Burlesque: A Very Gay Review of a Very Gay Movie
By Lady Bunny
If you're a Cher junkie, Burlesque has your fix. And like me, you will have been jonesing for her since she's put out no album or movie in years. Yes, the diva still has "it" in spades and her large, luminous, glittering, soulful eyes are a joy to behold. Though she's undergone more transformations than her transgender son, Cher is still as riveting as the first time we laid eyes on her decades ago. It's also brave for a 64-year-old woman to show her ass cheek -- and I didn't catch one glimpse of her adult diapers! There's one scene in which Cher gives Christina some motherly makeup tips that will make gays and drag queens alike orgasm. The diva admitted in a New York Times interview that she has a very limited range in both singing and acting. Her character, the salty, humorous, and world-weary but spirited Tess, is well within this range. And Cher's two numbers are fine -- I can easily imagine the remix of "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" becoming a smash with its rousing, sing-a-long chorus. The story line does feel like it just exists to glue together MTV music videos together. But at least they're entertaining videos.
That's where Christina comes in. She gets both more screen time and songs which show off her impressive voice and decent moves. Her soulful voice is perfectly suited to dramatic big band arrangements which recall the vibe of her hit "Candyman." The ballad "Bound to You" is hauntingly gorgeous with interesting chords and she sings the hell out of it. Trust me, you'll be seeing Burlesque-themed production numbers in drag pageants for years to come. But even large breasts and long blonde hair can't make Ms. Aguilera sexy. I wonder if most straight guys lust after powerhouse performers anyway? It seems like two different parts of the brain to me. An in-charge, knock-'em-dead showstopper doesn't seem to appeal to most men the way a vulnerable, I-need-your-protection-so-put-those-big-strong-arms-around-me sort of gal does. In two scenes, two different love interests snatch Christina's bags and demand that she follow their lead. Chalk it up to my drag queen's confusion about sexual roles, but I almost applauded when her guys took the upper hand with her. Try as I might, I can't see Christina as anything but a sullen bitch. A talented sullen bitch, but still. There's just something about her which screams -- even when she's attempting to portray tender moments -- "I think I'm all that." And she is all that when she's singing, which maybe she should stick to. But she couldn't make me believe that she's sweet, innocent, or anything soft. I hate to bring my preconceived notions about a performer, some of which are based on "industry hearsay" (i.e. tales from drunken, coked-up, gossipy hairdressers -- or is that redundant?) into my assessment of Christina in a totally new role. However, I just can't get around the notion that in the back of her mind she's thinking "I hope these idiots get this, unlike my last album. And by the way, Britney's a no-talent, fat, white-trash skank!"
But Ms. Aguilera does provide the one LOL moment. Before proving herself to be a dynamo onstage, Ali pays her dues as a cocktail waitress yearning to perform. Ali -- or is this the real Christina or a character written that way because the singer can't play anything else? -- is a bit shy around her boss, Tess, at first. (Although she immediately turns into a ballsy diva after her first night of success.) She respectfully tells the boss lady "Yes, ma'am" to which Tess, who frequently jokes about her age, shoots back "Don't ever call me ma'am." To the delight of those (like me!) who have enjoyed hearing gags about Cher being a drag queen and how well-hung she is, a flustered Christina then respectfully blurts out "Yes, sir." If you didn't like that joke, the comedy element's downhill from there. When Christina first enters the club, she asks if it's a strip joint. A Cabaret-ish doorman played by Alan Cumming replies "I should wash your mouth out with J'germeister." If you chuckled at that you'll like all the jokes.
Speaking of booze, Patr'n must have paid a fortune for product placement. First Christina orders it and then a Tess-in-distress barrels into work with a Patr'n bottle in hand. (The bitch stole my act!) Though somehow, Cher forgets to act bombed. Perhaps the liquor company specified that no one could appear too inebriated or no paycheck. They like to sell the hooch but gloss over the fact that it makes people drunk, though that's the only reason that we buy it! I'm not buying Patr'n or Burlesque. At least the former is undeniably intoxicating. And while gays are drawn to their divas like crows to stealing jewelry, we're also the first to scream "TIRED!" Burlesque's producers should have spent some of their huge marketing and talent budget on a script worthy of Cher's talents.
For more from Lady Bunny, visit her official website.