STRAIGHT PEOPLE WE LOVE: Texan hottie Stark Sands opens the minds of his famously conservative family
BY DANIEL KUSNER | CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
With a jazzy-hip name like Stark Sands, one is almost destined to become a Hollywood hero. But the young, handsome “Die, Mommmie, Die!” actor was born into an illustrious heritage that’s as fascinating as any movie star legend.
His birth name, Stark, is actually his mom’s maiden name. And his grandmother is Caroline Rose Hunt, the visionary responsible for Dallas’ Mansion on Turtle Creek and a member of the oil-rich, billionaire Texas family.
“That’s definitely where I come from. But it’s something that I’d like to keep on a low profile,” Sands says. “I’d hate for people to think that I have an acting career because of whom I’m related to.”
Sands grew up in tony Highland Park, where he acted in high school theater, was president of his school choir and sang for Static, a minor-league rock band.
“We had a cool but brief moment of fame. One of our songs got radio play. It was neat playing live shows and seeing people sing my words back at me,” Sands says.
He was the only member of his family with dreams of a performing arts career.
Even when he’d get the lead in a school play, his folks scratched their heads. His dad encouraged him to take a business class in college, “just in case the acting thing didn’t work out,” he says.
The Sandses kept a close eye on their boy, in part because of kidnapping worries. A self-described clean teen, Stark relates how he once switched cars to be the designated driver for a group of friends who had been partying before a rock concert. But mom often used the Lojack tracking device to keep tabs on Stark, and within less than an hour, security officials were searching the out- door concert arena — with actual pictures of Stark in their hands — because Stark left his car at a tailgating party without informing his parents beforehand.
“They took me backstage where I had to call my dad. I got to go back to the concert, but my parents were pretty on the ball while I was growing up,” he says.
Sands received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from the University of Southern California then immediately landed a two-episode role on “Six Feet Under” playing Claire’s clean-cut romance interest. That performance caught the eye of the casting director who was hiring talent for “Die, Mommie, Die!”
In the hilarious Charles Busch film noir homage, Sands turns in a charming and brave performance as Lance, a pot-headed mama’s boy with a slutty taste for beefcake. When he’s not cruising local policemen, Lance chases after his mother’s nosy gigolo (Jason Priestly) and barks lines like, “Buster, if you want any singing out of me, you better haul out that bratwurst and spread some mustard on it!”
“In college, I was typically cast as the Romeo, all-American golden boy. But I knew all about Charles Busch before I got the chance to audition. I knew what an exciting role this was and I was absolutely thrilled for “Die, Mommie, Die!” to be the first movie of my career. I’m very proud of that film,” Sands says.
His roles have probably opened up his relatives’ eyes — at least a little.
“Let’s face it, I come from a big, conservative family,” he says. “I was worried about how they’d react to ‘Die, Mommie, Die!’ and even ‘Six Feet Under.’ My episodes had a lot of graphic sex — both gay and straight. But everybody has been very supportive, even my older relatives. So I feel really good that I’ve exposed them to that.”
Sands says that after “Die, Mommie, Die!” was released, he’s landed a string of new acting roles. He’s already starring alongside Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez in “Shall We Dance.” And he’s in “11:14,” an ensemble movie with Hilary Swank and Patrick Swayze. But he wants to wait at least five years before taking another gay role — despite many offers.
“I just want to space it out. I don’t want to make a career play- ing gay guys,” he says. “But I’m totally open to it.”
Qtexas 16 23 April 2004