Zachary Quinto, wearing a grey button-up shirt and tie, looks at a blonde woman who is off camera.
Image Credit: ‘So Notorious,’ Paramount

These days, Zachary Quinto is one of our most prominent out gay leading Hollywood men. From the villain of Heroes to the heroic Mr. Spock in Star Trek to everything in between, he’s been one of our favorite LGBTQ+ stars to watch on stage and screen.

But even before he was out, Quinto was still giving the gays everything they want.

Back in the 2000s, the actor nabbed one of his first series regular roles on the oft-forgotten meta-comedy So NoTORIous on VH1, which premiered its first episode 17 years ago this past weekend.

For those who need a refresher, the peculiar stylization of the show’s title is due to the fact that it’s about the actress Tori Spelling, get it? Or, rather, it’s about a lightly fictionalized, comedically exaggerated version of Tori Spelling.

Much like in real-life, Tori is a “nepo baby” actress trying to live a life out of the tabloids and navigate a career out of the shadow of her über-successful TV producer father, Aaron Spelling (who largely goes unnamed in the series and is only ever heard, not seen).

Weaving in and out of every episode is Tori’s close circle of friends, which includes Quinto’s character, Sasan, a bisexual Iranian-American man who’s out to everyone except his parents.

In the second episode, Tori makes the shocking discovery that her new date (played by hunky Joe Manganiello) is part of a Scientology-like church cult, which he tries to lure her friends into. While there, Sasan notices the church’s attempts to “turn” gay guys straight, recognizing a golden opportunity to score dates with some eligible bachelors. (The mid-2000s were a wild time!)

The standout moment—and, honestly, the one moment you’ve probably seen online even if you’ve never watched any So NoTORIous—comes when Sasan sidles up next to another man in the church’s sauna (?), the two wearing nothing but towels.

“That sweat dripping off you? It’s the shame and the fear that holds you back,” the unnamed spa buddy tells him.

“I know, man, it feels awesome,” Sasan responds, chest hair glistening.

“Yeah, bro, it’s just… letting stuff go.” As the back-and-forth continues, the two men start breathing heavier: “Just being all naked an emotional.”

“We are so… naked,” the guy says, right before the two finally lock eyes and then tear into each other like animals, tongues first.

While the scene lives on—in low quality—on YouTube, screenshots and GIFs have become popular gay internet fodder over the years. Surely you’ve seen this moment more than a few times while scrolling through Twitter, right?

via GIPHY

That other actor, by the way, is Chris W. King who—according to IMDB—had a short-live on-screen career but has since moved on the producing, including a stint working on Showtime’s (queer friendly) horror drama Penny Dreadful.

Of course what’s most notable about the moment, is that Quinto was not yet out to the world, so folks were quite surprised by his commitment to the make-out. It’d be another five years still before the actor began identifying as gay in the press, though he’d long been a vocal advocate of gay rights, supporting projects like the It Gets Better campaign and appearing in the play The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.

(For some more time-warp fun, go read the comments on the YouTube clip above—honestly! It’s kind of delightful to see how many people were supportive an open-minded, even before Quinto was out.)

Though So NoTORIous only ever had a single, 10-episode season, but the show does have a legacy on certain corners of the internet… mostly thanks to Quinto’s steamy sauna hookup.

And, for the curious, we’re sad to report the series isn’t currently available to stream anywhere, though Amazon does offer the complete first season on DVD for the (random) price of $7.10—can you say “bargain”?

See you at the spa!

Zachary Quinto and another actor make out in a sauna while shirtless with white towels wrapped around their waists.
Image Credit: ‘So Notorious,’ Paramount

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