Soap Operas

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Ghosts – Winter Romance

Published December 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

It is a time of despair and worry. The man at the socially distanced break room table is energetically talking with a female supervisor. Until recently he was an international sales director for a 5 Star Hotel, a position he frankly admits will never exist again. After decades of rising through the ranks, he now wipes down self-serve checkout counters and is grateful to her for the extra hours that she has allowed him to stay tonight. His dogs will miss him he jokes, but the security of another shift or two assures them of receiving the name brand kibble and chewy treats that they so expectantly crave. In the face of such inoperable, life altering changes, he is surprising resolute, upbeat…and I try to take my cues from him in the days that follow.

For despite it all, people are still celebrating. Our first pandemic dictated Christmas is coming soon and the lights and twinkly stars are disappearing from the shelves in the store’s seasonal boutique. I restock those aisles often, growing less and less surprised at everyone’s insistence on clinging to the predictable joys. I, too, start to take a distant comfort in the comical Santa’s and cheery cartoon elves that are popping up in window displays of the storefronts that I pass on my daily neighborhood jog. All those bright and glorious neon shades of red and green are comforting – but I can still feel something else lurking. Flickering shadows. Hazy specters. Seasonal ghosts.

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I am 19 and I am waiting for my boyfriend at his place. He gave me the keys to his apartment earlier and I bustled through the February frost to his one bedroom loft. Now, I am feeling suspiciously adult, like a big city mistress of some high-ranking business exec – although, I do legitimately belong here. I am not a secret. Everyone at work knows about us. They are aware that I am happily anticipating his presence as he finishes up his bartending shift. Anxious for our romantic evening to begin, I pore through his box of VHS tapes, trying to find something to distract myself. It is all porn videos. Well, porn videos and a bootleg copy of The Color Purple. But we have just recently watched that sterling Spielberg-ian example of Oscar bait…and I know better than to throw in a sex tape. I did that last week, and while I tried to resist jerking off to Jeff Stryker pounding some smooth curly haired model-type in an alley, I eventually couldn’t help myself. Thus, making for a less than receptive offering when AJ finally arrived home. I don’t want that to happen again. So, I turn on the television and settle on Saturday Night Live, already in progress. Just after the cast bow, he arrives. I greet him, happily. He receives my kisses mutely, situates himself on the couch, telling me that we have to talk. Valentine’s Day is a week and a half away and I am sure that he wants to make plans. This is the first year in what seems like an incredibly long life that I will have someone to celebrate with and I am thrilled. But instead, after a deep sigh, a Dear John monologue softly peters out of his lips.  Murmuring something about needing space and the strange curves of life and time, he breaks up with me. I am shocked, unexpectedly thrust from one extreme, anticipation…happiness. to a totally different one, shock…despair.

Of course, as I write this now, it dawns on me that this was an incredibly heartless way to break up with someone. There had been no clues, no warning shots fired before this moment. Everything had been kept close to the wrist. Therefore, he certainly could have told me in some other space…at some other time. Set a kinder rhythm, bought me coffee and a gourmet cookie as consolation prizes, taken me to some park, dark with leafless trees. The mood should fit the occasion, I believe. Obliterating a weekend dream state seems particularly cruel to me, especially in my secluded COVID state of mind now. Still, I find myself feeling a wispy sorrow for him, somehow, these days. In fact, it almost feels like maybe it is his sad face that wavers down alleys and across those amber corners as I wait for the light to change, walking to work.

I, honestly, don’t blame him for breaking up with me. I was silly, a devastatingly insecure child whose only concept for relationships was my parents frustrated, frequently violent union and soap opera romances. Once during our short time together, I “seductively” ignored him when I saw him unexpectedly at a bar. Our eyes met and I sharply turned away, dancing quickly into the arms of the female friend I was club hopping with. Purposefully calling him the next day, I innocently and insistently claimed that I hadn’t seen him the night before, a classic missed connection turned amusingly wrong. Another time, I pretended the managers at work were horribly upset about our dating, throwing him off balance for a moment until I confessed my senseless, idiotic ruse. Like my favorite daytime divas, I thought I always had to keep him slightly out of tune. To maintain his interest, I had to create drama…intrigue…social unrest.

Of course, I didn’t need to manufacture such moments. Tension was beating there, sharply, all along. There was an ex…another young, blue eyed blonde. We could have been brothers I ascertained, the one time that I saw him picking up his remaining belongings from AJ’s closet. It was unnerving. Months later, I would catch AJ in the restaurant’s staff bathroom, crying…not over me, but him. The other one. The original angel. The truly loved. My twin.

But there was one day. One gloriously perfect day. Its ectoplasmic embers float around me as I move throughout this month. January 1st, 1988. My roommates were still away on their holiday adventures. AJ and I lay in bed, recovering from a joyous night of public reveling, ignoring any burgeoning breakfast hunger pains. Instead, we pawed through my vinyl collection, taking turns deciding what to play. We talked and cuddled…slept…eventually heading down to the neighborhood greasy spoon. Returning with burgers that tasted inordinately of grease and that venue’s overused grill, we watched The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful on someone’s tiny TV. Later, we trekked across town to catch The Running Man at one of the city’s notoriously chilly, ill kept second run theaters. We held hands as Richard Dawson taunted Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Conchita Alonso bravely plotted an escape.  We brought in that new year with fries and sex and Stephen King and it felt like a miracle, like the life I had dreamed about for so long was finally beginning. It was the first ideal afternoon I had ever experienced and it seemed to finally confirm my worth to the world. My importance to the universe seemed completely sure. In that moment. I would have never recognized myself as that soon-to-be tremulous lover who needed emotional games to feel in control. And for a moment, perhaps he too, thought his sorrow was over. My doppelganger banished from his mind in that still glittery seasonal glow as the world reset itself…bringing not only a new year, but a new sense of hope…a heart completely reborn.

So, maybe it is not only just his silvery outline that whispers to me slightly out of frame, as of late – but my own, as well. For that momentarily confident version of me belongs to this year, somehow, just as much as that unburdened version of him – though I have not regarded this past self seriously for decades. This year of hopes dashed so unreservedly, a year where light’s dearth has blinded us all, if only for smaller pockets of time, most assuredly would be the one to bring his essence back, unchecked – that past, very wishful, soon to be obliterated self. He worries me again beneath the piped-in carols…besieges me bittersweetly upon restlessly waking.

But perhaps he also teaches me that all this current sorrow, much like that old, old hurt, is survivable. He fills me with understanding, and most beautifully I think, compassion. Compassion for the person that I once was and, perhaps most importantly now, for the person that I am soon about to become.

In Remembrance: Christopher Bernau

Published October 30, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Christopher Bernau made me gay.

Well, he actually didn’t strap me down on some slick gurney and take me into some underground laboratory with lightening crackling overhead and test tubes exploding all around us… But I did come home one day from school — and there he was on Guiding Light, all shirtless and delivering his lines with a sadistic sneer as he ordered the distinctive and talented Sofia Landon Geier, the actress playing his employee-lover, around and…. Well – I got that special little tingle.

Years later, I discovered that some other handsome performer actually probably gave Bernau that exact same sensation when he was growing up. Living his life as openly gay as was possible in an era when that was frowned upon, he seemed like a hero to me. This isn’t surprising, though. He was definitely someone who made an impression on many folks – first as Phillip Todd on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows and then, most famously, as the manipulative and occasionally cruel Alan Spaulding on the afore mentioned Guiding Light. There, the story of his illicit lover affair with the sweet Hope Bauer (the always honey-lit and eternally warm Elvera Roussel) raised many of the temperatures of the local ladies in my tiny neighborhood like few others did, before and after.

Nicely, in addition to his Dark Shadows experience, he also played a wildly seductive Count in the 1977 Off-Broadway production of The Passion of Dracula.

Unfortunately, Bernau, as with many of that era’s extraordinarily special creative types, was also stricken with AIDS. He ultimately died of the disease at the age of 49 on June 14th, 1989, leaving behind a legacy of amazing performances…and loads of stardust sprinkled inspiration for many a young small-town homosexual who dreamed of bigger and better (and, unfortunately, occasionally unfair) worlds.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Va-Va-Villainess: Majorie Gateson

Published October 15, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

One of the most elegant supporting players in the early talkies, Majorie Gateson added a superiorly venomous flair to 1932’s Street of Women. Forcing the film’s romantic lead, played by Alan Dinehart, to remain in their loveless marriage for the benefit of her social standing and the maintenance of her lifestyle, she is rich presence onscreen – often stealing the focus with an oily disdain.

Nicely, Gateson’s co-stars here include Warners Brothers’ original diva Kay Francis, who would go onto play a role similar to Gateson’s in 1939’s In Name Only, and Gloria Stuart. Stuart, gained mega latter-day fame for her Academy nominated work in James Cameron’s Titanic, but spent her early career highlighting such classic horror fare as The Old Dark House and The Invisible Man. Gateson, herself, received some sunset significance by playing the revered matriarch for fourteen years on the long running soap opera The Secret Storm.

Horror Hall of Fame: Gateson added her elegant essence to such early fright offerings as Fog and Thirteen Women. She also notably appeared as an endangered widow in the Wisteria Cottage episode of the anthology series Suspense.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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(Photos: Above, top: Street of Women cover art with Gateson reacting imperviously in the lower right. Above, bottom: Gateson bringing a somber dignity to Conrad Janis” threats on Suspense.)

Unsung Heroines of Horror: Elaine Stritch

Published October 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

She put the BROAD in Broadway, carving out an extraordinary career for herself on the stage. But those blinded by the sheen of her Tony and Emmy wins (and her association with such theatrical legends as Noel Coward and Stephen Sondheim) may not be aware that the magnificent Elaine Stritch has a couple grizzly genre credits to her name.

Significantly, in a time when the world was still afraid of lesbians, Stritch bravely enacted the role of Sapphic minded club owner Marian Freeman in the 1965 psycho-stalker thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear? Interestingly, the presence of the openly gay Sal Mineo as the disturbed busboy that the story focuses upon adds another lavender component to this gritty look at obsession and murder. Granted, Marian’s advances on Juliet Prowse’s Norah, the film’s heroine, are unwanted, affording her preferences the stereotypical ring of the perverse. But Stritch fills the character with as much dignity as she is able to while simultaneously applying her noted and uniquely salty perspective to the mix.

10 years later, Stritch sarcastically zapped her way through the second theatrical remake of The Spiral Staircase, as well. While a mysterious killer hunts down Jacqueline Bissett’s plucky mute adventuress, Stritch’s world weary nurse tends to the needs of Mildred Dunnock’s uncooperative matriarch character. Gravitating to the movie’s theatrical set-up of a winding mansion on a dark and stormy night, she ultimately provides the necessary diva antics while still remaining true to the take no bullshit essence of her character.  

With two appearances in the British genre anthology series Tales of the Unexpected, an arc on the murder-mystery based soap Edge of Night and the effective voicing of the grandmother in the animated favorite ParaNorman among her further credits, the truly singular Elaine Stritch definitely earned her place among the notoriously unsung heroines of horror before her passing at the age of 89 in 2014.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Style Icons of Horror: Getting Wiggy with Days’ Eve

Published August 19, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Eve Main

Have Wig, Will Revenge!

Always more of a misunderstood anti-heroine, Days of our Lives’ Eve Donovan (the always emotive Kassie DePaiva) has recently emerged as an evil mastermind, a character type that fans of horror films are very familiar with.

After kidnapping her daughter’s murderer and torturing him in a warehouse outside of New York City, Eve has recently arrived in Salem, IL, where the show is based, to finish off her revenge scheme.

Eve and Claire

Eagled eyed Claire (Isabel Durant) sees through Eve’s disguise!

Naturally knowing she is under suspicion for her criminal activities, Eve reemerged disguised in a black wig – a perfect terror flick accoutrement – and an accessory put to good use by everyone from Morticia Addams to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Of course, you can be in good company, too – by watching Days which airs, weekdays, Monday – Friday on NBC.

https://www.facebook.com/daysofourlives

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Black Wigs in Horror

Samara, Morticia and Elvira: The Most Famous Black Wigs in Horror!

Style Icons of Horror: Kaye Stevens

Published August 8, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Kaye Main

“Show any cheek and you’ll be back shoveling French fries!!” – Mrs. Kallender, Jaws 3

Whether opening for The Temptations or enacting a broken-hearted breakdown on Days of Our Lives, eclectic wonder Kaye Stevens always presented herself with passion and a grand sense of pizzazz.

Nicely, this scene stealer brought a little flair to the Jaws kingdom as well with her appearance in the highly anticipated, ‘80s personifying Jaws 3-D! As her Mrs. Kallender instructed some eager femme charges on how to conduct themselves as employees in this toothy version of Sea World, it seems like the producers took a liking to Stevens’ personal style. Flourishes of red abound in the production design, making Kaye’s bright locks a visual precursor for all that is to come in this aquatic, bloody celluloid nightmare.

In my (skin free) book, there can be no bigger compliment or sincere indication of Stevens’ immense visual (and otherwise) talents than that!

Kaye Mashup

Kaye leading the Jaws 3 color charge!

Until the next time, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Kaye Collage

Further evidence of Kaye bringing flair to soap operas, variety shows and album covers, worldwide!

The Red Giallo Antics of Days’ Eve

Published August 4, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Eve Red Duo

Sporting a giallo red dress, her form surrounded by pure white lighting while an offscreen wind machine ruffled her hair dramatically, Days of Our Lives perennial bad girl Eve Donovan made her grand re-entrance on the daytime scene this past week.

Determined to stop reformed serial killer Ben Weston (subtly intense Robert Scott Wilson) from finding happiness on his wedding day to refreshingly honest heroine Ciara Brady (the forever spunky Victoria Konefal) , Donovan deployed a bomb as a distraction tactic (just as the ceremony completed) and whisked the former compulsive murderer off to a mysterious warehouse lair. Eve Solo Red

As portrayer Kassie DePaiva notes in a recent interview, Eve has “definitely gone off the deep end!” Of course, this is not surprising if one charts the series of misguided love affairs, false accusations and general bad luck that have plagued this character during the prime of her run on the show. Add in the fact that during his long-ago reign of terror, Ben claimed Eve’s sweet daughter Paige as one of his victims and you have a Molotov cocktail of intense motivation happening here. Now Eve is determined to brainwash Ben into murdering his new wife, allowing him to liberally partake in the intense pain that she herself feels over the loss of her greatest love, her one and only child.

Of course, as the mechanics of this revenge-soaked plot play out one truly hopes that the atmosphere will remain saturated in the glow of the European revenge horror films that it is already nicely imitating.

One thing will remain certain, though. DePaiva, who has always immersed herself into the mindset of every character that she plays, will compel and entrance….and possibly find herself with an Emmy nomination for her work – a feat that would bring her total nods for her efforts with this role up to three.

Eve Blue

For further information on Days/DePaiva, be sure to check out  https://www.facebook.com/daysofourlives & https://www.facebook.com/kassie.depaiva.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Fruity Flashback: The Loving Murders

Published May 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Loving Murders

Long term cast member Randolph Mantooth has called it the show that nobody ever saw. But the ABC soap opera Loving did have plenty of loyal followers who have remembered it fondly since its cancellation in the fall of 1995. Interestingly, for a show that continually floated at the bottom of the daytime ratings, it certainly had pedigree. It was created in 1983 by soap opera legend Agnes Nixon and, over the years, it definitely had its inventive moments. A few of those even contained elements of horror and the supernatural. In one of his first acting jobs, television stalwart John O’Hurley played a devilishly evil character named Jonathan Matalaine while the program’s college age characters interacted with a tortured romantic couple, who just happened to be ghosts, in the early ‘90s. Perhaps its most genre laden plotline was the Loving Murders, the months long story arc that brought the show to a close and helped it morph into another (very short lived) soap called The City.

L-R: PETER DAVIES;JOHN O'HURLEY

O’Hurley as the satanic Matalaine

As longtime characters were murdered off by a stealthily cloaked serial killer, the show’s ratings actually rose 20%. This was perhaps due to some of the unusual ways in which the cast was offed. Longtime heroine Stacy Donavan, portrayed with heart and verve by frequent horror sweetheart Lauren Marie Taylor (Friday the 13th, Part 2, Girls Nite Out), met her end via a poisoned powder puff. Deadly candles, heart attacks and coldblooded drownings also made appearances. The most spectacular sendoff probably belonged to Jean Le Clerc’s popular Jeremy Hunter, though. Clerc’s Hunter, an important character for many years on the iconic All My Children, was a sculptor who met his demise by being turned into one of his own statues!

Notably, the producers originally planned for a former character named Trisha, who had a history of mental issues, to return as the culprit. Noelle Beck, her longstanding portrayer, nixed that concept, though. Thus, Gwyneth Alden (Christine Tudor), Trisha’s mother and the show’s diva-licious matriarch, was chosen as the villain. While Tudor did spectacular work and obviously relished the juicy emotional windfall that this turn of events brought her, it was hard for many devoted fans to buy her as the murderess. Tudor had filled Alden with such true-to-life heart over the years, it was next to impossible to believe that Gwyneth would be able to kill off her family and friends no matter her state of mind. Still, the plotline allowed her and the show a significant (if overlooked) place in afternoon television history.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Chrsrine Newman

Gwyneth/Tudor in “happier” days.

Va-Va-Villainess: Margarita Cordova

Published March 1, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Margarita Main

Peter Gunn, the ultra cool private eye series created by Blake Edwards, definitely featured its share of shady ladies over its 3 often irresistible seasons (1958-1961). Of course, all of these women radiated spunk and beauty. But the most dynamic of those varied and capable performers has to be Margarita Cordova who, over the course of two episodes, skillfully danced, sang and played guitar along with the other expected prerequisites of her acting assignments. Margarita Dance

Granted, her last appearance in the show’s Cry Love, Cry Murder offering found her in more valiant territory, portraying a character that exposes the schemes of family member with a firm yet tear stained heart.

Her first runaround with Craig Stevens’ unflappable Gunn was a bit more insidious, though. As Elena, the mistress of a two timing scoundrel in the Mask of Murder offering, Cordova willing delivers the series’ titular hero to death’s door. Gunn, naturally, survives…as the alert Elena slinks off to presumably charm other suckers. Cordova fills this determined schemer with a strong survivor’s instinct mixed with a sly bit of seductive minx, providing for a most memorable villainess with plenty of (the above mentioned) va-va-voom to spare.

Margarita Mission ImpossibleDecades later, Cordova found her biggest fame as a regular on two NBC soap operas. As the matriarchal Rosa Andrade on Santa Barbara, she provided a noble sternness. She was given even more creative freedom, though, as Sunset Beach’s truly memorable Carmen Torres. Vengefully opposing the romantic union of her beloved (former priest) son with his brother’s ex-fiancée, Cordova took the mother in law from hell act to deliciously glorious heights.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Margarita Mail

Hopelessly Devoted to: Randall Edwards

Published January 10, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

RandallGorilla.jpgA mad man was threatening to freeze frame the world. Fair ingénues were being buried alive. And over at Ryan’s Hope, the comically conniving Delia was kidnapped by a gorilla in a daytime television take on King Kong’s love struck antics. Such was the world of the early ‘80s soaps and the game and lovely Randall Edwards was a huge part of that zany atmosphere.

Taking over the role of Delia from the incredibly popular Ilene Kirsten, Edwards eventually made the role her own while simultaneously thrilling old school horror lovers with her best Fay Wray impression. Purposely grabbing a lion’s share of publicity, this attention seeking storyline surely prepared Edwards for some theatrical scrutiny that was soon to follow.RandallPeople

After a successful showing in Neil Simon’s critically acclaimed Biloxi Blues, Edwards was cast as sassy showgirl Kiki Roberts in the 1988 Broadway production of Legs Diamond. The show, nicely, gave her an ample chance to show off her singing and dancing talents in numbers such as I Was Made for Champagne and Only Steal From Thieves. Expensively produced and starring popular singer-songwriter Peter Allen, this production eventually went down in history as being one of show business’ most notorious flops, causing the permanent closing of the theater in which it debuted.

RandallLegsOf course, time has thankfully brought out kinder reactions to the project. Allen’ score has been favorably reexamined and several of the songs were included in The Boy From Oz, the popular retelling of his life starring Hugh Jackman. Nicely, a 30th anniversary concert recreation of the show even featured a still beautiful, dizzily potent Edwards.

Reportedly now a psychologist, it would definitely make her many fans “go ape” if this talented woman would continue to make occasional appearances in creative situations.

RandallLegs30th.jpg

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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