Cindy Marie Jenkins

Cindy Marie Jenkins

Gerald McCullouch: Ending With an Ouch

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Gerald McCullouch. Photo by Greg Endries

Given just a few letters to describe himself on his Twitter profile, Gerald McCullouch chose: “CSI‘s Bobby Dawson/OUT 100 honoree. A brazen misfit livin’ the bicoastal dream & diggin’ it moocho. My Gs hard & I end w/an ouch. Life’s short. Choose laughter.”

Although an entertaining and accurate mini-bio, those words merely sketch the actor, currently rehearsing the West Coast premiere of the hit off-Broadway play Daddy.

CSI‘s Bobby Dawson

For 10 years, McCullouch has played ballistics expert Bobby on CSI. The TV show gives him stature and opportunities, he admits, but carries more weight in New York. Before CSI, McCullouch appeared in various guest star or recurring roles in Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Law & Order (Criminal Intent and SVU) and a smattering of independent movies (BearCity, The Mikado Project).

His most memorable experience with an audience member came from a short in which he was actor, director, writer and producer: The Moment After. The basic story is about all the “many things that seem to stifle the courage it takes to say yes” to life.

“This moment stays with me,” McCullouch recalls. “After the Fresno screening, there were a lot of CSI fans waiting to talk to me and this kid ““ wow, I haven’t thought about this in a while ““ hugged me. He was crying and we went outside. He just hugged me and said, “˜Thank you. Your movie helped me understand my mother’s suicide.’”

McCullouch, genuine and always smiling through the interview, pauses as the memory hits him again. “It was a really beautiful moment because it illuminates the story we told.”

OUT 100 Honoree

“I’m very honored that OUT 100 included me this year. I guess I have unexpectedly become a role model for some people and I try to respect that.” McCullouch explains that stories about openly gay men entering middle age make up a relatively new territory for theater — the gay community lost an entire generation of would-be role models due to AIDS and a new cultural lexicon is forming.

Gerald McCullouch, Ian Verdun and Dan Via. DADDY. Photo by Ed Krieger

“The idea of a family was not even a possibility,” he says. “It could never even be a part of their life. This is terrain we don’t really know how to navigate. You’re forced to face a lot of your life’s choices alone that people with a more traditional life aren’t presented with. It’s ironic that now after BearCity I play a similar character in Daddy but one that is new to my career. I’m so thankful now to be cast-able for these roles, nice older roles that are more rewarding; the journeys of the characters are more fulfilling.”

Before embracing his role in BearCity, he colored over his grey hair and now that silver sex appeal leads the way towards obtaining those plum mature roles and recent honors. Just last week Greg Hernandez of Out in Hollywood named McCullouch one of his Top 10 Morning Men of the Year. After Hernandez interviewed McCullouch for BearCity in July, he promptly deemed him “the sexiest man alive.”

All the recent acclaim over his looks doesn’t seem to matter to the down-to-earth McCullouch.  The honors he feels are in being able to tell stories like BearCity and Daddy where “people take responsibility for life’s choices that maybe didn’t bring them where they want to be. It’s a human story whether you are gay or straight.”

A brazen misfit livin’ the bicoastal dream & diggin’ it moocho

His own life choices appear to be working for McCullouch. Purchasing an apartment in the beautiful Washington Heights neighborhood in New York City, then renovating it to be completely environment-friendly, he found his green efforts unexpectedly resulted in a heated bathroom floor.

When asked about the theater scene in New York City, he points to non-star vehicles and typically off-Broadway shows that impressed him: Scottsboro Boys (“It was so moving, but because it wasn’t a known entity couldn’t garner the ticket sales”), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (“a great show that didn’t have the Broadway star quality to sell tickets”), Fela (“one of the original stories on Broadway last year”). But he believes that “Everything goes through waves, temperaments change, trends change,” citing the move of  Avenue Q from off-Broadway” to Broadway and back to off-Broadway.

Now he and the playwright Dan Via have moved their off-Broadway hit Daddy to Los Angeles, smack dab in the center of Theater Row. What’s been his experience so far?

“I’m very impressed with the LA theater community that has developed since my move to New York four years ago. Because of Goldstar and plays411, you can tap into the community directly and I’m honored that Daddy is a part of it. We sold out our first week almost immediately.”

After losing some of the initial production team during the move, he smiles at the result: “The universe provides. The Hudson welcomed us with open arms; it’s one of the few theaters here that has a marquee [currently being renovated, expected to be unveiled this weekend] . Everything happened for a reason. The opening night party will be here in the café; the theater space is beautiful and more in tune with the play. It was just a serendipitous chain of events and I’m beyond honored.”

My G’s hard and I end w/an ouch.

Is it that hard for people to pronounce his name correctly? Many years ago, he was in the audience for The Price is Right. They called him to be a contestant but butchered his name so badly McCullouch didn’t even recognize it. His friends convinced him “Mc-Clootch” was actually meant to call him onstage. Thus a consistent commitment to educating people before they know they need the information. Even his Twitter handle is @ItsAHardG . He admits it took him “forever” to be on Facebook. After he foiled a mugger in the subway in 2009, attracting widespread attention, there was a “deluge of information he was not expecting,” recounts McCullouch. Once his mother started getting calls at her house, he knew he had to do something.

Ian Verdun, Gerald McCullouch and Dan Via. DADDY. Photo by Ed Krieger

A friend explained how he could fight back, or at least prevent something similar getting out of control again. “You’re out of the loop,” his friend said. “Your story is in everyone else’s control right now.” With an extensive website and very active Facebook and Twitter accounts, does he feel there’s a benefit?

“They really do cut out the middleman. What I want to say is what I tweet.” McCullouch answers definitively.

What does he say to fans and friends? His tweets read very much in his actual voice, ranging from “Gratitude in abundance,” to articles about Daddy‘s LA run, mingled with advice such as “an idiot is a genius to another idiot. Enough said.” He also has regular conversations with followers; the main feeling one gets, even through the humor, is appreciation of the stories he is able to tell because of his fans: “I don’t know who put this up but make me feel like Sally Field will ya’? And ‘like’ me. Really like me.” http://on.fb.me/eXrjik .”

Life’s short. Choose laughter.

“It’s the same story but not the same show.” Described in Show Business Weekly as “a play that maps the human heart,”Â Daddy was “just an audition that came my way,” according to McCullouch. “I fell in love with the story in a way I never had before. Dan has such a great comic sensibility; he’s a really smart writer. I said yes to the role very quickly.”

When “golden boy” Colin falls for a man half his age, the result is a climactic confrontation with best friend Stew that will forever change their lives. McCullouch and Via reprise the roles they originated in New York. Also in the cast is Ian Verdun.

Careful not to give anything away, he describes some of the script changes between New York and LA. “There was much more change than I ever expected,” the actor admits. “There were new scenes, cut scenes, new direction, new fight choreography; it’s been a journey. Rick [Sparks, the director] has cast and directed a show with much more maturity. Everyone’s journeys are more complete and it’s a more fulfilling journey for both the characters and the audience. Dan invested in a landscape that hasn’t ever really been seen before, whether East or West Coast, and the story is grounded in maturity.”

Daddy, produced by Racquel Lehrman for Theatre Planners, opens Jan. 8; plays Fri.-Sat., 8 pm; Sun., 7 pm; through Feb. 13. Tickets: $30. The Hudson Mainstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; 323.960.7738 or plays411.com/daddy.