"From the moment you see him, it is clear that Gierszal was born to be on the big screen. Revealing a kaleidoscope of emotions, his ability to draw you into a story is unparalleled. He is touching, believable, sensitive—a pure and unique talent."—Shooting Stars 2012 on @SUICIDEROOM star Jakub Gierszal
11 posts categorized "JAMES DEAN"
UPDATE: Dakota himself has been in touch with me! Through our correspondence, I have become convinced of something: He can SPELL. The first edition of his book had some crazy errors, but he's definitely working on fixing them. Also, and as importantly, he clarifies for me that James Dean was not a love-obsession, but a fan-obsession. His type was more John Derek and Tab Hunter.
I hate myself that I didn't write about this book when I first read it so it'd be fresh, but for some reason, I set it aside, unable or unwilling to really address how I felt about it—The Gossip Columnist by Bill Dakota (pictured) is a completely gonzo account of what it means to be a fan and a fag, or at least what it meant in the '50s and '60s. I could not put this sucker down.
A perfect quote to summarize what you should expect arrives in the preface, which was written by Dakota in the third person:
"Bill Dakota was born in Flint, Michigan. He claims to have been gay all of his life but never came out until in his late teens."
Dakota worked at the Butterfield Theaters in Michigan but moved to Hollywood the first chance he got basically to find out everything he could about his #1 fave James Dean (who had died by then). He worked as a "secretary" for (the original) Nick Adams, who'd been a Dean confidante. The stories he tells about running with crowds who'd run with Dean (including Vampira) are like wish fulfillment for starfuckers everywhere, and make it sound like it was so easy in those days, before people became hidden behind a publicity paywall and before the word "stalker" was invented. Sample here.
Dakota was best known as the take-prisoners-and-pull-their-pants-down editor of Hollywood Star, which gleefully outed anyone and everyone. But like TMZ, as merciless as he could be, he never ran anything he knew or thought to be untrue. The paper's "150 Bi-Sexual Male Stars" story is remembed by Dakota as being "a long list but missed a few too!" It's reprinted in the book in its entirety, and Dakota says he did it so:
I thoroughly enjoyed viewing this newly-released video from GLAAD of Dame Elizabeth Taylor accepting her Vanguard Award in 2000. Kristen Chenoweth (not a dame...yet!) will accept the same award in L.A. on April 10. ET says she was "tickled pink" to be receiving her first award from a gay organization. She also says:
"All of my life I've spent a lot of time with gay men—Montgomery Clift, Jimmy Dean, Rock Hudson—who were my colleagues, co-workers, confidantes, my closest friends, but I never thought of whom they slept with, they were just the people I loved. I could never understand why they couldn't be afforded the same rights and protections as all of the rest of us. There is no gay agenda—it's a human agenda."
I'm still not over it. Video after the jump...
Elizabeth Taylor revealed to interviewer Kevin Sessums a (sad) secret about James Dean that she made him promise to keep until her death. She's being buried today (to beat out the Westboro creeps? more likely just "tradition"), so Sessums is spilling to the Daily Beast:
"I loved Jimmy. I'm going to tell you something, but it's off the record until I die. OK? When Jimmy was 11 and his mother passed away, he began to be molested by his minister. I think that haunted him the rest of his life. In fact, I know it did. We talked about it a lot. During Giant we'd stay up nights and talk and talk, and that was one of the things he confessed to me."
I own dozens of biographies; they're my favorite kind of book to read, and increasingly, due to the decreasing amount of time on my hands, they're becoming the dominant type that I actually get through.
The best biographies are the ones on subjects about whom I thought I knew everything, but about whom I learn something new on virtually every page.
I recently found a bio that I enjoyed in this way—Sal Mineo: A Biography (Crown, $25.99) by Michael Gregg Michaud, about the late actor and one-time teen heartthrob Sal Mineo. Mineo rose to fame as the tragic Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, briefly became a singing idol, had uneven success as a dramatic actor and was brutally stabbed to death 35 years ago today during a botched robbery while he was in the middle of a potential professional comeback.
Mineo is now something of a gay icon; he never came out (he died in 1976), but his homosexuality was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood and common knowledge among at least some of his fans.
One thing I found so compelling about Sal Mineo: A Biography was Michaud's unsensational approach, which is hard to do while at the same time confirming Mineo, who was close pals with David Cassidy, fucked Bobby Sherman.
Despite these tidbits and despite Mineo's sexual kinks (he apparently harbored a fetish for briefs and seemed to be especially attracted to barely legal/barely illegal types), his life is recounted in a firmly matter-of-fact way that starts out feeling a bit cut-and-paste in its rigorous detail but that quickly becomes diaristic. Is it possible to write someone else's diary for him? Because I felt every aspect of Mineo's life had been explored and recorded, presenting a full picture of a thoughtful, iconoclastic, troubled, loving man bursting with creativity and ambition.
In his pursuit of the whole story on Mineo, Michaud spent years persuading the late icon's two most important intimates—actors Jill Haworth (left, who created the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway and who died of natural causes last month unexpectedly) and Courtney Burr. Thanks to winning their trust, Mineo's life is captured with the help of his most important male and female lovers, and not with the breathless adulation of a fan or the judgmental cynicism of a skeptic. In that regard, it's a "bi"-ography unparalleled by any others I've read.
Mineo daringly posed fully nude in the early '60s for Harold Stevenson's The New Adam
The book is also a fascinating look at a gay man's mid-life reassessment of his purpose, and a heart-breaking reminder to leave nothing undone and to regret nothing one's done.
I reached out to the author with some questions and he kindly found the time to reply. Keep reading for the full Q&A...
I love finding out when someone I've shot for "Guydar" has been recognized. The extremely handsome guy above turns out to be Dan Glenn, a model and actor who's starring in that new gay-James Dean movie that's burning up the blogs lately, Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean. Trailer: