Our Lady J was recently nominated for an Emmy for work on the FX show Pose, created by Ryan Murphy. She became the first openly transgender writer to work in a television writers’ room when she was hired for Amazon Prime series Transparent.
Rub & Tug will follow the story of trans gangster Dante “Tex” Gill.
In 1970s Pittsburgh, Gill became known as a crime kingpin. He was infamous for his empire of massage parlors, and an anabolic steroids ring that involved the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL team.
As a cross-dresser, Gill found allies in the LGBTQ+ community. Together with his inner circle, he defended himself against the local mafia and rival criminals. The Pittsburgh Press awarded Gill the title of “Man of the Year” and “Dubious Woman of the Year.”
“She embodies business savvy, sexual confusion and an eye for fashion like no one since Michael Jackson,” the outlet wrote.
He was arrested in 1984 and charged with income tax fraud. In 1987, he was released from prison.
Gill preferred to be referred to with “he” and “him” pronouns, his cousin Barry Paris told My San Antonio.
“He hated to be called ‘she,’ and that’s what the police always did, and the papers. It annoyed and upset him,” he said.
Our Lady J said she “couldn’t be more excited” to tell Gill’s story, reported Deadline.
“The show is about the promise of reinvention, and the peril of losing oneself in the process,” she said.
“Tex Gill was out and proud in an era – the late 1970s – when living authentically came with the price of social ostracization, leaving him vulnerable to a life of crime and lawlessness.”
Gill’s widow Cindy Bruno Gill will serve as a consultant on the series, alongside journalist and author Brendan Koerner. Koerner’s research on Gill’s massage parlors was part of the original rights package for the script.
The show’s producers have also committed to casting a transgender actor in the leading role after facing backlash concerning a previous casting announcement for the project.
When New Regency first won the rights to Rub & Tug, Scarlett Johansson was attached to play the lead in a film version, with Rupert Sanders set to direct. However, after complaints from the LGBTQ+ community, Johansson stepped away from the project, Variety reported.
In a statement, she said she realized her casting was “insensitive,” and she was thankful for the opportunity to take part in a discussion about diversity and representation in Hollywood.