Rub and Tug, the controversial project about real-life transgender gangster Dante “Tex” Gill, is now being developed as a TV series by Emmy-nominated writer-producer Our Lady J and New Regency Television. Originally intended to be a film, the project drew extensive criticism when Scarlett Johansson was attached to star as Gill instead of a trangender male actor. Johansson ultimately left the role after considerable backlash, and now it appears the right creative forces are in place to tell the story the way it should be told.
Our Lady J, who has worked as both a producer and writer on Pose for FX and Transparent for Amazon, is scripting the pilot episode, with New Regency, Dark Castle Entertainment, and Material Pictures serving as producers. According to an official press release, the project is committed to casting a trans actor in the lead role, so we can breathe a sigh of relief that there won’t be any more of that ScarJo nonsense.
Here’s the official synopsis from the press release:
Rub & Tug is the untold true story of Dante “Tex” Gill, the infamous transgender gangster who was a major figure in the criminal underworld of ‘70s Pittsburgh. Tex tangled with the local mafia and became a key player in the city’s so-called “Massage Parlor War.” Tex’s inner circle, many of them LGBTQ+ and therefore forced to the fringes of society after experiencing discrimination, found a leader in Tex they could relate to and believe in. Together, Tex and his allies fought to build an illicit business empire and defend their turf from rival criminals, corrupt politicians, and the law.
“Tex’s life story is like no other, and the rich landscape of this unexplored moment in time has truly captured my imagination,” said Our Lady J in the same release. “I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to write a gangster drama based on such a fascinating and diverse web of queer characters. The show is about the promise of reinvention, and the peril of losing oneself in the process. 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. Having grown up in Pennsylvania myself, I’m also excited to delve deep into Pittsburgh’s underbelly as it unspools the story of Tex’s remarkable life – it’s also the story of a city’s struggle for rebirth and a proud community’s efforts to make its voice heard.”
The series is working alongside Gill’s widow, Cindy Bruno Gill, and journalist Brendan Koerner as consultants, with the latter having done extensive writing and research on the Massage Parlor War. It’s shaping up to be an interesting and groundbreaking project about a piece of modern history that many people have likely never heard of. For more TV news, read about the exciting new show Elisabeth Moss is developing at Hulu.