Saturday, September 21, 2013

now, it's hollywood's turn!

A Queer History of the united States... So, now that the Broadway stage was legally suppressed it was time to head West to Hollywood. Although Gays and Lesbians were basically unseen, Hollywood films in the 1920's were known for their sexual tolerance. This was largely due to Hollywood's connections to the Broadway stage, vaudeville and burlesque. Many Hollywood actors, designers, producers, etc. came from those arenas. Also, Los Angeles, like San Francisco, had a liberal/leftist energy.
     One famous scene in an early ''talkie'' was Marlene Dietrich's singing scene in Morocco[1930] where she's dressed like a man. Dietrich was also known in Hollywood circles for her affairs with both men and Women. There were also ''open secrets'' and public rumors about the sexuality of other Hollywood Silent stars like Pola Negri, Ramon Novarro and director George Cukor to name a few. One silent star that the press did come for was Rudolph Valentino.  A 1926 Chicago Tribune editorial about a powder machine in a public men's had this to say :
    A powder vending machine! In a men's room! Homo Americanus! Why didn't someone quietly drown Rudolph Guglielmo, alias Valentino, years ago?...
    Do women like the type of  ''man'' who pats pink powder on his face in a public washroom and arranges his coiffure in a public elevator? Do women at heart belong to the Wilsonian era of  ''I Didn't raise my Boy to be a Soldier''? What has become of the old ''caveman'' line?
    This editorial not only slams Valentino but it questions Hollywood[ and American] values and it connects masculinity to politics and sexism! Does the ''pink powder'' reference refer to the Bolshevik and Marxist ''pinkos''? And when I think of the ''caveman line'' the image of a caveman dragging a cave women by the hair comes to mind. From the standpoint of a writer I must say that this editorial is well written and quite clever, though. It's provocative and makes a lot of statements.

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