The new wave of celebrity coming out dares you to not “bi” into it. Last week, diving champ Tom Daley posted a YouTube video intriguingly titled, “Something I want to say.” And it was a mouthful. Daley revealed that he’s in love with a guy (reportedly Oscar winning Milk writer Dustin Lance Black, though Black hasn’t confirmed that yet) and he’s deliriously happy about this development. But “of course I still fancy girls,” Daley significantly added. (That’s good news for girls, if not for Black, lol.)
The week before that, Maria Bello—the Golden Globe-nominated actress from films like The Cooler, A History of Violence, and Prisoners—wrote a New York Times Modern Love essay describing how her relationship with her best friend (Clare Munn) eventually evolved into a romantic one, to the actress’s surprise and delight. In the article, Bello revealed that she told her 12-year-old son from an ex-boyfriend about the relationship, not sure of what to expect. His reaction? “Mom, love is love.”
And that’s long been the most resonant message of the LGBT community. I’ve written before about people who pretend to be bisexual as a cover for their actual gayness, but that doesn’t discount the fact that millions of real bisexuals actually exist and that a relationship between any consenting adults is perfectly valid as long as they find it so. Just because some of us can’t fathom such a concept for ourselves doesn’t erase the reality that for many people looking for relationships, gender is not an issue, the person is. And that’s the same message gay men and lesbians have always propagated to justify their own relationships!
Of course, the love flow can work both ways. In 1997, actress Anne Heche—who’d previously had relationships with men—hooked up with funny lady Ellen DeGeneres, as the world went wild flapping their gums about it. But when they broke up three years later, Heche took up with a man, as angry gay people called her a traitor and a phony. But Heche had already said that love involves falling for a person, regardless of expectations or labels. That seemed to me like a true statement of bisexuality, and her dating men again didn’t come off the least bit contradictory or hypocritical.
So, let’s welcome Daley and Bello into our ranks regardless of the tags they might fall under. Let’s plug up the biphobia and open our minds to a world of romance where unscripted things happen all the time. Just please tell me off if I ever claim to still fancy girls.
In the meantime, my dates have been chaste and rather tasteful—like a snazzy luncheon for Alexander Payne’s instant classic, Nebraska (a father/son road trip), where a hot guy named Oscar provided the sexy subtext.
At the event, star Bruce Dern’s real-life kid, Laura Dern, gave an eloquent speech praising dad’s truthfulness and wisdom. Laura almost started crying as she made those remarks, then she stopped in her tracks and cracked, “We’re actually like Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. We don’t speak!”
Dern himself speaks a lot, it turns out, and in doing so, he covers all the bases. He said he’d gotten the Nebraska script 10 years ago, and no one should make an auteur like Payne wait that long for a green light. “The guy can make a movie,” Dern said, dryly. “Trust me.” Still, it was worth the wait, and regardless of whatever trophies the film ends up accumulating, Dern crowed, “The biggest win for me I’ve already had, and that was getting the goddamned part!”
Also garnering awards consideration is June Squibb, who hits a home run with every single line she utters as Dern’s mouthy wife. The scene where she lifts her skirt over an ex-beau’s grave is pure Oscar gold, as my tablemate, writer Israel Horovitz, noted. And it’s not her first act of public disrobing. In 1959, June played Electra the stripper in Gypsy on Broadway, starring Ethel Merman! (Finally, a gay angle to all this—though the Olivia/Joan comment was getting warm, lol.) Dern told me that on hearing that bit of background from June, he started informing the press that she once starred as a pole dancer. The actress squawked, “Bruce! They didn’t have pole dancers then!” They didn’t even have Christian Mingle.
JESUS, TAKE THE WHEEL
A musical that beat Gypsy for Tonys—The Sound of Music—was the big hooha on NBC last Thursday, with a game and well-sung but slightly bland Carrie Underwood surrounded by Tony winners turning it out all around the Alps. Overall, it was way more tasteful than the live, Downtown version I once appeared in, with drag queen Holly Woodlawn shrieking, “Shut your von Trapps!” and singing, “Cocaine that stays on my nose and false lashes…” (If you’re wondering, I played one of the nuns, Sister Sledge.)
This time, I watched the musical extravaganza at the NYC gay club xl, where Rebecca Luker, who played Maria on Broadway in 1998, dropped by and quipped about the divine Audra, “That McDonald girl can’t sing at all.” I seized a commercial break to ask Luker what the biggest challenges of playing Maria were for her. “Keeping up my stamina,” she said. “It’s a crazy role with a lot of running around and quick changes. And to make it real. Also, you’re a little afraid of comparisons.” But the woman did so well that 15 years later, she’s still hooked up with Rodgers and Hammerstein, playing the fairy godmother in Cinderella. “My first character part!” she beamed.
Before the evening ended, host Ben Rimalower (Patti Issues) read aloud Mia Farrow’s hilarious tweet about the telecast: “The Von Trapps make my fam look almost normal.”
Yet more 1960s music is being exhumed at the New York Theatre Workshop, where What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined is a song cycle of Burt Bacharach songs performed by arranger/co-conceiver Kyle Riabko and seven other talented musicians. The result is like walking into a rehearsal garage in Bushwick, and it makes for some extraordinary sounds (Riabko’s “This Guy’s In Love With You” is a haunting gem), but unfortunately too much of the reimagining involves slowing down the tempos to a mournful pace. The hills are alive with the sound of dirges. I also felt the show is too hits-heavy, leaving out Bacharach/David’s weird and interesting work with Stephanie Mills, Elvis Costello, and the flop musical film of Lost Horizon. (No, The Sound of the Music isn’t the only mountain-heavy tuner in theater-and-film-queen history.) But that’s just me. “What the world needs now” just might be this kind of scruffy neo-nostalgia.
OK, bi for now!