Jeff & Will discuss the televised return to the ballrooms of Pose on FX and Legendary on HBO Max. They also look at the Pride issue of The Knot magazine featuring Jonathan Bennett and Jaymes Vaughn.
Author / Screenwriter / Director JC Calciano talks about Revenge of the Brobot, his latest book which continues his Steam Room Stories universe. He also discusses how Steam Room Stories got started a dozen years ago, the new Steamy Stories Podcast and what got him started telling stories across multiple mediums.
Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. Find many more outstanding podcasts at frolic.media/podcasts!
Here are the things we talk about in this episode. Please note, these links include affiliate links for which we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. These links are current at the time the episode premieres, however links are subject to change.
- Pose on FX | Netflix
- Legendary on HBO Max
- The Knot Jonathan Bennett / Jaymes Vaughn Feature
- JC Calciano Interview
- JC Calciano: author website | movies website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- Revenge of the Brobot by JC Calciano on Amazon
- Steam Room Stories on YouTube
- Is it Just Me on Amazon Prime Video
- The 10 Year Plan on Amazon Prime Video
- The 10 Year Plan by JC Calciano on Amazon
- Steamy Stories Podcast website
- Steamy Stories Shorts website
- Steam Room Stories: The Movie on Amazon
- Russ Meyer on IMDB
- John Waters on IMDB
- Arthur 2: On the Rocks on Amazon Prime Video
- The Fisher King on Amazon Prime Video
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier on Amazon Prime Video
- E-Cupid on Amazon Prime Video
- Galavant on Amazon Prime Video
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast on Patreon.com
- Big Gay Fiction Podcast patrons on BGFP website
- Libro.fm website (use this link to receive your Big Gay Fiction Podcast special offer)
- Frolic Podcast Network website
This transcript was made possible by our community on Patreon. You can get information on how to join them at patreon.com/biggayfictionpodcast.
Will: Coming up on this episode, novelist and filmmaker, JC Calciano is here to tell us all about his Steamy Stories.
Jeff: Welcome to episode 308 of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, the show for avid readers and passionate fans of gay romance fiction. I’m Jeff Adams and with me as always is my co-host and husband Will Knauss.
Will: Hello, rainbow romance readers. We are so glad that you could join us for another episode.
Jeff: It’s been a great week here because we have gotten back into the ballroom scene. We started off this week looking at the season premiere of “Pose,” which is back on FX. The show is looking at the year of 1994 right now, having jumped forward about three years from where season two ended.
I love coming back to it, although most of our characters are in somewhat of a bad place right now for various reasons. I look forward to seeing what the next five episodes come back with. And we’ll certainly be talking more about the season as it continues. But yeah, I’m really glad to be back with these characters and I’m sad the show’s about to end. I really hope it’s going to end well. Did you enjoy season premiere?
Will: Yeah. The show jumped three years in that two episode premiere and boy, they packed three years worth of melodrama into those episodes. It was very intense.
Jeff: If you need to catch up on all things “Pose,” seasons one and two are on Netflix and season three continues all this month on FX Sundays at 10.
We’ve also come back to “Legendary,” the HBO Max ballroom competition series. We fell in love with it last season, as all of these amazing houses came together to throwdown some amazingly fierce competition and they are bringing it all back to the floor this year as well. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the three episodes that HBO Max gave us for the premiere this past week. And boy, there’s going to be some big competition for that hundred thousand dollars this season.
Will: Just like last year, every single member of these houses is beautiful and fierce and amazing and so damn talented. The episodes we’ve seen so far with the themes and ballroom categories have been a whole lot of fun. I’m looking forward to more.
Jeff: If you’d like to jump into “Legendary,” new episodes of season two drop Thursdays on HBO Max. And, of course, season one is still there as well.
Will: One last note before we get to this week’s interview. We want to encourage everyone to pick up the Summer 2021 issue of “The Knot” magazine. Now why in the world are we recommending a bridal magazine to you? Well, because for the very first time a gay couple is appearing on the cover. Actor Jonathan Bennett and his fiancé James are the cover story for the summer issue.
They talk about how they met, their engagement, and how they’re planning on making their wedding the outest and proudest affair they possibly can. Jonathan and Jaymes are just as cute as can be. And I’m so happy for them. The rest of the issue is packed with a lot of interesting articles. There’s a piece on recommendations for gender neutral fashion. And several other experts giving advice on how you can make your ceremony more modern and inclusive. Plus there’s the familiar editorial content, fabulous gowns, and pictures of beautiful tropical honeymoon destinations. It’s all really amazing. If you happen to see this issue of “The Knot” on your newsstands or at the drug store or your supermarket checkout line, we highly recommend you pick it up.
Jeff: It’s really great to see a wedding magazine devote an issue to pride. And that’s one of the reasons we’d really like you to pick this up when you see it to encourage not only “The Knot” to do this again, but to perhaps encourage other wedding magazines to do something similar in the future.
So we’re longtime fans of JC Calciano’s films, including the “The 10 Year Plan” and the “Steam Room Stories” just to name a couple. Earlier this year, he released the delightful romcom novel “Revenge of the Brobot,” which I reviewed back in episode 295. That book gave the “Steam Room Stories” universe a bit of a futuristic edge. He’s also got a new fiction podcast that he’s doing, featuring some short steamy stories. We get to find out about the book and the podcast and everything else that’s going on, including what’s coming up next from JC.
JC Calciano Interview
Jeff: JC, welcome to the podcast. I am so excited that you’re here to talk about “Revenge of the Brobot” among other things.
JC: Thank you for having me. I’m delighted as well.
Jeff: We’re so excited that you reached out because “Revenge of the Brobot” was such this wonderfully light breezy romcom that has a little bit of sci-fi in it because let’s face it these robots don’t exist at the moment.
Before we really get in to “Revenge of the Brobot,” this is part of your “Steam Room Stories” universe, for those who are unfamiliar, tell us about that. Cause it’s been around for quite a while. A decade, I believe.
JC: Yeah, actually yeah, 12 years. I started Steam Room Stories after I did my first film, which was, “Is It Just Me?” So Is It Just Me is a classic love story about two boys who find each other. And I had such a great experience with, Is It Just Me? I wanted to just take a little bit of a break, but I wanted to create content. So I was thinking, what can I do that is affordable and bite-sized, and just a fun little side project.
I didn’t have a lot of resources. So, I had literally a fog machine that was in my closet. I want to do this kind of sketch comedy, but I want it to be sexy and fun. So I went to Kmart and I bought a shower curtain that looked like tiles, and I got my coffee table and I put it, I taped it to the wall and I put the coffee table there and I stuck the fog machine underneath the bench.
And I brought in a couple actors who were great looking guys, wrote a script and grabbed a couple of towels and made Steam Room Stories, just a little three minute sketch kind of fun thing to do, just to explore YouTube because YouTube was picking up at that time. I put these episodes up and I just wanted to make a gay comedy program, but gay wasn’t what it was.
It was just gay men just talking about bro stuff. And it kind of evolved, more devolved into eighties, kind of Valley eighties – the guys all turned into these bro-ish Valley, eighties characters, which was fun. We all became friends, and we all had such a great time shooting at that.
We shot over and over, and we just wanted to do more. There really was nothing of an agenda, of any sort of, than just getting together every couple of weeks and shooting these episodes. But Over 10 years later, over 250 episodes later.
JC: Yeah, we had over 250 episodes and we’ve gotten over 63 million views. When I was done with my fourth movie ‘The Ten-year Plan’, my husband asked what do you want to do next?
And I said, I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t really have anything in mind. He said what do you enjoy doing the most? So I said I enjoy the Steam Room Stories the most, if I could just make videos with these guys all day long, let’s just do that. So he said why don’t you turn it into a movie?
And I wrote The Steam Room Stories Movie, which came out last year. And that was such a great experience and so fun that when COVID hit, I decided I can’t really go out. Can’t make more Steam Room Stories episodes. Let me write my idea for the sequel as a book.
And that’s where “Revenge of the Brobot” came from. And subsequently I now just enjoy writing and just creating more content and hopefully another book in that world. So, it’s turned into something more than I had expected from a couple of just fun little episodes to shoot over 10 years ago.
Jeff: And that’s a lot of content. Even as short as those are, you stack up 250 of those episodes, plus a feature film that was, I want to say at least 90 ish minutes. If I remember correctly, that’s a huge body of work over a decade. What kept you coming back to those stories? What was making them so much fun?
JC: The guys. I’ve been very fortunate with all the movies. I’ve always ended up casting people who I just want to hang out with. Actors who, when yes, I like to think they’re great actors and yes, they look great on camera, but they’re just good guys.
And I’m friendly with almost every single actor who’s ever been in any of my movies in the last 12 years. We’re still, we still get together, and we still hang out. And as like with all the Steam Room Guys, so it’s really just like a big frat party when they get together.
We, we end up half as productive as we should because half of the time it’s just hi-jinks and ridiculousness, but I enjoy the company of the actors and I always did. So that’s what makes me want to make films is the response from the audience and the fans who enjoy it and working with the actors, because writing is a lot of solitary work.
But when you have an opportunity to get out of that and share it with people who enjoy what they do, actors acting/living their dream, it’s really rewarding.
Jeff: You’ve got really such a diverse group of guys in the video stories and the movie, as those characters evolved, and more people came into it and in the book as well. How did you decide the types of guys to populate in this group?
JC: I just kind I try to, I try to represent as much of the community as I can. And I think that people need voices. And a lot of times they’re not given voices, so I try to embrace as many different kinds of people, and voices, and types of people as I can.
So it’s really always been from when I started including and broadening and welcoming the community. Of course, they’re attractive men but I really try not to limit them to a specific type because everyone’s got different types, and everyone should be represented at least, hopefully my world. So that’s really what I try to do. I aggressively try to do that and to think about other people and people who don’t have voices.
Jeff: And now in this book, you’ve gone and given voice to a robot in this, maybe not too distant future, that you’re in, where you’ve got Rob, who stands for a Robot with Organic Body. What led you to mix a robot into all of this?
JC: I thought it was an interesting metaphor to explore what people love and who they love. I thought why not explore what love is as a concept, as opposed to what’s right and wrong about it and move beyond any kind of judgment, whether it’s right or wrong for two people/two men to love each other, two women to love each other or a person loves something other than that, if they think it’s a man and it’s not – what does it matter?
Love is love. In the movies and Steam Room Stories, the movies all explore what does it mean to love somebody? And what does it mean to love yourself? And that really is my reoccurring theme, and this just was another opportunity to explore love I think.
Jeff: One of the things that was really nice and really sweet about “Revenge of the Brobot” is nobody really took Chase aside and went, okay, he’s a robot. Are you sure about that? There was just like this instant acceptance to it, which I guess goes towards exactly what you’re looking at there.
JC: Yeah. If, you’re happy and you love someone, then great. And if it turns out that he’s a robot, then we’re not ones to judge. And that was really where I wanted to go with the story, is that who is anyone else to determine and judge what it is that you love, if you’re happy then that’s all that needs to be considered.
Jeff: It really reminded me of some of the themes that Star Trek: The Next Generation played with commander Data the Android on the show, because there were recurring themes over those seasons of what does it mean for him to be a sentient being and things like that. And then there’s also the Pinocchio element that kind of wanders its way in here to as Rob rather becomes the real boy, if you will, because of the story too, it seems like that’d be fun to play with at the same time.
JC: Yeah. I’d like to explore different things meaning barbarians from planet Brotron, which is what I’m currently writing is exploring without giving too much away interplanetary romance.
Jeff: And why not?
JC: And why not?
Jeff: Do they have steam rooms in space?
JC: See, you’ll have to read the book now.
Jeff: Now, in “Revenge of the Brobot” you’ve got a lot going on in this book. You’ve got your main romance with Chase and Rob. You’ve got a ton of ancillary romances that crop up as well, which I really enjoyed seeing how piece by piece, even the grumpiest of the people found a love connection in there.
You’ve got the whole museum gala, you’ve got the military and the scientists trying to recover, Rob. There’s a good bit of general hi-jinks as well, going on. How did you balance all this as an author to keep all of it together and all the plates essentially spinning and not losing track of any of it?
JC: I spent a lot of time outlining the story and then mapping it out and mapping out the character arcs. I like when things tie together and people’s stories come to a satisfying conclusion, but I would have to say it’s really just pre-production from being a filmmaker.
I think about everything as a structure and as a story, it goes through a structure and then all the character arcs, it’s all mapped out really. Before I even start the story, I think I know where I’m going to go. I know where all the characters are going to go.
And the writing is just the formality of it because it’s all in my head from the very beginning and rarely do I come across a happy accident. Sometimes I do. I think, Oh, these two ends could connect and sometimes they do, but for the most part it’s really just planning.
Jeff: Ten-year Plan was your first novel to publish. What was it like to translate that screenplay to a novel, taking what you had and then actually fleshing it out and putting into it what a book would need to stand on its own?
JC: A screenplay is ostensibly a blueprint, which was the biggest challenge because when I wrote the screenplay, it’s really just dialogue and story. And then when I decided to novelize this movie, I was fortunate in the sense that I was very happy with the movie and the actors. So I was putting to pen what they did, but I did kind learn, as I realized how much the actors bring to a movie in the sense that the subtlety of their acting is the their emotion and how they kind get to a place.
I put it on paper as a blueprint, and then the actor comes in and they really fill it out. But now in a book, I have to take what they’re doing on the screen and translate it back to a page, which is a little interestingly backwards. I also tried to flesh out the story a little bit.
So, what wasn’t on the screen? I gave the reader more backstory and more origin stories. So this way, if they liked the movie, they would like the book and they would learn more about what’s going on. But I did find it very interesting that a room that I could build and a set that I could build now has to be fully described.
And that subtle look between the two actors now has to be put to paper and described, it does give you a different set of tools and that what you can do in a book and that you can do it. And the movie is you have that inner monologue, which is really fun for an author.
Movies give you a certain set of opportunities and a book gives you a different set of opportunities as a storyteller.
So I don’t know, actually that I prefer one over the other because they’re really two different wonderful things. It’s what’s your favorite food? Do you love Chinese food or Italian? I guess it depends on the night because they’re both awesome. So there’s different things about each of those two foods, right?
So maybe it’s a bad analogy but I do find that the writing of a book and writing of a movie gives me two playgrounds to play in which one is not necessarily better for me. I like them both.
Jeff: Is there something, as you were doing the novelization for Ten-year Plan that came up, that you were like, Oh, I wish I’d thought of that for the film. Or did you try to treat the book as a wholly independent thing at that point?
JC: I don’t know that I thought about anything that I thought needed to be in the film because I was trying to be very tight with the story and I feel like what needed to be in the film as far as their life and their journey and their arcs was already in the film.
But when I wrote the book, I wasn’t concerned about 90 minutes, I wasn’t concerned about how someone consumes a movie. They have expectations of when there’s going to be a, especially when you’re doing a classic romcom like that, there are certain expectations that have to hit in a certain amount of time when you’re sitting there watching.
And you’re like, all right, whether you realize it or not, by a certain amount of time has passed, you need this to happen. Otherwise, you feel like it’s dragging or it’s just not satisfying. Whereas a book you don’t really have that so you can give so much more without worrying about the pacing, because if they’re tired, they’ll put it down and they’ll pick it up and they’ll put it down and they’ll pick it up and rarely do they just consume it in one sitting. So your timing is really just engaging them from chapter to chapter.
So when they go, all right I’m going to go to bed now, I’m going to just finish this chapter. I’m going to be okay.
Jeff: Does “Brobot” get to become a film at some point? I could just see it being a movie as I listened to the audio production.
JC: I would love that. I wrote it with the intention of it never being a movie, because I was like, I’m just going to write without budget. Since I produce my own movies, I always write with the budget in mind. So I said, I’m going to write “Brobot” with no budget in mind. I’m going to go as crazy as I want to because it’ll never be a movie. But then after I was done with it, I was like, I really want to see this as a movie.
So now I’m retroactively going back and saying what, what could I do? And how could I get this to be a film? Because otherwise it’s certainly my most expensive story to put on screen. I think it is probably doable for within a reasonable budget. So yeah, I would love to make it into a movie.
I think that it would make a really good film looking back at it, but that wasn’t my intention. My intention was to never make it into a movie unless Marvel wanted option then sure. Go for it.
Jeff: Chase and Rob would be an awesome addition to the MCU. And I could see the movie elements being on the pricier side, especially like the big showdown at the end. That’s a lot of people and bodies and location. and what not, without giving anything away.
One of the things I found so absolutely hilarious that I referenced in my review of the book, was all of the different ways you found to say cock. Pleasure Python, rigid rocket. I loved it. Every time it came up, it’s Oh, that was another great one. How did you plan for that? Did you have to end up with this list that you could eventually plug in? Cause I can’t imagine just coming up with them off the top of your head.
JC: Well, it’s 10 year’s worth of Steam Room Stories. Scripts that I have used those for the last 10 years – I’ve been fashioning that.
And then me and my husband, when we talk about stuff, I always come up with like ridiculous ways of referring to body parts as different silly things. So I’ve groomed my way into these terms, but I also will say that if you looked at my browser history, thesaurus is my best friend.
I sit there and I think I’m all right, plums. And I’m like, what will rhyme or have alliteration with plums if I’m going to refer it. So pleasure plums or something. I do spend entirely too much time coming up with silly names and making alliteration for things.
But I do, I enjoy it. I think it’s funny, but I do have a whole arsenal of those things written down and I’ll lay them down and say, come to me. My husband always makes fun of me cause I’ll be in my room writing and laughing and he’s like, what are you doing? I was like, Oh, I just, and I’ll just tell him what I wrote.
And he’s like, you’re an adult, you’re sitting there giggling like a 12-year-old girl who had just discovered something. And I was like, I think it’s funny. So yeah. I’ll write them all down. And I spent a lot of time looking and conjuring up imagery like that.
Jeff: I read “Brobot” through the audio version and the narrator just has to say that like it’s the most common, normal, just very matter of fact that it just added to it.
JC: This was one of their first books and –
Jeff: Oh wow.
JC: Yeah. When I found them, we spoke about it and how to read it and how to identify it. I think they did a great job and I’m very proud of the work that they did. Yeah, I think that good,
What was your favorite part of “Revenge of the Brobot” to write? Do you have a favorite scene or something that’s in there because there’s so much just awesomeness in there I have to think you’ve got a favorite or two?
JC: It’s funny that you identified it in your review, which is the Apple Watch.
Jeff: Oh, that makes me so happy that it’s your favorite.
JC: When I write, there’s always a time that I feel like, alright, when I can get myself thinking like emotionally, like all my, this is a really powerful thing when I feel it as a writer and someone who comes up with it, and then when I put the pen to pad and I generate it and I feel this is something I love and I’m getting an emotional response to, and that would be my moment was that the ability to have to come up with it and then integrate it into a story.
So it has a meaning. So yeah, that would be my moment that I feel if I made a movie, that would be like my let’s really explore how we can maximize this. Yeah, I enjoyed that moment.
Jeff: Oh, that makes me so happy. Cause yeah, the moment of the giving the watch and then how it integrates at the end. It was just everything.
JC: Thank you.
Jeff: So you mentioned “Barbarians from Planet Brotron” that you’re not going to tell us a lot about, which is understandable. How far do you see yourself taking steam room stories in book form?
JC: I have five stories in my head and it’s one of those things I never think about the end because if you would’ve asked me 12 years ago, when I was in my living room shooting these guys are sitting on a coffee table with a fog machine between their legs in 15 years…
Do you plan on making a movie and releasing a series of books? I would have been like, what are you talking about? I don’t know. I’ll just keep doing it as long as people want to read it. And it’s fun to do, I do have four stories in my head. We’ll see how many more come to me?
Jeff: And at the same time you’ve released this book, you’re also preparing to move into podcasts as a storytelling medium with Steamy Stories. What brought you into that medium?
JC: It was similar to years ago when I was just trying to explore something from short form. The actor from Steam Room Stories: The Movie, one of the leads asked me to help him write some horror short films. So, I said, sure, I’ll work with you.
And I started helping him write some horror short films, and it was really fun. And I was like, boy, I’ve never written a short story, but a four-page story or 15 minute story was really fun. And having helped him with that, horror’s not my genre, I don’t consider myself very good at it.
He is. So, he went over, and he felt comfortable enough to go on his own. And I thought I’m going to just write some sexy stories, some steamy stories. I started writing them to put on my author blog, cause my husband said start a blog. I don’t know whether it’s technically a blog, if it’s a collection of stories, but I started posting these stories over and over again.
And one of my earlier steam room guys, Ben Palacios, who was very popular and very talented, approached me. And he said, I’m having a lot of fun doing my podcast called Ask Your Gay Uncle. So he’s got him and his gay uncle, the two of them do a podcast together, an advice podcast.
So, I said why don’t we collaborate on turning these short stories into a series, you can read them and we’ll work on them together. So, we’re going to turn the Steamy Stories, short stories into a Steamy Stories podcast. So that’s what we decided to do together, so I can learn and explore and try my hat at something else. One of the things about being a storyteller, because do I really consider myself a filmmaker, but I really consider myself more than a filmmaker as a storyteller, and a podcast, or a collection of short stories, or a movie or any of it.
It’s just different ways of expressing a story. I think it’s just all different, fun ways of telling a story. And I’d like to just explore them and see where it takes me. So whether it’s a book or a movie or a podcast why not just try my hat at learning new things?
Jeff: How is short story writing for you? Because I find short stories, when they’re well done, a lot of fun to read, but also I find them wickedly hard to write, to shrink plot into essentially a tiny bit of storytelling and these stories, I don’t know what the word count is, but they seem pretty short.
JC: I think, what is it? And I’m terrible. This, my husband has used it, this quote, I think it’s Mark Twain quote or something that said ‘I would have made a shorter letter if I but I didn’t have the time’… something like that. And it is true. I think that the steam room stories webisodes, having written so many of those, over 250, geared me into short story formatting in the sense that I just it’s beginning, middle and end – simple. It just, what happened. Two boys. Where did they meet? What happens? How did they get together? And what’s the twist. And I think that it is difficult, and it is a challenge. But it’s kind fun in the sense that it’s, you’re in and you’re out within a couple of days and you’re not crafting this 90-minute movie or this 250 page novel.
I kind of like it because yeah, it is short format, you’re only talking about one, two characters for the most part, one story line, one twist, and you’re in/you’re out. It’s a different beast, it’s a different challenge, but it’s fun.
And I guess now is the time to do the plug. So if anyone wants to find it, if they go to steamy stories podcast.com, there are all the places it could be got Apple and et cetera, and pictures of Ben, which are certainly not too shabby.
Jeff: Ben’s very easy on the eyes.
There’s a reason you cast him in Steam Room Stories to be among the hot men.
I’m excited that you’re doing the podcast fiction because podcast fiction has grown so much in the last couple of years as another medium to put story out there. It’s an interesting storytelling format for sure.
JC: It’s also one of the things that I want to do as we discussed a little earlier, the representation of different groups of people and different people’s sexualities being BI and fluid and such, that was one of the things, even with the movies, a lot of my friends identify as bisexual and I’m constantly being told that they’re not being represented in stories and they feel marginalized. So that’s one of the things I want to try to do especially with the podcast, is represent the fluid and bi community, because I feel like as I’ve been made aware of it, the more I look, I don’t see them being visible. So that’s one of my goals is to make them visible on the show.
Jeff: It’s always wonderful to see more diversity through all of our genres, whether it’s the film or podcasts or books or wherever, where we can really show the spectrum of life and everybody who’s part of that. So yeah, even more looking forward to hearing those stories start to cycle up in the podcast as well.
Let’s look at your origin story a little bit. What got you started as a storyteller?
JC: I always liked to entertain. I always liked to make people laugh and I was always that person.
My father is a really great storyteller and joke teller, and I always saw how people responded to that. I always enjoyed being able to make people happy in that respect. So when the opportunity to become a filmmaker, when I was in college, I decided, let me make films because that was a great way of telling a story and sharing with an audience.
So, I just became a filmmaker at 17, 18. I really started working professionally in the business on movies in New York from a movie “Arthur 2” and “Fisher King” and “Star Trek 5.” So I started working in films, but then as a director producer, started working just professionally and it was paying the bills, and I loved what I did, but I never really thought to be a storyteller beyond being a producer.
I always thought my job is to be the director and the maker of movies, not be the teller of stories. And then when I got a little bit older, I think I was 45 years old. I thought to myself I’m tired of making other people’s movies. I’m tired of looking for scripts and about 10 – 15 years ago, I was like there’s a group of people who are not being represented.
Me as a gay man, really coming into myself as a gay adult and finding who I was, like I’m not finding any stories about being a comfortable, confident, gay man who finds love. I don’t find them. I find stories about, and not that there’s anything wrong with that coming out or being rejected by the family or not accepting and loving yourself or the AIDS crisis, but there was never really a story that I found about, ‘hi, I’m a gay man’. You’re a gay man and we fall in love and none of the other stuff is really coming into play. There’s no prejudice. There’s no family rejection. It’s just a love story.
And I was like, I don’t see that movie being made. And that’s why I said I’m going to make that movie. And that’s why I wrote, ‘Is It Just Me?’ because if you look at, ‘Is It Just Me?’ it is just a love story between two men. There was no outside prejudice or no Issue about anything.
It’s just a story about two men who find each other and fall in love. And that had really not been done that I had found, that had been really done that way. And the audience and the fans really responded to that. And the movie was very well-received, which made me think I’m going to try another story.
So by exploring me as a writer, I wanted to explore right now, I made a love story. Now I want to try a fable. So then I was like, what’s a gay love story, but slightly different. So I wrote ‘E Cupid’ as a fable. So, I explored the love story. And then I explored the fable and then ‘E Cupid’ was, by those who liked it, received well.
And then again, I was like, what’s a slight variation on that genre, which is the classic romcom. I’ve never seen just a classic romantic comedy with two men. So, I was like, let me try that. I tried the ‘Ten-year Plan’. Which then ultimately led to just a comedy, which was Steam Room Stories.
So it’s really just me expressing myself as a person. And my evolution is the community’s evolution and seeing what the other men who I know and are friendly with, and the community that I know where’s the need there. And where’s that intersection between. Me as a writer and them looking for something to consume.
Jeff: Who were some of your creative influences?
JC: I would say John Waters and Russ Meyer.
Jeff: Oh, nice. Will’s going to hear that later and go yes! Two of his very favorites.
JC: Yeah. I really just respond to their material and their sensibility. And I remember as a young person I just loved them. It just spoke to where I was. And you could probably see that in my sensibility that’s kind where I took some nods from. Also as comedians, I remember I would love Mel Brooks movies.
I would consume those and there’s a lot of influences, probably not the most classic influences as a filmmaker. But you like what you like and that’s, that was where I came from.
Jeff: Your stories are so wildly different. Just listing off the movies there, there’s such a difference between ‘Ten-year Plan’ and ‘Steam Room Stories’ and ‘E-cupid’ and such. What are the trademarks in your work that helped tie all that together to show that it’s your body of work?
JC: The common thread is that it’s about the hero finding self-love and their journey of learning that they deserve love and that it’s out there for them and all that, it’s a common theme for me – is that you may start off feeling slightly broken, but you’re not.
And that if the key to life and love starts internally and once you can reconcile that you are a loving, worthy, complete human being, and you accept that in yourself then you can actualize love beyond that. And I think that’s really where I always start from.
I also try to, if you looked at my body of work, there’s always a mentor character that is senior to the younger heroes, because I feel like older people are marginalized by the younger community. There’s so much knowledge there and there’s so much experience there and there’s so much love there, if you are willing to open yourself up to accept it. And in all of my movies, there’s always a mentor character that is available and happy to guide the young people who eventually realize that this is a person, who has lived their life, and this is the person who is knowledgeable of where I’m going too, and by not discounting this person, I have a world of information that is going to help me get to where I need to get. So those are, I think, a couple of things that make my films similar to each other.
Jeff: Is there a type of story that you want to tell, but you haven’t quite taken the leap yet.
JC: Yes. I want to, in the worst way, in the very worst way, make a rock opera, I would love to do some, just like awesome rock opera, movie. I don’t know if you’d call them musical, but I guess you could call it a musical, but there are so many movies that I love that kind of do that.
The Baz Luhrmann film ‘Moulin Rouge’ I thought that was really just a spectacular film. And there’s so many of those movies that, the classic rock operas, I would like to do that and I’d like to try my hand to a musical/rock opera.
Jeff: Wow. Please figure that out because I would love to see what that would look like in your hands.
JC: That’s what my husband wants me to do. He wanted ‘Steam Room Stories: The Movie’ to be a musical. And I was like, I don’t know if I could, it’s a lot of work, but I don’t know if I could do it. So, But I would love to do that. If given the opportunity in the future again, maybe I’ll use all the money that I get from when Marvel options “Revenge of the Brobot”.
Jeff: Hopefully somebody out there from Marvel is somehow listening to this podcast right now. Make that happen.
What’s a book or a movie or a TV show that you’ve taken in lately that you would recommend to our audience.
JC: It was a TV show probably about five years ago called ‘Galavant’ and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it.
Jeff: Oh, I remember that, that King Arthur musical comedy.
JC: Yes. I have to tell you, I watched that the other day and I found it hilarious and delightful. Looking at weird things to watch. I dunno, I just, it just tickled me. So, if your fans are just looking for something obscure and I don’t know how obscure it is, but it’s obscure.
It was a TV show that I think four people watched, but yeah, I think the lead is super-hot and the music is just so clever and so funny and it’s just really sweet. So, I would recommend that.
Jeff: Excellent. We will link to that in the show notes, for sure so that people can find it. I know it’s streaming out there out in the big wide universe.
JC: Yeah, I’m sure it’s find-able.
Jeff: What’s the best way for everyone to keep up with you online?
JC: Oh, thank you for asking. I just created an author website at jccalciano.com. So jccalciano.com is a really good place to find my, the writings. Steam Room Stories.com is a great place to find everything about the Steam Room Stories universe. And the podcast is at Steamy Stories, Podcast.com and that’s find-able on Apple and probably most places where podcasts can be obtained.
And the movies firstname.lastname@example.org. And my Facebook page, I guess I don’t even, I think my Facebook author page is facebook.com/thejccalciano.
Jeff: We’ll link everything in the shownotes so people can get to all those places.
And I have to ask why Cinema 175?
JC: I was inspired by in the world war II, article 175, which, not a lot of people know that was the article about the incarceration of homosexuals.
They used to call gay men, gay people, 175ers. And I thought that was such a terrifying thing to be referred to back then, but in an attempt to take the horror and the fear out of it, I was gonna embrace it. And now own that’s what we do is we make gay films and we’re proud of it. And, and that’s why I called it cinema 175. So that was the origin of that number.
Jeff: What a great way to take that back. That’s awesome.
JC, thank you so much for talking to us, telling us all about “Revenge of the Brobot” and all these other great projects.
JC: Thank you for the platform. And letting me share this with your fans and talking about the work. So this was really fun and really just a privilege to be able to come here and talk to you and share this information. So, thank you for that.
Will: This episode’s transcript has been brought to you by our community on Patreon. If you’d like to read the conversation for yourself, simply head on over to the shownotes page for this episode at biggayfictionpodcast.com. And don’t forget the show notes page also has links to everything that we’ve talked about in this episode.
Jeff: And thanks to JC for coming to the show and telling us all about the wonderful things that he’s creating. I really loved hearing how he started “Steam Room Stories” for his YouTube channel. It started with that bench, a shower curtain, a fog machine, and hot guys in towels. I mean, it just goes to show you that you could really start out on a shoestring and really make something fun for everybody.
Will: Yeah, I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to JC. And I’m really looking forward to whatever weird and wonderful and wild stuff he comes up with next.
All right, everyone, I think that’ll do it for now. Coming up on Thursday and episode 309 Layla Reyne joins us to talk about wrapping up her “Fog City” series.
Jeff: You’ve heard it here on the show that I loved “Queen’s Ransom.” I loved “Silent Knight” and we talk about all those things and what’s coming up next. It’s a really fun interview.
Will: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, stay strong, be safe and above all else, keep turning those pages and keep reading.
Jeff: Big Gay Fiction Podcast is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more shows you’ll love at frolic.media/podcasts. Our original theme music is composed by Daryl Banner.