Dateland: Oh, Moses!

JenniferParello
Dear readers, your columnist is in the dumps. Perhaps it’s the change of seasons. Maybe it’s middle-age malaise. Or it could be that I’m depressed because no one cares enough about Anne Baxter to post clips of her on YouTube. I spent most of the night searching in vain for amusing scenes featuring Ms. Baxter in “The Ten Commandments” (“Oh, Moses! Moses!”) and “All About Eve” (“When you’re a secretary in a brewery, it’s hard to make believe you’re anything else. Everything is beer.”) And now I’m tired, disappointed, and a little weepy.Searches on Tallulah Bankhead, Fanny Brice, Beatrice Lillie and Thelma Ritter produced a similar paucity of results.These great ladies used to be part of the gay cannon, and now they’re fading portraits hanging in the dusty attics of Beyonce, Gaga, Madonna and Pink. The gay boys, who have long been responsible for keeping the old divas memories alive,  have traded in the yeoman-like work of mining gems from forgotten 1940s radio shows for the easy delights of posting clips from the latest catfight on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

In order to stop this revolting trend, I proposed taking some of my young gay boys on a road trip to visit historic diva sites in the Midwest.

“It will be like when Auntie Mame packed everyone in the car and drove out to Larchmont!” I exclaimed.

“Who’s Auntie Mame?” asked one young gay.

“What’s a Larchmont?” asked another.

(I realize I should take this moment to explain the cultural significance of the madcapped Auntie Mame. But, honestly! Read the book or watch the [original] movie, you lazy asses. Educate yourselves!)

Our first stop was Michigan City, Indiana, where Anne Baxter was born. Next we travelled to Peru, Indiana, to the birthplace of Cole Porter.

“But he wasn’t a lady or a diva,” one of my gays whined.

“No, but he birthed some of the 20th century’s greatest divas. If it wasn’t for Cole, there would be no Ethel Merman. And if there was no Merman, there’d be no Patti LuPone or Bette Midler. And without Bette and Patti, there’d be no Gaga or Adele.”

“Oh, so kind of like if there was no Cher there would be no Madonna,” one boy said, clutching his heart, which fluttered madly at the thought of a world without those two vampires. (And I mean that in the most flattering way. They’re ageless, powerful, and I suspect they suck the blood of young prey.)

Finally, we headed to Milwaukee to Ten Chimneys, the summer home of Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt. Here sexually confused married couples entertained the finest thesbians of the day: Noel Coward, Helen Hayes, Vivian Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Carol Channing, etc.

Our tour guide explained that Alfred was a control freak who fretted over every detail of the great house, while Lynn spent most days in her bedroom, staring at herself in the mirror.

“She’d spend eight hours preparing herself for dinner while Alfred ran around the estate, dusting, topping off guests’ cocktails, and rearranging objects d’art,” the guide said.

“All day in front of a mirror!” one of the boys exclaimed. “I’ll bet even Barbra can’t match that. We must look her up on YouTube!”  We pulled out our iPhones and started to type.

We found a total of one(!) video. “This is an outrage!” exclaimed one of my newly enlightened young friends. “Something must be done about this.”

And, so, on our drive home we agreed to spend eight hours a week scouring sources for media on the great, old broads. Please join us! Gays, we owe it to this sad, rapidly warming planet to keep things fabulous and witty. Because, as Tallulah Bankhead once said, “If you really want to help the American theater, don’t be an actress, darling. Be an audience.”

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