Queer Performers

All posts tagged Queer Performers

Honoring Antonio Moreno

Published September 26, 2021 by biggayhorrorfan

Described as a rival to Rudolph Valentino, the dashing Antonio Moreno acted opposite many of the queens of the silent cinema – Gloria Swanson, Clara Bow and the Gish sisters. Unfortunately, the public wasn’t ready for a Spanish superstar once sound became cinema’s king. But by middle age, this consummate professional had developed a serious career in Hollywood as a character actor. The most important of his roles during that era, nicely, included outings in John Ford’s iconic The Searchers and the classic aqua-terror The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

The latter project, of course, has gained him decades of respect and admiration from generations of monster kids. There, still suave and commanding, he plays Carl Maia, the man ultimately responsible for discovering everyone’s favorite Gill-man…a fact that should fill every LGBTQIA genre fan’s heart with glee.

For, as specifically detailed in Clara E. Rodriguez‘s book Heroes, Lovers and Others (The Story of Latinos in Hollywood), outside of the glaring lights of show business, Moreno lived an openly gay existence. While one always wishes, in retrospect, that performers such as Moreno had been able to passionately embrace their true natures, publicly, it is also always an honor to discover them after the fact and celebrate the perspectives of their experience with a modern appreciation. Moreno, as with many of our gay and lesbian forebears, helped pave the way for the (still, unfortunately, tremulous) freedoms that we have today. That he did so while creating works of art with figures like Alfred Hitchcock (Notorious), Cary Grant (Crisis, along with fellow queer icon Ramon Navarro) and Gary Cooper (Dallas) only proves how worthy of recognition, within our community and outside of it, he really is.

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

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Va-Va-Villainess: Lilyan Tashman

Published November 22, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Lilyan

Recognized as one of the most stylish women of her era, the truly distinctive Lilyan Tashman provided conflict of the romantic and-or deadly mercurial variety with her often vampish, self centered characters.

In 1932’s Those We Love, one of her more popular efforts, her predatory Valerie Parker lays claim upon Kenneth MacKenna’s Freddie, a happily married author. Naturally, this ultimately causes much heartache for his wife May, who is played with sweet determination by the Oscar winning Mary Astor. Thankfully, Tashman gives Parker a comic edge, providing her potential homewrecker with a truly quirky presence, as well.

Tashman is decidedly deadlier in 1931’s Murder By the Clock (above). Manipulating those around her to commit acts of homicide, her Laura Endicott charms and beguiles with determined finesse. Often regulated to supporting roles, here this one of a kind personality takes her leading lady status and runs with it. It is a mischievous and captivating performance. Lilyan beauty

Rumored to be a prominent member of The Sewing Circle, Hollywood’s lesbian network, Tashman was actually married to actor Edmund Lowe, a known homosexual. Though this was by all accounts a lavender marriage, the two were truly darlings of the worldwide press until her unfortunate death of cancer, at the age of 37, in 1934. One can only imagine what other work this striking, husky voiced goddess would have produced had she not been cut down in her prime.

Even more regrettable, one wonders what levels of security and acceptance she might have established for the queer community if she had been able to use her compelling nature towards causes of activism and visibility in later decades.

Those We Love.jpg

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

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“RAMON-CE”: In Gay Madrid

Published April 21, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Roman In Gay Madrid.jpg

Ramon Navarro, one of the more charismatic gay performers to charm his way through early Hollywood talkies, earned his stripes as a Horror Hunk due to a latter day appearance on the Boris Karloff hosted anthology series Thriller. Here, we look at some of his most famous roles in other genres.

It’s the golden rule of slashers – do drugs or have sex (and goddess forbid, if you do both) and you pay the price with the knife. But horror films are not the only moralistic form of entertainment….by far.

Let’s examine the case of Ricardo, the careless youth that Ramon Navarro plays in 1930’s In Gay Madrid. Indeed, Ricardo, who tells impulsive tales and flirts with a dancehall queen, must suffer through the punishing effects of a gunshot wound before being allowed to marry the girl of his dreams, the kind and loyal Carmina (Dorothy Jordan).

Surprisingly chaste for being a Pre-Code film, In Gay Madrid was actually developed as an opportunity for Navarro to show off his singing voice. This he does to solid effect in a couple of grand choral numbers.

But what is most noticeable here is the chemistry that he shares with the handsome David Scott. Scott, as Carmina’s innocent brother Ernesto, definitely plays up his devotion to Ricardo and the friction shared between these two is ultimately far greater than any emotion that happens to accidentally arise between Jordan and Navarro. In Gay Madrid, indeed!

In Gay Madrid 2

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

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Thriller Nights: Ramon Novarro

Published March 10, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

ramon stud shot

Heralded as one of the big screen’s most exotic lovers, Ramon Novarro’s filmic legacy has often been overshadowed by the notorious circumstances of his death. As a gay man, known to hire hustlers in his declining years, this former matinee idol met his end, violently, by a pair of brothers in 1968. His demise has since been highlighted in short stories, books and songs.

ramon mataBut, significantly, Novarro’s early beauty easily matched that of his co-star Greta Garbo, sultry pose for sultry pose, in the fun 1931 spy drama Mata Hari. Later in his performing life, he gave eagle eyed horror buffs a boost with a featured role in the beloved Boris Karloff hosted anthology show Thriller.

In the 1962 second season episode La Strega, Novarro appeared opposite the stunning Ursula Andress as Maestro Giuliano, the mentor to a besotted painter, played by the swarthy Alejandro Rey (Satan’s Triangle, The Swarm, Terror Vision). Working with authority and concern, Novarro supplies the proceedings with a compassionate figure here who believes that Rey’s involvement with Andress could end in tragedy, as her aunt is a powerful witch.Ramon 2

This doesn’t mean Giuliano isn’t up to a little adventure. He accompanies the entwined duo to a black mass which, kudos to the art direction of Howard E. Johnson and the cinematography of Benjamin H. Kline, contains some of the episode’s most fiery and striking visuals. Unfortunately, Guliano finds himself on the receiving end of the sorceress’ revenge here, making Novarro’s appearance an important yet all too brief one. Although, proving the adage that a woman scorned is a dangerous thing, everything does not go well for the characters portrayed by Andress and Rey either.

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Nicely, besides highlighting Novarro’s subtle talents as a performer, this tale is directed with gothic sweep by Ida Lupino. One of the few working female directors in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Lupino is known for guiding taut noir pictures like The Hitch-Hiker and, perhaps less elegantly, for her acting work in such gonzo genre projects as Devil’s Rain and Food of the Gods.

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

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Rough Trade

Published March 6, 2016 by biggayhorrorfan

rough trade

Get out those bedazzled telescopes! You might need them to spot Carole Pope and Kevan Staples, AKA Rough Trade, who were so far ahead of their time, musically and culturally, that they almost belong in outer space.

Blending cinematic violence with humor and advanced queer politics, a mixture more effective than a combination of Anita Ekberg and Mamie Van Doren, this duo revolutionized sexuality through their sophisticated new wave and pop tunes (and tongue-in-cheek name) – and also, occasionally, entered the public consciousness at large with such tunes as High School Confidential and No Contact.

Pope’s work has even found its way onto the soundtrack of horror parody Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th. But the bloody consequences inherent is such songs as Vertigo, Endless Night, Grade B Movie and others should have placed them on many a terror film soundtrack if this was truly a just world. In fact, the video for Crimes of Passion, one of their most noir-like creations, serves as prime evidence to back up that statement.

 

While Staples (www.kevanstaples.com) has successfully concentrated on composing for film, as of late, Pope is still battling it out in the singer-songwriter trenches and can be found at www.carolepope.com. Send them some much deserved loving!!

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

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