Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Well of Saabliness

Saab is not dead yet. The clock is ticking on GM closing down our beloved brand—a tragic development, which the Sapphist Gazetteer reported on back in April. But there is interest from Spyker, an obscure Dutch manufacturer of high-end sports cars. We think this possibility would be highly appropriate. The New York Times reported yesterday that the Spyker deal is not attractive to GM because the plan relies heavily on Russian loans. I've also read some reports that the Chinese are interested. But nothing is close to final, apparently. I am saddened at the prospect that Saab could be no more, especially since—as one cruel but not entirely inaccurate friend pointed out— we have built a lifestyle around this particular make of auto. Go ahead, mock me. I admit: I am like a 16-year-old boy when it comes to cars. This one resembles my first (of four). And you never forget your first.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Notes on Drag

I meant to write about this topic back in August, after just returning from Provincetown where I saw a disappointing drag show. What, you ask, could possibly be disappointing — much less disturbing — about a drag show? Isn’t camp intended to be fun, and, according to Sontag, meant to be “playful” and “dethrone the serious”? I know that some tiresome people tritely poke fun at so-called humorless lesbians, but, I have to be honest here, these drag queens in Ptown were the most bitter and mean-spirited girls I have seen since I unwillingly saw a promo for “The Real Housewives of [somewhere].”

Now, I don’t want to be too serious here about drag queens. As Sontag herself in her famous “Notes on Camp” pointed out: being “solemn and treatise-like about Camp… runs the risk of having, oneself, produced a very inferior piece of Camp.” Taking that risk into consideration, I sally forth.

The drag show I saw in Ptown in August 2009 was terrible for several reasons: 1. The drag queens were lip-synching. Simply inexcusable. Drag should not be karaoke-with-sequins — it should be a true performance; 2. They were raunchy. I know, I know, I know that I bring a bit of Miss Jean Brodie with me wherever I go, but still. Let’s strive for excellence, shall we? Raunch is where performers go when they fail to entertain and are left with no choice but to hold an audience’s attention with shock; 3. They were malicious and demeaning toward women, which I suppose could be a definition of raunchy, and this, again, strays from the realm of true camp. “Camp proposes a comic vision of the world,” says Sontag. “But not a bitter or polemical comedy.”

Now, you may be wondering, does camp = drag? No. Because I would argue that drag kings are entirely different from drag queens. Drag kings are sexual, drag queens are asexual. I mean, just look as this sexy one in Girl King. But that is a topic for another day. Nonetheless, a drag show featuring drag queens should be an exercise in camp. Otherwise, it’s just a man in a dress.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The lovely Meredith Baxter comes out gracefully

Meredith Baxter has come out in the most admirable way: On her own terms, as a positive act, and with her dignity and gorgeousness intact.

The image of Meredith Baxter, or Meredith Baxter Birney as we knew her, is about as wholesome as it gets. But the appealing thing about her characters was they always seemed to have something serious going on beneath the distracting beauty and the soft voice. In a scene from Family, the 1970s TV drama, Meredith's character Nancy says to her mother, "You've always had my number, haven't you?" Honestly, you could watch this scene and be convinced the topic is Meredith's lesbianism. By the way, Meredith starred in Family with Kristy McNichol. Sapphic coincidence?

Meredith has been famous for a long time, which is one of the fascinating elements to her coming out. Everyone knows who she is. And everyone knows her as wholesome and extraordinarily pretty. Unbelievably, she's 62 (!) and still hot. I love her particularly for her role in All the President's Men, in which she played the wife of Hugh Sloan, one of Nixon's money men. When Woodward and Bernstein show up at her door, she says, "This is an honest house." And you believe her. You believe deeply that she and her husband are good and decent people even though they are Republicans.

According to the photos, Meredith's girlfriend Nancy Locke is blond, tanned, and ruggedly handsome like a field hockey coach. According to Meredith on the Today show, the girlfriend is a general contractor and drives a truck, in case anyone had any doubt that Meredith's GF is butch.

Baxter said she came out in part because she wants to help fight anti-gay legislation. "I'm not a political person, but this is a political act," she said. Baxter was visibly uncomfortable but admirably brave during the interview and said the decision to come out in a public manner was hard for her because she considers her personal life private. "To come out and disclose stuff is really antithetical to who I am," she said.

You can see the 8-minute Today show clip on YouTube. Or, for even more fun, watch her in this 1979 Preference by L'Oreal commercial: Because she's worth it.