Saturday, March 23, 2013
Jackie is Just Speedin' Away
The weather this morning is, well, atrocious. Damp snow swirling in all directions. When I took the dog out this morning and walked east on Westbourne Grove, it was right in my face. So when I got to the end of the row of glitzy shops at Ledbury Road I turned around and walked west...and it was right in my face. I could not win. Olga didn't seem to mind it as much because it's snow, as opposed to rain, and she just shakes it off. But we came home anyway.
Last night I went to a film at the Victoria & Albert Museum called "Superstar in a Housedress," about the short life and career of Andy Warhol drag queen Jackie Curtis. I remember Jackie from the film "Flesh," and honestly, his presence and Joe Dallesandro's beauty are the two most memorable things about the movie. (Here is a brief clip of Jackie sitting with Joe, feeling up Geri Miller's breasts. Ah, the '60s.)
Apparently he was known for his own drag style, involving ripped pantyhose and stained, tattered cocktail gowns, and was just as likely to turn up dressed as a man a la James Dean. Hence the lyrics to that Lou Reed song we all know.
It got me thinking about fame and early death. Why is it that dying is the surest way to cement one's celebrity? Would anyone have made a movie about Jackie Curtis if he had not died of a heroin overdose in 1985? Maybe there are similar films about other Warhol stars who didn't die, I don't know -- and granted, Curtis seems more accomplished than many in that circle. But it also seems certain that our cultural reverence for Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, for example, would be less if they had lived and merely grown older like the rest of us. Is it just that dying young suggests they really weren't ordinary, that they lived an alternate, and perhaps more fascinating, reality?
(Photo: Vacant shopfronts in Islington on Thursday.)