Bisexuality Gets Added Back into Ryan Phillippe’s ‘54’ Film
My how times have changed. In 1998, movie studios were fearful of showing overt bisexuality, and so, the film “54” cut out the references to the character played by Ryan Phillippe.
The movie was set in the real-life infamous New York nightclub Studio 54 which was the center of sex, drugs and disco—in a place where people weren’t afraid to try anything and everything.
Phillippe played a fictional busboy Shane, who falls under the lecherous club owner Steve Rubell (based on a real person and played by Mike Myers), and who didn’t like to define his sexuality.
The Miramax movie was emasculated and it failed at the box office. This weekend, the original version is being restored. A whole 36 minutes of bisexuality is being added back in when it debuts (again) this weekend at both the Miami and Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and also at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
In the film, Phillippe’s character Shane kisses a bartender (Breckin Meyer), fools around with an actress (Neve Campbell) and falls for a coat-check girl (Salma Hayek).
Director Mark Christopher says, “Ryan’s character was a sort of opportunistic bisexual and that was a little hard for a wide audience. It’s the simple story of a bartender (Meyer) a coat-check girl (Salma Hayek), and a busboy, and their love triangle, and how they become family in a weird way. Now it’s a cliché, but I hadn’t seen that in 1998.”
54: The Director’s Cut had a kiss between Meyer and Phillippe, who are real-life best friends, cut because it was too risqué. Meyer said he was disappointed because it was his first onscreen kiss of any kind.
Phillippe, who is planning on attending the screening on San Francisco, is quoted as saying, “We did something that was relatively bold for two young male actors, and we took pride in the places that the original story went. So, it’s nice that people finally get to see Breckin and me kiss.”
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at Mike@bisexual.org