A lot of obits for Louie Anderson left out anything about his sexuality, but that’s not the way I roll. So let’s trot out some personal history about the comic/actor, who sadly died of lymphoma last month at 68.
In 1985, Louie married his childhood sweetheart. It lasted four weeks. Many years later, comic Tom Rhodes alleged that in 1986, Louie had lured the then-19-year-old Rhodes to his apartment with compliments and sexually ambushed him.
Louie didn’t exactly go back to his ex-wife after that. In fact, in 1997, a man threatened to go public with the story that Louie had come on to him at a casino. The guy demanded money to keep quiet, so Louie paid him off because he reportedly wanted to stay closeted at this point since he was starring in “family” projects. But when the guy kept upping his price, Louie turned him over to authorities and he ended up in jail. Alas, Louie remained tight-lipped on the record about his sexuality for the rest of his life.
None of this is cause for any kind of Pride parade, that’s for sure. Is there any positivity to be found in this particular episode of Fagg*ty Feud? Well, comedy writer/performer Bruce Vilanch revealed on Facebook that about 30 years ago, he and Louie were involved in some kind of televised beauty pageant in Japan. On a day off, they went to Tokyo together and ended up in the Roppongi district, which Vilanch described as being filled with “buildings stacked with tiny gay bars.” And did his playmate enjoy romping around these petite shrines to homosexuality? Vilanch related that “Louie said it was the gayest he had allowed himself to feel in like ever.”
Finally, some laudable release. It’s a shame Louie didn’t follow that up by being continually out and proud. But he certainly made a great drag queen!
THE BOYS AND THE BOOZE
To cement his own gayness, Vilanch happens to be writing the introduction for a book about the making of the 1981 “gay classic” movie Mommie Dearest. The book is being written by author Ashley Hoff, and Chicago Review Press is publishing it, probably March ’23.
A harrowing tale of child abuse loosely based on the memoir by Hollywood star Joan Crawford’s daughter Christina Crawford, the movie managed to tread the line between cautionary tale, horror film, fashion show, and campfest. Hoff sees the film as a wondrous mass of contradictions because its creators hoped for an Oscar winner, but—though it broke box office records on opening week and became part of the culture—it also wound up being derided as grotesquely over the top and put a wrecking ball to star Faye Dunaway’s career, despite her performance being thoroughly committed. (Faye may have won the Golden Razzie for Worst Actress that year, but she also was first runner up for the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Actress. Her hyper-dramatics divided people that much.)
Confession: I was interviewed for the book, having gone batshit with excitement when I caught the film at a press screening; I thought it worked on every level. Hoff plans to also reach out to Dunaway, who was scheduled to do her own book about Mommie Dearest, a subject that normally sends her into paroxysms of horror because she feels it was hyped up for camp and has proven to be a lifelong embarrassment for her. I was looking forward to Faye’s tome as a long-delayed reckoning, catharsis, and liberation for her (and me), but insiders are now buzzing that she’s not going to do the book after all.
I guess she’s mad at the dirt.
SOFA, SO GOOD
Speaking of old Hollywood-related tea, the following item might sound like pulp fiction, but it isn’t. A noted journalist tells me this:
“I just taped a radio show with a guest who turned out to be a real nut. We had the following exchange about [a certain star].
GUEST: You don’t have any proof that he is gay.
ME: I once arrived home to find my boyfriend fucking him on the living room sofa.
GUEST: That doesn’t mean anything.
ME: Five minutes later, I was fucking him too.
GUEST: You must have been high!”
The journalist’s final thought about the guest? “Somehow, I don’t think she is vaxxed.”
ONE MORE THING
Let’s end by officially exiting Louie Anderson land with a tidbit about the recently deceased movie star Carleton Carpenter (Debbie Reynolds’ duet partner on “Aba Daba Honeymoon”), who was only a tiny bit cagey about his sexuality. A reporter friend of mine once asked Carpenter if the rumor was true that he had slept with three stars of the 1948 Hitchcock film Rope, starring Farley Granger, John Dall, and others.
“Maybe,” he replied with a twinkle.
I always wondered if he meant that he’d slept with more than three, lol.