COLUMBIA — When Michael Bailey set out to place small classified-type advertising for his company’s new production and its casting calls, he hardly thought he’d soon find himself embroiled in a controversy over “community concerns.”
The production, “Naked Boys Singing,” has been well-received internationally and at home, after being performed on and off Broadway for a decade. “Naked Boys” has also caused controversy due to the production’s nudity and gay content.
On Aug. 15, Bailey’s company, MBF Productions, paid for online list advertising for “Naked Boys Singing” casting calls in the general announcements section of The State newspaper’s website. On Aug. 19, MBF received notice their ad had been canceled.
“We have canceled both your ads and issued you a full refund,” wrote The State’s Michael Dudash in a support email to MBF. “Because of the nature of the content, we cannot run these ads. Thank you!”
The ad read, “Auditions for Naked Boys Singing will be at the Ramada Limited, Monday & Tuesday, August 25 & 26, 2008 7 PM – 10 PM. Ramada Limited, 1315 Garner Lane. This is Broad River Road at I-20, Exit 65. South side of Interstate. Auditions will be clothed as will be most of the rehearsals. CAST: Roles are available for 10 males ages 18 to 32 in good physical condition. Looking for average-Joe types that can physically sing and dance. visit our website www.mbfproductions.org for full info.”
Two days later, on Aug. 21, Bailey contacted Betsy Guzior, features editor for the daily Columbia newspaper — the largest in South Carolina.
According to Bailey, Guzior said she would only be willing to list the production of “Naked Boys Singing” as “a male revue” and only in the B section of the paper. Bailey also said Guzior insisted that the name of the production not be used.
“I consider this to be a very anti-gay move,” Bailey told Q-Notes, pointing to the production’s gay content and popularity with gay male audiences. He also said he and the company believes The State’s decision to cancel their advertising and refuse editorial coverage is censorship.
Guzior, Bailey claimed, had a “major problem with the title.”
“I don’t even understand why you would want to do something like that (this play),” Bailey said Guzior exclaimed over the phone.
Bailey also said Guzior put the question of a possible review or article on the production out of the question, despite having a staff writer for the paper contact the production company just days prior.
Q-Notes contacted Guzior who declined to comment and directed our questions to The State Executive Editor Mark Latt. Several phone calls made to Latt were unreturned by press time.
Controversy over the musical has hit the Carolinas before. On May 3, 2008, Q-Notes reported that the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources put a stop to a “Naked Boys” production staged in Winston-Salem at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA).
State officials gave the group a flat “no” when they approached them with a request to house the performance. The state took operational control of the venue last year. It was established as a private, non-profit entity in 1956.
North Carolina officials said then the performance was “not appropriate programming for a public museum.”
In The State Newspaper online, SCPride.org announced it is holding a press conference today 9/15/08 at the State Capitol at 3pm to announce why “SC Is So Gay” and inviting everyone to come stand with them and show your pride. See link below as there is a lot of hate comments being waged online.
Best of Luck in getting folks to stand with you. Because when MBF Productions tried to do something positive for GLBT issues here in Columbia and SC not one would stand up for us.
People are too afraid of losing their jobs or getting run out of town to stand up because of attitudes as seen in this article.
Where are all the GLBT community and outrage at such violations of basic constitutional rights – wherever they are, only one or two have stood up to support this article or comment on the homophoic bigotry in the state newpaper article below.
This is why the homophobic south always wins because the majority stand silent in fear. Thus the few that do stand up can not get enough support to make anything positive happen.
The established glbt community will not and does not support anything or anyone outside their little cliques but expect everyone to support them and ignore or decry those who dont.
Kudos to Editor Matt Comer and Q-notes for having the courage to at least run the article and our ads for Naked Boys Singing. At least he tried to make a difference. Yet not one response from ANY one in the gay community to his well presented article and the issues of censorship and discrimination it pointed out.
I guess the SC GLBT Community is content to remain in the closest and have what few token rights they have to their festival as long as they behave, keep a low profile and dont cross the line!
How dare GLBT people consider themselves equals and call themselves a community when they expect everyone else to stand up for them when they won’t even stand up for themselves? “And God forbid you step on the toes of certain figurheads in the Columbia SC glbt community because if you do, you will pay dearly.” That last told to me by various long time gay residents here. How true and how sad.
In Gay Pride,
Norman Flowers, Columbia SC
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