My blog is dangerously close to 10 years old. As this realization has sunk in of late, I've thought long and hard about the variety of opportunities it has brought—and denied—me. Most interesting have been those times when I've been able to meet and sometimes interview gay people with experiences similar to and dissimilar from my own, whose stories have broadened my understanding of who I am.
Meeting Tab Hunter (and his partner Allan Glaser) recently was a bit surreal. To think that someone who at one point was the #1 heartthrob in the country at the same time he was secretly gay was now casually sprawled out before me in a swanky hotel antechamber six decades later was mind-blowing. The fact that he was navigating what it meant to be gay before most of my readers were born, and before the word “gay” was even firmly entrenched, made it extra-special.
Tab—still handsome at 84—and Allan were promoting their joint effort Tab Hunter Confidential, the entertaining and earnest new documentary directed by Jeffrey Schwarz that is in limited release.
The movie, based on Tab's tell-some bio from a few years ago, is perhaps most noteworthy for containing the candid eyewitness account of a gay man who was a major player in the studio system in Hollywood at the end of the industry's Golden Age. We've all heard about who was and who wasn't gay, but how many of those gay actor and actresses—working in the '50s and before—have gone on the record to share a bit about the experience?
It's an oral history that can't be missed, even if—like some jackasses apparently asked when Tab's career was on the skids—you can't help asking, “What's a Tab Hunter?”
The conservative Hunter does FOX News recently.
Tab is happy to tell you what a Tab Hunter is, even if he is still rather reluctant to dish the kind of dirt that we live for these days. He's not into dishing dirt; he prefers his prized horses, telling me, “I'd rather shovel the real stuff.”
Some highlights from our chat:
Why He Sat for This Documentary
Allan said, “I think I want to do a documentary on the book,” and I thought, “Oh, gosh,” because writing it in your bedroom on your computer is one thing, but sitting in front of a camera is something different. But I thought, “What the heck. This is a journey. I will share this journey with you.”
His Thoughts on Sexually Explicit Celebrity Autobiographies
I'm not interested in hearing about that. I'm concerned about the person, what that person is learning on this journey of theirs, what are their contributions to this life we're living.
I never paid attention to gossip. I never have liked it. I was taught that way. I was brought up that way. I was brought up by a very strict, religious mother. I went to Catholic school. I just think an awful lot is too in-your-face. If a person wants to be more reserved or ... less communicative, that's their choice. God gave us a wonderful thing called free will, and the most important thing under that: choice ... Make good choices.
On Today's Anti-Privacy Culture
I'm just too old-fashioned. It's very strange, because ... where's individuality? Where are the people who are educated and thinking and contributing going? What are they gonna give us as opposed to throwing it all out there? It almost seems me-me-me-me-me-me-well-this-is-what-I-wanna-do, and I don't believe life should be like that. I think life should be more sharing, and more loving.
Why the Relatively Secretive Days of Hedda and Louella Were Preferable
There was a wonderful thing about not laying it all out on the table. Which is respectful. And I don't think people always respect one another. The mystique, the mystique was fascinating. It was fascinating! I love that.
Being Well-Adjusted in Spite of Fame
I don't wanna be tortured—God knows! Whatever life deals out to you, you better learn to handle it. That's all the bullshit. I had an upbringing that was strict. There's too many people who buy into the garbage.
People want too much. Our wants are gonna make us fat—mentally, physically and, number one, spiritually. So don't want.
Comparing His Documentary to the Famous Marlene Dietrich Documentary
Oh, I looooved that! I wanted Tuesday Weld to be in our documentary because I love Tuesday. So I said, “Tuesday”—and Tuesday’s gotten quite large—so I said, “Tuesday, I want you to be in the documentary.” She says, “Oh, I couldn’t do it, Tab, I couldn’t do it—I don’t want anybody to see me, how I look,” so I said, “Tuesday, like in the Dietrich documentary, we will slip your food like a doughnut under the door to you and then we can just hear your voice and show a still of you,” and she said [makes F. U. gesture, laughs].
On Whether His Movie Is Gay
Everybody wants to label the gay, but it's labels, and people are always labeling people—you're this, she's that, he's this. You're a human being.
His Gayest Unintentionally Gay Film
Gunman's Walk (1958)
His Feelings Toward the Press That Once Outed Him
The media I've never had much respect for. I never liked them. [To me] You're different. [Laughs]
Listen to the full interview here: Download WS600038.