Also, he believes in psychics. He recently launched, along with his psychic friend Ron Bard, an Internet community for people interested in all things paranormal called the Channel Channel. “It always seemed to me that there was an energy that was easily accessed, that wasn’t evident in the five senses,” he says. “Maybe it was intuition. Maybe it was faith. I’ve had some mind-bending events. I don’t discuss them much because there are other people involved and I want to respect their privacy. But voices, moments, presences, personalities that are from thousands of years ago are still available through this psychic energy.”
The Channel Channel is part of an online network that includes Kelsey Live, his personal website and an experiment in “branded social media.” Kelsey Live is positioned as a kind of mini-Facebook, where Grammer fans can gather. (Each profile page, along with Name, Gender, and Birthday, lists “Favorite Kelsey Show.” Frasier is a popular choice.) “They organized this Valentine’s Day karaoke sing on it,” says Grammer. “One hundred and fifty people posted little karaoke videos for their loved ones, or just for the rest of the people to see. I was actually moved by it.”
Did he post a Valentine’s video?
“No, I did not. They all asked me to. I said, ‘I’ll just watch this year.’ ”
It’s mid-March, so at this point Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge have only been a couple for two weeks. But I figure it’s not too early to ask Hodge, a boyish 49-year-old with a crown of curly brown hair, how Grammer rates, kissing-wise.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever had,” says Hodge. “It’s like kissing John Wayne.”
After a recent rehearsal, the pair has retired to Iguana, a midtown Mexican restaurant and Grammer’s usual post-rehearsal refuge. Since they both arrived in New York—Hodge from London, Grammer from L.A.—Hodge has been out seeing Broadway shows nearly every night: The Scottsboro Boys, A Behanding in Spokane, Hair. Grammer mostly sticks to his hotel.
By day, they’re busy falling in love. So far, it’s going well. A woman with the show told Grammer, “Just once I’d like a man to look at me the way you look at him.”
I ask Hodge (who is straight) and Grammer (also straight) whether there’s anything problematic, artistically or otherwise, in playing a gay couple. “Most people just say to me, ‘You are gay,’ ” says Hodge. “And I say, ‘I’m not.’ And they say, ‘No, you are.’ [Sir Ian] McKellen said that to me. He came over and sat on my lap.”
“McKellen said that to you?” says Grammer. “I think he said the same thing to me. And I was playing Beast in X-Men.”
“What I think the play is really about is making a family,” Hodge says.
“In a sense, these two characters end up reflecting a far more traditional picture of Mom and Dad than most of us ever had,” says Grammer. “It’s almost Walton-esque.” He describes a moment in the show when Georges and Albin are out together and Albin is passing as a woman, which frees them to interact publicly in ways they can’t as two men. “And Georges suddenly realizes, Oh my God, for the first time in his life—” Grammer pauses.
He is welling up.
“For the first time,” he continues, eyes teary, “he can stand up and dance. With his wife. It’s really romantic.”
“I’m not a Method actor,” he says later. “I think all you can do is wade into the waters and, if it’s working, all the love you’ve ever felt in your life, all the tragedy you’ve ever felt, all the things personally that you’ve endured, they will be there. We have this thing—this creative imagination or whatever you want to call it—that lifts us to a supernatural connection with emotion.” He looks around the table. “Does that make any sense? A little too weird? A little too wacky?”
Hodge recoils in mock horror. “I’m English. Calm down! Did you just say ‘supernatural’?”
“You’re right. I’ve got to shut up,” Grammer says.
I mention to Grammer that he should invite his friend Giuliani to the show, particularly given the former mayor’s own history with drag.
“Oh, he’ll come see it,” Grammer says. Then he suggests that the mayor’s drag act, along with his complicated marital history, came back to haunt him during his presidential run.
But wait, Kelsey Grammer: You have a complicated marital history. And you’re about to perform in drag. Will that prevent you from being president?
“Oh, no—I’m a new generation,” he says.