Lekakis Makes Another Bedroom Hit
By Ashraya Gupta

Paul Lekakis is probably best remembered for his mid-’80s dance hit, “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room)” and his accompanying high energy dance moves. The song is almost always the first subject to come up in interviews. Lekakis understands why. He said, “I think everyone will always mention it, until I top it.” Right now, he’s hard at work trying to do just that.

Last year, he wrote, directed and starred in his first short film, “Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask.” Recently, he released a new single, “(I Need A) Vacation.” And next Friday, he’ll be making his New York stage debut in the Island Repertory Theatre Company’s production of “Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night.”

It’s a pretty to-the-point title: James Edwin Parker’s drama deals expressly and explicitly with a conversation between two gay men at the denouement of a one-night stand. Originally produced in 1995, this revival, directed by Obie Award winning actor and playwright David Drake, shifts the scene back to 1987.

Lekakis plays Peter, a college dropout and construction worker, “the one that kind of lives life on life’s terms.” His lover Daryl, played by IRTC Acting Ensemble member and native Sayvillian Scott Cunningham, is abjectly lonely, self-pitying and romantic. Lekakis stated it bluntly: “He’s more of a baby.”

The play addresses how these two connect, or don’t—they recount first sexual experiences, HIV status, past relationships. Lekakis said, “It’s a one-night stand. The first time you actually get together, a lot is revealed.”

He went on to say, “A lot of [my work] has a sexual tone, which I’m pretty fine with. It’s kind of what goes on in real life. It’s not porn, but it’s racy.”

Lekakis has always been drawn to this type of material. In the 2001 film “Circuit,” he starred as Bobby Ross, a promiscuous nightclub performer dealing with drug use and HIV.

In the acting business, typecasting is a fact of life. Lekakis, with his chiseled good looks and polished physique, tends to be cast as the gay guy.

“It was a way to deal with how people saw me,” he said. Wryly, he added, “And they always saw me as a stripper.” He’s played a stripper four times. Even his character in “Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night” recalls a stint as an exotic dancer.

As a revival, the play is very much a period piece. It’s about a universal experience, but told in a very specific context: gay New York City culture in the late ’80s. Lekakis remembers the time well. “That’s what’s so fun about doing it,” he said, “I’ve already been there.”

In fact, it was in the ’80s that Lekakis first came to Fire Island. He was 19 years old, a fashion model on his way to international pop stardom. His memories of Fire Island are “good—and not so good.” One of Lekakis’s best friends died of a drug overdose; others contracted HIV. Lekakis himself has been living with HIV for years.

Though he’s deeply committed to HIV awareness, he finds himself split between discussing it and trying to focus on his work. Lekakis said, “[Awareness is] totally part of my mission, but how many times can I tell that story?”

Still, so much of what he does deals with these issues. His film “Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask” highlights the challenges of admitting and discussing HIV status. His memories and experiences are “all just fuel for me.” It’s part of the reason he came back to Fire Island.

On his return, he said, “It was a nice surprise to remember how beautiful it is.” In between rehearsals, Lekakis and Cunningham like to run down to the ocean or head over to the Pines. Laughing, he said, “It’s going to rehearsal, but thinking ‘Wow, this water is beautiful and the moonlight’s gorgeous.’”

While he’s here, Lekakis will also screen “Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask” at the Fire Island Film and Video Festival, September 13 through 16 in Cherry Grove. After that, it’s back to work on his music. He’ll be shooting a video for his new single in October and a 25th anniversary video for “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back to My Room)” later this year. With characteristic humor, he said, “I feel like I need to do that now, so people know I can still dance, that I still look good. I might miss it, you know.”

“Two Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter’s Night” opens at the Tides Playhouse September 1 through the 17th. Visit www.islandrep.org for more information. Tickets can be found online at www.theatermania.com, or call (631) 597-9439. For more information about Paul Lekakis, visit www.paullekakis.com to find film clips, photographs, and his new single.