"It was pretty damn good!"Rex Smith's response when Billy showed a risqué photo of Rex at his most beautiful and asked, "What was it like walking around looking like that?" I love when someone that gorgeous not only enjoys it, but admits it.
Most actors love the opportunity to embody different characters. Some actually physically transform themselves to play certain rolesEd Norton, Meryl Streep, Christian Bale, Charlize Theron and even Renée Zellweger (admittedly, she likely had some help from a doctor's scalpel). Nowadays, it seems the line between actor and character is less defined. Does anyone have a doubt that Miranda on And Just Like That... is going to dabble in lesbianism? Does every character Cynthia Nixon plays from now on have to be interested in women? Perhaps all the years that gays fought to be accepted playing straight roles were for naught.
Reception to the new version of West Side Story has been a mixed bag. Yes, it's gotten good reviews, but it brought in only $10 million its opening weekend. To put that into perspective, Spider-Man made $120 million its first day! However, "WSS" is beautifully shot, well-acted and faithful to the original musical. You know I can't bear bad lip-synching. I'm happy to report it's not an issue here (with the exception of Ansel Elgort in the Cloisters scene, as straight tones would never come out of a jaw moving that much). While one misses the work of Jerome Robbins, the new choreography by Justin Peck of the New York City Ballet is quite marvelous in its own right.
Mike Faist is a standout as Riff. (I knew he'd be a star when I saw him in Dear Evan Hansen.) However, every time the Jets walked down the street, it looked like an outtake from The OutsidersI even referred to one character as Pony Boy! As always, Rita Moreno was a delight. My only caveat is that she was directed to be strangely subdued for the last 15 minutes. Speaking of which, has there ever been a less fiery Anita than Ariana DeBose? For me, the fatal flaw in the film is the lack of subtitles whenever characters spoke Spanish. I understand Spielberg's argument: If you subtitle the Spanish, you are marginalizing those characters. But I do wonder if the English will be subtitled when this film is shown in a Spanish-speaking country. I'm also wondering if anyone has ever seen a Romeo and Juliet where they lapse into Italian. After all, that entire story takes place in Veronafood for thought. Is this film worth seeing? Yes, if you can manage two hours and 45 minuteswhich I think is too long for any film. Should you wait to see it at home? Actually, I really think it should be seen on a big screen. Is it a classic? The jury's out.
Rex Smith was a HUGE hit with viewers of "Billy Masters LIVE"! And, yes, I know I gushed … but was there ever a more staggeringly beautiful man than Rex Smith? In his prime, he was like the statue of Davidif David could sing! Smith is currently singing in Love Actually Live at The Wallis in Beverly Hills, which closes New Year's Eve. (Get your tix at TheWallis.org .) Since he was coming to us from his cellphone, his audio was a little softand the last thing I want is a soft Rex Smith! So I lent a helping hand and juiced him upsomething I've longed to say for decades. The remastered video is available for your watching and listening pleasure at BillyMasters.com/TV or YouTube.com/BillyMastersTV.
This Thursday, Dec. 23, we ring in the holidays with the fabulous Thirsty Burlington. Many of you know him as Scott Townsendthe world's premier Cher impersonator. I've known Thirsty since he was an itty bitty baby drag queen sneaking into my shows in various Boston gay clubs in the '90s! He's had a tough year health-wise, so we're thrilled to finally welcome him as a guest.
It's time for our final installment of Billy's Holiday Gift Giving Suggestions. This week, we focus on books. I have a rule of thumb when it comes to memoirsI should be able to turn to any random page and find a juicy passage. "I lived in such fear that I would be considered 'cheap and common' that I faked my virginity with him when we made love for the first time on the wide front seat of his car." And we have a winner. Sharon Gless' newly released memoir, Apparently There Were Complaints, gets no complaints from moi.
We also got A Tale of Two Omars: A Memoir of Family, Revolution, and Coming Out During the Arab Spring, by Omar Sharif Jr. Lest you be wondering, Junior is not the son of Omar Sharif of Funny Girl famehe's his grandson. He's also a good-looking, openly gay actor, model and author who has a fascinating story to share. You can get these delivered before Christmas via Amazonor wherever fine books are sold.
When I have anything in common with Sharon Gless, it's definitely time to end yet another column. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But you don't have to be a millionaire to check out BillyMasters.comthe site that'll bring you some Yuletide cheer, with or without gay apparel! If you have a question, send it to Billy@BillyMasters.com, and I promise to get back to you before someone shows up in my chimney. Until next time, remember: One man's filth is another man's bible.