Behind the Candelabra

Matt as Scott Thorson, Liberace's boy toy.
Matt as Scott Thorson, Liberace’s boy toy.

You know that bank I used to cry all the way to? I bought it. – Liberace

J informed me last night that Matt Damon was going to be playing Liberace’s boyfriend in a new upcoming movie spotlighting the life of the infamous Vegas pianist.  The movie is called Behind The Candelabra. And Michael Douglas is playing Liberace!  Well, I made a mental note to immediately Google it this morning and to search for pictures!

There’s a great interview with Matt discussing getting naked and how great of a kisser Michael Douglas actually was, but no nudey pics. That’s okay.  I wasn’t really looking for those.  Okay, so yes, I was hoping to find some but I really wanted to see Douglas as the glitzy Liberace.  I was not disappointed there.

Here’s a great quote from Matt:

Though the film is about extraordinary people, Damon says it’s a relatively simple love story. “These two men were deeply in love and in a real relationship–a marriage–long before there was gay marriage. That’s not an insignificant thing. The script is beautiful and relatable. Their conversations when they’re dressing or undressing or having a spat or getting ready for bed? That’s every marriage. It feels like you’re witnessing something really intimate you would normally see with a man and a woman, but instead it’s two men, which was thrilling. There’s stuff I think will make people uncomfortable. Great. It’s HBO–they can change the channel,” he says.

The Wonder Boys

Most people my age might remember one of two TV films made in 1988 about Liberace.  There was the Canadian version, Liberace: Behind the Music, with Victor Garber in the lead. And another made the same year just called Liberace with Andrew Robinson in the lead. For me, Garber looked more the part.  I think it’s that chin.  I guess there was a mad rush to make a film on him right after he died in 1987, probably the reason for two films.

Speaking of chins, here’s some useless knowledge for you.  In real life, Thorson underwent plastic surgery to look more like Liberace (just look up the cover photo of his book to see how it turned out).  This included having his cheeks raised, a nose job, and a chin implant. (Rob Lowe is playing their plastic surgeon in the HBO film.)

Though he was Liberace’s long-term lover, he is probably more famous for suing Liberace for a $113 million dollar palimony suit. They settled out of court for $95,000 and a couple of dogs and cars. (Thorson has since had the chin implant removed.) Thorson later wrote a book about their relationship called Behind The Candelabra, so one must think he’s probably getting some royalties from the film.  He’ll need it since he recently spent time in jail, pleading guilty to drug and burglary charges. Poor Scott!

But all that aside, in 1988 I was 12 years old and clung to the National Enquirer headlines about the lurid gay affair and Liberace’s secret battle against AIDS. Yes, I now know it was/is a tabloid magazine, but it had a spot in our grocery store cart every Friday night and I sat at our kitchen table and read it each week.  How else would I have known who Liberace even was at that age, right?

Douglas Becomes Liberace

To me, Liberace was the biggest flaming queen without ever being out of the closet.  He denied his homosexuality and like many celebs of that era, he was often photographed with women on his arm.  Magazines even gave him labels…””the perfect all-around man any woman would be thrilled to be with… He’s so considerate on dates… He never forgets the little things that women love… He makes you feel that when you are with him, well, you really are with him.”  Umm…definitely sounds gay to me!

And what about those eccentric over-the-top outfits?  Rhinestones and fur and feather for days.  He made Elton John look tame.  No straight man has a diamond studded grand piano, do they?  I remember all of his beautiful rings, and at one time even wanted a ring on every single one of my fingers.  I never made it passed four or five before I gave up wearing jewelry all together.

So Liberace wasn’t the perfect role model for me.  (He even denied being gay in court after being under oath.)  So, I guess he was really my first drag queen.  Even he was one quoted as saying, he didn’t give concerts, he put on a show.  And that he did!  At one time, he was the highest paid performer in the world.

I definitely look forward to returning to Liberace’s world when the movie airs next year.

The Real Queens
The Real Queens

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