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
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.
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 incognitobut has just been
released on DVD under its original title).
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.
(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
Showbiz connections indeed. "Fuck
the Disabled" features several high-profile cameos, including
Michael Musto, Anne Meara, Jerry Stillerand 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."
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,
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
How do you bag a Baldwin?
Greg with Stephen
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.
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.