Above, a gallery of proof that Tab Hunter is a hot, hot piece!
A few weeks back, my buddy John invited me to see Tab Hunter at a screening of the Jeffrey Schwarz-directed documentary on his life, Tab Hunter Confidential. I'd already been trying to get tickets to no avail (the Film Forum Web site was touting the movie, but not allowing a ticket to be bought), so was happy when he snagged us seats. (If you're a jealous Long Islander, see Tab tonight at the Cinema Arts Centre!)
I, of course, always forget I am a media outlet and buy tickets to stuff like this. In fast, last week, I was invited to interview Hunter and his longtime partner and business partner Allan Glaser (I'll post that this week), so it seems I could've had a free ticket.
Tab Hunter and Allan Glaser at the October 12, 2015, screening of Tab Hunter Confidential in NYC
However, I do like paying for things that need the money, and small documentaries need the money; I want more of them to be made, especially the ones made by Schwarz, who has fulfilled many a gay fantasy by giving us in-depth looks at Jack Wrangler, Vito Russo, Divine and—next!—Allan Carr.
Look at the range of men among Schwarz's subjects: a gay (for pay?) pornstar, a firebrand activist, a pioneering drag queen and, in Hunter, an obsessively private teen heartthrob with a gigantic secret. This is a filmmaker I am happy to support.
The screening was a blast.
John's hubby Sheldon had actually been a fan of Tab's back in the day—rank amateurs such as myself first became aware of him once he had what've-I-got-to-lost himself in the John Waters masterpiece Polyester (1981), and then worked our way backward—and had seen Tab on Broadway in the ill-fated production of Tennessee Williams's The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, in which the blond heartthrob had starred with Tallulah Bankhead. That only ran three performances, so you can imagine how many people on earth can claim to have caught one.
The place was packed with people like Sheldon who had a legit interest in Tab, and in showbiz. For example, I sat next to a charming man who barely hinted at his résumé, which I later discovered included directing 100+ TV shows ... even one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes. He said he knew Tab in passing but knew Tony Perkins—one of Tab's loves—“better.” I'm looking forward to lunch with this guy!
I do hope the director is a bit more gossipy than Tab is. Though he has become far more open with the 2006 publication of his memoir Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star (Algonquin Books) with writer Eddie Muller, and now with this film, Tab is old-school—he doesn't enjoy dishing the dirt. That's both an admirable and a frustrating trait.
The film itself is a solid work that at times feels like a sunny recitation of Tab's good qualities—he is sincere, he is hard-working, he seems never to have let fame go to his head (think of him as a saner, better-looking Bieber), he is loyal, he is beautiful. Because Hunter and Glaser (who produced the film, and who produced Hunter's flicks Lust in the Dust in 1985 and Dark Horse in 1992) had such control over this project, it was always going to have a distinctly “authorized” quality.
Dietrich (L) and Riefenstahl (R) making an Anna May Wong sandwich in '28.
New book explores good and evil via the parallel existences of German powerhouses Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. Dietrich, of course, opposed and despised and worked against Hitler; Riefenstahl opportunistically embraced him. This sounds like a must-read.