the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Sophia Made Me Gay


When I read online dating sites, I always see singles looking for someone with the exact similar interests.  Why?  When I meet someone, I want to meet someone with different interests.  I already have my interests.  Who wants to go out with himself, even if the sex is good? 

I like to learn new stuff.   When I first met Sophia, I used to laugh at two of her main interests —  now I’m totally into them on my own.   They are — and I can hear the gaydar going off all across America — "All My Children" and Professional Figure Skating.

Like most prime-time TV watchers, I always thought of soap operas as second-tier entertainment, produced to sell Tide Detergent to housewives.  I remember some girls watching "General Hospital," back in high school, but I never heard of a straight man watching a soap opera. 

As a writer, I also pooh-poohed the supposed absurd stories of soap operas, the ones they would parody on Saturday Night Live, of evil twins and amnesia and people coming back from "the dead."  But then I started watching it with Sophia.  She’s been watching All My Children for years.  And I started getting into it.  For seven years, we watched it every night.  And now that I’m on my own, I still Tivo it every day.  Most of my conversations with Sophia on the phone still begin with, "Did you see ‘All My Children’ today? 

Of course, I realize that most of the plotlines are silly and I’m usually laughing at the bad acting.  But that’s part of the fun.  I probaby could also develop a drinking game for guessing the exact moment when one character accidentally "overhears" some secret or walks into a room just at the most inopportune time.

All in all, the writing is pretty good and I would definitely recommend watching some soaps to my screenwriting friends.   There is a lot of skill used in keeping a viewer involved in a subplot for six months.  I think I also like the fact that everyone in Pine Valley seems to have had sex or been married to each other, and they are still friends.  If only life was so easy.

Currently, the big subplot is about the return of Dixie, Tad’s wife.  But is she Dixie or really Di Kirby, her half-sister, fooling everyone?  And will Babe, Dixie’s ex-daughter-in-law learn the truth and expose her, winning back the trust of J.R., Dixie’s son, and the heart of Jamie, Babe’s ex-boyfriend and brother of J.R.?   Got it?

It took a good deal more convincing to get me interested in Figure Skating.  Before Sophia, the only time I ever watched figure skating was during the Olympics, and other than Michelle Kwan and Dorothy Hamill, I couldn’t name another skater.  Sophia watched every championship on TV, but it usually bored me.  Then, one year, for her birthday, I took her to the week-long U.S. Championships in Salt Lake City.   It was pretty amazing seeing these athletes up close.  And Michelle Kwan was pretty beautiful to watch.  I learned about all the categories and levels of figure skating.  We sat with a group of women (groupies, more accurately) who travelled the world going from one competition to another, similar to Deadheads following the Grateful Dead.  They were fun and knowledgeable, although they sometimes made me feel uncomfortable when they talked about some 16 year old Junior Male Champion’s "nice ass."

After Salt Lake, we went to a few other championships, including those in Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.  In 2003 we went to the World  Figure Skating Championship In Washington D.C., where we saw the best in the world.  Seeing the Chinese skating pair of Xue Shen and Honbo Zhao was one of the most thrilling sports moments I’d ever seen.  They got a ten minute standing ovation. 

Sophia, being Russian, especially enjoyed the artistry of the Russian skaters, particularly Evgeni Plushenko.

We tried to root for the Jewish skaters, but unfortunately former skating champion Michael Weiss is one of the least ilikeable skaters in America.    However, when at the World Champinship, we started seeing flags of different countries being displayed during the competition, Sophia (who lived in Israel for several years) dragged me all across Washington D.C. until we found what we were looking for in Union Station to support Israeli Ice Dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski:


All My Children?  Figure Skating?  I know… gay stuff.   I’m not even going to start telling you about my large CD collection of show tunes.   Thank God I have those  Dolce & Gabbana  pants from the last post, because no one would ever mistake me for being gay when I wear those.


  1. anonymous city girl


  2. hope

    One time my father was at a record store and came across a table of CDs that seemed to be all artists that he liked – Better Midler, Barbara Streisand, Rufus Wainwright – and he stood there pondering for a long time what these artists had in common other than the fact that he liked them all. Finally, after looking all around the table, he realized he was in the gay & lesbian section. He backed slowly away from the table and walked out with an Insane Clown Posse CD (just kidding about the last part).

    Anyways, he also likes figure skating and has taken me to 4 or 5 “Champions on Ice,” and I still think he’s pretty manly.

  3. kate

    I’ve been watching All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital since I was six. I’m hopelessly addicted. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realized how many man watch soaps also, especially GH.

  4. Tuck

    C’mon…how could you forget? Peggy Fleming….many a boys’ wet dream!

  5. Susan

    All My Kids, huh? I watched that with my mom for a few summers when I was in middle school. I remember Dixie and Tad/Ted (everybody thought Tad died when he fell in a river, but he just washed up somewhere downstream, with amnesia, and became Ted) and Jamie (who was just a little kid then). Funny stuff πŸ˜‰

  6. Neil

    Tuck — right, forgot about Peggy Fleming.

    She does the broadcasts now. And she’s still looking pretty hot (with some help, I’m sure) —

  7. Modigli

    Man, I can’t believe AMC still has all the same characters from like 30 years ago! I remember going to my paternal grandmother’s every summer as a kid and watching that with her!

  8. Neil

    Mo — the scary thing is that with all their plastic surgery, they still look the same as 30 years ago, only tighter.

  9. M.A.

    Evgeni Plushenko is an excellent skater. My mother loves figure skating. I only come in to watch the Russians and Ukrainians; I always had mixed feelings about Oxana Byoul(sp?)–particularly after her partygirl days.

  10. Danny

    I can’t relate to the figure skating thing, but you’ve forced me to admit itÒ€”I watch “All My Children” too, or “my story” as I refer to it (sounding like a middle-aged woman in the Catskills). How hideous is it if I blame that on my late mother? When she had cancer six years ago I spent a lot of time at my sister’s in Chicago who is an “All My Children” fanatic (since Erica was in high school) and I got as hooked as a crack addict. Kendall can’t bear that I have a Season Pass for such tripe on our TiVo but then I remind her that her current favorite shows are “My Fair Brady” and “Breaking Bonaduce” so she can get off her high horse.

    Now I will impress you with my “All My Children” connections. I once made out with Phoebe Tyler Wallingford. Yes, the late actress, Ruth Warrick, was 44 years older than me, but I swear it’s true! (Hey, she did co-star in “Citizen Kane” after all!)

    Leo DuPres (Greenlee’s first husband, now the star of “Vegas”) goes to my dentist and I have to pretend that I don’t know who he is to keep any semblance of dignity.

    I’ve seen Bianca Montgomery twice in the past month, once at Farmers Market and once at Arclight. I stared at her like a lunatic and was this close to yelling “Bianca!” (Remember her great scene in the original “American Pie”?)

    The woman who played Ted’s (Tad’s amnesiac self) mother at the vineyard is my wife’s mother’s best friend. She’s also friends with Peg English, Brooke’s mother who turned out to be the head a major crime syndicate.

    I wonder how many he-men like us are secretly watching this show. It’s a good thing I’m already married because I’m sure I would’ve just lost any chance of getting hooked up with the army of women who read your blog. Or maybe women truly respect men who watch soap operas. After all, we obviously buy that Erica Kane is the world’s most famous supermodel even though she’s 58 and about four feet tall.

    P.S. Di Kirby is NOT Dixie Cooney, she’s her half-sister, get with the program!

  11. Neil

    All, I can say is HOLY SHIT. I’m calling Sophia right now to read your comments.

    Ruth Warrick! Leo’s dentist! Bianca at the Arclight (she probably quit the show to try to get a pilot, right?) And I thought she was in Paris.

    This may be the most important blog post of my life — allowing men who have hidden their passion for soap operas behind an iron curtain of fake masculinity. Being forced to watch football games when they were really wondering if Maria and Edmund were going to patch up their marriage…

    Come out, Men! Freedom is in the air!

  12. kris

    I would try, but I don’t think I can top Danny’s comment. Yeah. No way.

  13. cruisin-mom

    Don’t worry Neil, I make my poor husband watch Gilmore Girls…is anyone old enough to remember the greatest soap opera ever…”Dark Shadows”?

  14. Susan

    CM – Not old enough to remember when it was on the air originally, but my mom LOVED to watch Dark Shadow reruns when they were on, so I caught a few episodes. πŸ˜‰

  15. anne arkham

    I’m a WWE fan.

    My husband used to watch professional wrestling, and I used to make fun of him for it. But in order to really make fun of something, you have to know a lot about it. So I started watching here and there, in order to sharpen my insults, and before I knew it I was sucked in. Wrestling has some of the best plotlines on tv, plus pyrotechnics, nudity, people getting hit over the head with chairs, slammed through tables, and falling off of really tall ladders. I mean, what else is TV for?

  16. Mr_Rodacre

    It’s okay Neil. I was once sucked into the soap “Search For Tomorrow” when I was younger. And I love the Gilmore Girls – it’s a quality show with fantastic writing – way more than chick-flick-TV.

    Figure skating? Yeah – once in awhile. If not to just watch in amazement how people can actually DO that on two thin steel blades.

  17. Bill

    Figure skating and show tunes … odd that anything joyful is considered “gay” (not something for “manly” men). Well, fuck ’em. I like figure skating and show tunes – my iPod’s playing the original cast recording of Guys and Dolls as I type.

    Being in Canada, figure skating is quite the thing given the amount of ice we have. A woman I know has a daughter who is a figure skater. It is astonishing the amount of time her mother puts into it, the work her daughter puts into it, and even more alarming the MONEY that goes into it – travel, training etc. And what a little sub-culture it is.

    And my best friend back in Ontario … well, he’s been watching The Young and The Restless since time began. I’m not big on soap operas myself but despite that I’ve figured out that one of the pleasures of them is you’re not supposed to admit to watching them. It’s supposed to be a secret. So … ssshhhh!

  18. Josia

    And for the spiritual take on this emerging crisis – it’s all about similarity of form – that’s what LOVE really is – but I’m not talking about the romantic stuff we dream about in this world.

  19. The Moviequill

    my wife is a diehard AMC watcher, and I occasionally tune in because I am like sitting on the couch next to her trying to read, she thinks I only watch it for bellybutton flashes of Kendall, but I have a crush on Lucci/Erica… she is close to 60 and still makes me quiver

  20. Neil

    I have a feeling that Kendall is part of that pro-anorexic group. Have you seen her bones sticking out?

    Anne — I’m trying to figure out what is weirder — my obsession with AMC or your love for wrestling.

    Danny — if you are too embarrassed to go public, please email me more details about making out with PHOEBE. That is so hot, in a slightly creepy way… but it does put you 2 steps of separation from being in Citizen Kane yourself.

  21. Jack

    I can’t do the soap opera thing, just won’t stick with me. Been with women who insisted that if I only watched it I would get into it.

    Never happened, the only reason to watch was to see some pretty faces and that got old really quickly.

    Figure skating was much more fun when Tonya Harding was in it and beating people up. If no one falls during a routine I am disappointed.

  22. ms. sizzle

    My mother has watched Days of Our Lives since before I was born- that’s over 32 years! I feel my need for drama in my life is a direct effect of being subjected to soap operas in the womb and throughout my childhood.

    I’m only sorta kidding.

    I like figure skating but most of their outfits are kinda lame. Michelle Kwan kicks ice skating ass!

    P.S. Those pants are sooo gay. πŸ˜‰

  23. miss marisol


    I am assuming that by “gay” you mean “happy.”

  24. maribeth

    Oh my God, I LOVE AMC! I started when I was five. In college I kept dating this guy, like, a year longer than I should have because he had a TV where we could watch AMC together every day.

    So glad they brought back Cady McClain. Remember when Dixie was married to ADAM? And that whole Billy Clyde thing? Ah, memories…

  25. Neil

    maribeth — they aren’t bringing back Cady McClain. It’s really her half-sister making believe it is her. Email me and I’ll fill you in with all the details. You already have too many brainy interests. You need to start watching again.

  26. celina

    I’ve been lurking for a while, but this was just too good–I had to comment! My grandmother, mom, and now I watch GH! I work in the afternoons & I don’t have tivo…so I only get to catch random episodes (& recaps online). My husband would NEVER admit it, but he LOVES it, too! If he knows I’ve been watching he’ll ask me about so&so “getting back together” or how so&so’s baby is (like they’re real people)…It is SOOOO cute!
    Anyways, thanks for the laugh!

  27. Danny

    Okay, Neil, I’ll fess up. I did smooch Phoebe Tyler/Ruth Warrick but it was on stage. She was touring with her one-woman show called “Phoebe Tyler Regrets,” I guess it was some time in the early 80s, and she was appearing in Chicago at the rock club (!) that was owned at the time by my sister’s then-boyfriend. At one point in the show she called for a volunteer and the next thing I knew I was on the stage at the Metro being sung to by Phoebe herself. She commented on my premature baldness, comparing me to her late husband Charles Tyler, and then planted a big one on my head and on my mouth. I remember that she smelled great and was wearing more makeup than Queen Elizabeth I at her death. Oy! I think there are pictures of this somewhere. I still have her autographed album.

    P.S. If you’re making a pilgrimage to Chicago to visit the spot where Ruth Warrick made the moves on me, you should stop by the Victory Gardens Theatre where the original Nina Cortlandt (Palmer’s daughter), Taylor Miller, is appearing in a play called “Memory House” through October 23rd.

  28. Serendipity

    You’ve just given me the perfect idea as to how I’ll finally confess to my fiance that I’m secretly addicted to The Young & The Restless ! Maybe he’ll even let me hold the remote control, too ( wink ) …

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