OUT ON THE BAYOU
FEBRUARY 4, 2000 » HOUSTON VOICE
> Continued from page 17
executive produced (with Gervasi and Kevin
Allen). Allen also directs.
Houston Voice interviewed Ferguson
recently when his publicity tour stopped in
Atlanta last month.
In the movie, Ferguson plays Crawford
Mackenzie, a gay hairstylist in Scotland who
receives what he believes is an invitation to
come to Los Angeles as a contestant in the
World Freestyle Hairdressing Championship.
Crawford gets a royal send-off from his lover,
family and friends. Such big news is his invitation that a documentary filmmaker (Chris
Langham) and camera crew come along to
memorialize his pending triumph for the BBC.
But soon after he checks into his posh suite,
Crawford teams the horrible truth: His precious invitation was simply a form letter inviting him to watch the hair-doings from the
A lesser man might have headed home
(thus making a very short movie), but not
Crawford. He meets a high-powered
Hollywood type Candy (Frances Fisher),
saves her hair (which had been treated to
within an inch of its life) and sets about snip-
. ping away at the red tape that's keeping him
from standing centerstage on the big night.
Ferguson's own experiences in the City of
Angels gave him the ideas for Crawford's
"We didn't take any license with our stuff.
Pretty much everything that happened, I
based on some kind of reality—even the
world of competitive hairdressing. There are a
lot of desperate people in L.A., so it heightens
things. There are a lot of people chasing stuff."
But while Crawford gets shot at and
encounters plenty of typical Hollyweird characters direct from central casting, he also
moves with an almost child-like innocence
through the urban jungle.
"We kept trying to get into the movie that
although, per square yard, there are more dip-
shite in L.A. than you meet anywhere else in
the world, there are also nice people there as
well. I've met some great people in L.A"
Questions about Crawford's sexuality
don't throw Ferguson—though his answers
may raise more questions with some viewers.
What's his own relationship with the gay
"I don't know, really. I don't know that I
So why is Crawford gay?
"Because he would be. Because it would be
homophobic for him not to be gay."
Because he's a hairdresser?
"No. Because he's based on a real human
being. And because the real human being he's
based on is gay. You notice that none of the
other hairdressers are gay in the movie. That's
on purpose, because we didn't want to say
hairdressers are gay. But a lot are—duh!
"We wanted to make a movie where the
lead guy from the movie was gay, but it really
wasn't an issue. Whether that becomes an
issue or not depends on you guys—the
press—and the gay community. I hope it
"The only thing I was asked about was
what about a straight man playing a gay character. I don't really get that. Tony Hopkins
['Silence of the Lambs') isn't really a serial
killer. You don't really have to be what you
Ferguson said his inspiration for Crawford
was "a guy I used to share an apartment with
in Glasgow years and years ago." He
described the man, whom he would identify
only as Robby, as "a fabulous human being...
fearless... He had a strange mixture we tried
to get with Crawford. He was arrogant, but he
was also innocent. It's an odd combination in
a character like that." After seeing the movie,
Ferguson said, Robby sent him a one-sentence
letter: "It's me, isn't it?"
In one scene, morning finds Crawford and
Candy waking up in bed together after a long
night of partying. Both are shocked and can't
remember if they did more than cuddle up
and snore. Did they?
"My belief is that they didn't," Ferguson
said. "That's because Crawford is a character
[for whom] from the waist down ain't nothing
happening for that particular set-up. It's just
not his inclination." He speculated that strong
friendships sometimes grow between gay
men and straight women because gay men
bring "listening without an agenda, which is
not what a straight man brings to a relationship with a woman. It just isn't."
A punk rock band first brought the young
Ferguson to the stage in Scotland. He gradually made the transition to stand-up comedy
and acting in some of Glasgow's "brainy
Mee-ow! Crawford confronts rival beauty operator
Stig Ludwiggssen (David Rose he).
"I wanted to be involved in a profession
that was very forgiving toward erratic behavior," Ferguson said, though he noted he lives
quite a different life these days. "Now I'm sipping cocoa and in bed by 10 o'clock. But I was
a bit wilder then." Ferguson and his wife married right after he shot "The Big Tease." They
live in Hollywood Hills.
You wonder if Ferguson drew on his memories of those "wilder" days when he wrote
his second film, which is also due out this
year. In "Saving Grace," an English country
gentlewoman on hard rimes decides with her
gardener to bring in extra money by "growing really strong ganja in her greenhouse."
Ferguson didn't go gay to prepare for his role
as Crawford, but he did have to leam to cut hair.
"I'm not very good at it. I can fake it. I learned
to cut on nylon wigs. No one would actually let
me cut human hair. If your hair was nylon, I
could give you a real nice bob and weave."
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