Interview: Barry Brisco Proudly Assures That LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

Barry Brisco’s Love is a Battlefield returns to the Hollywood Fringe Festival after nine years opening June 10th at the Limbic Arthouse

By: May. 29, 2023

Interview: Barry Brisco Proudly Assures That LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD

Barry Brisco’s Love is a Battlefield returns to the Hollywood Fringe Festival after nine years opening June 10, 2023, at the Limbic Arthouse. Barry directs his based-on-real-life script with the cast of Barry Brisco, Ian James, Johnny Manibusan, Michael C. Morello, Navene Shata, Jamarr Tillman and Arielle Thomas.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Barry!

You originally performed Love is a Battlefield during the 2013 Hollywood Fringe Festival and had planned on bringing it back to the Fringe when the pandemic hit. What made you decide to bring it back to the Hollywood Fringe after all these years?

The first time we did this play, it was an amazing life-changing experience. I had an amazing cast, which included Broadway's Gloria Estefan "On Your Feet" Actress Anna Villafane as my lead actress. It was a first for me. To take on an entire production, of a piece that I wrote, for a festival. Producing, directing, and acting proved to be the most educational experience of my adult life. So, needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes. I didn't know the first thing about producing. After 10 years. I felt like I knew enough to bring it back and give it the platform that it deserved. I always knew that the play was amazing. We got an amazing response from the people who actually did see it. People wanted more, I wanted to do more. But the time just was not right. Every year the Hollywood Fringe Festival came around, I said I'm going to put this play back on. But I had so much other stuff going on with my acting career. I had moved to Vegas to perform a show then I went on tour to Australia and Switzerland. I was too busy to concentrate. It was impossible to focus on this play. I wasn't going to mess it up again. Everything had to be right. My acting career has taken off in the past year. I have a reoccurring guest star role on "Blindspotting" on Starz with Daveed Diggs (I play his father) and Helen Hunt. I have a recurring guest star role on Kerry Washington's "Reasonable Doubt." Life is great. But with the climate of our world and the attack on our LGBTQ+ family that is so prominent in our lives right now, gays are being attacked from both sides from the top and the bottom and even in the middle. We can't win, we can't break even, and we can't get out of the game. So, I'm going to use my play as my platform to do what we do best. Live out loud right in your faces. More gay plays, more gay television, more gay people, more gay love. The Hollywood Fringe Festival is the perfect platform. There's so much love here. Love is a Battlefield was not only welcome but necessary. The time is so right for this play. Flashback to the '90s when everybody wasn't so damn sensitive. A time when we held each other accountable to our faces. If you wanted to confront somebody, you had to confront them face to face. The phone didn't work cuz we would just hang up on a bitch. We need to realize that accountability and friendship and honesty are necessary. People need to see this play. People need to laugh. There isn't a person alive who's been through college and had sex that hasn't lived through the things that we're going to see in this play. The time is right, right now. That's why I brought it back after all of these years. 

How long has the incubation period of this play been?

The incubation period of this play? I had to write a paper for my creative writing class back in college for our final. I had something else completely planned. Had even began writing it. Then one beautiful night one of my best friends ended up in my bed. He lived next door. I had no intention of having sex with him. I had a girlfriend. He had a girlfriend. He wasn't my type at all. Six feet six inches tall with a mullet and chewing tobacco on his lip. Of course, I had a million questions and no answers, and he seemed to be the only person that I could discuss it with. But then all of a sudden, he wouldn't talk to me anymore. I don't think we've ever spoken another word to each other since then. But I had a final to write. So, I put all my thoughts down on paper and handed it in. I got an A + and that was 1989. So, the incubation period is????? You tell me. I'm sorry, I can't do math.  

Or do you mean the incubation period between productions? That would be 10 years. I can do a little math. Very Little.

Has your script been tweaked since your 2013 staging?

Nope. It hasn't been tweaked at all. It was amazing then. And it's amazing now. It didn't need to be tweaked. It needs to be seen. This play can be made into a TV series just the way it is. I wouldn't touch a thing, and I haven't. When she was done, she was perfect and beautiful. You don't change perfect. You don't change beautiful. 

Have you worked with any of the Love is a Battlefield cast or creatives before?

My fellow producer Terrance Gean Taylor and I have been working with for more than 15 years now. He is a hard-working dedicated talented producer and friend. Terrence was my producer and stage manager the first time we did this show. I couldn't dream of doing it without him.  

What would your three-line pitch of Love is a Battlefield be?

It's a play that takes place in the early 90s, about two college bros that end up sexing each other. 

The one who initiated the sex has a girlfriend and this sex has turned him into a different person, a temporary homophobe, and he now labels the other bro as the "F" word. But we soon find out that you can't say you're straight" with a gun in your mouth, or a fist in your gut. "BOOM!"

This show is based on true events. Is the main character Ryan based on you? Or Rob?

The main character Ryan is based on me. But there's another character. Oliver is the me that I became when I actually came out of the closet. Ryan was just minding his own business. Then some big old dumb straight boy throws his junk in his face, and he falls in love. Story of my life. Not all gay sex happens because of gay people. Straight men initiate a lot of gay sex. Just ask any gay man. Or an angry straight woman. A gay man could have sex minding his own business.

If you were to submit Ryan on a dating website, what qualities of his would you list?

Literally... Guy next door. Handsome, Sweet, Strong, Smart, Friendly, Athletic, Open-minded, Down to earth, Bi-Curious, Great Kisser, Love my friends.

LTR and Relationship minded. It's my first time, be gentle with me. Ridiculously Sagittarius...  

What flaws would you definitely omit?

At this age? 19 years old? There are no flaws. I wouldn't change a thing about him. Or myself when I was 19. You couldn't tell me anything, and you can't tell Ryan anything. When Ryan looks in the mirror, he sees no flaws. He sees perfection. He sees his mother's child and the man that his father wanted him to become. There's nothing wrong with him. And if I'm gay, I'm gay. Ryan's attitude is, I love me, and I promise to love my gay ass forever, no matter what. "I'm staying and you? You're going to love me"... Effie. I wouldn't change a thing about Ryan. So many young gay men are taught to believe that they are flawed. But being who you are and loving yourself is flawless. Just like perfection, flawless... Need no correction, flawless... You're absolutely flawless. “Don’t let other people take your amazing life from you, young gay men. Learn how to love yourself and give love and accept love.

Interview: Barry Brisco Proudly Assures That LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD What did you want to be growing up? Actor? Director? Writer? Producer?

Yes... All of the above. And I never wanted to do anything else...  Sitting there as a little kid in the 70s watching "Wonderama" on television, I asked my mother, ‘How can I be one of those kids?’ She said, ‘You'd have to move to Hollywood.’ That's all I needed to hear. From that moment on. I needed to move to Hollywood so I could be. On the other side of that television. I saw my sister Kelly perform on stage in her ballet class. I needed to be on that stage. I started writing as a teenager when I wrote an answer to Whitney Houston's song "How Will I Know?" My snapback track was, “You'll Know When You See Me" and I'm from New Jersey. Producing is in my blood. It's in the water. We're good at telling people what to do and being in charge and making a mess of things and then having to fix it. Yeah, all of the above.

What gives you greater gratification: Typing “THE END” on your script? Taking your own bow at curtain call? Watching your directed cast receiving their post-show accolades?

Again, I'll have to say all of the above. When these things happen, they are a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence every single time that they happen. When you type "The End," you are reaching out from your heart and patting your own self on the back because you did it. You completed something. You finished it. You should be proud of yourself. When you hear people put their hands together and yell and clap in appreciation for your art and for what you have done for them and for what you have done for that room, I swear to God right now I'm getting emotional because I can hear it right now, everybody should experience that, everybody should feel that in their lifetime. I don't know what it's like to have children and to be proud that way, I can only assume that when thousands of people or less than 10 people applaud you and they give you validation for what you've done, it is absolutely the world. And watching my directed cast experience that has to be what it feels like to be proud of your child, it has to be one of the best feelings in the world. That you were able to do something for your fellow actors for people who trusted and believed in you, who learned your lines and brought your world to life for other people to enjoy. There's nothing like that. So again, all of the above. I want to take this moment right now to thank my cast and let them know how proud I am of them. I'm so proud of you all. Thank you. 

What circumstances led you to create Barry Brisco Productions?

When you work so hard on yourself and everything that you do you collectively become your own production company. It's putting your money with your mouth. It’s putting your money where your talent is. It's believing in yourself. It's never giving up. It's beyond being first on the call sheet. You paid for and wrote the damn call sheet. You are a production, so "Barry Brisco Productions" was only appropriate. I'm a production. Ask anyone.

In 2018, you performed with Rich Binning in Puppetry of the Penis in Las Vegas and later touring Australia. What was your favorite folding, twisting, bulging and scooping creation?

I'm so glad you asked. And I'm so glad you mentioned Rich Binning. I absolutely love that man and I love his wife Olivia who allowed me to be his show husband. Definitely one of the best relationships that I've ever had. They are family to me forever. Rich and I was allowed to invent a lot of new tricks that brought new flavors to an old show. Rich would do a trick called "The Woman" There isn't a little boy or a grown man on the planet who owns a penis that hasn't done this trick. It's just simply, you know pulling your junk between your legs to the back and pretending that you don't have a penis. But then I would bump it up about 99 notches. And literally, form my scrotum into the most hideous-looking vagina that a man could come up with his own sack. It was called "The Other Woman" times I called it "The Black Woman." And Black women would look at me like "I'm going to kill you after the show.” I’m embarrassed and very very proud to have performed that trick. I think it's the only trick that someone literally stood up and stormed out of the theater on. Boy, was she pissed... I think she thought she was looking in the mirror and it freaked her out. And I have to give kudos to the trick I invented called "The Miley Cyrus." Basically, just did a cut out of Miley on the wrecking ball and made my penis and testicles into the wrecking ball. And swung it back and forth, projected on a 50-ft screen. As the audience fell out of their seats dying of controllable laughter. What a great show. There is nothing more liberating and more freeing for an artist than standing on stage naked with your genitals in your hands saying to the world, "Hey, look at me!" and people giving you that applause we talked about earlier. You ever take a bow fully naked on stage? You ever have anybody clap for your penis? Now that... That is the best. It's better than sex. I have had at least 100,000 people all over the planet, stand up and applaud for my penis. Thank you very much. Thanks Mom and Dad. 

What’s in the near future for Barry Brisco?

Barry Brisco has had an amazing year and I pray every day to God in the heavens and Jesus Christ that it just continues on. We are praying and have our fingers crossed that the series "Blindspotting" will get a third season. Will we get a better look inside of my character "Dauntes" family on the show? Fingers crossed that "Reasonable Doubt” will have me back as "Pastor Thurston" because they just got picked up for a second season. But they've moved to Atlanta so who knows what's happening with this writer’s strike. Thank God for Theatre! Television may be done for a bit. I have a McDonald's commercial currently running. Very proud of McDonald's, it's a gay interracial McDonald's commercial. Somebody tell the Republicans, so I can go viral. They haven't figured out that we're a couple yet.  I also have a Geico commercial running at the moment. Last week the remake of the movie "White Men Can't Jump" dropped and I have a part in that movie as the ref. I want to be healthy and alive for all that's coming my way. I have more shows that I have written. That needs to see the light of day. I need a meeting at Netflix or HBO or something. The sky is the limit to what I can hack. Life is a Battlefield, and I'm a Five Star General ready for war. Bring it On Life. Come at me bro...

Thank you again, Barry! I look forward to attending your Battlefield.

I cannot wait for you to see the show. Thank you sooo much Gil for this interview...

For scheduling and tickets to the live performances of Love is a Battlefield through June 25, 2023, click on the button below:




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