There were two empty chairs on stage for Pose‘s FYC panel at the Rose Bowl Saturday night, moderated by series co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy. He pointed to them midway through the discussion with co-creator/executive producer Steven Canals and stars Billy Porter and Mj Rodriguez when he brought out two big fans of the show who “wanted to rearrange their vacation to be here,” Elton John and his husband David Furnish.
John who lived through the 1980s AIDS epidemic, spoke about creating his AIDS Foundation which has raised $500 million to date.
“My motto is no one gets left behind. No one should be left behind, no sex worker, no prisoner, to trans person, no intravenous drug user, no gay people. We have to embrace all of us, we have to embrace everybody. And this is exactly why I love this program so much,” he said of FX’s Pose during the drive-in event. “This program touched me more than any other series because of the journey that these people are on. I mean, I am Elektra. I am totally Elektra.”
When Porter jokingly suggested that he would have to fight Murphy for that title, John added, “I am the house of Abundance, no fighting on that one.”
“This is a series where you laugh, and you cry, and you get angry, and you see people’s journey and how they fight,” John continued. “And they are real people, and they are trans people who have made their life possible but, by god, they had to fight for it. They still have to it, and they shouldn’t fight for it, they should never fight for it.”
John’s remarks were often interrupted by loud cheers in the form of car honks by the drive-in audience.
He gave Murphy credit for spending years trying to get Pose made. “It never rings false and those outfits — my dear,” he said.
During the conversation with John, Murphy shared a personal story from his childhood, involving the singer’s 1975 hit “Philadelphia Freedom.” Murphy spoke about growing “a little gay kid” with a “big burly guy” father, with whom he “never really connected.”
When Murphy was about seven, “we were driving in the car, and ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ came on the radio,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just going to be me,’ and I performed the sh*t out of ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ in the back seat of that car, and my father saw me for the first time, thanks to Elton John,” Murphy recalled. ‘We pulled into my driveway and he looked at me and he goes, ‘You have a good voice,’ and it was the first time he had ever said anything kind to me. So you’re so a part of my life, Elton, in a way that you’ll never know.”
During the first part of the panel, which followed a screening of the Pose series finale Canals spoke about his trepidation when Murphy had asked him to direct the closer. “It was a daunting task,” Canals said of taking on the responsibility for the finale which Murphy said was “like shooting Game of Thrones.”
Porter spoke of feeling “invisible and dismissed” by the film and TV industry despite his Broadway success until he met for Pose and, instead of the smaller role he had been originally approached for, he had Pray Tell created for him. The role earned him an Emmy to go with his Tony and Grammy Awards.
Closing out the event, Porter performed “This Day.” He was then joined by Rodriguez for their duet of “Loves in Need of Love Today.”