FEATURE ARTICLES

70s CHISTMAS RETRO FOR YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY PARTY

By: Joseph R. Castel

MAKING THE YULETIDE GAY: A VERY SPECIAL PAUL LINDE CHRISTMAS
Making the Yuletide Gay: A Very Special Paul Linde Christmas arrives on VOD and DVD platforms December 15, just in time to help nip those holiday blues in the bud. Making the Yuletide Gay is a queer retro parody of those tacky TV Christmas specials from the 1970s. Even though the real Paul Linde has been dead for decades, Michael Airington as the Paul Lynde impersonator is truly a nostalgic flashback to the comedian actor who played the wisecracking warlock, Uncle Arthur from the beloved 1960s series, Bewitched.

Head writer for this variety take off is Emmy-winner, comedian writer Bruce Vilanch (writer for numerous Oscar telecasts). Vilanch mashes up this Christmas special with endless cheesy innuendos, holiday musical parodies, risqué Santa dancers and over the top a-la Carol Burnett comedy sketches.

Linde’s jokes are actually pretty true to his legendary humorous Hollywood Square one-liners. Although, it helps to be over 55 years-old to relish Linde’s snarky inside jokes, it’s not hard to figure out that all the guest star impersonators are dead celebrities who were in the closet for most of their careers: Liberace, Tab Hunter, and Bea Arthur.

Not sure how Sal Mineo made the star line up since he came out of the closet in the early 70s, but actor David Hernandez does a sexy impersonation of the Rebel without a Cause star, who lets it all hang out during his song and dance number. These raised from the dead celebs are out of their closeted caskets and waving neon glitter all over the mistletoe.

Other guest stars include iconic drag entertainers, Lady Bunny and Jackie Beat, as themselves. Yes, it’s a send up of the past as well as a mashup of current camp cabaret. These holiday drag costumes are a Bob Mackie wish list.

The other guest star impersonations are spot on spooky. David Maiocco as Liberace is disturbingly too close to the real “Mr. Showmanship,” heavy makeup and embalming fluid included. Jackie Beat as a butch Bea Arthur is also hilarious in her over the top demented make-up.

Unfortunately, most of the Christmas parody songs are a little too potty mouth for me, and the nativity sketch scene pushes the sophomoric humor envelope with its crude lyrics. Maybe I’m just getting conservative in my old age, but the baby Jesus crapping in his swaddling clothes are just cheap laughs.

Taped in front of a live studio audience in Los Angeles of 2022, this comedy special probably does better as a live cabaret act than a TV special, but it may actually be a nice flat screen background distraction as a jolly conversation piece at your next gay holiday gathering. Tis the season for kitschy spectacles.

BILLY PORTER’S LATEST FILM FEARTURE, “OUR SON”
Billy Porter’s new film Our Son is about an unfaithful husband and stay-at-home father. Porter plays Gabriel, a dissatisfied homemaker married to a successful, rich, hot husband, Nicky, played by the proportionately stacked Luke Evens. Porter gripes at his hubby of 13-years for not paying more loving attention to him or his son, but the scenes leading up to the divorce, show otherwise, which is confusing when Porter’s character, Gabriel, sneaks out to have an affair with some random dude, who he says he’s fallen for, but then we never see that random dude again after their first encounter. Confused? I was, because I’m not sure what the problem is in this marriage ripped from the trite pages of every Hollywood custody battle drama from Kramer Vs Kramer to Marriage Story.

The problem in Our Son is I can’t find the flaw in Nicky, the hardworking publisher. You never see him at the office, only at home working, or with the fam, or with the couple’s adult gay friends. Does Nicky have bad breath? A limp dick? It’s not clear to me what the problem is with Nicky, except Gabriel bemoans the fact that Nicky doesn’t spend enough time with his son or is affectionate enough with the eight-year-old. It’s hard to except this as truth because when the film opens up, Nicky is at their son’s school performance and at home following the school activity.

For me, Gabriel is just henpecking at his dutiful partner and looking for flaws so he has an excuse to trick. It’s true, when love flies the coop, for whatever reason, people will find a way to worm out of the relationship. The problem with Porter’s character is that he comes off so self-righteous and angry that it makes him completely unsympathetic, like one of those narcistic straight husbands who project their bad behavior onto their poor put-upon wives. They clear their conscious before they can go out whoring. And yet, Gabriel, an unemployed actor, claims to be the good wife, the only parent capable of caring for their son, and he wants sole custody, child support and alimony. Imagine that.

Fortunately, there is one redeeming quality to the story and that is when Gabriel’s mother, played by Phylicia Rashad, tells her son that he’s recreating the same dysfunctional scenario he had with his own father. Gabriel resented his father because he was aloof and indifferent to Gabriel as a boy. Gabriel’s punishing Nicky for the bad relationship he had with his own homophobic dad, just because Nicky isn’t demonstrative with his feelings. Unfortunately, Gabriel doesn’t take this sage realization from his mom and uses it to repair the relationship he has with Mr. Wonderful. He continues on track towards divorce.

It’s forced tears and melodrama. Excruciating, painful dramatic divorces and vicious custody battles are rampant in everyone’s reality these days, whether or not one is married. We all know someone who is going through it. It’s the same old film loop of petty, selfish, fractured desires, straight or gay.

Our Son will be in select theaters Dec 8, and arrives on VOD Dec 15.