311 posts categorized "HISTORY"
I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend a private, for-donors-only performance by Linda Lavin at Baruch College last night, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the George and Mildred Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and the 10th anniversary of the Baruch Performing Arts Center.
Lavin performed with accompaniment by Billy Stritch and her top-notch band (including her painter/actor/jazz drummer of a hubby, Steve Bakunas, of whom she said, “I married the drummer. Cool!”).
Lavin is leggy and lovely at a hard-t0-believe 77, and was having (1) a ball, (2) a great hair day and (3) a better leg day than most will have in a lifetime; it's incredible to think that she is actually slightly older than Elaine Stritch (February 2, 1925—July 17, 2014) was when the latter dame first performed her legendary Elaine Stritch at Liberty show in 2001. Lavin is so youthful that unless you're an IMDb addict like me, the impact of her cabaret act has little in common with Stritch's—there's no “I'm Still Here” vibe because Lavin looks like she's mid-way through a career, not defiantly placing an exclamation point at the end of it. Just absolutely ageless, in good voice and effortlessly able to engage an audience of bigshots with her girlish banter and wry, nostalgic peeks back at her career.
And yes, she fully embraces Alice (1976—1985).
Above, check out the delicious Sondheim number Lavin sang in 1966...she recreated it last night and it's still a hoot.
I won't go into great detail about the song selection (which was pleasingly heavy on the bossa nova) since this was a one-off, but if you're interested in hearing Lavin sing a loving rendition of her Alice theme song and charming versions of songs she first sang upwards of 50 years ago when she (and Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield and many other greats) was playing in, as she recalls, every venue with “Downstairs” in the title, be on the look-out for a 2015 show at 54 Below. You'd be a damn fool to miss this.
Lavin made a brief appearance at a post-show champagne toast. I was able to congratulate her and to ask if she would honor my friend and I with a photo. Have you got a camera? she shot back, ready to get 'er done. Lovely, classy lady.
After the jump, listen to Lavin tackle that Alice theme in 2013...
Via Blank on Blank: In this recently unearthed Liberace interview, the grande dame of showmanship has no patience for people who don't work as hard as he did:
“Anyone that dares begrudge what I have today just better get off their duff and do something about it—do something for themselves as well as their country...I feel that I have a perfect right to spend my money the way I damn please.”
He later says if he were president, he'd put people to work building roads and other public works, which the interviewer correctly perceives as a somewhat FDR kind of remark, in contrast to the hard-right, DIY-or-get-lost vibes Liberace had just been giving. The entertainer replies:
“People who sit back and wait for somebody to take care of them are the people that I"m speaking of. These are the people that if shown a way can be useful to our society.”
And if shown a way and still reluctant to work?
“Well then I guess they're just basic, criminal people that don't belong in our society.”
Full interview after the jump...
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: *** out of ****
It's not every day that I'm invited to the U.S. stage debut of a Pedro Almodovar superstar, so how could I refuse when offered the chance to see Traveling Lady, a multi-media presentation by Colombian visual artist/director Jessica Mitrani and Spanish film icon Rossy de Palma? Answer: I couldn't, and I didn't.
After initially bobbling the invite for me plus-one (sorry, Nathaniel!), I showed up fresh from a full day at New York Comic Con and a quick visit with Don Bachardy to find a long line outside FIAF Florence Gould Hall (55. E. 59th). A passer-by seemed nonplused when I told her we were waiting for a show. “A theatrical performance???” she sputtered. It was as if she knew what was in store for us; we didn't, however, so I went in thinking we were seeing a play while my companion Jason though it would be a movie. We were both kinda right.
A part of FIAF's Crossing the Line 2014 series, Traveling Lady turned out to be a singular experience. I wish I had seen it both nights it played to get a firmer grasp on it, but I did divine its staunchly feminist roots, using as a jumping-off point the 19th-Century travels of journalist Nellie Bly. The show made use of a booming female voice-over, outstandingly dazzling projections, a somewhat goofy, talking, 8-foot dress with no body in it (voiced with an insinuating authority by Joan Juliet Buck), original music and all-too-brief appearances by de Palma in the flesh, lip-synching to her pre-recorded recitations.
De Palma plays more than Bly; it quickly becomes obvious she is embodying various female archetypes. In so doing, she only had to appear briefly, allowing her unique visage to do all the talking. She merely had to stand there in order to give the show a twisted depth. Her presence is so arresting it was shocking later to meet her and see that she herself isn't 8 feet tall.
The show lagged when it became too esoteric for its own good, but I felt was saved from being a parody of NYC performance art excess thanks to its tongue-in-cheek humor. While it's true enough that some of its odder visuals would have baffled the real Bly (who once feigned insanity in order to explore the depravity of early insane asylums), I felt the show's broad send-up of branding and marketing were spot-on and LOL hilarious. I was also very taken with the show's tangential embrace of passages from the writings of Gertrude Stein (Ida: A Novel), which gave perfect voice to some of Mitrani's visuals.
All in all, Mitrani and de Palma's collaboration seemed a match made in heaven.
Afterward, we were invited to a champagne toast, at which de Palma was mobbed and a child was given a birthday cake. When I met her and congratulated her on the show, de Palma rasped in her wonderful way, “Wasn't it great???” and enthusiastically posed for photos.
BOY CULTURE REVIEW OF HOLLYWOOD: **** out of ****
Last night, I was thrilled to have a chance to meet Don Bachardy, 80, who met the late, great English novelist Christopher Isherwood (August 26, 1904—January 4, 1986) as a teenager and became his life partner. For 30 years, the men were together, and over time Bachardy established his own identity (no easy feat when you're perceived as the boy-toy of a genius) as a gifted portraitist.
I actually knew about Bachardy before delving into Isherwood; I bought Pagan Love Songs from Alyson or a similar publisher while in college, and was enchanted by the dreamy illustration of “Naked Poet” (and porn actor and writer and...) Gavin Geoffrey Dillard on the cover. I wrote him a fan note and we corresponded for a few years.
The illustration had been by Bachardy.
Now, Bachardy's entire oeuvre of Hollywood portraits—Kate Hepburn? Of course! Parker Stevenson? Why not? David Hedison, Teri Garr, Natalie Schafer? The more the merrier!—has been collected in the posh tome Hollywood (Glitterati Incorporated, $75). It's a stunning document of his life's work.
Bachardy was deligthful in person, immediately asking me to come see him in Santa Monica. I'm there next week, maybe I should take him up on that! Years ago, an associate of him suggested he might like to draw me nude, but I never figured out if that was a come-on from a friend or a real offer. And I could also never figure out who on earth would want to see me nude.
I was also pleased to meet his associate Richard Sassin, a former actor and charming man who told me that he and Bachardy had recently watched In the Cool of the Day (1963), which is apparently a must-see, can't-believe-how-bad-it-is Jane Fonda film in which her hair was unnaturally dark. Bachardy drew her portrait (it was on display at the signing) for it. I told Sassin that as a movie, it sounds like it made a good portrait—he agreed.
The most famous portrait of Don (L) & Chris (R). See my take on the film Chris & Don here.
I'll keep you posted on that front, but until then, check out the lovely book here.
Mean Girls bear Daniel Franzese spoofs Sam Smith.
Shirtless QB? A-OK by me!
Lucian remix of Alanis Morissette's “Forgive Me Love”.
Debbie Harry's T-shirts, in her own words.
Gayle King's “word soup”: “I'm gay.”
Wife says Stephen Collins would've blown a male son.
Tyra Banks rages against homophobic model.
Gay rabbi protocol.
Democrat Clay Aiken claims “Republaiken” support.
Check out all the then-and-now shots from the show in the above gallery!
Yet another trip to Burbank for an autograph show, but this time it was for the return of the Courts. The Courts created The Hollywood Show in 1991, then sold to the current owner, signing a non- compete clause that was in effect for a number of years. When the period was up, they decided to come back and compete in the market again. The results were mixed—they knocked down some big names (Dyan Cannon, Katherine Helmond), but they weren't able to promote the show properly (or these shows are dying even faster than genuine stars are) so it was sparsely attended.
Still, I had a good time seeing the people I came to see, finding Danny Pintauro from Who's the Boss? advertising himself as a horny vers sex maniac on Grindr and arguing over one photo op in particular as if I were Ron Galella and the subject were Jackie O. (I'm not, she's not; the title refers to this encounter.)
Here are my impressions of the stars I met...