Monday, December 7, 2009

Picking Up The Tab

What did Shorty read this month, you ask? Why, Tab Hunter Confidential, by Tab Hunter!
This book came out to no shortage of fanfare in 2005, because this one time-teen idol (née Arthur Gelien) was relatively frank about what it was like to be gay in Hollywood in the 1950s, and how he - and the studios of course - kept his deviant ways a secret while he starred in B-movie pictures and publicly romanced Miss Natalie Wood and Tuesday Weld and other starlets.

Here's a nice publicity shot of Tab giving Natalie some birthday spankings. Huh. Not deviant.

Anyway, most interest-ing-ly for me & Shorty, was his two year romance with Anthony Perkins. I only saw Psycho - my first Perkins movie - a few years ago, and was bamboozled by how handsome he was. So, apparently, was our friend Tab.

They were both deep in the closet, though Tab insists he himself was more closeted for professional reasons than personal, while Tony had personal conflicts with his identity, on top of professional ones. Whatever. They would often double date with starlets to keep up their images, then they'd drive their dates home and meet up at Tab's for either some Romance, or a Fight.

Don't they look happy here on their double date?
I love this snap that Shorty scanned from the index, which Tab took of Tony in a candid and intimate moment.
It's just so sweet, right? I don't remember who that man is in the photo cropped in the lower corner.

It was around this time that Tab started making records, and even went to #1 with this ditty, "Young Love."

One particularly interesting thing to me was the story of a group lawsuit against Confidential Magazine, more or less the National Enquirer of its day. This was basically a superstar class action lawsuit against the magazine for defamation, and both Tab Hunter and Liberace were among the complainants, for allegations of "pajama parties" and "wild" behavior with their male companions.

What Shorty and I found fascinating about the coverage of the trial was that, as Tab puts it, "the mainstream media couldn't even come up with adequate euphemisms for homosexuality," so their parts were never discussed in the press. It was Maureen O'Hara who won the case for the stars, for proving a purported tryst of hers in LA happened while she was out of the country. Always the Irish lasses sticking up for the boys.

Frankly, I'm not sure how secret all this stuff was. Here's a publicity shot of Tab with Roddy McDowell, where I guess they're making breakfast together, in their underpants? And Roddy is bringing Tab a cake, and Tab is about to put a weiner on the stove?

Moving on...

Here's his description of Rudolph "Rudy" Nureyev, about their affair together in Italy in the early 1960s:

"Some mornings he'd materialize on the [beach], his bone white body with blue veins clad only in a silver lamé swimsuit. Rudy looked like a finely chiseled corpse freshly risen from an ancient crypt, and he walked as if the world was far beneath him."

I mean, who wouldn't like to hear themselves described that way? It's like a passage from Twilight, but with less ellipses(es).

Personally, I love this photo of him and Nureyev. Not only are they doing the recently re-popular side hug, but they seem to be pointing at each other, and not with their hands. Oh how I wish I could come up with an 'adequate euphemism' for this!

Later in life Hunter had his big comeback with John Waters and Divine in Polyester, and there's no putting the horse back in the barn (closet?) after doing a John Waters movie.

Of course he & Divine met up again in Lust in the Dust, which leads to the one Shelley Winters reference Shorty found in the index (he always looks for that first before deciding to read a book). Shelley was originally offered the Lainie Kazan role of Divine's sister, but turned it down. A true, crying, shame - 'cause that would have been a helluva flick.

Even without much Shelley, this was a pretty great book, and a fun tale of old gay Hollywood. We're going to explore more of this topic in the days to come.
Thanks Tab, for the fun tale!


ALH said...

This was a comprehensive, entertaining and educational post. It included some of my favorite contents, including underpants, side hugs, and Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

Dear Author !
I thank for the help in this question, now I will not commit such error.