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Mr. Showmanship
May 29, 2013 10:08 AM   Subscribe


 
Wow, cool post. I recently a story about Scott Thorson that provides some excellent background reading on the movie. And to think all he got out of the splitup was $90,000 and a post-Liberace career spent largely behind bars, poor guy.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:15 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mostly enjoyed the film, aside from the few moments of graphic surgical stuff, which was unpleasant. The article didn't mention something I read elsewhere - that Soderbergh intends for this to be his last film.
posted by elizardbits at 10:19 AM on May 29, 2013


Here's the Fresh Air with Soderbergh
posted by cherryflute at 10:22 AM on May 29, 2013


This video, which was included in the original article, is pretty interesting.

I'm having some sort of weird 1970's childhood flashback, with a flash-forward within the flashback of reading about Liberace in the People magazines my Mom used to bring home in the 1980's
posted by KokuRyu at 10:22 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a really great article but I still really don't get it. I saw Behind the Candelabra and it weirded me out (even more so now that I know Thorson was underage). The portrayal seems like a parody of right wing fantasies of what the "gay lifestyle" is all about--as opposed to something like Modern Family (not that I love Modern Family but those are recognizable human beings)--whether or not it was accurate! What is the point of remembering Liberace beyond as an ugly, sad historical footnote? Was his act, and the Soderbergh movie, examples of Gay Minstrelsy? I really don't know enough about it, so I remain confused.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:31 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]




I'm so tired and sick I read this as "Behind the Chupacabra".

NPR's stories on this were pretty fascinating. There was a fascinating piece about Scott Thorson and how he was basically bought and sold by Liberace and then molded to be -- I felt -- a pet for Liberace. Having gone from an abusive family to that must have been completely schizophrenic and wonderful all at the same time.
posted by boo_radley at 10:46 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


he repeats signature anecdotes, like the one where he lost his virginity to a lusty older lounge singer at the age of 16. In Behind The Candelabra, Thorson gives his own version of many of these same details: the “lounge singer” was actually a Green Bay Packers lineman

This is my favorite thing ever.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:47 AM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think unmasking Liberace as the Chupacabra should have been an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:48 AM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


Previously on Metafilter, the closing of the Liberace Museum because of financial mismanagement. Real shame.
posted by Nelson at 10:54 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched this the other day and enjoyed most of it. There's a scene where Michael Douglas—including his whole body and hands—and the keyboard are visible. The piano playing gets very animated and his left hand is going like lightning and I wondered aloud, "How in the hell did they do that?"

'Behind the Candelabra': The Secret of Michael Douglas' Piano Skills Revealed, Kimberly Nordyke, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 May 2013
posted by ob1quixote at 10:56 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Rob Lowe on his crazy transformation for Liberace biopic ‘Behind the Candelabra’

We watched it last night, and all I could think was that Rob Lowe's character, Dr. Startz, looks exactly like what John Taylor (from Duran Duran) would look like if he had recently been turned into a zombie.

which is to say, AWESOME
posted by scody at 10:57 AM on May 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


OH MY GOD I NEED TO SEE THIS

(curses for not having cable and therefore no HBO)
posted by Kitteh at 10:58 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having visited the late, lamented Liberace Museum -- staffed, appropriately, by elderly women in sequined outfits -- I think there's something to be said for the world he created for himself. I've commented before about the deeply personal lives I've seen some older gay men create for themselves, regardless of whether or not their homosexuality was openly known (or "needed" to be kept secret anymore). It's a choice to keep living the way you've been living... plastic surgery required or not.

The movie felt like that to me: the scenes of Douglas-as-Liberace (and GOD, did he get the voice right) saying something about his mother one second and then talking about fucking the next. There's this coy ambiguity through the whole thing that I'm sure he kept up in every moment, simply because he didn't know what else to do. He just... was.

So it's difficult to say whether it's gay minstrelsy or not. This is 100% not my field, so I'm sure more qualified people than I can provide better links. He occupied that difficult position of being the example that "proves" a stereotype for some people, even though he was so mindblowingly unique in his spangled tackitude. But I probably would have done something like that, too, given the chance. It looks FUN.

In the case of Liberace, it's unfortunate that the scope of is excess is probably what dooms him: the upkeep for this stuff is unimaginable. One suit = feathers from 26 turkeys. And then there are the kinds of cars that probably need to be BRUSHED every day. Oy.

But why do we go anywhere? Why do we revere anyone? To give another example from my life: this guy and the Warther Museum. Why go to see a tree made out of 511 interlocking pairs of wooden pliers?

Because it's there, and because people are fascinating.
posted by Madamina at 11:06 AM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


So the wife refuses to get HBO. But she's jonesing for Game of Thrones and I must see this. Changes will be made, oh yes...
posted by Splunge at 11:16 AM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Something about the movie seemed off to me (and it wasn't just Michael Douglas's Long Island-y vowels that he has in every movie) and this paragraph from the review finally clued me into what it was:

But even if the film had devoted more time to Liberace’s public persona, it’s unlikely to have captured the unsettling effect of the real thing. Watching Behind The Candelabra, one is continuously aware of the fact of famous straight actors performing the roles of gay men. Douglas, now 68 and nearly half a century into his own career, dons all manner of nightgown and sequined suit and toupee, and coos at Damon’s fresh-faced Thorson, fully relishing the opportunity to play gay at a time when he’s likely to be celebrated for doing so. It’s a committed and humane performance, and leagues more entertaining than watching him resuscitate Gordon Gekko. But in Douglas’s skillful impersonation of a gay man, an essential piece of the story is lost: that Liberace was, throughout his career, a gay man peculiarly inept at impersonating a straight man.
posted by Leezie at 11:16 AM on May 29, 2013


Because it's there, and because people are fascinating.

Well sure. But given the choice between him and Elton John, I mean...Elton John is equally a fascinating star who had a weird straight public image in the 70s, who is also a total artistic genius. Why spend any time thinking about Liberace outside of morbid curiosity? Because musically, yeesh. Not to ignore the rest of your comment though, which makes a lot of sense!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:21 AM on May 29, 2013


Leezie--"that Liberace was, throughout his career, a gay man peculiarly inept at impersonating a straight man." A wonderful line and you are so right and yet so wrong. Our best friends mother and my grandmother refused, absolutely refused, to believe he was gay. After all, he was just a great entertainer and that was his act. Or perhaps it was the times.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:24 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


But given the choice between him and Elton John, I mean...Elton John is equally a fascinating star who had a weird straight public image in the 70s, who is also a total artistic genius. Why spend any time thinking about Liberace outside of morbid curiosity?

I think the "notability" of Liberace lies in his complex status as a cultural icon, but in terms of contributing to pop culture, unlike Elton John he was no artistic genius.

He was a huge presence in the 1970's in "Middle America", yet his sexuality was never really acknowledged until he died. Strange to think that a darling of grandmothers throughout the land lived an essentially twisted, debauched lifestyle.

The only connection between Liberace and Elton John is that both are flamboyantly gay, and both play the piano. While Liberace dealt in overwhelming kitsch, in his early years Elton John was an iconic and influential musical trailblazer who wasn't kitsch back then so much as Glam.

And Elton John has been open about his sexuality. Interesting comparison, but two completely different stories.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:32 AM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great article -- she really explores all the angles. Was lucky enough to see a public screening of Behind the Candelabra last weekend at the Castro Theater in San Francisco - was good to see it in that audience. Apparently the film is getting a theatrical release in England, but not in the U.S.
posted by larrybob at 11:35 AM on May 29, 2013


But given the choice between him and Elton John

First, I'm not sure why one has to choose between the two. Second, Elton John is still a living, active artist. It's not impossible to do a biopic of a living artist, but it generally makes more sense for a biographical work to encompass the artist's entire life or career. To try to do a similar project for Elton John would mean a) being subject to influence by Elton John and his management trying to influence and have control over how his image is portrayed and affected, and b) telling an incomplete story that necessarily fails to include whatever happens in his life from here on out.

More importantly, though, Elton John and Liberace simply are not analogous. They are both gay piano playing entertainers, sure. But the whole idea of a biographical work is to demonstrate that either one of them simply cannot be reduced to just "gay piano playing entertainer."
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


...with sparkles.

Elton John also does not have a mini-me.
posted by Artw at 11:40 AM on May 29, 2013


refused, absolutely refused, to believe he was gay

That's a purely generational thing, from a time when people knew there were homosexuals among them but liked those people anyway, so just all agreed to pretend it didn't exist. The closet comes as much from kindness as bigotry. There's not as many contemporary equivalents of this kind of deliberate avoidance of unpleasant topics, maybe the way people will not directly discuss someone's obvious but functional alcoholism?

Many of my mother's friends were from the Liberace school of homosexuality: closeted, flamboyant, faggy. Growing up gay myself they were both role models and a caution on what not to be. Particularly the way my mother both loved her friends and held their "lifestyle" in contempt. Being in Houston and out of the spotlight most of them were comfortably gay social, but I wouldn't say any of them were really "out". They didn't go to pride parades, or espouse political causes, or directly challenged bigotry. They didn't have "lovers" or "boyfriends", just "roomates" and "friends". They made their own lives separate, apart. I kind of respect that gay ghetto life, am even nostalgic about it in some ways, but what we have now is better in pretty much every way.

Also: fuck AIDS.
posted by Nelson at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


After all, he was just a great entertainer and "acted that way". Or perhaps it was the times.

This is probably a good time to remember how the Wrestlemania crowd popped for Liberace in 1985.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


And Elton John has been open about his sexuality.

Yes, but only relatively recently. His 1975 song "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" is about calling off his c. 1969 engagement to a woman (the thought of it, by his own account, made him suicidal), and he then later married Renate Blauel in 1984. From the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s he identified as bi; only after his divorce from Blauel in 1988 did he identify as gay.

I had a crush on Elton John as a little kid in the early/mid-'70s (I strong-armed my 1st grade reading group into naming ourselves The Elton Johns) and I remember reading a fan club magazine about how he was "still looking for that right lady to settle down with -- maybe in a few years." And I thought: when I grow up, it'll be ME ME ME ME ME!
posted by scody at 11:50 AM on May 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Strange to think that a darling of grandmothers throughout the land lived an essentially twisted, debauched lifestyle.

I hereby nominate "darling of grandmothers" as a new collective noun.
posted by macadamiaranch at 12:07 PM on May 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


If anyone could find me online a copy of John Waters's review of Liberace's third autobiography The Wonderful Private World of Liberace (1986), that's mentioned in the article, I think this thread (and my life) would be better for it.

All three, far from candid self-portraits, are extensions of Liberace’s stage act, presenting a theatrical version of his career path and opulent lifestyle scrubbed free of any signs of conflict or homosexuality (“‘wonderful’ it is, ‘private’ it aint,” wrote John Waters when he reviewed the third book for Vogue in 1986)

That pull quote is just so delicious. What does Waters say? What did Vogue let him say? Liberace was so litigous I feel like punches would have been pulled. (Keep in mind, in 1988, after Liberace died of AIDS-related complications, ABC released a biopic with, as Wikipedia puts it "a script holding to a point of view that Liberace was heterosexual.")

So many questions.

Which brings me to my point and questions that Potomac Avenue was asking which I'm totally going into a K-hole of self-reflection trying to answer, so forgive the rambling.

We're in a really weirdly unique time, I think, gay portrayals-wise, where those of us who are still comfortably defined as "middle aged" can easily remember living through, at least, three or four different 'phases' of how being gay was treated -- both by society and by the media. For example, I watch the Ross's ex-wife lesbian wedding episode from the early run of Friends and what felt groundbreaking is actually weirdly awkward and full of jokes that would only fly these days coming out of the "offensive" character on a Chuck Lorre sitcom. But that was only 17 years ago.

So we remember all the arguments we had to make for positive portrayals in the media, and we remember the result of those arguments actually affecting our lives, how we were treated by others, and how we felt about ourselves. (I've gone off on this here before.) And even though there was a possible seedy underbelly to the "gay lifestyle", we didn't want the rest of the world to hear about it because we didn't want to easily be defined that way, and I'm still straddling that generation (if not completely a part of it) that it still makes me really uncomfortable. But that seedy underbelly existed. And it existed in large part not just because of the over-the-top appetites of somebody like Liberace but, I'd argue, because people were marginalized. (Pain and fear of rejection is a lot easier to deal with when you cover it with drugs, sequins, and paying somebody to love you.) And that's why that story that should be told.

But because it was so relatively recent, telling that story publicly feels dangerous, that the world isn't ready to hear it. And if somebody as big as Steven Soderbergh and two of Hollywood's biggest stars had to make the movie through non-traditional channels, I suppose in some ways, it isn't.

(The AV Club's review of Behind the Canelabra hints at some of this -- actually, re-reading it I guess it didn't but it inspired some of my thoughts, so I feel like I should footnote it.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:19 PM on May 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


refused, absolutely refused, to believe he was gay

That's a purely generational thing, from a time when people knew there were homosexuals among them but liked those people anyway, so just all agreed to pretend it didn't exist.


As a teenager in the early 80s, I remember seeing a supermarket headline "Liberace denies he's gay." My thought was "poor guy, the tabloids are picking on him like they do everyone else, if he says he isn't gay then he probably isn't." Yes, I was a little naive about such things, but not that much; the culture was such that being gay was very, very well hidden. I mean, they were able to show Jm J Bullock on "Too Close For Comfort" as a plausible straight person, and get away with it.

There's not a chance in heck Liberace could get away with such denials now, but in a good way. Amazing how times changes in only a few decades.
posted by Melismata at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2013


Liberace, how do I explain it?

Not that it's up to me to explain, but straddling that generation between the blue-haired old ladies who loved him and y'all, I just feel like he had his own place in pop culture history and the whole gestalt of it is not understandable unless you were there.

He was fascinating because of the excess. I was lucky enough to go to the museum in Las Vegas and actually see all of that stuff. It boggles the mind. It's so superfluous. It's much of a muchness, and it's really delicious to revel in it.

As for his talent, or lack of it, you're missing the point. That corny act of his made shit-tons of money. He wasn't a musician, he was an entertainer. And I suppose in the Las Vegas of his hey-day, there were worse ways to spend 75 minutes. Even the small snippets we got of his act in the movie, you could see the appeal of it.

As AIDS killed my friends and ravaged the entertainment industry, at the end of his life, his protestations and denials were infuriating. But he was a product of HIS generation. In the end we all have the right to disclose as much or as little as we want about who we fuck.

I'm sort of sad that we're not still maintaining the facade. He wanted to die in the closet, with his furs and sequins and feathers, and to some extent it's a shame he couldn't take his sexuality and vanity to the grave with him.

.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:05 PM on May 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


Great movie. Also: Debbie Reynolds killed.
posted by uraniumwilly at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oddly, I took the whole movie as an object lesson in making sure your relationships are state recognized....plus I had just seen Anna Karenina and they kinda blended together.
posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Melismata: I mean, they were able to show Jm J Bullock on "Too Close For Comfort" as a plausible straight person, and get away with it.
His backstory started as "just seems funny, but really he's straight!". Before the series end there was a powerful episode about him (IIRC) being beaten up by homophobes. I don't think they explicitly stated the precise nature of it all, but made it perfectly clear - and the whole family gathered around him, even as so many homophobic public figures are seen to do today when suddenly faced with the reality that their loved ones didn't fit into their black&white world model of loveable characteristics & hateable offences.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:08 PM on May 29, 2013


Isn't the best explanation of Elton John's life during the 70s the video for "That Train Don't Stop Here Anymore?"
posted by drezdn at 1:16 PM on May 29, 2013


Dave Hickey's brilliant essay A Rhinestone As Big as the Ritz, qouted in the introduction to Emily Nussbaum's review of the film for the New Yorker, talks about what may be the hidden quality of this--and which isn't mentioned in this review. Working class women from geographically suspect places, who are ignored as being epically stupid, want to be treated as they matter. Liberace was not intended to be hip, to be ironic--but the self-construction of an ironic personae allowed for the excess to preclude taste. Hickey has said that Taste is The Residue of Someone Elses Privlege--and it's true. Liberace played for his audience, played games with taste, and haunted this line between private and public--and this haunting is v. much a measure of a peculair south/midwestern sensibility--you can see it in how Dolly doesn't parade her husband around, and you can see it in how Dolly's personae as ironic drag in New York and LA does not integrate whole swaths of her work---her faith, her sentiment, her geography, her class...and in this sense Waters is right, that nothing exactly was private with him, that what was known was a terribly sophisticated jape (see also Andy Williams in Branson), Though there has been hints at discussing liberace--why there has been no, for example major biography, is i think that still in queer theory working class sexuality that cannot be read as gay male sexual trade are terribly unfashionable--Thurson as trade might be the reason why this was made.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:17 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


IAmBroom: Before the series end there was a powerful episode about him (IIRC) being beaten up by homophobes.
Wow, did I ever misremember that one! Actually, his character was "comically" raped by two fat women. The family comforts him, but with lots of setups for hilarious ridicule. The jokes practically write themselves!
posted by IAmBroom at 1:20 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's almost impossible to discuss working class queer sexuality without discussing trade, it's pretty much the only thing people want to talk about.
posted by The Whelk at 1:45 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh my God, IAmBroom. I prefer the episode that never existed to the one I never saw.
posted by Mister_A at 1:45 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: " I had just seen Anna Karenina and they kinda blended together."

My first exposure to Anna Karenina was a college production of a Helen Edmundson adapation for the stage (thinks lots of fabric and lighting cues), so now I am blending that with Behind the Candelabra and oh my god if I did hard drugs, I would be creating the craziest stage production tonight.

And for the record, I've been sent a copy of the aforementioned John Waters Vogue review of The Wonderful Private World of Liberace (not yet free online) from a MeFite whose privacy I'll respect. But it begins:

"Not since Patty Hearst's Every Secret Thing has a book with a title that promised so much and delivered so little still been worth buying."

and ends:

"Forget Jim Jones. O-D'ing on Liberace would be such a delicious way to die."

John Waters was, is, and will always be a national treasure.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:15 PM on May 29, 2013 [7 favorites]


As childfbk at about age 6 my mother took me to my first concert...Liberace. Outdoor venue, middle of sweltering Indiana July...motherfucker had on a full length fur coat. Exciting conversation on the way home with me insisting the man liked other men just like mom's hairdresser. My mother thankfully rolled with it in an age appropriate way. My mother should have known then that I was all about love and letting love between people happen but she didn't realize it for about ten more years.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:26 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


( actually I saw Anna karenina, The Great Gatsby, and Behind The Candelabra pretty much on the same day so the whole thing has become a confusing mash of money, glitter, and adultery.)
posted by The Whelk at 2:27 PM on May 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


actually I saw Anna karenina, The Great Gatsby, and Behind The Candelabra pretty much on the same day so the whole thing has become a confusing mash of money, glitter, and adultery.

Hmm, over the weekend I inhaled John Taylor's (quite charming) autobiography, Into the Pleasure Groove, so this may explain why I was channeling Duran Duran-after-the-apocalypse while watching Behind the Candelabra, thus rendering it all a confusing mash of aspirational posturing, silk suits, and cocaine-fueled sex amid questionable interior decor.

posted by scody at 2:37 PM on May 29, 2013


I was wondering why rob Lowe was playing the surgeon general from " escape from L.A"
posted by The Whelk at 2:43 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Will I be able to close my eyes?"
posted by Artw at 2:45 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to say the snoring and the bit where he drags out the portrait have to have instantly entered the pantheon of top Hollywood Gothic moments.
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on May 29, 2013


There's not a chance in heck Liberace could get away with such denials now

Its been working for Richard Simmons.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:21 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hereby nominate "darling of grandmothers" as a new collective noun.
posted by macadamiaranch


I...I swear to God...if I have anything to say about it, that will become canon.

Meanwhile, reading in the Lowe article the phrase "watching Gordon Gekko banging Jason Bourne" made my needle skip a groove.
posted by darkstar at 4:58 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


fluffy battle kitten, I think you must be referring to Liberace's appearance(s) at Starlight Musicals at the Butler Bowl in Indianapolis, no? That was the perfect venue and audience for the man. My high school girlfriend was undoubtedly in that audience with you. She had a serious thing for Liberace because he was a transgressive and successful gay entertainer - i.e., she absolutely knew he was gay and respected the hell out of him for how he brought it in his public persona, even if he had that stubborn refusal to come out. She had a picture of herself dancing with Liberace, actually; can't recall how that happened, but she treasured it. What an entertainer, is all I can say; not a fan, but also wouldn't say a bad word about him. His winks to the camera, I think, could be interpreted by each viewer as that individual might want, and played to whatever they might want to see in him or in themselves. No gay person was ever fooled by his act, I am about 90% certain. I have to respect the man for being true to his calling doing it his way for so long.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 5:08 PM on May 29, 2013


I first saw Liberace on the "Mike Douglas Show" when I was 14 years old. At 14, I was like the old ladies: I had no way to wonder if Liberace were gay- it wasn't a thing to wonder. I didn't wonder abut Paul Lynde on "Hollywood Squares" or Charles Nelson Reilly on "Match Game". So like the old ladies, I un-ironically watched Liberace wear gold lame hot pants and enjoyed the fabulous piano playing.

In the early 1970s the "Mike Douglas Show" was a wonderful education because with only 3 networks and no VCRs (much less internet streaming), if you wanted to watch an afternoon talk show, you had to watch Mike Douglas. He was so square and seemingly unaware that it's easy to watch a clip of him talking to a clearly chemically-impaired Brian Wilson and think he was just a clueless interviewer. But what's amazing to me thinking back on his show is how broad a cultural spectrum it covered. As a teenager, I had no idea who Eubie Blake was, but I could tell that Douglas treated him with HUGE respect. So I filed a mental note that Eubie Blake deserved huge respect. Douglas treated rock and roll stars with whom he had no possible affinity with respect. He treated Mason Reese (a pixie-ish child star of the time) with respect, questioning him about his butterfly collection. Basically, Mike Douglas introduced us to a bunch of diverse people, all of whom he felt deserved a little of our attention.

So I can't question the importance of Liberace. Mike Douglas had him on as a co-host and treated him with respect. I also can't think of gold lame hotpants as gay; they were just extravagant and fun at 4:30 in the afternoon.
posted by acrasis at 5:17 PM on May 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


One more idea:

What if Liberace and the midwestern old ladies were in kind of a pact to take the joke that was made on them, and kind of reverse it...it was this camp figure played straight thru the lens of working class spectacle, in response to the policing of taste that occured in la/ny media centers?
posted by PinkMoose at 6:21 PM on May 29, 2013


Liberace teaches Lou Ferrigno how to play piano on the Mike Douglas show. It starts with Ferrigno doing a striptease while Liberace watches in appreciation. Liberace then gives Ferrigno a rhinestone shirt that spells "incredible". "That looks good", Liberace says. (Honestly the clip is mostly awful, but I give Liberace credit for letting Ferrigno upstage him. Pro all the way.)
posted by Nelson at 6:47 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


eading in the Lowe article the phrase "watching Gordon Gekko banging Jason Bourne" made my needle skip a groove.

Well, except, as is the subject of one of the argument scenes in the film, it's more "Jason Bourne banging Gordon Gekko."
posted by dnash at 7:03 PM on May 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked the movie, but to me, the hands down best performance came from Debbie Reynolds. Not only did she impersonate an almost perfect Polish American accent, but she also positively nailed the vibe that Polish American mothers/grandmothers have. I had my own Polish American grandmother. She spoke Polish until the day she died (despite being born in the US and being a native English speaker… her parents were the immigrants). Those with Jewish grandmothers will recognize the heavy doses of shame and "don't worry about me, I'll just sit here and die alone" in Reynolds' depiction, but Reynolds takes it one step further and gives us the Catholic version of this. It's hard to explain just exactly what the very subtle difference is, but boy did Debbie get it. There's this sort of trailing off when she delivers a zinger that was definitely inherent in my grandmother and her many blue-haired Polish neighbors. With the stereotypical Jewish grandmother, you say to yourself "shit, she just zinged me". With the Polish/Catholic grandmother, you say to yourself, "shit, DID she just zing me?". It was one of the eeriest movie portrayals I've ever seen, since I've never seen an exact clone of my family in a movie before.
posted by readyfreddy at 9:05 PM on May 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh god, Debbie Reynolds was a Black Horse superstar.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 PM on May 29, 2013


I still haven't seen the movie, but those stills of Rob Lowe look like the mean girl at my middle school (back in 1989).
posted by pxe2000 at 3:37 AM on May 30, 2013


I don't get why people are shitting on his music. He was a technically excellent piano player.
posted by gjc at 6:28 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]




gjc: I don't get why people are shitting on his music. He was a technically excellent piano player.
It's Metafilter, and the internet, where Van Cliburn is a hack, Beethoven was a 2nd-rate copycat, and everything in your personal music collection is actually an affront to human decency.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:00 AM on May 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


From ArtW's link:

According to the Las Vegas Sun, special effects were used to digitally graft the actor's head onto the body of Philip Fortenberry, a Juilliard-trained Liberace virtuoso who was the in-house entertainer at the (now closed) Liberace Museum in Las Vegas for years.

Is it hypocritical to both admire the movie and the idea of a Liberace museum and find at least three things in that paragraph incredibly depressing? If so, I'm a hypocrite.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:03 AM on May 30, 2013


Hey, dude gets his dream job. And creepy face-pasting-on is totally on theme.
posted by Artw at 7:10 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is to my eternal regret that I turned down the offer to play one of the pianos at the Liberace museum by the nice old ladies who ran the place.
posted by The Whelk at 7:48 AM on May 30, 2013


This video, which was included in the original article, is pretty interesting.

I will say one thing for him, at least the closet he was hiding in was FABULOUS!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:05 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Vince Cadell, basis for Billy Leatherwood - note the cat.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on May 30, 2013


It starts with Ferrigno doing a striptease while Liberace watches in appreciation.

I haven't seen such a late '70s wince-inducing moment on stage since Engelbert Humperdinck snogged and dry humped two ladies while singing "You Make My Pants Want to Get Up and Dance." [SLYT] [SFW, but not safe for your soul.]
posted by wensink at 10:10 AM on May 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


At least he asked for consenting women first. That shirt alone is cringe-inducing!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:00 AM on May 30, 2013


Wait, that was Debbie Reynolds?

holy shit that was debbie reynolds
posted by elizardbits at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2013


That was the fun part. I was like, "Who is that actress -- who is probably only like 45 -- playing his mother?" and then I opened up IMDB and thought, "Ohhhhhh."
posted by Madamina at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2013


Near the beginning I got the Enterprise theme tune sung at me, because my wife lives to taunt me with that wretched tune.

She still calls him "Quantum Leap guy".
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on May 30, 2013


Yeah, Debbie Reynolds was actually close friends with Liberace, so she probably had a pretty good handle on the mom.
posted by emcat8 at 10:15 PM on May 30, 2013






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