With multiple YouTube videos receiving over a quarter million views each, a loyal Instagram following nearing 100,000, along with their own phone app, a book, and an off-Broadway play, the Zakar Twins — comprised of Michael and Zach — are doing something right.
The guys caught the attention of comedian Daniel Tosh, who featured them on his show, Tosh.O, in a CelWEBrity Profile segment. The self-proclaimed “Middle-Eastern Mary-Kate & Ashley” duo published the book, “Pray the Gay Away”, in 2017. The title comes from something their mom, a devout Catholic, tried to do when Michael and Zach sat her down and told her that they are gay.
Their stories, many involving their mom, has since turned into an off-Broadway play, which is touring the country. After a start in Fort Lauderdale, “Pray the Gay Away” will be on stage in Minneapolis (September 12-22, 2019) and Toronto (October 3-13, 2019).
I was able to chat with Michael and Zach before their arrival to Minneapolis to learn how they came out to each other. Plus, I found out one of them has a crush on a television anchor.
Mike Marcotte: You didn’t know your brother was gay until a mix-up happened. From the story you tell on YouTube, I hear it involves a high school bathroom stall…
Zakar Twins: Yes, it was like a promiscuous episode of Sister, Sister. In our senior year, Zach was a rugby jock and Michael was an art nerd. Zach had a little fun in a bathroom stall with another student, “Shane.”
The next day, Zach was sick and Shane invited Michael to the same bathroom stall for some fun. Two rugby jocks caught Michael in the bathroom and confused him for Zach. The rumors spread like wild flowers. ‘Which twin was really in the stall?’ We HAD to come out to each other.
MM: So you two came out to your mom at the same time and she tossed holy water on you when she heard the news. I assume she didn’t take it well.
ZT: Our Mom tried many ways to “de-gay” us. She also tried to film us on her iPhone praying in Arabic. When we asked her why she was filming, our mom said, “this is leverage for God to see you’re good Christian boys.” And then we asked how she’d show God that video? I guess Verizon has good coverage!
MM: Michael, you now have a tattoo of your mom on your thigh? Is your relationship with your mom better? And does that tattoo of your mom weird guys out?
Michael Zakar: It’s definitely improved since the book’s release, but back when I got the tattoo, my mom, she said: “One thing I hate more than you being gay is tattoos.”
So I spent $2,000 dollars on tattooing my body throughout those next two months. I told her whenever I get intimate with a guy, you’ll always be there. Maybe not the best tattoo decision because guys do get a little weirded out about this theoretical 3-some.
MM: What inspired you to turn your story into a show? What do you want people to get out of it?
ZT: We both went film school at Wayne State, when all these events happened. We wrote down these funny things our mom did or said on sticky notes to put in a potential film later on. Hundreds of sticky notes later, the book wrote itself.
Our book/show is not like the typical coming out story. We wanted to focus on the positive sides of coming out instead of the negative. We want queer people to realize that they are normal and things don’t get perfect, but better.
MM: Is your mom going to see the show? What does she think about being turned into a stage character?
ZT: She is scared to see the show. She said she won’t tell anyone when she’s coming. She is a woman that doesn’t like to be the center of attention even though she’s the comedian at every party.
MM: You have a website, a YouTube channel with 22,000 subscribers, a phone app, a best-selling book, and now a play. What’s next?
ZT: We have a second book in order called, “I’m going to Kathy’s”. It’s five film scripts we’re hoping to get picked up by a major network and hopefully making Zakar Twins a household name.
MM: Rapid fire questions! Who’s older? By how long?
ZT: Michael, by 27 minutes. We were also Michigan’s smallest babies the year we were born!
MM: Favorite gay-friendly city?
Michael Zakar: New York City. I have never felt such an exciting city quite like NYC where you can do/be anything.
Zach Zakar: Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
MM: Underwear of choice?
Zach: Andrew Christian.
MM: Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
Michael: I’ll play Zach.
Zach: I’ll play Michael.
MM: Celebrity crush?
Michael: Gwen Stefani.
Zach: Anderson Cooper. I have daddy issues.
If you follow Zach and Michael on social media, you know these two don’t mind showing some skin. Bare bottoms and all. Take a look for yourself on Twitter and Instagram. They tell me they view themselves as writers, which they say can be difficult to showcase on a platform like Instagram. So they turn to sensuality. They don’t seem to mind.
Michael and Zach tell me that the question they are asked the most is if they sleep together. In fact, they’re asked that multiple times a day. The answer is no, folks. Remember, they’re not only models, they’re brothers.
“Pray the Gay Away” at the Cowles Center for the Performing Arts in Minneapolis October 12-22, 2019 and at the St. Lawrence Centre in Toronto October 3-13. Ticket information is on their website.
This interview was edited for clarity and length. All photos courtesy Zach and Michael Zakar.