hoped he would get AIDS and die, we felt it was justifiable for Justin's suppressed rage to emerge. The real point of the story, of course, is how long do you turn the other cheek and how far do you go when you stop turning it? One of my favorite speeches, along with Ted's "God loves you just the way you are" speech to Emmett, is Cody's speech at the Gay and Lesbian Center.

Dan: Mine, too, by the way!

Rachael: “No apologies, no regrets” was Brian's tag line - is there anything you regret about the show, or wish you had done differently? If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be and why?

Dan: I honestly have "No apologies, no regrets" when it comes to anything we did on the show. And we'll always be grateful to Showtime for allowing us to tell the stories that we wanted to tell and to explore the territories that we wanted to explore. However, I do have one regret that still haunts me. It's when Michael returns to the Q-Mart and his nemesis, Andrew, forces him to dress up like a clown. I saw the dailies of that and slapped my head with a revelation: Michael should have been dressed like a Big Q! I even tried to re-shoot it, but couldn't justify spending the money for it.

Rachael: My favourite non-main characters are Brandon, Ethan, and Cody, contrary to popular opinion. Which are yours?

Dan: I really don't have a favorite secondary character. I liked them all. We really tried to write them, cast them and give them the same kind of attention that we did the lead cast.

The same goes for the story arcs. I enjoyed working on all of them for different reasons. Stories were designed to compliment and interweave with each other -- trying to keep the audience off-guard by switching from something humorous to something with dramatic impact. Although I suppose the most memorable for me off the top of my head would have to be the "See The Light" thread, the George and Emmett romance and Vic's passing. I also liked when stories ( and characters) would surprise us. Like Ted and Emmett's pairing. It took us into dark places we never suspected when we first conceived it.

Rachael: Can you give me any new anecdotes about any of the actors during filming? Did they play a lot of pranks?:

Dan: We didn't have a prank-playing cast. But you can find some goofs on our seasonal gag reels which, I believe, are offered as bonuses on the DVDs.

Rachael: Finally, there has been a lot of talk about disagreements between specific cast members, and you and Ron, which are rumoured to have soured the last couple of seasons. Hal Sparks has said in an interview that neither he, nor CowLip would work with Gale or Randy again. Can you provide any insight, and which, if any, of the cast do you keep in touch with now?

Dan: As for Hal's remark, I don't know where, when or in what context that was said. But I can assure you that there was nothing sour about our relationship with anyone in the cast. We all had our moments, no doubt, living and working under constant pressure. But as with any family, you may argue at times or have a disagreement and then you make up. The important thing is that we all had enormous respect and affection for one another, which continues to this day. Everyone in our cast is extraordinary – as human beings as well as courageous actors. Just remember, not many people would put themselves on the line the way our cast did – doing what their parts required of them – AND leave their homes and friends to live and work in another country for five seasons. Doing a series is very hard work with long, gruelling hours. It requires a lot of sacrifice. But I've never seen a group of people so connected to each other. And they still are. We don't see everyone as much as we'd like -- but that's the nature of any project in our line of work. For a brief moment in time, you become a family. And then you move on. Still, we keep in touch and we will always share a bond -- like Brian and Justin -- that transcends time and place. QAF -- a journey and an experience like no other.


So there you have it. Never in a million years did I expect to have such an opportunity, especially when my experience in interviewing is next to none, but I suppose if there is one thing the show taught me above all else, it was that time is fleeting, and we only have one life: when a golden opportunity presents itself, grab it with both hands. Don't allow yourself any room to dwell on the 'what-if?'.

Copyright of R Grant, 2010. rcgrant82@gmail.com You may link to this article, with full credit, but may not reproduce in its entirety without express permission of the participants.

Thank you to both Daniel Lipman and Ron Cowen (CowLip) who generously devoted their time to speak to me, on behalf of the fans.

Please visit www.bri-tin.com and show your appreciation for the efforts involved in producing this interview. Donations towards site upkeep are appreciated via the Paypal button, and fan goodies can be bought via the store (link at top of page).

Queer as Folk DVD box sets of all the seasons, and as well as season soundtracks, can be bought via Amazon, and all good stockists.

salilu on May 31st, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
thanks for posting this :)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: Snog in portraitbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
auselysium: brian glitterauselysium on May 31st, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Wow what an opportunity! Thanks so much for doing this and sharing this with all of us.
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: FLASH COLORbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
And thanks for reading it!
g_thackg_thack on May 31st, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
:O wow! Congrats!

There were heaps of things I really didn't want to know in that interview (I guess I'm still in denial about the ending and don't want to hear anything apart from 'oh yeah Brian and Justin would have got back together in a year, we just didn't have the budget to shoot it') but it's really good to see that they both still think about the show and obviously had a passion for it :)

Plus I love that Ron explained that Brian's 'dancing does not indicate that he has reverted to being an ageing club boy' I never caught up on that.
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF BJ dancing at the prom shadowsbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It made me really happy, actually, to hear their response. They basically made it clear that there would always be a Brian/Justin, but that the point was that wasn't THE point. If that makes sense. They'd transcended that.

I like that Ron explained that too. Ron was full of extra info!
A fanjustinlovesart on May 31st, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Rachael. Excellent interview.
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF tropical b/jbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
cinakjb on May 31st, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you soooo much for sharing!! I loved reading it, you did a great job! =D
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF BlueshirtJustinbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you liked it! :-)
your new best friend: QAF :: Em/T say well donesakesushimaki on May 31st, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)

Gave me the happy-squeeies reading this, especially since they confirmed the most favorable interpretation of the B/J relationship at the end of the show.
I'm kind of needy in that department, because in my darkest hours, I really have wondered whether or not they were implying that Brian would return to his old ways.

So, thanks! And kudos for being so... hands-on!
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF britinbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
LOL Yay! I am glad you liked it so much.

And yes...er...hands on would be a good interpretation. If hands on means body blocking until someone submits?!
(no subject) - sakesushimaki on May 31st, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sakesushimaki on May 31st, 2010 04:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Yvonne Reidyvonnereid on May 31st, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
This interview was awesome,I always knew in my hear Brian and Justin would stay together.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
Vonnie x
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF Awesome Justin long hairbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
I know, it's awesome they confirmed it. I sort of had a big *OMG FLAIL!* moment when Dan came out and said it. He was so like 'how the hell don't people think they'd be together?' that it was funny.

Glad you liked it!
heretic_xheretic_x on May 31st, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
This was a very thought-provoking, interesting read, and how incredible for you to have interviewed Cowlip!!

Ah, if they had only communicated these thoughts directly after the show, would've saved some of us a lot of agony(about B/J). ;) Glad they confirmed what I've always felt was true about B/J, that Brian was putting his club boy days behind him and that Justin and Brian were in accord about going to NY, and Cowlip gave us confirmation that B/J's unconventional relationship was not *broken up* at all... and they would see each other again.

Dan's comments about cast disagreements make sense, thinking about how most work environments are, people in such close, intense quarters are bound to get on each others' nerves.
Thank you so so very very much for this generous contribution to fandom....and grateful to Cowlip for finally revealing the truth behind the B/J relationship after the cameras turned off.
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF  B/J prom dress upbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Dan's comments about disagreements made sense to me too. He seemed genuinely warm towards everyone he worked with, and didn't hold any ill feelings.

Keep your eyes peeled for a post from me in the near future (on this comm)...I've had a few ideas to get the fandom involved in something. :-)
(no subject) - heretic_x on May 31st, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
wildsweet_angel: bj momentwildsweet_angel on May 31st, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Great interview, Rachael. What an opportunity and you made the most of it. I appreciate you sharing this with us. It made me feel a whole lot better about the ending. Knowing that B/J would see each other again means everything to my fangirl heart. Thanks again! ♥
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF ustin pink lipsbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
It made me feel a hell of a lot better too. I think my relief was palpable. LOL!
Janeballymay on May 31st, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy!!Thanks for sharing:)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: Brian rosesbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're happy!
Donnadzmom on May 31st, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
It was such a great interview and I really enjoyed the insight in their thoughts for the end of the series. I was terribly upset by the "It's only time" ending, but reading their thoughts and motives behind the ending has eased my mind tremendously.

Thanks so much for posting this and I'm so jealous of the opportunity you received. All I can say is WOW!
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF BJ dancing at the prom shadowsbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:24 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it helped ease the ending for you. I really hoped that hearing it would help a lot of fans come to terms with it. :)
masterglorymasterglory on May 31st, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
WOW THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!! Such a great interview, brava:):):) It's absolutely amazing what they have said about 513, somewhat has placated a bit of my anger toward that ugly final, sadly only a bit, but...better than nothing, isn't?;).

Can I ask you something? Could you, pretty please, let us post this amazing interview on queer-as-folk.it, our italian site?
It would be a great huge opportunity for all the italian Qaf fans who doesn't understand english, because we'll post it translated...and obviously giving you a lot of credit;)

Let me know something, and thank you again for this unexepected thrilling present, Gloria *hugs you tight*
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: Weaponbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Hiya. Sure, no reason why you can't translate it. I'm cool with that, as long as full credit is given on the posting, and there's a link back to the original here.
(no subject) - masterglory on May 31st, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF Shower standing BJbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome!
theycalledmeboots: qaf; brian - bakedmetrickkk on May 31st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the interview :)

Could I ask when Hal said he would never work with Gale or Randy again, and if he ever said why? Did he say they were difficult to work with or was it just personal differences that couldn't be set aside? 'cause I think since end of the show, I've seen pictures of both Gale and Randy at events being photographed with other past cast members and everything looked fine.
Charlie Tames My Dragon: coffee bitchbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
Hal said it in an interview. I'm not sure for which magazine. This was regarding the controversy over Randy and CowLip's apparent 'differences of opinion' regarding the characters and the way the show was going. If the rumours were ever to be believed, Gale took Randy's side, and that rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way too. Gale and Randy are fine with each other.

Of course, I'm only repeating the speculations here. From what Dan told me, things are fine their end.
(no subject) - handmedownrose on May 31st, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - vasilikii on June 1st, 2010 09:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sisidraig on July 27th, 2010 11:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - bloodyrose82 on June 1st, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
marny1: Marnymarny1 on May 31st, 2010 04:18 pm (UTC)
thanks for sharing, love it

* hugs *
Charlie Tames My Dragon: bouncy billbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
Nolyananolyana on May 31st, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you; ever so, for sharing it with us. :D
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: Justin and Ethanbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
Awesome icon! Thanks for reading.
aschicca: QaF_B-J coming homeaschicca on May 31st, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this here, it was a very interesting reading :)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: HP: Shooting Star Harrybloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
You're welcome! I had a blast.
(Deleted comment)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF ustin pink lipsbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
I appreciate that, thank you. I basically told myself I had this one shot, and I either went in there and asked a bunch of stuff we already knew the answer to, and so playing it safe, or I asked what I knew a lot of people would really like to know answers to, at the risk of pissing them off.

They were lovely, however, and so incredibly polite. I tried to keep my raging fangirl locked inside, but I think she came out a couple of times. They were very patient. LOL.
tawny: bj-all is righttawny_7 on May 31st, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this.
Charlie Tames My Dragonbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading.
amorfati42 on May 31st, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
This was a nice read, that's pretty awesome you got to interview them. Thanks for sharing!
Charlie Tames My Dragon: BillShidobloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
It was indeed awesome. Thanks so much!
Junbyjunby on May 31st, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
This was great! Wonder what other projects they will do... Thanks for posting it!
Charlie Tames My Dragon: gstavbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
(Deleted comment)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: BJ Lovedbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you. I felt so much closure when I heard their answers too (and I was one of the few who thought the ending was perfect the way it was).
(Deleted comment)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF: Pridebloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And exactly...however much we wanted to believe they would be together, it was an entirely different thing hearing it from THE source, you know? I think I went into hyperventilation wondering why they chose to reveal it to ME, some little fangirl, instead of the big media at the time.
edom56edom56 on May 31st, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Rachael, this was great :)
Charlie Tames My Dragon: dance catbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading. And how cute is your icon?!
(no subject) - edom56 on May 31st, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - edom56 on June 1st, 2010 12:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - edom56 on June 1st, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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positive_patpositive_pat on May 31st, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
I am so glad that Ron & Dan made it clear about Brian & Justin. I have been telling folks for years that 513 was not the end of Brian & Justin and that Cowlip never intended folks to see it this way. I knew this because one of the QAF writers is a good friend of mine and he told me that years ago. But folks never believed me. Now they can see that it is so.

This was a great opporunity and a nice interview.

Charlie Tames My Dragon: QAF Shower standing BJbloodyrose82 on May 31st, 2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad too. :-)