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