A Little Space Alien (Ep. 207 - Superman)

This Week’s Guest: Glenn Kiser

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You might not recognize the name Glenn Kiser, but he's had a hand in countless films over the last three decades -- helping to craft films in editing rooms alongside directors like David Fincher, Spike Jonze, and Jane Campion, before moving on to run Skywalker Sound for George Lucas and now the Dolby Institute. As a kid, Glenn would obsess over movies and dream of the day he could make his own. And just like gathering elements of a story in an editing room, he crafted the steps in his career that would take him from living on an isolated ranch in Texas to working at Skywalker Ranch.

And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with Scott Flanary, winner of The Amazing Race Season 29. It's on Saturday December 29 at 2pm pacific.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. And we'll be doing our next Queens of Adventure livestream on Saturday December 22, so head over to QueensOfAdventure.com for details.

This Week’s Recommendation: Auntie Mame

Thanks again to Glenn for joining me. We talked a bit about Auntie Mame, and now is indeed the perfect time of year for that film. Or for the book on which it's based. Or if you're really devoted, the musical adaptation Mame starring, for various reasons, none of them good, Lucille Ball.

None of these works is entirely perfect -- their handling of racial stereotypes is particularly unpleasant -- but they also manage to achieve moments of sheer delight.

Auntie Mame, in whatever form you consume it, is a delightful work of mid-century art. The film is a 1950s romp with bright phony soundstages and bellowing performances that overflow with camp, centered around a wacky aging aunt who lives a life entirely on her own terms, much to the horror of everyone around her.

At times, the movie manages to accidentally anticipate the freedom of the 60s, but gaily depicts it as originating not in youth culture but from a powerful grande dame.

It's no wonder queer folks are drawn to the character -- created by Patrick Tanner, a bisexual man. As Mame, Rosalind Russell emits a perfect form of manic free-spirited energy to demolish what today we would call "the patriarchy" but back then would simply be "life." And although the two movies lean heavily on the uptight heterosexual nephew as a framing device, Mame has no time for the stodgy times in which she lives, and flies from one madcap caper to another.

Whether her story is contained within the context of the Depression, the pre-feminist 50s, or who knows maybe someday a contemporary remake, Mame's refusal to even consider that she might be beaten down by her circumstances is inspiring. Insane, sure. But the inspiring kind of insane.

Stuff We Talked About



What Do You Do When You're An Over The Hill Baton Twirler? (Ep. 206 - The Sound of Music)

This Week’s Guest: Henry Goldring

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How do you share your story when your story defies belief? My guest this week is Henry Goldring, whose upcoming memoir is entitled Unbelievable and recounts tales of audaciously bluffing his way into getting hired as Joan Rivers' opening act, despite never having performed before; and also getting committed by his siblings. Henry grew up in a generation that didn't have the internet, didn't have public role models, and was decimated by an epidemic. Considering all he's endured, it's no wonder he's got some particularly wild stories to share.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with the delightful Dave and Alonso of the Linoleum Knife family of podcasts. It's next weekend, and it's a little earlier than usual: Saturday December 8 at 8am pacific, 11am eastern.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. And we'll be doing our next Queens of Adventure livestream on Saturday December 22, so head over to QueensOfAdventure.com for details.

This Week’s Recommendation: Maude

Thanks again to Henry for joining me. After we recorded our conversation, I went back and looked for a clip of him on that episode of Maude, and found him in the background of a scene. There's a screengrab posted at SewersofParis.com.


And that episode is this week's recommendation -- it's entitled "The Gay Bar," and it aired in 1977, season 6 episode 9. Maude episodes are available to buy on Amazon, and for free from illicit sources. But if you'd like a condensed version, I have a video on YouTube where I show some highlights and talk about the historical context at the time when it aired.

In the episode, there's a gay bar coming to town and Maude's homophobic neighbor Arthur isn't having it. He plans to protest and get politicians involved and shut the place down. The episode is remarkable for a couple of reasons -- it was a particularly compassionate depiction of gay people and the persecution they face; it may be the first time the inside of a gay bar appeared on television; and there's one extra who wears a pink three-piece suit that has to be seen to be believed.

But what really stands out to me when I watch the episode now is that in the end, Maude and Arthur are able to reach a point of mutual respect for each other, despite also having mutual disdain for each others' values. This was a time at which it was considered a virtue to overlook the moral failings of bigots like Arthur in the name of collegiality and compromise. There are a lot of reasons that changed, but by today's standards I'm not impressed by either Maude or Arthur. He ends the episode backing down from his plans to picket but still believing that gay people are a blight; she ends the episode telling him that the consistency of his principles is worthy of respect.

But lets not forget what those principles are: that queer people should be hounded and persecuted to the point that they can no longer leave the house. That might've been a mainstream opinion at the time, but the fact that a supposedly liberal character would tolerate it as recently as 1977 reminds us just how backwards that time was.

Clips of Stuff We Talked About


Unleash the Queen (Ep. 205 - Freddie Mercury)

This Week’s Guest: Jim Provenzano

I don't know if you heard, but somebody tried to make a movie about Bohemian Rhapsody recently. And it's nice that the film might introduce the band to a new generation, but there are some queers among us who got to live through Queen the first time. My guest this week is Jim Provenzano, author of the novel Now I'm Here, which tells the story of two small town boys who fall in love to the soundtrack of the late 70s. Jim's a product of that time as well, and grew up in a time of innocent homoeroticism, and at times, dangerous disobedience.

We'll have that conversation in a minute. And I hope you'll join us for the next Sewers of Paris live chat, with the delightful Dave and Alonso of the Linoleum Knife family of podcasts. It's next weekend, and it's a little earlier than usual: Saturday December 8 at 8pm pacific, 11am eastern.

Head over to SewersOfParis.com to see clips of the stuff we talk about on each episode of the show.

The Sewers of Paris is listener supported -- click "support the show on Patreon" join the folks who make the show possible.

And for more queer podcasting, check out Queens Of Adventure to hear drag queens on an epic Dungeons & Dragons quest. And we'll be doing our next Queens of Adventure livestream on Saturday December 22, so head over to QueensOfAdventure.com for details.

This Week’s Recommendation: Flash Gordon

Thanks again to Jim for joining me. Check out JimProvenzano.com for all of his work. And if you're in San Francisco, he'll be part of an upcoming celebration of the music of queen on Thursday, December 6th. It's a live show called Now We're Here, and it features acoustic performances of more than a dozen classic Queen songs interpreted by Bay Area musicians.

It's nice to see Queen and Freddy Mercury a topic of conversation these days, my recommendation is that you see the film that really captures their music and their aesthetic. I'm speaking of course of 1980's Flash Gordon, featuring a soundtrack composed entirely by Queen.

The movie both terrible and an absolute gem, a work that cuts corners in some areas and spends lavishly in others. The look is a bizarre 70s fantasy-futurism, the plot is absurd, and some of the performers are upstaged by their hair. But the music is magnificent, not to mention the sheer misplaced extravagance. It's giddy and weird and rarely makes sense, but at no point can you predict what will happen next.

Where bad movies are concerned, I have high standards -- you don't need to waste your life inflicting every single movie like Zardoz and Lost Horizon on yourself. Some films are so bad they're just bad. But Flash Gordon is a stupid delight -- not as queer as Barbarella, but a camp pleasure nonetheless. The over-the-top music, starting with the perfectly gaudy theme, set the tone for an experience that is wonderful and ridiculous. It takes an incredible talent to make such an incredible mess.

Stuff We Talked About