Hot Gay Time Machine is the new show from the creative team responsible for the smash hit Six. It’s packed with laughs, songs and time travel. Dave Cross caught up with co-writers and stars Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Toby Marlow to uncover the paradox.
Hi Zak and Toby, you’ve described Hot Gay Time Machine as just like A Christmas Carol – but with fewer ghosts and more gays – can you explain?
Toby: Well, we do go back in time to confront/sing about our experiences of growing up gay.
Zak: We face the camp skeletons in the closet, if you will.
Toby: And through this, we learn how to be super fit, handsome, sexy queer men, which I believe is very similar to the Dickens novel.
Zak: Plus the show does feature Scrooge and Tiny Tim but those are just nicknames for our genitals.
Is it a performance, a play, a musical or all/none of the above?
Zak: I think the term that really encapsulates it is ‘political performance art’.
Toby: But then, other critics have used the word opera.
Zak: Some even call it Shakespeare.
Toby: Well that’s how we describe it. Most people call it a narcissistic public disturbance.
Zak:: But I think the modern name for that is a ‘musical cabaret’.
And this is the story of life as a gay man?
Toby: Well, the show is a musical extravaGAYnza, where we take the audience through our lives as gay men.
Zak:: Yeah, through song and aggressive physical movement, we go through some of the most important moments, like coming out to your mum…
Toby: …or looking at cocks in a locker room.
Zak: So all the songs are based on experiences that we’ve had growing up, trying put a comic spin on everything.
Toby: Yes, and whilst we never attempt to speak for other gay men, we do find that the content can be very relatable for other queer people.
How did the idea and then show come together?
Zak: We were trashed.
Toby: Like, completely hammered. We were walking around our Uni’s theatre bar with pint glasses of Pinot (which we’d sneaked in shhhh) and we thought it would be jokes to do a musical show together called Hot Gay Time Machine.
Zak: Cause when two gay men get drunk in a room, it’s either gonna result in sex or a musical cabaret.
Sometimes both…or maybe that’s just us…
Toby: So… we sent an email to the Uni’s theatre that night with the genuine threat that if they didn’t give us the slot, it would be considered an act of homophobia.
Zak: Obviously, we had no freaking clue what the show was about, and so a week before, our director and co-writer, Lucy came to the rescue, and we managed to put a very (very) rough version of the show together.
Toby: Yeah, it was a lot of late nights. And Dominos.
Can you tell us about the songs?
Toby: Some are more Tim Minchin-y style, like one song we call ‘El Tango De Gaysplaining’, which looks at misogyny in the gay community. That one took quite a while to write because it’s very lyrically dense with lots of internal rhymes.
Zak: Then some are a little more basic, like the song ‘Cocks In The Locker Room’ in which the chorus just repeats those exact words over and over. That took about 20 minutes to write.
Toby: In one word: Sondheim.
Reading the press release, some people might think the whole show is a ploy to meet guys.., true or false or both?
Zak: Ugh, how dare you insinuate such a thing.
Toby: This show was created solely to change the landscape of musical cabaret and queer life as we know it.
Zak: Yes… But if in the process of saving millions of gays we get to sleep with them too, well…
Toby: Also, it’s hard to keep all the men off you when you’re constantly told you look like Chris Hemsworth.
Zak: No one has ever said that.
If we had a scale starting with HG Wells at one end, Back to The Future and Doctor Who in the middle and Bill and Ted at the other end… of time, where would HGTM sit?
Toby: We’re on a different spectrum to all that straight-washed bullshit.
Zak: Although we would love to get Jodie Whittaker on the show.
If you had a time machine when and where would you both go?
Toby: Oh my gosh, I have no idea.
Zak: Umm, I wanna say I’d do something useful like go back and stop something bad happening, but as an indulgent prat, I’d probably go back and tell my mother to invest in Google. I need the dollar.
Toby: I’d probably go back to Roman times.
Toby: I don’t know. The men just seemed to be naked all the time.