New Queer Cinema (see Gregg Araki and his “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy”) director, writer, and producer Todd Stephens used his youth-raised years in Sandusky, Ohio (yep, the same town in Chris Farley’s Tommy Boy from 1995), to his advantage: most of his auto-to-semi-autobiographical films are set in that Buckeye State enclave.
While he turned the directorial reigns over to David Moreton (currently in production with his fourth film, Big America), Stephens made his screenwriting debut with the alternative, coming of age rom-com Edge of Seventeen, which was concerned with a Eurythmics-obsessed teenager coming to terms with his sexuality. And as with Stevie Nicks inspiring the title of his debut film, the “Welsh Witch” influence returned for Stephens’s second writing effort, which also served as his directorial debut. While mainstream critics applauded the film — and it found acceptance on the art house circuit (I made the drive to see it) — the film only managed to score award nods and wins in the LGBT film festival community.
To propel this coming-of-age road trip filled with the usual eclectic characters (a sexually-confused Amish teen runaway; Karen Black as a washed-up retired singer), Stephens used the then de rigueur Stevie Nicks Festivals where fans celebrated her music. Gypsy Vale (Sara Rue of CBS-TV Rules of Engagement and The Big Band Theory) and Clive Webb (Kett Turton; Vampire Steve on CW’s iZombie) are early-twentysomething goths who travel to the 1983 Stevie Nicks Festival, aka Night of a Thousand Stevies, in New York for Gypsy to realize her dream to become a famous singer, like her idol, Stevie Nicks. Fueling and supporting her musical dreams is her ex-musician father, Ray (John Doe of X; Border Radio), who deals with the loss of Gypsy’s mom and his musician-wife, Velvet.
Gypsy 83 served as one the earliest art house entries from Palisades Pictures. The studio would come to acquire the catalog of the shuttered, UK-based Tartan Films, which distributed East Asian films under the Tartan Asia Extreme imprint between 1992 to 2003 (Battle Royale, A Tale of Two Sisters, Oldboy). Comic book aficionados with take notice of Andersen Gabrych in the cast (also of Stephens’s Edge of Seventeen and Another Gay Movie) as a writer for several issues of Batman, Batgirl, and Detective Comics.
There’s no free-with-ads or VOD streams in the online marketplace, but we found a You Tube rip for you to enjoy.