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54 posts from November 2006

Nov 30 2006
George Reeves Wept Comments (0)

Poor hottie Brandon Routh really had to go through some humiliating costume fittings while preparing to film Superman. Fortunately, though, they were all filmed as extras for the DVD. From here.

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Pre-Madonna Comments (2)

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A high school friend of mine (we were both known for our detailed drawings in art class back in Flushing, Michigan...now the only thing we draw is curious stares) was kind enough to send me a copy of the November 19th Ann Arbor News, which is rockin' a very interesting story on Madonna's time at the University of Michigan in the ’70s. The piece is illustrated with a great "I've still got it!" Confessions Tour shot (REHEARSAL RECORDINGS HERE), but also with two charming, rarely-seen Lolita-esque portraits of Madonna taken at the college by Peter Kentes.

Img_1205"Friend Recalls Madonna As A Person"...but he could be mistaken???

I met Kentes at a Madonna convention once (first stop on my confessions tour: yes, I've willingly attended at least four Madonna conventions...), but hadn't realized he had once been a FOM—I guess I assumed he was more a photographer who'd persuaded her to pose for a few pix and that had been that. He was very nice and sold color Xeroxes of his work rather than prints. Color Xereoxes...yes, this was 100 years ago. I think the reasoning might have been they were cheap to make and wouldn't in turn reproduce very well in case fans made their own copies to sell.

The newspaper story has some interesting tidbits...including a bomb-out map! (Sorry, the ’70s are seeping back in.)

Img_1200Handy star map for your next Ann Arbor excursion.

060710_ummamotion49_1Madonna's Top 3 Fave Places for Chow Around the U of M: Bicycle Jim's at South University and Forest (unfortch, it's now an exhibit space for the university's Museum of Art—pictured as it looks today here); the Cottage Inn basement on William Street; Eden's Restaurant and Deli on Maynard.

Young20_1Madonna (center, believe it or not) at a U of M drama club meeting. Image from MadonnaShots.

Madonna's Preferred Places to Dance: I was shocked that the Nectarine Ballroom wasn't mentioned, but maybe it didn't exist in the late ’70s? Diehard fans know about The Blue Frogge, but she also liked Rubaiyat on First Street.

Madonna Liked Boys: "She was very outspoken, so you noticed her. She enjoyed attention, especially from the guys in the department...The first semester she was in Stockwell (residence hall), she'd hang her head out the window and yell at the boys as they'd walk by to the CCRB (Central Campus Recreation Building)," says Kentes.

184046544_3e09195ac9Stockwell, where young Madonna would practice her siren's song. From here.

Madonna Was Always A Body Nazi: "I remember her doing 100 crunches before ballet—she was always working her body."

Madonna Was One Step Ahead Of Astrology: Kentes, an astrology buff, did a reading for her. "I'm looking at this girl in red plastic shoes, living on popcorn, working part-time at the art center figure modeling and doing other things just to get by, and everything (in the reading) said riches and fame. She didn't really seem surprised—like that was her plan."

Flynn1You can dance for inspiration...Madonna with Chris Flynn.

Also fascinating to me as a fan is Kentes's recollection of Madonna's departure. She had arrived in Ann Arbor in the fall of 1976 and left in the spring of 1978, apparently at the urging of Madonna's long-acknowledged mentor, her late dance instructor Christopher Flynn. Kentes describes himself and Flynn actually dropping Madonna at Detroit's Metro Airport. The rest is history.

School76c_1THE END! A Kentes pic that was not published in the paper, but instead is found at MadonnaShots.

 
 
Dreamgirls Comments (11)

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I am against being against spoilers. Read on if you are, too.

I went into a screening of Bill Condon’s DreamWorks/ Paramount production of Dreamgirls last night at the Walter Reade wondering if there was any way it could live up to its SurroundSound advance buzz. I’m so often let down by movie musicals—I liked Evita a lot, but don’t get me started on Moulin Rouge, Rent or The Phantom Of The Opera, and I was the guy who wasn’t really wowed by the film version of Chicago despite loving the Broadway revival upon which it was based.

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Musicals aside, so many times I see movies that are said to be good and walk away feeling short-changed. I think it’s important to avoid the pop cultural mob mentality, but I don’t take pleasure in hating something everyone else is loving—some people refuse to like any hyped film just to be unique, but for me, when I do have a wildly different reaction to a film than is expected of me, I don’t feel superior, I feel disconnected. It’s annoying being the lone dissenter and it winds up making me angry or at the very least a bit lonely. Am I really the only person who hates this?

Photo2Watching Dreamgirls, a rich pop opera about a girl group’s rise and rise, I realized almost immediately that I, too, was a member of a group for a change, the growing family of people who’ve seen this film and who are left searching for the right string of superlatives to describe both the experience and the work of everyone involved. Dreamgirls is a rare film that is supremely entertaining (sorry, Miss Ross), guiltlessly poignant, effortlessly artful and whose story is both unique and yet universal.

I feel that the biggest strength of Dreamgirls is the way in which it skillfully gets its own story across while simultaneously commenting on broader themes. I was also surprised—and thrilled—by how dizzily and satisfyingly self-reflexive it gets as it unfolds.

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Dreamgirls focuses on the concept of the crossover and what that meant and means to us all and to black Americans in particular, even as the movie itself prepares to cross over from the stage to the screen, chock-full of actors and actresses who have crossed over in order to hit this very important mark (Murphy and Foxx from comedy on TV to dramatic movies and singing, Knowles from singing to acting).

It explores the popular American theme of the comeback while touting a revelatory turn by American Idol reject Jennifer Hudson—and hasn’t the musical itself as a film genre been making a comeback?

It is about success in showbiz and will be this year’s success story.

One daring and exciting aspect of the movie is that in telling its story about the racial politics of pop music in the ’60s and ’70s, it never compromises its black perspective. In so doing, in refusing to cater to white audiences in any cynical way—one of its own caustically effective themes—it functions as an illuminating portrait of American history, and will be enshrined as a piece of movie history for good measure.

Dreamgirls

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Nov 29 2006
Star-Crossed Comments (4)

A comment from a long-ago post that I thought was interesting enough to spotlight:

"I was fortunate enough to meet Jon just before he died. It was on 2 October 1984, in New York City when he was the guest on FIVE AT FIVE at NBC in Rockefeller Center. At that time I was photographer Jay Grant's assistant, and went along to help carry heavy equipment up the rather long flight of stairs at the center. While I was carrying a very heavy carrybag containing overhead lights up the steps, a gent - who was on his way down - offered to help me, as he could see I was clearly struggling. Turns out the gent in question was none other than Jon Erik Hexum, who was rushing downstairs to take a telephone call prior to the interview…

"We spoke very briefly - I told him my favourite show on telly was ‘Cover Up’, I think (it was a while ago, you understand, so I cannot really remember exactly what I said) - to which he smiled that million dollar grin and thanked me, and then excused himself so he could take the phone call. I just stood there, my mouth wide open like some kind of zombie or something like that, drooling. As a young gay man in the eighties, Jon Erik was the object of my deepest desires...

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"Needless to say, when I heard on the evening news on 18 October 1984 that he had died as a result of head injuries, I emmediatly thought of that charming, gorgeous hunk with eyes like sparkling sapphires I had met on the stairwell that evening who was kind enough to help me with that damn bag while others simply passed by. It felt as if someone I had known intimately had just died. I was devastated...

"Yes, even to this day I still remember his face that evening as clear as if it were yesterday, and I am still filled with sorrow when I think that someone with such promise is gone forever, taken by the most stupid of mistakes. A real tragedy, and a terrible waste of such a hunk indeed…

"The well-known axiom 'Only the beautiful die young' could easily have referred to Jon-Erik Hexum."

 
 
Nov 28 2006
Cross Bared Comments (3)

In Europe, God is dead...but Madonna lives on. Here is her affecting or affected (take yer pick) "Live To Tell" crucifix performance as it was intended to be seen and heard. Actually, it's even better than intended—Madonna appears to have benefited from some subtle digital tweaking of her facial and vocal wrinkles. Nothing obnoxious, just enough to smooth both out. Don't blame her a bit and hey, praying isn't going to do that for ya.

 
 
Gone, Gone, Gone Comments (0)

Allegedly, all of these items being auctioned in the U.K. are originals owned and worn and conveniently signed by Madonna...I just don't know. I would want to have some kind of press release from Madonna confirming the authenticity. I feel that of all the signed Madonna items on earth, a small fraction are legit. And frankly, none of these jumps out at me as being indisputably legit.

Any typos are not mine:

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Madonna. A large Amercan flag signed "ROCK THE VOTE Madonna"
Guide Price: £300-£400

Madonna - Evita. A 1950's style cotton ladies glove worn by Madonna in the filming of Evita
Guide Price: £200-£300

Madonna signed NY Mets cap and backstage pass and photos.
Guide Price: £400-£500

Madonna. Madonna's Live 8 concert jacket, personally worn by Madonna. Guide Price: £500-£600

Madonna. A black CMG Pro Model New Era yellow and black pro baseball cap.
Guide Price: £400-£500

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Madonna Hat from Evita. One of the performance worn roushed silk 1950's style.
Guide Price: £300-£400

Madonna. A Levi Strauss stage and video worn denim jacket.
Guide Price: £500-£600

Madonna. A sky blue promotional satin pillowcase with white piping signed in black marker pen by Madonna
Guide Price: £300-£400

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Madonna. Madonna signed dark blue T-Shirt from the Drowned World Tour with a signed wristband.
Guide Price: £400-£500

Madonna. Madonna Signed Coat. A black 1950's stylised moygashell black long flared, high waisted frock coat. 
Guide Price: £400-£500

Madonna. Stage worn satin glove (Right).
Guide Price: £200-£300

Madonna. A typically stylish French berret, worn by Madonna at the Jean-Paul Gaultier in LA premier fashion show
Guide Price: £500-£600

Madonna. A typically stylish French berret, worn by Madonna at the Jean-Paul Gaultier in LA premier fashion show
Guide Price: £600-£800

Madonna. Stage worn satin glove (Left).
Guide Price: £200-£300

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Madonna. Madonna's white satin, extensively rehearsal-worn bustier.
Guide Price: £3,000-£4,000

Madonna. A black satin bustier,  This is one of the most famous pieces of Madonna's clothing.
Guide Price: £3,000-£4,000

Madonna. Madonna's Black leather Cap. 
Guide Price: £400-£500

Madonna. The blue chiffon scarf waved personally by Madonna. Guide Price: £300-£400

 
 
Nov 26 2006
And It Feels Like Home Shopping Network Comments (2)

I've supported Madonna through the bratty years, the religious acting-out years, the sexual acting-out years, the pretense, the occasional lip-synching, the occasional voice malfunction in the absence of lip-synching, the on-again/off-again accent, thte mood-altering Kabbalah, the foreign adoption and the movies—God, the movies. But...Home Shopping Network? I'm afraid this might be my biggest challenge yet!

 
 
Nov 25 2006
Nothing Matters: An Interview With Gregory Siff Comments (7)

Nothing

When I first met Gregory Siff, he struck me as just about the sweetest person you'd ever want to meet. That sentiment is pretty saccharine, but it's also literally true—unlike so many aspiring actors, Greg exuded an impossible to ignore sunny Gresgpositivity. Though nothing in life is guaranteed, least of all success as an actor, Greg didn't act desperate and wasn't desperate to act—he had dedication to spare and he tried hard, but I never suspected he'd be devastated if he didn't become the next Tom Cruise.

He didn't become the next Tom Cruise (yet!), despite hosting a children's TV show called Z Games, parading his dutifully toned torso on MTV's Undressed and playing a dippy rapper alongside Justin Guarini in a film co-star Kelly Clarkson would probably love to erase from existence, 2003's From Justin to Kelly. (For the record, Greg cherishes the movie.)

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Greg_at_work_getattachment41aspxNow, at nearly 29, the Brooklyn-born Body Beautiful might instead become the next Andy Warhol; Greg has turned to the art world to express himself, and it is that world which may wind up embracing him more heartily than Hollywood. Actually, it's within Hollywood's city limits where he's finding success—Greg's The Marshmallo Show, a one-night-only private viewing of 37 new works, was just hosted at The Standard Hotel on Sunset—and it is from Hollywood names that he's gleaned early support, with works by Siff in the collections of Lindsay Lohan, Robert Downey Dr. and Tricky. He's also been commissioned to conceive album covers and has been showing his work for over a year. A star is born? Not always—sometimes stars are created.

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In case you're wondering, Greg's not gay. “James Dean said, 'I'm not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back,'” he teases, “but I am straight." Still, he belongs on Boy Culture because he has the awe and energy of an eternal boy and he's responsible for a good portion of all the culture in his adopted hometown of L.A. I'm only teasing Los Angeles as a New York loyalist, but Greg does find culture and art where none exists.

I was shocked when I realized Greg had become a fine artist. It seemed to be an out-of-left-field metamorphosis, and yet it was perfectly organic if I'd simply paid more attention to his enthusiasm for self-improvement and self-expression. “I knew I always loved art since first grade, but not till the past three years have I thought about it every morning. It is everywhere around you and when you come to realize it, just getting through the day can be like walking through Disney World.”

Rather than putting on airs (he did just reference Disney World) or taking classes or studying in Paris, Greg began to create art between castings with a characteristically modest—and resourceful—approach.

“I work with what I have,” he says. “Nothing.”

"Nothing" includes "...marshmallows, paper, paint receipts, food, photos, stamps, canvas, walls, poems, everything.” In the course of a single list of ingredients, Greg goes from "nothing" to "everything." In a flash, he goes further, coming full circle by saying his work is best described as, “Nothing. And fattening.”

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The "fattening" part might refer to his obsession with a whimsical marshmallow theme, and with other sinful desserts. It makes sense that these items would haunt his sweet tooth and be reflected in his art considering he looks like he never allows himself to touch the stuff, or like he must have to work out extra hard whenever he does.

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Greg is the son of an old-school bodybuilder, the kind who trained in a gym before a gym was the type of place where twinkies panted on stepping machines and where seeing and being seen trumps true physical exertion. It hasn't skipped a generation, and his hard work landed him a stint as an Abercrombie & Fitch model.

I see a connection between his work-outs and what he is artistically trying to work out. For proof, examine how Greg approaches the act of creation:

“When I make something, I don't think about what anyone will say. I just get the story that is buzzing inside out and that feels good for the moment. Then I am blank and a new mood comes and then I have to get rid of that one.”

His creativity is on a schedule, it is cyclical and it is regimented. And when he exercises the urge, it leads to something beautiful. “A good work of art comes from necessity,” he says, paraphrasing Rilke in a way that simultaneously echoes 'no pain, no gain.'

Which is not to say that his work is all smiles. The marshmallows (he prefers to spell them with no terminal W in his titlees) are manic (“Look at it again,” he says when pressed to explain them) and many of his other pieces express romantic optimism, but there is plenty of depressive to go around—mainly pieces obsessing over lost love with a kid-like simplicity that never fails to connect.

Mallo“Sometimes I want to be a smiley 'mallo,” Greg says. “Other times...I feel like love is just killing.” The thank-you e-mail he sent to attendees of The Marshmallo Show is a good example of Greg's offbeat approach to art and to life, and as good an example as any of his melding of smiles and frowns:

“and she kissed like a mouth full of mallos cheeks so chubby and plump and she danced lighter than nothing my heart twisted in some kind of clump i just want to start over again, she told me her hugs, tight as a clamp i know where the world is so bright, i said forget about bringing a lamp i pretended to know all the answers and confessed that i was just as blank i swear she stared right threw me in the glow of the marshmallo tank.”

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Greg sold his favorite-ever piece at The Marshmallo Show. “Fromemory” was from his “junk” series. It was a representation of an ice cream bar. “You remember those pops from Good Humour you'd get from the ice cream man? For the life of me I couldn't find a photo of that ice cream bar. I shut my eyes and saw me ordering it as a kid on my block and I drew it. I think it looks exactly the way it did from the truck, half melted and heavenly. It sold. I was happy someone knew where I was coming from.”

It wasn't just a representation of an ice cream bar—it was a memory of what had once been his ultimate fantasy, back during childhood, when ultimate fantasies set you back less than a dollar and are yours for the asking.

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Greg's family is incredibly supportive and has been ever since the days when he was eating sweets instead of immortalizing them. “But if you tell them you haven't been sleeping they say, 'Fuck this art shit!' They care about your health, you know?”

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Back in the day, his family supported him when his friend Jamar was in a commercial for Honeycomb cereal (more sweets) with Andre the Giant. “I saw him partying with a wrestler on TV and I wanted in,” Greg remembers. “He sent me to his agent at 13 years old and I have been acting every day since.”

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Every day. Probably there is a degree of acting in his art—there is more than a degree of performance in it, as evidenced by images of Greg marching in SoHo with a marshmallow head. Marching_sohogetattachment9aspx_1Next, Greg hopes to combine his acting and his art with a production of a play he's written called—what else?—The Nothing Boys in New York and L.A. Details of the show are forthcoming, but Greg is not always. Asked to list the pros and cons of his talents, he reports, “Limits, I can not tell you. Strengths, I can not tell you.” He's also elusive about describing the materials he uses in his art, stating that it makes him nervous to confirm anything. He's like a famous baker refusing to cough up the recipe for his signature apple pie—and in fact, you might expect to find a Gregory Siff painting of pie out there somewhere.

Gregsiff3_1As I've said, Greg is from New York but lives in L.A., and that tension informs his art and his life. “I came to L.A.. I loved it. I lived here. I hated it. I went home. I missed it. I came back. I remember why I loved it and I forgot that I hated it so I decided to stay and to not make love to it but just kinda date it 'cause my heart is in New York..” Still, he does not agree that L.A. is a horrible place, like so many East Coasters might argue.

He sums up L.A. in such a way that he could be summing up his own career, and his self-reinvention as an artist. “You make it what it is and you make yourself who you are.”

Nothing could be more important that figuring that out.

Gregoryp211

 
 
Us Weakly Comments (0)

616_cover_homepageLike a lot of us, I read Us Weekly—or rather I buy and flip through it—for fun. I like to keep up on what is driving people nuts lately and it's always interesting trying to figure out just what is so endlessly compelling about the love lives of so many stars with no hit records, no hit movies and no hit products whatsoever. It's also nice to read about heterosexuals and those who play them in real life since gossip about gay people is strictly forbidden. Jessica Simpson having a private date with John Mayer has to force a smile whle she chokes down calamari, but gay celebs need only shake their heads "no" and it will translate into a usually inviolate cloak of invisibility.

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But though that topic is my Great White Whale, this particular issue of Us Weekly made me wonder: Are most of its readers in on the joke of reading it? I don't think so. Their fun Us Polls Of The Week section, located on page 16 in this December 4, 2006, Tom & Katie Dream Wedding Special Collectors [SIC] issue), has three polls that reveal the base stupidity of the Us reader:

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Nov 24 2006
Someday My Prints Will Come Comments (0)

With Dieux du Stade paving the way, it sometimes feels like every foreign sports team has gotten their kits off, as they say, to pose nude in homo-erotic calendars for charity. The latest that caught my eye I heard about from ParisianBoys, and it's got the bonus of having a scandal attached to it already—Australia's National Rugby League has its jockstrap in a twist over the fact that so many famous rugby players bared skin for the new 2007/2008 Naked Rugby League Calendar. In particular, they're mad about "a glimpse of Penrith winger Nick Youngquest's genitals."

League2_wideweb__470x3560Boys will be boys. Youngquest yuks it up, second from left.
I don't speak Australian, but I gathered quickly that this meant a David Beckham-type dude was showing wang. What I've sniffed out is that he shows the base of his shaved dick ("I think it might be 100th of it," he cheekily commented). Well, no one burst in and took all of these photos as they were stepping out of the shower and posted them to MySpace—the photographs are Dieux du Stade-worthy and the bods are enough to make you wanna go Down Under. Plus it's all for breast cancer. You can buy the calendar (which cleverly comes in black-and-white and color versions) and extra prints for reasonable rates on the Naked Rugby League site. Maybe next year the guys will sell "personalized" articles of clothing they've worn on the field—I have a feeling we'd cure breast cancer overnight.