The Gamblers: Guinevere Turner and Kevin Smith on the Long, Strange Decade It's Been since the Premiere of Go Fish and Clerks

By Duralde, Alonso | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), March 30, 2004 | Go to article overview

The Gamblers: Guinevere Turner and Kevin Smith on the Long, Strange Decade It's Been since the Premiere of Go Fish and Clerks


Duralde, Alonso, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


The 1994 Sundance Film Festival featured two low-budget, salty-dialogued comedies that would forever change the face of independent cinema. Rose Troche's Go Fish--starring and cowritten by breakout star Guinevere Turner--was the sassy, sexy, irreverent lesbian movie that queers had waited for. Kevin Smith's Clerks--shot almost entirely in the New Jersey convenience store that employed him--introduced the writer-director's unique blend of pithy profanity and pop-culture minutiae mixed with an unabashed romantic streak.

Turner and Smith became good friends at that festival, launching a relationship that was both personal and professional: Turner's friendship with Smith's buddy and producer Scott Mosier was a key inspiration behind Chasing Amy, and she had cameo appearances in that film and in Dogma.

With Turner about to start work as a writer and performer on the second season of Showtime's The L Word and with Smith's latest comedy, Jersey Girl, set to open in theaters on March 26, the two of them (with Mosier sitting in) met at Smith's house in the Hollywood hills of Los Angeles to reminisce and, as friends do, needle each other.

Guin, could you have imagined that 10 years later you'd be working on a lesbian TV series?

Turner: I think that I was such a little idealist at the time ... what's it going to be like in 2004? Lesbians will roam flee, and there'll be lesbian channels and hundreds of lesbian movies out ...

Smith: Aren't there?

Turner: No.

Smith: And you don't feel that, 10 years later, you guys are further, at least, in the media?

Turner: Yeah. I mean, definitely. But I probably would've thought even more so.

Smith: You'd have knocked the breeders off the box at this point.

Turner: It's 10 years later and there's finally a lesbian show on TV, but it is a long time.

Smith: Are there other lesbians in the cast or not? Are they all actresses?

Turner: One of them, Leisha [Halley], is on the cover of The Advocate. The rest ...

Smith: Closeted?

Turner: Some are married, some take the Fifth.

Smith: Is that a convention that bugs anybody at this point or not?

Turner: It bugs them the most to be asked all the time if they're gay. "We're actors." Nobody asks the people on ER if they have medical degrees. [Laughs] It's a touchy issue.

Smith: Is it really?

Turner: Yeah.

Smith: But only for the straights? The straight cast? Or is it a touchy issue for you?

Turner: [Laughs] I would love to gossip about each and every one of them and exactly what I think about their sexuality, but I'm not at liberty, needless to say. I'm probably working with these people for five years.

I was thinking of you guys as the scrappy underdogs of Sundance 1994, but then I discovered that you had two of the biggest buzz movies of the festival.

Smith: No, we were scrappy going in, though. [Go Fish] was the buzz movie, because they had something original. Nobody had seen it. All the distributors had seen our movie in advance, and they all passed. Nobody had seen Go Fish, because [John] Pierson [producers' rep for both Clerks and Go Fish] had kept it really quiet, if I remember correctly.

Turner: Yeah, and we were also wiped out.

Smith: And they were also wiped out. [Chuckles] They were finished moments before the festival. But also, aside from I've Heard The Mermaids Singing, I don't think it had really been done at all at that point.

Desert Hearts.

Smith: Maybe Desert Hearts.

Turner: Claire of gee Moon.

Smith: Claire of the Moon. But I'm talking about arty films. They had the buzz going then, and Pierson's plan was to sell it at the festival. I was saying before that, that was the first movie ever sold at Sundance, your movie.

Turner: It was?

Smith: How do you not know shit like this? …

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