Seven Questions with Taylor Dane
by Brandon Judell
When we first saw Taylor Dane sing “Tell It To My Heart” on MTV back in
1987, who didn’t really want to? The woman was a powerhouse with those
seductive lips and aching eyes. Seven other Top Ten hits followed, and only
now are we being blessed with her first big screen role in “Stag“. Ms. Dane
plays a stripper/prostitute at a stag party gone wrong. Very wrong.
Directed by Gavin Glyn Wilding (his third feature, the others being “The Raffle” with Mark Hamill and “Listen“) written and produced by Evan Tylor (his
first effort: “For A Few Lousy Dollars” with Judd Nelson), “Stag” was a recent West
Coast release from Cinepix Film Properties.
Besides Ms. Dane, the cast includes Mario Van Peebles, Andrew McCarthy,
Kevin Dillon, William McNamara, John Stockwell, John Henson of “Talk Soup,”
Jerry Stiller, Ben Gazarra and Gregalan Williams. Somebody’s got
indieWIRE: So how did you get your first part? Did you know the filmmakers
beforehand or were they just bowled over by you in audition?
Taylor Dane: I went in like probably every other actress did and auditioned
for the part. I read for it, and I really thought it very obviously
character-driven, especially Serena’s role. The script showed some sort of
change in dimension in her character, and I felt it wasn’t the typical
hooker/prostitute going in there and making a scene and leaving. It showed,
I would say, movement, and. . . I tried to work with that. I tried to
iW: The film falls into that new popular genre of film headed by “In the Company Of Men”. I don’t know if you’ve seen that yet.
Dane: I know of it.
iW: It’s the new category of cinema where men are depicted as bastards.
Dane: That’s new?
iW: It’s new in the sense that when men were previously depicted as
bastards, you were still supposed to like them.
Dane: Is that right? Well, that’s true. They’re the heroes.
iW: This new genre in which “Stag” falls into, you really don’t like any of
the guys. There’s nothing commendable about any of them. Did you see any of
the political connotations of “Stag” when you signed the contract?
Dane: No. I would say each person had a journey obviously within the
structure of the film. Some were written more fully then others. I want to
be clear with this. The moral of the story is that with each person justice
is served, but what is justice at the end of the day when my brains are
blown out anyway? I was just going in there to do a job. You know, that was
one of the beauties of the script anyway, not the fact that each person
gets theirs. But that was developed along the way. I’m not going to get
into the writer’s skills or what he was trying to portray because that’s
not fair. I can only say what I felt was trying to be portrayed there.
Yeah, the men were all scumbags, you know, but the whole point of the film
is to show the development of that. Each guy is going in there to have a
good time. By and large, these men are career men, family men, and you just
see the deterioration of them, and that’s the point of the film.
iW: Even though some might consider this a “down” or “heavy” film, with
Mario Van Peebles playing nerdy and Andrew McCarty playing so uncute, so
against type, it seems there might have been more than a few giggles on the
set. Was there laughter or was it all very serious?
Dane: The good thing about this filming procedure was you had a big, old
house,. . . you had a big makeup room upstairs which . . . was like the
central room where everybody kind of hung out in and talked and released
energy and stuff like that. So there was a lot of kidding around. There was
a lot of breaking the intensity.
And you know the good thing about the film is that it was shot in sequence
so it enabled us to really kind of move with it. Also, the fact that we
were all kind of together if you will. Those two [Van Peoples and McCarty]
definitely needed to break out of character mold for their parts, so for
them I’m sure that’s what attracted to them to the film particularly. And
even for me. I’m sure I’m perceived in a more glam way. This is my breakout
if you will.
iW: What’s amazing about your presence in “Stag” is how you take over the
screen whenever you’re on. The camera seems to relish you. Were you aware
you had this power from feedback you got from your music videos? Or do you
feel the two mediums can’t be compared?
Dane: I think that it’s certainly something to build off of. Like I said
before, when you are coming from that medium, I think I was perceived in
one fashion. Not in one way, but the perception was more glamorous,
obviously. It’s a more controlled environment. A video is based on a song.
I think you can get glimpses of people’s presence within that. I think
there’s some people you enjoy watching more than others.
. . . And plus singing and being truthful to a song where I’ve developed
that skill, and I know how to do that real instinctively, that’s all I’ve
been doing for the last 25 years, as opposed to creating a character and
living truthfully through her is a whole different ball game. A whole
different ball game. It’s not apples and oranges. It’s all part of the same
person but it’s a much newer medium for me, and it’s also trying to create
another character. It’s not me up there.
[Brandon Judell is the lead film critic for Critics Inc. on America Online
and a contributing editor to Detour Magazine. His new book is The Gay Quote Book
(Dutton). He has also written for The Village Voice, The Advocate, and
Rodale’s Guide to Weight Loss.]