IF you don’t know the names of Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, you may have missed a lot of GLBT cinema over the past twenty years. With film and TV credits in the hundreds, Bailey and Barbato are both directors and producers whose World of Wonder production studio is responsible for a vast number of documentary films and cable TV series since 1990.
Movie documentaries that Bailey and Barbato have co-directed (as well as produced) include The Real Ellen Story (1997), Party Monster (1998), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000), 101 Rent Boys (2000), Out of the Closet, Off the Screen: The Life of William Haines (2001), Hidden Führer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler’s Sexuality (2004), Inside Deep Throat (2005), When I Knew (made for TV, 2008), and this year’s Becoming Chaz (2011), the first film in the Oprah Winfrey Documentary Club. Among the numerous TV shows they’ve produced—at last count over 150—are The RuPaul Show, Housebusters, and the current hit series Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.
Born and raised in England, Fenton Bailey left the UK in 1982 and never looked back. Randy Barbato was raised in New Jersey and made the much shorter trip to New York City to attend NYU, which is where he met Bailey in the late 1980’s. Embracing their mutual admiration and fascination for pop culture, the two became lovers and formed the rock band The Fabulous Pop Tarts before dropping out of school and focusing on documentary filmmaking. Since its establishment in 1990, World of Wonder has become one of the most recognizable brands of GLBT entertainment in the world.
For this exclusive interview I caught up with Bailey and Barbato at World of Wonder in Hollywood.