I was around 14 when it came out in 1983, and by then I’d already figured out that I liked other boys. I’d already come out to some of my high school classmates. So, when I saw Sean Penn swagger onto the screen, I was mesmerized. It didn’t hurt that he bore a strong resemblance to a (straight) classmate I was madly in love with. At the time, I was sure I wouldn’t mind at all being locked up with Sean Penn. I wouldn’t mind locking lips with him either.
I was excited enough to learn that one of my favorite actors would be playing one of my heroes; that is, that Sean Penn would be portraying Harvey Milk in Milk. But I was downright jealous when I read that apparently Sean is a damn good kisser.
Just ask Mark Martinez, the performance artist who plays the late cross-dressing disco singer Sylvester in the movie. He got to lock lips with the Oscar winner.
Martinez’s one-day shoot centered around a birthday party for Milk, in which Sylvester performs his 1978 hit, “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).” Martinez did the scene dressed in a purple, blue and silver kimono with a matching turban and black bell-bottoms.
Now back to that kiss.
“All of a sudden, Sean’s pointing at me, and he’s talking to the assistant director,” Martinez says. “The AD comes up to me and says, ‘Just to let you know, you are now going to break up Sean and [costar] James Franco’s conversation. You’re going to grab Sean, and Sean’s going to be really excited, and he’s going to kiss you.’”
And that he did. “I’m performing, and he comes onto the dance floor,” Martinez explains. “He grabs me, and he just slaps the biggest kiss on me…It felt like the kiss was forever. I’m like, Is he going to stop? I had to close my eyes. I couldn’t believe it.”
Damn. That sounds like on of those kisses that buckles your knees and leaves you so lightheaded afterward that you have to go sit down somewhere afterwards, or lie down.
Oh, and I don’t blame Martinez. I woul dhave done everything I could to get few more takes. Like Aretha sang, “Do It ‘Til We Get It Right.”