Long before the days of gays on TV–Billy Crystal’s self-loathing character on Soap and the drunken Paul Lynde on Hollywood Squares didn’t count–there was Willona.
Good Times may have set out to explore gritty life in Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing projects, but the show found a cult following amongst gay men, who understand how to find the humor in the most dismal stages of life. Yes, Ja’Net Dubois has appeared in countless roles through the years, but it was her portrayal of the gorgeous, rowdy sexpot Willona that shall life in infamy. Gay men of all ethnicites have long loved strong black women–the pride, the aura, the presence–and for many, the first love came from watching Willona, without a penny to her name, pull herself together in the most fabulous frocks of sequins and gold, and walk through those projects like she lived at the Shangri La. She taught us glamour. She taught us the word “boutique.” And she taught us how to make the best of things.
Willona interviewed by Andy at Bravo [Andy’sBlog]