Well darling, I just can’t stand it! Have you ever? I mean can you imagine?
What am I babbling on about? Why, CHOP SUEY of course!
Bruce Weber has only created the most divine movie of gay cult figures, mingled with his own tell-all "I'm insecure and take pictures of hot, young men because I can" sort of film.
Picture it. Eliza Doolittle as a man. Enter Peter Johnson, a young wrestler from Wisconsin who is handpicked by Bruce to be immersed in the fashion world. He is taught l'histoire homosexuel by a cast of old queens and a hodgepodge of clips of Rickson Grace, Robert Mitchum, Sir Wilfred Thesiger and of course, Hoots the Poodle (!).
His eyes widen when the late, great Frances Faye's lover mentions that Frances' birthday is the same day as Peter's daughters. Like a kid in a candy shop, he dances with elephants, swims with golden retrievers while in a ball gown and tackles wrestling mates back home. The most heartwarming moment is when Bruce compares his relationship with young Peter to his late friend’s (HIV) relationship with a sportsman-gone-model. The sincerity and compassion is beyond words.
Now, I have really been saving the best for last - Diana Vreeland. The last half of the movie is filled with her voice - creamy and drawn out like an old motor - preaching about how she would have loved to be born a surfer, because of her love of water. When asked if it may be the sun and tan that was attracting her to the world of surfers, her neck shot out and her rouge lips pursed, " I don't give a damn about that, I adore the water!" She later waxes poetically about skateboarders and how she loves the “whirr” of the wheels.
The insights into her world – from her garden of hell on 550 Park Avenue and her retrospection on life in London to her unforgettable sound bytes - are worth their weight in gold, or should I say rouge. To see her grandchildren playing on her chintz sofa makes her so much more real to those of us who never met her.
Thank you, Bruce, for introducing this dandy in training to Frances Faye, Sophie Tucker and Ms. D.V. saying, "I am the only one who has the right to die in a opium den in Hong Kong!"