Steve Balderson is from Kansas, he's gay and he's an accomplished filmmaker. So when he offered to help with our film about being gay in Kansas, what were we going to do - say no?
most of his family still lives and works. (His sister owns a winery in town, which I'm guessing sweetens the deal.)
What was most interesting about Balderson's story is just how attached he remains to Kansas, and how growing up gay in little Wamego was never a huge issue. When I asked how he came out of the closet, Balderson explained that he was never really "in." He was allowed to be true to himself from the day he could talk, and has had a solid support system around him his entire life.
I just started watching Balderson's documentary trilogy on Wamego, which I highly recommend if you're interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of filmmaking. It's fascinating listening to him talk about his dealings with movie icons like Dennis Hopper and Sissy Spacek, and some of the agonizing decisions he's had to make as a director.
And he's worked with Karen Black, which means he's one degree separated from both Jack Nicholson and Rob Zombie. Seriously, how many people can say that?