Archives for posts with tag: LIBERACE


 I took a picture of this boy last night.  He is fucking gorgeous.

1.

There is something all at once despicable and wonderful about small town living.  Small town people are small town people for a reason. They are exactly the same the whole world over… unless they’re living a double life (NYC and Upstate) after a few years… their brains begin to atrophy.  They are left behind, destined for a life of small minded, tight-lipped misery.

Hudson is just like Whitstable.  I’m used to the small town narrative.

Like Whitstable, every weekend Hudson fills with the fabulous and the not so fabulous.  They arrive on packed trains from the city and in expensive SUVs.  Yet, it is those stuck upstate season after season toiling year after year in Hudson or in outlying communities that are most damaged.  As hard as I try steering myself clear from these half baked personalities and the inevitable drama, one is drawn to both like a moth to a flame.

They, the hapless year-rounders, want to know you as much as they don’t want to know you.  When they meet you they quickly establish if you are a threat to their superiority.  They want to feel superior.  They gobble up half-truths on google.  They regurgitate everything they think they know to whom ever will listen.

As I’ve written previously it is with neurotic, heterosexual, single, childless women that I have most trouble.

This week I had a run in with a woman who was in the habit of dumping dog shit over her fence and onto my land, then there’s a female fag-hag realtor related to the Woolworth family and recently fired from her realty business… after meeting me she called her ex relatives in Hollywood to spread misinformation… and then… most tragically an ex editor who limps from crowd to crowd soliciting sympathy for her bad choices wherever and whenever she can.

The realtor, Pamela Murphy is the poor cousin of producer Cassian Elwes rich ex-wife.  She used to work for the very posh Hudson realtor Mary Mullane.  The first time I met Pamela she spent an hour degrading Mary (who fired her) in a way I knew she would eventually degrade me.  When it happened (as I knew it would) I called and reminded her that her shrill, unsophisticated demeanor had caused her to be a terminally single fag hag.  That and her obvious alcohol abuse problem.

Hudson heterosexual males aren’t so bad.  I’ve met a good-looking dog whisperer and an ex LA gay for pay property developer.

Mind you, the weekenders are not immune from pettiness. The ‘blond’ art dealer and her gay business partner have a couple of drinks and abuse her hapless husband.  The slim, gay interior decorator with floppy hair confides that his business partner’s husband is lazy, that he doesn’t have a job, that the art dealer supports him… that she should never have married him.

That’s the problem with gay men… they want their best women pals married to them.

Listen, I am in opposition to most things.  A legacy from fighting for my gay life since I was 13 years old.  You don’t like gays?  Fuck you.  You don’t want gay people to shove their lifestyle down your throat?  Let me shove this gay shit down your fucking throat.

2.

I meet everyone who passes through Hudson.  Bumping into legendary Micky Wolfson and iconic Joseph Holtzman the creator of Nest magazine, or the terrible Rob Roth (momentarily without Deborah Harry’s balls in his mouth) but escorting the totally insane Parker Posey.  Sticking out her hand.  “Hello, my name is Parker Posey.”

So, when I bumped into Bruce Cohen and Gabe his charming, much younger husband and their adorable daughter on Warren Street last weekend I was not entirely surprised.   Bruce is looking haggard.  He still has shoulder length, curly blond thinning hair, he looks like a straight stoner who can’t bring himself to get another look.  As if his long curly blond hair defines who he is.

He’s a great producer but seemingly no longer with producing partner Dan Jinks.  Remember it was they who asked me to direct Liberace starring Michael Keaton.  Anyway, I wondered what he was up to and he said he was developing a gay history series with Dustin ‘Lance’ Black and Cleve Jones.  I nearly threw up my breakfast.  I couldn’t think of anything worse than a Lance Black gay history series created to ‘educate’ straight people.  A Lance Black whitewashing of our history from the arbitrary starting point of Stonewall.  I went on… why are you working with that idiot?  Why not George Chauncey, Neil Bartlett, Stephen Fry… anyone but fucking Lance Black and Cleve Jones.  Thankfully Bruce’s husband agreed.

And what about gay people of color I asked?  Queer culture?  Oh, Bruce reassured me, “We have a black man,” adding weakly, “We’re telling his story.”  But let’s face it.  Bruce and Lance aren’t interested telling the black gay story… because this show is for white straight people.  What about lesbians I demanded?  He buckled.  Realizing that his white gay male documentary was going to be a big pile of exclusionary SHIT.

It galls me that people like Lance and Bruce get to tell our history… where were they when I was being visible at 13?  Where were they when others were taking direct action for Outrage or Act Up?  I’ll tell you what they were doing… they were hiding under the covers.  Cowed by religiosity and gay fear.

I register their distaste.  These gays.  These cowardly white gays.  Those white gays who rode on the coat tails of those of us who confronted the status quo.  Whilst I was reminding straight people in the 1980’s how lucky they were to enjoy our clubs and bars, whilst I let them know that I did not enjoy the same privileges they took for granted… and risked their violent ire.  Bruce and Lance were thinking only of themselves, propping up the white patriarchy.

Whilst i was making queer films and queer plays for queer people without deferring to straight people… men like Bruce and Lance and every gay male agent I met at all the big Hollywood talent agencies were telling me to stop telling queer stories because there was no future in it.  Future = Money.

Hot Wax and Chains J. Patrick Walsh

There is an endless stream of ‘good news’ on Facebook.  The parties, the marriages, the births, the home renovations and the ubiquitous instagramed plates of delicious (and not so delicious) breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The grandiose exclamations of joy and delight.  The boasting, the dressing up… the glitter and sangria.

In between the nihilistic leather soirees and endless travelogues come occasional glimpses of the pain and suffering most of us endure but seldom want to admit.  At least… not on social media.  Not to those who seem to be having the time of their lives every single day.

Two deaths this week.  One old lady I never knew and one young man I did.  Sandwiched between bottles of french wine and exotic vacations on the French Riviera is the truth.  The young American who can’t stop drinking and the miserable single woman who can’t get the man to stay.

They say, when I post my bits and pieces, that I am angry… lonely… sad.  When I don’t agree with a theme they say I am a sullen contrarian.  When I post expressions of joy I am inundated with ‘likes’ as if my happiness needs affirming.

My friend’s mother dies peacefully in the hospital bed.  He updates us by the hour.  Her final words remind us of our own mortality.  I am so grateful he tells us so.  I learn so much more from her last words than a another blurry picture of enchiladas posted at some obscure Mexican restaurant where my ‘friends’ boast of the wonderful time they are having.

I have stopped posting pictures of parties, of other people in their gorgeous homes.  I have stopped reporting which celebrities I have seen and what they were doing.  Of late I have been concentrating on injustice.  My own and others.

The realtor who engages his powerful friends to incarcerate.  We are getting to the bottom of that mucky situation.  The way the rich use government institutions to their own ends.  Corrupt district attorneys, prosecutors and law enforcement.  We are getting to the bottom of that one.  Slowly, like archeologists gently removing layer after layer of dirt… getting to what was so carefully buried.  For every corrupt official there is another eager to help.

For the time being I have to be obtuse.  That will end… sooner or later.  I am patient .  I can wait.

Bradley Manning, queer hero, his trial starts today.   Although I doubt we will get the outcome we desire and that boy will probably spend the rest of his life in jail for doing the right thing… he will not be forgotten.  Bradley Manning will not be forgotten.

Paul, my white gay friend, the talent manager.  I saw him yesterday.  He had been to a Liberace viewing party in the hills.  A bunch of straight acting gay boys watching Liberace in the opulent surroundings of an older gay man.  Their reaction was as expected… they hated it.  They didn’t see what Liberace  had to do with their lives.  You see, they complained… they wanted to see themselves.  Paul couldn’t understand why Scott Thorson (who he knows) had his story told.  He described Scott as a ‘user’.  He said he thought it was ‘unfair’ that Scott’s story was told rather than a ‘gay hero’.

“Who?”  I asked.  “Which gay hero?”

His brow furrowed.  He’ll get back to me with the answer.

Then it occurred to me why a bunch of boys under the age of 25 drinking free booze in the house of an older Hollywood oligarch might not like the film Liberace.  Rather than not seeing themselves… on the contrary, they all saw themselves exactly and hated what they saw.

Like on Facebook the ugly truth is sometimes sandwiched between the glitter and sangria.

No matter how deeply it is buried.

Liberace Scott Thorson

I was asked to direct this movie, or a movie like it, ten years ago.

It was a script based on the autobiography of Liberace’s lover Scott Thorson.  I read the script, I met the producers, I met Michael Keaton who was, at that time, attached to the project.  Now, I don’t remember the script, I don’t remember the producers.  I remember meeting Michael Keaton in an obscure room in Santa Monica. Michael was very quiet, not at all enthused.

I remember asking myself why he would want to make this movie. I remember sharing ideas about performance and parameters.  He didn’t want to do an ‘impersonation’.

Another script about Liberace arrived, a more dynamic, dramatic and excessive script. It piqued my interest.  It began with Liberace’s final moments in the back of a limousine.  Liberace is often damned for claiming he wasn’t gay, for never admitting to his HIV status. That those around him at the end of his life went to extraordinary lengths to hide that he died of AIDS.

Of course, there are still people, (living people) who never admit they are HIV positive.   Such is the shame around HIV and AIDS.  But equally there were many people at the time of Liberace’s death who went to extraordinary lengths to reveal that he died of AIDS.  They exhumed his already buried body to prove their point.

There were too many people eager to shame him. For that’s what they wanted to do. Shame the gay man.

Liberace never said publicly that he was gay. He denied it. Again and again.  I sympathise with his denial. It was his choice, a choice we now condemn.  In these prescriptive times if you are not willing to say you are gay… someone else will.

Liberace was a brand.  Like Posh and Becks.  When David Beckham was caught cheating… they went to extraordinary lengths to protect their brand.  It’s understandable that Liberace lied on oath. He had everything to lose.  In those miserable homo-ignorant times there were plenty who would have delighted and profited from his downfall.

Lonely?

Reading the reviews for this film a theme emerges: Loneliness.

Mary McNamara LA Times: ‘A darkly moving look at two lonely men who briefly found something like love.’

Michael Thornton The Telegraph: The Lonely Liberace I knew.

There are countless other references to this ‘lonely’ man Liberace. His ‘lonely’ mother, his ‘lonely’ boy friend Scott.  Scott was ‘damaged’, Scott was a ‘gold digger’, Scott was a ‘lonely soul’. Scott was ‘played too sympathetically because he’s in jail for burglary’.  It seems like the prophecy of fearful mothers comes to pass in this movie, that their gay sons with end up alone, abandoned, unhappy.

The relationship between Scott and Liberace may seem familiar to any powerful, older man who lets a younger man into his life:  “They establish a bond that is a blend of romantic love, father-son affection, brotherly playfulness, and prostitution.”

Liberace, like Brokeback Mountain before it brings into hard focus the lives and loves of queer men.  There is the obligatory delight and revulsion (in equal measure) of the kissing. Two men kissing.  Two men kissing seems to remind many straight men that a tender intimacy can exist between men and that may very well interfere what they imagine we do.  The gay butt fucking they imagine… immediately… after meeting one another.

Men kissing, like men getting married, seems to inflame the homophobe.

I’m wondering why Steven Soderbergh wanted to make this movie, why a gay director wasn’t chosen?  Did he do it because it seemed like a cool thing to do? A straight man, so comfortable in his own skin that he can work with queer subject matter?   It still feels to me like straight boys (actors and director) getting together to prove a point.

With so many talented and extraordinary gay directors in the world how did this end up being made by a bunch of straight guys?  Was Liberace too difficult and distasteful and potentially divisive for a gay director?  When ever I have stood before a queer audience with my queer films (confirmed by other queer, male directors) the audience who have the most problems are those who want to say: I didn’t see me.

Gay man are desperate to see themselves and their lives as they live them in TV and film. It is perfectly reasonable for them to expect this.  Rather than the gay freak, the gay priest, the comedy gay… they, understandably, want to see themselves fairly represented. They want to see gay detectives, gay wedding crashers, gay teachers, plumbers, gay undocumented workers.

Many reviewers of Liberace: Behind The Candelabra smirk at the foolishness and naivety of the straight women who swooned at this obviously gay man.  I once researched a documentary about fag hags. All the women I spoke to who identified as fag hags felt adored and listened to, appreciated, respected by a man. Even if that man was gay.  Those women provide the clue to Liberace’s denial and downfall.  Liberace wasn’t lonely. He was a performing artist who found solace and validation, like many do, on the stage.

Every night he performed he bathed in the glory of his screaming fans. The unconditional love of his audience.  An adoring audience of many thousands will never be any match for the love of just one man.  I remember saying that to Michael Keaton as I sat there in that small room realizing who Liberace was.

Garden 3

Ha.  Don’t hold your breath.

Will you tell your grandchildren that you remember a time when people hated on black people because they were black and your grandchildren raise their eyebrows in disbelief?

Will you tell your grandchildren that you remember a time when nearly all top jobs in industry and government were taken by white men and your grandchildren raise their eyebrows in disbelief?

Will you tell your grandchildren that you remember a time when a gay man was shot in the face in the middle of the most liberal city in the western world for being a faggot and your grandchildren raise their eyebrows in disbelief?

A thousand years from now?  Maybe that’s the kind of incremental change brown people, women and queer people expect?

When will you fight for more?  Why do you put up with the status quo?

Fight for marriage and all things are equal?  No.  Fight for white men to stop taking everything, determining the agenda and we might get somewhere.

A French octogenarian shoots himself in the face because he hates gay marriage.  If he were American he would have massacred first then killed himself.  I think that this scenario seems plausible.

I wouldn’t like to hang around in gay bars right now.  Not with all these emboldened haters amongst us.

Thank God I don’t drink.

I am wearing my pink shoes.  People understand what I am when they look at my feet.

I’m trying to jettison ‘straight acting‘, I’m trying to abandon my invisibility but I know what that means.  It means hostility from gay men and straight men.

I like it when they describe drag queens as fierce.  That’s what I have spent life being:  FIERCE.  Of course, this has been perceived as angry or anti social or…  can I explain something?

Anger is an emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged, or denied and a tendency to react through retaliation.

Anger management?  The management of justified anger.

Listen to this.  I have been reasonably angry for a long time.

I was a kid and I knew I wanted to fall in love with and have sex with men (and women) but the man part of my desire was outlawed, derided.

I fell in love at school.  I fell in love and explored men’s bodies.

I remember when I was 14 I was walking along the beach in Whitstable.  I met a man.  I lay on the sea wall with him.  Furtive.  Illegal.  I never saw him again.  I wonder about him.

They hated us for something we could not change.  I ignored them.  I parried the blows.

I lived in a dream world because living in that reality was simply too painful.

Margaret Thatcher didn’t want me and men and women like me… she didn’t want us to exist.

I’ll tell you what makes me angry:  Brown people not getting a fair trial.  A third of all black men in the USA are in jail.  Women in the military being raped and sexually abused.   Drag queens damning trans people.  I am angry that some people are denied bail.  I am angry that my lover left me when I found my tumor.   I am angry with myself for falling in love with men who could never love me back.  I am angry that the breast cancer gene is privately owned, that innocent brown people are still being held in captivity in Guantanamo Bay.  I am angry that gay men think that marriage is the answer.  I am angry that I grew up with an angry step father.  I am angry that Monsanto kill bees.  I am angry that my neighbors park in front of my gate so I can’t get in and out of my house.  I am angry that two young girls are criminalized for falling in love.  I am angry that most agents (realtors and talent) are sociopath.  I am angry with gay men and straight men for over simplifying sexuality.

How do you live with that?

I set it aside.  The anger.  I find peace wherever I can.  I pull weeds.  I walk the dogs.  I feed the fish.

I forgive them for their sexism, their murder, their bullying, their insistence that they WIN.  At all costs.  Like the bees.  Winning the market means… killing the bees.

When I buy something at auction the others applaud.  They congratulate me.  They tell me that I have won.  I didn’t win.  I just paid the highest price.  It’s not hard to do.

So.  Today I am wearing my pink shoes.  There you go.  ‘Nice shoes,’ they scoff.

Oh, I’m wearing them because I’m queer and I really want you to know.  Because I exist somewhere between Liberace and Jason Collins but I’m still trying to work it out.  Working out what kind of man I am.

I don’t think I’m alone.

Men make their own history but they do not make it as they choose.

Karl Marx

My Pink Shoes

1.

Mark Carson was a black man and a gay man. He did not have the luxury of invisibility.

When he was shot in the head yesterday, he was already walking away from the man with a gun.

He was killed moments from where Joe and I lived on 13th Street in the West Village, NYC.

He went down fast.

This story is peculiarly American. It includes race, guns and queers.

The narrative is so familiar I am no longer shocked.

In London a white queer couple are walking home arm in arm. They are beaten to the ground.

We can kid ourselves that our ‘visibility’ has somehow made things better, that Glee and Will and Grace have improved LGBTQ functionality but frankly… that’s the lie we tell ourselves to get by.

To walk the streets.

Holding my lovers hand in the street is still an act of rebellion.

2.

The rate of HIV infection is still epidemic, around 45-50,000 new cases every year, 60% of those are gay or bisexual men.

AIDS education has not served to change the attitude in the general GBTQ population to bring those numbers down.

That is the cold hard truth.

No use dragging in references to children in Africa. The causes are preventable here amongst Americans.

The immune defense systems of many people are compromised and therefore vulnerable to deadly viruses such as the new strain of meningitis.

I fully support my GBTQ community, but I must also defend and uphold the bare truth:  people in America want what they want when they want it.

They don’t care to understand that they are living off the principal instead of the interest.

3.

When Jake and I were in Paris we sat on the Terrace of the Hotel Mama Shelter.  We were dining,  holding hands and kissing.

During a tumultuous and difficult relationship it was a moment of tender kindness.

From a window high above where we were lounging a man called out:  “Pede!”

Jake didn’t speak French.  He, thankfully, did not understand that we were being insulted.  “Faggot!”

I expected something to be thrown.  A shot to ring out.  My life felt threatened.

I wrapped my arms protectively around him.  Just in case.  I loved him so.

If you are queer.  You know what I am talking about.

If you are black, a muslim… anything other than a straight white male. You know what I am talking about.

You know that feeling very well.

4.

They want to march the street tonight.  They want to hold a vigil for Mark Carson.  They want to fight back.  But, what exactly are you fighting when you fight back?

The young men who want to hurt us, to kill us… are just doing what they understand: they are identifying the enemy and bringing it down.

To some they are patriots.

They are heroes from another age.

They do not understand our rarefied world because we have not done enough to explain it to them.

What do they know about us?  We may seem like a grandiose secret society… like the Scientologists or The Masonic Order and like any other secret society… we pose a threat.

We have done nothing to make our position clear except demand to oppress by joining historically oppressive institutions: the military and marriage.

They may have every good reason to hate us because they think we have everything and they have nothing.

They think we are rich, successful, they think we are celebrities… or connected to celebrity.

In this TV Quick world they see us living a dream. Why? Because we have sold them this in an attempt to seem ‘normal’.

5.

Dinner at Nobu. What a mess. Had to concentrate solely on my dining companion and not get side tracked by huge black eyebrows drawn onto Botox faces, short men with pony tails and overly developed biceps.

The creamy snow crab was delicious.

The crowd was not.

6.

My friend Benoit Denizet-Lewis has brought down Abercrombie and Fitch… a gay empire.

The morbidly obese, trapped in their mid west homes, are lifting their fat fingers and tapping one key at a time… declaring their outrage.

But, the rest of you… the gays… Mike Jeffries is gay… what did you expect?

Jeffries made a fortune from Bruce Weber’s homoerotic (bordering on pedophilia) A&F ad campaigns and the gays kept their mouths firmly shut.

What did you think that Weimar Nazi imagery was all about?

Did you see those highly collectible A&F catalogues now owned by all my gay friends?

Who complained that there were no fat models, no wheelchair bound kids frolicking in Bear Pond?

Now that Mike Jeffries is old, his face scarred with reconstructive surgery his very common gay obsession with youth and beauty is suddenly in bad taste?

HUH?

Perhaps fat people should stop eating if they want to wear hideous A&F clothing.

As for the guy who gave the stuff to homeless people. WTF? Ha Ha Ha. Not funny or clever or LIBERAL.

7.

Why isn’t the LIBERACE movie being distributed in the USA?

Why can you see this movie in European cinemas and not here?

I am told that very powerful gays here in Hollywood scuppered it.

It was they who described it as ‘too gay’ (camp) and inappropriate for audiences in the USA who might think we were all like Liberace.

In this ghastly straight acting world… we don’t want straight people to get the wrong idea.

God forbid… sportsman might not want to come out of the closet and be heroes.

7.

Today, at Gjelina, we sat next to 3 good-looking, rich, straight Russian boys on vacation from Moscow.

We charmed them. They thought I was so funny and sweet.

As we left I drained the smile off my face. I touched one of them gently on the shoulder.

I said very seriously, “When you go home can you tell your President to stop killing the gays.”

They laughed. They thought I was joking. After all, I had three beautiful women friends for lunch.

“No, I mean it… it’s really got to stop and it’s up to you.”

They looked foolish and embarrassed and that was good because the last thing you need when you are a rich, white Russian on vacation in LA are liberals making fun of your country… your government and you.

Most gays wouldn’t have bothered. But that’s the way you change the world.

Let them know it’s not OK.

8.

The 14-year-old son of state Sen. Brian Hatfield has been charged with four counts of first-degree child rape and four counts of first-degree child molestation in Lewis County.

The boy is accused of assaulting an 11-year-old boy from November 2012 until Feb. 14 of this year, when the younger boy’s mother interrupted an incident.

According to the police report, the mother informed detectives Hatfield told her on several occasions that he was attempting to ‘enter his son into therapy’ and would also be contacting authorities in Lewis County.

The mother stated that she knows that this has ‘not occurred’.

Neither parent called authorities at that time of the alleged incident and the mother said she had not ‘witnessed any physical contact’ between the boys.

Her son informed her some contact had occurred, but the boy later told detectives he didn’t reveal the full extent of the ‘abuse’ at that time.

The two boys had no further contact after the February incident.

Was this the love affair I remember when I was 11?  

Is this pubescent messing around or… rape?

Homo sex demonized by frightened parents?

There’s something so wrong about this story and it’s not the sex.

8.

Marriage equality would not have saved Mark Carson’s short life.

The cloak of equality he may have worn later on in life was not his to wear.

Joining the army may have paid for his education… but would not have saved his life.

Marriage equality would not get him to the hospital in time.  It would not have paid the hospital bills if he had lived.

Marriage equality would not have stopped the deathly glances of those who disapprove or those who thought he might rob them because he was black.

I am praying that Mark Carson took the bullet intended for this old faggot.

Mark… I shed a tear for you today.

This is What Homophobia Looks Like

Beaten in London Walking Home