Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Q&A: Barbara Parkins
2006-06-21

This article shared 7459 times since Wed Jun 21, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


By Richard Knight, Jr.

It's delightful that Barbara Parkins, the star of Valley of the Dolls, is polite enough to identify herself by saying, 'Hi, I'm Barbara' at the outset of our interview—but it's hardly necessary. There's no mistaking the voice of Anne Welles, the 'damn classy' character that she played in the 1967 film version of Jacqueline Susann's infamous and tawdry showbiz saga. After decades of listening to Parkins begin the film by reciting 'You've got to climb Mt. Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls,' the sound of that cultured voice, with its perfect diction, is as distinctive as the Mt. Everest of camp classics that follows it.

Now Fox Home Video has released a two-disc special edition of the movie ( and its in-title-only sequel, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls ) and the good-natured Parkins was happy to talk about the film and its extraordinary enshrinement by the gay community. Excerpts from our conversation:

Windy City Times: Everybody I told that I'd be interviewing Barbara Parkins was so thrilled. We all love this movie so much—my sisters, my parents, and all my friends. So it's not just gay men [ who ] get Valley of the Dolls.

Barbara Parkins: I was going to say, 'Does it go beyond the gay community?' and I know that the answer is that it does. Even my daughter would have friends over and say, 'Oh, we're going to have a Valley of the Dolls night' and they're laughing and hooting.

WCT: That was one of my questions. How do your daughter and your family respond to the movie?

BP: She loved it. Like I said, she'd have her friends over and I'd go storming into her room saying, 'It's not that funny! It's dealing with drugs and sex and three women spiraling out of control and it's a sad story,' and she'd say, 'Oh, but it's soooo funny, mommy, look at you.' They really enjoyed it.

WCT: But your performance, ironically, is really filled with a lot of conviction and balances the camp stuff.

BP: You're the first one that's said that.

WCT: You're kidding!

BP: You're the first one. And that's interesting because I've never even thought that. I've always thought, 'Oh, well, it's all over-the-top, even my lines—I got some pretty silly lines.' But I've never felt that my character was the balance of it all.

WCT: Oh, but Anne Welles is so sweet.

BP: I love that you said that. She's very naive, as a lot of young girls coming to Hollywood or New York during that time would have been. That's how I perceived her because I was playing the bad girl in Peyton Place and I thought, 'Well, there's got to be such naivete and such innocence in this young girl that's just lived with her family up in Connecticut.' And coming to the big city, she's overwhelmed and excited and just goes with the flow.

WCT: Well, I think you really caught it. There's a lot of warmth and tenderness there. But, of course, then you finally have to go to the dolls—the red gel caps.

BP: Of course—got to get that cap off and get those dolls down.

WCT: But before that there's that fabulous Gillian Girl commercial with those fabulous hairdos and crazy gowns. Did you get to keep that fabulous hairspray bottle or some of those gowns designed by Travilla?

BP: No I didn't—but Judy Garland ran off with them.

WCT: That's right. You talk about this on the DVD but can you speak for a moment for the Windy City Times readers about working with Judy Garland, Patty Duke and Sharon Tate?

BP: Well, I think the strongest image in my mind in working on the film was working with Judy. It was the biggest thrill for me and stays with me because she was this icon; she was this phenomenal singer and my first scenes were done with her. It was the scene where she tears up the contract and I've said in many interviews that the night before filming I called up Jackie Susann, who I had become close to—I didn't call up the director strangely enough—and I said, 'What do I do? I'm nervous about going on the set with Judy Garland and I might get lost in this scene because she knows how to chew up the screen.' She said, 'Honey, just go in there and enjoy her.' So I went onto the set and Judy came up to me and wrapped her arms around me and said, 'Oh, baby, let's just do this scene' and she was wonderful. But she was also an emotional rollercoaster and I saw her go through many different types of emotions—angry, happy and sad. ( Eventually, she locked herself away in her dressing room and was fired. ) That's who I enjoyed truly working with the most—even though it lasted two days.

WCT: Weren't you Sharon Tate's matron of honor at her wedding to Roman Polanski?

BP: Yes. Sharon and I became very close. We became very good friends. We'd kind of go onto the set and watch Patty because, you know, Patty had won an Oscar at something like seven years old and she was the pro and we thought, 'This is pretty amazing.'

WCT: I would imagine watching some of her really intense scenes in person were probably very different than seeing them on the screen. Maybe they didn't seem quite so over-the-top.

BP: No, they didn't. None of us found it over-the-top at the time but the way the director directed it probably was over-the-top, and maybe he didn't get it right or maybe he did get it right and that's why it achieved the cult status that it has. It was all filmed on a surface level and that's why I think, as the years went along, the scenes became fun and comical to watch, as opposed to saying, 'My God, these girls are losing it.'

WCT: It's not too often that you see somebody in rehab and it's funny.

BP: Well, yes—the funniest scene to me is when Patty finds Tony Scotti in the hospital and they sing to each other. I mean, how did that scene ever come to be? It's just wonderfully hilarious—

WCT: —yeah, it really is.

BP: —and his singing is so bad!

[ Both interviewer and subject laugh. ]

WCT: Why do you think gay men have embraced the movie almost 40 years later?

BP: Well, I tend to turn that question around and ask the gay community or the people that I speak to at the various screenings I've gone to watch the take-offs. I ask them, 'Tell me what it is' and—

WCT: So actually I'm the one that should answer my own question.

BP: OK, yes, right. So, give me your play on it.

WCT: Well I think it's what Ted Casablanca ( and don't you love that he took his nom de plume after a Valley of the Dolls character? ) and other gay media people have said: 'It speaks to our community.'

BP: In what way?

WCT: A lot of that surface stuff of being an outsider and all this tragic, 'It's a rotten business but I love it' stuff and then it's the wigs, the gowns and the big drama of it. You three women are so incredibly beautiful in the film and I think any backstage story really appeals to gay audiences. It's also one of the first movies where they said the word 'faggot' and, though it's derogatory, there's an undercurrent of acceptance, too. I really think that that's the place where Jackie Susann broke new ground; she broke open the closet door in a way with that.

BP: She opened the door in a sense, yeah, that's right. Well—thank you for answering your own question for me. [ Laughs. ]

WCT: [ Laughs. ] You're welcome. So, tell me, almost 40 years later, how it feels to be recognized for this movie for you?

BP: It's still an honor. I'm still in awe. I'm still proud of it and I continually thank the gay community. I think it's the gay community that has kept it going through all these years. I always say, 'thank you, thank you, thank you' at these events I go to. Your community is the reason it's getting this special DVD. I'm proud of it; it was my first film. I loved it, I loved working with the people and I love the people who say, 'Oh my God, I love Valley of the Dolls,' and I say, 'Wasn't it wonderful?' I think Jackie Susann, were she alive, would have been having her Friday night champagne parties, kicking up her heels and absolutely loving every minute of this.

WCT: She would have reveled in this?

BP: Yes, absolutely.

WCT: Can you finish by saying the line for me that starts it all—the one that transports you into that world of 'too much, too soon?'

BP ( recites ) : 'You have got to climb to Mt. Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls.' Everyone does!

_____

Entries for the GLBT Pride Movie Survey were still pouring in at press time so the results will appear in next week's column. You can still take the survey by heading to www.knightatthemovies.com .


This article shared 7459 times since Wed Jun 21, 2006
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Chocolate festival, lesbian sci-fi film, 'Smahtguy' 2022-05-16
- —The Long Grove Chocolate Festival: The beloved Chocolate Festival will return to the historic streets and parkways of downtown Long Grove for the first time in three years, May 20-22. Chocolate lovers can experience so much—including ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer playwright, LGBTQ+ films, BMI Pop Awards, new superhero 2022-05-15
- Jeremy O. Harris, the queer Tony-nominated author of Slave Play, has been named the presiding playwright for the 2023 Yale Drama Series Prize—one of the theater world's most prestigious playwriting honors, Deadline noted. Harris joins the ...


Gay News

TV Writer Joel Kim Booster, director Andrew Ahn take a trip to 'Fire Island' 2022-05-15
- Based on the classic Jane Austen book Pride and Prejudice, the new Fox Searchlight film Fire Island has an important story to tell LGBTQ+ audiences specifically. In that story, there are plenty of laughs along the ...


Gay News

Peacock to debut horror film 'They/Them' on Aug. 5 2022-05-12
- Peacock announced that its new original film They/Them (pronounced "They-slash-Them), from Blumhouse will premiere Friday, Aug. 5. The LGBTQIA+ horror film, formerly known as Whistler Camp, is a queer empowerment story ...


Gay News

FILM 'The Adventures of Priscilla' to show nationwide on June 2 2022-05-11
- Iconic Events Releasing will kick off Pride Month with a special nationwide rerelease of MGM's classic 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Screenings will take place in select theaters nationwide on ...


Gay News

COMEDY Netflix holds 'Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration' 2022-05-09
- On May 7, Billy Eichner hosted Netflix Is A Joke: The Festival's "Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration" at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. The historic celebration featured LGBTQ+ comedy legends and emerging talent. Highlights included ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Hacks,' 'Love, Victor,' Indy 500, Ariana DeBose, queer singers 2022-05-08
- Queer, non-binary actor Carl Clemons-Hopkins (they/them and he/him) told Out Magazine he is elated with the warm reception received by the show Hacks and his character. "When I started in this years and years ago, there ...


Gay News

Members of the Jane Collective abortion underground to reunite for 'The Janes' screening May 19 2022-05-05
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, Illinois — In the wake of the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion set to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Doc10 today announced that original Jane Collective members will reunite for the ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Broadway Rising,' Webby Awards, 'Kinky Boots,' Tom Ford 2022-05-01
- The upcoming documentary Broadway Rising will have its world premiere on June 13 at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival, Playbill noted. The documentary follows theater subjects—ranging from stage doorman to actors—on their journeys back to the ...


Gay News

DeGeneres shares message after taping final talk-show episode 2022-04-30
- An era has ended as The Ellen Show has officially wrapped its last episode. According to Variety, Ellen DeGeneres announced on an April 29 Twitter thread that her daytime talk show concluded filming its final episode. ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Lily Tomlin, 'The Color Purple,' Walter Mercado, Janelle Monae, Loki 2022-04-24
Video below - In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, legendary actress/comedian Lily Tomlin discussed a variety of topics, including comedy and the Oscars. About the Academy Awards, she said, "I sometimes think they shouldn't be able to tread ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-04-18
- "I'd never done that before—on camera, at least. … I don't think."—Harry Styles discussed shooting sex scenes for his upcoming movie My Policeman (with both Emma Corrin and David Dawson) and Don't Worry Darling (wit ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Glamorous,' Jake Gyllenhaal, Alice Walker, queer singers, trans film fest 2022-04-17
- Three years after The CW passed on Glamorous, Netflix has picked up the redeveloped series about a young gender nonconforming queer man, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The streaming giant has handed out a 10-episode, straight-to-series ...


Gay News

Judith Light to receive GLAAD's Excellence in Media Award 2022-04-12
- GLAAD announced that multiple Tony- and Emmy-winning actress, producer and activist Judith Light will receive the Excellence in Media Award that will be presented by queer performer and Oscar winner Ariana DeBose at the 33rd Annual ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, Indigo Girls, singer Bitch, 'Shahs of Sunset' 2022-04-10
- The Fox show So You Think You Can Dance unveiled its new judging lineup, and LGBTQ Dancing with the Stars runner-up JoJo Siwa will be part of it, per Out Magazine. Siwa will be joined at the judge's table by Glee ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.