Friday, April 7, 2017


I've recently come off a mammoth shoot, working 12 to 15-hour days in a town 45 minutes north of Manhattan, spread over three weeks. Much had happened in the world during that time. The first thing I did after the end of the job was to sit in front of the TV, watching the news networks, paying close attention to the ticker-tape headlines at the bottom of the screen. 

There was plenty of shocking stuff to catch up with, but none more so than this item:SINGER BARRY MANILOW COMES OUT AS GAY.

Who'da thunk?
They might as well have said SCIENTISTS PROVE 1 + 1 = 2. Even if your local weatherman had predicted a blizzard immediately after three feet of snow had fallen, it wouldn't have been as unsurprising as this.

And if you had any questions about Barry Manilow's sexual orientation, all you needed to know was: He used to play piano for Bette Midler. 

The reason for Manilow's secrecy was simple yet silly: “I thought I would be disappointing [my fans] if they knew I was gay." 

What? It's not like he could be confused with Jack Nicholson, who's spent 99% of his life as a swinging bachelor. Frankly, I think they'd be more disappointed if they learned that the recording he's most famous for, "I Write the Songs," was actually written by one of the Beach Boys. 

It's what he's available for that his feminine fans don't know.
Manilow's attitude echoes that of Liberace, who seemed to think that his legions of fans -- like Manilow, all female -- believed he had his choice of women. Which he did, if they were over 60 and weren't interested in anything more than a wink and an autograph.

Of course, that was another time. In 1959, Liberace sued British newspaper columnist William Connor for libel. Connor had blithely described him as "a deadly, winking, sniggering, snuggling, chromium-plated, scent-impregnated, luminous, quivering, giggling, fruit-flavoured, mincing, ice-covered heap of mother love". I'm not sure that would fit on a Tweet these days.

It's difficult to decide which is funnier: that Liberace denied under oath that he was gay; that Connor denied implying he was gay; or that Connor himself wrote under the name "Cassandra." Liberace won £8,000 in damages for successfully "proving" he was straight. He probably put the money toward more feather boas.

Liberace was 67 when he died of complications from AIDS, never having officially come out to his fans. So good for Barry for telling the truth. Hey, it's 2017; it's time, right? 

I mean, it couldn't be because everyone already knew he married a guy in 2014. And it certainly has nothing to do with having  a new album to plug. 

Whatever works, Barry. Like you said in the most famous jingle you ever wrote, You deserve a break today.

Oh, and Barry Manilow played for Bette Midler in a gay bathhouse.


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