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May 27 2024
Cher, Carol Burnett, P!nk & RuPaul Celebrate Bob Mackie Comments (0)

Screenshot 2024-05-27 at 12.48.58 AM(All images & videos by Matthew Rettenmund)

Two weeks ago today, I went to L.A to attend a once-in-a-lifetime Q&A featuring Cher, Carol Burnett, RuPaul and surprise guest P!nk, along with man of the hour Bob Mackie.

Marilyn-maye-boyculture-gay-cherWith Ms. Maye, Ms. Mills & Mr. Scarpelli

The Q&A followed a screening of the new doc Bob Mackie: Naked Illusion from director Matthew Miele, held at the DGA.

All the Best Bits from the Q&A:

I got there early, and yet there were lines down the block. I spotted Bianca Del Rio in the members line, and saw so many people I know. I had paid to be guaranteed seating in the first 6 rows, and when I got in, I found it already pretty tight. An event coordinator was Cannes security guarding me into a meh seat, but my FB friend Michael Benton and his partner saved me, offering me a seat dead center 4 rows back.

The film was quite good. It's made by a straight man about a gay man who has never led with that aspect of himself, even if his creations were and are among the most flamboyant in movie and TV and concert history, and it feels like that. I did appreciate hearing of the love of Mackie's life, his mentor Ray Aghayan (1928-2011), but the film was more focused on Bob's complicated early marriage to a woman and the loss of their beloved son Robin, who died in 1993 of AIDS after struggling with intravenous drug addiction.

I felt like the film was almost a dual biographical portrait of Cher and Bob Mackie, as it lingers lovingly on their intimate personal and professional bond, almost to the exclusion of his work with Carol Burnett.

However, Naked Illusion does also map how Mackie's genius has shaped the culture in the form of his work with everyone from Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe to Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Madonna and, quite recently, P!nk and Miley Cyrus. 

Through it all, Mackie comes off as humble to a fault, a creative workhorse and a no-nonsense artist, one whose offhand remark while crafting a garment — “What's so wrong about doing things right?” — accidentally reveals his credo.

It is a can't-miss film if you're interested in fashion and Hollywood history, Mackie's legacy on tap.

After, the Q&A — hosted by Dave Karger, a celeb in his own right — was interesting. Bob was sweet and seemed vaguely embarrassed to be receiving so much praise, RuPaul seemed kind of remote, P!nk was raunchy (Carol blanched a bit at the mention of “poon stones”), Carol was telling all her best stories and Cher — well, I've never seen her be so effusively, gushingly warm and nostalgic.

At one point (see video), Cher impulsively hugged Bob and exclaimed, “I just love you!”

And so do we.

Right after, I was able to snag Donna Mills for an admittedly horrible selfie. Her friend truly did me wrong on this! But she was super sweet while teaching all the people half her age how to turn their fucking flashes on. It was a thrill to meet her.

I missed Vicki Lawrence (who was there for moral support, but not called to the stage), but have met her in the past.

I did bump into Marilyn Maye, which tickled me. I asked for a photo and she asked me first if I even knew who she was. I told her and referenced her recent birthday performances at 54 Below, which surprised her. I was shocked she had flown in specifically for this event, but she said she only wears Mackie onstage. A woman came up to her and mentioned feeling old and Maye asked, “How old are you?” The reply: “79.” Maye said,“ I'm 96,” to which her inquisitor exclaimed, “You look better than I do!” (Which was the point of the exchange, wink-wink.) Such a thrill to meet her.

Outside, I said hello to Glenn Scarpelli of One Day at a Time fame. He remembered me from Facebook and was kindly flirtatious, a real sweetheart.

The whole night was a great memory; I'm only sorry it took me two weeks to jot down a few words about it.