23 November 2019

a century ago

"Male and Female" was released 100 years ago today. so I watchd it this morning. the star is Gloria Swanson. but the first and last person seen on screen is Lila Lee who is utterly captivating of the lovesick maid. her performance is fresh & charming. it lacks the histrionics some see as a hallmark of film acting of that period.

Lila Lee plays a significant role in my life. I was only 14 when I first met her. her sister Peg Tufford was a realtor in Elyria. she'd appeard on Broadway opposite Al Jolson & had a film or two in her past but never had the acclaim of her famous sister. when Lila came to visit I pesterd her abt her career. she was my first link to silent cinema -- which over the decades has held great significance to me.

Lila appears in my work. here she is in "Ely Park":

Lila Lee walks by
history of film on her fragile shoulders

she appears again at the end of Ohio Triangle in a memory from the time my parents invited her to dinner.

I have great affection for Lila. so it was essential that I spend this centennial seeing one of her sweetest performances. one that remains vibrant after a century. & one that people are still enjoying.

Peg gave me this Elmer Fryer portrait of her with Lila. it hangs in my guest bathroom.

at Lila's grave in Elyria

19 November 2019

in my glass

"Children of Grass" is a collection of remarkable portraits of poets by B. A. Van Sise. I'm not in it. however this morning he sent me this photo he took yesterday. that's his reflection in the glass of my niche at Hollywood Forever.

I'm delightd that he took it & sent it to me. & how lovely to see all the lip prints. some friends find it macabre that I've set up my final resting place before that rest begins. however I'm completely enjoying the experience of seeing interaction with strangers. every lip print kisses my soul.

19 October 2019

name change

when Terry Hastings & I were concocting this photo project I told him of my boyhood infatuation with Helen Morgan after seeing her portrayd by Polly Bergen on "Playhouse 90." so those old albums of mine found their way into the photo.

when I askd Terry for his title so I cd post he told me "My Man." at first that sounded fine since it had the allure of old-fashiond torch singers. but then a bit of checking showd me that Morgan didn't sing that song. I knew it was made famous by Fannie Brice. so I notified Terry of that & mentiond a couple of her hits which had "man" in the title. & last nite at his retropective in Palm Desert the actual print was unveild & I saw his final title -- "Can't Help Lovin' That Man."

in addition to seeing the actual print (& receiving my #1 of an edition of 5) in his slide lecture ("Decade in the Desert") there was this huge blow-up.

a thrilling evening.

16 October 2019

"My Man" by Terry Hastings

this piece will be unveild at the Terry Hastings retrospective at University of California Riverside's Palm Desert campus this weekend

08 October 2019

another piano

photographer Stephen Baumbach has coverd a piano with photographs he's taken over the years. & today he added a poem of mine. I went to his studio to sign it. the piano will be on display during Pride weekend here in 3 weeks.

18 September 2019

my stunning life

(photo by Marconi Calindas)

I've had this long-time fantasy. I'm doing a nite club act in which I come out in a tux & feather boa & sit on a piano & sing.

yes. my singing career was over when I outgrew performing as a "boy soprano."

but one still has dreams.

today my dream came to as close to coming true as it ever will. Terry Hastings -- one of the best art photographers in the valley -- invited me to come to our dear friend Marconi Calindas' studio. there Marconi has paintd an upright piano which will be on display at Palm Springs Pride. I got into my tux & a boa I had. the latter wasn't as snazzy as those Helen Morgan used. but we're talking magic here. I made my way on top of the gayly paintd upright. it was hot under the professional lamps. but even with sweat & skinny boa I felt every bit the star.

I don't know what Terry will make from our shoot. but I trust his talent. & I'm loving every minute of my late-in-life career as a model. all lives have ups & downs. I no longer dwell on the downs. & this latest up is one more page in a biography I wdn't trade with anyone.

(photo by Marconi Calindas)