Thursday, 19 December 2013

BAD GIRLS CLUB: BARBARA STANWYCK IN 'BABY FACE'





I gotta say right away that I know zilch about this legendary actress except the fact that she used to be in the DYNASTY spin-off, THE COLBYS, in the mid-80s and that she always had the rep of being a lesbian. In the 1933 BABY FACE drama, however, men are what get her motor going. She plays this down on her luck tough broad who manages to sleep her way to the top. All thanks to life coach extraordinaire Nietzsche (!) whose aphorisms push her into the arms of every guy she meets, including a young John Wayne. The film was heavily edited when it was originally released, believed to be too daring for moviegoers, and with good reasons. For its time, BABY FACE is hardly of the saccharine sort, with lines such as "I’m a tramp and who’s to blame? My father!"
  


The fun kicks in pretty early when Stanwyck, being the speakeasy waitress and floozy that she is, fends off a lecherous bum who happens to be the town politician. When she hits him with a bottle to prove her point, he runs off threatening to close up the joint. Her fuming dad just has time to argue with her before the moonshine operation he keeps next door explodes to smithereens, taking him along for the ride. Orphaned with nowhere else to go except to the street corner, Stanwyck sets out to conquer the world in the Big Apple, and does she.
 


That’s where she meets all types of influent men who enable her to move up in exchange for a good time in the hay. But it’s rich playboy George Brent who ends up touching her heart. So much so that when he’s facing financial ruin she willingly gives up her newfound wealth to come to his aid. And if you think he’s only using her, well, think again. He loves loves loves her, and for a girl with a past, that’s all that matters, doesn’t it?

 

The beauty of BABY FACE, besides witnessing its sheer stupidity for 76 minutes, is watching la Stanwyck strutting her way (convincingly, I might add) into society. I mean the girl is shameless with a capital S. It doesn’t matter who she steps onto, or the degree to which she lies to get ahead. She has this fixed agenda and nothing can stop her—not even murder or suicide. Besides, if it hadn’t been for the wisdom of Nietzsche she’d still be in a dump somewhere breaking bottles over sleazy politicians’ heads, and we wouldn’t have that, now would we? On second thought, maybe we should. It sure would have beaten anything involving the moralistic turn the film takes later on. 
 


As mentioned, BABY FACE went trough a bunch of cuts and changes before being finally released to the public. One of which involved the tragic climax which has Stanwyck choosing wealth over love before finding her man dead. A happy ending was reinstated to appease the censors. But even that didn’t stop some theater owners from banning the film. But as you all know, nothing can stop a train wreck from showing up somewhere, with or without changes. And to that I say, many happy returns, BABY FACE.
 
 
 
 

 
 
Until next post—Martin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

KRISTA ERRICKSON IN 'LITTLE DARLINGS'



 


When everyone was going gaga over Kristy McNichol and Matt Dillon’s imminent coupling in the 1980 teen comedy LITTLE DARLINGS, I, on the other hand, was obsessing over Krista Errickson who portrayed the evil witch Cinder. If you recall, she’s the one who initiates the bet as to who, among her fellow campers, will lose her virginity first. She handpicks scruffy McNichol and prudish Tatum O’Neal while the Supertramp classic "School" plays in the background. And when the tune finally picks up speed, showing next a montage of the girls having a ball during camp activities, you know right then and there that you’ll be in for a treat too. Unless the film suddenly switches gears and becomes one of those slasher flicks so highly coveted back in the day. But fortunately it does not, though I got to admit I wouldn’t have  minded much since I’ve always craved horror as well.
 


I first set eyes on Krista Errickson during her stint in the low-rated sitcom HELLO, LARRY on NBC. The show was in its second season, and execs were in a desperate need of making it a hit. Big changes were made, including the replacement of actress Donna Wilkes who played the title character’s eldest daughter. Rumor has it that she’d been unprofessional. So in came Errickson, who took over the role, portraying demure, smart Diane whose only rebellious streak was to run off with John Travolta’s little brother Joey in  a highly enjoyable two parter. An unlikely choice for romance if you ask me, but that’s a different blog entry in itself.
 


As any gay man, I’ve always enjoyed beauty—male or female (and God knows I have seen my share)—and to me, Errickson was the definition of it back then. Her Brooke Shield-like appeal, not to mention her impressive rack (case in point: her mouse costume in LITTLE DARLINGS) made her a favorite in my book. I remember the many time I spent going through rags after rags, such as 16 or Tiger Beat, for any mere mention of her, and it eventually did pay off. That’s how I came to know of her participation in LITTLE DARLINGS. So on that winter morning of 1980, after scanning the Montreal newspaper for the film showings, I took my courage in both hands and went way downtown for a matinee.
 

 

I was far from being disappointed with my attendance, let me tell you. Not only was she in many scenes but the film was overall very effective. Of the two leads, I’d say Kristy McNichol did a better job. Tatum O’Neal, like her character, was more restraint. As for Krista, well, what can I say? I could have watched her play that snotty little beotch all day. In fact, I went back to see her in action on several occasions (remember, this was before video players or Internet), bringing my friends along. I even purchased the  film’s novelization with the lurid pink cover which I still possess today.

 

 

Whatever happened to her after this film? Well, she did make a few movies and some TV appearances (HELLO, LARRY was canceled after that second season). Suffice to say, I have seen my share of them throughout the years, but yes my obsession with her had definitely waned by then. Still, like all of my favorites, I like to keep an eye on their careers. And it seems that she’s made a turnabout in hers, becoming a respected documentary filmmaker. She even has a Twitter account now, to which I’m subscribed. I hope her memories of being a "child star" are as great as mine marveling at her. Because, at times, for this then struggling gay teen, her onscreen presence was all he needed to hold onto—until it got better.



 
 
Until next post—Martin


 


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

WITH 'BY APPOINTMENT ONLY', ALL IS FORGIVEN, DAVIDYNE SAXON MAYLEAS





Rejoice, people. After a slight bump with her lackluster THE WOMAN WHO HAD EVERYTHING, Davidyne Saxon Mayleas is back on track with BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, her follow-up novel. The 450-plus page romp sparkles with larger than life characters, sumptuous settings, steamy sex... The story revolves around Cella Taggard, the daughter of an eminent family, who—like her parents before her—is an ace at forging antique jewelry. Fool of her to ever think that what she’s doing is illegal. To her, greatness is all that matters and her pieces are nothing but. Enter hot foremost art sleuth Jason Lord who’ll turn her heart inside out, not to mention her conscience, when he sets out to seduce her. Will she succumb to his charm and finally surrender? 

 
Yes I agree, taken that way, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY reads like a tawdry Harlequin romance, but the novel is so much more. Miss Mayleas writes convincingly of the international diamond scene, the world of high finance, not to mention her description of the many exotic locations around the globe. There’s also double dealings, incestuous relationships, even murder, in the mix. I tell you, her piece of the opulent pie is as worthy as in any Krantzes, Conrans, Vincenzis… 
 
 
As you all know, Davidyne Saxon Mayleas never became a household name. Her paperback originals (six of them when not counting the work of her possible if unconfirmed pseudonym William Saxon) did have some form of success during the 80s and 90s, but she never really reached that superstardom zenith so eagerly coveted. Whatever became of her after that? Who really knows? She did release a true account tale called MY SECRET LIFE BY SARA WILLIS AS TOLD TO DAVIDYNE MAYLEAS in 2007 about—what else?—jewelry forgers. But after that one? Zilch. I’m sure she’s in the autumn of her years now and has other fish to fry, but wouldn’t it be just great to see a new novel of hers appear one of these days? Heck, I’d even settle for a resurgence of her backlist in e-book form. If Meredith Rich can do it, I‘m sure there’s a place for the likes of Davidyne Saxon Mayleas. In the meantime, give this lady a try. Buy her paperbacks and share the love.
 
 
 
 


Until next post—Martin





Friday, 8 November 2013

RICH AND FAMOUS (1981)



 
Of all the chick flicks ever produced the one I particularly hold dear is George Cukor’s RICH AND  FAMOUS. Based on the 1943 Bette Davis’ vehicle OLD ACQUAINTANCE, it stars two of the most beautiful women in Hollywood: Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset. The story revolves around my favorite topic, books. Both characters become literary greats in the space of their 30 year friendship. Of course, they don’t start off that way. One of them flourishes in the Jackie Susann-like best-seller dome before jumping the fence to serious writing. The other becomes an established maven of literature, having won praise for her first novel. Suffice to say, jealousy between the two settles in rather quickly which makes RICH AND FAMOUS one heck of a compelling survival of the fittest drama.




What’s evident from the get go is the inseparable bond that ties the two, sort of like the one the incomparable Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft share in THE TURNING POINT (1977), another must-see film. In RICH AND FAMOUS, Bergen portrays this obnoxious Wasp who feels the need to control everything and everyone, including her rebellious teen daughter, played by a young surgical free Meg Ryan. The pivotal point in the film is when Bergen, now a renowned author, quarrels with Bisset over her failed marriage and accuses her of lusting over her ex (which Bisset secretly does since both want what the other’s got). That’s when she crosses the line and threatens to severe their friendship (represented so vividly by the ripping of a childhood teddy bear). Both go at it with fervor, and ultimately impress.
 
 


But it’s Jacqueline Bisset who serves up a meatier role. She plays the brainy Liz Hamilton. The one who  views the world with a cynical eye. She’s what you call damaged goods. She goes from one liaison to the next without any qualms. But when she falls hard for hot Rolling Stone reporter Hart Bochner, she crumbles and self-destructs. That’s when Bisset becomes quite vulnerable and shines, especially during the break up scene that follows. Both she and Bochner hold their own, but it’s her strong performance that steals the spotlight. Moreover, of the two female leads, she again is the one to watch. Bergen, as talented as she may be, seems to be stuck on two expressions, happy or hysteric. Oh, she’s very funny, and they work very well together, but the film belongs to Bisset. Which isn’t surprising, since she’s also billed as co-producer of this, huh, vanity project, as it turns out.
 


This is the last feature film the great George Cukor made before succumbing to heart failure in 1983. The man who gave us so many hours of joy with THE WOMEN, BORN YESTERDAY and A STAR IS BORN—just to name a few—leaves on a high note with RICH AND FAMOUS. Yes, it may be flawed as a whole (some scenes do tend to drag on) but you can’t deny the dedication of everyone involved, including score master Georges Delerue (BEACHES, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, TV’s QUEENIE…) who creates such a memorable sound. Now all I need to do to savor the moment even further is to read the Eileen Loitman novelization which is still available if one wants it hard enough.
 


 
 

Until next post—Martin
 
 
 
 

 


Thursday, 24 October 2013

'INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE' WITH MONTGOMERY CLIFT




Whenever I’m asked to recall the exact moment I knew I was gay, I always respond this: the minute I saw Montgomery Clift’s chiseled face on screen in A PLACE IN THE SUN. I was around 10 but I still remember vividly how breathless I suddenly became at the mere sight of him. Mind you, it would take me another five years to actually cement my love for d… men—but I will always regard that particular film as the pivotal point of my own sexual revolution. Fast-forward 30 some years and, wouldn’t you know, that damn Monty still does it for me, but it’s in INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE this time, the 1953 melodrama that so wants to pass as high art.
 


 
The fun begins when Clift catches up with bad-movie queen Jennifer Jones (RUBY GENTRY, DUEL IN THE SUN…), at an Italian train station. She wants to go back to the States but he won’t let her. He’s too much in love. And despite gawking at her and she at him in tight close ups to an overbearing syrupy score, Jones won’t have it. She’s a (unhappy) married woman with child, you see, out alone in Europe on a fling, and she just can’t commit. Monty insists, promising a true peasant lifestyle with boat rides and little spouse beatings (‘cause he’s half Italian). And she almost agrees to that but changes her mind. Distraught, he runs off, but not before giving her a dose of the life she leaves behind: a heavy slap on the face.



 
Hurt and embarrassed, she tries to move on, but like any true Hollywood heroine of that era (of any era, for that matter), she is unable to do so. Later on when she almost loses Monty to a moving train as he crosses rails to get to her, she realizes just how much she digs him. Unable to keep their hands to themselves any longer, they hide in what looks like an abandoned train and make whoopie (off screen)—until, gasp, they get caught red-handed by security. Apprehended, they literally walk the hall of shame to the in-house police station while people snicker and jeer. Why not put a big scarlet A on their breast pockets while at it? But since it’s a ‘50s film and set in a foreign country, we’ll let it go. It all comes down to Monty and Jones pleading their case to a hard-headed police commissioner before getting released free of charge. Does Jones leave Monty in the end? You betcha. You really didn’t think they would end up happily ever after did you? They had committed one of the biggest sins, people. They had to pay somehow. Just like we did, sitting through this lovable wreck of a film.
 

 

INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE was helmed by hit maker Vittorio De Sica (who later on directed YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW which won him an Oscar). The dialogue was adapted by Truman Capote, Jackie Susann’s nemesis (he once called her a truck driver in drag, the little twerp). It’s also interesting to note that while Christian Dior is attached to the production as Jones’ costume designer, only one creation of his is shown throughout the film. And hunky Monty says it best when he disdainfully removes part of it: "It’s a smug little hat". I knew I could count on you Monty. I just knew it.




 
 
 
Until next post—Martin

 


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

JUDITH GOULD’S 'DAZZLE'




Sometimes re-reading a favorite isn’t such a great idea after all. Case in point: Judith Gould’s DAZZLE (now out in e-book form from Malden Bridge Press). I remember devouring it the first time I got a hold of it. It was the late 80s and I had just finished SINS and couldn’t get enough of this author. So in came DAZZLE to satisfy my intellectual needs. Intellectual? Yes, intellectual. Proust may do it for some. Me? Gould and the likes satisfy me aplenty. It would take me years to figure out that this lady is actually a pseudonym for two fellows by the name of Nicholas Peter Bienes and Rhea Gallaher. Since then they have become my main men in trash fiction, and with good reasons: titillating is their middle name. Yes, some of their novels are better than others, but all have a common denominator: they (really) center around the rich. Having gone through their entire backlist, I’ve been waiting eagerly for another title to emerge, but as of now nothing has been confirmed. Perhaps they go by another pen name these days, but color me clueless as to what they have become. I’ve tried and tried to reach them via emails but as I write this I have yet to hear from them. So feeling like revisiting one of their earlier success to commemorate their undeniable talent, I picked up DAZZLE first because it’s been more than two decades since I’ve read it, and second, it was the only novel that I still had not gone over twice.
 
 
At first, everything was
hunky-dory, going back to this tale of three multi-generational women caught in their own web of deception. I’ve always been a sucker for stage and screen types of novels and this one was right up my alley. But as I got deeper and deeper into it one thing began to bug me, which to this day I still don’t understand how it could have breezed through without my noticing it the first time around. There seemed to be a change of focus all of a sudden. One that ultimately took over the central plot. The novel wasn’t really about the silly problems of the rich anymore (as the back cover so proudly proclaims). No, DAZZLE was turning out to be more serious than that. Oh, it still bathed in opulence as a good trashy novel should, but it added another layer to its theme: the political kind. All about the conflict between Arabs and Jews which, frankly, might still be interesting given in small doses. But as the whole enchilada, huh, no. Of course I did persevere. I wasn’t about to abandon one fine if not perfect lengthy novel. It’s Gould we’re talking about here. You never leave royalty. They leave you. But I got to admit that I was less intrigued by the two main characters, a lot less. Oh I still craved for them two to unite, but I wasn’t as involved as I should, and this bummed me. 
 

So who’s to blame here? Little moi who’s become pickier and pickier in my experienced years or the marketing people who have committed a big faux pas by making the reader believe he/she was set for another SINS-like thrill ride? I verge more on the marketing ploy (of course). Because were it not for their tactic ways, I would have known exactly what I was getting myself into. That said, Bienes and Gallaher still pen a good story despite its political swerve, and their narrative couldn’t be any stronger. I just wish the novel would have centered more on the Hollywood-based drama as promised. Still, I’d say give DAZZLE a go. Just be aware of its true colors.

 



 
 
Until next post—Martin


 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

ABC’s 'A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR' (1993)

 



The TV adaptation of A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR by prolific author (even beyond the grave) Sidney Sheldon is produced by Aaron Spelling and stars two of the finest looking specimens to ever grace our small screen: Perry King and Lori Loughlin. Loughlin had been a permanent fixture on both THE EDGE OF NIGHT and FULL HOUSE on ABC for years. King had been strutting his stuff in TV movies and miniseries before settling in on NBC RIPTIDE. As for Spelling, well, his backlist speaks for himself: CHARLIE’S ANGELS, DYNASTY, MELROSE PLACE… Now, if you’re addicted to delicious trash like I am, you’d know from the get go that you are in for a treat with A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR. How can you not be with these long-standing folks at the helm?



It all begins with ladies man King bombing big time as a stand up comic  working the circuits. With what he’s got for material you would too. But when he sees opportunity knocking on his door in the form of a crippled Juliet Mills—a right-hand woman to a big agent—he does not just take it, he rams it for all it’s worth. And it pays off. Soon he moves up the ladder of success and ends up having his own television show. That’s where he meets good girl gone bad Loughlin (you know this because she now chews gum and wears heavy makeup), a bit-player, who plays the ingenue just so she can land him, and does she. This does not bode well with King’s super agent Christopher Plummer, an aging bachelor who secretly has the hots for King (who wouldn’t?). But when he gets his walking papers when Loughlin becomes King’s wife, he swears revenge on the girl. 



Now that everything is as it should be, the couple is on cloud nine—until King has a heart attack from doing drugs, rendering him incapacitated permanently. Loughlin does her best taking care of him, but barely manages, especially when she sees an old beau whom she had been set to marry until his socialite mom came in the way. Things get even nuttier when King, now totally mute, starts talking to Loughlin in her mind, and it’s not to utter sweet nothings, believe me. Unable to deal with him any longer, she plans to finish him off, but he’s one step ahead as he throws his wheelchair-bound self right into the family pool. Now a widow, she sets out to sail off into the sunset with the man that got away. That’s when closeted Plummer resurfaces. He lures her rich fiancĂ© into the ship’s theater to gleefully show him an old porno flick starring Loughlin. Plummer gets bashed up, Loughlin looses her man again, and it all ends up with her plunging fatally into the ocean after getting a siren’s call from her dead hubby. 



 
Filmed in British Columbia, A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR is directed by Charles Jarrot, who’s also  responsible for the craziness that is THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT, another Sheldon’s adaptation. Clearly the man works well with the author since THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT is one of the best over-the-top films ever. Is A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR in the same league? You bet. But you may not dig it as much (as I do) since it is overall shoddier. Still, see this little gem when you get the chance as it has yet to reach the DVD market.
 




 

 
Until next post—Martin


 



Tuesday, 3 September 2013

ENDLESS LOVE (1981)




Like any red-blooded high-camp moviegoer, I’ve seen my share of deliciously awful flicks. From THE LONELY LADY to the more recent SHOWGIRLS, nothing compares to the high I get every time I watch one of these films. The latest being the ever-popular ENDLESS LOVE directed by ROMEO AND JULIET Franco Zeffirelli and based on the hit novel by Scott Spencer. It stars a slew of talented seasoned performers (Shirley Knight, Don Murray…) prowling around gorgeous but minimally talented 15 year old Brooke Shields. Newcomer Martin Hewitt is the film’s pretty boy teen who’s obsessed with her. And just like the movie title says, his love for her is endless, so you can expect some wackiness to take center stage, and does it ever.
 

It all starts out with a neighborhood party Shields’ unconventional parents are throwing. Murray smokes weed and does a shotgun with a chick who may or may not be his wife. Then comes the after-party where Mama Knight catches her baby-girl getting deflowered by Hewitt to the syrupy sound of Jonathan Tunick’ score. Awe, even desire, registers on her face. But later on when the young couple starts doing it like rabbits, dad puts a stop to it by tearing them apart. Hoping to be back on Murray’s good grace, Hewitt acts on a cockamamie plan—suggested by none other than first-time on-screen Tom Cruise in short shorts(!)—to start a fire and rescue Shields and her family, thus making him look like a hero.



Of course, the plan goes awry and Hewitt gets institutionalized, never again to cross path with Shields. Cut  to a few years later and wouldn’t you know, a released Hewitt visits divorced Knight who still has the hots for him. When he rejects her, she does what any sensible woman would do: she offers him the couch. While she’s in another room, Hewitt manages to steal Shields’ new address and rushes out to meet her. Since the film is called ENDLESS LOVE, you can expect their union to but nothing but grand. However, when papa Murray catches him in the streets of New York, he goes after the kid but gets killed by a speeding car. When Shields finds out, she swears off Hewitt once and for all.

 

But again, being that this is an ENDLESS LOVE, it all comes down to Shields listening to her heart instead (more to her mom actually) and going back to Hewitt for good this time around (we think), while the syrupy score is at it again but with Lionel Richie and Diana Ross at the vocals. Credits roll as we run screaming from the room. But we wouldn’t change the film if you paid us. Well, perhaps for a few tens or Hewitt’s private phone number—whichever comes first. And to Knight’s reported plea that Zeffirelli replace Shields with an ever more accomplished actress? Shame on you, woman. Brooke—as ENDLESS LOVE—is perfect. You hear me?!! Per—fect!




UPDATE:  It looks like there's a remake coming our way.  It stars Alex Pettyfer from MAGIC MIKE.  I'll probably check it out eventually.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  Finally saw the remake and enjoyed it but not as much as the original.  The lead actress is good, as is Joely Richardson as the mom.  Although Alex Pettyfer is soft on the eyes and gives a fine performance he looks too old for the part. The basis of the film is the same but the plot does tend to veer off course from time to time which isn't always a good thing.  So there you have it, my mini review.




 



Until next post—Martin




 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

REMEMBERING PENNY JORDAN



 


I must have been living under a rock, dear readers, for I had no idea that this British prolific writer of Harlequin Romances passed away from cancer more than a year and a half ago. I found out while surfing the Web. Like many of her fans, this news comes as a shock to me. I’ve read a few of her titles back in the day, the latest being POWER PLAY. I should say re-reading, since I first came upon it during its heyday around 1988. I was living at my parents’ place, having returned after my bout with a rat in the walls of my apartment (precious picture, isn’t it?). I remember being glued to the sofa bed (my temporarily haven) and reading Penny Jordan’s novel into the wee hours, hoping against hope that the heroine would succeed in her quest to destroy the three men that had hurt her. Because POWER PLAY is about revenge, post-rape style. As you can see, the subject matter is hardly the stuff of Harlequins, but strangely enough it was. Harlequin Books tried very hard pushing Jordan into the big league by releasing this title. Surely enough, it became a New-York Times Best-seller, and the nighttime career of Penny Jordan took off with many other lengthy work such as SILVER and THE HIDDEN YEARS.

 
One of her latest is called SILK, the first in a trilogy. I own it but I have yet to open it. In fact, truth be told, I have only read three of her novels since POWER PLAY. Though I do collect them still. Not her quick Harlequins, mind you. I much prefer her lengthier stuff, just like SILK, which is all about the fashion industry and the people who run it. Sort of like Barbara Taylor Bradford’s Emma Harte series but with a higher amount of melodrama. A Jordan style that I will miss dearly. Oh I’m sure Harlequins has some posthumous mini-titles in store (if it hadn’t happened already). But I doubt we’ll ever see another lengthy work like SILK.
 

A couple of years ago, I left her a short note on her now-defunct official website, trusting that she would respond. I wish I could say that she did, but the truth of the matter is, I never heard from her. She may have been just plain too busy or perhaps the strain of having a then-alcoholic hubby (a fact she had later discussed in interviews) prevented her from enjoying the ritual of responding to her fan mail. Who knows? But whatever the reason, I never felt the need to connect with her again. Now I wish I did. I could have reiterated how much I love her books, that her talent as a storyteller deserves to be celebrated… But in the wake of this unexpected news I’d much rather say this: rest in peace, Penny Jordan. Your untimely passing is very unfair.
 


The author




Until next post—Martin






Monday, 12 August 2013

MIXED BAG: TV'S 'REVENGE', ASTER, MENSCH, COLERIDGE, VINCENZI

 
 
 
 
 
 


Make room for a French-Canadian, ABC’s REVENGE. Yes, Sleaze Factor has just learned that next season, TV’s PAN AM Karine Vanasse is set to play Margaux, a career woman who’s an old acquaintance of Daniel (John Bowman). She’ll be around for a couple of episodes, and, if everything works as planned, she’ll eventually become a permanent fixture. Let’s hope that she does, for she is a sensational actress.

 




There’s a new star in town. The name is Avery Aster (a pseudonym) and Avery writes steamy bonkbusters. The latest is called UNSCRUPULOUS (THE MANHATTANITES #2) and will be released digitally in a few days (August 14th) by Ellora Cave’s Publishing. From what we’ve read, expect big things from this author. Yes, kiddies, the excerpt I received is all slick and juicy and narratively impressive. And the best part is, you don’t really have to read the first book to get into the action. But if your mind is still set on doing it chronologically, UNDRESSED (THE MANHATTANITES #1) will be available at the low price of $2.99 (US) for a limited time.
  
 
 


When she’s not too busy frolicking with the politicians, Louise Mensch (previously Louise Bagshawe) is a best-selling fiction author. And her latest is called BEAUTY (Headline). The publication date is set around mid-January 2014 in the UK and Canada. No words yet as to what the plot will be about, except that it’ll feature a ten year span between two unlikely characters. You can bet that it’ll be as compelling as her other novels. More on that one when the cover is finally revealed.

 




The paperback version of Nicholas Coleridge’s latest THE ADVENTURESS (Orion) will see the light of day in early October 2013 in the UK and mid-November in Canada. The titled character who’s chronicled life spans 20 years, debuting in the big hair days of the 1980s, is an engrossing fun read. I’m sure Sleaze Factor will focus more on this title in the near future.


 



 



 
Last but not least, A PERFECT HERITAGE (formely A KIND OF PROMISE) is the title of Penny Vincenzi’s latest from Headline. Set in the world of facial cosmetics, the novel centers around the struggle between the doyenne of the firm and the newcomer who is hired to shake things up. This lengthy novel is sort of a return to Vincenzi’s glitz and glamour-era which began with OLD SINS. Expect a lot of secrets to surface when it comes out in late October 2013 in the UK and Canada. Again, more on that one when the cover is finally revealed.




 
 
 
 
 
 


Until next post—Martin
 
 



Thursday, 1 August 2013

THE 'I AM DIVINE' DOC






Last evening screening at the Fantasia Film Festival featured a documentary about gay icon Divine from the makers of SPINE TINGLER! THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY. Now, you know that Sleaze Factor just had to have a look at this, since Divine and John Waters are the epitome of sleaze, with such classics as FEMALE TROUBLE and PINK FLAMINGOS under their belts. Speaking of FEMALE TROUBLE. I saw this one more than a decade ago on a rainy day when I was looking for something cheap but highly engrossing to watch. And you know how finicky one can get when on a movie hunt. I rolled and rolled in the aisles until I grabbed this title up. I couldn’t remember ever having seen it, but once popped in, I fell in love. This variation on VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and on every women behind bars flick is not only a hoot to watch but is—like any Walters oeuvre—thought-provoking. I dare anyone to lose interest during the film’s first five minutes. You can’t keep your eyes away. You just can’t.

 

But back to I AM DIVINE. The movie house was packed to the hilt for this Quebec premiere, seats filled with every colorful cat imaginable. My partner was the only guy in attendance who wasn’t really into Divine. Warning: before you go about bombarding him (or me) with hate mail, let me just say in his defense that he’s more of the classic type, but has an open mind when it comes to pop culture (I mean, he’s living with me for Heaven’s sake), and he actually came out of this flick with a new respect for this 300 pound entertainer. The doc goes from his humble beginnings as ostracized gay teen Harris Glenn Milstead to his superstar status as Divine, with interviews from Waters, numerous co-stars and friends, and even his once estranged mom who really loved him despite an on and off relationship. Photos and film archives abound, showing a different kind of Divine behind the lens. Turns out the guy was a big pothead, but more importantly he was a sensitive soul who, like the rest of us, yearned to be accepted, especially as a straight-shooting actor. Which almost came to fruition (he was set to play uncle Otto on MARRIED WITH CHILDREN) before his untimely death from a stroke.
 
 

Sad as this may be, one thing is certain: it was a heck of a thrill being gay during the Divine years. Everywhere you went, there she was: in movies, on stage, in music… Hearing her smash underground hit I’M SO BEAUTIFUL or STEP BY STEP last evening made me go back to that particular time when I was all young and hip—and a little lost, I must say (who isn’t when you’re in your early 20s?). It all came back at once: the big hairdos, the dance clubs, the men, and yes, the drugs. But underneath it all was the comfort and joy of finally belonging somewhere, a place where I could, like little Harris Glenn Milstead from Baltimore Maryland, be myself.


 
 
Catch a screening of I AM DIVINE when it reaches your local film festival.


 


 
 
Until next post—Martin


 




Monday, 22 July 2013

'A MODEL SUMMER' BY PAULINA PORIZKOVA

 





A while ago, I sent former supermodel of the world Paulina Porizkova a Tweet acknowledging her beauty inside and out. I had just seen her on TV in the now-defunct Jeff Probst Show talking about inner beauty where she was all real and fun, and I felt the urge to connect. Ever since laying eyes on her in the wonderful 1987 film ANNA I have been following her career on and off. I was aware of her modeling days but it was this film that made a greater impact on me. Of course, seeing how she was no dummy during post-movie interviews probably helped as well. But anyway, I’m happy to say that she Tweeted back. She thanked me and added that she was hard at work on a second novel. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also brought up in my Tweet her first work, A MODEL SUMMER which is an impressive piece of contemporary fiction.
 
 

The plot revolves around a 15 year old who, after being discovered by a model scout, embarks on a wild journey of sex, sin, first love, and ultimately self-discovery. The semi-autobiographical novel takes you into the gritty world of the fashion industry where everything is far from being all glamorous and chic. But that’s only half the fun in reading A MODEL SUMMER. The other half is finding out how strong the narrative actually is. In a 300-odd pages span Paulina successfully manages not only to flesh-out her main heroine, but to put a new spin to the whole girl-in-jeopardy storyline. Finally a character who is flawed, who makes as many mistakes as any real person would, and who in the end manages to somehow flourish despite the odds. The melodrama is kept to a minimum, focusing instead on the true-to-life route, which for Sleaze Factor is quite unusual considering its over-the-top prerequisites. But the rewards, just like the novel, are exceptional, if not grand.

 

The author kept away from ghostwriters to write A MODEL SUMMER, choosing instead schooling and hard work as means to deliver a full-fledged manuscript. To me, that’s freaking amazing. In a Hollywood world of phonies, opportunists and quick fixes what a breath of fresh air it is to actually focus on someone who’s the real deal. Someone who could easily be my new BFF if she cares to ask. So here’s to you, sweet Paulina. Hope I get to read more of your work in the years to come. And if you feel like acknowledging me in your next novel or the next after that, go right ahead. I won’t hold it against you. But it will go to my head, that I promise you.





 
Until next post—Martin