Memoir

All posts tagged Memoir

Thrift Store Find: Art Saves!

Published March 7, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Rolling Stone

I first got The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll as a confirmation present from one of my uncles. For awhile I carried it with me everywhere. A day or so after that confirmation, my parents came to pick me up from some event. I had been confirmed with one of my mom’s students and he overheard some of the other kids saying that I was gay in the parking lot afterwards. He told my mother about this…and she was furious…with me.

“Why would they say that, Brian?!?” “What have you done to make them think that?!?” “Do you know how embarrassing this is for me?!? For my own student to come to me about something like this?!?” As she hammered away at me on the car ride home, I murmured soft responses back while burying myself in this book., wanting to disappear. But as I poured over epic black and white photos of Little Richard, David Bowie, a pre-fame Aretha Franklin, a pert Annette Funicello clinging to a properly attired Dick Clark… I suddenly knew that eventually everything would be okay…that the world was full of magnificence and unusual artistry and someday…it all would be mine!

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

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Fay Wray’s On the Other Hand

Published February 27, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

fay wray on the other handShe may have tamed the beast onscreen. But, as evidenced by her excellent 1989 memoir On the Other Hand, revered scream queen Fay Wray had much more trouble reigning in the flesh and blood men in her real life.

What may also be a (slight) surprise to some is how Wray (1907-2004), a produced playwright in her lifetime, writes so beautiful and economically here. As expected, it is delight to learn about her adventures shooting not only King Kong, but The Vampire Bat, Mysteries of the Wax Museum, The Most Dangerous Game and Doctor X, all of which the author claims were filmed in the same year! Just as fun are her recollections of working with such famed performers (and occasional Oscar winners) as Janet Gaynor, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Cary Grant, with whom she shared a sweet yet unfulfilled crush, and Natalie Wood. But more than anything, it is Wray’s divine resilience and quiet strength that shines the most here.

Domineered by a commanding mother, Wray found her early expressions of artistry (and fledging romance with a talented photographer) curtailed in Hollywood. Eventually finding her way into pictures, she ultimately married John Monk Saunders, a brilliant yet truly troubled screenwriter. Enduring Saunders’ infidelities and violent mood swings with an often silent grace, Wray perfectly presents the emotional circumstances of a modern woman constrained by her times and society’s expectations. Emerging as an important portrait of women in that era, Wray eventually breaks free from Saunders, after their divorce and his eventual suicide, and enters into an affair with famed playwright Clifford Odets, which broadens her artistic horizons. Later, she settles into a loving marriage with Robert Riskin, another writer best known for his collaborations with Frank Capra.Fay-Wray

Having retired, Wray returns to work (in such films as 1957’s Crime of Passion and television programs as Perry Mason and Alfred Hitchcock Presents) after Riskin’s sudden illness and eventual death. But it is the storytelling lessons she learned from being a muse and collaborator with such erudite men that may stand as her final statement of artistry.

From her beginning descriptions of her return visit to her native Canada, Wray fills On the Other Hand with such simple yet poetic language that it is hard not to fall in love with her and, ultimately, realize that this book may be one of her greatest cultural achievements – that ever present, very hairy beast notwithstanding.

(Used, reasonably priced copies of On The Other Hand are available from such outlets as Amazon and EBay.)

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

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Review: growgirl

Published December 19, 2013 by biggayhorrorfan

heather2
Sometimes the only way to get through the daily battle between that heinous cackling wizard of fate and that vengeful witch of emotional destruction is to put your head down and just barrel through it.

Actress/author/all-around-adventuress Heather Donahue pretty much does just that as, sharply, described in her illuminating memoir growgirl. Donahue, whose terror stained credits include such fun, cheesy efforts as Manticore and The Morgue, of course, is best known for her incisive work in The Blair Witch Project. Here, though, she describes her efforts to create a life for herself after her career in Hollywood stops holding any fruitful fascination for her.

Gamely facing the terrors of the Manticore!

Gamely facing the terrors of the Manticore!

The answer to her quest is probably a bit less typical than you might imagine. Retiring to a small West Coast community, Donahue begins a career farming medical marijuana. With self deprecation and tart humor, she describes her year-long adventure in a seemingly harmonious community that, ultimately, has as many double standards as any societal unit.

Winningly, Donahue is as tough on herself as any of the people she encounters on her journey. From physical comedy to self aware acknowledgements of her propensity to bang when knocking softly would suffice, she writes with humbling candor. Her on-the-target observations about the community’s inability to escape from basic patriarchal grandstanding are leavened with detailed descriptions of those masculine elders’ honest heartaches and profound commitments, as well.

Best of all, for those who aware of their own uncertain stumbling through life, Donahue’s narration provides plenty of relatability. But, we can only hope that our experiences contain half of the honest, poetic beauty that Donahue describes so potently in growgirl.

PS: For dog lovers, Donahue’s loving descriptions of her bounding pup, Vito, make him one of the most fascinating literary characters in recent years.

You can purchase growgirl at Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/k434ttr and you can keep up-to-date with Donahue at http://www.heatherdonahue.com, as well.

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

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