I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Hayes, familiar to many as the ‘Tired Old Queen at the Movies’ on YouTube. Steve’s reviews of old movies – and he prefers ones that aren’t obvious – have become a hit, and I’ve been enjoying them for some time now. I wanted to ask Steve a few questions about TOQ and his life overall, and he was gracious enough to grant me the following interview.
lgbtSr: Thanks for this interview, I feel privileged. You’re the only YouTube sensation I’ve met. Your reviews of old movies for ‘Tired Old Queen at the Movies’ are quite a success. What inspired you to do this?
SH: My director and mentor, Vincent Cardinal, suggested it; “Steve Hayes, you should be a household name and I think I know how to do it. We’ll sit you down in your apartment, with all your memorabilia, hand you a DVD of a classic movie and let you talk off the top of your head about it, like you do at every dinner party. We’ll make each episode four or five minutes in length. Now, what do you want to call it?” Without missing a beat I said; “STEVE HAYES; Tired Old Queen at the Movies.”
lgbtSr: Were you expecting the kind of viewership you’ve had with TOQ, and was it sudden or more of a slow build?
SH: I’m not sure what I expected. All I knew for certain was, I had never enjoyed doing anything as much. I figured that was a good barometer. I also trust Vince’s instincts about things. This business is always about reinventing yourself and I knew that at my age, everyone who’s in power in the business is younger and if I was going to get them to notice me and perhaps want to work with me, I had better jump on board the current “technological bandwagon” and “get with it”. TOQ started slowly, then picked up rather quickly. I’m thrilled and delighted with the responses I’ve gotten. Especially since my viewers are all so different. Gays, straights, young, old, across the board, from all over the world. For example, a fabulous friend and cartoonist named Wayne Wilson who lives in TOKYO, became a fan and has done marvelous animated cartoons of me.
lgbtSr: You’ve got quite a resume, with acting, singing, and writing credits galore. Of all the different things you do, is one most important or most enjoyable to you?
SH: I love acting, I enjoy writing, when it’s working, however, I LOVE talking about old movies more than anything in the world and I think it’s so important to cultivate new audiences for them in order to keep the art form alive. The thing that’s surprises me most, is that there are so many people, young and old alike, who have never heard of, let alone seen, many of these classics. In choosing selections for TOQ, I try and avoid the films I feel everybody knows; only to realize that it’s such a misconception. So many people have never seen these classic films. One of the biggest obstacles being that many young people simply won’t watch anything shot in black and white. This seems unbelievable to me, since the art of black and white cinematography is so amazing. Years ago when Ted Turner colorized so many classics, everyone had a fit, but I knew he did it for a reason. It got the young people to watch these great “story driven” movies. Once he established TCM, colorization virtually stopped, because he finally had them hooked. I went to a TCM screening of ALL ABOUT EVE, and purposely sat with a group of twenty year olds who not only had never seen it, but also had never seen a Bette Davis movie. They were blown away. Not only by her, but also by the witty dialogue. So, I of course urged them to watch TOQ and everything else.
lgbtSr: We’re both New Yorkers. Is this where you see yourself spending the rest of your life? What’s good and what’s bad about living in NYC?
SH: I never want to leave New York as long as I live. Period. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I have lived here since the mid-seventies and of course, I’ve seen a lot of changes. However, that is the greatest thing about this town. It’s constantly changing and it forces you to change as well. Change, especially as I’m getting older, is so important. Otherwise, it’s easy to become stagnant, too opinionated, and too set in your ways. Seniors in this city are tough. We’ve lived through a lot. But we’re also independent and this place instills that in you. I’ve traveled all over the world and as nice as those places are, I’m never sorry to come home to New York.
lgbtSr: Is TOQ something you see going on indefinitely, or does it have a shelf life?
SH: I hope to do it as long as it works. I love it. I also have the most wonderful team helping me. My amazing cinematographer and editor Thomas Meacham, who shoots the episodes, finds the clips to back-up and compliment whatever I’m talking about, and edits it all together, making it seem smooth and effortless, Dale Edwards who helps me shoot and promote the series, my co-host John ( Johnny) Bixler, who does the lovely intros each week and of course, Vince Cardinal who oversees, advices and designs the beautiful backdrops for each episode. Without them, not only wouldn’t I be doing I, it wouldn’t be the success it is.
lgbtSr: This interview is for the site, lgbtSr.com. I saw a space there that needed to be filled with something other than horror stories about being old and gay – evil nursing home attendants, attempted deathbed conversions. What’s the upside to being gay and aging?
SH: Well, in this city there are so many things to see and do and many of them don’t cost a lot The LGBT Community Center offers so many wonderful activities and programs to and the internet allows you to be more aware of all the various happenings throughout the city. I think the hardest thing about getting old is not buying into it. I still feel about twelve in my mind most of the time. You’re body has it’s natural course it follows, but your mind can still be vibrant and open to new experiences and changes. Personally, I think there’s too much emphasis on “youth”, especially in the Gay community. It’s such a relatively short time span in the general length of your life. Everyone get’s old and everyone has something to offer. We should all be together. I remember when I came to New York, the Gay bars were filled with people of all ages mingling together and enjoying each other’s company. I don’t see that as much anymore. After you reach a certain age, you become invisible. Personally, I just want to look good for my age and be a vital and hopefully interesting person. I think holding onto your youth is one thing, taking it prisoner is another.
lgbtSr: Thanks again, this means a lot to me. Who plays you in the biopic?
SH: Years ago, I would have said Marie Dressler, because more and more, I think I look like her. Thank God! Thank you for asking me to do this and for being such a fan of “STEVE HAYES; Tired Old Queen at the Movies”. You’ve made this “Tired Old Queen”, very happy. Ciao!