For icons to the gay, life is a cabaret
September 25, 2007
Everyone here has dreams and aspirations. My boyfriend wants to be an expatriate intellectual in Brazil; my biology major friend wants to be a soap star. When I was six, I wanted to be an Olympic speed skater, but at seven I decided to aim for the more lucrative field of dermatology. Most recently, in the grand tradition of having unattainable goals, I’ve decided I’d like to be a gay icon.
p. Perhaps this dream isn’t as unattainable as it first appears. If I follow my desired career path and become the next Anna Wintour or Julia Allison, I’d already be on my way. But what is it that really solidifies a woman’s worth in the eyes of mainstream gay America?
p. Let’s look at some icons in detail. Wikipedia has an extensive “gay icon” page and includes the following definition — my new job description:
p. “A gay icon or LGBT icon is an historical figure, celebrity or public figure who is embraced by many in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities. In particular, they are figures perceived to be strong or brave individuals who have wrestled with psychological demons, issues of sexuality, have suffered publicly or met an early tragic end. … Qualities of an LGBT icon usually include a larger-than-life image, inherent glamour and eventual flamboyance, strength through adversity, androgyny or an ambiguous sexuality.”
p. Using this working definition, let’s figure out my short-term plan for reaching my goal.
p. Become attractive: Madonna’s man-arms aside, gay icons are ultra feminine, stylized and as picture-perfect as the Madame Alexander dolls that bear their names. I must master lip liner, eyeliner, false eyelashes and false breasts. Also, corsets.
p. Have talent, attitude: Or just the ability to work it. Cher, Joan Collins, Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and Elizabeth Taylor are all women with a penchant for performing and a wicked stage presence. Perhaps most importantly, they are known to occasionally rock a turban. Luckily, one of these three is easily attainable with a quick trip to Binns.
p. Acquire groupies, problems: The pressures of the road are too much to bear, and sometimes the life of an icon can be rough. If I really commit to this dream, I’ll need a nasty coke habit and a stolen prescription pad. Fragile nerves are key to icon status, and breakdowns are very desirable, though cancer survivor Kylie Minogue disagrees: “Gay icons usually have some tragedy in their lives; but I’ve only had tragic haircuts and outfits.”
p. Kickass funeral: Can caskets have trains? I’d like my casket to wear a dress with pearl beading and lace, and I’d like the train to be longer than Star Jones’s because her train was longer than Princess Di’s and there’s nothing more iconic than outdoing another icon’s outdo-er. Also, I’d like lots of tears, even if they have to be artificially squeezed out of my botoxed friends. I’m an icon goddamn it; make it work.
p. I think I might need a consultant because most of these ideas come from “Dynasty” and are not, in fact, possible in real life. Despite the street cred it would earn me, I don’t particularly want to die an untimely death. Though the prospect of post-mortem licensing is very attractive.
p. If Liza i s indeed correct and life is a cabaret, then maybe each section of my life is a different musical number as defined by my current dream job. If that’s the case, these next few years will be full of razzle-dazzle.
p. __Charlotte Savino is a Confusion Corner columnist. She’s taking applications for a personal assistant.__