Another Anerican: Asking and Telling

Original stage performance at Studio Theater Washington DC April 2000

"Don't Ask Don't Tell", based on Marc Wolf's "Another American: Asking and Telling" is becoming available on Web; to be shown Sept. 20, 2011

I received a tweet this morning from 'We Ask They Told' announcing the availability of the independent film 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' from producer Vuguru and Decoupage, on a site called Snag Films, sponsored by Goldmann Sachs. Imdb lists the director as John Walsh.

The first of 11 parts, about 10 minutes, plays. The other parts right now give a 'not available' from AOL. I will monitor and watch the remaining segments as soon as possible.

Snag says that the film will be shown on Comcast Xfinity and Verizon FIOS Tuesday night Sept. 20, but that is during the planned celebrations, but I suppose the film will be shown in person at some of the celebrations.

The opening segment shows Marc Wolf, in a monologue, sometimes sitting at a table, in a barracks room where the bunks have been stripped down to box springs, talking about the issue of 'privacy' or prudishness in the barracks, which Sam Nunn and Charles Moskos had originally brought up in 1993 early in the debate after Bill Clinton proposed lifting the ban. He also plays on Bill Clinton's 'Don't Pursue' (from his July 19, 1993 speech at Fort McNair), preferring instead 'Don't Seek' as more 'Anglo-Saxon'.

I saw the entire play 'Another American: Asking and Telling' in late April 2000 at the Studio Theater in Washington DC during the 'Millennium March' weekend. (Later that weekend there would occur an 'Equality Rocks' concert at RFK Stadium, where I would see Keith Meinhold.) In the play, Wolf emulates a number of the cases, such as Miriam Ben-Shalom in the early 1980s, during the 'absolute ban' dating back to 1981.

Chapter 1 of the film is also available on Marc Wolf's website here.

I'll report more on this film as soon as I can see it in full or get it to play on my computer. The producers would do well to make this film available for Instant Play in Netflix quickly, or perhaps available for the typical $3.99 rental on YouTube.

Here is an excerpt from 'Another American' on YouTube from the Kansas City Repertory Theater.

Do not confuse this film with the 2002 spoof "Don't Ask Don't Tell: Attack of the Gay Space Invaders" which from Doug Miles and Refried Pictures, which is a "transformation" of an old Peter Graves sci-film from the early 50s. That DVD is available from Netflix.

Dec. 7: 2011

Chapter 2 of DADT is now available at the same site. 3-11 have yet to be posted.

Sept. 30, 2012

Below is a picture of the Studio Theater on 14th St in Washington DC, near Logan Circle, where I saw Marc Wolf perform his monologue play in April 2000, during a March on Washington weekend.

Update: February 24, 2014

The complete 85 minute film is now available on Snag Films. Wolf talks to himself, impersonating all his interviewees, in various military environments, sometimes reminding me of my own Army Basic Not sure I follow his argument on treason at the end.

Copied from legacy link:

I saw this play at a benefit for SLDN at the Studio Theater in Washington D.C., during the Millennium March weekend. (The next night I would attend HRC's 'Equality Rocks' concert at RFK stadium (the old haunt of the Senators and Redskins), and retired Petty Officer Keith Meinhold would tell me, a stadium filled with homos, and love every minute!) The benefit was sponsored in part by American Airlines, by, and by Pizzeria Paradisio. The website for this play is

I've seen a few other 'monologue' or 'soliloquy' (as from the Carousel song) plays before, such as Chris Wells's Liberty and, in the early 1980's, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein. But Marc Wolf's offering, however simple the stagecraft, is obviously ambitious. It java-strings the accounts of a number of gay and lesbian servicemembers, often in the words of these particular soldiers, producing a continuous, if segmented, symphony-story like Randy Shilts's Conduct Unbecoming (1993, St. Martins) book (or Humphrey's anthology My Country, My Right to Serve) . Wolf (as far as I can determine, as of May 2000) hasn't gotten this play published in book form yet, and let's hope that he does so that we can order it from sources like But it is getting performed around the country and it is building an audience with the critics (it was reviewed by The Washington Post on May 2, 2000, and on CNN on May 11, 2000). Given the developments of the 1999-2000 winter, it sounds as though Broadway and Hollywood may be prepared to deal with the gays-in-the-military topic big-time, and this play could be the entry point. (I don't know what became of the rumors that HBO would do Conduct Unbecoming, as it had done And the Band Played On. Several small films dealing with the ban are already discussed at this site, as is the 1999 Best Picture American Beauty.) However, I personally feel that it is important to show the reader, viewer or moviegoer why the issue matters to the average American. As touching as was this script, I'm not sure that it really did that. Wolf, according to the CNN report, spent three years of his life and most of his savings traveling the country to interview almost 200 former servicemembers (from which he selected just eighteen as protagonists in his play). By contrast, I interviewed a handful while keeping working, as I was preparing (in Do Ask Do Tell, a similar title) a broad argument libertarian argument about many issues with the military ban as the fulcrum.

The selection of personalities and anecdotes is balanced, and many of them come from the pre 1993-Clinton period. At least one character displays his resistance to serving with gays, maintaining that his religious convictions would be violated and that he would have to quit the service. Several characters refer to the 'naming names' trick played by military investigators, so well documented in Shilts's book. Perhaps the most important 'big case' presented is that of Miriam Ben-Shalom, who during the 1980s fought for seven years to get the Army to obey a lower federal court order to reinstate her (only to lose at the appellate level). Another galling case was that of a young gay Marine sodomized (ironically) in the brig; the claim is that he became HIV+ from the incident. Later, Wolf presents the evolution of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Charles Moskos is characterized as justifying the policy as 'two cheers for hypocrisy,' as the alternative purportedly would have been 'asking' and outright exclusion, possibly from associated civilian areas as well. (Moskos at one time wanted to call the policy DADT, Don't Seek, Don't Flaunt, the last two of which eventually became Don't Pursue). Toward the end, he presents the horrible tragedy of Allen Schindler, whose mother tells of his body not even being left with a face after the beating, the eyeballs pushed into the position of the temples. The play seems about to end, with a train whistle that sounds a musical triad, dropping with the Doppler effect, although Wolf goes on for a coda emphasizing that gays fight in real combat, even as Green Berets (as in the 1980s film).

Wolf presents himself as a virile, young gay man, muscular and agile, and in the early biological summer of life. Sometimes, the camp of a few characters seems out of place for the appearance. At least, however, he trounces the stereotypes, the Cold War idea of gays as sissies who would drag the whole national defense down. Instead, gays can be the super-achievers and visual reminders of masculinity

Posted by Bill Boushka at 8:35 AM

Labels: DADT, indie documentary, monologue movies, political LGBT, Snag

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