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LAist Interview: 'Regretrosexual' Creator on Going Gay and Turning Back

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Actor-comic Dan Rothenberg met the girl of his dreams in actress-comic Colleen Crabtree, but he had a little secret to tell her: For two years while living in San Francisco, he kinda sorta was gay. That little secret could either make or break lots of relationships, but at least in Dan and Colleen’s story has a happy ending.

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The now husband-and-wife team have joined together to write and star in the comical autobiographical play Regretosexual – A Love Story that chronicles the night Dan revealed his gay past to Colleen. It continues on Saturdays through May 10 at the Hudson Theatre before leaving for the Edinburgh Festival later this summer.

LAist asked the Culver City-based duo to tell us more about the play, love and labels, and Dan's living the gay life in San Francisco. Here's the first part of our interview -- and Dan's side of the story.

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Like many relationships, Regretrosexual focuses on telling the woman of your dreams the details of your "sordid" past – mainly that you "went gay" while living in SF for two years. How does one decide to "go gay"?
I followed my best friend out of the closet because it seemed exciting and cool. Plus, there was a part of me that believed that the almighty label, “gay,” would explain my anxious childhood and guarantee a happy and meaningful adulthood. The only detail I overlooked is that I’m not attracted to men. I guess I thought that would grow with time.

Was there one particular guy?
No. But there was a guy who we call Jason in the play. He was my best friend who I followed into being gay. Although I was not attracted to him. That’s probably why “Regretrosexual” is a comedy before it is a drama. Jason was my best friend in college who I looked up to and identified with. He came out of the closet when we moved to SF and a part of me felt like I had to as well. Otherwise, I thought, I would lose him as a friend.

We hear this a lot: If a woman all of a sudden decides to sleep with another woman, she's "experimenting." If a guy does it, "He's totally gay, dude!" Care to comment as to why?
Yes. Because male homosexuality is so feared in our society that there would be no motivation to for a guy to go there unless he was "...totally gay, dude." That's another unusual aspect of the show which makes it fun to perform. I think its extra funny to see the true story of a neurotic Jewish guy going gay as opposed to a woman. But you're absolutely right. When people comment on how unusual the story is, I reply that if I were a woman it would not be.

In SF, did you consider yourself gay or bisexual?
Actually I went from bi-curious, to gay, to bisexual, and finally to married (present). Honestly I am and have probably always been pretty much straight but I hate to admit that.

The play focuses on working up the courage to tell your now wife that you slept with men. How did she take it, really? And how true is her reaction in the play?
She took it hard at first because she didn't know what it meant. At first, she assumed that I had or was planning to have men in my life and that she was expected to accept that. The play and real life are almost exactly the same. Right down to the point of her trying to leave the restaurant, and me forever, but finding she had locked her keys in her car. That gave me the chance to explain myself and eventually get her back.

You're from Huntington Woods, MI. That name seems to ooze "small-town America." How did your family and friends react to the story?
Surprisingly everybody has taken my story very well. My parents had a little trouble adjusting when it was actually happening. Yet, they have been very supportive of the re-telling. I'm sure I have plenty of people from my past that judge me and the story, but I have had a great deal of people enjoy the show that I thought would be too uncomfortable with the topic. I am happy to say I've underestimated most of the people in my life.

What audience does Regretrosexual appeal to the most?
Young couples and gay men seem to be our people. We get plenty of folks over 40 who really enjoy the show, but we get the best energy from our generation. I think Gen X'ers understand each other.

And finally, what's the moral of your [love] story?
I'll let Colleen answer this...

Her side of the story will be posted tomorrow.