"You're not going to grab Rock Hudson's gusto on my show."
May 13, 2016 11:59 AM   Subscribe

In 1980, Bea Arthur and Madame* sing "A Good Man is Hard to Find" after some banter about each other's respective styles and sexual innuendo about the puppet seducing Rock Hudson that has aged...let's just say....interestingly.

(* certain younger relations of a certain MeFite may have thought these two women were supposed to represent the same person; also included in this confusion was Lady Elaine Fairchilde from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.)
posted by MCMikeNamara (22 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
MCMikeNamara, you are my hero.
posted by xingcat at 12:26 PM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, Wayland Flowers' puppetry is ASTOUNDING, when you notice it. The work with the arm rods and the ability to use the hands of Madame to put on and take off accessories and such, just AMAZING.
posted by xingcat at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Wayland Flowers and Madame were one of those 1970s things I assumed was a fever dream until The Internet came along and I was able to confirm that it was indeed a real thing that happened during my childhood.
posted by bondcliff at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

And all those Paul Lynde links in the recommendations, goodbye afternoon
posted by Fantods at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I miss Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly like whoa.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 12:54 PM on May 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Sorry, but I can't see Bea Arthur and Rock Hudson being mentioned in the same sentence without immediately being reminded of... Turnin' On!
posted by hangashore at 1:09 PM on May 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hudson of course was gay but closeted, and the title was also the title of a Flannery O'Connor collection of her short stories, referred mistakenly to in a lit class I taught at a woman's college as A Hard Man is Good to Find
posted by Postroad at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

hangashore: Thank you so much for this! I'm fairly sure I'd seen before but like those in the clip, either because of getting old or too much "turnin' on" I'd forgotten it.

Apparently, it's from the same show: The Beatrice Arthur Special. I wish I'd done a little research so I could have included it in the original post.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:17 PM on May 13, 2016

By the end of this video I had become 45% more gay.

It just can't be said enough, Madame was a fucking miracle of a thing to watch if you were a little queer kid in the 70s. I could not have articulated why I was so riveted by her, but lord, you couldn't pull me away from the TV screen.

And I agree with xingcat, the puppetry itself is just wonderful. Madame has a really limited face--she's not an advanced doll with eye motions or anything like that. And yet she's sculpted to so easily flow from stern bitchy looks to delighted crowing laughter!
posted by mittens at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

> the title was also the title of a Flannery O'Connor collection of her short stories, referred mistakenly to in a lit class I taught at a woman's college as A Hard Man is Good to Find

Although orthogonal to the main part of this FPP, let me just climb on Postroad's comment and add that Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is an amazing and chilling story. It has a lot to say about a lot of things, and its casual observations about fucked up family dynamics are *still* spot on, even 63 years after its original publication.
posted by mosk at 1:33 PM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

posted by mikelieman at 2:23 PM on May 13, 2016

Every time I see Bea Arthur in a clip like this I'm reminded what a fucking professional she is. I love how she takes the skewering of her pantsuits from a damned puppet and just gives it right back.

I felt a little cheated what with the lack of actual Rock, but this church service bit is pretty great. I assume it's the same special. Features Rock Hudson saying "I was down low".
posted by Nelson at 3:54 PM on May 13, 2016

I so love encountering these things from my childhood, when I had not a clue, and revisiting them.

After I grew up and moved to Chicago, I ended up friends with some guys a few years older than me. And one time when they got to regaling with stories of Chicago's gay life back in the day, they told me that Mr. Flowers liked to hang out at the Man's Country bathhouse. (Which I gather in those days did not have quite the skeevy reputation it has now.) Anyway, they tell me he liked to sit at the snack bar, in just a towel, with Madame, who also was dressed in a towel and turban, and Madame would make catty comments about the various men walking by.
posted by dnash at 4:31 PM on May 13, 2016 [13 favorites]

Oh, man. Do I ever miss Wayland and Madame. That was always guaranteed to be outstanding entertainment.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 5:05 PM on May 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

They knew exactly what they were doing, thi glass closet queerness of hte 70s is super super fascianting.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:42 PM on May 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

dnash: with Madame, who also was dressed in a towel and turban

Oh my god. OH MY GOD of COURSE she was. That is the best thing I have heard all day and I thank you.
posted by theatro at 6:48 PM on May 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Wow, this is amazing. I never knew about Madame. I've spent the last half hour down the rabbit hole watching youtube videos. Amazing puppetry.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:12 PM on May 13, 2016

I'm not the only one seeing that blue-gray penis sticking out of Madame's headdress, right?

Used to love seeing her on TV as a suburban queerkid. The idea of Wayland and Madame in towels at a bathhouse reading the men as they walked by is cracking me up so much right now.
posted by mediareport at 5:44 AM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

That was great, but hangashore's link to "Turnin' On" might have been even better -- how on earth did they convince Rock to sing about poppers with a (heh heh) straight face?
posted by jburka at 6:55 AM on May 15, 2016

I'm pretty sure Hudson and Arthur both thought the song was hilarious. And they got paid, a virtue in itself. I was gonna blame Nancy Reagan for the song but that's not right. It aired in January 1980, long before Reagan was even elected, and the song itself is from a 1977 musical. Looking at the lyrics a bit more closely it's not even clearly a "Just Say No" message, you can even read it as a celebration of turnin' on.

While looking for info on Rock Hudson's recreational drug use I came upon this hilarious anecdote from Armistead Maupin
When I tell it to straight interviewers, they end up saying, 'He had an affair with Rock Hudson.' No, no, no. It wasn't an affair. We played a couple of times. That's what gay men do sometimes. The first time we played, I was completely unable to perform because I was acutely aware that I was going to bed with Rock Hudson. To make matters worse, he had a little black leather popper case that was embossed with the initials 'RH' in case I forgot who I was with. But he was just really a good guy about it and terribly funny and pointed out to me that this happened to him all the time with his sex partners."
"Remember when amyl nitrate was some guy’s name?" indeed.
posted by Nelson at 10:13 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oooh, ooh, ya'll need to check out Madame's Place! The sitcom that brought you Madame, Judy Landers, Corey Feldman, and many D-List celebrities to your home five days a week!

It even had an excellent, catchy theme song!
posted by DRoll at 6:37 PM on May 17, 2016

So a bit of backstory on this post, I have a folder on my browser bar for MetaFilter Ideas, and I felt like posting something from it last Friday, but a lot of it seemed like too much work for the mood I was in. Within the folder, there was a subfolder marked "Madame" because apparently one time I decided I wanted to make a post about Wayland Flowers and Madame. However, this was the only link in it, probably because finding this was what inspired the idea.

However, five days later, the thread now contains a lot of the links I would have probably included, as well the story about Man's Country that was more than I could have ever imagined.

What I'm saying is, kids, follow your dreams!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:45 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

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