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From Hairspray to Hollywood: Hairspray's hunky Matt Morrison plays a gay boy-band singer in the new comedy Marci X.

For a Broadway performer, enjoying a little champagne in New York City after a triumphant night at the Tonys would seem a fitting thing to do. Matt Morrison, who plays dreamboat Link Larkin in the Best Musical-winning smash Hairspray, took the bubbly idea in a whole new direction. "Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman had this big party at the Coral Room," he explains, referring to the show's composer-lyricist team, a real-life couple who wrapped up their acceptance speech with a much-talked-about smooch, "There were big aquariums all over the place, and at 4 in the morning I decided, 'I wanna go in there.' The club's manager said, 'No way,' so Scott whipped out iris checkbook and said, 'I'll write you a check for a thousand dollars.' So he did, and then I took off my tux and jumped in the aquarium in my tighty whiteys. And then I made my briefs into a thong and pressed my ass cheeks up against the glass. There's some really good pictures from that night."

Alas, Morrison keeps his clothes on in his new film, Marci X, a fish-out-of-water comedy penned by Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey, In & Out) about a Jewish American princess (Lisa Kudrow) who, at the behest of a her dying media mogul father, tries to reform the old man's unruly record label and its in-your-face ripper, Dr. Snatchcatcher (Damon Wayans). Morrison plays a member of Boys R Us, an all-gay boy band. Coincidentally, Hairspray's Shaiman (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut) helped lend his wicked touch to the films's parody songs.

"One song is called 'In the Butt,' and it's just so nasty, I don't know how they're going to get a PG rating," Morrison says, laughing. "Another is 'Let's Date,' which we sing to our boyfriends after we've been outed." Morrison puts on his best Backstreet Boy pout and croons, "I really like your smilin' face / My beach house has a fireplace / We'll watch reruns of Will & Grace / I think it's fate / Hold on / Hold tight / Let's date."

If playing gay was a stretch for the 24-year-old native Californian--Morrison is straight and single playing a boy-band member was not. He appeared an Late Show With David Letterman and Total Request Live with the faux combo Fresh Step ("like the kitty litter"), then spent a year in the real-life LMNT, which was made up of O-Town rejects from the first season of MTV's and ABC's Making the Band. "I almost came to blows with one of the guys, Ikaika, dining a photo shoot," recalls the actor kind recent Gap model, "but the main reason I left was when you get onstage and you're embarrassed to be up there, you know you're doing the wrong thing."

Morrison has no such misgivings about Iris current gig in Hairspray--he's just signed on for six more months--or about being surrounded by its small army of gay artists. "Harvey Fierstein is so giving, always leaving little gifts on my dressing room table," he says, referring to the show's out star. Besides, being a hot young straight guy in the world of musical theater must surely have its perks. "It's pretty overwhelming," Morrison says with a laugh. "In high school all the jocks would say, 'Matt's gay,' or whatever. Then when I got my first Broadway show, Footloose, people started calling me a slut because I was hanging out with too many women at the smite time. What can I say? I'm just a vein open guy." And somewhere there are aquarium pictures to prove it.

Hensley is the author of Screening Party (Alyson Books).
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Author:Hensley, Dennis
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Sep 2, 2003
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