Southern Baptist Sissies

A videotaped presentation of Del Shores' provocatively theatrical performance is now available on DVD

By David-Elijah Nahmod - Feb. 12, 2015

Del Shores' play Southern Baptist Sissies has made its way to the big screen, sort of.

The recent DVD release is actually a videotaped presentation of a live theatrical performance. Don't let that turn you off – Shores had his crew work with multiple cameras running simultaneously and DVD viewers will enjoy scenes edited from different angles, complete with close-ups, long shots, and scenes shot from different sides of the stage.

Considering the fact that Sissies was filmed inside a relatively small theater, this DVD offering moves at a comfortable pace and feels a lot like a movie.

The acting is superb and viewers will spot two very familiar faces: Bobbie Eakes of the late, lamented soap opera “All My Children” is quite good as the loving if misguided church-going mom to a gay son and Emmy-winner Leslie Jordan, beloved for his hilarious portrayal of closeted gay Republican Beverly Leslie on “Will and Grace,” adds another scene stealing role to his long list of credits.

It is Jordan’s character, Peanut, in fact, who delivers the best line: "I'm a social drinker. If you have a drink, so shall I!"

Peanut is a late middle-aged, white-haired screaming queen who never learned how to love – his biting, sarcastic wit only masks his aching loneliness. He spends much of the play in a gay bar with his drinking buddy Odette (Dale Dickey). Through their alcohol-induced haze this duo offers insightful commentary on the events happening around them.

In the most moving scene, Peanut advises young, cute Andrew (Matthew Scott Montgomery) to get out of the bars and clubs and learn how to love himself and others, “Or you'll end up like me," he warns.

The message of Southern Baptist Sissies is simple: be who you are. Ignore the fiery, hateful rhetoric of religious fundamentalists and know that God loves you just as you are.

Mark (Emerson Collins), one of four boys who grow up together as members of a Texas Baptist church, learns this lesson. The other boys do not – sometimes with profoundly sad results.

A particularly powerful scene comes when the close childhood friendship between Mark and TJ (Luke Stratte McClure), which included sexual benefits, comes to an end. The boys have obviously fallen in love with each other, and even as TJ turns away from Mark to "serve the Lord" and love a woman, it's painfully obvious that he is struggling with his true self.

Southern Baptist Sissies is a powerful drama, peppered with brilliantly comedic dialogue and it well-worth a viewing or two.

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