Jun 9, 2013

Grease 2: The Gay Connection

Grease (1978) played into the 1950s nostalgia craze, united two of the biggest stars of the era, and featured songs that wowed audiences on Broadway.

The sequel, Grease 2 (1981), did none of those things.

Everyone expected another mega hit which would make the careers of stars Maxwell Caulfield (left), Michelle Pfeiffer, and Adrian Zmed.

The plot was a reverse of the original, in which the innocent Australian transplant Sandy (Olivia Newton John) adopts a cool facade to attract the attention of Danny (John Travolta) and wrest him from his greaser buddies.

This time innocent British transplant Michael (Caulfield) adopts a cool facade (as the mysterious Cool Rider) to attract the attention of Stephanie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and, not coincidentally, her boyfriend Johnny (Adrian Zmed).  He manages to snare them both, sort of: Stephanie becomes his girlfriend, and Johnny offers him a membership in the T-Bird gang (left).

By the way, the bulge on the far right belongs to Leif Green (comic relief character Danny Jaworski), who went on to organize the first AIDS Walk in Los Angeles in 1985, and many other AIDS Walks and Dance-a-Thons over the next 25 years.

The gay subtext is helped along by Caulfield and Zmed, who were widely rumored to be gay at the time, like John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John before them.  Both posed in the gay-vague After Dark magazine.

The movie didn't exactly bomb at the box office, but it was by no means a hit.

Maybe because the nostalgia craze was over.  Audiences wanted heroic fantasy like Clash of the Titansor epic adventures like Raiders of the Lost Ark. or werewolves.

Maybe because the actors were unknowns.

Maybe because the songs were terrible.  Instead of "You're the One that I Want," "Rock-a-Hula Luau."

Still, the cast went on to respectable careers.

Maxwell Caulfield went on to some homophobic movies and soap operas, including starring roles on Dynasty, The Colbys, and Emmerdale.

Adrian Zmed (left) starred in T.J. Hooker and any number of Circus of the Stars tv specials.

Both were not at all shy about posing for semi-nude and Speedo pics.