Friday, October 24, 2008

The October People

I hate October. Despite that cheery holiday Halloween, a.k.a. The Gay Christmas, it's a month of death. Little Dougie's mother died in October, 11 years ago. (Read Dougie's tribute to his mom here: Iris Genevieve Puett Dunn McEwan.), our mutual friend and mentor Bill Hudnut died in October, 16 years ago today, and Dougie's best friend, John Fugiel, died in October, 21 years ago today.(You can read Dougie's blog tribute to John Fugiel, originally posted a year ago today, right here: John Fugiel 1952 - 1987.)

Plus, they have some kind of weird ritual called "The World Series" that used to play havoc with the new TV schedules every October. However, these days, no one pays any attention to "The World Series" anymore, and it's been shuffled off to some obscure cable channel, where it no longer intereferes with TV viewing. To give you an idea of how lame it's become, this year The American League awarded its "Pennant" (A small flag shaped like The Bermuda Triangle, which is where all interest in The World Series has gone) to a Little League team!

But even the amusement factor of an amateur team playing in this World Series thing hasn't stopped the usual October Parade of Death, and celebrities have been keeling over one after the other at such a rate, one suspects that Sarah "Sure Shot" Palin has been flying over them in a Helicopter, shooting them for their clothes. (Well, you can hardly expect her to adaquately clothe herself for a measly $150,000. Gracious, I can barely buy a pair of shoes for that in our present economy. As it is, she can barely make ends meet, what with the pittance Alaska pays her to live in her own house.) And what's worse, there aren't even any candidates for The Good Ridddance List in the parade of fresh cadavers.

The closest thing to a candidate for The Good Riddance List this October has been Mr. Blackwell, who fell off the runway forever at the youthful age of 86.

Odious as this untalented poseur was, he was simply too innocuous for The Good Riddance List. However, I have never forgiven the self-infatuated dandy for his including me on his 1966 Worst-Dressed List. I do NOT dress "Worse than she smells." I have sworn affidavits from the "Noses" of three top Parisian Parfumiers, who all stated under oath that I smell much worse than I dress! And further, that my clothes smell worse than they look also. Mr. Blackwell never put me on his list again, as he claimed I had become "Too obscure to bother about." He should talk!

In any event, in 1925, John Barrymore placed me at Number 1 on his far-more-prestigious "Best Undressed List," and if there was anything Mr. Blackwell never wanted to set eyes on, it was a naked woman. The whole reason he became a fashion desgner was to keep women's bodies covered.

Actually, Mr. Blackwell was more of an out-of-fashion designer. I mean when was the last time you heard someone on a red carpet say, "I'm wearing Mr. Blackwell"? 1960? 1860? Never? For Mr. Blackwell, Project Runway meant trying to get into first class on an airplane.

Here's one of his actual dress designs, from back when he still made an effort to actually design something once in a while. Notice how he tried to "Hide the natural repulsiveness of the female body" by making it look like a big hairy penis. I might suck this dress, but I wouldn't wear it.

Mr. Blackwell was a shy, modest, self-effacing man. Here he is recently, seen in his tasteful, understated living room. This man made Jerry Lewis seem shy.

Mr. Blackwell is survived by Mrs. Blackwell, and all the little Blackwells, including 7 imaginary grandchildren, and hundreds of imaginary mourners.

Another death this month, one that actually is a loss, was magnificent singer Levi Stubbs, who died prematurely at 71.

Levi was the lead singer for the legendary group, The Four Tops.

When I told Little Dougie that Levi was one of The Four Tops, he squealed, "I LOVE The Four Tops! They make me feel like Heaven!" However, as it turned out, Dougie was mixed up, and was thinking of a different set of four tops.

Anyway, Levi Stubbs was an incredible singer, as well as a movie star. Here he is singing a love duet with Rick Moranis in the 1986 film Little Shop of Horrors, which he sang so well that the song, I'm a Mean, Green Mother From Outer Space, was nominated for an Oscar. In the movie, Stubbs was playing Karl Rove.

By the way,
Little Shop of Horrors, was a musical remake of a classic 1960 Roger Corman horror comedy that starred Jonathon Haze as Seymour Krelboin. As it happens, Jonathon is one of my most devoted fans. In fact, when Little Dougie was pointing out to Haze's Little Shop co-star Jackie Joseph, her mention in my beliked book My Lush Life, Jonathon made a point of mentioning how much he'd loved it when he read it. (No joke!) Here's how he looked in the original film.

"Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?" said lovely Edie Adams in many a commerical for noxious, foul-smelling, cancerous cigars 40 years ago. She looked beautiful, but thanks to Murial cigars, she smelled worse than I do, and it's probably the carcinogens she peddled that are responsible for her youthful demise at 81 this month. Here she is on the cover of TV GUIDE magazine, nuzzling a cigar store wooden Indian. My longtime companion, the Headless Indian Brave, may have no head, but at least he doesn't smell like an ashtray, and he never gives off splinters.

Edie had little choice about the commercials though. When her husband, legendary comedian and TV pioneer Ernie Kovaks, was killed in an automobile accident, he owed the IRS over $500,000, and Edie chose to do the ads to work off Ernie's debt rather than declare bankruptcy. I suspect she'll bring this up now that they're reunited in TV Heaven..

Edie won a Tony Award for playing the original Daisy Mae in the Broadway musical
Li'l Abner, in which she sang the song I'm Past My Prime. That was 51 years ago, so she was well past her prime by now. She also sang You Can tell When there's Love in a Home, although really, you can only tell if the bed squeaks or if one of them is a screamer. (And frankly, if Peter Palmer were nailing me, I'd be howling like a banshee!)

She was in a number of movies, ranging from great (The Apartment, The Best Man) to lousy (Under the Yum-Yum Tree, Call Me Bwana, The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood), and she played that slut Mae West in a TV movie about Ernie, in which she herself was played by Melody Anderson, but I always think of her first in the Sinnerama comedy spectacular It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

In this next shot, that's Edie at the left end. The winner of the It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World cast tontine is several steps closer to being declared. In fact, it's pretty much down to Mickey Rooney, Jonathon Winters, and Stan Freberg now. Go Stan!

This next photo must be from her last film appearance, a cameo in Oliver Stone's current release, W.

This is 1950s game show host Jack Narz.

Jack was a mere 85 when he left the planet this month. Half a century ago, Jack was Little Dougie's favorite game show host, the Jeff Probst of The Eisenhower Years. It was Jack's show Dotto, a favorite of Dougie's, that launched the quiz show scandals of that era, but Jack wasn't to blame.

Among the many shows Jack hosted were Concentration, 7 Keys, Video Village, and Beat the Clock. Little Dougie never met Narz, though he did work once with his brother, Tom Kennedy. Yes that's right. Jack Narz was the least known member of The Kennedy Clan.

Composer Neal Hefti died this month at 85, though we should not consider it rough justice for his having composed the theme song for the Batman TV series.

Bear in mind that I appeared as a guest villain on
Batman once, as The Drunkard, so I endured that "Music" in person. I understand that, on the scaffold, just before they swung the trap out from under him, the last thing Saddam Hussein ever said was, "At least I won't be best remembered for having written: 'Da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da da Batman'."

Here's Adam West, wearing a mask to hide his shame, trying to dance The Batusi while sticking fingers in his ears to block the sound of Hefti's Batman music. The laugh is on West. He couldn't get his fingers through the purple cowl.

And they just keep on dropping. 1950s Los Angeles TV "Personality" Chucko the Birthday Clown popped off this month after only 86 birthdays. Although his real name was Charles Runyon, even his wife and little Chucko Jr (His son, not his dick. Get your minds out of the gutter.) only knew him as Chucko.

Little Dougie met Chucko once, at a supermarket appearance in Torrance, when he was still young enough to be impressed by a clown. The upside of Chucko's death is that, as the mascot of birthdays, now that he's dead, no one will have birthdays any more. Fine with me. I wasn't looking forward to being 112.

Chucko was quite the entertainer, doing a live morning show 5 days a week with a studio full of kids, all of whom were having their birthdays. I'd have been shooting the tots with an Uzi by the second day. He always opened his show with this song:

"I'm Chucko, I'm Chucko,
I'm Chucko the Birthday Clown.
I'm Chucko. I'm Chucko.
I'm the happiest clown in town."

And just why was Chucko so happy? Well he explained that in the song's release:

"Christmas comes but once a year, but I come every day."

I was happy for him and all (Ulp! Maybe all that "Clown White" wasn't make-up!), but it didn't really seem an appropriate thing to brag about on a children's show. Here he is doing his fabled impression of Judy Garland.

Just as Edie did ads for cancerous smokes that both looked and smelt like turds (What's sexier than smoking a cigar? How about the turd banquet scene in Pasolini's Salo?), so did Chucko do ads that taught kids that the way to health and happiness was popping pills. Such great wisdom in one so white.

But as I've said before, the fewer clowns the better. Here's a scary thought; of this terrifying trio, the only one still alive is Pennywise the Dancing Clown. (And yes, you sharp-eyed ones, that picture of Chucko was taken at Disneyland.)

But let's end up on a positive note: Here's not only a good thing that happened this October, but it will bring a happy anniversary back on each October henceforth. Readers of my above-mentioned, award-adjacent autobiography My Lush Life will remember my musical director Bryan Miller, and my #1 fan Gilmore Rizzo. Well last week, on October 11th, they got gay married.

Here's me, Little Dougie (Wearing Bob Mackie. No kidding. Bob Mackie!), and adorable Little Greg Stanford, "The Ring Bare-er," (Wearing "God". Nice fabric!) at the wedding, in which Dougie, a lifelong bachelor, played "Marriage." Now Dougie playing Marriage; THAT is a "Threat to Marriage"!

And here's the Happy Couple. What do you say we keep them that way? So if you live in California, be sure and vote NO! on Proposition 8. After all, a vote for Propostion 8 is a vote for bigotry! How do these two guys sharing house payments and raising dogs threaten anyone else's marriage?

And while you're at it California voters, vote No on Proposition 11 also. It's a Republican power grab. This is the year the Republcians LOSE! And all Americans, vote for O'Bama! We can make America something to be proud of once again.

Cheers darlings.

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