Timothy D. Stickney Reveals How The “Mandingo Syndrome” Impacted RJ’s Romantic Pairings on OLTL

Wowser! In Part III of We Love Soaps' bombshell interview with Timothy D. Stickney (ex-RJ) the actor goes in about how soap operas allow the racist, bigoted segments of their viewing audience to basically dictate storytelling.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In 12 years I don’t remember R.J. Gannon ever having one hot and heavy love scene.  The other men that started in 1994-95 were constantly taking their clothes off.  How much of that was racially motivated?

Timothy D. Stickney: I often had opportunities squashed.  They will never, ever say it this way, but I had opportunities squashed because of the racist population in their audience.  It wasn't even people who consider themselves “racist,” but people who become very uncomfortable with stories that mixed different races. 

There was a crime-based story that could have put the Gannon family in the forefront.  The bad guy was not going to belong to any specific group, but he was a racist who didn’t like all the mixing of friends and romantic partners in Llanview.  They decided to cut that part out.  They also had the false realization that the same viewers weren’t as disturbed by Latino characters because they didn’t think of them as “black” or whatever.  They were almost “white” which meant they didn’t get the same amount of letters.  So a lot of opportunity went away from us and then was rewritten to involve the Vega family and their friends.  And we were out.  That was that.

One of the last quiet fears in America is still the “Mandingo Syndrome,” the fear of the black man’s sexuality.  Generally, when he is depicted in mainstream media, he is either a bookworm, awkward, or with no sexual attraction at all, so that he can be brilliant and rich.  Or, he’s all sexual drive and physical attraction with very little intellect.  So as R.J., if I flirted with someone and they noticed or responded, then it had to be with my brother’s girlfriend or his ex or whatever.  I thought, “I could try to fight them on this.  But R.J. is intelligent, he is frequently wealthy, so I’ll at least get two out of three.  If I also go for sexually viable I might cut my own throat.”  So I decided never to fight them on that.  I let them do what they were going to do with that.  There simply were no characters of color that were intelligent, wealthy, and sexually viable.

Former OLTL Baddie Timothy D. Stickney Talks Shakespeare, Racism and RJ

As one of One Life to Live's most popular villains, RJ Gannon, Timothy D. Stickney brought a Shakespearean flair to Hank's nefarious younger brother, and now we know why. The brilliant thespian was trained on all things Bard at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Currently Stickney is performing as the title role in Macbeth at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

We Love Soaps' Damon L. Jacobs has published the first two-parts of a multi-part chat with Stickney, who discussed the differences and similarities between the Shakespeare stage and daytime soaps, racism in the arts and how Disney buying ABC changed how soaps were written. Here's a excerpt:

The industry changed while I was doing the show.  When I started, certain writers wrote the whole story.  So there was continuity in the sound of the story and the way that character’s dialogue was going to be.  From my experience, when Disney took over ABC, it became more piecemeal.  I think that was a way to mitigate the writer’s ability to claim ownership of anything.  So stories became written by whoever’s desk it fell on regardless of their strengths or comfort.  You did not write a whole story, you wrote a script.  From day to day your character’s dialogue would drastically change because a totally different person wrote the dialogue.

OLTL’s Timothy Stickney at Opening Night of PECONG

Ex-One Life to Live star Timothy Stickney is the Associate Director of PECONG, a production that also stars his sister Phyllis Yvonne Stickney as Granny Root. On March 17 they celebrated their opening night at The National Black Theatre of Harlem in New York City. The play, which runs through March 28, "tells a poignant tale of music, magic, laughter, betrayal, sex, power and revenge!"  For more show times and tickets visit Smart Tix. See more photos from opening night after the jump.

One Life to Live: Welcome Back Ron Carlivati!

The real supstar at One Life To Live has a first return airdate of May 2, only he won't be seen onscreen.  Head Writer Ron Carlivati's return to the helm of the soap has been arguably the most sought after return in soaps during the last few months. Pre-Strike OLTL was the most buzzed about-if-not-watched soap soap in the industry, thanks to Carlivati's Herculean efforts to re-focus the show on its core characters and history. Soap Opera Weekly's OLTL Editor Gabrielle Winkel interviewed the scribe for the magazine's current issue. Here are some highlights:

Clint/Nora/Bo/Lindsay/RJ: Carlivati tells Winkel he doesn't want to lose sight of Clint and Nora's relationship and reveals that Lindsay's growing feelings for Bo will be once again complicated by RJ. Good to know Timothy D. Stickney (RJ) is going to finally be put to good use now that Carlivati is back. Now if he can just write in a role for Passions' Tracey Ross (Eve) that pairs her with badboy RJ!

Jared and Natalie: Carlivati loves this pairing, as do I. I think Jared and Natalie have supercouple written all over them. For the first time-ever I am able to stomach Natalie and don't want to see her bansished to Eterna for good and that's all thanks to Melissa Archer's amazing chemistry with John Brotherton who plays Jared.

The return of David Vickers: The writer plays his cards close to the vest with this top secret return, but he does share that Vickers and his portrayer Tuc Watkins are back for awhile  and that David will be taking a "big step forward". Hmmm, into the bosom of the Buchanan family perhaps?

Ramsey: Thankfully Carlivati seems to realize how cartoonish this villain is becoming. He even envokes a name that sends shivers down the spines of OLTL fans everyhwere. No, not Santi, the other one-Spencer. As in Spencer Truman, the Stefano-esque mega villain who basically became responsible for every ill-happening in Llanview from Todd's missing baby to a drop in advertising revenue for Craze. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the drift. Carlivati alludes OLTL will begin to better utilize the brilliant Hunt Block by seeing what makes Ramsey tick.

Antonio/Talia/John: Look for Angry Antonio to confront his nasty co-cops for their trifling right-under-his nose affair, according to Carlivati. Rumors had the John/Talia pairing as part of a plot to trap Ramsey, but I'm not so sure how this will turn out. All I can say is I hope John is ejected from this once promising couple's orbit ASAP.

Gigi/Rex/Bitchy Bangs: Sigh, why do boring soap characters have to become entertaining just before they leave the show? It happened the first time Austin Peck left Days and his Austin ripped Sami a new one in Vegas and it happened again in the months before Shawn and Belle left that NBC show. For the first time since the character's debut , I am LOVING Adriana aka Bitchy Bangs (click here to find out how you can listen to the most recent knee slapping Daytime Confidential ABC podcast where this term was coined), and the character is set to leave the show soon! Grrr! Why couldn't someone have thought to bitch up this character and her hair months ago? Carlivati loves Adriana getting in touch with her inner Dorian too and promises her wedding to Rex will be Must See Soap!

Todd and Co.: Controversial teen couple Cole and Starr will make a run for it next week and Blair will get her spunk back, says Carlivati. Also look for more bonding between Dorian and her foster daughter Langston.  While I love the dysfunctional melodrama Starr's relationship with Cole causes her family, the couple is a snorefest for me. I really hope Cole proves to be the Frankie Brady to the far-more interesting Starr's Jennifer Horton. Kristen Alderson cannot be saddled with this pairing much longer and Brandon Buddy's Cole actually comes alive in scenes with Langston. Maybe it's time for the teens to play couples swap?

Nash/Jessica/Sarah/Cris: We all know poor Nash and his portrayer Forbes March will be a goner this May, which really bites. I loved Nash and Tess and hate how the character became a eunuch when Jessica was integrated. It would have been so much better if the sexsational Tess persona had remained the primary personality and that wimpy Jessica had been the alternate, but oh well, that ain't how this particular cookie crumbled. Carlivati does reveal that he's putting a stop to all the Nash/Sarah flirting nonsense though, which is a relief.

Miles: Carlivati says he originally planned to tie Miles into Allison's shenanigans at the Go Red Ball, but those wascally scabs re-wrote his stuff! A curse on you scabs! Allison's DVD was all set to rock Llanview to it's core (All the way to Eterna? Okay, that's my second mention of the underground city, sorry.) but TPTB changed things. I bet old Ally Pants was going to reveal that Jessica was really a bio-Buchanan. Here's hoping Carlivati will now make that happen!

The McBains: Look for love to re-blossom for this couple during May Sweeps when they celebrate their anniversary. I have to say I've never been a big Michael and Marcie fan. Probably because I never, ever, ever bought the former Michael as (snort) a brilliant doctor, so I could never really invest in the character or the coupe. But as with Cole and Starr, I LURVE the female half of the pairing. Kathy Brier is AMAZING. I say let old Mikey get hit by a Wells Fargo truck and pair Marcie with the new character Kevin Spirtas is set to play.
Dorian: Dor Dor's takeover attempt of ex-lover Clint's family business will come to a head at a BE shareholder's meeting during the second half of May Sweeps, says Carlivati.  Now if there is any storyline in daytime that has my interest peaked it's this one! I know a lot of soap critcs pooh on corporate intrigue, but it is one of my favorite soapy staples. I have loved each and every one of the 50 gazillion takeover attempts of such soap corporations as Another World's Cory Publishing, Santa Barbara's Capwell Enterprises and Y&R's Jabot, so by telling a story set in BE's boardroom, the show has this fan hooked. All in all it looks like OLTL fans are in for a rip-roaring, well-written ride for the first time in months. Welcome home Mr. C, welcome home!