Queerly™ Random Pairings
. . . a frivolous, mercurial romp, full of laughs, with lessons for the young’uns
Here are some musings and clips featuring odd pairings of celebrities from yesteryear, intended as both humorous diversion and miniature bump of fey-history:
In addition to the three Brothers Gibb, singer-songwriters famous for the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, there was a younger and much cuter brother named Andy. Andy Gibb was, for a brief shining moment, the golden boy of the American pop music scene.
He died suddenly at the age of 30, clean and sober but his body worn out from too much partying. Sadly the cutest Gibb left us too soon.
An unlikely but wildly successful pop cultural phenomenon was one of the first openly gay mainstream entertainers, puppeteer Waylon Flowers and his sidekick/alter-ego Madame.
Together, these two entertained the masses in every kind of TV show you could imagine from talk shows, to Hollywood Squares, to Solid Gold.
Flowers succumbed to AIDS-related illness in 1988 at the age of 48.
Here are Andy and Madame together:
Fans of RuPaul’s drag race were tickled at Ben Dela Creme’s portrayal of (barely) closeted gay actor and comedian, Paul Lynde.
Paul was a veteran of stage and screen when (as Waylon & Madame would years later) he took up residence in “center square” on TV’s Hollywood Squares game show.
In public, Lynde was famous for his hilarious, snarky wisecracks and double entendres, but equally infamous for his nasty drunken rages backstage.
I fondly remember him as both Uncle Arthur on Bewitched and the voice of Templeton the Rat in the 1973 animated classic, Charlotte’s Web. Lynde passed away under mysterious circumstances in 1982; some allege he was cavorting with a hustler who fled the scene after Lynde dropped dead of a massive heart attack.
On the other end of the Kinsey Scale, is the famous Mormon pop-star and teen heartthrob, Donny Osmond.
Today, Donny’s a proud father and grandfather, occasionally making appearances as a B-list celebrity follow many years headlining in Las Vegas with his sister Marie. Weird Al Yankovic once described Donny Osmond as the whitest person he could think of.
Here’s a great comedy skit featuring Osmond playing it (what else?) straight and Lynde at his sardonic, campy best:
And for our featured queer pairing:
Phyllis Diller was a legendary queen of comedy, her place in the hilarious heavens now fixed along-side such names as Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Joan Rivers.
She was famous for legendary self-deprecatory jokes about her age, looks, and her good-for-nothing fictional husband named “Fang.”
The young’uns may recognize Diller as the voice of the Queen in Disney’s A Bug’s Life or as Thelma Griffin in the animated show Family Guy.
Phyllis lived to the ripe old age of 95, her wild hair and rollicking cackle in demand until the very end.
How to accurately describe Liberace to the under-30 set?
Imagine the gayest things you can think of. Unicorns, glitter, rainbows, ice skating, drag queens, rhinestones, sequins, feather boas, Freshen-Up chewing gum . . . yes, and more.
Liberace was gayer than all of those, gayer by far than even Big Gay Al.
Now mix them all together and put ’em in a closet.
A fabulous closet full of diamonds and furs . . . but an awful, terrible closet nonetheless. No closet ever built by man could fully contain the gayness of a man like Liberace. Nevertheless, he tried.
Liberace sued a British newspaper for liable when they dared suggest he was gay. He won the suit, famously lamenting afterwards how he “. . . cried all the way to the bank.”
Liberace was a pianist and showman extraordinaire with an unrivaled taste for extravagance and, thanks to his legions of elderly lady fans, the millions to support that taste.
He had a live-in lover (his “chauffeur”, Scott) for many years who was surgically altered to resemble a younger version of Liberace himself. After he was kicked to the curb, Scott sued Liberace for $113,000,000 in palimony. The suit was settled out of court, Liberace maintaining his heterosexuality the whole time.
Liberace was kind, funny and generous, but also kinky sex pig, into anonymous glory-hole sex at exactly the wrong time in history for that sort of thing. He died in 1987 from complications of AIDS, followed later by several of his former lovers.
Liberace was an incredible showman who led a bittersweet life full of adoring fans but also jeering bigots who saw him as a joke, his life an open-secret in a closed, homophobic world.
Here is a whimsical and funny comedic and musical pairing of Liberace and Phyllis Diller on Liberace’s UK TV variety show:
To round out our little diversion, I’ll leave you with the best talk show host of all time, Dick Cavett, relating a tale about bisexual starlet and vamp, Talullah Bankhead and comedic lothario, Chico Marx, as originally told by his brother, Groucho:
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