Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can't Stop the Music


Norman has not been having a good week. He’s been in bed with the doctor for days and having a horrible time. We’ve had multiple tests run and some new pills that are quite an attractive shade of puce but he continues to repeat 'Where's my martini?' over and over and over again. It’s driving both Nurse Tameka and I to distraction. The latest thought is to admit him one again to an exclusive private clinic for yet another round of electro convulsive therapy and lobotomy.

In order to keep up my spirits, I have kept myself busy with the new VickiCam website. Here, on live webcast, I have let my adoring public watch me in the rehearsal studio as I begin the arduous task of creating a new routine for an appearance in an upcoming Campbell's Soup Commercial. I have on my best spangled leg warmers and beaded leotard so that I’ll look my best for all of my legions of fans. Unfortunately, from some of the comments in the guest book, it seems that there's some misinterpretation as to what my site offers. Someone repeatedly requests that I do anatomically impossible things with a burro while there are others that feel I should be modeling the latest collection from Frederick’s of Hollywood. Now I adore Freddy as a person, but have never felt that his wares were worthy of a star of my caliber.

My dear friend, Nurse Lynn, came over for dinner and a movie in the new Ottoman style home theater last night. Norman was in the DTs again so we thought a musical was in order to cheer things up. I popped in 1980’s Can’t Stop the Music with such illustrious cinematic stars as Valerie Perrine, Bruce Jenner and the Village People; it’s the one and only film ever directed by Nancy Walker. . Darling Lynn had never seen it and it’s one of those originals, like Rome, that should be seen before death. Few realize that I actually have a small part in this film under a nom de cinema. It was a favor to my old, old, old friend Nancy Walker. I got to hit Tammy Grimes with a baguette while wearing an extremely fetching lime green blazer.

Can't Stop the Music is a fictionalized account of the formation of the group, Village People as seen through the lens of 70s gay disco culture. Real life disco impresario Jacques Morali made himself over into Jack Morel (Steve Guttenberg), a nice Jewish boy in the big city who vows to wow audiences world over with his thumpa-thumpa-thumpa disco tunes. The featherweight plot revolves around Guttenberg, the gayest straight boy ever, and his platonic female roommate, a retired fashion super model (Valerie Perrine (!)), attempting to put together a singing group (Village People) in order to get his disco music heard. Imagine, if you will, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and the gang with the barn out back of the old home place, only with spandex and strobe lights. However, the writing in this film makes the Mickey and Judy MGM musicals look like Chekov and the combined thespian talents of the Village People run the gamut from A all the way to B. Bruce Jenner, of all people, long before anyone heard of a Kardashian, attempted to launch an acting career as a leading man with his part as an uptight tax attorney who mellows by falling in love with Perrine and helping to give her good chums, the Village People, their start. He gives the most embarrassing debut performance since Paul Newman in The Silver Chalice . Bruce's version of acting is to make bug eyes and puff out his cheeks every few minutes; he doesn’t look romantic, he looks like the Pillsbury doughboy after a few too many minutes in the oven.

The truly amazing thing, of course, is that this movie was 1) actually intended for straight audiences and 2) was released in the 80s, after disco culture was already passé. I have no idea what the studio execs who green lighted this were on but it must have seriously warped their perceptions. The proceedings are punctuated by bizarre disco musical numbers designed around such things as milk shakes, half naked Indians, and the all time campfest YMCA where a lot of gym bunnies in Speedos perform Busby Berkeley routines. A male stripper sings a horrendous version of Macho Man followed by a muscle guy with flaming batons setting a law firm's library on fire. Jack Warden shows up in perhaps the ugliest glitter sports coat ever designed. Then there’s the veritable smorgasbord of American stage actresses such as Tammy Grimes, June Havoc, Marilyn Sokol and Barbara Rush, all overacting to the nth degree as the various fag hags that surround the boys. They all end up dancing on stage to the title song at a San Francisco concert as the band performs and the camera whirls desperately amidst the glitter, trying to disguise that the concert audience is all gay men.

This one really has to be seen to be believed. It makes a great double bill with Xanadu . The other Hollywood disco musical where Olivia Newton-John plays the muse, Terpsichore, who comes to life out of a Venice Beach mural and inspires Gene Kelly to open a roller disco.

Infectiously silly disco songs. Screaming queens pretending to be straight. Roller skating Steve Guttenberg. Gratuitous pot smoking. Wooden acting. Glitter tossing. Gratuitous Portia Nelson. Contact lens eating. Carpet drying. Jewish mother with Zabar’s bags.

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