Friday, 10 July 2020

This weekend, I am mostly dressing casual...

...just like the legendary Puerto Rican television astrologer and cult icon [who bore a striking resemblance to my Nan towards the end] Walter Mercado, subject of a recent (Netflix-only at the moment, more's the pity) documentary about his life, named after his catchphrase: Mucho Mucho Amor.

From the New York Post:
Mercado’s career began in 1969 when he began reading horoscopes on television in his native Puerto Rico. He eventually became an international phenomenon, known as much for his astrology shows as he was for his coiffed look and Liberace-like wardrobe of colourful suits and jewellery and signature crystal-bedecked capes.

While one might assume he was gay, it wasn’t something Mercado ever discussed. He was an open book with the film-makers, except with it came to his romantic life. “He didn’t like the labels and he didn’t kind of embrace them in any particular way,” co-director Kareem Tabsch said. “But, he was a queer icon. If you were a Latino, Latin American, like myself as a young queer kid watching for the first time, I recognized that sense of otherness in him that I saw in me. I was a much less fabulous version, but I could tell he was different in a way that I was different. And if there was that possibility that he was so loved in the Latino community being so different, that as a young queer person, maybe I too could be loved.”

Mercado was in his 80s when [they] approached him about making the documentary. He agreed after they told him their astrological signs.

By then, Mercado’s life in the spotlight was long gone. His career stumbled during a seven-year legal battle that began in 2006 over the rights to his name and likeness with his former manager Bill Bakula.

Mercado was 87 when he died in November 2019, not long after the doc had wrapped. “He’s our Mr. Rogers and our Oprah and our Liberace all combined into one,” co-director Cristina Costantini said. “I think on a certain level we were shocked that he agreed to do the film. But he so badly wanted to be a public guy, so badly wanted attention and wanted to make this his comeback. We thought it was going to be a comeback but it ended up being a swan song, of course. He really loved the lights and the camera. They gave him energy. They gave him life.”
Here's a trailer for what promises to be an extraordinary programme [and should it ever be shown on "proper telly", I might watch it]:


Sunday, 5 July 2020

The swan nonpareil

From The Robb Report:
Every artist must settle on a medium; and although Truman Capote, as a boy, imagined a career in films, by the time he turned 20 he had tied his hopes to a literary career. Style - in language and in life - was a preoccupation for the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, whose aesthetic ideal was the fusion of ambition and taste in what he described as a living work of art. “There are certain women,” he said, “who...are born to be rich. By and large, these persons are artists of an odd variety; money, in astronomical amounts, is their instrument.”

Capote became an eminent connoisseur of such venal virtuosos, whom he playfully called his “swans.” These ladies shared more than friendship with the writer: each possessed striking looks, a flawless fashion sense, and a determination to secure the means to bend the world to her whims. “ the sense of what a person wanted to be,” recalled one acquaintance, “and then he helped her to achieve it. It was his way of getting close to her.”

...The swan nonpareil, however, was Barbara “Babe” Paley. “Mrs. P. had only one fault: she was perfect,” Capote noted. The youngest of the three celebrated Cushing sisters of Boston, Paley abandoned her post as an editor at Vogue for the more remunerative position of Mrs. Stanley Mortimer. She filed for divorce when the Standard Oil heir returned from service in World War II a broken man, and thanks to the ministrations of her well-connected sister Betsey Whitney, she displaced the first Mrs. William S. Paley to become the second wife of the broadcasting pioneer.

Capote met Paley in 1955, when one of her guests asked if “Truman” could join them for a weekend on her estate in Jamaica. Expecting the former president of the United States, she agreed. From the moment the impish author boarded the private plane, he and Paley were inseparable.
Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley (5th July 1915 – 6th July 1978)

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Sunday, 28 June 2020

A tits-and-feathers man

...It was showbiz rather than acting that had the greater appeal for him. "I'm a tits-and-feathers man really," he explained. He loved the Tiller Girls, who were his idea of glamour, and blamed the Beatles for making show-business less glamorous."
The marvellous John Inman would have been 85 years old today.

All together, now... "I'm Free!"

Frederick John Inman (28th June 1935 – 8th March 2007)

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

A woman without the fear of failure

"She never lets the words or melody get in her way. She is us, without the fear of failure."

"Margarita gives everything she's got, every time. If she forgets the words, she sings something else. She never stops."

And so, farewell then, Margarita Pracatan - whose rise to fame here in the UK, where she was a massive "cult" success, was all down to one man's delightfully tongue-in-cheek admiration of her; Mr Clive James {whose quotes are above].

From her early days as a refugee from Castro's revolution in Cuba, Margarita aspired to become a cabaret singer. Only one thing potentially served to hold her back; a complete lack of talent. But did that stop her? No way!

Described in his tribute to her by Kenneth Walsh (aka Kenneth in the 212) as "Charo on a bender", the great lady found her outlet thanks to the innovative Manhattan Cable access TV [which also brought the world self-made chat shows, panel shows, gay shows, porn stars, assorted weirdos including "Jews for Jesus", "Ugly George", "Coco Crystal", stripper Robin Byrd, "Rapid T. Rabbit" and the legendary "Mrs. Mouth", the Beastie Boys... and RuPaul!], extracts from which were shown weekly on the embryonic Channel 4, presented by the dry-as-dust Laurie Pike. Presumably, it was here that Mr James and his team first encountered her, brought her to Britain - and the rest, they say, is history.

Remarkably, Señorita Pracatan went on to sell out venues such as G.A.Y. at The Astoria, Edinburgh Festival and even The London Palladium, and went on to a great cabaret career back in her home city New York. I was granted free access to one of her shows, back in Wales in the 90s while I was fundraising in the venue's foyer, but I am ashamed to admit that a couple of her "songs" was quite enough, so I left.

I leave you to make up your own mind...

RIP Margarita Pracatan (born Margarita Figueroa, 11th June 1931 – 23rd June 2020)

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Uma mulher revolucionária

There must have been something in the water around this time of year - for, in the run-up to what would have been Gay Pride this weekend, today's birthdays include computer scientist and icon Alan Turing, bisexual sexologist Alfred Kinsey, lesbian actress and campaigner Miriam Karlin, bisexual singer Jason Mraz and allegedly lesbian stage actress Irene Worth; and also "Mr Jazz Hands" Bob Fosse...

...and this remarkable lady!

Another diva previously unknown to us here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Senhora Dercy Gonçalves (for it is she) was a very popular Brazilian comedienne (and gay icon), whose record-breaking 86-year career began when, at the age of fifteen, she ran away from home and joined a travelling theatre; she went on to become a huge success on stage, on television and in film. Her final appearance was in 2008 when she starred in the film Nossa vida nao cabe num opala at the age of 101; she died not long afterwards.

During that impressive career, her overwhelming candour secured her "icon" status in the eyes of the Brazilian public. Despite being just 4ft 11' in height she had a reputation for causing a big scene - she was as renowned for swearing and using vulgar comedy (and consequently became a chat show "must-have" guest), as much as for her flamboyance. So popular was she that whole segments of the Rio Carnival were often dedicated to her and, notoriously, in 1991 (at the age of 83) she caused a sensation by appearing bare-breasted on one of the floats!

She even has a museum dedicated to her life.

When she finally passed over to Fabulon - after a funeral service at which thousands turned up, including the President of Brazil - she was interred, standing up, in a mausoleum (of her own design) made of glass and in the shape of a pyramid. Presumably so she could perpetually keep an eye on what's going on...

"I am very impudent, very naughty. I am really daring, you know? I don't take any insults from anyone. With my mouth, I don't need to slap."

"I am an independent woman, I never needed money from a man. I win, solve my problems, decide my life, I don't like advice... If I don't like it, fuck it!"

Here's a sample of the great lady in "action" - being photographed by a French artist:

How utterly fabulous [even if I don't understand either French or Portuguese...]!

Dercy Gonçalves (born Dolores Gonçalves Costa, 23rd June 1907 – 19th July 2008)