'Boy Culture: Generation X' — sequel focuses on the changing face of sex work

  • by David-Elijah Nahmod
  • Tuesday January 2, 2024
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Darryl Stephens and Derek Magyar in 'Boy Culture: Generation X'
Darryl Stephens and Derek Magyar in 'Boy Culture: Generation X'

In 2006 Q. Allan Brocka's film "Boy Culture" struck a nerve within the gay male community. The film told the story of X (Derek Magyar), a jaded rent boy in Seattle and his close relationship with his roommate Andrew (Darryl Stephens). Now, X and Andrew return, once again played by Magyar and Stephens, in "Boy Culture: Generation X." Brocka also returns to call the shots for a script he co-wrote with Matthew Rettenmund (based on his novel).

In the new film, X and Andrew are living in Los Angeles. They recently broke up after having been a couple for around a decade, but continue to share a home out of financial necessity. They are both now around forty as X (he is never referred to by any other name) attempts to get back into his former profession.

But as a man pushing middle age, he finds that he is no longer as desirable as he once was and that online platforms and PrEP have transformed the business beyond recognition. He finds that he has no choice but to accept help from a giddy twink named Chayce (a scene-stealing Jason Caceres) to help him navigate his way back into the business.

Andrew, meanwhile, is trying to move on from X, but finds that his former paramour keeps showing up at the worst times, such as when Andrew is entertaining a date. Even worse, X brings home a client, a Black man who gets off on being called a racial slur. (The word is bleeped out.)

As the story progresses, the audience meets a few of X's more interesting clients, such as a lesbian couple who want to experiment with bisexuality. He also services a hot young YouTube star, played by gay singer/songwriter Steve Grand.

There's a good deal of social commentary as the film offers observations not only about bisexuality, but about age differences, safe sex and the explosion of social media, all told with good humor.

Stephens spoke to the Bay Area Reporter about returning to the "Boy Culture" universe nearly two decades later.

Darryl Stephens (photo: Ron Derhacopian)  

David-Elijah Nahmod: Darryl, how you view your character? Who is he? What does he want out of life?
Darryl Stephens: You know, I live in L.A. I'm surrounded by people who have big dreams, who live for their art and are wildly ambitious. Andrew wouldn't really fit in with the folks I know. He's simple. Not in the sense that he isn't bright, but in the way he lives his life. He doesn't seem to want too much. Or, he hasn't quite figured out what he wants yet.

When we meet him again in "Generation X," I think he's regretting not having any goals beyond being happy in his relationship. Now that the relationship has ended, he's looking at his job and he's underwhelmed by what the future holds for him there. He's dating again and struggling to maintain his monogamous ideals while meeting all these new people. He's having sort of a midlife crisis, wondering what his legacy will be.

What kind of preparation did you do to play the role?
Aside from the obvious things like studying the script and tracking his emotional arc, I watched the first movie and studied Andrew's movements. I wore big workman boots in the first film to give Andrew this lumbering energy. Andrew overthinks things. It made sense to me that he would move a little slower because his brain was working overtime. And then there was his voice. I rarely speak in that lower octave, but when I do, I can feel Andrew coming through.

Why do you think "Boy Culture" struck a nerve with the gay community?
I really couldn't say. We talked about things in that film that a lot of gay men could relate to; the chosen family of the three roommates; the sequence about all the energy we put into dating or cruising, 'months at the gym, protein shakes, and finally you get laid, and never hear from him again.' It was topical then and much of it is still relevant now. But a good love story will always strike a nerve, right?

Can you talk about your working relationship with Derek Magyar?
We stayed in touch over the years, so when he and I got together on set, it was pretty easy. We've both grown up quite a bit. Our lives and careers have taken us in different directions but I think the love and respect remains.

And your working relationship with Q. Allan Brocka?
Allan has called me for a few gigs since we shot the first film. He's one of those artists who I just trust. I don't see him having ulterior motives or saying anything he doesn't believe to get a desired result. He's straightforward and tells you what he wants in very clear terms, while also giving you space to create and explore; a truly generous and gifted filmmaker.

Do you think there might be a third film?
One comment I read recently said the ending for this film really screams for a sequel, so there you have it.

'Boy Culture: Generation X' is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Google, Vudu, and Dekkoo.

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