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February 2014

The Andrews Sisters & My First Stirrings of "Camp"

Andrew.sistersWhen I was around the age of 14 or 15 I saw a TV commercial for a compilation of the Andrews Sisters' greatest hits and I was captivated by Patty, Maxene and LaVerne.  Their harmony, their look, their pep!  My favorite song of theirs was Hold Tight.  And Bette Midler had a top-10 hit in 1973 with her cover of their WWII classic Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (from her first album The Divine Miss M).  I also came to embrace other songs from the 40s, such as Hut Sut Song, Three Little Fishies and Elmer's Tune.  At the time I had no inkling about being gay (that would come a few years later), but my nascent gay sensibility was beginning to blossom.


Candyman.christina.aguilera Fast forward to the 21st century where in 2004 I was tickled by the inclusion of the Andrews Sisters' version of Winter Wonderland in the movie The Polar Express.  Then a few years later Christina Aguilera paid homage to them with her music video for Candy Man and its uptempo Big Band-like beat and military motif. 


Andrew.sisters.whatsmylineHere are links to two marvelous You Tube clips.  The first, from 1959, is an appearance by the Andrews Sisters on What's My Line?.  The second clip, from 1966, has them in a sing-off with the Supremes, performing each others' hits on Sammy Davis Jr.'s short-lived variety show.  


Madonna_trueblueWhen I became aware of the Andrews Sisters' music, part of its appeal was how old fashioned it was.  Today, however, when I look back at the popular music from 25-30 years ago by Madonna, Culture Club,  George Michael, or the Eurythmics, their songs don't seem like "oldies" at all - "classic" is more appropriate.  Ah, how different the world appears looking through the eyes of youth and the eyes of the AARP set!

My Favorite Song by Cher

CherOf all the memorable songs by Cher (e.g., Gypsy Tramps & Thieves; The Way of Love; Believe) my favorite is a rather obscure one from her 1974 album Dark Lady called I Saw a Man & He Danced with His Wife.  September 2014 will mark 40 years since I saw her perform it on her variety show on CBS.  Presented as a mini soap opera of sorts (a very early music video?), it told the story of love lost and regained. 


It opens with Cher sitting alone at a club, sipping a glass of wine.  As the band begins playing she spies a former lover getting up to dance with his new wife.  Although she catches his eye, he walks by without acknowledging her.  Then two weeks later he shows up at her door and tells Cher that he left his lover because he realized he loved her more than he ever knew (sigh). 


Cher_vogueThis song was very different from Cher's other hits because it had a Big Band feel to it.  (The mid-70s were a time when Bette Midler and the Manhattan Transfer were making 40s-style music popular.)  Not surprisingly, I Saw a Man wasn't a hit, peaking at only #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.  However, based on hearing it this one time, I bought the 45.  Perhaps I liked it because it received no airplay so I never tired of it.  Interestingly, the writer of this song, John Durrill, also wrote her #1 hit Dark Lady.  Double click here to listen to the song.


This was the beginning of a fallow period in Cher's music career.  It would be five years before her next hit, Take Me Home, and then another eight years would pass before she came back in a big way with four top-10 hits in the next few years.  (And during this time she would win the Oscar for Best Actress in Moonstruck.)   But it's her little melodrama of a song from 1974 that I treasure the most.


Here are some other posts I've written about Cher you may find of interest:

Suitable for Framing: Cher's Classic TIME Magazine Cover

Cher + Elton + Bette + WOW! 

Cher Gives Birth to Chasity 


Cities & Towns With Names That Evoke Gay Life

FruitlandA few years ago my Secret Santa gave me a fun book titled All Over the Map.  It grouped US towns and cities into all sorts of categories, such as "Sex","Food" and "Shakespeare"; the categorization was the inspiration for this post.  During a long delay at La Guardia Airport this past Christmas I pulled out my smartphone and began Googling every state, scanning the names of their cities and towns to see if any piqued my gay sensibility.  I got a kick from those that appeared to be either the brainchild of a closeted gay alderman from the 19th century or the name of a town in a bad gay novel.


HomosassaThe only criteria for consideration was the ability of a town's name to trigger a gay association.  For instance, Knob Lick, Missouri made me think of Modern Family's gay daddy Cam, who is from the state.  Effie brought to mind Effie from Dreamgirls.  I associated Felch Township with a sex act that I've never experienced (nor want to).  Sondheimer made me think of Stephen.  And I associated Lu Verne with a drag queen.  Of the 40 or so listed below, my favorites are De Queen, Fruit Heights, Gayville, Homosassa and Fancy Gap.



As I read through the names I thought up some of my own that could be viable candidates, such as Treasure Trail, Fabulous, Ballsack, Boa, Power Bottom, Harness and Taint Springs - none which would seem out of place in a state like Texas.  Interestingly, popular gay resorts don't have names that play on their gay visitors, e.g., Pines, Cherry Grove, Provincetown, Ogunquit, Saugatuck, Rehoboth, Palm Springs, Ft. Lauderdale, and Key West.


Town State
Balltown IA
Bear River WY
Beardstown IL
Bearsville NY
Big Timber MT
Boy River MN
Bruce SD
Buttzville NJ
Carlos MN
Cumby TX
Cumming GA, IA
De Queen AR
Dix NE
Effie MN
Fancy Gap VA
Fruit Heights UT
Fruitdale AL, SD
Fruitland Park ID
Fruitland  FL, IA, MD, NM
Fruitport MI
Fruitvale TX
Gay GA
Gayville SD
Guysville OH
Homosassa FL
Knob Lick MO
Lake Mary FL
Lu Verne IA
Manly IA
Maryville TN
Mint Spring VA
Nuttsville VA
Queen City MO, TX
Rainbow City AL
Sondheimer LA
Swisher IA
Tea SD
Three Way TN
Warm River ID
Young Harris GA



Review of "Stranger by the Lake" - Blinded by Love

Strangerbythelake_posterI've seen my share of gay-themed movies, but the French indie, Stranger by the Lake, is the first to feature a sociopath.  Although it was one of the most slow-paced films I've seen in some time, I enjoyed it.  Perhaps it was because of its French pedigree or a setting that somewhat suggested Fire Island's Meat Rack (where encounters with strangers abound).  It also had a number of sweet moments and amusing encounters that brought to mind some I've experienced.  And some rather explicit sex scenes broke up the monotony.


One summer day twenty-something Franck meets Michel while both are swimming in the lake (Michel looks like a cross between Mark Spitz and Omar Sharif).  Later that day Franck watches from the woods as Michel and his boyfriend swim playfully in the lake at dusk.  However, the hijinxs take a deadly turn when Henri suddenly holds the boyfriend under the water, drowning him.  The following day, despite what he witnessed, Franck begins an affair with Henri and is smitten.  (Talk about being drawn to a "bad boy"!)  Not long afterward, however, things begin to unravel, and when the movie ends, in nighttime darkness, the viewer is left to wonder whether 1) Franck will also be murdered; 2) Franck will go to the police; or 3) Franck will continue his affair with Michel (but never swim alone with him at dusk).




Curiously (or disturbingly?), I wasn't put off by Franck's willingness to overlook Henri's murderous act.  Perhaps I figured he'd eventually come to his senses.  Or is it a commentary on how we're willing to look the other way when we find someone cute and sexy?  (Yes, I wrote "we".)  Bottom line, I give the film a 7.  As for my lack of moral outrage, I give myself a 4 (not lower, because in my heart of hearts I knew that Franck's silence was wrong).   





Divas & Gay Icons Who've Made Their Mark at the Super Bowl




Befitting an event that attracts more than just the most avid football fans, the Super Bowl has probably drawn its share of gay men with no interest in football due to its organizers' choice of performers, some who sang the National Anthem, others who were part of the halftime show.




The National Anthem's ending is a showcase for diva embellishment.  Diana Ross was the first diva to sing it, at Super Bowl XVI in 1982.  Two years later Barry Manilow got the nod.  Then in 1991 Whitney Houston received accolades for her bombastic version in 1997 Luther Vandross joined Barry Manilow as the only other male diva to sing; Cher performed in 1999, Mariah Carey in 2002, Beyonce in 2004, Jennifer Hudson in 2009 and Christina Aguilera in 2011 (she flubbed one of the lines).  And then in 2016, Lady Gaga was handed the microphone.  In my estimation, here are the three best:


  • Beyonce - Sung in her hometown of Houston, this is the Super Bowl best remembered for the notorious "Nipplegate" incident at halftime between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.  I prefer to remember Beyonce's sterling performance instead.




  • Cher - Wearing an auburn colored wig, Cher was in the midst of her third or fourth comeback, this one propelled by her auto-tuned hit Believe (which won a Grammy for Best Dance Song).  Her Super Bowl performance, however, was without electronic frills - and quite powerful.




  • Jennifer Hudson.  She gave it her all, just three months after her mother, brother and nephew were murdered in Chicago.




  • And although Whitney's performance was powerful, she lost points because of unfortunate choice of attire - a cheesy white warm-up suit suit along with a white head band.




  • At 2014's game legendary soprano Rene Fleming sang, the first non-pop singer to do so in nine years.  Still, it should be a thrill for opera queens.






In the early years of the Super Bowl Carol Channing appeared during halftime at the 1970 game (likely singing Hello Dolly) and again in 1972 (joined by Ella Fitzgerald).  Then there was a long lapse before Diana Ross headlined in 1996.  Hers was most dramatic as she first appeared in a puff of smoke and then later was whisked away by a helicopter at the end of her performance (found at the 10:30 mark of this video clip).  Chakha Khan was one of a group in 1999; Tina Turner, Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton appeared together in 2000; Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige appeared in 2001; and then eleven years went by before Madonna (in Egyptian headdress); Beyonce (in a Victoria's Secret meets dominatrix outfit);  Katy Perry (getting upstaged by her sharks) and Lady Gaga got the honors in 2012, 2013,  2015 and 2017, respectively.


Diana Ross


Beyonce 2013 superbowl


Katy perry performing at super bowl with sharks
Katy Perry
Katy Perry