The gay interview: Gina Gershon

With Magic Mike still in theaters, there’s been a fair amount of talk lately about Gina Gershon, who starred in the female version, Showgirls, nearly two decades ago. She sat down with our Chris Azzopardi to discuss her crotch close-up in the new Killer Joe (it opens tomorrow at the Angelika Dallas) and how it’s cool to play gay now.

The showgirl must go on

Vagina. That’s the first thing to come up during my recent interview with Gina Gershon, who goes full-frontal as Sharla in the awesomely twisted Killer Joe.

The actress plays a trashy two-timer who gets caught in the middle of a family’s murder plot when they hire a hit man (Matthew McConaughey) to take out their mother to collect the life insurance money. Just minutes into the movie, and there she is — all of her.

We got Gershon on the phone to chat about her crotch coat, the agent that almost stopped her from playing a lesbian in one of her most lady-loved films and why she really wishes she were gay.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

SEX… in a fashion

The DMA’s exhibit on the fashions of Jean Paul Gaultier exudes sex appeal with a big dose of flamboyance


DRESSED TO KILL IT | Gay fashion pioneer Jean Paul Gaultier oversees his own exhibit (Below) as an Animatronic mannequin, a fascinating technology that only accentuates the brilliance of the designs. (Photography by Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)


ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

For a man best known for creating the Valkyrie-like conical breastplate that shot Madonna into the pop culture stratosphere, Jean Paul Gaultier is a surprisingly humble person. While he’s clearly delighted to have his fashions on display — as they are at the Dallas Museum of Art in the traveling exhibit The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which runs through February — he makes one thing plain: He does not consider fashion “art.”

“My work is not art,” he says flatly. “My job is to make clothes that have to be worn. My role is not to create in the abstract but to be inspired by the needs and desires of the people. So I am in service to that. Art is art — it is a personal vision of the artist.” He pauses, then adds with a smile, “My collections are my babies, though.”

While the designer himself may not consider his work product “art” in an academic sense, there are probably few who would agree with him. More so than most fashion designers, Jean Paul Gaultier’s style is instantly recognizable, even without seeing the label.

He almost single-handedly moved the bustier from the boudoir to the arena stage, cladding Madonna in a corset for her Blonde Ambition tour in 1990, immediately making legends of them both.

It’s not just brassieres, but lace bodysuits, silk leotards, men in skirts — Gaultier takes fashion rules and sets them on their heads, turning out wearable art (there, we said it) that is both old-fashioned, even classical, and futuristic — but always oozing sex.

“My love for fashion belongs to the fact I saw a movie from the 1940s when I was 12,” he says. “In the movie, they did a beautiful description of couture.” (Now, when he works with a film director — as he did recently with Pedro Almodovar on The Skin I Live In, or Luc Besson on several films — “it is like I return to that [moment]”.)

But really, the germ of his style was started by what a pre-teen Jean Paul found in his grandmother’s wardrobe.

“I was fascinated by the whole world of my grandmother’s closet — it was beautiful and different,” he says. “It was underwear that could be worn as outerwear. I stole my ideas from her.”

Though not just her. Gaultier was inspired by television, by old movies, by showgirls — anything that offered a view of beauty he could re-imagine on the runway.

“My definition of beauty — there’s not one type. Beauty is beauty — you can find it in different places,” he says.

It’s a keystone not only of his design style, but of the DMA’s astonishingly exciting exhibit. (Anyone who doesn’t think a Gaultier gown deserves formal museum treatment obviously hasn’t seen the show.) In just a handful of rooms, we move from camp to punk — with many, many visits to edgy haute couture.

In the first gallery, visitors are introduced to Gaultier himself, talking about his fashions via a quasi-Animatronic mannequin that captures his actual face and voice, projected with unnerving authenticity. That happens with a lot of the mannequins, some of whom seem to look back, even judge you. (One Mohawk’d man in tights and a codpiece seemed to be flirting with me; I bet he does that with all the boys.) Lanky sailor boys in striped Apaché T-shirts look as if they leaped from a Tom of Finland drawing; that cone bra is also unmistakable.

Walk further, and the second room oozes the dark romance of a bordello, approximating (with its window-like display cases) the red-light district of Amsterdam. “I think when you exit this room, they should give you a cigarette,” I told another patron. She didn’t disagree.

Another room shows the movement of the pieces, sort of, with a moving catwalk that is like a time machine of Gaultier runway fashions, including representative designs from his famous Men in Skirts that took MOMA by storm some years ago. That’s only the most obvious example of the genderbending that is a Gaultier hallmark — and a central theme of the sexual forthrightness of the DMA’s exhibit.

“Androgyny is part of the thing that interests me,” he says, “that moment when the young can pass to adolescence [and] their beauty is between feminine and masculine at the same time. I use it to show in reality how [both sexes] can assume [the identity of the other sex]. In Scotland, you will see me in kilts and they are very masculine — it’s not feminine to wear a skirt [in that context].”

That, Gaultier says, is the essence of freedom, showing that “men can cry just as well as women can fight.”

And this exhibit shows that a designer can be an artist with a bold sense of sex — even if he doesn’t think so.



Visit DallasVoice. com/ category/ Photos to see more of the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

My take on ‘Burlesque’

There’s a review in the print edition this week (and online) of Burlesque, but I didn’t write it because I didn’t screen the film in time. But as the film opens today I wanted to weigh in. Not because I disagree with our reviewer, but because I agree with her … and wonder how many other gay men out there do, too.

I’ve often grouped gay men not into traditional categories like top/bottom, twink/bear, daddy/boy, but rather by their favorite diva. Judy queens. Liza queens. Bette queens. Barbra queens. Celine queens. Mariah queens. Patti queens. Of late, Gaga queens.

And, of course, Cher.

Often, this is a generational thing (I may be Gaga’s oldest living fan); some youngsters don’t even know who Judy is. But Cher seems to cross ages. Maybe it’s her long career (her 2000 single “Believe” made her the oldest soloist ever to have a No. 1 pop hit). Maybe it’s her massively bad career choices (her Oscar follow-up is Mermaids?) or her trans child, Chaz. But for some reason, gay men have always given Cher a pass when it comes to reviews of her work. You can never trust how good she really is, because her fans seem to want to prevent the truth from coming out. They protect her. And sometimes she needs it.

Cher hasn’t made a feature (other than a cameo in Stuck on You) since 1999′s Tea with Mussolini, and she chooses to return to film with a Showgirls-vibed musical from a first-time director? Just how badly does she need money?

But here’s the thing: The movie succeeds. This is not to say it is a good film; it is most definitely not. But it is exactly what it sets out to be. It’s the McDonald’s french fry of cinema: Addictively enjoyable if objectively trashy. Hooray for Cher — she gave us just what we wanted.

So did the writer-director, Steve Antin. He doesn’t miss one cliche. Not the farm-girl (Christina Aguilera) from, of course, Iowa; not the creditors beating at the door, wanting to shut down the Burlesque Lounge, which seems to emerge like a ghostly haunted house from the Sunset Strip. (Here’s my notion for why the club doesn’t turn a profit: 20 dancing girls who get free drinks and big enough salaries to drive BMWs, a six-man live band and staff of bartenders big enough to man a cruise ship.)

But there’s an energy to the movie — it succeeds despite itself. Antin has fun with the musical numbers, and he lingers on the body of hot young boytoy Cam Gigandet, dressing him in a Fosse-inspired bowler with sleeveless shirt and guyliner. It’s gayrific, but straight-friendly. (Eric Dane is in it too, but not the playing the beefcake this time.) Even gayer is Stanley Tucci, perfection as the bitchy old queen with the smart-ass wisecrack, who plays off of Cher expertly. He gives her sometimes wooden acting credibility.

Acting’s one thing, but Cher’s big number — which makes no logical sense in the movie; few scenes do — is a marvel of passion and pride and survival. It makes up for all the nonsense.

Aguilera acquits herself well both as a singer (no surprise there) and as an actress. Is she this year’s Mo’Nique? Not even close. But she could become Cher. And that’s not such a bad thing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movies: Tanked Soldiers, 3D Showgirls and Memorable Undies


…prefers air conditioned movie theaters to hot beaches in the summertime. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.

Damn it. Why didn't everyone tell me Harry Shum Jr was in STEP UP 3D? Glee's best dancer (pity that he was apparently born mute) is a total selling point. I would've made the effort to catch a screening. Love him.

Step Up 3D, which was actually shot in 3D rather than converted later (imagine!), is opening against the Will Ferrel/Mark Wahlberg buddy comedy THE OTHER GUYS but as per usual the interesting stuff is in limited release.

CAIRO TIME stars Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig, two dependable attractive actors who rarely get lead roles. If you're a fan of either, it's an absolute must see. This subtle cross cultural quasi romance could well have been titled Before Sunset. That title was already taken so they went with something to situate you geographically. This isn't a transcendent classic like the famous Before… films with Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy. It's not half as talky either — Patty's character is rather reserved and even the camera is nervous to approach her, only gradually moving in for closeups the further along the story goes. But the film is beautifully observed and if you thrill to the sight of the right actress in the right gown, Patty gets a beyond flattering lulu for the finale.

Lebanontank The festival hit LEBANON, an Israeli film about the 1982 Lebanon war, is another solidly built drama hitting the arthouses. The claustrophobic film takes place entirely inside a tank where four hot, sweaty, cramped, young Israeli soldiers struggle to keep their wits about them and survive increasingly nerve-wracking situations in a mission that's getting very confusing and dangerous. It's unfortunate that the movie doesn't make more use of the internal space of the tank itself — even when the faces are this gorgeous a close-up isn't always the best option — but it's a moving anti-war drama all the same.

But given the elation following the Judge Vaughn Walker's decision on Prop 8, maybe we should all go see THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT again this weekend. It's such a funny, authentically felt story about gay marriage and family. The timing of the wide release couldn't be better.


 road Guess what time it is?

It's time for National Underwear Day. More, AFTER THE JUMP


That's according to Fresh Pair. It's more like National Underwear Week the way they promote it. So even if it's a not-so-secret corporate sales ploy rather than a real holiday, it should be real. Who do you think of when you think of undies at the movies? Marlon Brando in a wife beater? Liz Taylor in a white slip? Christian Bale's American Psycho exercise routine? Eddie Cibrian giving Holly Hunter a massage in Living Out Loud?


The latter is a less classic association, but I'm not the only one who is obsessed with it. Holly Hunter is magic but that's…uh… probably not why people remember it.

 road It's the 48th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death this week. She's still magical. Mad Men, which has been all over the media these past two weeks, dramatized that national tragedy beautifully a couple of seasons ago. Season 4 is thankfully putting Mad Men's own Marilyn, Joan Holloway Harris (Christina Hendricks), back in the spotlight. We deeply appreciate this. Did you see her awesome conga line?

 road That Jennifer Aniston as Babs photo posted here at Towleroad earlier was mildly upsetting. You just don't mess with the classics like that. So it's funny that the Burlesque trailer also made its debut and looked so much like an unfortunate stepchild of Paul Verhoeven's gaudy 1995 masterwork Showgirls. Cher is a classic herself but if you're in competition with Showgirls you're bound to lose. Remember Cristal's sage advice: "If someone gets in your way, step on 'em. If you're the last one standing, they hire you."

 road Are you totally over 3D? That feeling is going around. Ticket sales are dropping and Disney recently cancelled their Beauty & The Beast 3D re-release plan. Obviously big ticket movies that people would line up for anyway will still be able to get away with those steep markups. But regular movies or re-releases? Unlikely. But if someone wants to convert Showgirls, have at it. Imagine those flying beads, epileptic sex scenes and cheesy foam volcano eruptions… in 3D.

Think The Castro Theater has time to convert Showgirls into 3D before the 15th Anniversary celebration this weekend?

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright