- File Size: 3306 KB
- Print Length: 256 pages
- Publisher: Open Road Media (November 24, 2015)
- Publication Date: November 24, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B016EFYUWS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,569,509 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$17.99|
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Superstar in a Housedress: The Life and Legend of Jackie Curtis Kindle Edition
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Yes, this is the full, ninety-plus minute release of the DVD available for rent from Netflix and other rental venues. How the choice was made to market the film as a "companion piece" to the book, without (as far as I can tell) releasing it as a stand-alone purchase, I dunno. I hope it will be released separately in the future, since the current marketing format, I'd think, would tend to lessen its circulation to a wider audience.
Not that there's anything wrong with the book: it's a compendium of reminiscences by people who were close to Jackie. Some of the material repeats what's in the film, and some fills in gaps in backstory that 90 minutes can't provide, such as details on the life and death of the remarkable (and remarkably messed-up) Andrea Feldman. Still, a nice chunky paperback book of commentary in a boxed DVD set might have been a better way to sell the package, which is truly a good one. It's just that the DVD overrides the book in its excellence. There's no good reason why the book needed to be published in hardcover; it's really liner notes for the DVD.
And then there's the strange, spooky, *sealed* envelope that the DVD itself comes in. Glued furtively into the back of the book, there's a lengthy disclaimer proclaiming in no uncertain terms that you MUST NOT OPEN THE PACKAGE ("Simply return the sealed package.") if you think that the DVD might in any number of (enumerated) ways ruin your life. Talk about user-friendly!
But the good news is -- once you get over the fear, and open the potentially-deadly "package", you find that after all it's just an ordinary DVD, and a great one, at that. Densely packed with interviews, historical stills, film clips, and even a fair amount of very early videotape, this documentary is a detailed and very loving portrait of one of the most defiant gender-bending artists in the history of gender-bending and the stage itself.
The past several years have seen the release of the Paul Morrisey/Andy Warhol films on DVD, and that's brought these previously hard-to-get-at movies to a new audience. This in turn has increased curiosity about the Warhol scene in the 60's, 70's, and later; and that period is increasingly interesting, as civilization lurches inexorably (or so it seems) toward a dessicated, triple-filtered, don't-drink, don't-smoke cultural puritanism.
What was going on in New York in the 50's, 60's, and 70's transformed the American culture. A whole lot of the sexual freedom that we have today, whether it's embraced or bemoaned by whatever faction, comes from the crazy explosion that was the 60's and 70's. There's no shortage of information on the cultural revolution that happened then, but there's also no end to what can be added to it. This story about Jackie Curtis is no small addition.
As a smart kid escaping the wilds of Connecticut who started hustling the streets in NY at 16, I knew a number of the people in this film peripherally, and for the most part they were the people who informed my perception of what life was all about. There was a communality, and a total lack of hierarchy (but for a few bitchfests) and everyone was welcome; I think, in retrospect, that this was what the hippieness of the 60's led to: a kind of a hybrid of the rejection of popular culture with the co-opting of it. At the time, the most visible manifestation of pre-packaged pop culture that could be harvested was the Hollywood star system of the 30's and 40's. Jackie Curtis was hip to this, but also added a Dada-style twist to it. Warhol became the catalyst, but what 'Superstar in a Housedress' demonstrates is that he couldn't have done the things that he (or rather, Paul Morrisey, working under his aegis) did without girls like Jackie, Candy Darling, or Holly Woodlawn (whom, I have to say, is looking absolutely GREAT in this doc, and QUITE the polished lady.)
This is an absolutely essential documentary for those interested in the period, its quirks, and its consequences. But moreso, it's a great tribute to the unbridled, mad creativity of Jackie Curtis, who should never be forgotten. Hopefully, this DVD (and its companion piece, the book) will help assure that.
Also -- at the time of this writing, the book and DVD are pretty consistently available from housing_works_bookstore @ Amazon at a cheap price. Housing Works supports homeless people affected by HIV/AIDS in New York City, so purchasing from them is a win-win thing. They got my order to me very quickly and in perfect condition, so what could I do? I ordered another one from them right away. Somebody's getting it for Christmas. Don't know who yet. Somebody who will have been REAL good this year!
Seriously, though -- if you're interested in the history of the NY art scene in the period, this is very much worth buying.