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17 Aug 2007

eric lavaine: he ain't afraid of no ghosts

Fridae speaks with Eric Lavaine, director and co-writer of Poltergay, a madcap French comedy about a young couple who have their lives turned topsy-turvy by the spirits of five disco dancing gay men who inhabit their new fixer-upper.

Eric Lavaine's Poltergay offers plenty of laughs thanks to the film's outrageous campiness personified by five gay ghosts in bell bottoms who terrorise Marc, the male half of a young couple who move into their new home which was formerly a gay dance club in the 70s. His "visions" soon cause his partner, Emma (Julie Depardieu) who is unable to the the "visions," to leave him. Touched by the poor guy's distress, the ghosts decide to do a "Queer Eye" and help him win Emma back. (Click link at the bottom of the article to read a review.)

Director and co-writer Eric Lavaine tells Fridae readers more about the making of the film, and his views on gay marriage, love and death.

Top on the page (left to right): Clovis Cornillac (Marc), Eric Lavaine and Lionel Abelanski (one of the gay ghosts)
æ: Your first feature film Poltergay has five gay ghosts who are seen partying endlessly (to Boney M's "Rasputin") in a decrepit mansion. What made you decide to have so many gay "characters" in your first major project?

Eric: It is not really I who decided to have so many gay characters in my film as the film is based on story conceptualised by my co-writer Hctor Cabello Reyes. Anyway, when a house is haunted by gay ghosts - which is a classic story in France - you will thus need to have gay characters in the film.

æ: We love it when Marc, the married man in the film, questions why gay people are still fighting for the right to get married. What inspired you to include that scene?

Eric: With my co-writer Hector, we wanted Poltergay's lead character, Marc, to have the same point of view as we do about gays and their rights. However Poltergay is not a manifesto. While it is a comedy before anything else, it would be good if audiences latch on to the gay-friendly messages.

æ: Do you think marriage will do any good for gay or lesbian couples?

Eric: Actually, I am not sure it is even positive for heterosexuals. The only ones who would find marriage positive are the caterers and the costumes renters - no matter heterosexual or gay.

æ: You've made one of the funniest ghost movies we've seen for a while. Are you more turned on by ghostly stories or comedies?

Eric: I like stories All stories; no matter the subject. And if in making these stories I can give the audience some pleasure, then I am fulfilled.

æ: Any scary encounters to share?

Eric: It will be about the size of my penis, and it will be scary and hard to share.

æ: Which is scarier: finding out that you are gay, or coming out to your friends and family (and father-in-law!)?

Eric: The scariest would be to discover that I am gay on an island inhabited only by girls.

æ: Is any part of the movie based on your true experience?

Eric: Yes: once I made love to a woman in a bed and in the dark and I used that incredible experience in the scene where Clovis Cornillac and Julie Depardieu are making love (in a bed and in the dark).

æ: What is the ultimate movie you would like to make?

Eric: It has already been done: it's A Never Ending Story directected by Harold Ramis.

æ: Do you think gay men value love over sex, or the other way round?

Eric: I don't think there is any difference between gay and heterosexual men on that topic. Each of us lives his life and pursues his desires. There are moments you want love, others you want sex, and rare occasions where you want oysters and white wine; it is usually the case when you're at a seaside resort.

æ: How involved are you in the gay scene? How would you describe the gay scene over where you stay?

Eric: I am very passive in the gay scene, as far as the gay scene exists. I don't mingle with the gay scene or any other scene. I only mingle in scenes full of people I love.

æ: How was it like in the 1970s?

Eric: Full of colour, and disco!

æ: Lesbians and gays are not bad people, once you accept them into your lives, not unlike those gay ghosts in Poltergay. Do you think society will ever get rid of its fear of homosexuals since it has never really overcome its fear of ghosts?

Eric: Take the situation of homosexuals around the world, there has been much progress these past decades on tolerence and rights. This trend needs to continue. However, the situation for ghosts is much more difficult. They can only go out at night and in white linen... It has to stop!

æ: In some Asian societies, people are still talking and writing about gays as though we are mere characters in fiction and fairy tales. Any ideas for gays and lesbians to become more visible and accepted as part of society?

Eric: It might surprise you, but I am not an expert on gays in Asia. Nevertheless, for them to be come more visible, I'll advise them to wear more "flashy" colours.

æ: In Poltergay, you show a heterosexual couple separated by fear and another gay couple separated by death. Are you trying to say that love endures death better than fear?

Eric: Death, as much as separation or absence, leads to an idealisation of a relationship. The further a loved one is, the more one loves him. It is the everyday life that kills love little by little. Therefore I advise to couples who want to preserve their love to break up.

æ: In Poltergay, Marc was is all ready to go with a man although he is straight, so that he can be back with his wife Emma. Will you go against your sexuality to win back the heart of your love one?

Eric: Yes, one day I make love to an old woman to get closer to her daughter.

æ: Who would your dream date be if you were straight (or gay) for a day?

Eric: My ideal date if I was gay (or -let's be crazy - straight) would take place at Bill Gates' lawyer's office, where I'll discover that I will become his sole heir (without any sexual involvement).

æ: Tell us something even your mother doesn't know.

Eric: I am her brother.

æ: Your favourite holiday destination and why?

Eric: French supermodel and actress Laetitia Casta's room (or Brad Pitt's) - for the view.

Reader's Comments

1. 2007-08-18 07:11  
I can't wait to see this-what a great interview. "I am very passive in the gay scene, as far as the gay scene exists. I don't mingle with the gay scene or any other scene. I only mingle in scenes full of people I love."
Eric is spot on. It's not about gay or straight scenes. It's about surrounding yourself with those you love no matter what your (or their) sexual preference is. Eric should also write a book.

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