Beyond the Valley of the Rhinestones
My life with Liberace.
1998. My Jonny and I acquire a spunky little terrier. We name him Liberace in a desperate attempt to counteract the diminishing interest in Mr. Showmanship. I sit our Libby down on his cushion and explain to him that people today are too stupid to understand the stylish camp majesty of his namesake and that he, our pooch, is performing a very important cultural function by keeping the name alive. He pees on my leg.
Spring 2010. Dinner with Jerry Weintraub. The mega-producer and former pal of Liberace tells me that he is in the throes of producing a biopic focusing on the tawdry shenanigans of Mr. Showmanship and his one-time chauffeur Scott Thorson. (Snag yourself a copy of Scott's sizzling tell-all, titled Behind the Candelabra.) Matt Damon and Michael Douglas are set to play Scott and Liberace, respectively. Soderbergh will direct. I feel a surge of optimism about the Lib legacy. There is hope.
Fall 2010. Hopes dashed. First the museum announces its closure. And then, more tragically, Michael Douglas' cancer diagnosis puts the film project on ice. Let us pray for a positive outcome so that Mr. Douglas, and Lib's memory, can thrive in the coming years.
P.S.: In the age of Gaga and Adam Lambert it seems unthinkable that we can't find someone capable of picking up Liberace's sequined baton. There has to be somebody out there with the requisite guts and panache. Caution: You may need to head east to find the appropriate lack of irony. For inspiration check out one-namer Azis, the current gypsy pop sensation from Bulgaria.
And please, dump your he-might-just-be-the-next-Liberace suggestions on the comments page.
Simon Doonan is an author, fashion commentator, and creative ambassador for Barneys New York.(Photo by Roxanne Lowit.)