How to Keep it Real
When Fucking the Disabled


Raymond J. Aguilera reviews
"Fuck the Disabled"
A film by Greg Walloch and Eli Kabillio

"You should see this movie. He's gay, he's disabled, he's got CP. Besides, he's really cute," a friend insisted.

Seeing a documentary about a gay disabled standup comic wasn't exactly high on my list of things to do. Since I often have mixed feelings about disabled "artists," I envisioned a film about some guy causing a comic sensation (or at least a sympathy tear) on the telethon-and-special-summer-camp circuit. My social nature won out over my cynicism, however, and I agreed to go see the movie with a bunch of friends.

Had I known that the movie, advertised as "Keeping It Real," was originally titled "Fuck the Disabled," I might have had a better idea of what was in store. (Apparently marketing learned that the "New York Times" would not advertise anything with the "F" word in its name, so the film toured festivals incognito—but has just been released on DVD under its original title).

Greg Walloch

Call it what you will, Greg Walloch's film, a combination of concert and documentary footage, had me laughing, crying, and sometimes laughing so hard I cried.

Far from being the "I'm OK, you're OK" disability love-fest I was expecting, the film is an out-and-out riot. While Greg's live show often incorporates disability-related material, he never uses his CP for sympathy laughs. He is a performer who has a disability, not a disabled performer.

Greg Walloch
(dreaming of Stephen Baldwin)
and Suzy McCoppin,
from "Fuck the Disabled."

 


The title "Fuck the Disabled" comes from a sketch where Walloch imagines a charity by the same name that enlists women to have sex with disabled men in order to save them from the "seedy underground of man-to-man sex." As Walloch explains in the film, the sketch was inspired by a real-life conversation with a friend who wanted to know if he was gay because his disability made romantic success with women impossible.

It's these difficult personal moments that Walloch turns into some of his best material. One particularly brilliant segment shows Greg performing standup at a club in New York. The comic before him ends his set with a joke about using the handicapped bathroom stall and a tired shtick about gay hairdressers. All the while, the camera cuts to shots of Greg watching from backstage. The guy's set ends, Greg clambers onstage with his forearm crutches, and says "Every time I finish cutting hair, I can never get into the bathroom!" The audience in the club loses it. Greg's coup de grace comes after his set, when the other comedian, presumably after learning of Greg's showbiz connections, tries to push a script on Walloch.

Showbiz connections indeed. "Fuck the Disabled" features several high-profile cameos, including Michael Musto, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller—and Stephen Baldwin as a beautiful and vacuous Chelsea Boy. After the screening of the film as part of the GLBT film festival, the number-one audience question was, "How did you get a Baldwin?"

"Fuck the Disabled" isn't simply about being disabled, or bagging a Baldwin, however. Greg's material runs the gamut from faith healers and Elvis impersonators to Greg's personal mission to kick Christopher Reeve's ass and the difficulties of finding good gay porn in his Harlem neighborhood. Greg's talent extends far beyond the traditional standup comedy stage, and in fact the film juxtaposes his standup routines with footage of his one-man show, "White Disabled Talent."

In one of the interview segments, Greg comments on how he sees himself and his work: not necessarily as a comedian, it emerges, but more as a storyteller. In that regard, especially in its tension between funny and poignant, "FTD" reminds me of Margaret Cho's work. It's a lot more than "just" standup comedy, and a hell of a lot more entertaining than most of the Capital P, Capital A Performance Art that I've seen.

As a disabled queer man with little use for either of those labels, I appreciated Greg's perspective. He is disabled. He is gay, and he uses both aspects of his person in his work, but he's also conscious of the fact that both are simply facets of his being, rather than the immutable identities people often ascribe to those terms. In that regard, I feel like Greg Walloch is a much better "face" for disability than America's Favorite Crip, Christopher Reeve.

So here's the payoff question: Is America ready for a gimp on crutches armed with jokes about blowjobs, Harlem junkies and dumb-as-a-post circuit boys? I hope so. Oh, I hope so.

How do you bag a Baldwin?
Greg with Stephen

 

©2002 Raymond J. Aguilera

Two performance pieces by Greg Walloch will appear in "Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and their Stories," edited by Bob Guter and John R. Killacky, due out in 2003 from Harrington Park Press.

For more about Greg Walloch: http://www.gregwalloch.com/

EDITOR'S NOTE: After publication of this review a reader pointed out that the DVD version of "Fuck the Disabled" offers neither subtitles nor closed-captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, a serious oversight for a title that involves disability. 9/6/02

 

 

 

BENT: A Journal of Cripgay Voices/September 2002