Wednesday, 19 December 2012

PENNY VINCENZI AND HER 'OLD SINS'





I can confirm it: good things do come in threes. That’s how many tries it took me to read Penny Vincenzi’s first opus OLD SINS. Not that it wasn’t compelling the first time. This multi-layered saga of a handsome tycoon and the many women that surround him over the years is a page-turner from the get-go. The thing is, I rarely invest in lengthy novels these days, since I tend to get bored very easily. Ask the many novels in my house, and they’ll tell you: this guy has unfinished business with many best-sellers. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way I am. So imagine how surprised I was when I decided to give Penny’s baby one last chance. I say last, because I figured it was then or never. If I couldn’t go all the way, I was definitely done for good.
 
 
At first I wanted to continue on where I left off the last time (more than halfway through), but I said what the heck, I might as well start from the top again. Crazy idea, I know, but it’s so me. However, something unexpected happened before venturing into it: I suddenly came across a copy of the hardcover edition while visiting my local used book shop; the USA version, in near mint condition no less (as shown below). So the trooper that I am gave it a go. Bought the thing, sat in my reading room and plunged in—but not for long. Something else was bugging me. Color me delusional but it seemed that this American version was incomplete. And I’m not talking about missing pages, here. No, what I’m saying is that chunks of narration seemed to be omitted. Could this be an abridged version of the UK edition? Easy to check. I took out my Arrow original and did the comparing thingy, and, wouldn’t you know, I was right.
 
 
Of course there was no way I was about to choose this hardcover edition. Such an insult to the author and her work… Or was it? Suddenly it didn’t seem such a bad idea. It wouldn’t be like I was dissing the original since I had already read more than half of it—twice. But in the end the lengthy version won. A no brainer, really, since I truly wanted to honor the author’s novel. And do I regret my decision? Not at all. Because when it comes down to it, I had a ball making it to the very end. I admit, the temptation to toss it aside still kept beckoning me (such bad habit), especially during the last 100 pages or so, but I stuck with it and was rewarded not only by a powerful and very realistic conclusion but also by a great sense of accomplishment. I’m so glad I revisited OLD SINS. It is truly a magnificent piece of commercial art, and I applaud Ms. Vincenzi for having written it. It must have been a strenuous job, I must admit. Now that I’m done, I kind of feel I should return to some unfinished novels of mine and give them their rightful due. You never know, there might be some other mea culpa in the works.



 



Until next post—Martin



US hardcover edition



Tuesday, 27 November 2012

ELIZABETH TAYLOR IN 'ASH WEDNESDAY'





In 1980 I came across ASH WEDNESDAY (1973) while trying to unwind in front of the TV after a hectic week at work. I had gotten myself a job at Canada Post, sorting through letters all day long and I hated it. I was in my mid-teens and all I could think of was that my summer was definitely going to be ruined despite the nice pay check. So I had high hopes that the boob tube would succeed in changing my mind for a few hours at least. And did it ever. Nothing could turn me away from watching Elizabeth Taylor getting a facelift, her character, that is—but based on the star’s rep regarding plastic surgery it was just like watching the real thing. I’ve never been a hardcore Taylor fan. Sure, I’ve seen my share of her films, from CLEOPATRA to WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOLF? to sleaze factor contendees BUTTERFIELD 8 and THE DRIVER’S SEAT, but for some reason, her star appeal has always escaped me—until the arrival of ASH WESNESDAY.


In it she plays Barbara Sayer, a woman of a certain age who thinks getting her entire body worked on will save her crumbling marriage. So she goes to Switzerland and erases 20 years off her old self. Then the script demands that she beds kept man Helmut Berger just because, befriends bigger narcissistic patient Keith Baxter, endures envious stares from visiting daughter Margaret Blye who just can’t believe her mom is that hot. Taylor acts subdued to it all, almost frozen even, as if any facial movement could be fatal. But we forgive her, for she is Elizabeth Taylor. Fun fact: she supposedly wanted to return to old Hollywood glamour with this film, and she did to a certain degree. But the screenplay—talk about major droop. Penned by ALL NIGHT LONG fame Jean-Claude Tramont (starring Streisand, another diva) and produced by none other than novelist-to-be Dominick Dunne, it totally fails to capture any real excitement other than allowing their star to be all glammed up. In fact, at times, ASH WEDNESDAY almost plays like a bad Ingmar Bergman film with barely nothing to chew on. Thank heavens it still sticks to its melodrama form, for we would have had a bigger turkey in our hands.


When Taylor is not prancing around in Edith Head gowns and Alexandre of Paris hairdos, she’s hollering things like “look at these breasts. Aren’t they beautiful? What more do you need?!” to soon-to-be-ex Henry Fonda who does not give a damn. In fact, nobody gives a hoot in this flick. All they want is some adulation, and that’s fine with us as long as La Liz is around. It takes quite a few moment at the beginning before she appears on-screen, but when she does, all wrinkled up and ready to go, we’re more than willing to follow her journey. And what fun it is catching her turning into a swan—as if she can ever be otherwise. The last sequence (SPOILER ALERT) involving a leaving train and her teary but beautifully made-up face proves—finally—that underneath all that perfectness still exists a good actress. Her emotional range of a lost soul confronted to an uncertain future in that quick bit surpasses every frames she’s been in for the last 99 minutes. Add the Maurice Jarre syrupy score, not to mention the Larry Peerce gauzy soft focus direction used every time our heroine is in need of a close-up shot, and we have one highly camp bonbon at our disposition.


Alas, ASH WEDNESDAY is still nonexistent on DVD. As of this second (unless somebody knows something I don’t), the powers that be at Paramount has yet to show a real interest in this film other than its already available but costly VHS format (cover pic below). Still, I say run, don’t walk, and grab yourself whatever copy you can find of this glossy gem. Sure to enlighten your gloomy day, I promise you.







Until next post—Martin






Monday, 12 November 2012

JACQUELINE SUSANN’S THE LOVE MACHINE—THE FILM



Whenever I feel like watching some delicious trash, I always want to include my partner in the ritual. Whether it’s a soap opera (DYNASTY nowadays mostly) or an over-the-top film (you name it, I’ve seen it) I always find the need, for some reason, to share my absolute love for this genre. Since he’s such a good sport about it, he’s always game in sitting through one, no matter how bad (or so he says) some turn out to be. The latest is none other than THE LOVE MACHINE, the 1971 epic—yes, epic—screen adaptation of the Jacqueline Susann best-seller. The reason for viewing this one with my honey is simple: John Philip Law. Always preferable to have a good-looking on-screen guy in your corner when viewing time beckons. It so sweetens the pill. And believe you me, this film needs all the sweetness it can handle.

It all starts with the arrival of Law as Robin Stone, preceded by a montage of him in action (he plays a newscaster) to the Dionne Warwick theme song that keeps repeating his character’s name so you won’t ever forget it. Every time Robin is on TV women all over the world cream their panties, paraphrases Dyan Cannon, the wife of his boss. When the two begin having an affair, all hell breaks loose. Robin is a player, and won’t commit. When Cannon realizes this, she torches his bed while he’s in the shower with two bimbos. Afraid for his career (he’s become president of IBC News by then, all thanks to her), he rekindles his romance with Cannon, which gives the most outrageous climax scene ever filmed involving a bracelet, face slapping, a cat and mouse chase, and, of course, the cops. I won’t say too much so not to spoil it for you, but it’s a hoot, I promise you.


As in the novel, three central women gravitate around Robin (besides the slew of wacky secondary characters), but for time-restricted reasons only two are really spotlighted. The last chick, Maggie, played by former THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS star Sharon Ferrel, is almost rendered to a walk-on as she adds absolutely nothing to the plot. One who does, however, is model of the moment Jodi Wexler (whatever happened to her?) who’s unable to keep her hands off of Stone during the film’s first half. She’s absolutely a sight for sore eyes but is built like a boy, meaning she has no tits. It’s all fine with Stone. “Anything you haven’t got, you don’t need”, he replies almost gleefully, adding another layer of innuendo regarding the character’s sexual preferences. Indeed, from his close relationship with gay photographer David Hemmings to his brutal beating of a tranny-like prostitute, the film makes you wonder if Robin isn’t really a closet homosexual after all—or bisexual at least. Since it’s 1971 and the subject matter has been taken as far as it can go, the director keeps mum about it. But does it really matter? Because whether the protagonist digs dames or dudes, whether he looses or keeps his high-paying job after that crazed but delightful survival of the fittest scene with la Cannon, songstress Dionne Warwick says it best in the end: he’s moving on; that’s Robin Stone.
 
 
THE LOVE MACHINE is now available on DVD from Sony Pictures. The disc holds no extra features but has a 1.85:1 widescreen transfer almost free of dust and debris. The sound quality is a pleasant 2.0 stereo. Go check it out and force a loved one to submit to it.







Until next post—Martin

 
 



Tuesday, 30 October 2012

DARLING, NO REGRETS by Davidyne Saxon Mayleas



 

Being a proud and longtime escapist fiction bookworm, I’ve come to realize that the trashy novel has three sub-genres. There’s the first, the all the way trash-fest where the author goes from point A to point B without any real fanfares (anything from the Zebra and Leisure lines during the ‘80’s fits the bill). Then there’s the better-structured trash, with sleazy plots galore but done with stronger narratives and fun situations (anything by Collins, Susann, Hirschfeld, Kastle). Then there’s the class-act trash where it’s all big and bold, from the narrative to the plot structure to the multi-layered characterization. Judith Krantz, Jacqueline Briskin, Michael French, Dominick Dunne deserve this spot. So does Davidyne Saxon Mayleas. Her DARLING, NO REGRETS is by far her strongest book. It’s her first as well. Published in 1981, it centers around a woman on the rise, sort of like the heroine of Krantz’s SCRUPLES, who suffers greatly in the name of love. Self love, that is; even though the world is her oyster.
 
 
The story begins with Franciejean (that’s her name) arriving in New York City where she, like TVs Mary Richards, wants to make it after all. Problem is she barely has a plan, except using her little black book to phone past lovers. She eventually stays overnight with one, and the plot unravels from there. Indeed, from man to man and from job to job she climbs the ladder of success and finally finds love in Jamison Welsh, an international financier and famous economist. But her family skeletons eventually catch up with her, and what seems like such a privileged life soon becomes somewhat of a nightmare as she battles major inner demons.
 
 
I know what you may be thinking, and don’t worry, this is not “The More You Know” type of a book. The psychological depth is done to a minimum, just enough to flesh out the main character. Which is the strongest part of DARLING, NO REGRETS, the way the author succeeds in rendering her heroine authentic albeit the superficiality of her surroundings. Because in addition to her damsel in distress attitude, Franciejean has many flaws, one of them being unable to stay faithful to her man. Yes, you’ve read right. Finally a woman who cheats. One who’s also tenderhearted, fragile, business savvy, sometimes defeatist, but stronger than she thinks she is.
 
 
The narrative, while rich and sometimes poetic, is tight and  fast-paced, with a few typos and doubtful constructions here and there. But you just go over the line again and move on. And believe me, you’ll want to, for what happens to Franciejean will probably make you turn the pages even faster. I’m not giving anything away, but let’s just say that in DARLING, NO REGRETS rose-colored climaxes are far from being the author’s favorite cup of tea. This is a character study of a flawed woman whose past incidents have many consequences. It is as realistic a trashy novel can be, and I applaud the author for having had the guts to deliver this type of a gem. With all the novels going digital, I’m sure there’s a place for DARLING, NO REGRETS. There has to be. Are you reading this, ebook publishers?

 
 
 
 
Until next post—Martin








Sunday, 14 October 2012

'THE SEDUCTION' OF MORGAN FAIRCHILD





The year was 1982 and horror films were in high demand. You couldn’t pass a cinema marquee without witnessing a title or two. And suffice to say, I’ve seen them all, titles and films alike. That was my favorite thing to do, discovering upcoming horror flicks. So every Thursday late into the evening I made sure to pass by my local movie theater to check out the new posters for upcoming films. But at that particular time, what awaited me wasn’t exactly horror. More of the erotic thriller kind. It featured a scantingly-clad Morgan Fairchild looking scared but ravished while superimposed eyes hovered over her. I already knew who this actress was, having seen her around here and there on TV (in NBC’s FLAMINGO ROAD mostly). And based on what was displayed at that movie house, my interest was definitely pricked.


In the film Fairchild plays Jamie, a well-respected television anchorwoman, who is plagued by what I call the Bacall syndrome. Those who have seen the 1981 Lauren Bacall’s-damsel-in-distress-over-a-crazed-fan flick (called appropriately THE FAN) know exactly what I’m talking about. Jamie goes through the same motion, but contrary to the Bacall vehicle, the heat factor is highly contagious. Fairchild disrobes, skinny dips, is eyeballed by her co-star lover (the recently departed Michael Sarrazin)—and that’s just in the film first ten minutes. Later on we get a stalked heroine, the failing of the law enforcement to catch the deranged man (portrayed by an effective Andrew Stevens); we even get some black comedy routine delivered by a riot Colleen Camp who plays Jamie’s brassy best-friend. It all boils down to a slang bang conclusion involving failed sex and a loaded weapon (nudge nudge, wink wink) that fans of well-handled sleaze will definitely cherish.



I never saw the film on the big screen. It died at the box office so quickly that its run was shortened to a week (in Montreal). It took me a year or so to rediscover it, on my Betamax VCR, no less. But once I did, I immediately hailed it as one of the most effective exploitation film ever made, and I still do today. There’s something about it that is both compelling and dirty, a guilty pleasure kind of thing that works its magic despite its faults. Heck, it even paved the way for the king of all erotic thrillers, BASIC INSTINCT, 10 years later. And I’ll say it again: they sure don’t make them like those early gems anymore. If I had to name some of the best exploitation flicks of that era, THE SEDUCTION is up there with LIPSTICK, THE LONELY LADY and 1984 ANGEL starring Donna Wilkes. Sure, it ain’t perfect, like I said, with its sometimes improbable plot and hackneyed situations (could she just get a freaking bodyguard?!) but the film and the star are great to look at, and the fun is there from first reel to last.


The DVD is now alas out of print but there’s always someone somewhere selling it. Anchor Bay did a great job re-mastering the whole thing, and the extra features are as tasty, especially the audio commentary with writer/director David Schmoeller who gives insightful and amusing tidbits about the making of the film. Too bad Ms. Fairchild failed to partake in this discussion. It is believed that she has shunned the film for reasons only those associated with it know. A shame. For she’s really good in it and can make the sleaziest flick shine. Perhaps she’ll change her tune one day. Let’s just hope it’s sooner than later.








Until next post—Martin

 





Tuesday, 28 August 2012

THE LONELY 'MISTRESS'





Victoria Principal is Rae, a disillusioned kept woman who, after losing her man (Don Murray) to a heart attack, just can’t seem to get it together. Oh, believe me, she tries, whether by working at a department store or trying to get back into show business—but screwing (pun intended) everything up is more to her liking, or so it seems. Thank goodness she still has friends and relatives to help her through this rough stage, friends like Joanna Kerns who’s more concerned over Principal’s drinking problem than charging her rent for the studio in which she stays, or her unhappy widowed mother who just can’t stop nagging her every chance she gets, or how about her trampy BFF, a kept woman herself, who just wants her to get back into the swing of things, if you know what I mean. But none has a clue as to how desperate our little rascal has become. She’s an ex-mistress on the edge; a screw-up, as they say, and watching her potential downfall has never been this much fun, I’m telling you.


MISTRESS is Victoria Principal post DALLAS. It’s the actress’ first project under her own production company. No one really believed she’d have a career after leaving the long running series, but she did, at least for a while. TV movies after TV movies, and a return to glitz on NBC short-lived TITANS (a sure contender for a blog entry) in 2000 did the trick before she finally hung her acting gloves to become sort of a recluse, if I can express myself that way. Last that I heard, she was still selling her stuff on QVC, but the Victoria we adore, the one who rhymes with bellĂ­sima, is gone for good—probably due to age and lack of “good” roles. But in 1987, she was still on a roll, hence MISTRESS.


The fun really starts when Principal looses her sugar daddy. Before that it’s all about the loving relationship these two share, despite him being “happily” married. When she’s left with nothing (she omitted to sign a contract, you see) she returns to her hometown penniless and tries to start anew. “You know what happens to little creatures on the great sidewalk of life!? Some man comes along and steps on them. Well, not me, not anymore!” she hurls after numerous but highly enjoyable bad breaks (one involving two strangers in an outside pool). The message the film so clearly conveys is that bad girls do finish last… until they get a hold of themselves and go back to expensive whoring, that is.


Principal gives all she’s got and comes out of this unscathed, surprisingly. The girl can really act when she sets her mind to it. Sure, this role isn’t really a stretch for her, meaning she’s not playing Anna Karenina. But in her own ways, she does sparkle. Her character’s raging fit at seeing herself in home movies as a then-beauty queen is worth the price of finding this film alone (it as yet to be on DVD). She succeeds hands down in drawing the pain and suffering of this middle-aged lost soul. Just like Pia Zadora’s Jerilee in THE LONELY LADY, Victoria’s character “never did learn the meaning of self-respect”. And for that we thank her tremendously.


 
 
 
 

Until next post—Martin





Monday, 6 August 2012

DYNASTY—SEASON ONE




Like I said in an earlier post, I’ve never been a real DYNASTY fan, preferring to keep company with the Fairgates and the Ewings of KNOTS LANDING. But my hubby, thinking I was devoted to the long-running nighttime soap, gave me the complete first season on DVD a while back for my birthday. I put it away, thinking I would get to it soon enough, especially on a rainy day. As it turned out, it took me a couple of years to revisit the Carringtons but when I finally did last month, the results were more rewarding that I had ever imagined.



First and foremost let’s get right down to business and declare that this is the one without Alexis, played later on by the ever-so effective Joan Collins. Yes, the character does make an appearance at the end of the 13 episode arc, walking in court where Blake, oil guru extraordinaire, is on trial for having killed his son’s male lover; but the woman impersonating her is just a day player (hence the big sunglasses and the bigger hat to hide her face since the producers had no clue who’d play her subsequently). Nonetheless everyone is stunned by the woman’s presence, as they should be. After all, she is Blake’s first wife. You can already feel the tension brewing.


But back to season one as a whole. I have to say it is a rather fetching one, with a strong script, keen performances (especially from weak Claudia Blaisdel), not to mention a well-defined gay theme plot which was considered very bold at the time. If I remember correctly, it even caused some backlash from religious groups and advertisers alike, but ABC held on (by a hair, but that’s another entry) and struck gold. Even more so when Collins joined the cast later on. Suffice to say, the whole Steven and Ted hook up, non hook up (such drama!) was a joy for the gay community. You didn’t even have to follow the series to know about it. It was on everyone’s lips.


Of course, I did take a peak once in a while just to satisfy my curiosity. Yes, I admit, like many of you, I sort of had a crush on Al Corley (and his number one Europop song Square Rooms). How could you not when he seemed to be the only good-looking, not to mention warm-hearted, homosexual on TV at the time. Yes, his onscreen drama was melodramatic at best but that didn’t make him less an effective spokeperson for gays everywhere. Oh, how much we wanted him to be avenged of his lover’s death, and on that spring of 1981, even I tuned in to see the outcome. Well, it proved inconclusive since the verdict never came to be (it was resolved on season two), but it barely mattered, for we too were much stunned by that sophisticated veiled woman arriving in court just before the end credits.


Even though I was around for judgment day the next season, and watched the series sporadically afterwards with the addition of Adam, Dex and Sable (just to name a few), I eventually lost track of the Carringtons and their over-the-top antics. But fast forward to this year and I’m proud to say that these rich folks are back in full force on my flat TV screen. I surely intend to continue on following their troubling lives. If the subsequent seasons are as addictive as the first one, I’ll be geared up for the long haul, you can count on that.








Until next post—Martin






Sunday, 8 July 2012

ME, JACKIE COLLINS AND HER 'HOLLYWOOD WIVES'





Those who have been following this blog know that this next subject matter has been long time coming. I mean, how can I continue to write about the glitz and the glamour and overlook the queen of trash fiction herself, Ms. Jackie Collins? Utterly unacceptable, if you ask me. It has been brewing in my mind for quite some time as how to do this. Should I devote an entry on her entire body of work? Or should I just focus on one title at a time? Well, the decision has been made, dear readers; one at the time will do; and why not start with the classic of all classics, HOLLYWOOD WIVES?
 
 
I was already a young adult (about 18) when I plunged into this tale of the beautiful people and the killer that roams among them. I still remember the beginning of the novel about a guy pissing a perfect arc in a pool. Talk about a catchy line. I had never read something like that before, having always been a horror enthusiast where things like pissing seem to be nonexistent. But since I was ready for something new, this novel, plus its first vivid image, seemed to do the trick. What I didn’t know then but would soon find out was that HOLLYWOOD WIVES was my first attempt at what I consider now to be a must have for any healthy gay man.
 
 
Let me explain. Since my younger days, I’ve always been attracted to on-screen melodramas set in Hollywood. VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, THE OSCAR, THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE—I have seen and cherished them all. But for some strange reason this specific love didn’t transfer to my reading choice. Why, you may ask? Call it a closet case syndrome (which I still was at that time). Call it even a prejudice on my part. The fact is, I was uninterested into venturing into that field. That is until Jackie came along. Surprisingly enough, she made it all seem so inviting. And once I was lured into her world, I was definitely a goner.

HOLLYWOOD WIVES tells the tale of—you’ve guessed it—Hollywood wives. Those strong ladies who are the faces behind their spouses success. They make it all happen for them. From setting deals to even controlling their hubby libidos, nothing fazes them. But, of course, beyond their strong personas lie insecure girls afraid of loosing it all by the snap of two fingers. And why wouldn’t they be, when there’s always someone younger or wiser to take their rightful places? As if that wasn’t enough, a killer with an agenda is now invading their privileged turf. Who is this person and what does he want? Half the fun is trying to figure out his identity, the other half his modus operandi, for it is a strained but oh-so dramatic itinerary, let me tell you.
  
Did I succeed in tempting you in any way? Hope so, for the novel is definitely worth the investment. I haven’t glanced at it in years, having returned to horror almost full time. But I still remember how much fun I had with it. In fact, I don’t recall the last time I felt so comfortable reading a book such as HOLLYWOOD WIVES. It gave me a reason to adjust to my true self. It didn’t make me a flaming queen (not that there’s anything wrong with that) like some would believe. It just opened doors to a world that I thought I knew little about but certainly felt comfortable in. Because, yeah, it’s okay to enjoy this type of a read (or any read for that matter). It’s certainly more than okay to be as proud of it as of who you are. The key ingredient is just saying fuck it (pardon my Canadian French) and do it. And no better than a Jackie Collins book to remind us of that.







Until next post—Martin

US hardcover edition



Monday, 11 June 2012

'GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS' GONE WILD




In the midst of the highly anticipated release of GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS 2 in the near future, why not talk about the 2003 original film which I happened to discover about two years ago while surfing channels. You see, in Canada, our LOGO TV is called OUT TV.  It also features many gay theme movies (duh!) with almost no commercial breaks (yes!). So I was more than thrilled to finally catch this much-talked about film which, according to many, was very funny in an over the top way. I’ve always been a big fan of those sub-genre films and GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS definitely looked to be right up my alley.
 

I had never heard of the three leading ladies before. No, not true. I was barely aware of two of them: one from a guest spot on TV’s PROJECT RUNWAY; and the other from a very funny stint in the gay crowd-pleaser TRICK. But the moment I laid eyes on the trio I knew my time would be well spent. I mean, c’mon, how can it not with such a strong female cast, not to mention what looked to be an attune script, a laugh out loud repartee, and a slapstick rhythm worthy of any comedy classics. Oh, and the song in the opening credits; talk about a catchy tune; very VALLEY OF THE DOLLS / THE FIRST WIVES CLUB-ish.
 

The story revolves around three roommates, all in show business at one point, who make life a living hell for each other, the biggest train wreck being the older of the bunch Evie (Jack Plotnick). Evie was once an up and coming actress. But due to circumstances unrevealed here to keep the surprise for those still unfamiliar with the film (you should be ashamed of yourselves!), she lost it all. Well, almost all; she must still receives residuals for some show or another since she seems to have done them all (or so she claims). Anyway, Evie is what you call a has-been; you know, someone with no future, no prospect, no nothing. She loves to drink herself to a stupor and adores ridiculing her insecure roommate slash ex-starlet slash part-time maid Coco (Clinton Leupp) whenever she gets the chance (which is often). But it’s when new-roomie Varla (Jeffery Roberson) shows up that the fun really starts. What ensues is a battle of the fittest as Evie stops at nothing to crash Varla’s dream of making it big in Hollywood while trying to make a comeback herself.


I  can’t count the time I found myself laughing while witnessing the hectic goings on of our crazy ladies. Any scene they’re in is a treasure in itself ("Astro-phy-si-cist!", anyone?). And that’s saying a lot since GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS is what you call a no (big) name movie with a minuscule budget. But director Richard Day succeeds in impressing us in every way. Everything he touches looks slick. Not to mention the mega talents of his protagonists who, should I say, are far from being strangers in the gay community. Just in my strange little world; until about two years ago, like I mentioned. Now, I feel the need to know what they’re up to, like their involvement in the GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS sequel (written and directed by Day again) which, suffice to say, I can’t wait to see.
 
 
In the meantime, if you guys are like me and can’t get enough of Evie, Coco and Varla, just subscribe to their respective Twitter names for more info about their upcoming shows and personal engagements. If you crave for more GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS before the ultimate sequel, visit You Tube for a couple of internet shorts which are as yummy as the film itself. Oh, and before I forget, for those who have seen the movie, yes, it is TV’s MODERN FAMILY Eric Stonestreet who plays Coco’s rapist and husband to be. I doubt he will be in the second feature (just as gorgeous Ron "Stevie" Mathews’, who is reportedly being replaced) but he won’t be missed. These girls can certainly take care of themselves.





 

Until next post—Martin 
 
 


Friday, 1 June 2012

THE MANY FACES OF 'LACE'


 
To celebrate the forthcoming 30th anniversary release of Shirley Conran LACE (by Canongate Books), let's look back at some of the US or UK covers that have caught our eyes throughout the years.









 These are the first US and UK hardcover editions from 1982.








A somber 25th anniversary cover for a grand novel.




I like this cover.  Wish these ladies looked more like the heroines from the TV miniseries, though.



Speaking of whom, this cover is my favorite by far.  They should have used this photo for the DVD release.




 Cool '90s paperback cover.



From 1997.



                  This is the omnibus one.  Must be LiLi on the cover.



Last but not least, the first US paperback version.  This is the one I got after seeing the sensational miniseries.

 


So there you have it.  I'm sure there's many more where those came from, and I will keep at it as soon as I find them.



 


Until next postMartin






Monday, 7 May 2012

DORIS MORTMAN AND HER 'FIRST BORN'

 
 
During the summer of 1988, as I was returning from a hectic day at work, I decided to stop at this magazine shop in the gay village where they also sold a few paperback novels on a rack at the back. You know, the latest releases and stuff. One of them was Doris Mortman’s FIRST BORN. I was immediately drawn by its red colored front cover featuring a close-up shot of a woman’s half face. Suffice to say, I wanted to know more about this novel. You see, I lived—and still do—for this type of fiction, and during the ‘80s there were tons of them. Some were good some were bad. And this one seemed decent enough. 


 
Excited at the prospect of starting it, I chose the least damaged book on the rack (why are they always so scuffed?!) and proceeded to the cash register behind which stood a hot-looking employee. I had met him before at a nightclub somewhere and couldn’t help but flirt a little, and vice versa. Anyway, as I was heading home I realized half-way that my wallet was missing. A clear image of it lying in front of the cash register came to me. Yikes! I immediately ran back to the store and prayed that my money and credit cards were safe and sound. They were. As it turned out, Mr. Cutie Pie had kept the wallet for me. I’d love to say up to that point that he and I became an item but no such luck. After I insisted on giving him 20 bucks for his kind gesture, I never saw him again.  


It took me three tries to finally read FIRST BORN from cover to cover. Not that it was garbage; it’s just that the investment was a challenge since the novel happens to be a hefty one: over 700 pages. The plot centers around the ups and downs of four career gals, all cousins, who meet up with a female stranger who turns out to be the half sis of one of them. In other words, she’s an illegitimate child. I know, it smells like a LACE rip-off but don’t be fooled. FIRST BORN manages to stand on its own with a riveting plot and a rich narrative, not to mention a fleshed-out characterization. Mortman is one gifted-storyteller, and I can guarantee you won’t find a better novel in which to invest. I can even confess that the book made me shed a tear or two in some parts. And that’s a rare thing for me, since I’m a cold-hearted bastard when it comes to fiction reading.
 



The author published a bunch of other novels after FIRST BORN, the last being 2005 SHADES OF RED which got a ton of negative reviews from Amazon readers. I have yet to read the novel, but I can’t imagine it being that bad. Mortman is too skilful of a novelist. And if all of this criticism is part of the reasons why she’s missing in action today from the publishing world, well, that’s just too bad… and sad. For she deserves the love, the praise, the acknowledgment; but most importantly, she deserves the come back. So, how about it, Miss Mortman, won't you give your readers another chance?


UPDATE:  Well, it looks like our prayers have been answered because Doris Mortman is back with another novel called THE NEST, supposed to be a suspense novel, the first in a series, "set in the midst of a small country club".  It is available digitally and in paperback from Pennington Publishing.  Welcome back, talented lady.


 


 


Until next post—Martin
The author