Tuesday, 31 July 2018


When I was around 16 I couldn’t get enough of trashy novels. One of them was THE BOYS IN THE MAIL ROOM by Iris Rainer—who later on married and added Dart to her name. The year was 1981, and I was still in the closet but very aware that temptation beckoned whenever thinking about men. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was still young enough to believe that it was simply a phase, that it would come to pass as I grow older. How naive we are at that age. Anyway, when I read the synopsis of this wonderful book about show business I was completely taken aback by one of the characters who, according to the back cover, was also struggling with his own sexual identity. Suffice to say I plunged right into this story of four colorful guys who each struggle to make it in Hollywood. Of course they do eventually succeed (isn’t it the purpose of these stories, after all?) but the path to stardom is one roller coaster ride of sex and sin and the women—sometimes men—that get in their way. 

I can still recall that character’s first name, Barry—and no, I didn’t look it up in the novel. Like I said it just came to me. I’d love to tell you that I recently re-read THE BOYS IN THE MAIL ROOM to see if it held up but, alas, I have not, but I do remember enjoying it tremendously. It’s no surprise when I say that it’s in the same vein as any Jackie Collins title, so it wouldn’t be that hard for you to dig it as well—that is if you’re into that shit. If you’re still reading this post I guess you most certainly are. 

I had so much fun with this book that I could have easily seen it as a three part miniseries. Sort of like the TV adaptation of CELEBRITY by the late Thomas Thomson that aired on NBC in 1984 (which had a confused gay character as well). But it was not meant to be. We got BEACHES instead, seven years later, starring the Divine Miss M. Yes, Iris Rainer Dart wrote that one as well before it became a hit movie. In fact, she wrote quite a few novels after THE BOYS IN THE MAIL ROOM. Except for BEACHES, I have not had the chance to read anyone of them but when I finally do, you’ll be the first to know. Oh, quickly, before I forget. As much fun I had with this novel I also remember being quite annoyed by the fact that the paperback back cover described Barry’s homosexuality as being in love with the wrong sex. It scarcely helped this budding gay reader in moving toward accepting himself. In fact, I think it made him even more withdrawn in all aspects of life. Funny how a simple word can have major consequences to a 16 year old... But, hey, it was the early ‘80s. We certainly have accomplished a lot since then. Let’s take this time to thank all the pioneers, and that includes Iris Rainer Dart herself, who have made it possible for us to love freely our same sex partners. Without their contributions to the cause where would we be?


You can still catch this title wherever digital books are sold.

Until next post—Martin  
1980 Hardcover

Sunday, 15 July 2018


In 1982 a friend and I had the chance to catch Diana Ross in action as she toured the world with her live concert. Mind you, this was way before I came out of the closet. I had no idea she was a gay icon. I just loved her. My favorite album of hers was and still is 1981 To Love Again which has all of her classic love songs. So you can imagine how ecstatic we were seeing her that summer evening. I still get goose bumps just thinking about it. The night was so magical. She sang, she danced, she cracked jokes. She even went as far as mingling with the audience. We were seated too far to ever think she would come our way but it scarcely mattered, so much in awe we were just being there. I may have moved on to other singers as college beckoned but in my eyes no one had never come close to being a true superstar as Diana Ross was back in those days.

But there's an ugly side to her as well. We’ve come to know that by now. She's made enough front-page news to cover the bottom of many birdcages. Yet, J. Randy Taraborrelli was the first to really expose her bad behavior. His 1988 CALL HER MISS ROSS (Kensington Publishing) is a no holds barred account of the diva in action, from her humble beginnings in Detroit, Michigan to her sold out performances all over the world. This hit girl sure made a lot of people tremble in their boots, including her Supreme sister Mary Wilson who at the time kept quiet to keep peace. Taraborrelli spares no details in making sure his unauthorized biography is worth every penny: jealousy, backstabbing, business deals gone wrong... Ross' desperate need to control everything and everyone fits her over-the-top ego to a T while filling this bio with enough juicy details to keep any enquiring mind very, very happy.

I used to buy everything this lady put on records as a solo artist, even during her RCA days when she left Motown to make it on her own. Though some of her stuff during that time is still listenable (mostly ballads), I, like many of you, much prefer the Motown years. The Theme from Mahogany, It’s My Turn, Love Hangover, The Boss, Endless Love... So many hits and J. Randy Taraborelli goes through them all (including those of The Supremes) with a fine-tooth comb. You’ll have a ball discovering how they came to be and which ones reached the top of the charts and how long they stayed there. Indeed, CALL HER MISS ROSS is mostly an encyclopedia of knowledge despite its fun and dishy front.

Fortunately, the book is still available but going under the name DIANA ROSS: A BIOGRAPHY (Citadel, 2014). The author has rewritten, expanded and updated it with more interviews and more insightful viewpoints (which to me were my favorite parts to begin with). In other words, CALL HER MISS ROSS got a makeover. Personally, I liked it just the way it was but I admit that this new version should still be quite interesting. I will definitely check it out—as you should, especially if you’re a Ross fan.

Until next post—Martin 
Digital version

Tuesday, 3 July 2018


Here’s one I meant to review earlier but got sidetracked for reasons that still escape me. I caught it on DVD a couple of months ago with my hubby. I remember vividly his reaction to it. It was a mix of smirks and sarcasms from beginning to end, and to tell you the truth, I don’t really blame him. I mean how could I? This film is kind of whack—and it stars none other than the queen of high-gloss cinema herself, Miss Lana Turner. Anyone who’s caught her in gems such as IMITATION OF LIFE or PORTRAIT IN BLACK knows of her killer looks but limited talent. But as usual I was the only one who got a kick out of them that faithful day; so much so, in fact, that I now rank her presence in THE BIG CUBE as one of the must-sees of the psychedelic ‘60s. And that’s saying something when you think of all the overblown performances we had already witnessed during that time: Patty Duke in VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Kim Novak in THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE, Stephen Boyd in THE OSCAR… 

Turner plays a retired stage actress going slowly mad on LSD. What she fails to notice is that it’s all the doings of her stepdaughter who hates her guts, and you would too if you had to listen to all of those godawful step-mommy advices Turner gives while stealing the attention of the girl’s precious dad. Precious is a farfetched word to describe the goings-on of a selfish bloke who only wants to be with Lana, especially on the Pacific sea where he ultimately loses his life in a boating accident, rendering survivor Lana the executor of his estate. Of course, daughter dear will have none of that, hence the plan to make her go cuckoo. Meanwhile there is even a sillier subplot involving medical student George Chakaris (WEST SIDE STORY) and his free-spirited entourage charming his ways into the stepdaughter’s bank account. This guy is a major douche but you’ll have a ball following him as he schemes a plan to win big. 

What’s even more ridiculously cool about THE BIG CUBE is that the over-the-top scale is never determined, meaning you could be caught off-guard at any time. From an impromptu striptease at a private party to a bad acid trip at a popular night club, not to mention the many crazy drug-induced antics of Lana Turner herself (always dressed to the nines by the great Edith Head), THE BIG CUBE gives you nothing more than entertainment sleaze. Who cares if it got more plot holes than my used knitted sweater or that the stepdaughter sports a Swedish accent even though she’s supposed to be an American (educated overseas is the explanation). The fun never strays, and that’s the best thing about it. And before you know it, The End appears and you find yourself cursing the gods of bad cinema for having reached its plateau with this one. 

I have seen my share of Lana Turner movies and I got to admit that her career had never been as beguiling as when she made silly films like THE BIG CUBE. Alas, it was to be Lana’s last project from a major studio (Warner Brothers) before disappearing from the big screen.  Of course she made a semi-comeback on TVs FALCON CREST in the early ‘80s. I had no idea who she was since KNOTS LANDING ruled my world in those days. But trust me, once I became aware of her star appeal it took me no time to catch up on her many films. If you dig her work as much as I do, then you’ll be happy to know that I plan on reviewing other Lana treats, and lucky for us there are so many to choose from.


Until next time—Martin