Director Joel Shumacher died Monday from stomach cancer. The man who started directing films in the early eighties never married or had children, but told Vulture in a 2019 interview that he estimates he had sex with around 20,000 people over the span of his life.
He was 79 when he made that estimation but told Vulture that much sex isn’t too remarkable “for a gay male, because it’s available.”
Schumacher never married in part because he was gay, but not strictly, it seems, as he talks about having female partners in his younger years. Schumacher said he started experimenting early with his sexuality, telling Vulture he was 11 when he started “fooling around.” He said in the 1950s when he was growing up, he’d had several sexual partners both male and female, and even older men.
“I don’t know if it was legal or illegal, I just knew you didn’t talk about it,” Schumacher told Vulture, “But I had three girlfriends I had sex with, and some of the guys on my baseball team; a couple guys in high school…When I was a kid, I didn’t like very young people at all. There was a married man in our neighborhood, but we weren’t having missionary-style sex. We were, as we would say now, messing around.”
Schumacher said he never felt abused by his older partner or partners.
But that was all before he started his career as a writer and director of films like The Incredible Shrinking Woman, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Falling Down, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin, to name just a few.
Joel Shumacher Lived a Life Fueled by Drugs, Alcohol & Sex for Many Years
The Director told People in 1997 that in the 1960’s “I was reckless and destructive. I had sex with and lived with and romanced many, many human beings on this planet.” He also has said, according to People, he was “one of the most promiscuous people on the planet. I was someone who went to a party when I was 11 and got home when I was 52.”
He told Vulture that when he was younger the gay scene was not about family life. That wasn’t an option back then and it also was not on his mind. He told Vulture:
Now, a lot of gay people are getting married, they’re adopting, or they’re having children. There wasn’t any of that when I was young. If you went into a gay bar and there were 200 men in there, and you said, “Okay, who wants to have a little house with a white picket fence, and a dog, and a child, raise your hands,” or “Who wants to get laid tonight?” The concept of a lovely suburban life or raising children was not a high concept.
Schumacher said his drug and alcohol use was fueled by sex, saying, “Every drug, in my mind, was a pathway to sex. So was alcohol. There was an adventure going on, and sex would be the cherry on that sundae.”
Schumacher managed to juggle his habits with his career and said he was able to get his drug use under control or stop altogether when it was going too far or he had a project to work on.
“I would stop partying a month or two before I shot a movie,” he explains, “and I would stay dry until the wrap shot.”
In His Later Years, Schumacher Said He Wouldn’t Make a Good Life Partner
By 1997 with several hit movies under his belt and lots of partying and sex, Schumacher told People, “I’m better at work than at life,” he says. “I’m a good friend, not a good life partner.”
He also said he thought he’d damaged the part of himself that could be intimate or in love with anyone.
“I’m not in love and I don’t know if I will fall in love again,” he told People. “Intimacy has been difficult for me. I’ve damaged that part of me.”
There is little information about any of Shumacher’s relationships over the years, but he told Vulture he isn’t the type to kiss and tell. However, he clearly understood what it is to be unhappy in a relationship.
A quote of his in IMBD says, “The only good advice you can give anyone is the witness of what you have learned in your own life. If I were living with someone and confused about whether I should be staying with them, it usually means I should be leaving. Because when you’re really happy, you don’t sit around thinking, ‘Should I leave?’