Three newcomers – Daniel Skelton, Michael E.R. Walker and Chris Salvatore – make their feature film debut in “Eating Out: All You Can Eat”. The film is the third installment in the raunchy rom-com franchise from creator Q. Allan Brocka.
Like its predecessors, “EO3” finds an unlucky-at-love newbie pining for the affection of the series’ resident hunk, who has his sights set on the maybe-gay hottie who gets caught in the middle of a quirky – and often unsanitary – love quadrangle.
Confused yet? So are they.
But while the movie has plenty to offer in the way of cheap laughs (from Leslie Jordan and Mink Stole, no less) and a scantily clad climax, it’s these three “homigos” – all gay and friends in real life – who take this otherwise unseasoned sequel from dinner to dessert.
In a recent interview, Skelton, Walker and Salvatore open up about their first time (on screen), love and sex (on and off set), disrobing for the camera and how showing off their soon-to-be-famous nether regions could affect their budding careers … and their parents.
MIKEY ROX: Chris, let’s start with you. This is your second film, the first being the acclaimed short “Misplaced.” Coincidentally, in both “Misplaced” and “Eating Out 3,” you play characters who troll online for sex. How much research went into preparing for these roles?
CHRIS SALVATORE: That is a coincidence, isn’t it. I was never into trolling online for sex, if that’s what you mean by “research,” but I did meet a few of my ex-boyfriends on the Internet. I think it’s a lot easier for gays to meet online. I even met Michael on MySpace. It’s very life imitating art, or, in this instance, the other way around.
MR: Daniel and Michael – you’re newcomers as well. “Eating Out 3” is the first film for both of you. What was the audition process like, what intrigued you about the role you accepted, and how do you feel about your very first on-screen performance?
MICHAEL E.R. WALKER: I was the last actor to audition for “Eating Out”. I know they had a few actors in mind, but it just ended up working out that I got the role. I had always wanted to play a straight guy in a film. Growing up Mormon and gay, I feel like I’ve been researching this role my entire life, as I’ve tried to cover up my homosexuality. I was even engaged twice to girls before coming out. I’m proud of the work I did on this film, and I think that I pulled off the whole straight thing.
DANIEL SKELTON: I was actually approached by a casting director at a restaurant, so it was kind of just a matter of luck being on my side that day. The role initially intrigued me because the character of Casey is so relatable and honest that I think a lot of guys will find they have something in common with him. So I suppose just the way the character was written was enough to get me excited to flesh him out. I feel good about what we've created.
MR: So we’re all Facebook friends now. And I’m excited that you’ve each allowed me to be part of your growing online communities of people you don’t actually know. It seems, however, that all three of you are real-life friends. Were you friends before or after “Eating Out 3” came along?
CS: I met Michael a year and half ago in NYC. We dated for six months then he moved to Los Angeles. I moved out to L.A. a few months ago and we reconnected through this film. Daniel and I became really close friends during filming. He is such a little comedian. Now we are all good friends and hang out all the time!
DS: We all became really close during filming – I hang out with those two on a pretty regular basis and I'm so happy to have made such good friends. Then there is Rebekah Kochan, who I'm obsessed with. She is so hilarious on and off screen. Everyone in the cast was really easy to get along with.
MR: Michael and Chris – I stalked you for a few minutes on your profiles – you know, for research – and I noticed a suspicious amount of pictures of you two scantily clad and very close together. Spill it – are you bumping uglies?
MW: Chris and I are dating.
CS: [Laughs] Isn’t it obvious? But, yes, I’m smitten by Michael Walker.
MR: As luck would have it, you two have been officially inducted into the “Eating Out” hall of fame – or shame, whichever you prefer. And I think you know what I’m talking about here. First- “Desperate Housewives” hottie Ryan Carnes, then Marco Dapper. How does it feel to be among this group of fine-lookin’ actors who have bared it all in the name of raunchy comedy?
CS: Baring it all in a comedy is the way to go, in my opinion! That way if the audience laughs, you can blame it on the jokes.
MW: It’s the one thing about the movie I didn’t really want to do. But it’s over and as soon as all my friends have seen the movie and I’ve moved past it, I’ll be over it. But I’m still a little unnerved by this…
MR: Marco once told me that his, um, “parts” were, let’s say, modified for the film. It turns out that he’s a shaver – down there – and hair and makeup had to glue little curlies back on. Were there any touch-ups for you guys?
CS: I tried to get Lex the makeup girl to paint sexy abs on me. But, no, there weren’t any touch-ups done.
DS: Not for me, no.
MR: You know that because of this film gays across the world will be combining your names and the word “naked” in a online search, right? How do you feel about being Googled then oogled?
CS: I feel okay with that. Being naked isn’t all that bad. If they were Googling a sex tape, that may be a little embarrassing.
MW: It’s a natural part of this process, but I'm actually a very private and monogamous person, so I'm still learning how to be comfortable with this.
DS: [Laughs] Well, I wasn't actually naked in the movie. So they won't come up with any results.
MR: Considering that this is the first major project for you three, I’m sure your parents want to see the work you’ve done. Will you let the family watch? Will you watch it with them? And if you do watch it with them, can I sit in and enjoy the awkward silences?
CS: [Laughs] I wouldn’t mind watching the movie with my parents. It’s a really funny movie with a great message at the end. My mom will probably cry ’cause the ending is so touching.
MW: My parents do not know about this project and I don’t think they ever will. They're 60, Mormon and live in Utah.
DS: Of course. I love my family and they think it looks very funny. I might insist they watch the edited-for-cable version though!
MR: You’re all gay, which is great, but there’s always talk in the industry that openly gay actors have a hard time finding work. What’s your take on that? Do you think it’s true, or are people making this stuff up?
CS: This is a hard question. I think there are so many people with opinions about this topic who are not educated enough to form one. I hear people say to me all the time the same exact thing, that it is hard to find work if you’re out. But what they don’t realize is I am happy being who I am. I don’t want to hide that from the world. The closeted people who do, yeah, maybe they are famous actors who are getting work left and right, but I bet they are living an internal hell. I don’t mean to get all sappy and dark, but if you had to ask yourself on your death bed, “Am I proud and happy of the life I led”, what do you think the answer would be? So before people express their opinions to gay men and women on being out in the media and all the ‘negative’ effects it may have on one person’s career, they should think about how it may make someone feel to have to lie about who they are. Just be yourself, I say.
MW: It’s true to a certain extent, but it shouldn’t be. I play a straight guy in this film and I think I did the role justice. If straight guys can play gay guys, why shouldn’t it be perfectly all right the other way around? It’s sad that it’s that way in the industry, but I think it’s changing and will continue to change as our community makes more and more advances and progress with marriage and mainstream culture.
DS: To be honest, I'm not concerned in the slightest. I love acting, but there are so many other things in the industry I'm excited to get into, particularly screenwriting. That being said, I do think there is a problem with sexuality in this industry, and I hope that films like this can help open people’s minds and help the gay community to continue making progress until the issue is no more.
MR: Were there any moments during filming where you thought to yourself, ‘Hmm, maybe showing the goods isn’t a good career move?’ Do you think the nature of this film will prevent you from getting mainstream work?
CS: No, not at all. I think it will help.
MW: As I said before, it was the one thing about taking this role and doing this movie that I didn’t want to do, but I knew that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I think what’s important in getting future work is the performance.
DS: No goods were shown, so no worries here.
MR: What’s been the best part of this journey so far?
CS: Working with a fantastic group of actors and the crew. Everyone got along so well. Nobody had egos at all. It was just a really great process.
MW: Reconnecting with Chris.
DS: The tremendous amount of knowledge I've gained and the amazing friendships.
MR: Where do you go from here?
CS: Definitely up! And I can only thank all the people involved in “Eating Out: All You Can Eat,” especially the director, Glenn Gaylord, for giving me this opportunity! I can’t wait to do more. Right now I am recording my second album. One of the songs will be featured in the film.
MW: I am going to wait until the film has come out and then go hunting for a smaller agency and try to get work. I loved being a part of this process and I can’t imagine it being the first and last film I do. I don’t think I’ll be doing any more full frontals any time soon, but I would love to keep going.
DS: I have a couple of possible projects that are still in talks and I'm finishing up a script I've been working on over the last year, so I'm looking forward to the possibilities that await.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning freelance journalist and the principal of Paper Rox Scissors, a copywriting and creative consulting company in New York City. Find him at www.paperroxscissors.com.