Because Going Down in LA-LA Down is a gay Cinderella story set in the cartoonishly fame-obsessed world of Southern California, it isn’t surprising that it begins with a line as preposterous as “Thank you for meeting me here, my house is surrounded by paparazzi.” This is the Los Angeles enclave of catty gay men who go from gym to gay bar and back again, their fag hags tagging along, all willing to “make it” by any means necessary. Adam (Matthew Ludwinski) has driven from New York to L.A. to join his BFF Candy (Allison Lane), hoping for grand acting gigs but quickly settling for temp jobs, either picking up the phone for bitchy gay bosses or doing behind-the-camera work for porn companies specializing in poolside gangbang scenes. It doesn’t take long for him to start escorting as well, as a friend will only shelter you rent-free for so long. And in a development that will become a curse and a blessing, he eventually falls in love with one of his wealthy clients, a popular actor in a traditional TV series aimed at middle America.
The film portrays the general “struggles” that celebrity-hungry white people face when they first move to L.A., like having to deal with tickets from the “parking Gestapo” on street-cleaning days, ponying up for two-year gym commitments and exploring the conveniences of sex work on the down low. Director Casper Andreas does a good job conserving a simultaneous sense of disgust and attraction for the way big-city dreams end up stripping off wannabes from everything but their bodies. Sex work is always there, tempting and haunting, both in its less explicit forms (as in Candy’s stereotypically heterosexual relationship of economical dependence) and in its bona fide pornographic form (gay men’s Internet golden rule—“no fats, no fems, no oldies”—becomes obsolete in the face of capital). Oh, and there’s some meth use somewhere in there too, because you gotta keep it real.
Going Down in LA-LA Down is really a perfectly fun date movie for West Hollywood gays and their yogi fag hags, who are sure to scream in unison “That is so us!” after several scenes. The film can feel both refreshingly honest and embarrassingly Lifetime movie-like. It’d probably be too generous a reading to say Andreas’s excessive usage of cheesy pop songs and caricatured acting is a play on the idea that these people are all tired clichés greedily after tiredly clichéd goals, unoriginal in their failures and in their dreams of achievement. There’s often a clear awareness of the ridiculous “nature” of the WeHo gay who does such a good job of mimicking the competitive cattiness that the general culture teaches women so well, as in a scene when Alec Mapa plays himself at a bar, making fun of other gays’ outfits in a flaming class-obsessed frisson: “Somebody spent his entire allowance on Kohl’s.” But considering the film is so happy to respect the narrative structure of the tritest Hollywood drivel, one is left to wonder if queerness, not the static and asphyxiating commonplace of identity category, is, as José Esteban Muñoz would put it, even on the horizon.