Hosting a 'Must-See Movie' Party
By Alonso Duralde
In my recent book 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men (Alyson Books), I tried to lay down a list of flicks that any self-respecting homo'be he twink or daddy, Navy SEAL or archbishop'absolutely needs to incorporate into his repertoire. But everyone knows that movie watching is a shared experience, so I've selected a handful of movies from the book that will make a great centerpiece for your next party. Pour the drinks, dim the lights, put your cell phones on vibrate, and enjoy this quartet of queer flicks:
Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Available on DVD? Not until this summer (finally!), from Fox Home Entertainment, but in the meantime, your local video store probably has a pan-and-scan VHS tape. While I normally don't countenance a nonletterboxed movie, Valley is vital enough to allow for an exemption to that rule.
What's it about? Three innocent gals (Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins, Sharon Tate) sacrifice everything for the shark-infested waters of show business and suffer for it. Glamorously. Pills are popped, booze is swilled, and wigs are teased to high heaven.
Dress code: Any of your friends who are pro or even amateur drag queens should be encouraged to pull out all the stops'giant hair, tons of sequins, you name it. There's no way they'll look any goofier than the women in the movie. Men can go for an LBJ-era Lounge Lizard look or, if they want to look like Ted Casablanca (the character, not the columnist), they could go for a canary-yellow terry-cloth bathrobe. It's the perfect look for when your boozy wife has just caught you in the pool with a broad.
What to serve: Martinis, champagne. Even if you're not a drinker, you should serve nonalcoholic beverages in martini glasses and champagne flutes just to set the mood. Don't forget to put out Skittles, M&M's, and any other candies that resemble uppers and downers.
Drinking games: Lightweight: One drink to steel yourself every time Susan Hayward's Broadway gorgon Helen Lawson appears onscreen. Intermediate: One for every crazy new Travilla gown. Hardcore: One for every shot featuring Patty Duke in an unflattering wig and/or chewing the scenery.
The Last of Sheila (1973)
Available on DVD? Yes; Warner Home Entertainment
What's it about? One year after the wife of Hollywood producer James Coburn is killed in a hit-and-run accident, he invites all the suspects for a yachting trip in the south of France. A very labyrinthine game of cat-and-mouse ensues, thanks to gay screenwriters (and puzzle-lovers) Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins.
Dress code: In homage to costumer Joel Schumacher'who would go on to direct Phone Booth and, uh, Batman and Robin'sport your best 1970s resort wear. Ascots, yachting caps, V-neck velour pullovers, you name it. And for the women and cross-dressers, think big sunglasses, floppy Jennifer O'Neill hats, espadrilles.
What to serve: This is another movie where everyone drinks and almost no one eats, so maybe work with the French theme and serve baguettes with brie and mini quiches. But keep the booze coming'your bar might feature a block of ice with an ice pick in homage to one of the key plot points.
Drinking games: Sheila is a wonderfully unpredictable thriller, so if no one at the party has seen the movie, you might pause occasionally and have people predict what's going to happen next. If they're wrong, they drink; if they're right, they drink twice. If all else fails, emulate the movie and reveal terrible secrets about your guests.
The Apple (1980)
Available on DVD? Yes; MGM Home Entertainment
What's it about? In the future world of 1994, rock music'and, seemingly, the entire world'is under the domination of the evil Mr. Boogalow and his BIM corporation. Two young innocents from Canada are tempted to sign with him, but they wind up saving humanity, with the help of the heavenly Mr. Topps. Yes, it's a biblical allegory. It's also a disco musical. Trust me; this is a movie you want to watch with a large group of friends, preferably of the sharp-tongued variety.
Dress code: The Apple is one of those movies from 1980 that didn't see the '80s coming, so its vision of 1994 includes beard glitter (for men); spandex (for women); and shoulder pads, extreme eye makeup, and cameltoe (for both sexes). Go wild'as with Valley of the Dolls, odds are you won't look any nuttier than the people in the movie.
What to serve: If you have any three-sided, plastic drinking goblets that have been sitting in your basement waiting for the right moment, this would be that moment. All the beverages in this movie look like Kool-Aid, so go fruity on the cocktails; all the food looks 'futuristic''think triangular shapes for hors d'oeuvres and sparkles on your desserts.
Drinking games: One for every time the word 'Bim' is mentioned; one for every time you spot Style Network's Finola Hughes as one of the backup dancers or speaking extras; one for every appearance of the two station wagons the producers had tricked out to look all sci-fi.
Girls Will Be Girls (2003)
Available on DVD? Yes; MGM Home Entertainment
What's it about? Drunken, washed-up Hollywood starlet Evie Harris (Jack Plotnick) attempts a comeback via a 'specia-mercial,' while her housemates, Coco (Clinton Leupp) and Varla (Jeffery Roberson), pursue love and fame, respectively. It may become apparent to you that these three ladies are played by men, but the movie never acknowledges this. In any event, you'll be too busy laughing at the wickedly funny dialogue.
Dress code: Drag, drag, and more drag. But not the 'pretty' kind. Have prizes for guests who look the most bedraggled.
What to serve: Stiff martinis, in honor of Evie; lemon drops for Coco, who gets more mileage out of a pair of pursed lips than anyone since Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot; and aerosol cheese for Varla. (But please, don't try her singing-while-consuming-spray-cheddar trick; it's a choking hazard unless you're a trained professional.)
Drinking games: Don't try to keep up with Evie drink-for-drink, lest you wind up with alcohol poisoning. Perhaps try having a shot every time you hear a line so funny that you know you'll be stealing it for your own personal use. Just write down the zinger first, lest your hungover mind be unable to recollect it the next day.
To see a clip reel for 101, click here. To purchase the book, go to http://store.yahoo.com/alysonbooks/101mumoforga.html. Duralde is arts and entertainment editor for The Advocate.