Wonder Woman to launch France's 1st gay TV station
Marc Burleigh | September 30, 2004
PARIS — France's first gay TV station, which from next month will offer
its viewers a heavy diet of English-language comedy and homosexual
porn, has lassoed in a pop culture icon as its media mascot: Wonder
Lynda Carter as Woner Woman
The scantily clad superhero – in the form of Lynda Carter, star
of the 1970s US television series – will be seen every day of the
week on the channel, Pink TV, when it begins broadcasting on cable
and satellite October 25, executives told a press conference here
Her lithe figure, tucked into the customary skin-tight
stars-and-stripes costume, will be the figurehead of a wide-ranging
programming mix of gay erotica, documentaries, interview shows and
imported series that the fledgling station hopes will attract its
niche "gay and gay-friendly" audience.
More widely, however, the management of Pink TV (slogan:
"Liberty is worth watching") figure their time has come in a
country where homosexuality has hit the mainstream.
In recent months, newspapers have given extensive coverage to
the first legally gay family, headed by two lesbians, an ongoing
debate over gay marriage sparked by a June wedding of two men, and
a government-sponsored bill to toughen punishment for homophobic
Add to that the influence of Paris's first openly homosexual
mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, on cultural events in the capital, and the
annual welcome given to a lively Gay Pride parade, and it's no
surprise the station feels the time is ripe to bring gender-bending
broadcasting out of the closet.
"There is a real viewer base today for Pink TV," the channel's
president, Pascal Houzelot, said, adding that it planned on
becoming "a real laboratory of cultural diversity".
As one of its presenters, Eric Gueho, put it in a recorded
message played at the press conference: "This is a big step for TV
– and a little step in platform shoes."
Perhaps the most eye-catching news confirmed at the conference
was that gay porn movies would be a staple on the channel after
midnight on weekends.
That X-rated recipe proved an early success for France's first
cable channel, Canal Plus, which has gone on to be one of Europe's
biggest pay-TV operators – and which is one of the major investors
in the new station.
Pink TV will also offer a slew of shows imported from Britain
and the United States, where gay programming has become firmly
established in the past few years.
Thus viewers in France hungry for such fare as Metrosexuality,
Queer as Folk and French and Saunders – all in English with
French subtitles – will find their fill on the channel.
Another notable feature will be Pink's sports coverage –
presented by a 45-year-old transvestite, "Brigitte Boreale", who
has an evident passion for field exploits practised by men in tight
Gay opera and ballet and documentaries will also be screened, as
will interview shows, notably one hosted by one of France's leading
news presenters, Claire Chazal, who is moonlighting from the
top-rating commercial network TF1, which is also associated with
TF1 is not leaving the sudden "vague rose" entirely to the
One hit US programme that banks on gay aestheticism, "Queer Eye
for the Straight Guy", involving homosexual style mavens giving
heterosexual slobs a cosmetic and clothing makeover, started its
French version on TF1 last week.
Given the copycat culture reigning in reality TV programming,
other channels, notably the commercial competitor M6 (also a Pink
participant) are also likely to follow suit with gay-style
offerings if "Queer" proves successful.
For all the attention the media trend has generated – including
the newspaper Le Monde asking "Are we seeing a gay wave in
television?" – it remains to be seen whether the distinctly urban
edge to the fare will win many viewers outside the French capital,
in a country noted for its general conservatism.
For city TV-watchers, however, the new programming will offer a
bridge to many English-language shows previously unseen here – and
will restore some contemporary punch to the term "Gay Paree". – Sapa-AFP
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