On the sixth day of June, just an evening-and-a-half prior to the most fab of parades the land over, The Hollywood Museum kicked off said celebration of Pride with the opening of the most recent unveiling in recognition of all rainbow clad culture! The point de non-resistance: The Hollywood Museum’s 7th Annual Real to Reel: Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBTs in Hollywood Exhibit Opening.
This year, in particular, boasted an air of commemoration and keenness like no other, as it hearkened back to the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in the face of the current zeitgeist overtaking Washington, the nation, and now, perhaps even, uhhh,…Boston?
Pomp and circumstance were further magnified as Hollywood Museum President and Founder Donelle Dadigan, in cooperation with City Councilman (of the 13th District, Los Angeles), Mitch O’Farrell, proudly prepped to impart this year’s Trail-Blazer Award, Hollywood Legacy Award, and Future of Hollywood Award to four noteworthy members and champions of the LGBTQ community respectively: None other than Lily Tomlin, her partner, writer Jane Wagner, reality star/restauranteur Lisa Vanderpump, and last, but certainly not least, All-Media Medium, Tyler Henry!
So hip and happenin’ was said event, (by way of all its copious throngs—thRongs. Yes we said thRONGS, not THONGS) the LA Beat could tell you all the stars it DIDN’T get to interview, and exactly what they DIDN’T say. But it was hardly of any import as most would later impart them to the crowd by way of enough rousing speeches to make up in all missed opportunity in individual interview appeal!
For example, Bruce Vilanch was a supposed, alleged guest. How could he be missed?: His hair and height alone acting as a bodacious beacon in and of themselves! But alas, no blonde page boy was ever detected across a sequined sea of smoothly coifed updos on the night in question.
Fran Drescher, with whom the LA Beat rode up to the fourth floor in the elevator, (all the while planning its aspiringly mindful queries) disappeared once conveyed to the appropriate level—like a superhero-Cinderella skirting midnight. The LA Beat, however, envisaged her many splendiferous rejoinders as to how she just knew “Happily Divorced” (the sitcom surrounding the real-life story of her husband disclosing his homosexuality after many years of marriage) would be a hit (rendering her an inevitable Miss—rather than Mrs.) going into it at the advent of her husband coming out.
(I mean seriously, how can you not love a show that commences with a man and woman in bed, progressing as the man suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere says “I think I’m gay,” leaving his wife to only bemusedly speculate, “Are you sure? ‘Cause I’ve been with a man. It’s really not that great!”)
All the same, the imparted speeches were just about as topical and humorous as all that.
Dadigan kicked off all ceremonial speech-making by clicking her heels together three times, all the while, levitating just a trifle by alighting her steadfast apple box to amplify her height and authority in all former American schoolteacher appeal as she decreed, “The museum welcomes the opportunity to create and showcase this important exhibition, sharing with the public the artistic expression, and extraordinary significance of the LGBT culture and its effect and impact on the world through the medium of entertainment!”
From schoolteacher to spiritual mentor, Reverend Troy Perry said, “We begin to celebrate Pride, help us to see the great rainbow of humanity before us. We are gay and straight, non-binary, and lesbian, and trans, and androgynous. We are all human beings, equally created. Help us to see You in the eyes of the person who is sitting [or] standing across from us. Teach us to care for our planet and for one another.”
“As we celebrate Pride 50 years since Stonewall, we never forget the work of equality,” he continued. “May we learn to embrace the Pride of who we are, and for those still deep within the closet, may this exhibition provide hope and inspiration and let them know we are here with a warm embrace in support and love.”
Councilman O’Farrell, always one of the LA Beat’s favorite speakers, had a prayer/affirmation-like speech of his own.
“We are creative, we are thoughtful, we care, we nurture. We have deep feelings. We know how to express them. We’re intelligent. What would Hollywood be without the LGBT community?,” said O’Farrell. “Seriously. They would be pretty damned boring. The gays and lesbians are taking over City Hall. Really, we are so well represented at Los Angeles City Hall. We have the very first ordinance in place which is a job training requirement for trans gender sensitivity for the fire, the police, all the [related] departments in L.A. We have so much further to go. We know that. But there’s always hope. And I was just reminded by Rabbi Egger that it’s so important to [mount these types of displays] because people from across the world visit. So, they’re going to come by, they’re going to know this exhibit is here. They’re going to go back to their small town in Kansas, or Iowa, and say to themselves, ‘You know what? I’m not alone. I’m special. And maybe, I’ll make something of myself as well, and I will help elevate the level of talent and entertainment the rest of the world will enjoy.’”
All this of course in anticipation of the conferring of the Trail-Blazer Award to none other than Ms. Tomlin, and Playwright, Emmy and multi-award winning tale weaver, Wagner.
To this, Tomlin expressed her appreciation in most authentic and amusing of fashions.
“My partner, Jane and I are honored, and want to thank you for this award,” said Tomlin. “It is amazing to see this whole outpouring for the LGBT community. Jane couldn’t be here tonight, but asked that I share her remarks, ‘We love the thought of being called Trail-Blazers. It makes us feel current, and something out of Marvel Comics.’ Neither of us has a good sense of direction, so we thought being called trail-blazers implies that we somehow knew where we were going. So, thank you for thinking of us as trail-blazers, rather than as museum pieces. Of course, there were times, I’m afraid, we got lost on that trail and were more bewildered than blazing. We are still blazing, but we have had to cool down a bit. After all, we need to take care not to add to global warming.”
Dadigan’s sentiments were, of course, superlative pertaining to Tomlin, to speak nothing of Wagner. Now turned trail-blazer for LGBTQ Senior Citizens the city over, Tomlin’s 42-year partner has fervently flanked her, for better or worse. Having both suffered their fair share of mistreatment incumbent upon their sexual preferences, both are, and were, no stranger to adversity, the sentiment to which Tomlin could only echo in emphatic fashion, “You can be both ablaze and bewildered all at the same time.”
Of Ms. Tomlin’s speech, and presence, three-time Emmy Award Winner Actor, for the series, “After Forever,” Kevin Spirtas could only exclaim, “Not only did I get to meet my idol, Lily Tomlin tonight, upon viewing the exhibit, I found that I am positioned right next to her! I am beyond honored to be included in this beautiful exhibit with Ms. Tomlin, and so many outspoken and inspiring Trail-Blazers. Thank you, Hollywood Museum, for giving LGBT-Focused Cinema and Television the opportunity show their PRIDE!”
Ron Galperin, City controller who allegedly, but self-admittedly, doesn’t really control anything—hence the deceptive title–had the following to convey in all his Nathan-Lane-esque-voiced appeal, “Sometimes I say I have the most deceptive title of all elected officials in LA. I don’t get to control everything. But I’m (sing-songy) working on it!”
“I still remember the first time I saw a gay kiss on screen,” Galperin continued. “I’m dating myself now a little bit. But it was actually the early 1980s, and the big television event of the year was the movie “Making Love.” Some of you might remember that. I was [actually] sitting in the living room of the home of parents of this young woman who I was not quite dating ‘cause it was not really quite working out. And here I am sitting in their living room, on the sofa with them, and with her…and seeing this amazing kiss. And I felt this sense of validation, like, ‘Oh my gosh! I’m not the only one after all!’ And that was a very different era. I went to school in Missouri, and who could predict all the amazing things that were going to come to pass so many years since? But I also want to get serious for one second. Because I think, as many of you know, this week, the numbers were released on the homeless population here in Los Angeles, and we saw a 17% increase. And a lot of that is actually among youth. And among youth, the statistics are up to 40% and those who are under 24 are members of the LGBTQ community. It’s a staggering number and we come together here with a great sense of pride, but also with an incredible sense of responsibility for our brothers and for our sisters. And it is a solvable problem. I really believe that. When you look at the people who are in this room, and the amount of creativity and the amount of innovation and what a great city we live in, I know that we are going to conquer THIS! And despite everything that’s happening in Washington, we will also not only persevere, but we will thrive!”
Vanderpump, of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” “Vanderpump Rules,” and owner of famous eateries such as Sir Pump, Villa Blanca, and Vanderpump Wine Bar at Caesar’s Palace (which, according to Dadigan, was filled with a line past, and out, the door after spending the weekend in Vegas) gave an equally touching, yet humorous, speech.
“I’ve been involved [in the LGBTQ movement] for 29 years. It just, to me is so difficult to understand that this world that we live in can be so unjust, and I see now, Boston is saying now that they’re having a STRAIGHT parade?!?,” said Vanderpump. “Is anybody persecuting anybody for being straight? Is anybody stoning anybody to death for being straight? To me that makes zero sense.”
“I am so proud to be an ally of the LGBTQ community, and every year Bravo gives me a wonderful chance to highlight the parade, and I will be riding in the parade for the seventh year tomorrow they [also] allow me to officiate same-sex marriage,” she continued. “But the [best] part is, [I get to] shine a light on equal rights, on the LGBTQ community, and for that, I am truly grateful. One last thing, I saw you (Ron Galperin) speak about the homeless situation. One in four youngsters is thrown out on the street when they confront their parents about their sexual orientation which is why 40% of the homeless youth [are] LGBTQ. I believe that is just so unfair, and that’s why I’m an ally. That’s why I will continue to fight and stand on your side! And the word ‘tolerance?’, that doesn’t exist in my book! Well, unless you’ve been married for 36 years then there’s a lot of that. But the word [isn’t] ‘tolerance’, it’s ‘acceptance’. It’s embracing your differences!”
According to Councilman O’Farrell, “[Vanderpump] is a steadfast advocate of the LGBTQ movement, spokesperson for GLAAD and has worked closely with The Desert Needs Project, The Trevor Project, and the LGBT Center helping homeless LGBT youth. Lisa is a true ally and the recipient of the Hollywood Museum’s Hollywood Legacy Award!”
All media-Medium Tyler Henry of the show “Hollywood Medium” has always been able to see, many a thing in all his clairvoyant glory, but never could have divined the honor of the Future of Hollywood title! Other than the divination of messages from beyond, his speech centered around honor and commemoration, both past and present, both physical and ethereal.
“[I am] so thankful to have a show that airs in 130 Countries,” said Henry. “Whether you’re a believer or not, it starts a conversation on spirituality and the importance of really communicating to our loved ones in [the here and now]… If there’s any lesson I’ve learned as the result of my work, it’s the importance of saying [I love you]”
According to all manner of Hollywood sources (and most ostensibly sorcerers alike) The fact that Henry “communed with spirits in order to see the future”, got him much-undesired attention in his youth. A witness to many life-changing events including a near-death experience, “clarity and closure” was rendered his credo. Henry has also been dubbed “The Future of Hollywood”. As a result, Henry’s award came to him in the form of “Future of Hollywood.”
Estevan Montemayor President of Christopher Street West (the organization that produces the LA Pride Parade) had this to say.
“The past few years have been very powerful for bringing our stories out into the light from the big screen in “Rocketman” to “Moonlight” to “Love Simon.” I think I can speak for all of us when I say it’s about time that we have these kinds of films, every day in our movie theatres, on television,” said Montemayor. “For many years, LGBTQ people had felt trapped in a certain role, unable to be themselves because of what others expected them to be, and I think we can all relate to that feeling. But as LGBTQ stories have been shared and appeared more often in film and television, we have proven that love is love both onscreen and off, and most importantly, that our stories of love and acceptance are universal and that the audiences from Los Angeles to Little Rock can see that there’s so much more that connects us. Not only do we break down ignorance and barriers, but we give hope to a closeted kid in Idaho or a transgender teen in Wisconsin. Films are not just an escape, they are a lifeline, and we need to fight for our stories, and fight for equality and fight for representation from the bathroom to the box office!”
Assistant Chief in LAPD Law Enforcement, Director at Office of Special Operations, and perpetual friend and gap-bridger to the LGBTQ community, Bea Girmala, and one of the LA Beat’s favorite speakers in Law Enforcement, put forth a rousing speech to which the following mantra was key, that no matter what we do, “It is important to lead with love!”
“It is important to lead with strength, it is important to lead with focus, but it is critical to lead with love! You cannot lead with love unless your heart is open,” said Girmala. “It is open to being educated. It is important to remain open to friendship and to lessons in life yet to be learned. For the Los Angeles Police Department, for decades, under an ugly shadow of past issues, past challenges, past missteps for the LGBTQ community, a renaissance has occurred. But not because of any [brilliant minds] in law enforcement, it has come from all of you, and I’m here tonight to say to the members of the LGBTQ community, ‘Thank you. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you for your enlightenment. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for leading us forward to, not only this agency, but where all law enforcement agencies need to be.”
“Some exciting news,” Asst. Chief Girmala continued. “In May of 2019 the first time ever in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department, a transgender employee guidebook was published to the supervisors and managers with tools to ensure that every workplace is free from discrimination against those who are transitioning, have transitioned or are within a workplace [with] members of families who have transitioned. But in conclusion, there’s still much to be done. Again, the 40 % of the youth that controller Galperin mentioned, who are out there searching for love, searching for support, searching for comfort, and those who will turn their backs we say No More!!!”
On the way to obtaining some attempted one-on-one sound bytes vs. real bites, A million New Age petit fours in all flavors/colors of the rainbow garnished two large tables amidst the display at which Judy Tenuta made no bones about partaking; debunking each and every myth that all Hollywood actresses are obsessed with the fabulous façade/ anti-voluptuous veneer, of rendering themselves perpetual skin and bones: skinny to be sure, but no overabundance of bones, and most decidedly a very effectual metabolism!
“Oh my God,” exclaimed the originator of all Judy-isms. “I’m in Heaven. Look at this… I’m not [watching my weight]. Who needs it? Who wants it? We don’t!”
Tenuta knew she had arrived, “When two gay men in their thongs came up, and put me on their shoulders at a Cubs Game…in Chicago!”
Also featured most prominently and inedibly, (but the size of something you could eat off of, made of the opposable things you eat with): A life sized-and-beyond picture of Harvey Milk created entirely of thumbprints, the scope and scansion of a square knighted King Arthur summit meeting table, all adorning the fourth floor right in front of the sushi bar no less—finger food!!!
The balance of the remainder of the exhibit boasted the coolest colors in rainbow action, featuring the warmest of hues in costume form adorning cardboard cutouts featuring photographed heads. Highlighted were cardboard cutout clad Olympic contestants of the 1980’s figure skating duo Tai and Randy aka Randy Gardner and Tai Babilonia in all their bejeweled glory. On the newer side of the spectrum, (then again neither Tai nor Randy look all that different, or aged since their heyday) costumes from the relatively recent show “Grace and Frankie” starring Jane Fonda and Tomlin as two wives whose husbands (aka Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) left them for each other.
(Wait, that’s a little confusing. Get it together LA Beat. Let’s try again (and a-Five, Six, Seven EIGHT): as two wives–formerly rival wives–whose husbands fell in love with each other, leaving them, the two formerly rivalrous women, to pick up the pieces and befriend one another—we hope. (C’mon girls, get it together now!) It is also important to note that Kevin Spirtas is NOT telling tall tales and is, indeed, mounted right next to Tomlin in all his handsome cardboard cutout glory (cutoutlery) albeit just a little to the right and behind, rendering himself–though not his tale–just a little taller than the renowned woman of the evening!
Additional showcased costumes encompassed those from, “Happily Divorced” (the one the LA Beat did not get to ask Drescher about, because it may as well have been wearing a turtle shell on its back, in all its remiss), “How to Get Away with Murder,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Sordid Lives,” “Cruising,” “Orange is the New Black,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “Ray Donovan,” “Mad Men,” “Arrested Development,” “Cabaret,” as well as “Days of Our Lives,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots,” “Scandal,” “True Blood,” “The Good Wife,” Rami Malek’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” costume specifically, “One Day at a Time” (the Isabella Gomez getup), “Special” (Ryan O’Connor’s raiment), “Transparent” (Jeffrey Tambour’s threads), “Vanderpump Rules” (the vavavavoom wardrobe of Vanderpump), “Daytime Emmy ® Awards’” host Carolyn Hennesy’s gown, “Hollywood Medium” (aka Tyler Henry’s habiliment), “Project Runway,” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (ensemble worn by season winner Bob the Drag Queen.)
Concerning noted and contemporary gay icons, underscored profiles including that of current Future of Hollywood Award Recipient and medium-to-the-stars (including Alan Thicke, John Salley, Jaleel “did I do that?” White [the answer to which only Henry and White would ever know or could ever divine] The Kardashians, Carmen Electra and Bobby Brown) Tyler Henry himself, Playwright. Actor, director, novelist, cabaret performer, and drag icon, most famous for his long-running play “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” Charles Busch, most noteworthy cabaret performer superlatively famous for her own show “My Goddamn Cabaret” and LGBTQ household name extraordinaire: Coco Peru, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler impersonator: Kenny Sacha, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, the cast list from Brokeback Mountain, costumes and gay remembrances from “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” (one of the LA Beat’s favorites), a wonderfully blue earth-toned picture of Ellen Degeneres and the little boy from “Ugly Betty” (whose name just happened to be covered by a very large cardboard cutout afro of a bodacious drag queen.)
And of course, the evening and the display would not be complete without a beautiful gown-clad cardboard cutout mannequin of the woman of the evening, or one of the other women of the evening, Vanderpump herself!
Other highlighted personality bios on display were that of, Cher, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Freddie Mercury, Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Ramon Navarro, Rudolf Valentino, Charles Laughton, Sam Harris, Bruce Vilanch, Sherman Hemsley, Gere Jewell, Jerry Herman, and many more, along with featured costume designers Bob Mackie, Zac Posen, Ret Turner, Jorge del Busto, Nolan Miller, Mr. Blackwell and Edith Head.
Aside from spanning 100 years of interwoven history from the silent film era to today’s silver and small screens, to all things digital, the Hollywood Museum perpetually highlights historic LGBTQ moments with Rev. Troy Perry, encompassing L.A.s self-proclaimed Stonewall roughly two years prior to said arresting melee, The Black Cat riots circa 1967. Also perpetually on display and etched into all museum-goers’ minds, the infamous “Fagots Stay Out” sign, long since removed, from LGBTQ mecca of West Hollywood, Barney’s Beanery.
Hollywood denizens from near and far had nothing but superlatives to relay.
According to the lady of the magical, midnight hour, Drescher, “’I’m just blown away by The Hollywood Museum’s tribute to LGBT’s representation in the media. And I am honored to Have my television series “Happily Divorced“ featured amongst such illustrious company, which was credited by myself and my gay ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson. As we always say. LOVE IS LOVE!”
The conversation with a formerly Cubs Endorsed Man-Clad Tenuta continued, “Donelle Dadigan and The Hollywood Museum hit it out of the park tonight! Thrilled to honor Lily Tomlin, Lisa Vanderpump & Tyler Henry! The Hollywood Museum is my home away from home!” She then closed with her beloved signature catchphrase, “It could happen!”
Lee Purcell of “Valley Girl” and “Carol of the Bells,” having come all the way over the hill to delight in said annual celebration, could only proclaim, “Last night’s gala opening of the 7th annual LGBTQ exhibit at the beautiful Hollywood Museum was as wonderful as ever! It just gets better every year! If you have never seen this permanent exhibit, now is the perfect time! With exciting new additions to the exhibit, such as Fran Drescher’s “Happily Divorced” display, this is a must-see, whether you are an LA resident or a visitor from out of town!”
Erin Murphy, best known for her role as Tabitha on “Bewitched” and no stranger to all that is colorful in the most magical of senses, had this to say, “I am so honored to have one of my dresses included in this important exhibit. As a lifetime supporter of the LGBT community, I am inspired by the progress we have made in my lifetime towards acceptance of everyone’s right to live the life they want to live, and love the person they want to love.”
Jeremy Miller, best known as Ben from the 80s hit sitcom “Growing Pains” copped nothing but comfort in one of his favorite yearly traditions as he proclaimed, “The Real to Reel exhibit at The Hollywood Museum is one of my favorite events of the year. It was a true pleasure to be there to Honor two Icons like Lily Tomlin, and Jane Wagner, as well as Lisa Vanderpump and Tyler Henry. Paying tribute to, and remembering, the entertainers who have helped bring LQBTQ awareness to the mainstream over the years is so important. Councilman Mitch O’Farrell and Donelle Dadigan do such an amazing job putting on this event!”
Award-winning singer and activist Roslyn Kind, to speak nothing of her stand-out performance on Drescher’s first sitcom “The Nanny” had a FABULOUS time at the Hollywood Museum’s 7th annual Real to Reel event celebrating the Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBT in Hollywood.
“Such a great and fun exhibit,” said Kind. “Everyone needs to come see it! All the many contributions of this wonderful, talented and artful community never cease to amaze me! Congratulations to Trail-Blazer Award winners Lily Tomlin and her partner Jane Wagner, Hollywood Legacy Award winner, Lisa Vanderpump, and Hollywood Future Award winner, Tyler Henry. Thank you once again to museum founder, Donelle Dadigan for a beautiful evening!”
And it almost comes full circle completed only by that of the dancing Alice Amter!
Amter of “The Big Bang Theory” truly had an out-of-this-world experience on the night in question, as evidenced by the following quote and below video verification: “A truly wonderful experience tonight attending the Real to Reel event at the Hollywood Museum in support and acknowledgment of the many contributions to the entertainment industry by so many of my friends & colleagues from the LGBTQ community – a true treat!”
And woe to thee who did not behold the cutting edge cutting of a rug by Amter, Obama White House Photog Anna Wilding, and some mysterious mustache clad stranger to Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”
Catch a glimpse below in all its natural habitual glory:
All in all, a night of fun, fanfare, and fabulousness all around. For more information on the Hollywood Museum and this momentous display, please visit thehollywoodmuseum.com.