I love him for his ire & for his wit. I think he is a true American Hero. For the 1st time in 40 years, Barney Frank yields real power now & he is wielding it in a characteristically idiosyncratic manner. He remains a national symbol of outré sexuality as well as a rare wit in humor deficient Washington.
Barney Frank on being harassed by Tea Party members: ''More than one. My partner, Jim, & I were walking from… it was a nice day! We walked from one House office building to another. There was a great deal of shouting, you know, waving of fists & signs, & sort of people getting very close & yelling. & a number of the comments were homophobic... really, sadness. As Jim said, we're adults… I haven't really got a lot of respect for these people, to be honest. So, who cares what they say to me? But you do have to think about it. I'm serious about this, this bullying in junior & high school. It's a big problem. What occurs to me is, there are kids all over the country watching this, not as a game but as real life. Watching so-called respectable politicians cheering them on, & that was just discouraging, that at this point in our history, we couldn't have a rational debate with these kind of thug tactics that were being used.''
On coming out to himself, Frank says he realized he was gay when he was 13 years old: "I was aware when I was 11 and 12 that my sexual feelings were different than the other guys'. But I thought I was just a little slow to get those feelings. & then it just hit me like a thunderbolt one day. It was terrifying and emotionally very devastating."
Frank attended Harvard, & graduated in 1962. he then taught undergraduates while pursuing a Ph.D. He left in 1968 before completing the degree in order to work as Boston Mayor Kevin White's chief assistant. In 1972, Frank won a seat in the State Legislature. The following year, he introduced the state's first two gay rights bills.
In 1980, Pope John Paul II ordered all Roman Catholic priests to withdraw from electoral politics. Father Robert Drinan, who represented the Fourth Congressional District in Massachusetts, complied. More than a dozen local politicians eyed the seat. Frank narrowly won the election. His slogan was "Neatness Isn't Everything," a reference to his rumpled wardrobe.
In 1987, Frank became the first congressman to voluntarily announce his homosexuality publicly.
In 1989, Frank found himself in a major scandal. Four years earlier, Frank had engaged the services of a male escort named Stephen Gobie. Frank later hired Gobie as a driver despite knowing that he was on probation. Frank also used his House privileges to waive Gobie's parking tickets. When Frank discovered that Gobie was running a prostitution service out of his Capitol Hill apartment, he fired him. Gobie responded by telling his story to the news media. Attempts to expel or censure Frank, led by members of the House Ethics Committee who included Rep. Larry Craig, failed. Frank initially decided not to seek reelection in 1990; however, he changed his mind & would win with 66 percent of the vote. He won reelection in 2008 with 70% f the vote.
Frank resides in a studio apartment in Newton, Massachusetts. His partner, Jim Ready, is a surfing enthusiast whom Frank met during a gay political fundraiser in Maine, where Ready still lives.
I havealways admired actors who play doctors on TV shows. They are required to create an engaging character while spewing medical jargon. George Clooney claimed that on ER, he would learn entire paragraphs phonetically & wouldn't actually know what his character was talking about. Mr. Clooney, great & charismatic leading man that he is, seems to not be a method actor intent on doing his “homework”. I say good for him.
I learned some new terms today, including this whopper- "MASSIVE DEEP VENOUS THROMBOSIS: a large blood clot in a major vein. Small pieces of the blood clot can break off & travel to the lungs, causing breathing problems, or to the heart, causing arrhythmia." Sweet!
It started several weeks ago, with Ryan Reynolds finding a thumb size lump on the back of my left calf, while he was taking my pants off; although it is difficult to remember the details through my Vicodin haze.
On Saturday morning I had trouble negotiating the 2 block walk from the MAX train stop to my job. By Sunday I was in profound pain (7.5 out of 10 on the Steve Scream & Whimper Scale). Monday morning, I was no longer capable of walking & I finally went to a physician. She ordered an MRI & an ultrasound, both scheduled for later in the week. I couldn’t make it. This morning the pain was even more intense & my left leg was twice the size of normal, & the Husband whisks me off to the ER. He dropped me off & went off to do some important errands as I worked my way through the labyrinth of paper work, medical history & insurance questions... when does this new Socialized Medicine thing kick in?
Dr. Vincent Torres, late 20s, short, handsome, Latin...a dreamboat, gave me the diagnosis & the bad news about the treatment: “I am immediately putting you on blood thinners to stop the clotting. You will need to give yourselfan injection in your stomach for the next 10 days, but Colleen (who drew my blood earlier) says this might be a bit of a problem for you."
I was equal parts frightened & dumbstruck. I have lived into my mid-50s with a lifelong profound phobia of syringes & hypodermic needles. I can watch someone get their head cut off by a chainsaw in a film & not flinch, but I can not be in the same room with a needle/syringe & not pass out. It always embarrassed my mother, who is a medical professional. It has embarrassed the Husband who has been witness to this horror, having once been summoned from the waiting room by a doctor after I slid off a gurney & into an unconscious puddle of neurosis on the hallway floor of a clinic, after receiving a flu shot. I even embarrassed myself when the vet sat a syringe on the counter & then left the room while my dog was getting vaccinated. The animal doc returned to the small room to find a Jack Russell licking an unconscious daddy who had caught a glance of the offending needle.
Dr. Torres, he of the flashing dark brown eyes, suggested a 1 week hospital stay when I explained that giving myself an injection was not a possibility. I answered that I found it doubtful that my insurance would pay for time in the hospital, especially when we would have to factor in the private room, morphine drip &, movies on demand, & the pizza deliveries. The doctor asked if there was anyone in my life that could possibly do the twice daily shots, & I thought- “hmmm, isn't that what husbands are for?”
Me: “He should be in the ER waiting room, Dr. Yummy. He is my Husband & he would be the tall, thin one with silver hair… & he is handsome." 3 minutes later the good doctor returns with the Husband, although I would have settled for anyone with that description. The Husband was given my diagnosis by Dr. Torres, although I suspected that he was making note the young physician’s tight little body in his scrubs.
We were made to watch a video on the drug & how to give the injections. My head started spinning during the 3rd minute of the gruesome video. We were finally sent home with a pile of discharge papers with language that would flummox even the Cary Grant of our era- Mr. George Clooney.
Just as many botanical names now trip me up, I am going to use the common name, & admit to suffering from a large blood clot in my left leg. A week + of hanging out & eating pain killers might seem like just my sort of time off… but I am not happy & I am just a little scared. The Husband seems just a little too gleeful about giving me those 2 shots a day.
1. I sent an email to the husband dripping with irony. This message was interpreted very badly & was replied to with incredible frustration by the Husband. This makes me feel guilty & sad.
2. I have a lump on the back of my left calf the size a thumb. Not only does it hurt to walk, but I am experiencing numbing pain almost constantly. This makes me worry.
3. I can’t get in to see my physician until May 6th. The closest Urgent Care clinics covered by my insurance are in another state or another county, with a deductible of $125, which when you are broke is as big an “ouch” as the leg. This makes me feel helpless.
4. While giving my canine- Larry a massage this morning, I found him to be riddled with lumps & fatty tumors. Like all my dogs, Larry is a rescue animal & we don’t really know his true age; he is very possible 14/15 years old. Under the new austerity program, we can’t really do a lot for him. This makes me impossibly sad.
5. Yesterday was 65 & sunny & full of hope. Today is cold & rainy & I feel like I am holding on by a thread. This makes me feel blue.
6. Sunday is usually a day off for me. I am working 10 hours. This makes me feel grouchy.
7. After 9 years with my company, I had my first disagreement & tough words with my boss on Wednesday. This makes me feel queasy.
8. I have lost my appetite of late. I can only eat the smallest amounts of food before feeling that food is yucky. This makes me happy, but concerned.
9. I feel I will run out of ideas for posts on Post Apocalyptic Bohemian. This freaks me out.
10. My friend & fellow blogger-mrpennee has received news that his spouse- R Man has a tumor on his lung. This makes me feel helpless to cheer him up, especially when I am being such a downer on this rainy Sunday.
Some standards meant to cheer a guy up, hey… it wasn’t called the great depression for nothin’: Happy Days Are Here Again Looking on the Bright Side Lucky Day Sunshine Best Things in Life Are Free My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now Spread a Little Happiness Singin' in the Rain Painting the Clouds With Sunshine Keep Your Sunny Side Up On the Sunny Side of the Street Happy Feet Sunny Days Smile, Darn Ya, Smile Today I Feel So Happy Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries Clouds Will Soon Roll By, Letting in the Sunshine There's a New Day Coming When You've Got a Little Springtime in Your Heart Pennies from Heaven Things Are Looking Up With a Smile and a Song Look for the Silver Lining
Freddie Mercury & Madonna had a love child & they named her Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She spent summers with her Aunties- David Bowie & Elton John & the Holidays with her Grandma Cher. She attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, & New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied the fine art of media buzz, how to give gay men something to talk about & how to produce hard to resist dance music. She took her moniker from the Queen song- Radio Gaga. She is the 1st great Dadist of the 21st century... She is Gaga & she is Dada. Not everyone on my circle agrees with me, but I think she is super talented; I find that it is quite fine for a musical artist to be a great showman & entertainer. I am after all, a Liberace fan! Lady Gaga turns an astonishing 24 years old today.
"The turning point for me was the gay community. I've got so many gay fans & they're so loyal to me & they really lifted me up. They'll always stand by me & I'll always stand by them. It's not an easy thing to create a fanbase… I love you so much. You were my first heartbeat, & your support & brilliance means the world to me. I will always fight with the gay community hand in hand”
I rarely mention my job on Post Apocalyptic Bohemian. I am the store director for a Portland institution- a deluxe gourmet food-to-go emporium, now in its 31st year. I do the hiring, training, & maintaining of a staff of fifteen 20-30 year olds, & I buy the candy & wine. I love my work, but on occasion, it becomes “the job that ate my life”.
Even while working 25 hours during the 2 weekend days, I was still able to thoroughly enjoy a visit from my friend MGC.
MGC & I have been friends for 36+ years. We attended college together, & with no planning (& not because of each other), we have lived in 3 different cities together at the same time. In all that time, including living together at one point, & despite having once been in love with the same man at the same time, MGC & I have never had a fight, disagreement or intrigue. We will go a while, even a couple of years, without communicating, but we always come back to each other. He is handsome, lovely of disposition, a bit reticent around other people, keen, spiritual, & possesses extraordinarily beautiful penmanship & housekeeping skills. He has a great sense of adventure while also being a man of restraint & moderation. In many ways… he is my opposite. Is that why we stay friends? Does a modest man need a hedonist for some balance?
MGC had met a member of the Portland band- Sneakin’ Out at a social function in Seattle & wanted to see them perform. This outrageously talented musical outfit often plays at a venue in walking distance of Post Apocalyptic Bohemia. The Husband & I have seen them perform, including an amazing gig opening for k.d. lang, playing Rhapsody In Blue with Thomas Lauderdale (of Pink Martini) on piano, & the band playing the orchestra’s part on mandolin, bass & wood blocks, typewriter, children’s xylophone & assorted other objects. Sneakin’ Out combines astounding musicianship paired with a really nutty sense of humor. Among the cover versions at Friday night’s show were the Green Hornet Theme & Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb. They seem to specialize in Beatle covers, including doing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely HeartsClub Band in its entirety. I have always really dig their lush sound, but now I am determined to become a groupie, & not just because they are so sexy.
Junior looking for his Daddy to come home. Photo by MGC
This morning, MGC sent me this photo from his Iphone, a device that MGC seems to think is of more use & more fun than a boyfriend. He loved showing it off, & I have to admit to having a bit of a crush on it myself. The Iphone can identify music playing in public place, give real time MAX train arrivals, scan bar codes for consumer info, cruise the internet, link to email accounts, take photos & videos, & fart. The only “ap” it seems to be missing is kissing & oral sex.
Gloria Josephine May Swanson made her film debut was in 1915, as an extra in The Fable of Elvira &Farina & the Meal Ticket. Her last acting role was in the television horror film- Killer Bees (1974,) although she also appeared as herself in the groundbreaking film- Airport 1975; in between Gloria Swanson signed with Cecil B. DeMille in 1919, & he turned her into a romantic lead. In 1922, she was paired with Rudolph Valentino in Beyond the Rocks. Swanson's 1929 film Queen Kelly, was directed by Erich von Stroheim & produced by her lover Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the father of President John F. Kennedy.
When Swanson starred in the 1950 film- Sunset Boulevard, it is scenes of Queen Kelly that her character, Norma Desmond, is watching & von Stroheim plays her butler in the Billy Wilder classic. Her performance is astounding.
This photo of Gloria Swanson standing in the rubble of the newly demolished Roxy Theatre in NYC is the seed of the idea & the inspiration of Stephen Sondheim's 1971 musical- Follies.
Sarah Vaughan possessed a glorious alto voice that was so heavenly that she became known as The Divine One.
She was a Grammy winner The National Endowment for the Arts presented her the highest honor in jazz, the NEA Jazz Masters Award. Sarah sang & recorded from 1942 until her diagnosis of lung cancer in 1989.
My first professional role was as Motel the tailor in Fiddler on The Roof, in one of the very first non-Broadway/non-touring company productions of this warhorse. Austin Pendleton was the first performer to play the part, in which he had one of the play's best non-Tevye songs- Miracle of Miracles. We both received strong reviews for our work, but I had no idea at the time, in a few years our paths would cross.
He is one of those great working character actors that audiences know, but don’t seem to recall the name. He has hundreds of theatre credits all over the USA, as an actor, director & playwright. Just recently Pendleton appeared in Brecht's Mother Courage & Her Children with Meryl Streep & Kevin Kline, & in Romeo & Juliet, both produced by The Public Theatre at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. In 2009 Pendleton directed Uncle Vanya (a role he himself played to great acclaim) at the Classic Stage Company starring Maggie Gyllenhall & Peter Saarsgard. Also last year Pendleton starred in the Off-Broadway production of Love Drunk, & in the summer of 2009, he appeared as Herbie in Wyoming Performing Arts Institute’s production of Gypsy. Pendleton then went on to direct Tennessee Williams' autobiographical play Vieux Carré at The Pearl Theatre Company off-Broadway. In January & February 2010, Pendleton directed 2 plays: Bus Stop at The Olney Theatre & Golden Age at The Philadelphia Theatre Company. In April 2010, Pendleton will appear off-Broadway in the romantic comedy of Limonade Tous Les Jours by Charles Mee. he is a long time member of the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble. Pendelton is always working; what more could an actor wish for?
Hollywood has been less generous to Pendleton. He was cast in a small role in Skidoo (1968), often considered one of the worst film of all time, & a low point in the careers of most of its participants: Jackie Gleason, Groucho Marx, Carol Channing, & Otto Preminger. I first noticed Austin Pendelton for his hilarious & original turn in one of my favorite films- What's Up, Doc? (1972). In The Front Page (1974) he was very strong as a condemned killer plagued by a bad head cold on the eve of his execution. I loved him in HBO's Oz as the mentally unstable murderer William Giles, & he was the voice of Gurgle in Finding Nemo.
In the mid 1970s, he was my acting teacher at HB Studios in NYC. He was the best theatre teacher I have ever had, & I there are many people that I have known & worked with through the years that would have to admit that I could have used some strong acting instruction at times. His advice & guidance were always kind, gentle & on the mark. I don’t know anything of his private life; I very much doubt he is gay, although he has been associated with may productions with gay themes. He turns 70 today.
In my fairly large collection of favorite gay writers, there is my holy trio: Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, & TennesseeWilliams. Today marks the 99th birthday of Mr. Williams. I wish he could be here today to celebrate at Post Apocalyptic Bohemia. He would have liked it; I am a big ol’ enabler.
Tennessee Williams was passionate, brilliant & prolific, breathing life into characters like Blanche DuBois & Stanley Kowalski in the American classic- A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE,. & like his best characters, he was troubled & self-destructive, an abuser of alcohol & drugs. He won 4 Drama Critic Circle Awards, a Tony, 2 Pulitzer Prizes, & the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was derided by the critics & blacklisted by the Roman Catholic Church, condemning his work as “revolting, deplorable, morally repellent, & offensive to Christian standards of decency”.
Thomas Lanier Williams was born in Columbus, Mississippi in 1911, the son of a shoe company executive & a Southern belle. Williams described his childhood in Mississippi as happy & carefree. His sense of belonging & comfort were lost when his family moved to the urban environment of St. Louis, Missouri. It was there he began to look inward, & he began to write “because I found life unsatisfactory.” Williams attended 3 different universities, & briefly worked at his father’s shoe company. He moved to New Orleans, which began his lifelong love of the city.
His first critical acclaim came in 1944 when THE GLASS MENAGERIE opened in Chicago & moved to Broadway. It won a Pulitzer Prize, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. The film version won the New York Film Critics’ Circle Award. At the height of his career in the late 1940s & 1950s, Williams worked with the great artists of the time, including Elia Kazan, the director for stage & screen productions of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, & the stage productions of CAMINO REAL, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, & SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH. Kazan also directed Williams’ shocking screenplay BABY DOLL.
In 1961, his longtime lover-Frank Merlo died of cancer. Merlo's death left Williams with a deep depression that lasted more than decade. He bacame quite insecure about his work, which was sometimes of inconsistent quality .Williams began to depend on alcohol & drugs & though he continued to write, completing a book of short stories & another play, he had begun a downward spiral.
In the 1970s, Williams wrote plays, a memoir, poems, short stories & a novel. In 1975 he published MEMOIRS, which detailed his life & discussed his addiction to drugs & alcohol, & his homosexuality. In the winter of 1983 Tennessee Williams died in a New York City hotel room filled with bottles of booze & pills. It was in this sort of desperation that Williams would so honestly write about & show his genius.
I find his 25 full length plays to often be melodramatic & overwrought, & yet hauntingly lonely, lyrical, powerful, & hypnotic. I started reading him in my early 20s & he continues to fascinate.
"I think Jesus was a compassionate, super intelligent gay man who understood human problems. On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving & forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East ... you're as good as dead."
A man who changes his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight to Elton Hercules John cannot be anything but gay, & Elton John with the flamboyant eye glasses, extreme shopping habits (he & husband- David’s household expenses are said to be more than 2 million dollars a month) & multiple platinum record sales, is certainly out & proud gay.
Reginald Kenneth Dwight knew the road he was to travel travel early in his life, winning a scholarship to Royal Academy of Music at 11years old. Until he started working with lyricist Bernie Taupin, with whom he had the biggest hits of his career, Elton had many jobs: he ran errands for a London publishing house, played piano in a hotel, he played backup for Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells & recorded cover versions of pop songs to be sold in supermarkets..
His first album was released in 1969, & between 1972 & 1976 there was no stopping Bernie & Elton. The year after he co-wrote John Lennon's comeback single, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, Elton's Captain Fantastic album became the 1st LP to go straight to #1 in the USA. Although his career took a dip at the end of the 1970s, MTV helped send the singles from his 1983 album Too Low For Zero back to the top of the charts. Sir Elton has sold more than 250 million records in a career that just entered its 5th decade. His single Candle in the Wind 1997, which he sang at Princess Diana’s funeral, is the best selling single of all time. He has had more than 50 Top 40 hits. Sir Elton has won 5 Grammy awards, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, & a Tony Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
Because of his admitted bisexuality (he later admitted that it was a compromise, because he was afraid to admit he was gay), Elton lost many of his fans. In 1984, with much turmoil in his personal life (bulimia, cocaine addiction & alcoholism) Elton married German sound engineer Renate Blauel, but the union was short & the couple divorced in 1988. Elton later admitted that he knew he was gay before he tied the marriage. Now in the 21st century, Elton has been in a stable relationship for more than 17 years with filmmaker David Furnish. They married in December 2005. Elton: "Every Saturday for 16 years, we've sent each other a card, no matter where we are in the world, to say how much we love each other. We've never been jealous. We talk about the sexual side of things, things that normally would have frightened me before."
He raises millions of dollars every year with his charity- the Elton John AIDS Foundation, hosting an annual ball at his Windsor mansion that is attended by the great, the good, and the terminally glamorous. He continues to be a champion for LGBT rights.
My favorite Elton John song is Friends (1970) from the film about yong love of the same name. I was 16 when it was released, & it remains a favorite.
I hope the day will be a lighter highway
For friends are found on every road Can you ever think of any better way For the lost & weary travellers to go
Making friends for the world to see
Let the people know you got what you need With a friend at hand you will see the light if your friends are there then everything's all right It seems to me a crime that we should age These fragile times should never slip us by A time you never can or shall erase As friends together watch their childhood fly
I am old enough that when I first grappled with coming out, I had an inner dialogue that went something like- “at least you are relieved from the obligation of having to get married, sire children, or serve in the military'. This was important in 1968, at the apex of the war in Viet Nam. I had no intention of serving in combat in Southeast Asia. I was working the angle of possibly joining the Coast Guard with the idea of serving in the chorus or orchestra. It then occurred to me to just come out as a homo & get rid of 2 big problems in one giant, brave action. As it happened, I was very lucky to have my draft number be 311. Now in the 21st century, gay people fight for their right to serve in the military, get married & have families.
Most of us have some degree of control over how & when we come out as gay, not Grethe Cammermeyer. In 1987, Norwegian-born Grethe Cammermeyer: Vietnam veteran, divorced mother of 4, a colonel & the head nurse in the Washington National Guard, fell in love with Diane Divelbess, a Mormon-born artist. In 1989, Cammermeyer had applied to the War College & was in the middle of an interview for top-secret clearance when she had to decide between making the truthful statement that she was a lesbian or denying that truth & advancing toward her dream of promotion to general. Her integrity won her a court martial & eventual separation from the military she had dedicated her life to (her many honors included the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in Vietnam).
The resulting investigation went slowly, even as the debate over gays in the military heated up. Cammermeyer, discharged in 1992, sued & won. In a bombshell decision, a federal judge in Seattle declared her discharge & the ban on gays unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the ban, but Cammermeyer served out her military career. She retired to the home she & Divelbess built on Whidbey Island in 1997 & found a new career in activism &. politics. She wrote her autobiography- Serving in Silence, which was the basis for the Barbra Streisand produced film of the same name, starring Glenn Close & Judy Davis. The film won 3 Emmys.
Grethe turns 68 today & she continues to speak out on DADT, as the issue has never been more in the forefront of the news media.
The Husband & I have a lovely J.C. Leyendecker coffee table book that has provided a great deal of viewing enjoyment. We had a framed print of one his advertisements for Ivory Soap. This print portrays an improbably handsome jazz age man preparing for his bath (the picture is now in my friend Jake’s handsome & masculine bathroom). This piece is virile & All-American, & yet homoerotic & stirring. Leyendecker was the most famous American illustrators during the first half of the 20th century, the Golden Age of American commercial illustration.
A copy is now on display in Jake's bathroom
Leyendecker was responsible over 400 covers for leading magazines of the era, including The Saturday Evening Post. He created powerful advertising images like the Arrow Collar Man, an icon of masculinity, & the first male sex symbol & the first male advertising star. Ironic… Leyendecker was a homosexual & the model for the Arrow Collar Man was his lover. Leyendecker was drawn to depicting men in locker rooms, clubhouses, & workshops, extraordinarily handsome young men exchanging inexplicable glances. Few images are more overtly homoerotic than advertisements for Gillette in which scantily clad men teach each other how to use disposable razors.
Joe Leyendecker was born in Germany in 1874; his parents immigrated to America when he was very young. He grew up in Chicago. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago & spent several months in Paris in the 1890s with his younger brother Frank, also gay & also an artist. The brothers eventually moved to New York as they started to get more commissions.
In 1903, a striking young man appeared at their Greenwich Village studio.. His name was Charles A. Beach. Frank immediately hired him in Joe's absence. When Joe returned, Frank graciously allowed his brother the use of his model. Joe & Charles Beach were inseparable, both personally & professionally, for the next 48 years. Joe was 29 & Charles was 17 years old.
In 1914, the Leyendeckers brothers, & Beach, moved into a large home that served as their art studio in New Rochelle, New York, where they would reside for the rest of their lives. They hosted large parties attended by notables from all walks of life including F. Scott & Zelda. Frank died in 1924 of drug addiction. In the 1930s Leyendecker’s commissions began to dry up. Norman Rockwell, who was obsessed with Leyendecker & was very much influenced by him, supplanted him as the best-known illustrator in America.
Leyendecker, who was always very shy, would spend the last years of his life secluded in the house he had built in New Rochelle. He died in 1951. Charles Beach destroyed all of Leyendecker’s papers & unseen works on his death. Beach died a few weeks later.
I have enjoyed her considerable talents & glamour in Grand Hotel, Mildred Pierce, & The Women. I also snickered at the camp value of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane, Johnny Guitar & Straight-Jacket. But, I would later come to appreciate Joan Crawford as a complex, enigmatic, contradictory product of a certain era & her own difficult life, but just as she devoted herself to her fans, she doubtless inspired the downtrodden in the audience to want more out of life & go out & get it. She relied on men as her pathway into a man's world. Crawford was often required to suffer for her ambition but she was living in an age when she was actually allowed & expected to carry & dominate a film. She was up to the task.
Joan Crawford was a powerful, beautiful, & creative force; an underdog who embraced good taste, glamour, & fantasy. She addressed & defied the class-conscious & patriarchal, studio system that sought to marginalize & deprive her. Through all her trials she kept her head held high. In her films, as in her life, she demanded to be counted as a woman, & as an outsider. Her struggle was every marginalized person’s struggle, but especially resonant to gay people. She was ridiculed for her excesses & yet the emotion was raw, real & she often underplayed it. Beneath the toughness was the frightened woman.
Gay men recognize & love that vulnerability. Beneath the flamboyance was shyness. She was a predator, only because she is so irresistible as a prey. Her promiscuity was another mirror of gay male sexuality. Most gays can appreciate why Joan would hide her insecurities & grim past behind a facade of Hollywood perfection & we love it that she did it for her fans. She was always grateful to her fans. One of her directors & lover- Vincent Sherman said her personal life was terrible & that it took hours to bring her down from crying scenes.
Her bad behavior seemed to stem from her fears, although she was known as a consummate professional on the set. Crawford was on a search for love & belonging. She almost certainly had affairs with other women. She never seemed to have found that love. She was a glamorous feminist icon, a fabulous gay icon, & still very human. She was a diva & a survivor who never forgot her fans. Crawford could play anguish & hope on screen, the same complex contradictions she had to play in her own life. This flawed person beneath a stunning glamour & power makes her continue to resonate to gay people.
In 1971, I remember reading her book -My Way of Life. I sat on my blanket at the beach, ready to devour Joan Crawford’s racy tell-all bio, instead I got Crawford's meticulous advice on grooming, wardrobe, exercise, house cleaning, & food storage. Her advice came in handy.
In the spring of 1973, I saw A Little Night Music in the pre-Broadway tryout in Boston. In my late teens, 1000 miles from home, & sporting a huge red afro, I sat in the darkened, half-filled theatre & let the magic & enchantment wash over me. This was not my 1st Sondheim. I had of course, seen West Side Story & Gypsy. At 17 years old, I had talked my parents into letting me go to San Francisco all by myself to see the original cast (minus Dean Jones) of Company (I had more than just a little fun being footloose & 17 in San Francisco). I had worn out the Original Cast Album of Follies the same year.
5 years later, I would get to play Henrik in A Little Night Music, a fabulous role & the closest I ever came to playing an ingenue. The character plays the cello, & traditionally the orchestra’s cello plays the music while the actor mimes the playing. Because I can actually can play the cello, & I was able to do my own cello work, I thought this gave my performance a bit more authenticity, although I had to practice for hours & hours to be able to the play cello & sing at the same time.
Your host as Henrik in A Little Night Music 1977
I would go on to play Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum on 2 occasions, including a long run at Seattle Civic Light Opera. I did another long run, sold out, & extended, of Side By Side By Sondheim, a musical revue of collected songs from several produced & un-produced Sondheim musicals. Among the songs I was so lucky to perform in that show, was my favorite Sondheim tune- Anyone Can Whistle. I sang Not A Day Goes By From Merrily We Roll Along for auditi ons for a few years, until I decided that singing Sondheim for auditions was cliché & too gay, even for me.
I was aware early on, that Stephen Sondeim was gay, & it did give some solice when I was grappling with coming out. Sondheim: “if I had to live my life over again, I would have children. That’s the great mistake I made. It’s too late now. The idea of being a homosexual & raising children was one that was just not acceptable until, my goodness, I’d say the 1970s or 1980s. You want to live long enough to see your children grow up, they’re not puppies. The joy is not just to have them, but to watch them change & grow. So, yes, that is a great regret.” There is the work though; about 20 major stage shows, including Gypsy, Company, Sweeney Todd, Into TheWoods, & some film work: the songs in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy, & the music for Alain Resnais’s 1974 movie, Stavisky. “But as Bach proved to a great degree, you can have both. It would be nice to have both. But to have any outlet for creative energy is indeed a very good emotional substitute for not being able to put that energy into the raising of a family.”
Sondheim came out as gay only when he was 40, & he did not live with a partner until he was 61. He shared his life with writer- Peter Jones, until 1999, living at the Turtle Bay house that has been Sondheim’s home & writing place since the early 1960s. Katharine Hepburn used to live next door & he has recounted how he was “up one night at about 3, pounding on the piano, writing The Ladies Who Lunch for Company, when I heard this banging on the door. There she was, in a babushka & no shoes, saying, ‘Young man, I cannot sleep with the noise you’re making’.”
There is common thought on Sondheim that although he can do LOVE in a theatre piece, he struggles when it enters his own life. Even people who follow him closely have assumed that he was single again. That’s why it came as a surprise in 2006 when he announced: “I have someone else now, his name is Jeff. We celebrated our 7th anniversary. Jeff is a great joy in my life & once I had tasted the joys of living with someone, I wanted to live with someone else when it broke up.”
In March 2008, Sondheim & Frank Rich of the New York Times appeared in an interview/conversation in Portland, titled A Little Night Conversation with Stephen Sondheim. One of my favorite revelations from that evening was that we share a favorite non-Sondheim musical in She Loves Me. He was very funny & charming that evening. I was thrilled. During the Company/Follies era, Sondheim appeared on the cover of Time with the caption- The Boy Wonderof the Theatre. The boy went on to an Academy Award, 8 Tony Awards (more than any other composer) including the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, multiple Grammy Awards including Song Of The Year for Send In The Clowns in 1974, & a Pulitzer Prize. He turns 80 today. We both got old & we both got lucky. Oddly enough, he shares this birthday with the composer of that weird musical with the singing & dancing CATS. Go figure.
I am a mid-20th century gay man still trying to get a handle on how to live life with meaning. I live in Portland Oregon with my husband/partner of 32+ years & the terriers: Lulu & Junior.
As an actor I have been in over 150 full stage productions, 12 films/TV, over 50 commercials & voice overs.
Our home & garden in Seattle (1981-2001) were published several times & were featured in a "coffee table" book- Flea Market Decorating by Meredith Press. That garden was on the Seattle Art Museum's Tour Of Artists' Gardens in 1999.
We moved to Portland in a fit of middle age anxiety in 2001.
We spend our time & money working on our house & garden in a working class bungalow, in a working class neighborhood.
The old-ball-& chain & I are thought to be a little nutty. ME:
cocktail drinker, tree hugger & seeker.
Kinsey 6, Myers-Briggs ENFJ, Capricorn/Snake