So Scandalous 

OKC writer-director Alexandria Carr readies the second season of her LGBTQ+ series, Scandalous Tales.

click to enlarge Alexandria Carr created, directed and wrote the OKC-set LGBTQ+ web series Scandalous Tales, and she will play Nova in season two. - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • Alexandria Carr created, directed and wrote the OKC-set LGBTQ+ web series Scandalous Tales, and she will play Nova in season two.

The Facebook post that inspired Scandalous Tales wasn’t particularly salacious. Writer-director Alexandria Carr began working to create the show after her name came up in the comments section of a post lamenting the lack of an LGBTQ+ web series set in Oklahoma City.

“A lot of my friends were tagging me, like, ‘You’re a dope writer; you should do it,’” Carr said. “I instantly had this idea. I wrote the first episode after we had our casting call, and we got everybody in and they were like, ‘This is dope.’ That’s when I was like, ‘I can really do something with this writing.’”

Carr said she drew inspiration from the web series Between Women but she had different stories she wanted to tell.

“I decided to talk about mental illness and everything that we don’t talk about,” Carr said. “It’s kind of hard to talk about. That’s one of the main reasons why we’re doing it, to kind of open that door so people can communicate better and bring awareness to the table of what not only we but what everybody goes through. … A lot of the storyline is literally stuff that I’ve seen firsthand, stuff I’ve dealt with firsthand.”

The title Scandalous Tales came from a suggestion by actress Ashley J., who plays Neeyah, a woman who begins questioning her sexuality because of her increasingly strained relationship with her husband Jakob. Ron Marshall, who plays Jakob, said he has little in common with the character he plays, but he wants people to realize that people like Jakob exist.

“He’s an ass, pretty much,” Marshall said. “I’m totally different from Jakob. Jakob is someone that abuses his power, his name, someone who manipulates people, takes advantage of people. It’s always fun being Jakob, because I get to be someone else, but also it sheds light on masculine men that are married that don’t look the part that society says, ‘He’s gay.’”

Rather than focusing specifically on lesbian or gay characters, Carr said she wanted to show viewers the large and complex array of sexualities within the LGBTQ+ community in a way seldom portrayed in movies or on TV. When she approached Cam “Yoshi” Johnson about playing the pansexual character Veronica, Johnson said she was skeptical that people would understand.

“I was like, ‘How are you going to show that to the world?’ because they don’t get it,” Johnson said. “They’ll either think that the character is bisexual or they’re really not going to understand that character as basically gender-fluid. So it was interesting how we were able to bring light to that and allow for this character to continue to develop so that people can understand, ‘OK there are people out here, they’re not just bisexual or gay or lesbian or anything like that.’ … Our series is more of a spectrum.”

Playing Veronica, who also has a complex relationship with Jakob, also gives Johnson the opportunity to portray a multifaceted character with complicated motivations while challenging traditional gender roles.

click to enlarge Neeyah (Ashley J.) and Sasha (Corri James) have a complicated relationship in season one of Scandalous Tales. - PROVIDED
  • provided
  • Neeyah (Ashley J.) and Sasha (Corri James) have a complicated relationship in season one of Scandalous Tales.

“The perception is that because I’m masculine, I would never be in a vulnerable state, and that just goes back to even in a woman-on-woman relationship where masculine women, they’re always seen as the tops,” Johnson said. “They would never let their femme woman top them, but that’s not true. This gives us a chance to kind of demolish these heteronormative ideas that we carry.”

Carr said she knew she was on the right track after her mother said she was confused by some of the characters’ relationships and actions.

“She was like, ‘I just don’t understand it,’” Carr said. “I was like, ‘That’s why I put it in there, so that people can understand it.’”

Producer and assistant director Prisma Duque said some people are shocked to see that a wide variety of characters could exist in Oklahoma at all.

“We still come off as a very conservative state,” Duque said, “so with the LGBT community coming out in such broad ways, it’s still surprising for a lot of people, especially the older people. Even people just a little bit older than us, they’re like, ‘I didn’t realize there were so many of you.’ But there are, and there’s even more where that came from.”

Supply and demand

Other than a “literally shoved together” trailer that Carr said the cast and crew “don’t speak of,” her first project as director was the series’ nearly 40-minute pilot. Carr, who previously wrote poetry and short stories and initially filled the director’s role out of necessity, said shooting the pilot was a crash course in the filming process.

“One page of words takes three hours to film,” Carr said. “I never thought that would be how filming was. I’d never done filming before. … Timing was a big one. ‘Oh five minutes late, that’s fine.’ No, it’s not. That puts us five hours behind. So the process of learning that and also patience because there’s one take, two takes, three takes, 20 takes.”

The pilot episode was released in September 2017, and episode six, the season finale, debuted in November. The show was scheduled for a weekly release, but rendering and editing issues caused a few delays. Duque said working on Scandalous Tales has given her a new appreciation for the people who make film and television shows.

“Once you start doing it yourself, you realize when you’re watching other TV shows and other movies, ‘Man, how long did it take them to film this one scene or one episode,’” Duque said. “When you’re waiting on a new season and you’re like, ‘Why does it take so long?’ Now we know.”

Scandalous Tales fans — who have stopped cast members in grocery stores, at the makeup counter and, in Johnson’s case, at the VA hospital to demand a second season — aren’t always as understanding. Carr said the cliffhangers at the end of the season one finale were too intense for some people to watch.

“People were getting up, turning around,” Carr said. “It made them uncomfortable because either they’ve been through that or they know somebody who’s been through that, and now it’s like, wow, they’re really talking about it.”

The second season will deal heavily with the conflicts between religion and sexuality, and Carr promised it will be even more intense.

“Season one was very scandalous, and there was just a lot of stuff going on,” Carr said, “but season two, people are going to be on the edge of their seat having to have to get an inhaler or something. … It’s going to be good.”

The cast and crew of Scandalous Tales is scheduled to host a speed-dating event to raise funds for season two 6-9 p.m. Aug. 29 at Michael Murphy’s Dueling Piano Bar, 25 S. Oklahoma Ave.

Visit facebook.com/scandalous-tales.

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