re: Tony and Riff
Last Edit: BroadwayTonyJ 11:48 am EDT 05/08/21
Posted by: BroadwayTonyJ 11:45 am EDT 05/08/21
In reply to: re: Tony and Riff - Michael_Portantiere 12:08 am EDT 05/08/21

In 1957 it probably would have been a mistake to imply Tony and Riff had had a prior adolescent sexual relationship, since that sort of behavior was considered deviant, even a sickness back then. It would have been a needless distraction and most likely would have prevented the show from finding its audience. I agree that Laurents was a jerk especially when he got older. Nevertheless, I think that the back story he envisioned about Tony and Riff is quite plausible.

When I was growing up, I lived in two tough, ethnic, lower middle class neighborhoods. I actually was a member of two white gangs, in Cicero ('54 to '57) and in Brookfield ('58 to '62). In the former I was sort of like a Baby John, and maybe a Big Deal in the latter, although my best friend Pat was definitely a Riff.

I remember getting in fist fights with other gangs in which I would always get the shit kicked out of me (black eyes, bloody noses). Although I considered myself straight until I was about 27, I did have boy crushes on guys in both gangs that led to some clandestine kissing and touching (although never full blown sex). I never thought of it as sexual, just something that happened.

By the time I was in 8th grade, I began drifting away from the Brookfield group. I was one of the top students at St. Barbara's grade school, a good football player, and even an altar boy -- I didn't want to get into any trouble. I recall some big confrontation that Pat wanted me to be a part of. I told him "no way", it sounded like something that might get out of hand, something that could get us arrested. He called me a chicken and I told him to go fuck himself. That pretty much ended our relationship. The following year we both attended the same high school, but never hung out together.

So, yeah, based on my own experience, that sort of relationship between Tony and Riff is believable and certainly would not be out of place if Spielberg wanted to hint about something like it in the upcoming film.

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