Don’t tell Rick Perry, Marcus Bachmann, and the Exodus International crew in Uganda, about eCupid: Life on the Download because not only would they likely be discomfited by its many splendid manly bodies but they’d probably be intimidated by writer/director J.C. Calciano’s notable success in actually shaping a viable moral code for countless out gay men who genuinely prefer monogamy. It’s a cinematic navigation of moral and ethical dilemmas of what it is to be a gay man in urban America today. Calciano has clearly pondered and processed the problem of gay men being barraged with images, myths, and realities of masculine beauty on the web, in the media, and within the GLBT community itself. Yet, he reveals how a down-to-earth gay guy might maintain a solid, loving relationship with another man in the face of these onslaughts.
Hence, for right-wingers who capitalize on the promiscuity stereotype of gays, Calciano has headed them off at the pass. Temptation is an issue across the sexual orientation spectrum and he has framed that issue in depth from an informed gay perspective as opposed to a disinformed homophobic perspective.
eCupid involves a white gay LA couple enduring the doldrums after seven years of monogamy. Marshall (Houston Rhines) is about to turn 30 and is offered lots of hot contacts after joining an online gay social network. His partner, Gabe (Noah Schuffman), has been preoccupied with running his financially strapped coffee shop. As Schuffman puts it, “Gabe is so consumed with work that he doesn’t see how his distance and oblivious behavior regarding his relationship to Marshall has contributed to Marshall’s curiosity.”
Rhines adds, “In the beginning Marshall was self-involved, overworked, and sexually frustrated. Characters like Keith (Matthew Scott Lewis) come into his life and certainly excite him as to the prospects of new guys and experiences. However, no matter how sexy Keith is, Marshall still never finds him more appealing or more desirable than his partner. This is why he never acts upon the sexual energy between the two of them.”
Gabe, in turn, is tempted by the studly and apparently prosperous Richard (Brad Pennington). Schuffman says Richard is a reminder “that Gabe needs to focus a little more on his personal life than work.”
Dynasty TV legend, Morgan Fairchild shines as a mystically wise waitress in an enchanted roadside diner that starkly contrasts the chi-chi cafes the film’s gay men typically frequent. The role reflects Fairchild’s own general view. She shares “My basic philosophy has always been kindness. I have always felt a connection to God and the Universe, and felt it is the duty of each of us to reach out in love to our fellow man. It’s a simple philosophy and all-encompassing. It enables you to soar above the pettiness of this plane of existence and find true meaning in your time on earth.”
Calciano, who also wrote and directed Is It Just Me? reflects, “My stories are about the foundation of who we are as people. Gay or straight, we all share the same struggles and I try to explore those challenges in a current, interesting way. Times may change, but we are always looking for the same things.”