By Randy Rainbow
As seen in HX Magazine 10/3/08
"Harry Potter naked for my Sweet 16? Hell to the yes!" So exclaimed a fevered teenage girl when I asked her thoughts on Daniel Radcliffe’s star turn in the new Broadway revival of Equus, in which the 19-year-old bloke bares all. Hoping to gain some perspective on the distinction between the teenybopper demographic and the more intellectual, seasoned theatregoer, I asked a gay forty-something his take on the matter. His response? “Harry Potter naked for her Sweet 16? Hell to the yes!" (Kids, eh? Go figure.)
What with the global fan base D-Rad has acquired playing the beloved boy wizard in the popular Harry Potter film series, and the buzz Equus has generated since its original 2007 run in London's West End, it seems everyone is talking about this show—specifically those somewhat controversial nude scenes. Let’s face it: Daniel Radcliffe's balls are huge right now!
Of course, it deserves mention that this Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning piece by revered English dramatist Peter Shaffer is, in fact, greater than the sum of its star’s private parts—however magical they may be. For those of you whose interest extends beyond the Sorcerer's stones, Equus tells the tale of psychiatrist Martin Dysart (The History Boys’ Richard Griffiths), who attempts to understand the erratic behavior of Alan Strang (Radcliffe), a wayward stable boy with a religious and sexual obsession with horses (understandably so, as the horses in this production are played by a team of five strapping Broadway studs—"Haaaay!"). Both of the show's leads have garnered widespread critical acclaim for their performances, and have already triggered talk about likely nominations this awards season. Blah, blah, blah—what were we talking about? Oh, yeah. Harry Potter’s pee-pee.
Much to the chagrin of more than a few distressed parents, young fans are lining up in droves to see the show (and to catch a glimpse of their idol, au naturel.) And the gays haven’t been so pro-equestrian since Mariah Carey's 1997 “Butterfly” video. “I mildly want to see it because I like the play, and then the Radcliffe nudity factor seals the deal,” says Josh Saletnik, an avid theatre fan and professional homosexual. “Male nudity is always a plus, and the thought of seeing Radcliffe in the buff is extra enticing since he's a bit like the forbidden fruit. We've watched him grow up in the movies.”
But not everyone I spoke with was as candid as Saletnik, particularly those who’d actually gotten a chance to see the show. It seems the intensity of that particular moment onstage and the actors’ masterful performances overshadow the shock value. So much so that even those who were originally gung-ho to sneak a peak of the lad unclad were suddenly rendered positively fancy about the matter when asked for all the juicy details! Luckily, I possess a magical PC bullshit-to-queenspeak dictionary.
“It's such an integral part of the plot,” said Mike, 32, who bought his tickets the day they went on sale, “and you become so caught up in the drama that the nudity is actually almost a non-issue.” (Translation: “I couldn't even see pubes from my crappy seats in the Mezzanine. Bring binoculars.”)
Anthony, a 24 year-old theatre major, said, “He’s only naked about seven minutes of the entire show, and it's done so tastefully. I say, ‘Bravo, Daniel, for taking such a risk.” (Translation: “Anything shorter than seven would have been a disappointment. I was fully aroused the entire time.”)
“I thought it would be weird or uncomfortable,” admitted Kelly, a Potter fan who received Equus tickets as a 20th birthday present, “but Daniel does such an amazing job in the role. I didn't even once feel like I was watching Harry Potter on that stage.” (Translation: “Daniel Radcliffe's penis was an understudy.”)