Frankie Grande is not only a new GLAAD Board member, but also stars in the highly anticipated queer horror comedy Summoning Sylvia. The film features Travis Coles, Troy Iwata, Noah J. Ricketts, Nicholas Logan, Sean Grandillo, Cameden Garcia as well as Michael Urie and Veanne Cox. Written and directed by Wesley Taylor & Alex Wyse, Summoning Sylvia follows a gay bachelor party that takes a spooky turn when — as the title suggests — sinister spirits are suddenly summoned. Things get even more complicated, scary — and hilarious — as the groom’s straight ex-military brother crashes the proceedings.
Queer undertones exist in many horror films and while there is LGBTQ representation in movies like Scream, there hasn’t been many all-queer casts in a horror. Summoning Sylvia, which is currently streaming on multiple platforms, adds to the growing canon of stories in genres that don’t usually center queer characters. Grande tells GLAAD’s Anthony Allen Ramos that LGBTQ people aren’t neceessarily given opportunities to occupy these types of spaces when it comes to storytelling — and if it is, it’s “heavy handed”.
“It’s Philadelphia… or something where we’re being persecuted and dying,” said Grande. “It’s really nice to have just a film that can just exist with a queer cast, with queer creators and, and directors…it’s lighthearted and fun. So, I think that this is a step in the right direction towards being able to have more queer content that is, across the board, for different ranges of people and have many different messages.”
Summoning Sylvia marks Grande’s first feature film. The movies was shot, true to indie form, in 19 days and they barely had time to rehearse — but thankfully many of the people in the cast came from a Broadway background. He learned a lot from his experience. He was also excited to get back into drag during the movie which harkens back to his drag makeover in RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 where Eureka transformed him into EuFreka. You may also notice that he is wearing a Drag Race legend’s dress in the movie.
“I am wearing Shangela’s dress,” Grande excitedly admits. “I called Shangie and I was like, ‘What the costume person has for me is not happening. Can you immediately FedEx me some dresses?’ And she did…
“The wig was actually given to me by Mr. Jay from Top Model, which was really funny. It came with his book in part of the press kit — there’s a lot of very gay representation.”
Grande also gives credit to the remarkable direction and writing of Wyse and Taylor. “They were just so loving and caring and really helped hone my performance so that so I could see myself on the silver screen and be really proud of what I did,” he said.
That being said, Grande seeing a movie like this when he was younger would have changed his life. “I didn’t really get many examples of gay men when I was young,” he said. “I really didn’t know anything and then of course, Queer as Folk came around… it was the only thing that was on TV that I could watch that had any sort of gay people on it. I would just wait for 10pm to roll around on Cinemax on whatever night it was. But again, it wasn’t enough of the diversity of representation for me to say ‘Oh, that’s exactly who I am or ‘Maybe I want to be gay’ or ‘I should come out of the closet now’.”
“I feel like now with a film like Summoning Sylvia and with many of the other queer films that have come up recently, it’s easier for kids to see themselves and be less confused at a young age. I was so confused. I didn’t come out until I was 21 years old. I didn’t come out till I was almost done with college and had met at least a handful of gay people… but still there wasn’t representation on the screen so I’m glad that this film exists.”