Fashion photographer turned filmmaker Nigel Barker tells Max Kessler of Paper Magazine that he is working on a biopic of legendary LGBT activist David Mixner, the Clinton adviser who Newsweek once called the most powerful gay man in America.
Here is a sampling of the interview with Barker:
You're working on a film about David Mixner who's obviously had an unbelievable life. The man publicly and loudly called out Bill Clinton on not repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell." He arranged an Anti-Vietnam protest that was so large that it wound up on the covers of Life, TIME and Newsweek. He has an entire collection in Yale's library devoted to his writings and documentaries! Is his life story just so juicy that you had to make a movie of it? What about his story attracted you?
First of all I always loved a great, true story. Whenever [David and I] meet I ask him questions about his life. He's an incredible raconteur. I basically sit like a child and get whacked into this story, transformed and taken there. All of a sudden I'm in another era and another moment, and I can feel for the people. And he has a very visual way of describing. I realized [his stories] had the ability to become a film. I asked for consent for a screenplay and eventually a film of his life. He said he'd been approached in the past but never felt there was the right person. Then he said to me, "I would love you to do it."
When did you first meet David?
I first met him at an Alan Cumming salon event. Alan Cumming has these salons where he does interesting things with about 30 people. That time Susan Sarandon was talking. I knew of David Mixner but I didn't know what he looked like. When I was introduced to him he said "Hello, I'm David" and was sitting in a wheelchair. I asked him if I could get him a drink, and he said that he didn't drink. He didn't know many people in this group and we just started talking. Later I realized, "My god, this is David Mixner. I know his story."
Is it going to span all of David's life, or just the past?
The film will cover his childhood, who he was as a young man, where he comes from in New Jersey -- which seems like it was akin to the Deep South at the time. Then you see his sensibilities grow, his fights for human rights for everybody and anybody he came across -- he dedicated himself to Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, and Peace. The AIDS epidemic hits and is really the change point where many of his friends start to die and be blamed at the same time. He thought that was an outrage.Then of course the rise of the gay movement and him really being in the forefront of it and being a gay rights activist.
Click HERE to read the full profile on Nigel Barker on Paper Magazine.