Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Now if you'll PLEASE excuse me... I have a show to do!

"I think I am going to explode at any minute if any more shit hits the fan today!" - Latrelle Williamson

At our friends Joe and Russ's barbeque on Sunday, Joe decided - being from Hicksville, USA stock himself - the best way to round off the evening was to treat us to a showing of the cult movie Sordid Lives, Del Shores's semi-autobiographical tale of dreadful family goings-on in Texas as the clan gathers for the funeral of the matriarch, starring Olivia Newton-John, Bonnie Bedelia, Kirk Geiger, Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Ann Walker, Beth Grant and Leslie Jordan.

The absolute epitome of "trailer-trash" movies (originally a play - and with its "soap opera" scenarios, this is apparent), we the audience are hilariously thrust into the position of "fly-on-the-wall" observers in the domestic situations of these monsters - the trailer park where daughters Latrelle (Miss Bedelia) and LaVonda (Miss Walker) battle (over the dressing of the corpse with a fox stole in mid-summer), with Aunt Sissy (Miss Grant) holding them apart while trying (unsuccessfully) to give up smoking; the sleazy bar and its sleazy patrons (among whom is Miss Newton-John as a dykey country singer!); and the psychiatric institution in which the dead mother had placed her son for "de-homosexualisation" (“It ain't a-workin!”). But what characters and situations they are!

Not only do we know that the central character Ty (Latrelle's hunky son, played by Mr Geiger) is already in therapy as he prepares to go back home for the first time and face his awful mother as an out-gay man, but we also find that one of the bar patrons (GW, played by Mr Bridges) was having an illicit affair with the late matriarch, who died tripping over his wooden legs in a motel room. If that wasn't enough, his wronged wife (the pill-popping Noleta, played by Miss Burke) is best friend of the slightly crazy LaVonda - and the revenge they exact on the errant husband and his friends at the bar (in the style of Thelma and Louise) is a treat.

Best of all among these unhinged individuals is the fantabulosa "Brother Boy" (played with lipstick-smacking relish by that camp genius Leslie Jordan), who has spent the last 23 years of his incarceration in the aforementioned institution perfecting his tacky tribute act to Tammy Wynette, and persistently (to the frustration of the psychotic psychiatrist Dr Eve, played by Rosemary Alexander, who wants write a book on it and appear on Oprah) resisting all attempts to cure him of being a "home-o-sexual"!

There's more, but you'd need to see the movie for that. So much more, in fact, that the play/movie spawned a short-lived TV series that aimed to tell the story before the film's events took place - with the magnificent (and sadly-missed) Rue McLanahan as Mother! Here's just a small sample of the wonders to behold...

This was the first time I had ever seen this movie, although Joe has raved about it for ages, and I must admit I can see its camp appeal. Much in the same vein as the cult Aussie sitcom Kath & Kim, however, you really have to throw yourself into this bizarre (and alien) mindset in order to really appreciate every nuance.

And much in the same vein as other more obvious classics like To Wong Foo, Sordid Lives has taken on a life of its own as fodder for many participation parties (where the audience recites the lines) in gay bars in the US. I can just hear them now...

  • Dr. Eve: "You have got to get over this Tammy Wynette fixation!"
    Brother Boy: "Well, someone's got to carry on her legacy now that she's gone!"
    Dr. Eve: "You've been doing this for twenty-three years! What was your excuse before she died?"
    Brother Boy: "My mind's a blank."
  • Sissy: "I don't care, quite frankly! I am tryin' to quit smokin'! And the two of you are gettin' on my nerves!"
  • Brother Boy: "I think you are just an evil, bitter OLD, alcoholic sex FIEND who needs therapy yourself!"
  • Sissy: "Good Lawd Latrelle. Don't you know better than to sneak up on someone when they're tawkin' to a corpse?"
  • Brother Boy: "Now if you'll PLEASE excuse me... I have a show to do!"

Seeing this film was truly an mind-boggling experience - I recommend you try it!

Sordid Lives official website


  1. Replies
    1. Time to dig out that feather-trimmed housecoat and that wig, methinks... Jx

  2. Good gravy, Marie! How did this slip past my radar?!? MUST see and thanks for sharing!

    1. I thought precisely the same thing in Sunday when I saw it for the first time... Jx

  3. This sounds like an ideal movie for me, must check it out. I just love me some flat out tackyness!

  4. I have never watched this while sober, and never will!

    1. Needless to say, on Sunday we most certainly were not sober! Jx


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